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Piracy / Linkage (Read 62414 times)
Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #15 - Jun 26th, 2008 at 6:35pm
 
Rad wrote on Jun 25th, 2008 at 6:08pm:
I only know about anti-retroviral drugs from an online friend who lives in South Africa (Jo-burg).

Ah, righto. Medical issues of course the ones which most clearly show the problems; drugs, after all, are mostly (leaving aside such things as RNA interference) just a matter of chemical formulas. What protection applies to those - patent law, but it's not always a great fit, and the dilemmas of paying for them ...

In the specific case of anti-HIV medications, the drug companies invested enormous amounts of money - many, many billions of dollars - to treat the disease in the West, ultimately leading to a breakthough in the form of reserve transcriptase inhibitors and the development of the HAART therapeutic application of them.

The problem is the humanitarian one of how to apply this in countries in which the prevalence rate of HIV infection is over 30% of the population; how to balance the need for the companies which invested the money in developing the therapies to recoup that investment with the humanitarian problem of making the therapies affordable to large numbers of people in economies where much of the population is around the USD1 per day line (economies of scale are an issue too; even after discovering a drug, demonstrating safety and efficacy, and then being licensed for use, making it affordable involves much futher research and then investment in manufacturing techniques and suitable plant).

Governments of those countries who wanted to start applying these therapies (even in the most simple ways, such as for prophylaxis - treating pregnant HIV-positive women to prevent the transmission of HIV to their newborns) had the choice of breaking patents to try and start manufacture of the medications themselves to bring down the cost, or trying to work out something else. Drug companies, for their part, have the problem that they can't simply manufacture or donate below-cost or license patents free of charge to those markets which cannot pay rich-world prices, because that product then rapidly becomes a commodity that undermines their pricing in the rich world (via black markets, or their licensees turning around and directly competing against them).

The main framework for managing this conflict at the moment (leaving aside the contributions of medical charities and aid organizations in subsidizing treatment) is the rules of WTO treaties which in particular have in place a "compulsory licensing" mechanism by which countries can apply to the WTO to legally break the normal patent monopoly.

At least with HIV, the disease was prevalent enough in the rich world for the investment in development of the treatments to take place. The problem of disease which has been eliminated or which has not ever been present in Western countries is the more acute one. Malaria is perhaps the best example, but there are numerous others. The approach taken by the Gates foundation isn't necessarily popular; they and the WHO have their conflicts.
 
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #16 - Jun 26th, 2008 at 7:03pm
 
Rad wrote on Jun 25th, 2008 at 6:08pm:
How old were you when your parents divorced?

Just turned 9; my younger brother almost 7. I had bonded closer to my father and chose to live with him; my younger brother to my mother.

I can't say it necessarily has much relevance to your particular (painful) situation, but when my mother chose to move to Australia I was 12, and I coped with that by simply trying to close it all off. She wrote occasionally, but I hated reading those letters and never replied, and indeed I have never made any attempt to contact her, my younger brother, or a half-sister from her subsequent remarriage. Nor did (or has) my father ever experienced any contact from his younger son. The nature of such things is that parents tend to suspect the other parent of influencing the children, but in my case that's not so; that degree of separation was too much and the only way to cope was to just shut it all off and concentrate on the good things in life, like science and mathematics.

My younger half-brother in New Zealand had a more difficult experience, since his mother left my father when he was about 1 (my father going on welfare to raise the two of us), and although they did stay in contact her subsequent life situation went very poorly indeed. I'm not in any position to comment on the finer details and emotional consequences of that for them, though.

 
 
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MrMagoo
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #17 - Jun 28th, 2008 at 5:42am
 
Quote:
Due to piracy and the effects of "free" software, independent developers and the innovation in software they bring has almost collapsed, indeed along with almost the entire desktop software market.

I can appreciate that the issue is not black and white, and that piracy has hurt the industry.  However, there are techniques for fighting piracy, like water-marking, that have proven to be more effective than DRM and rights restrictions in other marketplaces (such as e-books) which do not infringe on the consumers' rights to use what they legally purchase. 

It seems that the economy of producing software has become similar to the movie industry.  It is so expensive to produce a high-quality, full featured program these days that you have to be able to expect large returns.  I'm sure this is what has led to software companies targeting corporate users, as there is more money to be had from selling to businesses than selling to consumers.  It also forces computer game writers to write sequels to games they know will sell (again - similar to the movie industry.)

However, continuing the entertainment industry analogy, I don't approve of the movie and music studios suing individuals for having digital copies of their music.  In the same vein, I don't approve of software companies placing prohibitive restrictions on honest customers. 

