Linked by David Adams on Tue 26th Oct 2004 16:30 UTC
Editorial The software industry is undergoing a gradual transformation, and consumer fatigue is at its root. The licensing model that has formed the basis for the modern software industry is facing challenges on many fronts, and the industry is scrambling to keep its footing. Where this period of change may lead software producers and consumers isn't quite clear, but some trends are emerging. Since the proliferation of the internet, unauthorized redistribution of digital goods has become rampant. But although software sharing probably won't kill the software industry, the reasoning behind it shares some pedigree with the customer revolt that promises to transform the way software is sold.
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Open-source
by Thomas Elvek on Tue 26th Oct 2004 16:36 UTC

Is open-source to blame?
How about off-shore outsourcing IT jobs?

Wow
by Chris on Tue 26th Oct 2004 17:03 UTC

This is a good article. Very very well written, he covers just about everything at least a little bit; without being boring.

Bittorrent
by DMJC on Tue 26th Oct 2004 17:08 UTC

heh, I find it funny how the author mentions bittorrent as being intended to help piracy and helping distros as a side effect, when in reality bittorrent was always designed to help get linux distros out and piracy was the unintended side effect.

Worth the read
by foo on Tue 26th Oct 2004 17:11 UTC

Good article. Still digesting it all right now, still not sure if I agree with all the points made, but it's much better than the usual OSNews article.

In other news...
by JIm Steichen on Tue 26th Oct 2004 17:27 UTC

I can foresee the day when the internet is going to make instant voting possible and the need for representative government superfluous. Government is the last organization that relies on being a middleman between people and their goals.

Re : In other news
by Jason Mazzotta on Tue 26th Oct 2004 17:33 UTC

I'm not sure I see how internet voting obviates legislators. Most people can't take the time to understand all the various legislation they vote for. I imagine only a fraction of the people who do pay attention speak sufficient legalese to draft legislation.

Bittorrent
by David Adams on Tue 26th Oct 2004 17:38 UTC

It was not my intention to claim that Bittorrent was intended to help piracy. I said, "P2P technologies like Bittorrent were developed to make it easier for individuals to share files with millions without having thousands of dollars in bandwidth charges." In the next sentence I note that it became a popular way of doing illicit file sharing, which is of course true. Without illicit filesharing, Bittorrent and other P2P technologies would never have caught on with so many people. I'm not making a value judgment here. I recognize that BT's pure purpose is very admirable and useful.

Re: Bittorrent @ DMJC
by Jason Lotito on Tue 26th Oct 2004 17:38 UTC

"heh, I find it funny how the author mentions bittorrent as being intended to help piracy and helping distros as a side effect, when in reality bittorrent was always designed to help get linux distros out and piracy was the unintended side effect."

Actually, you had it backwards.

<em>In another odd bit of synergy, P2P technologies like Bittorrent were developed to make it easier for individuals to share files with millions without having thousands of dollars in bandwidth charges.</em>

He then goes on to mention how it has impacted mp3 sharing as well. He was right in what he said, I just think you read it the wrong way.

RE: bittorrent
by Yamin on Tue 26th Oct 2004 17:43 UTC

"In another odd bit of synergy, P2P technologies like Bittorrent were developed to make it easier for individuals to share files with millions without having thousands of dollars in bandwidth charges. Of course, these P2P networks became popular ways of trading unauthorized mp3s, software and movies. But now that these systems are in such widespread use, it makes it even easier for open source developers to release a hot new project into the world, even without a fat pipe."

I wonder where you get the impression that the author is saying bit torrent was intended to help piracy? As a matter of fact, the author implies they were not designed for piracy, by the line
"Of course, these P2P networks BECAME popular ways of trading unauthorized mp3s"

Good article,
by Yamin on Tue 26th Oct 2004 18:02 UTC

Overall, I great article. Very nice and in depth with historical context.

A few points though. THe author ponders why good, 'honest' people decide to pirate software when they wouldn't do it normally. He then implies its because they feel justified, feeling they are over priced. Sometimes people just like getting stuff for free ;) I really do think that's the reason. I know people know its wrong, but generally speaking if a crime is easy to commit, has a net benefit to the criminal, they are not interfacing with their targets, and there is little chance of being caught...people will do the crime. Whether is software piracy, stealing cable, getting free pop from a broken pop machine, paying the plumber by cash to avoid taxes...

