Larry Osterman's WebLog

Confessions of an Old Fogey
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It's about bloody time...

It's about bloody time...

  • Comments 14

I recently ran across these two posts (ok, one’s from a month ago).

Justice department announces international internet piracy sweep: http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2004/April/04_crm_263.htm

Switzerlands's Judical Inquiry Department has taken down the web site ShareReactor.com due to copyright infringement and breach of trademark law. “ShareReactor served as a link platform for filesharing offerings”. http://www.multireg.com/article382.html

This is something I feel really strongly about, and have since I graduated from college (and started working at a company that makes it’s living from intellectual property), I’m glad to see that governments are starting to crack down on the warez people.

 

  • Gosh, you don't think it might be Bill Gates's brainwashing, do you? Naw, I work at Microsoft, I'm impervious...

    Seriously, this problem is way overblown, just like record piracy -- and the resources expended on it would be better spent in other ways.
  • Yea, it's way overblown. People invent "losses" assuming that each pirated copy == 1 license not sold. Kids who pirate massive amounts of high-end software - they'd *never* spend $50,000 on graphics software, so claiming a loss for that is utterly incorrect.

    I write software too, and I'd rather have my product be pirated than my competition's product be purchased. I'm still going to try to make it harder to pirate (activation schemes, encrypted loaders, etc.).

    Sites like ShareReactor should not be taken down. ShareReactor only posts MD4 hashes of files. You could use these hashes to then ask for files from P2P networks. Saying that's illegal is the same as saying it's illegal for me to tell you that you can download eMule and get illegal files. In both cases, your just pointing people to stuff that *might* be illegal. Continuing on, phone books could be illegal, since they point to companies that might sell something illegal. See how silly it gets?
  • I agree that the whole "loss through piracy" thing is a bit of a sham. I learnt to use PhotoShop using a "warezed" version, as there's no way I could have afforded to buy it. However, I now have a job using it, so at the end of the day my piracy "sold" a legitimate copy. As the link below shows, many claims of things being lost for one reason or another are not always to be blieved!

    http://weblogs.asp.net/oldnewthing/archive/2004/04/19/115913.aspx#117202
  • Michael: I have a question for you: Does ShareReactor have a legitimate reason for existing EXCEPT as a mechanism for propogating software piracy?

    Kazaa, the old Napster (and the old mp3.com) have legitimate justifications - they could be used as distribution vehicles for new and established artists that allowed their music to be distributed.

    But the few times I looked at ShareReactor, I found NOTHING but pointers to Warez on eDonkey.

    And posting links to illegal content is just as illegal as hosting the content.

    Mat: I keep hearing the "My warez generated a legitimate sale" argument, mostly on /. For every consumer like you that goes out and buys a legitimate copy, there are probably a dozen others that simply keep on using the warez version.

    My father and brother are using full versions of Photoshop that they paid $100 for. How did they do this? They attended a photoshop course which allowed them to purchase the academic version. Now with the academic version of photoshop, they don't get the discounted upgrades they'd normally get with the retail version, but that's ok with them. Similarly, there's the academic version of Microsoft office that costs about $100.

    You're all right that the "pirated copy == 1 license not sold" is overblown. But it's utterly naive to believe that there aren't a significant amount of losses to software vendors through warez.
  • "Michael: I have a question for you: Does ShareReactor have a legitimate reason for existing EXCEPT as a mechanism for propogating software piracy? "

    Sure. You can find all sorts of great videos (for example) that are not obtainable even through commercial means. For instance, there is anime that's not copyrighted in the US, and not translated (fan-subbed).

    "And posting links to illegal content is just as illegal as hosting the content."

    ShareReactor doesn't post links. All they have are MD4 hashes of files. Finding other machines with files matching the hash is your (or eDonkey's) job.

    Where does one draw the line in posting links? Can I verbally SAY that you can obtain something illegal at a certain location? Is it illegal for me to tell you that Google can hyperlink you to a page that might contain kiddie porn? What about having a page that says "DirecTV broadcasts data to everyone. If you purchased hardware to reprogram your smart card, you can watch DirecTV without paying the company"?
  • "Anime that's not copyrighted in the US". But is it copyrighted in Japan? And by downloading it aren't you violating the rights of the japanese copyright holder? Just because they CHOOSE not to license the content to the US market doesn't mean that the US consumers have a right to violate their content.

