Piracy from the Dev's Perspective

Nibbie
Posts: 1
Joined: 2010.11
Post: #1
In light of Dan's post on BitTorrent downloading, I'm wondering what you, game developers, think of video game piracy, piracy, and work you have done that has been pirated.

The Questions:
1. What software have you developed, and under what conditions has it been released? (Self Published Shareware, Published Shareware, Commercial, Freeware, Donation Ware, etc)
2. Have you been affected by software piracy?
3. Have you ever pirated software?
4. Do you still and why/why not?
5. Have you ever pirated other media?
6. Do you still and why/why not?
7. What do you think the shareware industry should be doing with respect to piracy? (Ignoring it, taking legal action, stronger registration systems, etc.)

My Answers:
1. I have made a few rather simplistic freeware games and programs and 6 years ago I made a ridiculously poor $5 shareware game (Sub-Luna) that I received one registration for.
2. Not to my knowledge. As far as I know, that one person never gave out the one serial number.
3. Yes, at one point quite a bit.
4. No, looking in my dock I own everything in it. I might have a program or two lying around from a long time ago. The only commercial software I use weekly: Adobe Photoshop, CopyWrite, and Reason 3 (I bought those). All the rest of it is open source or freeware (although I probably should register SubEthaEdit, even though I havn't used it for commercial purposes yet, it's freakin' amazing).
5. Yup.
6. Yes, regrettably. The nearest music store is a 45 minute drive away and they don't have the greatest selection. I honestly would buy from iTMS, but when I tried to create an account I found that the Canadian store does not accept PayPal (please, no anti-paypal flame war). I do not have a credit card, nor do I want one given my propensity for buying beyond my means, and thus PayPal (and similar services) is my only option for online shopping. I have sent money directly to artists though. Not that that makes it legal. It just makes me feel better. *slaps iTMS* I have, however increased my CD purchases exponentially since I started downloading songs. Go figure.
7. I personally am going to implement my own registration system that checks the serial over the web. No web, no registration. I'll allow something like 5 registrations with each serial every two months, after which it becomes useless. I can't stand buying a program, installing it on my powerbook, installing it on my G4 tower, and having both versions lock up. I'm freaking the only person who uses these computers. *Shakes fist at Nikon for killing my $300 copy of Nikon View*
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Moderator
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Joined: 2005.07
Post: #2
1. I have released Fractographer, which is free and now open source. I am working on another project that will be free and open source, but most of my projects following will be shareware. (likely self published)
2. No, since it's difficult to steal something that's free. Wink
3. I had a pirated version of Photoshop for a few months, but then I dumped it in favor of GIMP. Mainly because it was legal.
4. No, I do not, because I don't believe in stealing.
5. I have some pirated music.
6. No, because most of the new music I get are public domain remixes anyway. I have payed for about half of the music I had originally had pirated. Some of the rest I don't even listen to. Of course, none of this stuff is in the US, so it's rather difficult to find anyway.
7. I think they should come up with stronger registration systems. I don't believe in internet registration systems, since it means that people who are offline or offline temporarily (such as on a laptop) can't use it. Instead, I think stronger encryption systems should be used.
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DoG
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Post: #3
I just want to point out that the answers to these questions can get one in trouble, so don't expect any pirates to come out of the closet.

Last semester we had to bring in laptops to a hydraulics class to run some simulations on it, because there was no available computer lab. The teacher jokingly said "well, now you have all installed the first legal piece of software on your computers." But everybody just emitted a stifled smile. So, yea, this is not an open topic, with the law pressing on one's back.
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Nibbie
Posts: 1
Joined: 2010.11
Post: #4
Yeah, I suppose I should warn people against linking anything potentially incriminating with their real name.

However, I don't really mind myself. I am currently not using any pirated software and it is very very difficult to be charged for downloading music in Canada. Who knows, maybe I'll be the first, but I do in fact own most of my music.

The real danger is potential employers reading about this when they google search my/your name. Google me and iDG is the first 3 and most of the first 10.

However, I believe in honesty, and if an employer is nieve enough to think that none of their employees have ever downloaded music, and fire/not hire me because of that, well. It's their loss and my gain. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh about this Rasp *waves to potential employers*
Disclaimer: I do not encourage downloading music, and at this point I very rarely do so myself.
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Member
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Post: #5
I try to counteract piracy when I can be bothered, disabling numbers that spread or changing versions for which a crack has been released. Still I dont believe piracy is much of an issue for small developers. I didn't notice any change in sales when i applied the above remedies. And after all, people that look for cracks and stuff are not the people that would purchase a shareware game anyway.

In the last 3-4 years I never used pirated software, but then I didn't even buy much software, there are too many good free programs ;-) But I did buy Zuma from Popcap Games a few days ;-)

©h€ck øut µy stuƒƒ åt ragdollsoft.com
New game in development Rubber Ninjas - Mac Games Downloads
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Sage
Posts: 1,066
Joined: 2004.07
Post: #6
One of my friends uses pirated software a little bit. He considers it a method of "extended trials" beyond the original two week or month trial that many companies give. He says he's going to buy the software later this year using money from his financial aid and doesn't sell anything he makes, so it's not too big of a deal.

