Posted 01 February 2005 - 01:52 AM
The traditional trade system goes along the lines of, person A has something, person B has something. Person A gives their something to person B, who gives something in return. Both lose their original possesion, in exchange for the others item.
Computers make that scheme a fair bit more complex.
Person A has some media, person B has some money. Person A gives their media to person B, in exhange for money. Person A now has money, but still has their media. Person B has the media, but no money. Nor does he have the right to sell on the media he has bought.
Given that the price to copy software (or music) is free, what you are in fact paying for is two things. One is the license to own that media, and the other is the storage material that holds that media.
Now, these days, your software publishing companies (and music recording companies) would like to think that these two things are not mutually exclusive. That is, if you do not own the licence, you have no right to the storage material, and if you happen to break the storage material, you lose the rights to the media, and thus have to pay for both again.
As a general rule, state laws over ride this. You'll note that just about every licence agreement notes this. So, that law only applies if you're in a location of the world where it's not ruled otherwise. This means that if you own the licence, you may use the media regardless of the state of the storage material. For example, you may make a copy of the media, and use the copied disc. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you can pirate the media - you can only use one copy at a time. What it boils down to is that backups are legal, but you can't distribute them.
But, consider this. The recording industry likes to say that the reason CDs cost so much, and performers get such a low percentage of the procedes, is that the storage material costs so much, as does the distribution costs. If that's the case, why not simply spread the music across the web, and cut out the CDs in stores altogether? Prices would plummet, and I bet piracy would go down with it. The only real answer I can think of is that the recording industry is full of lying greedy pigs; but it might just be that they are simply stupid.
Now, I may sound harsh when I say that, but let's face it, it's true.
If any music can be played on headphones, or through stereo speakers, it can be recorded and stripped of any copy protection mechanisms. And yet the recording industry continues to create new copy protections, which only prevent paying customers from playing the music - but don't stop pirates from copying it. They then up the price of their albums due to the development costs of these redundant 'copy protections'.
Let's face it. Either they're making extra money there - greed - or they really don't know their hurting only their customers - stupidity.
The same thing can apply to computer software. Just look at what happened with Steam - early customers couldn't play because the official servers died, but pirates could because they could make their *own* servers.
This tends to... annoy... customers, who turn to piracy. It's more convieniant. Not only is it cheaper, it's easier. The only catch is, it's immoral. I could rant on for hours (and I type pretty fast, so that's a lot of text ranting), so to sum up - the above reasoning isn't an excuse for piracy, but it is one of the reasons why it's about.
Perhaps piracy would drop if sellers made their products more conveniant to use by not implementing copy protections that prevent the media from being used by their customers(regardless of intentions, let's face it, that's how it turns out), and if they used more practical and inexpensive distribution methods.
I suppose they could continue to rely on un-enforcable anti-piracy laws, while continuing to make things harder and more expensive for their customers. But can you really see that causing a drop in piracy rates?