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GoatLord

Stealing software with no remorse

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This is not a thread about where to steal such-and-such software but rather about the act of stealing itself. When you're at a store, you should, if you have positive morals, feel bad about taking things without paying for them, especially expensive things. But for the last decade, we've been in the unique position to steal things that are not tangible, existing only as a series of images and sounds (software, mp3s, movies, games, etc.) We don't feel particularly guilty about clicking the mouse, typing a few search queries, and then suddenly having files we didn't have before.

How long will this trend last? Are we simply going to forever steal things electronically, because there's no sense of physically removing something from another environment? Will we suddenly, as a society, feel guilty and gradually stop? Or will corporations finally get tired of losing tiny amounts of their revenue and become more aggressive than just sending "cease and desist" letters?

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GoatLord said:

become more aggressive than just sending "cease and desist" letters?

It's already happening. It's called SOPA.

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GoatLord said:

When you're at a store, you should, if you have positive morals, feel bad about taking things without paying for them, especially expensive things.


Ah, memories of being a teenager.

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I'm sure it'll keep happening for as long as the internet exists and there are geniuses who know how to make work-arounds. The act of downloading something for free is looked down upon, the act of providing something for free against regulation is really the illegal part. Or is that only with streaming?

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I dunno about software, but there's an interesting lesson to be learned from music: you all ofc have heard of that older-than-dirt "Home taping is killing music" campaign. Don't think that record companies didn't lobby for tape recorders to contain some sort of DRM e.g. a disrupting signal broadcast with radio to prevent recording, or not to sell dubbing decks, but they ultimately lost that cause.

Home taping and dubbing decks dominated the 80s and most of the 90s, easily. The cassette was convenient, unrestricted, easy to use (even the dumbest grunt I've ever seen could pop one in and hit record), long-lasting but also cheap and disposable, and very immediate to "get" how it and its recorders/playback machines worked.

So answer me this: what's the modern equivalent of the humble audio cassette? Something that a complete techno-illiterate could use in 3 seconds? Something that has all of its qualities? Something that some complete caveman walking into an audio store could ask for "Duh...I wanna record some songs off the radio..."

Bingo...there ain't ;-)

The closest modern alternatives you can find (other than the last manufactured cassettes and related decks) are either much more complex to use (PVRs, media players), more expensive or exotic to find (Minidisks), oriented to professionals (DAT tapes), presume owning a computer (CD- ripping and burning solutions), and almost all are restricted by DRM of some sort. And no, a desktop stand-alone CD recorder falls neatly into the "too expensive and too complex to use" category, although it's still much easier than operating a computer for a complete newbie.

So, how does all of this translate to software? Well, just like the "threat" of cassettes was gradually killed-off by phasing them out, similarly, the methods you use to get your warez today will be make obsolete by the de-facto hardware and software of the future. It may be due to a lack of local storage, reliance on "cloud" based storage, super-DRM-locked OSes, really dumbed-down software etc. but hey, it will be what everyone will be using in the future, and you wouldn't want to be left behind, right?

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A lot fewer people would feel bad about taking things from stores if they knew they could get away with it. People who believe or know they can get away with copying software or media files for free will keep doing it as long as they are able.

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Aliotroph? said:

People who believe or know they can get away with copying software or media files for free will keep doing it as long as they are able.

Something about a natural tendency to take the path of least resistance.

Also, can something intangible be stolen and if so, how?

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I think it's also hard to feel remorse for stealing when say, you are a media person who can't afford the thousands of dollars necessary to legally acquire the Adobe suite, music software and plug-ins, 3-D modeling software and rendering programs, etc. We feel entitled to "steal" those things because they're just too damn expensive.

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Big business doesn't have morals either. The immediate bottom line is the only thing that matters to them. If they can't get their way legally, they bribe and/or lobby to have the law changed in their favor. Their mistreat and sue their own customers. It's no wonder nobody respects them...

I'm willing to bet the average person finds it much less troubling to download software, music, etc. owned by a megacorp than stealing from a mom & pop shop in their neighborhood.

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iori said:

Also, can something intangible be stolen and if so, how?

It's illegal and most easily noticeable when you're a company that warezes software, obviously, because the main intent with that software is business. Meanwhile, the software makers won't get any money because you warezed them. And people were paid to make that software. Who else is expected to buy their products if not companies, freelancers and generally speaking people with lots of money?

Also, please support the free/open-source software scene while at it. As a hobbyist, I don't think you need much more.

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A decade of stealing software/music/etc. has not even put a dent in the major corporations. How can we even begin to give a shit about them?

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Software is a bunch of 1s and 0s, that's not stealing, it's sharing. Because no one lost anything.

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I've been known for stealing quite a few analog FM-modulated waveforms in my day, and securing them onto flexible magnetic tapes as analog magnetization. I think we called it "recording a tape off the radio" or something like that.

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GoatLord said:

A decade of stealing software/music/etc. has not even put a dent in the major corporations. How can we even begin to give a shit about them?