I personally don't pirate any music. I buy all my music from iTMS. I feel bad for artists getting less than the labels already, so I never steal their music. They created art and deserve compensation.
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Member
Posts: 198
Joined: 2005.01
Post: #7
Yeah, sorry, I'm gonna have to take the 5th on most of those questions. They could be rather incriminating for some people. Wink I'll answer these though:

1. The big thing I've released for money is Feet of Fury, an independent Dreamcast game. It was done in the traditional way, with a publisher and everything, just not using SEGA's tools, media pressing, or distribution channels (and not with their approval particularly Wink). Still available for sale on Lik Sang actually.

2. Sure. It was up on Usenet last time I checked. What can ya do? I'm really happy though, I think most people who wanted it bought it. The ones who didn't, probably wouldn't have bought it anyway, and maybe they'll show it to someone who will. Heck, we didn't even put copy protection on it and encouraged users to make a backup copy for themselves; sure takes the fun out of pirating it Wink

4. I do not pirate software because a) it would be extremely hypocritical; and b) the free software world has taught me an important lesson: if you want to take what someone has made, just play by their rules, you know? If you want to incorporate a piece of GPL'd code into your app, you better release your code in a GPL-compatible way. If you want to use someone's proprietary app that they charge money for, then pay them for it. Otherwise go find a free software version and improve it, or write your own. 'Nuff said.

The music question is a little trickier because people have always swapped tapes and such with each other, and no one really cared too much about that. It was mainly when it started happening en masse and for profit that people got pissed about it. Sorta like what I mentioned in #2 above. That said, when I hear something I really like I always make a point of going out and buying it eventually, or at least finding a way to support the artist in return (going to a concert, tip jar, etc...)

Cryptic Allusion Games / Cryptic Allusion, LLC
http://www.cagames.com/
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Marjock
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Post: #8
1. What software have you developed, and under what conditions has it been released? (Self Published Shareware, Published Shareware, Commercial, Freeware, Donation Ware, etc)

I've developed one game in BASIC and relased it. I regret releasing it. It was terrible, and buggy and I feel truly sorry for anybody who downloaded and played it in good faith. (I know that sounds overboard, but god, it was terrible.)

2. Have you been affected by software piracy?

No.

3. Have you ever pirated software?

Yes.

4. Do you still and why/why not?

I don't. Since I started developing games. It seemed kind of stupid that I'd steal games and at the same time try and convince people not to steal mine. However, I also don't argue/bitch at people who do pirate.

5. Have you ever pirated other media?

Probably, yes.

6. Do you still and why/why not?

I try not to, for the same reasons as given in 4. However, I'll quite often borrow a few tracks from my sister or brother. But so far I've bought CDs of everything that I liked. So it's just trying before buying.

7. What do you think the shareware industry should be doing with respect to piracy? (Ignoring it, taking legal action, stronger registration systems, etc.)

I don't think ignoring it is a good thing. I also think taking strong legal action is a bad thing. Stronger Registration, therefore, looks liek the best bet.
However, in reality I feel their needs to be an overhaul of the whole system. Times are changing, and so does how we control distribution of media. I'm not offering any suggestions of how to do this, and I can imagine the huge wars involved with attempting to create a new system. =(

So, yeah, that's all.

Nice thread, by the way, I'm quite interested by this.

-Mark
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Hog
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Posts: 151
Joined: 2002.09
Post: #9
1. I've released some Donationware a very long time ago Blush

2. Yes, i've wasted counltess hours playing ... well maybe that was just peanuts to the countless hours i spent on WoW, which i payed ... oh that's not what you mean.

3. Yes

4. I used to crack shareware for myself when i was still younger (back in the old MacsBug days) and then spend less time using the app itsself. Developing your own stuff seems to make more sense, and free stuff like blender are not that bad if you get into them.

5. Maybe, i don't remember.

6. I mostly listen to radio like last.fm, casually buy some cd's (but most often those are not available to steal anyways, i'm not much into popular music). I also try to make some music my self, but i suck at creativity and moreso at expression.

7. Maybe software should be free, but moreso everything else should be even more free. Software as any other intellectual property is more of a luxury good.
If someone just even casualy steals your intellectual property then it would be only just if you casualy moved into his home to loot his fridge and booze supply and sleep with his girlfriend.
There is still a problem of course the problem with publishers exploiting developers/artists but I don't think it's a good idea to approach this problem with piracy. You don't actually know who might get hurt and if you can be absolutely sure that the developers have too much money they don't deserve (such as microsoft), then you shouldn't even get it at all.
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neverever
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Post: #10
1. What software have you developed, and under what conditions has it been released? (Self Published Shareware, Published Shareware, Commercial, Freeware, Donation Ware, etc)

Display Eater, its like Snapz. I released it as shareware.