I said before that I agree that you have to make it difficult enough to copy to keep honest people honest, but copy protection seems to be quite out of hand.
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #18 - Jun 29th, 2008 at 9:11pm
 
MrMagoo wrote on Jun 28th, 2008 at 5:42am:
I said before that I agree that you have to make it difficult enough to copy to keep honest people honest, but copy protection seems to be quite out of hand.

Keeping the honest people honest is the exact phrase that gets used here with respect to (genuine, not the V2i) Ghost when we are designing the licensing measures we apply, because we don't think it's worth the risk overall of seriously inconveniencing legal customers because of cheats. People complain about all licensing, including ours, of course, but anyone who thinks what we do is unreasonable or unfair should try coming up with an alternative which doesn't involve everyone losing their jobs and there being no support or future development.

The other things you are complaining about are not new. The use of copy protection measures has not changed much over the entire lifetime of the personal computer, in fact. People who were around in the 80's will remember all the same stuff; dongles, network license servers, and elaborate schemes for creating uncopyable floppy disks (my all-time favourite being that first used by Broderbund for their game "Choplifter" on the Apple ][, where the content of the disks was written in spirals rather than the normal tracks - the stepper motor in the drive being under software control, so it was stepped every couple of sectors based on a game-specific set of timings).

Also, as I said earlier, there are publishing services - and emerging business models - which are different. I am a happy user of Valve's Steam service, which DOES allow use of a purchased license on many computers; this is the same thing I was alluding to earlier as a potential future with respect to XBox Live and Sony as publishers for content for their respective media platforms.

The future is an open question, but Steam is an interesting part of the space now. Steam's DRM model strikes an excellent balance. HOWEVER, the problem with all such things for ISVs is that this model applies well only to certain kinds of content, and that the publishing platform itself was expensive to develop and run and so takes a cut of the revenue stream (although vastly less of a cut than traditional retail distribution, more than the "nothing" most people think of as the cost of internet distribution) and being a third-party platform in the entertainment niche it's not achieved enough success to be of use to ISVs who would like to publish non-entertainment software through it.

I don't approve of the MPAA or RIAA methods either, by the way, but then I don't live in the US and those kind of enforcement actions do not occur in New Zealand. We do not have legislation like the DCMA and the courts here take a different view than those in US jurisdictions do regarding such things (for instance, equipment to circumvent the use of region coding is legal here because the region-coding element tied into some copy-protection technologies like those in DVDs is viewed as falling afoul of competition law).
 
 
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MrMagoo
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #19 - Jun 30th, 2008 at 6:05pm
 
Quote:
People complain about all licensing, including ours, of course, but anyone who thinks what we do is unreasonable or unfair should try coming up with an alternative which doesn't involve everyone losing their jobs and there being no support or future development.

Someone is always going to complain no matter how elegant the final solution turns out to be.  I haven't ever had an issue with Norton copy protection or how they enforce their policies.  My comments were aimed at the industry on a philosophical level.
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #20 - Jul 8th, 2008 at 2:13pm
 
Here's an interesting link that claims one third of all consumers are DVD pirates:

http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/007224.html

http://www.macworld.com/article/134337/2008/07/futuresource.html

Unfortunately, they don't say what is the best DVD ripping/copying (back-up) software.
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #21 - Jul 9th, 2008 at 12:44am
 
And in a strange co-incidence: Macrovision is hiring!.

Note that they are looking only at copying of commercial DVDs (and not those which are pirated commercial counterfeits, which may not be a major factor in the US/UK markets but are a general global problem) and not at torrent-type downloads, which like the counterfeit product market aren't something you can battle easily.

If the survey included information on torrent-type piracy of mainstream films, my guess is that it'd look much much worse - and also less in favour of Macrovision having a useful deterrent effect at the "keeping honest people honest" level, although I think they do have a fair case to make and I'd also observe that I've never seen Macrovision on DVDs cause technical problems like it used to in the videotape days when it was a scourge to legitimate customers (and as the SafeDisc/SecurROM type schemes are now).
 
 
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MrMagoo
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #22 - Jul 10th, 2008 at 2:46pm
 
Although I've never had Macrovision keep me from watching a DVD, it has given me trouble backing them up (for obvious reasons.)  It is unfortunate that DVD piracy is rampant, since it gives them good reason to tighten security.  Tighter security nearly always inhibits usability in electronics.

