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future of the software business/what to do about piracy

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I'm writing this post to start a discussion about the future of the way software is sold. It seems that the programming community is being split more and more between those who think all information should be free- the gnu camp- and those who gripe about piracy- the microsoft camp. This is a very old debate I know; Bill Gates was a pioneer in enacting anti-piracy law when a copy of his Basic interpreter was 'liberated' from a trashcan and copied around the homebrew computer club. But it was those same pirates at homebrew that were largely responsible for creating the internet we know and love today- which is why piracy is so easy. Which side is right? On principle, I'm more with the free software people- it seems to me that it can't be the technology which is at fault- trying to force people to use an older and more expensive distribution system for goods simply becuase there is more profit seems rather backwards. Yet Bill Gates is richer than Richard Stallman, and hey, every programmer wants to get paid for what they do! We don't work for free. Can there be a system which works for everyone? Recently I was address-banned from #gamedev for bringing this issue up. The administrator misunderstood me- he took me as trying to rationalize piracy to give myself an excuse. I'm not going to say I'm completely innocent of software piracy- but my intent here is to encourage dialogue, not to encourage robbery. Just covering by butt... FallingFrog Edited by - FallingFrog on January 15, 2001 11:58:06 PM

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well you yourself said that the programmers arent going to work for free. Who is going to pay them ? The company they work for is going to pay them. How is the company going to get money to pay them ? By selling products. If software became free, then I believe the only software that would be made is by hobbiest such as ourselves who do it for the fun of it (at least that is why I do).
However when I graduate from NC State next year, I better be paid for my programming services, or I will take my services elsewhere.


"Yo yo ma"
-Kramer

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One little question: If software should be free, why shouldn''t hardware? It takes time and money to develop high-quality hardware, and we don''t mind paying for it. Doesn''t it also take time and money to develop high-quality software? We don''t mind paying for hardware upgrades every few years, so why shouldn''t we pay for software upgrades? Don''t get me wrong; I''m not saying free software is bad, I''m just wondering why we don''t feel the same way about hardware.

==================
/* todo: insert cool sig */
Martee
Magnum Games.NET

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To answer Martee''s question: Because hardware cannot be copied with digital perfection and made available for download.

To respond to this post, though, I have to point out that it has nothing to do with "the future of how software is sold". Which, I think, would actually be an interesting topic.

Instead, it seems to focus on whether software should be sold at all, which is an entirely different issue. And since the original post painted the sides as the "GNU/Pirate Good Guys" and the "Microsoft Profit Mongers", it seems pretty obvious that this post was flame-bait.


DavidRM
Samu Games

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Ok but leave the thread open anyway.

If software should be free? Are you serious? Sure, make copies of the games I make for free... as long as you go and spend 8 hours a day in a factory or in an office or doing things for me in the same way that I make a game for you. It sounds like the questions that 5 years old children ask. I still can''t believe how Napster and all the warez sites remain alive.

About the other thing, how software is sold I think that as soon as all could have fast connections both music and software stores will fade away, it will be better for costumers and artists/developers cos it will be no distribution cost, although now there are still vinyls being recorded.


Nicole Poster (wife of Anonymous Poster)

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*hint*ads can generate revenues*hint*

How can you guys be programmer and yet be so close-minded about this ? Use your imagination, or let the the marketing people find new ways of "selling" sofware for you . Heck, why should we restrain ourselves in the typical and old-fashioned "I write a program, I sell to the user" marketing way ?

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Excuse me?
have you ever played an "ad"-game? I (and i guess so does the average user) want to enjoy games, and i want to play a good and well designed game, and that does not include watching a mcdonalds or whatever ad everytime i push a button!..

Producing games cost a lot of money, if you want to make up 4 million bucks in development costs you´d have to plaster every available surface with ads...

I think that consumers are willing to pay for good games and for that reason the "small minded way of producer->consumer sales" will not go away.


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The solution is quite obvious. You just bung the pirates in jail. I spent most of yesterday getting warez sites that have my games on them closed down.
I see no reason why the IP addresses used by warez d00dz cant be traced to an ISP, and eventually, the phone-line and hosue number responsible. Then just lock em up. Its theft and they know it. Its funny that warez pirates rant about the huge profits the developers make, then they steal my game, from a guy coding alone for a living.