2. Have you been affected by software piracy?

Well, so the numbers show. A copy is 15$, and a cracked version 1.5 had 457~ downloads. Vers 1.01(May 05), 1.5(Dec 05), and 1.51(Jan 06) were all cracked. I'm not sure if 1.52(Feb 06) or 1.53(Mar 06) were cracked yet.


7. What do you think the shareware industry should be doing with respect to piracy? (Ignoring it, taking legal action, stronger registration systems, etc.)


Well, I think in the case of DE, it promoted awareness. I took a hit for it though.
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Max
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Posts: 84
Joined: 2003.03
Post: #11
1. What software have you developed, and under what conditions has it been released? (Self Published Shareware, Published Shareware, Commercial, Freeware, Donation Ware, etc)
I mostly develop shareware games. I developed one Playstation 2 game and one Game Boy Advance game.

2. Have you been affected by software piracy?
The shareware games I developed were cracked a few months after release. But I don't make a big fuss... I expected that. As for the commercial games, well they were crap so I doubt anyone shared them online.

3. Have you ever pirated software?
Yes.

4. Do you still and why/why not?
The applications I pirated were incredibly expensive. But now, I use open-source projects... and I bought some of the applications I pirated.

5. Have you ever pirated other media?
TV shows.

6. Do you still and why/why not?
I consider TV shows public domain. Besides, I don't have japanese TV channels. Wink

7. What do you think the shareware industry should be doing with respect to piracy? (Ignoring it, taking legal action, stronger registration systems, etc.)
We can't do anything. Piracy is, unfortunately, part of shareware development. As for registration systems, you can't go wrong with Ambrosia's.

Freelance video game artist and video game compliance tester at Enzyme Testing Labs.
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Moderator
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Post: #12
1. What software have you developed, and under what conditions has it been released? (Self Published Shareware, Published Shareware, Commercial, Freeware, Donation Ware, etc)
A couple of shareware games, a couple more incomplete freeware games, and a freeware utility.

2. Have you been affected by software piracy?
Yes; the sales to piracy ratio of my shareware games is 1:3, although I must admit I didn't invest much time or effort in anti-piracy measures when I developed the games; the games I'm working on now, and the updates to those earlier games I working on, have much stronger anti-piracy measures, which should deter at least 'casual' piracy (if you want to share the game with your friends, there's a demo, damnit...)

3. Have you ever pirated software?
I suppose if giving a friend a copy of an out-of-print game on one occasion is piracy, then yes; if the game had been available otherwise (in a manner which would have put the money in the hands of the developer, not a second hand seller) then I wouldn't have; then again, I've bought a lot of second hand games for myself, so I suppose I'm not entirely consistent Rolleyes

I always buy (or find freeware/open-source alternatives if the price is too high) the tools I use regularly, which does occasionally bite (when I have to travel in to uni to use a particular high-end tool which the lecturer expects the class to have pirated (and has himself handed out cracks for the tool Mad))

5. Have you ever pirated other media?
No.

7. What do you think the shareware industry should be doing with respect to piracy? (Ignoring it, taking legal action, stronger registration systems, etc.)
Legal action; I deplore the approach of the RIAA and friends, but I don't see why there is (to my knowledge) no shareware anti-piracy legal fund; reasonable anti-piracy measures (expiring keys, mutating keys, et al) would mean there is no reason to adopt the "sue you supporters" approach of the RIAA and friends as the software would be pretty-much impossible to pirate for the casual user, except for if the anti-piracy measures on the software had been cracked, and then redistributed, or the crack distributed; and although distributing a crack itself can hardly be argued to be direct copyright infringement, I somehow doubt a pirate could argue that a crack had "significant non-infringing purposes" (which is why I support the distribution of DeCSS and friends, but my rant on artificial territory enforcement is for another day Mad)

Mark Bishop
--
Student and freelance OS X & iOS developer
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Sage
Posts: 1,403
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Post: #13
sealfin Wrote:the lecturer expects the class to have pirated (and has himself handed out cracks for the tool Mad )
That is totally shocking, and completly illegal I'm surprised but also not that surprised because so many people pirate software and think nothing of it today.

Sir, e^iπ + 1 = 0, hence God exists; reply!
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Member
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Post: #14
Of course the lecturer shouldn't hand out cracks, still i believe all serious software (say photoshop, CAD, other productive tools) should have a "student" edition at very affordable price free for non-paid academic use only, otherwise students will never learn to use the tool. If there isn't a student edition, there's not much alternative.

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New game in development Rubber Ninjas - Mac Games Downloads
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Moderator
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Post: #15
unknown Wrote:That is totally shocking, and completly illegal I'm surprised but also not that surprised because so many people pirate software and think nothing of it today.

I'd dob him in and get the reward. Apart from setting a bad example, he's not exactly helping schools and unis get rid of the image they have of being hotbeds of piracy. Which is why a lot of software companies aren't bending over backwards to help schools.
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