Yes, some people take the case that we should just stop trying to prevent this cheating. Others like MS and others are looking towards measures that will make it a bit harder to pirate or make enforcement easier. These too will have an impact.

That said, software is one of the few things you can actually buy from the producer itself. This, I think is the crux of the article. Why can't I get download the latest Windows straight from MS without support. The same goes for music and what not.

That said, I really don't think we'll ever truly get rid of the middle man. We'll cut down on it, but the retailer is a neccessity. Sometimes people like to browse and don't really know what they want to buy.

Re: Yamin
by Darius on Tue 26th Oct 2004 18:09 UTC

A few points though. THe author ponders why good, 'honest' people decide to pirate software when they wouldn't do it normally. He then implies its because they feel justified, feeling they are over priced. Sometimes people just like getting stuff for free ;)

That is usually the underlying reason, but people who pirate will (from what I have observed) always try to justify it somehow. It's either the artist/company has enough money anyway, the price is too high, I can't afford it, or whatever. I don't think you'll ever see someone say 'the reason I steal software/music/movies is because I'm greedy and don't want to pay for it.' It's just like people who commit murder - if you ask them about it, they'll give you some reason why they felt justified for doing it. (Not trying to put piracy on the same level as murder, but just using it as an analogy.)

Sport
by Jophn Deo on Tue 26th Oct 2004 18:18 UTC

For some people it's a sport to outsmart the developer.
Sometimes they underestimate the intellectual capabilities of
the consumer in a way that almost asks for piracy.Strictly speaken , the average end user has absolutely no feeling
with the abstracts of electronic martians running through a
wire being an mp3.I dare to say that there are far more people
that would think about downloading (illegal) music than steal
something they can physically feel.

MP3
by MadDwarf on Tue 26th Oct 2004 18:40 UTC

People have been taping albums, making compilation tapes for their friends, etc for many a year. I used to rig a tape-deck to my turntable in the days before intergrated hi-fi systems. The internet/P2P has allowed this same concept to happen at a much greater scale, with people (and therefore music) one would normally never encounter. Also the ease of P2P, compared to compiling a tape, makes it an easy, "victimless" crime with no chance of getting caught.

@ Yamin and Darius
by foo on Tue 26th Oct 2004 19:04 UTC

I think the "underlying" factor may be referring to is called Cognitive Dissonance. When people do or think something they don't feel right about, they will try and "make it better" by using methods such as rationalization, ie. "Stealing is wrong, but copying MP3s isn't all that bad when you consider how greedy the record companies are."

About piracy et al.
by Maynard on Tue 26th Oct 2004 19:34 UTC

I think the reason people copy software/music so much is because there is this feeling that they are not really depriving anyone of anything when they do. If you run up the 'value' of the software/music some people have on their computers, it would be shockingly high. If some people can have as much as 100GB of music, that translates to some 25000 odd songs, and really no one is going to spend that much to get all the music in the world whose value decreases with the amount you actualyl have. Really, 25000 mp3s times 4 minutes an mp3 translates to about 100000 minutes of listening, which at 8 hours listening a day would mean you play each one once in 208 days. Yet at the going rate, that collection of music represents an required investment of just under $25000. There is something seriously wrong with the pricing model here.

If for example, they could give you unlimited downloads for a year in exchange for a monthly fee, say $100, you would see more people actually buying music because lets face it, Ther is only so much you can find of other people's collections, and the quality varies from the very good to the very suspect. If you got 10 million customers you would then have $1 billion in revenue, and the only costs would be bandwidth and equipment as a music seller.

The same could be said for software. If someone could provide a subscription for say $200 p.a. for access to a software bank, and you could download any software from there, you would kill a lot of piracy, at least in the USA for example. The problem is that some people will have $5000 worth of software on their PCs, and there is no way they are going to spend that much. This is where Linux and other solution could fill the void.

But there are some people who prefer to make their abnormal profits, and according to economic theory, these are not sustainable in the long run. Not that they are not trying, they are legislating to create a new class of felonies and classify a whole group of people criminals. Time will tell who will win.

