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Piracy / Linkage (Read 62560 times)
Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #45 - Jul 17th, 2008 at 7:08pm
 
MrMagoo wrote on Jul 16th, 2008 at 8:00pm:
may be a loud minority, hell bent on pushing their agenda in article comments and forums

I.e., Slashdot. They really aren't the minority there, though, which is why it gets singled out. Now, that's not representative of most open source users, but it's one of the hubs of a militant proselytising wing of something that functions like a cult. Honestly, I'd rather sit next to a Scientologist on a 12-hour flight; the conversation would be more intelligent and I'd have a better chance of them taking no for an answer.
 
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #46 - Jul 17th, 2008 at 9:07pm
 
By the way, open source developers are a different thing. No different to the commercial kind, in fact; equal mix and range and shape of the talent pyramid, with plenty of notable iconoclasts in either set. When I next bump into Peter Gutmann (when his current speaking tour is over) I'll try and remember to ask him for his perspective on New Zealand's current Copyright Act since he was part of the debate leading up to its passage and was quite critical of the early drafts.
 
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #47 - Jul 18th, 2008 at 9:52pm
 
MrMagoo wrote on Jul 16th, 2008 at 8:00pm:
consumers who are unaware that the products are stolen or unaware of the magnitude of the impact supporting such piracy has

Again, let me say how wrong this is. Most pirates know what they are doing, and have constructed a mental framework in which it's a perfectly good thing.

In fact, I've conveniently been supplied with a concise demonstration by two of this site's less subtle pirates discussing the virtues of using, absolutely knowingly, pirated Ghost. Both have also behaved in exactly the evasive manner I also described, refusing to acknowledge that they were doing wrong, when dealing with me in the thread which Rad pointed at which kicked this off.

Piracy is largely not a simple consumer-driver phenomenon. Most regular consumers are a) honest, and b) used to paying for stuff, often with a large element of barter and reciprocity - trust - involved instead of cash.

To get to piracy, they typically have to be lead to it, by learning about it (via sites like Slashdot where outfits like TPB are ... delicately, by people smart enough to know not to incriminate themselves ... generally given a very positive reporting while law enforcement is always decried as a Bad Thing) and encountering people (like Mr. Shadow and Mr. Singh) encouraging them, telling them it's "fighting greedy companies" and the like.

Seriously. The anonymizing effects of corporations, and the anonymizing effects of the internet, are what most help people pull off the cognitive trick necessary to believe the tales they are told: the outright lies the pro-piracy folks spin, and the half-truths of the open source movement, that software costs nothing to make and nothing to reproduce so they are being gouged and stealing is moral.

Once people get to believe this, the game is largely up, and you cannot change their opinions or actions without coercion. They will defend their mindset which makes them morally justified to the end. And unfortunately, the love of anonymity and the freedom to behave badly without consequences that it brings (I'd link to the classic Penny Arcade cartoon but I don't know how Rad feels about not-safe-for-work content) is clearly very addictive.

Another irony of piracy is that the owners of big corporations are typically instutitions; which means banks, pension funds, and entities like that which are in charge of folks savings. Leaving aside the question of managerial action (a question in its more general form of misaligned interests called agency risk), business benefits society at both ends: by providing employment in the now, and returning profit to investors in public markets, which for most people are what provides their wealth for the future.

[ I'm not sure how far the U.S. is through the transition occurring in most OECD countries from defined-benefit to defined-contribution pension schemes; I understand it's still politically untenable in the U.S. to address the problem, although the US is at least helped in deferring facing this by still having such high fertility compared to other western countries. Here, that transition is well under way; indeed, the Government's pension liabilities are explicitly manifest in an investment fund that invests in equities and property just as private institutions do. ]

The notion that corporations are "greedy" reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how public markets work and how much we all need them to work. They need to be restrained by rules that ensure the pursuit of profit does not get out of hand, but that's better done by regulation, not theft.
 
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #48 - Jul 20th, 2008 at 4:35pm
 
Quote:
Piracy is largely not a simple consumer-driver phenomenon. Most regular consumers are a) honest, and b) used to paying for stuff, often with a large element of barter and reciprocity - trust - involved instead of cash.

To get to piracy, they typically have to be lead to it, by learning about it (via sites like Slashdot where outfits like TPB are ... delicately, by people smart enough to know not to incriminate themselves ... generally given a very positive reporting while law enforcement is always decried as a Bad Thing) and encountering people (like Mr. Shadow and Mr. Singh) encouraging them, telling them it's "fighting greedy companies" and the like.