They will always find a way to make profit. But if anyone has bitched about how shitty video games, music and movies are today, one could easily say piracy was to blame. Why take chances funding an interesting idea when you can take the tried and true path of shitty adam sandler flicks and GENERIC ACTION MOVIE WITH CGI EXPLOSIONS!

Production houses are less and less willing to take risks marketing let alone making cool things because piracy is quite rampant. It's the reason we get nothing but sequels and sequels and remakes, regardless of the format.

With that said, yes I am a pirate, I am part of the problem.

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Is that REALLY the reason for lackluster music and movies? I think that's more a product of the medium being around so for long, and being so hugely popular, that original ideas have become sparse.

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Mr. T said:

Software is a bunch of 1s and 0s, that's not stealing, it's sharing. Because no one lost anything.

It's simply breaching a copyright attached to a physical medium. It can only be enjoyed/used by the purchaser, and only shared if the medium is exchanged and all copies deleted by the original user. Digital commerce is blurring the line, obviously.

It's much the same with using a piece of artwork without permission. A lot of authors/artists will shout "You stole my painting, you son-bitch", but you really didn't; you breached his copyright.

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Mr. T said:

Software is a bunch of 1s and 0s, that's not stealing, it's sharing. Because no one lost anything.

Because of this fundamental property of all digital media, it is impossible to feasibly make WADs (or anything for that matter) for sale and get rich. GRRR.

EDIT: Well, it might work because other software is still sold, so disregard that. One may make indie games for sale and get some income after all.

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GoatLord said:

Is that REALLY the reason for lackluster music and movies? I think that's more a product of the medium being around so for long, and being so hugely popular, that original ideas have become sparse.

No, there are lots of great ideas out there. It's just the media industry has concentrated it's self so well they have total control of what hits the screens. I mean, there are like four major studios that control everything (AOL Time Warner for an example). Since they have the monopoly, they choose what is being made, and they only have the intentions of making media that is guaranteed to make a smash at the box office. The same old sugar laced shlok that Joe Public wants to see.

I don't know where all this "the Internet is destroying the medias" horse shit is coming from when films are bringing in record ticket sales. I can understand the dip in tangible mediums, but Bieber, Gaga, Swift, etc. are filling stadiums and iTunes and Steam are now selling products that no longer need staff to strike the disks.

When it comes right down to it. The media industry just doesn't want average Joe's making an income by using clips of their product. i.e. they're greedy fucks. This is why a lot of people are sticking it to big business, I guess.

/rant.

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GoatLord said:

Is that REALLY the reason for lackluster music and movies? I think that's more a product of the medium being around so for long, and being so hugely popular, that original ideas have become sparse.

Absolutely. People will ALWAYS have original ideas. We have been producing art since we became human beings, if not prior to that even. While much of it is derivative, quite a lot that has been produced throughout the millenias is still rather novel. But we're suddenly out of ideas now? No.

The issue is where the money comes from to fund such projects.

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When you have an industry run by accountants, you shouldn't expect to see anything other than sequels and derivatives of already successful products.

Quast said:

With that said, yes I am a pirate, I am part of the problem.

Back in the 8-bit days I was also part of the problem, as were the local retailers who only stocked the more popular recent titles. I've never swallowed the "piracy is theft" line, since strictly speaking (unless you somehow manage to delete the source material while copying) it's "unauthorized reproduction", all the copyright owner has lost is revenue.

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GoatLord said:

A decade of stealing software/music/etc. has not even put a dent in the major corporations. How can we even begin to give a shit about them?

Stealing? Counterfeiting at worst, if it could be even called that.

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I remember when most of my media was taped off of the radio or TV. I knew people who had walls of home copied tapes. Walls of 'em!

It seems people have forgotten that it was extremely easy to tape films off of television or even rented VHS. I did it all the time when I was a wee lad. I also copied many cassettes on my twin deck stereo.

Belial said:

Stealing? Counterfeiting at worst, if it could be even called that.

Like I said, it's only a breach of copyright. Now, distributing copies by torrent, that's where they really nail you. Even if it's still not technically counterfeiting.

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Belial said:

Stealing? Counterfeiting at worst, if it could be even called that.

Usually when I think of counterfeiting, I think of knockoffs, not 1:1 copies.

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It doesnt feel "that bad" because, well...it doesnt feel like stealing to me. More like...finding stolen goods, or being given stolen goods.

Also; my roomie talked to a person who works for 3d Studio Max (or the company that makes it, or whatever..) and he said they were dependent on students and non-professionals getting pirate copies, so they "looked through their fingers" on the matter, if I can use that expression in english

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DoomUK said:

Let's not forget that piracy and theft are not the same thing.

Made with games in mind, but also applies to movies and music.

I'm sorry, but that is a fucking terrible flow chart.

'Does the game suck? If so they never would've got your money to begin with?'