RE: foo, Yamin and Darius
by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Oct 2004 19:41 UTC

Indeed, the phenomenon is called cognitive dissonance-- it's what happens when observed/expressed behaviour does not fit among the observer's set of attitudes. Like, when John Smith, a law-abiding citizen downloads and album from the web, the fact that he steals does not fit his "abide-the-law" attitude-- therefore he will indeed try to justify his actions, so that his behaviour will match his attitudes and the state of cognitive consistency is reached again.

Yeah, I like my university study of Psychology ;)

...
by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Oct 2004 19:47 UTC

And even here people are trying to justify their own actions. Already reached the state of cognitive consistency yet? ;)

In my opinion, downloading illegal music/software is stealing, no matter how you look at it. It's the fact that one can do it anonymously that makes it so attractive; if you would ask the person who illegally downloads his music to walk into a record store, and steal an album, he probably wouldn't do it-- even though it is the exact same thing.

Talk about it all you want, about prices being too high blabla, it's still stealing.

And yes, I pay for my music, like everyone should. Just this morning I bought the 'new' Beastie Boys album ('To The 5 Buroughs') for 13.99E. I do this because it just doesn't feel right to steal music-- whether anyone will know or not.

immorality by interpretation
by Jason Mazzotta on Tue 26th Oct 2004 19:49 UTC

"Copyright infringement, though immoral, is not morally equivalent to theft of a physical good because infringement does not deprive the owner of his or her possession of the good."

I haven't read the whole article yet, so this point may be explained later on, but I have to disagree with this point. Morality is based on logic. The only reason someone possesses something (or more to the point creates something) is because it has/or is expected to produce value. To deprive someone of the possession of an item is to deprive them of something from which they could otherwise derive value. So stealing someone's wallet (which has money, something with undeniable value, in it) is morally no different from stealing software (from which someone might derive value).

Re: immorality by interpretation
by Darius on Tue 26th Oct 2004 19:54 UTC

While I agree that pirating software/music/music is technically stealing, I don't equate that to taking somebody's wallet, unless you were actually going to buy said software/movies/music.
For example, if someone were to pirate an app that normally costs $500 and there's no way in hell they could afford to buy it even if they wanted to, what exactly have you deprived the original owner of? Again, I'm not saying it is ok to download stuff you can't afford, but just drawing a distinction.

great article
by Caliber FX on Tue 26th Oct 2004 19:56 UTC

The thing that would be great if the developer of software of some IP is that they at least get 50% of the profits instead of like 1 or 2%. They could actually put enough man power into these projects instead of a few people placed on these huge projects and finding themselves doing work at home as well. Would be great to sell software on the internet but for some reason I think their are afraid or something but hey windows xp piracy protection scheme seems to work well enough. Also I was kinda suprised to not hear that people are stealing software becuase they felt like they paid for it already through their isp. Cable and dsl ranges from 30 to 50 bucks a month it is not hard for many broadband users to not pirate anything unless they have some other primary need for broadband like communicating with people overseas or work related things that need a fast connection. Besides pirating and gaming there is no other recreational use for broadband. Say they somehow stop pirating then broadband would almost be useless to the average consumer. Ohhh my webpage will come up faster and I paid 40 bucks for it isn't going to do it for them.

@thom holwerda
by christian paratschek on Tue 26th Oct 2004 19:58 UTC

cognitive dissonance, yeah, that's skinners theory.

your typical law-abiding citizen can decrease his dissonance that he got from downloading mp3s by
a. building other consonant realtions ("it can't be that bad, others are downloading too!") or by
b. changing the value of existing dissonant relations ("it's not really stealing because i don't take something away from a person")

very intersting, and can probably applied here, i agree.

still, there IS a difference between stealing and downloading and it lies exactly in the fact that you don't actually take things away from someone else. call downloading a crime, if you want. but it's not stealing. that would be a fundamental definition error.

the other question is: does it really matter? the media industry is undergoing a revolution. it will definitely not be the same 10 years from now. that doesn't legitimate downloading, but the law is still searching for a way to deal with it (here in europe)
the possibilities of the internet are just too overwhelming for the traditional model of data distribution that has existed for years, decades and even centuries.

after all, this is exactly, what this article is about. and (with the small exception that i thought it's a bit too long) it is a very good article. congratulations, david!

christian

RE: Caliber FX
by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:01 UTC

That broadband piece of yours is of course complete nonsense. I don't have broadband for downloading-- I have broadband because it takes away certain nuiscences like dialing in, pay-per-second and other crap like that. Broadband is about more than just being able to download at high speeds-- it's about not having to worry about costs, and that's something we all like, don't we?