    And I was going to mention the kiddy porn link issue - If I have links to kiddy porn on my web site (but no kiddy porn) I'm just as liable as the guy hosting the porn in the eyes of the law (afaik). If an MD4 hash of content is sufficient to link to content (and IIRC, on ShareReactor, you click on an edk: link which, if you have eDonkey loaded navigates to that content), then how is it different from a link?

  • Most countries are also participants in the international copyright treaty: if an item has copyright in one signatory to the treaty, it has copyright in all the others.

    Because UK copyright law gives automatic copyright to any work created at any time by any citizen of this country, this comment I'm writing now has copyright in the US. Larry, you have my permission to copy this comment ;)
  • "If an MD4 hash ... how is it different from a link?"

    That was my point. Where do you draw the line? What constitutes a link? Does it have to be an <a href="">? When 2600 was told to take down all links to DeCSS, they just removed the anchor tags.

    If it goes beyond <A> tags, what exactly does it include? Somewhere between a direct link, and "oh, I heard if you type 'kiddie porn' into Google..." there is a line, isn't there? It is wrong for me to point to eDonkey because you might do something illegal?

    As far as fansubs, yes, you are correct, they are illegal (which has nothing to do with whether it's wrong or not). I'm just pointing out that there are other uses than *software* piracy. :) I can't think of any piece of software I've needed and not been able to obtain legally. eDonkey still has the same uses that Kazaa/Napster have, it's just much, much more efficient.
  • Everybody's biased. I claim two points about intellectual property "items" (software, music, movies, art, etc). Basically, things for which the duplication cost is trivial, but the production cost is non-trivial:

    1) Sales decrease due to piracy. There are people who do not buy the IP because they can obtain it (illegally) for free. Every one of these people represent a loss of revenue for the IP owner.

    2) Sales increase due to piracy. Many of the people that pirate the IP would not at that time buy the IP if they were forced to. They nonetheless gain experience with the IP, the IP gains advertising, more people are exposed to the IP, the IP gains marketshare and other fans, etc. That advertising, marketshare, exposure, etc, leads to other people wanting the IP, some of whom pay for it.


    Which of these effects is greater no one knows. If you believe the /. crowd, #2 is vastly greater. If you believe the RIAA, MS, the BSA, etc, #1 is greater. The fact is, both sides are biased. And there are no impartial parties to conduct studies, and no way of isolating variables even if there were impartial parties. We'll likely never know the true impact of piracy....
  • "We'll likely never know the true impact of piracy.... "

    There might be such "balance" you talk about, say in some western countries. But one could counter that with the countries which have like 90% of their software illegally obtained, there would be no such balance argument. Then again one could say that in those countries if you force their hand they go use free software cause most of them would not have money to buy software at western prices anyway.

    Another argument I like is the price of games etc. 15 years ago i got a game with many disks, huge manuals and boxes. And of course the boxes weight was bit more than what they are today. Still the price tag is (atleast here) almost exact same even though games are sold in larger volumes no doubt. There was piracy then and there is piracy now. The cost of getting the dvd's in small plastic box with no manual here must surely be smaller than what it was 15 years ago. Sure games cost now more to produce, but then again, the markets are bigger.

    If Big Game Company sold latest killer game now in web as a download, would it cost less? Well of course not, bandwidth costs! I wish they slaughtered the ADSL people. People wants Symmetric bandwidth and peer to peer distribution. What good ADSL has done? It has 8 Mb downstream, you can watch movies with 2 Mb. Who cares? Most ISP's limit their entry level ADSL to 5-20 percent of the full speed and don't even offer full speed. Bring gigabit to every home, will the BigCo adopt cheap distribution? No doubt prices would still be the same, this time due to (you guessed) increased piracy!
  • Edit: Let me take that "slaughtered" back if I may. I'm merely annoyed as a power user that symmetric bandwidth costs considerable premium even if i wanted just to provide myself and friends some services directly from my home computer. Everything should be a service, and in my view asymmetric links do not fit that idea.
  • Hmm i just wanted to comment on the fact that fansubs are NOT illegal. If a show has not been licensed for US distr. it is legal to produce fansubs. However once it is licensed the fansubs can no longer be distr.
  • "Hmm i just wanted to comment on the fact that fansubs are NOT illegal. If a show has not been licensed for US distr. it is legal to produce fansubs. However once it is licensed the fansubs can no longer be distr."

    No. That anime was aired on TV in Japan, which is where the subbers got it from. If you do not have access to those channels in Japanese, then you do not have the right to view the content.
  • "IT God", I removed your post, because it was (a) IMHO incoherent, and (b) exceeded my profanity filter's level :)

    Sorry about that, if you'd like to try a 2nd time, feel free.
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