Before we delve into the piracy topic, it’s important to note the differences between pirating something and stealing something. The public service announcement launched by Motion Picture Association presents an add stating that “You wouldn’t download a car”. This ad basically blends the two together to relate the crime and guilt between stealing and pirating.
In solutions trying to end piracy there were two bills: PIPA and SOPA. These solutions were not great because they would censor the web and impose harmful regulations on businesses. Over 7 million people voted No on SOPA and PIPA on January 18. There must be a better way to solve this then the government asking companies to censor the web. How can we approach the problem of ending piracy without hurting liberty?
Notch, the creator of Minecraft – a game that has been pirated a lot, has said his own thoughts on piracy, noting very specific differences between it and stealing. He realizes that copying a book costs money, but copying a digital movie is essentially free. If you copy a program, no one loses money, no one loses resources, and more people are using that program. This presents a problem for people who are trying to get paid for their digital work, such as Notch. It has become a rather old outdated model that giving something to someone meant ridding the owner of their original copy. The only source of those copies is from the original owner who made them. Along the way, there may be development costs involved in the process of making the copies. Going back to the ad, for every car in the market, there is money involved in making it. In understanding a scenario with digital copies, you would only pay to make the car once.
It’s easy to see why people pirate programs. They are free, easily available, and quick to get, all the while bearing very little consequences. If you are past the moral part of course. Notch sees the bright side to pirating, and while discussing potential revenue, he says that in some form people who pirate his product give his product more exposure. It is possible that the person with the pirated product will enjoy it and share it with friends. Now this case hits home with Notch, as he is a Swedish developer and Sweden faces the most fire because it has a site called thepiratebay.org, which allows a lot of pirating to happen, as well as an anti-piracy police force.
Other tactics that do not require a certain bill to be passed involve requiring the product to connect to the internet. If it has connected to the internet it can be checked on to be sure it is being used legally, and gives the product’s company a considerable amount of control over it. This also raises another issue of requiring people to have internet access before they can use a product, (and a lot of complaints have happen with Starcraft 2 for doing this), but most people these days have that connection.
Yet again, piracy does not equate money being taken out of a person’s pocket. My brother is a manager at The Printing House and I have temporarily worked with him during the very busy seasons. Loss is worked into the budget because it is something that needs to be accounted for. It could come from various amounts of reasons, such as items breaking, being stolen, or being defective. In a retail setting, the losses can be calculated since it is physical objects being sold that come from manufacturers, and they had to be put in stock by employees paid for their time. There is a constant tie of numbers and inventory that goes from the consumer all the way to the manufacturer, involving money and labour.
In the accounting spreadsheet, a loss will show if someone got their money back from a company. That loss is a return and it can be seen as being much more harmful than someone pirating a product. If someone returns a digital copy, it does not get added to your infinite stock, because yet again, infinity is not a definitive number. So what shows if a company will profit and thrive is something that goes beyond numbers. It is up to the customers and their intentions. Do they want to buy your product? Do they want to support you? Have you done what it takes to earn their satisfaction previously?
In theory, if piracy was stopped, it is difficult to tell whether or not the people that would have pirated would have bought the product. You cannot calculate this because you cannot quantify the intentions of a person.
The toughest question of all is how do you make them want to buy your product, not just want it.
If everyone in the world who was willing to buy a copy instead pirated a digital copy of a product, then the company surely will not generate enough to revenue to cover its expenses. There is damage being done, and it’s hard to say that without piracy no one of them would have even bought the product anyways. The people that actually buy the product are the ones that are keeping the company alive and supporting them. It is because of them that the company can continue doing what they are doing and have a chance to grow and create future products. It is also these people that give jobs to the employees of the company for all the hours of work they have invested into making the product. Such is the reason why piracy is a big moral dilemma.
But it still remains that piracy is not on the same leggings as stealing, and shouldn’t be treated as such. The solution isn’t as simple as “do whatever it takes to make the act stop” because it hurts more than it fixes. Freedom, privacy, and rights will be hurt.