I mean, my parents don't download anything-- but they would never move back to dialup.

RE: christian paratschek
by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:07 UTC

still, there IS a difference between stealing and downloading and it lies exactly in the fact that you don't actually take things away from someone else. call downloading a crime, if you want. but it's not stealing. that would be a fundamental definition error.

I tend to disagree. Of course you take something away from someone! By downloading an song, you won't buy it, so, you are depriving the owner of the song from income.

Let's take out another car analogy. What if there was a huge parking lot, in the middle of nowhere, holding thousands of brand spankin' new Aston Martins, with the doors unlocked. There is no indication or whatsoever that the cars are owned by anyone or anything, and you could easily take one without being noticed.

Would you take an Aston Martin from that parking lot? I hope you won't, because it's stealing.

Like my father always said..
by Chris on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:22 UTC

"Locks don't exist to stop thieves, they exist to keep honest people honest."
Course, the rest of that becomes a defense of the second ammendment; but that's a complete aside to this discussion.

A lot of people believe things are only wrong if you get caught. But I think the author is right in that many people do not buy because they see it as a rip off. I'm one of them, I appreciate the idea of buying something over getting a free copy. But I refuse to pay $18 for 40 minutes of music that the artist didn't even create (no one credits the orchestra that first played Beethoven, but we credit the performer and ignore the writers). I actually view it as a moral wrong to pay too much for a product, or to pay for an inferior product. And to me, supporting those who rip off their customers is a greater wrong than stealing from them. Now usually, I just live without the product, but for others this isn't always an option. Think of it like stealing from a thief; not like "stealing from the rich." The moral question is a very hard one, but the legal question is very simple.
With software though, you can easily live without it and you probably shouldn't use it if you don't want to pay for it. And the reason is this:
By stealing product X that you hate the producer of, you steal from their competition who makes product Y at possibly a lower price or even free. In software, piracy is damaging to competition.
This is why it angers me to see pirated copies of Windows used to check e-mail. Use Linux or BSD for this, it's the same price you paid; likely the same effort considering that piracy requires some technical adeptness, and it's legal!

@thom
by christian paratschek on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:24 UTC

well, still: if i take one of the cars, that's one car less, regardless of who it owns. that's stealing. simple.

if, on the other hand, i walk around with barbara eden (remember her?), see one of the aston martins, point with a finger at it and she does her jeanny-stuff and copies the car, i'd much rather get into it and drive away.

why?

because the huge parking lot, filled with n cars, is still filled with n cars and not with n-1 cars. the owner of the n cars won't even notice. i, however, screwes aston martin, because i now own a car that i didn't buy from them.

still. you can't simply compare taking away 1 car from aston martin and driving around with it to "copying" a car from aston martin, thus _virtually_ decreasing their revenue. in case one, i just stealed a car. in case two, i _might_ have bought that car, but there's a lot of other things you have to take into account.

so, i insist: copying is not stealing. that's just what the music industry tells us. and false statements don't become true just because someone says them often enough. not even in the mediacracy (or mediatorship) we live in nowadays.

christian

Piracy, IP et al.
by Mike on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:30 UTC

Hello,

Good article, but 7 pages!? Come on...

Ignoring the psychology for a moment, I would like to suggest that piracy is, to some extent, a valid economical reaction to corporate market control.

The main opponent of P2P is the RIAA. That's the Recording Industry Association of America. The what industry? How, in 2004 is recording an industry? DVD writers cost less than $70 for goodness' sake. I'll do my own recording thank you very much. And while I'm at it, I'll take on the cost of distribution too, using P2P and DSL. I can take on the cost of manufacture and distribution. That doesn't leave much for the "record company" to do (production and marketing). That means they're due a big slump in turnover and that's not in any of their interests. So they resist. If they'd just release songs on P2P with adverts tacked on either end, they'd clean up...