Which is why I think that consumer awareness is far more effective in combating piracy than DRM.  Awareness can reverse the senario you describe and encourage people to get their software the honest way.  DRM is a mere speed-bump for pirates, and (it seems to me) encourages people to use pirated goods (since the pirated goods have fewer restrictions placed on their use once the DRM is broken.)
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #49 - Jul 21st, 2008 at 1:39am
 
MrMagoo wrote on Jul 20th, 2008 at 4:35pm:
Which is why I think that consumer awareness is far more effective in combating piracy than DRM.Awareness can reverse the senario you describe and encourage people to get their software the honest way.DRM is a mere speed-bump for pirates ...

Also, the Open Source movement (availaility of FOSS software) can be a move towards the consumer with a limited budget having a more economically beneficial (for the individual user) choice.
Though there aren't OS alternatives to all commonly-used, paid-for programs/suites; I feel the OS movement is catching up & the gap between paid-for & OS equivalents will get narrower in terms of functionality (e.g. Ubuntu Linux that, though not the Linux equivalent of Windows; comes closer to Windows-like envt with every new version release).

 

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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #50 - Jul 22nd, 2008 at 2:13am
 
MrMagoo wrote on Jul 20th, 2008 at 4:35pm:
Which is why I think that consumer awareness is far more effective in combating piracy than DRM.  

Not only wrong (unfortunately, no firm publicises their own internal data and nor can I share all I know), but it's well known to be of extremely limited effectiveness for well known reasons.

But first, let's remind ourselves of some basics; you're talking about reducing consumer willingness to pirate (reducing demand, the other main demand-reducing mechanism being the threat of enforcement). The other legs of anti-piracy are - as with most illegal activities - reducing supply (making it harder to pirate), and interdicting distribution.

[ Right now, the primary problem is above all else an enforcement problem; piracy is pervasive and the standards of proof required to engage in any enforcement action at all are eyewateringly high (and growing). This is exactly what makes the breathless hysteria of the anticorporate groups on Slashdot so damaging; because pirates (and pro-piracy activists) are completely unconstrained by the need to be truthful or act legally, unlike the legitimate actors engaged in enforcement. Combine this with selective reporting or deliberate distortion (as with Mass Effect's DRM, which in fact does not work as described on Slashdot) which give pro-piracy groups the ability to counterpropagandize and you do not have a good environment for evaluating policy. ]

[[ Of course, the obvious driver of the enforcement problem is simply that markets have worked so well to deliver things that are both cheap and high quality. In the days of yore when the development costs of software were borne by users more directly and it cost many thousands of dollars to purchase, enforcement was easier to deal with (easy to find, easy to prove). Mass-market distribution and efficiency and improvements in quality have driven costs down low enough so that each case of infringement is individually too low to be efficient to pursue directly. ]]

Now, the key questions about education are:
a) does it work at all (i.e., does investment in education yield positive ROI, to some degree)?
b) if it does yield positive ROI at todays levels, where does it stop working at all (ROI falls as the low-hanging fruit - the more easily persuaded - are affected but an increasingly recalcitrant core remains)?
c) what kind of $ figures are needed to cover the gap between a) and b) if indeed any exists?

The problem with a) in that in general, it's fighting against an intractable problem of human behaviour, which I've mentioned here before: two ways it emerges are Time-Inconsistent Preferences and Misperception of Risk, the latter in particular being a constant problem in public policy.

Public-service announcements exhorting people to, for instance, eat more fresh fruit and vegetables are one of the classic examples of this. The future harm - bowel cancer, for example - being mitigated is overly discounted by our cognitive machinery and the public generally prefers the $ benefits today of cheaper, more risky to health, foods.

One of the few examples anywhere of public education that is notably effective is that of the Montana Meth Project, discussed in the wider context of drug economics in The Economist.

One of the things about the public-service advertising about meth which helps it work is that the drug produces its effects a) rapidly, so the discounting mechanism is reduced, b) with high probability, and c) young people are incredibly conscious about their physical appearance, whereas they couldn't care less (more technically "heavily discount") all the other negative effects of drugs.

Education about piracy (which, by the way, there is plenty of) unfortunately is in the same boat as the "eat fresh fruit and veges" ads. The negative impacts of piracy are real and severe, but their direct impact on the pirate is minimal - "worse software" - and far distant in the future. In other words, the best ROI we can hope for is small.
 
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #51 - Jul 22nd, 2008 at 7:33am
 
Worth repeating and reading again…

Quote:
The notion that corporations are "greedy" reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how public markets work and how much we all need them to work.
 

ple • o • nasm n. “The use of more words than are required to express an idea”
 
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MrMagoo
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #52 - Jul 22nd, 2008 at 5:06pm
 
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Not only wrong (unfortunately, no firm publicises their own internal data and nor can I share all I know), but it's well known to be of extremely limited effectiveness for well known reasons

I really don't think the ROI on DRM is spectacular, either.  That is my point - that a minimum amount of DRM stops the honest Joes from simply copying the program, but any more than that does nothing additional to slow piracy.  It seems to me that even incredibly sophisticated DRM is often broken in just a few weeks, and then piracy proceeds just as it would have with if weaker DRM had been used.