In my case, taking DVD's on frequent road trips means they quickly get scratched and cracked no matter how careful I am.  If I didn't back them up, I'd have to frequently re-purchase my entire collection.  Fortunately, there are still ways to back the DVD up and continue to watch my legally purchased movies.
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #23 - Jul 10th, 2008 at 8:13pm
 
In actual fact, there is basically nowhere in the Western world in which making backups of prerecorded media makes the slightest bit of rational economic sense at all. Actual media failure rates are sufficiently low, and scratch rehabilitation is so available and so cheap (and works), that putting any time, effort, or money put into backup of prerecorded content on optical media is quite silly.

Of course, there are common human cognitive failures which come into play such as the endowment effect which leads people to make many such poor choices (you want to "protect" what you "own" even if it's cheaper to just replace it), but this doesn't change the simple reality that as a matter of public policy, allowing backup of prerecorded media is not justified because of the truly colossal economic loss that comes from enabling of routine piracy.

For countries with very weak consumer-protection law there may well be a justification for improving mandatory standards of consumer protection and for regulators to act to encourage competition to improve aftermarket care; that is a far, far more effective public-policy approach and benefits consumers far more than any other approach.

As I'm mentioned several times before, once again I live in a country where the law strikes a pretty good balance: the Consumer Guarantees Act requires that all products meet a requirement of "reasonable quality" which specifically includes durability as a criterion (see also the question of Extended Warranties upsold by retailers).

[ If the actual intent in copying is not really backup, but that is merely used as a proxy for the ability to engage in format shifting, that is a different discussion. ]

Since I've linked The Economist and mentioned HIV/AIDs policy earlier (they give a lot of coverage to the issue), a book favourably reviewed there a couple months ago came up this morning as Elizabeth Pisani was the feature guest this morning on New Zealand public radio (download available for 7 days from the broadcast date).
 
 
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MrMagoo
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #24 - Jul 11th, 2008 at 12:24am
 
I disagree that DVD's are scratch resistent enough that backup isn't necessary and that scratch recovery works sufficently well.  I've lost many DVD's to scratches (or complete cracks due to unfortnate accidents) and I've never had good luck with scratch removal kits.  That's the whole reason I started backing them up, and I do make frequent use of my backups - which reinforces my feelings that it is financially sensible for me. 

What would be financially silly is to ask DVD's to be manufactured that can stand up the the abuses that DVD's naturally take on a road trip or in the hands of my nephews.

Format shifting is another factor.  Since my DVD's are already backed-up to my hard drive, I find it convenient to share them on my home network and watch them from any computer in the house.  The files aren't accessible from outside my network, so I am not redistributing them, merely watching them in one room without getting up and walking into another room to get the disk.

As is the case with Macrovision - DRM doesn't seem to ever stop piracy.  If it did, there would be fewer illegal copies out for 1 in 3 consumers to buy.  They will always find a way around the protection.  All it does is make it more and more difficult for legitimate users to use the disks in reasonable ways.

Similar to how gun control ensures that only criminals have guns, DRM takes options away from people following the DMCA and does little to combat piracy.
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #25 - Jul 12th, 2008 at 12:08am
 
You can disagree all you like, but the experience of rental agencies and retailers here shows otherwise. Rental discs in particular receive appalling treatment, which is why rental outlets here typically employ scratch-removal equipment that is quite effective (and having purchased the equipment, offer it as a cheap service). Similarly, one of the game software retailers here in New Zealand offers free scratch repair for one year from purchase as a standard thing, as part of their Consumer Act obligations. Better service wins customers, of course.

Now, one of the quid pro quos in this is making illegal copying a more clearly identifiable offense. In countries in which "backup" copies are not considered infringing (in New Zealand, there is no such automatic "right") or which format shifting is considered part of "fair use" (here ringfenced to apply only to sound recordings in the latest amendment to the Act for prerecorded media; format shifting of broadcast media is different) even in egregious cases of infringement these are available as defenses; this in effect raises the already astronomical cost of attempting to defend one's property against blatant infringers to an unreasonably high level. Removing these faux defenses mean that it is generally much easier and cost-effective to bring successful prosecutions against offenders, and making it possible to actually penalize offenders benefits legal users.

The law as it stands in my country seems to be to be a good balance, and I'm pretty happy with it.
 
 
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MrMagoo
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #26 - Jul 13th, 2008 at 5:01am
 
This seems to be one area where we will remain in disagreement.  It has been interesting to hear your thoughts.
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #27 - Jul 13th, 2008 at 6:07pm
 
MrMagoo wrote on Jun 28th, 2008 at 5:42am:
... In the same vein, I don't approve of software companies placing prohibitive restrictions on honest customers.