http://www.positech.co.uk

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Ok here''s my little 2 cents.... One thing I don''t understand is how someone can pick up a guitar, get a few friends that can hardly play together, jam together a few catchy tunes, spend a month in a recording studio put out an album and sell it for
$24.95..... THAT IS REDICULOUS!!!!!!!!! A game company on the other hand has programmers that have been to college, and spent years learning to code..(Mathematics, engineering, physics too)(you can''t learn a few functions and write a game)
Artist with skill and talent, who can model and draw just about anything... Game designers ...TALENTED musicians, and sound engineers... Plus alot of other hard working people.. With Millions of dollars spent and from 2 to 4 years development time.
And a game is sold for only around $50 bucks... Mans thats a steal.. Plus as the game gets older the price drops from 30 to 20 to even 10 dollars... An albums price rarely ever drops....
I don''t buy albums anymore, I just listen to the radio now..
As for the future of how software is sold... For the same reson i don''t want pirated software (besides it bein illegal)is the same reason I dont want buy and download software.. I like the box, I want the cd, i want the manual.. I want the foldouts.. I wanna drive home with it on my lap... Smell the new cd case smell... I want to lay on my coach and read the manual and anticipate playing it. Theres just no pleasure in punching in a credit card number get a download complete and run installation. It cheapens the whole experience.
Well I guess I just made myself sound really neurotic... So im gonna go play my new game i got in a box at the store..

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Ads in games? Excuse me... have you ever actually bought something because you saw a banner ad while on the web? Now think about playing a game, in the middle of a huge deathmatch... "Wait, I just to go and punch the monkey... don''t shoot me"

Or how about a strategy game like AOE, where do you put the ad? Are there soldiers marching around telling you to buy things? That seems real =)


Paying for games is just right, you pay for food, yet it is a necessity, games are a luxury and you are stealing them? (nt directed at anyone... directed towards the crowd)

Trying is the first step towards failure.

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Oh and another thing,, Im REALLY hate people who sell pirated software..... Especially if its a Con, theres nothing worse then sending out a check to someone for what you think is legitamate software and getting a Warez.com cd that is as useless as the person that sold it... ( oh and no offense to lone wolf programmers and small dev comps who sell online cuz they have too ;-) But its still cool to pay a little more for a cd sent by mail!!!)

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You don´t get the thing about thieving until you´re in a position to be robbed....

so, i say nail the thieves to a board and burn them!

Seriously, software piracy should be punished to the full extent of the law, basically it´s the same as shoplifting.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Nah, shoplifting is worse than piracy, because it costs the victims actual money as opposed to theoretical money and because it deprives a legitimate customer of an opportunity to buy the product.

$0.02

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Wow, there are a lot of great replies here... I want to put out another idea though: I was thinking about why people buy cd''s even though mp3''s are easy to get, and it probably has a lot to do with packaging and flashy advertising, like goulflesh said. Also it has to do with portability; you can burn your own cd''s but you need a cd-r and some free time.
Free time is important. Most people will pay to have something done that they could have done themselves if it would have taken a long time to do it. People pay for convenience.
So what if in addition to selling at wal-mart, a business could get a big server and then sell downloads? As long as it was a fast, reliable download, people might pay. Also they can sell tech support and hints etc. etc. The software would be free- both in the open-source and the monetary way- but still the developers would get paid.
Of course, pirates can offer cheaper downloads since they didn''t have to pay to write the stuff- so some kind of legal protection might be necessary...

FallingFrog

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No offence or anything but you sound somewhat pro-piracy.
Downloading 98% of MP3''s are illegal, that''s why people pay for the CD''s because they are not law breakers.

Fast connection, server, being paid to download stuff for people ?
It''s not a bad idea but what exactly do you intend to download ?
Free SDK''s, Free Demo''s, Shareware Apps ?
So far all your intentions seem to be on the illegal side of thing''s.

Yes people do pay for convenience. That''s why people spend $4 for a burger when they could buy and make themselve''s 4 burgers for $4. Call people, lazy, slack, whatever. It''s how thing''s are.

Also it''s a good "business" plan if you can get the right''s to material (and afford for that matter).
Also CD''s are still better quality then MP3''s that have been copied 50 time''s.

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"MP3''s that have been copied 50 time''s"

< sarcastic > Right cos the quality decreases as more copies you make... < /sarcastic > Ever heard of digital n'' analogic?

It''s true that we are just lazy but for example I listen to music mostly from the computer cos I really prefer being able to have all the songs that I want toghether than changing CDs, the legal way is buying CDs in which I need to wait until they arrive or go to stores to buy them, then record the mp3 files, with napster I get the songs directly as mp3 files with no need to wait or going to any store, if they leave stealing being easier than buying stuff legally then lazyness will do the opposite than with the hamburgers, I used to buy CDs but now I just use napster, I don''t like to be stealing specially cos it''s stealing from artists instead of being from big corporations but the legal way is so annoying that lazyness wins, if I could pay some money for that I would do it but not if that means having a worse service. Nothing can be an excuse for stealing so I''m not justifying anything, but why can they just ban napster and just let us buy mp3 files at a dollar each.

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster

Nah, shoplifting is worse than piracy, because it costs the victims actual money as opposed to theoretical money and because it deprives a legitimate customer of an opportunity to buy the product.

$0.02


Right, but "theoretical money" sounds a lot like "no harm done". That´s not true. I agree that most of the loss-statistics about software piracy are way off, but in the end there is a substantial amount of money missing... and with multimillion dollar development costs a firm can run out of money pretty fast if sales are not what they wanted...

still.. software piracy is stealing. And in the end it really does not matter if you would or would not have bought the product otherwise.

