Game developer says piracy is not theft
Minecraft man speaks out
The creator of Minecraft believes piracy can't be considered theft and that smart games developers should view people who pirate games as potential customers.
“If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world,” said Markus Persson during the closing session of the Game Developer Conference's Indie Games Summit yesterday.
The independent coder - commonly known as Notch said: "You can't pirate an online account." he said.
In short, the more copies of a game being used, the more players who can be encouraged to buy services and content online. Pirates then become sales opportunities - for the extras if not the core game code.
Of course, Persson is less troubled by piracy as Minecraft is almost constantly updated. It's cheap too, and there's no huge marketing and advertising machine to maintain.
Does illegal downloading turn pirates into potential customers? Pfft, pull the wooden one. ®
Piracy is not theft, but it IS unjust enrichment
Piracy-as-theft is very, very rare - it means you don't have your copyrights any more. That's not to say that piracy is right, it's just not theft. The analogy I usually use is a bus or train fare - you are consuming a service (use of the train / software) without paying for it. When you buy software you are *not* buying a good, you are buying a *service*. "Intellectual property" is the right to be paid for services rendered.
IP generally can't be "stolen" as the original owner does not lose anything except the possible revenue stream from the IP. (To "steal" is to "take... property wrongfully" according to Mirriam-Webster; if the original still exists it has not been taken, just copied.)
"Possible" is a key word here however - anybody who thinks every pirated item is a lost sale needs a serious reality check.
Protection from piracy is really only practical at a limited level - you can stop Bob from giving Anne a copy of your software by copying the CD, but you can't stop the professional pirates who reverse-engineer your code and remove the copy protection code. The only practical way around this is to have your program require - not just for the copy protection check but actually REQUIRE - an online connection to a server thant can check the legitimacy of your software.
This model works for network-based applications (and games) but not for a lot of other software, although software can be written to run an initial check when it starts up. Many games use this model.
The flipside to this is that if your software will only work when it can connect to a particular server, and you then turn off that server, you are depriving the purchaser of a service that they have paid for, and YOU are the one who is "stealing". You can supply a patch to "fix" this when you are turning your servers off, and I know of at least one company that actually went ahead and did so.
The thing about copy protection is, you have three categories of people using your software. There are the professional pirates, whi will remove the copy protection. There are the people who would pirate your software if they had the technical nous, but buying it is cheaper than the associated hassle. And there are the people who are willing and able to pay you, and don't want to pirate your software. This third category is your core customer base, the people who actually pay your bills, and your copy protection is punishing those customers (as well as the category two people who don't want to pay you).
Suffice to say that there are bastards on both sides of this particular divide.
......smart games developers should view people who pirate games as potential customers.
Agreed !!! Though not 1 for 1 as they do when they report stats of lost revenue.
They are customers who simply cannot afford to buy what they have to offer at the price it's going for. Ok, a small number of people pirate for the fun of it but for most people say MS Office is too expensive. Too expensive for me to have at home anyway so I go without but say for offer a student a cracked copy and they'll happily take it... money for rent/food/booze.
So what he's saying here is in an online environment change the bussiness model.
Unlock games chapter by chapter, how many games have you completed 100% of ?
Start with the basics and charge people for the bells & whistles, word art ? That'll be 10 quid please.
Facebook games are going free but charge people for short cuts & so you can "one up" your friends.... that fancy building is "game dollars" you have to buy with hard cash.
Oh last bit, many people simply don't care if it's theft or not.... it's something they can get for free that they wouldn't have othewise AND there is no "visible" impact/penalty.
Same goes for the possibility of viruses or trojans, the risk is there but at the worst they might have email issue or loose photos (which will be on facebook anyway), no online banking cos remember they have no money
Wow that was a longer post than I planned !! Coat... lunch :)
It is theft, but it's a moot point anyway...
It's theft of intellectual property.
If you don't think that should be protected, don't ever bother selling your services or software to anyone - and don't get angry if someone takes something you spent years creating and sells it as thier own.
It's a moot point anyway, as most people would rather shell out cash than risk a dodgy pirate copy.
Unless your highly computer literate, you'll have *no* way of telling exactly what has been added to a pirate download, or a game crack.
It's really not worth it - it makes game patches difficult to apply, as you'll probably have to wait for a hacked patch. It makes online play all but impossible, as you'll not be able to connect.