A practical question-
If I own a genuine copy of a particular software (eg Windows XP), am I justified in installing the same copy of Win XP; (ie with same Serial No) on two computers (eg 1 desktop & 1 laptop) that I use exclusively at home, on systems that are used only by me and for no commercial/small business applications? It is an aside that MS won't allow this to be done, with WGA, Product Activation, and such; but this would be a valid question for a home user on a limited budget [who (for argument's sake) has no interest or time to invest in a Linux distro and insists on using MS-Office since (s)he has been using that Office suite for the past many years]; if the laptop vendor had not bundled a copy of Windows with laptop.
(BTW I do have 2 separate versions of Win XP Pro, 1 each for desktop PC and laptop; both 'genuine').


MrMagoo wrote on Jul 11th, 2008 at 12:24am:
Format shifting is another factor.Since my DVD's are already backed-up to my hard drive, I find it convenient to share them on my home network and watch them from any computer in the house.The files aren't accessible from outside my network, so I am not redistributing them, merely watching them in one room without getting up and walking into another room to get the disk.

Is my situation with Windows XP (or other software) analogous to above? Or are there gray areas?

(I am pretty sure there are, depending on where one is standing; but am curious to know how many of those reading this have a similar (or differing) opinion.)


The software industry, it seems was *comfortable* with this (ie they recognized the grey zone, but *may* have empathized with the user; tho' it is difficult to understand or know with certainty individual corporate strategy), as reflected by the foll. example:
I have a licensed copy of Adobe Acrobat 6 Professional; which I use on my laptop and desktop PC (both almost exclusively by me for my personal computing needs and for no commercial purpose whatsoever). I chose not to register (version 6 and earlier have registration as an option, not compulsory to register online, unlike with ver 7 and above). I do not feel any pangs of regret at all, since I do not see the need (or *moral logic*) in getting 2 copies of the same program for my (and my alone) personal use. It is a systemic problem (of portability) that I have to alternate between (and keep in sync) laptop and desktop; in this situation, licensing IMHO has no role beyond that of a single registration.

A similar question arises with other software such as Norton Systemworks or Anti-virus Programs (due to which software companies now issue 3-PC/3-User licenses). It also seems to (partly)  be a package/company-specific question, since not all software vendors do so.

However, I feel software companies should give consideration to the above line of thought. This may be one reason why those (eg students on a limited budget) still undecided would opt for pirated, rather than licensed, software.

 

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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #28 - Jul 13th, 2008 at 7:41pm
 
zmdmw52 wrote on Jul 13th, 2008 at 6:07pm:
software companies should give consideration to the above line of thought

Of course we do, and have. Software development is not a new industry (we're celebrating the 50th anniversary of Lisp this year, for crying out loud) and it's full of smart people, or at any rate it used to be even if the talent pipeline is down to a trickle. Rest assured that pretty much everything on the way of business model has been tried multiple times. And as is the way of business, most things fail, and go away if they don't work (although they sometimes get tried anew from time to time).

Norton 360, for instance, is licensed precisely in the way you describe. A single retail "copy" is allowed to be used on up to 3 PC's concurrently. Sony's downloadable PS3/PSP game "flOw" can run on up to five pieces of Sony hardware that are registered to a single user. I've mentioned Steam already, which lets you use the software purchased on your Steam account on any PC.

Note, however, that the 3 things above are all tied to strong online DRM enforcement, and all come from companies who have got the wherewithal from other products to sustain the development of the DRM platforms themselves. If you sell primarily to consumers and don't do that, you very shortly simply won't have a business (and you certainly aren't going to get any money from anyone to start a business selling software to consumers).
 
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #29 - Jul 14th, 2008 at 7:40am
 
Quote:
I have a licensed copy of Adobe Acrobat 6 Professional; which I use on my laptop and desktop PC (both almost exclusively by me for my personal computing needs and for no commercial purpose whatsoever). I chose not to register (version 6 and earlier have registration as an option, not compulsory to register online, unlike with ver 7 and above). I do not feel any pangs of regret at all, since I do not see the need (or *moral logic*) in getting 2 copies of the same program for my (and my alone) personal use.

Zmdmw52, you should check to be sure, but I do believe that Adobe allows Acrobat 7/8/9 to be activated on two PCs at the same time. I was moving my Acrobat 8 Standard license from one PC to another a few months ago, and Adobe Technical Support told me that it was not necessary to deactivate the product on the old PC before installing and activating it on the new PC.

On a more general note, the logic of your argument presupposes that you are entitled to selectively adhere to the terms and conditions of the license agreement as you deem appropriate.  That is false.  If you want to purchase a license for Product X, then you are obligated to honor its terms and conditions.  If you don’t like those terms and conditions, then don’t purchase Product X.  The situation is “black & white”, and really is quite simple & straightforward.
 

ple • o • nasm n. “The use of more words than are required to express an idea”
 
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