So, plainly, my point is that any DRM beyond basic copy protections makes things less convenient for honest users and does little to slow piracy.

I'm not thinking only of the customer here - it is unfortunate to see companies spend several months on DRM schemes only to have them cracked in a few weeks.  It seems to me those months could have been spent on something with a better ROI.
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #53 - Jul 22nd, 2008 at 7:46pm
 
You can believe what you want about ROI, but I am not relying on my imagination as source of data points.

MrMagoo wrote on Jul 22nd, 2008 at 5:06pm:
It seems to me that even incredibly sophisticated DRM is often broken in just a few weeks

So what? This is more than adequate for most kinds of content.

Increasingly, for many many reasons, entertainment media of all kinds (non-game consumer software being the one thing outside this) are increasingly built around a "blockbuster" model of marketing with tiered distribution systems in which the net profit per sale starts out high and decays, so most of the profit is gained in a brief period of time.

Look, for instance, at GTAIV (and Halo3 before it) and at the specific way SecuromV7 activation was used by 2K with Bioshock (where, as promised just after release, activation limits were removed after enough time had passed). Given that no actual harm is done to legal consumers (modulo the irritation at the release time of SecuROM not liking Process Explorer) by their DRM and that the business models are already built around having recouped the bulk of development expenditure within a period of a month or so from first ship on any platform, this is something you can expect to be the norm.
 
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #54 - Jul 22nd, 2008 at 8:10pm
 
Pleonasm wrote on Jul 22nd, 2008 at 7:33am:
Worth repeating and reading again…

And of course, worth bearing in mind just how sophisticated the bargain is, when you look at the network of laws and regulations societies with market economies use to ensure that markets act in the interests of all (buyers and sellers, businesses and consumers) and work to prevent perverse outcomes.

The correct way to view issues of copyright as a matter of public policy is to examine this grand bargain with an eye to the future rather than to the past. It's unfortunate that with respect to say, copyright term extension, the past is often in the driver's seat rather than consideration of what will make markets work better in the future.

This leads into a discussion, of course, about technology with respect to non-market or undeveloped economies and the role that the diffusion of technology from western market economies into less developed ones (often, transforming them into market economies) can improve human welfare.

How best to go about that process of making technologies like this available - and how to balance the interests of technology producers with humanitarian goals is still an open question, but it's an important one. The role of the cell-phone in improving lives in Africa gets a lot of press, and it is particularly interesting that the diffusion of cellphones themselves has largely been achieved through normal market mechanisms (albeit often quite innovative ones to suit the environments in some of these countries). How to replicate that trick more generally to ensure that the fruits of technological development in general are available at a fair price which balances those interests is a challenging one.
 
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #55 - Aug 14th, 2008 at 2:02am
 
An interesting debate on this whole topic happened between a game developer and pirates this week.  A game developer asked on his blog for pirates to tell him why they pirate his games, and they responded en masse:

http://www.positech.co.uk/talkingtopirates.html

Some interesting notes in the final summary from the developer:

Quote:
I got a few people churning out long arguments about whether or not intellectual property is valid, and claiming that it was censorship, or fascism and other variations on this theme. I'm used to reading all this, and find it completely unconvincing, and to be honest, silly. The really interesting news was that this was a trivial proportion of the total replies.


This seems to suggest that Stallman has not been nearly as successful in creating an army of fanatical pirates as this thread has implied.

Quote:
People don't like DRM, we knew that, but the extent to which DRM is turning away people who have no other complaints is possibly misunderstood. If you wanted to change ONE thing to get more pirates to buy games, scrapping DRM is it. These gamers are the low hanging fruit of this whole debate.


Pretty much exactly what I was saying.  People don't like licenses and restrictions.  I don't care how practical it seems, people hate it and pirate cracked copies of software to get around it.  Selling any product successfully is about giving the consumer what they want, and it seems they want DRM-free software.

By the way - I didn't respond to this survey, so it is interesting to me to find out just how mainstream my feelings about this issue are...
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #56 - Aug 14th, 2008 at 4:05am
 
Except that, he posted on Slashdot inviting these comments, a place which is part of a wide political movement made up of people devoted (per Stallman's fantasy drivel) to the idea that any commerce in software is morally wrong and that anyone developing software made for money is intrinsically evil. Secondly, as I already noted above from long experience with pirates, they all employ "pretexts" to pretend that they are moral people and that what they are doing is not wrong. This use of DRM (particularly from the Slashtards) is merely such a pretext - a stalking horse, a cloak.