That is patented nonsense. Before piracy was as easy and convenient as it is today and before the internet was as mature as it is now, I used to spend money on games and music albums that may have looked alright. Often times new releases that got tossed right in the bargain bin. Most of the time I would've never knew what to expect without purchasing.

My favorite purchase was a bundle of warzone 2100 and total annihilation. Both games for $25, I knew nothing of either game but I took the chance and spent the money and both games ended up being rather good. System shock 2 was another game I knew nothing about, found it in the bin and took a chance. However, I've certainly paid for my fair share of crappy games as well...but you know what? Out of every game I have pirated, of those that I actually enjoyed, I have never felt compelled to go out and buy the game legit and I seriously tend to doubt those that say that they would just to make their position look noble. Some people probably have done that, but the vast majority of people that pirate software aren't 'trying before they buy'.

With that, making the argument about if piracy is theft is not even the real issue simply because it doesn't matter.

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Quast said:

Most of the time I would've never knew what to expect without purchasing.

And this doesn't bother you? I don't like buying something that I don't know will be any good or not. Most of the time I like to be presented with some kind of preview or demonstration that gives me an idea of what it's like, unless it's something I know I'll love regardless of the inevitable flaws and nitpicks (e.g. Skyrim).

When legal game demos are available, great. They're relatively small in size to download and ideally give you a good idea of what to expect in the final product. But demos, especially pre-release demos are few and far between these days and you end up taking a leap of faith with your money when all you have is the opinions of some reviewer and people on the internet to go on.

EDIT: Also, a pirated copy of a game generally doesn't permit you access to it's multiplayer modes, if it has them. So with the exception of SP-only titles you're only getting half a product anyway.

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There weren't always demos, and it wasn't easy to find reviews. I didn't have a modem back in the 80's (wouldn't have been able to afford phone charges anyway) so my game knowledge was limited to word of mouth (my friends at school) and occasionally some review in a magazine.

Going strictly by the ads or pictures on the game box/packaging could be misleading anyway. Some games had fancy artwork that looked very nice or descriptions that sounded real cool, but when you actually got to experience the real deal, it was underwhelming. Effectively that was a form of bait & switch tactic.

And then there were games that were buggy (with no easy way to get patches!), or were just bad ports (Sega 32X Doom, various Amiga games that didn't take advantage of the machine's coprocessors, etc.)

These days, it's a lot easier to get info and reviews, demos, etc. Heck, you don't even have to buy any software at all unless it's required for your job or something. The amount of good FOSS is staggering. There's also a lot of old games that have been released to public domain, or other free licence. Of course, that is exactly how it should be! The copyright system was never designed as a means for "IP owners" to enjoy an (effectively) perpetual monopoly on distribution.

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DoomUK said:

And this doesn't bother you? I don't like buying something that I don't know will be any good or not.

Does it bother me? A little I guess, but that's simply the nature of purchasing anything. It doesn't matter if it's a video game that might suck, a pair of shoes, a vacuum cleaner or even food products.

A few years ago I dropped $500 on a rigid cordless tool kit because my tried and true dewalt set i used for many years had seen better days. Home depot was running a promotion where rigid tools had a lifetime warranty. I thought, what the hell why not? But rigid was not known and right off the bat problems arose, aside from the fast that the tools themselves weighed a ton which is not cool, batteries wouldn't fully charge and the charger itself never wanted to work in cold weather. I brought both batteries the charger and the sawzall back into home depot to get repaired or replacements multiple times within 6 months. My situation was not unique at all either.

Had I been able to 'pirate' this set, I would've seen the issues right away and would've never wasted $500 on it. But that's different right? It's something 'physical'. What makes intangible and easily replicable things so different?

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hex11 said:

These days, it's a lot easier to get info and reviews, demos, etc.

I'm looking at the list of demos available on Steam right now and I see demos of Hard Reset, Bulletstorm and Homefront. No other major title over the past couple of years has had a demo counterpart on there. Loads of demos of more obscure titles which I personally have no interest in, but that's just me.

Where are people getting these (publicly available) demos of their games?

Quast said:

Does it bother me? A little I guess, but that's simply the nature of purchasing anything. It doesn't matter if it's a video game that might suck, a pair of shoes, a vacuum cleaner or even food products.

Yeah, but the difference is a demo of a game is a lot easier to distribute than those other things. Never heard of a shoe manufacturer letting you wear a pair of shoes for a few weeks to see how they work, or giving you one shoe as a trial before you commit yourself to buying the other one.

The point is you shouldn't HAVE to spend your money not knowing whether you'll truly like it or not. Not with a game anyway.

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DoomUK said:

Never heard of a shoe manufacturer letting you wear a pair of shoes for a few weeks to see how they work, or giving you one shoe as a trial before you commit yourself to buying the other one.


Shoe manufacturers, nope; but shoe shopkeepers, kinda. Not for a few weeks of course, just a minute or two walking around in the shop to see how they fit and all that stuff.

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