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Theoretical money??? So those millions of dollars used to create the game, were just monopoly dollars?

Now I''m going to use extremes to show you something: If *everybody* except for a guy named Joe pirated Quake, then id would not have made any money, rather they would have lost money (people work for money, computers and other assets such as office space cost money). So id would then most likely go bankrupt, or something bad like that. Then where is Quake II? Now, when Bob, the legit customer does not get Quake II, is he to blame? No. Is id to blame? No... then there is only one other party to blame.... everybody

If *everybody* (including Joe) bought Quake, then id would have made $%^$&loads of money, and would be quite happy to continue making games, so then along comes Quake II.

(For the person (people ) that thinks Quake sucks; so do I, but remember Theif used one of the Quake engines =) and name of the game isn''t the point of this person)

Everything costs money, and if people abuse that, then they end up worse off. Fact.


How come, there are no open source programs which are more popular than their non open source counterparts? (or none to my knowledge )

Trying is the first step towards failure.

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Actually, I think comparing shoplifting and piracy is bad, cuz they actually are 2 different crimes. No one can actually steal software, (unless its taken right after developement and sold by a different developer as their product.(Ever see TRON?)) Cuz software never is sold but a licensce to use it is sold. Piracy is the copying and distribution of unlicensced software. Not stolen software.
Id be much worse to actually have software stolen from you, as I'd be much more difficult to prove and you'd hate to see someone making money off of something you created and you arent seeing anything.
Now Im not saying shoplifting is worsethan piracy, cuz with piracy you're actually breaking 3 laws and all have a heavier fine and penalty then shoplifting does (I believe shopliftings only a class 1 misdameanor here . So in a legal sense piracy is actually worse, in a moral sense thats up to the person. (Why, cuz there actually are people who don't think shoplifting is bad.)

forgot to finish a thought:-)

Edited by - ghoulflesh on January 18, 2001 9:53:04 AM

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:

(For the person (people ) that thinks Quake sucks; so do I, but remember Theif used one of the Quake engines =(



Thief was developed by Looking Glass Studios using their own "Dark Engine".

Piracy is bad. No doubt about it. But how many percent of the $50 we pay for a game goes to the developers and how much is taken by the people who distribute and sell the game?

- Le Gameur

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There is NOTHING theoretical about the money it costs to make a game.

No matter if you make hardware or software, the NUMBER 1 expense is always salary and other compensations.

Tim
President of his own software company who has to worry about countries like China not paying for his software.

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There is NOTHING theoretical about the money it costs to make a game.

No matter if you make hardware or software, the NUMBER 1 expense is always salary and other compensations.

And another thing, software piracy has been around ever since the first piece of software was sold. Microsoft might have done a lot of work in software piracy laws, but it isn''t a Microsoft issue.

Tim
President of his own software company who has to worry about countries like China not paying for his software.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
The reason I said piracy costs people theoretical money is this:

When a shoplifter removes a product from a shelf without paying for it, the publishers paid money to print the boxes, manuals and CDs, the distributors paid money to warehouse and ship the things, the retailers paid money for rent and staff to unpack the thing and put it on a shelf, and all of that went to naught because some wank stole it. So all the money that went into physically manufacturing the product, moving it through the distribution chain and making it available to the customer has been lost.

When a pirate downloads a product illegally from a warez site, does it cost the publisher anything? Does it cost the distributor anything? Does it cost a retailer anything?

No.

In both cases, the publisher and developer are deprived of rightfully earned income, but in the latter case, they were not obliged to spend money making the product that was pirated as they were in the first case of the shoplifted product.

In many cases, pirates will treat warez as extended test drives of a product. Some will end up buying the product, in which case the act of piracy ended up costing nobody anything except possibly the interest that would have been earned by the purchase price over the time between the piracy and purchase, which is not likely to be more than a few pennies. In the case of shoplifting, how many shoplifters are ever going to legally buy a product they already unlawfully possess?

I don''t support piracy. I just dislike physical theft more.

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Hi,

I have to totally disagree with the above post. Come on, you think the publishers/distributers don''t lose money because they haven''t made a few boxes and such? What about the developers. They definately lose money, through wages/resources. We are not talking about theoretical money at all.

What about the publishers who would have gone through all the statistics and figures and paid the developers to make the game, then only to find that their figures are thrown up in the air by pirates? Ok, so maybe it doesn''t hurt them as much as they say, but it does happen, not in theory either.

To be honest, I really can''t see how you think that these people who deal in warez are ''viewing the game with purchase in mind'' whoever told you that one is having a laugh with you.

This is not an attack on you personally, but more about my point, which is, pirates are wrong, not only morally but legally also. If you support these guys, or say that they are not technically stealing, well wake up. I really hope this sort of thing never happens to you guys, but if it did it would be interesting to see how you view it afterwards......


Marc.

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