The simple fact is that software which does not employ strong DRM (like ours) still suffer eyewateringly enormous rates of piracy; higher rates, irrefutably, demonstrably so, than those which do.

I know I will never convince you kind of this, and it helps that in any case I'm utterly disinterested in doing so - this is not a debate, it's a lecture, and one where I am offering the truth because I was invited by Rad to do so, presumably because he is interested in the truth of such matters and I'm in a position to offer it.
 
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #57 - Aug 14th, 2008 at 4:48am
 
And presuming for a moment Rad is still reading, it's worth nothing this entry in the Free Exchange blog which draws attention to some important research that I think, makes a point which is very much in accord with common sense.

The purpose of legal restrictions - patents, copyrights, and such - that make it easy to monetise innovation is to stimulate markets (and thus the opposite of the FSF position, which is that any such markets or form of trade is prima facie immoral, as if the human propensity to trade with each other is some kind of aberration). There is abundant research and history to demonstrate that this clearly works. The value of such protection - in particular considering such things a term limits - falls off very rapidly, and so the optimal degree of protection is thus dependent on the size of market. When markets are large and liquid and transparent enough, there is less need to ensure that the primary market actors can capture absolutely every last bit of market value in order to provide a suitable incentive to innovate.

We need markets to be competitive, and for both new entrants to appear with disruptive innovation (and such new entrants are those who are absolutely the most dependent on the legal protections provided by copyright and trademark and patent law) as well as for the existing market players to be stimulated by competition to improve what they have (which means protection, but of different kind - and not protection which protects incumbents at the expense of either new entrants or entities that are merely smaller).
 
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #58 - Aug 14th, 2008 at 3:15pm
 
Quote:
The simple fact is that software which does not employ strong DRM (like ours) still suffer eyewateringly enormous rates of piracy; higher rates, irrefutably, demonstrably so, than those which do.

I noted at one point that I have no complaints with Norton specifically, and I understand the need to keep honest people honest. My comments are aimed at software with DRM that is
1) stringent enough that it interferes with convenient use of the software (such as most games employ - even simple CD checks are annoying)
2) complicated enough that it causes other issues with your system outside the software (Sony's rootkit would be an extreme example of this)
3) reduces a consumers privacy (the Windows phone-home features are a popularly debated example.  The Apple iPhone is also seemingly heading in this direction)

Quote:
We need markets to be competitive, and for both new entrants to appear with disruptive innovation (and such new entrants are those who are absolutely the most dependent on the legal protections provided by copyright and trademark and patent law) as well as for the existing market players to be stimulated by competition to improve what they have (which means protection, but of different kind - and not protection which protects incumbents at the expense of either new entrants or entities that are merely smaller).

I don't disagree.  I think that people deserve to have their work protected and that it is necessary for competition and innovation.  I do not condone stealing in any form and haven't given it any support previously.

Quote:
Except that, he posted on Slashdot inviting these comments, a place which is part of a wide political movement made up of people devoted (per Stallman's fantasy drivel)

He originally posted on his own blog.  Lots of sites ended up linking to it, not just Slashdot.  He notes that responses came in as comments on many different web sites and to several of his email addresses, so I think it is definitely possible there is a wider representation of his consumers than just the Slashdot crowd.  And, as I noted, the "Stallman fantasy drivel" was a very small part of the responses he received.

Quote:
I know I will never convince you kind of this, and it helps that in any case I'm utterly disinterested in doing so...

I don't think lumping me into a 'kind' is fair or useful for this debate.  I am not debating with you as a 'member of Stallman's legions' or as a 'solider of the Slashdot army.'  I've noted that I disagree with the fanatics out there, and have made an effort to keep my comments as objective as my experiences allow.  My intention was furthering what has been an interesting discussing on a hot topic, and I thank you for participating.  I've learned a lot and it has been slightly eye opening to get a developer's point of view.  Although it is true that I'm not convinced on some points, it is not out of blind stubbornness, and I do see that the issues are very difficult. 

However, I've learned that when debates such as these digress into personal attacks on the members of the debate rather than focusing on a discussion of the issues,  the intellectual portion of the debate has largely passed, and further debate is probably not productive.  Thanks again for sharing your views.
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #59 - Aug 14th, 2008 at 5:17pm
 
WARNING: Possible cross-cultural use of innocent expression being interpreted as a pejorative remark !!!Shocked


Quote:
"... I know I will never convince you kind of this, and it helps that in any case I'm utterly disinterested in doing so..."


MrMagoo wrote on Aug 14th, 2008 at 3:15pm:
"... I don't think lumping me into a 'kind' is fair or useful for this debate..."




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"... I know I will never convince folks such as yourself of this..."


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