With regards to software, I have no illegal software on my machine. I have been offered stuff like Photoshop and Macromedia CashIn(tm) (or whatever their latest thing is) but I have no use for them. Most people have no use for expensive software outside of work. And if you're earning > $30,000 p.a. from $500 of tax-deductable software, it seems churlish not to cough up. So students learn on unlicensed copies, they'll need to pay for when they turn pro.

These problems are not as big as the industries would like us to think. The problem for them is that the continued growth they need to survive cannot be sustained if they lose control of the market.

Law is black and white, morality is not.

RE: christian paratschek
by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:33 UTC

But I refuse to pay $18 for 40 minutes of music that the artist didn't even create

Erm, do you know that performing and recording is work? How much time do you think it takes a band like Radiohead (just an example), to create and write the lyrics, the music, then go into the studio, record it, record it again, and again, and again, untill it's perfect? A 4 minute song does not take 4 minutes to make, you know.

I actually view it as a moral wrong to pay too much for a product, or to pay for an inferior product.

For you it might seem like an inferior or overpriced product, but for someone else it doesn't! I find paying 60 million euro's for a painting by Vermeer way too much money for a painting I don't like, and which is centuries old. Does that suddenly justifies me stealing it? The inferiority or overpriced-ness (nice word, ey?) is completely subjective. You see, I don't find paying 18$ for a good cd too much, for instance. But I indeed will not pay 18$ for an album I don't like-- but a friend of mine might like it and still pay the 18$ to get it.

And to me, supporting those who rip off their customers is a greater wrong than stealing from them.

Again, a completely subjective matter and therefore not a justification for stealing.

And finally: why is it any different for software?? software, music, toothpaste: they are products. And for products, you pay.

Correction
by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:35 UTC

^^^ That should read "RE: Chris"

RE: ...
by pj on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:37 UTC

"In my opinion, downloading illegal music/software is stealing, no matter how you look at it. It's the fact that one can do it anonymously that makes it so attractive; if you would ask the person who illegally downloads his music to walk into a record store, and steal an album, he probably wouldn't do it-- even though it is the exact same thing. "

It's actually more like stealing the CD, burning a copy, and then repackaging it and putting it back on the shelf without anyone noticing. When you download, sure the record company loses money, but the store doesn't. For them, it's really no worse than if you had simply shopped at another store.

RE: christian paratschek
by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:41 UTC

Well, then we have different attitudes, and therefore, it is useless to dicuss this subject with you ;) .

But seriously, for me it's rather simple. It used to be:

Person wants album A. Person goes to shop. Person pays X dollars. Artist/shop/record company/all others involved get X dollars.

Now it's:

Person wants album A. Person fires up P2P. Person pays 0 dollars. Artist/shop/record company/all others involved get 0 dollars.

That's deriving people of income, so it's stealing. It might be a different way of stealing than walking into a shop and get stuff without paying, but it still is stealing. Not paying for something is also stelaing. By not paying your taxes, you steal from the government, for instance. Whether you agree with the way they spend it or not.

<shakes head>
by Smartpatrol on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:51 UTC

Projects like Linux, Apache, PHP, and MySQL were either close enough in quality to their commercial alternatives to be workable, or the commercial alternatives were overkill for the task anyway. Who needs a $7000 Sun server and a $5000 Oracle license for a regional sales intranet anyway?

Nice bit of FUD there. Still trying to push the idea that closed source is bad and open source is the best! everything should be free and we should all live in a free software utopia. Oh and of course its wrong to actually make money off of your work and ideas in a capalistic society. To bad human nature dictates otherwise people pirate software mainly becasue its the path of least alot of people use OSS becasue it is the path of least resistance. The basic truth is that there isn't anything that it totally free try factoring these points in your arguments of the future.

Re : morality by interpretation
by Jason Mazzotta on Tue 26th Oct 2004 20:57 UTC

"For example, if someone were to pirate an app that normally costs $500 and there's no way in hell they could afford to buy it even if they wanted to, what exactly have you deprived the original owner of? Again, I'm not saying it is ok to download stuff you can't afford, but just drawing a distinction."

I don't see the distinction. If I steal a car off a lot at a Porsche dealer, is that OK? I certainly can't afford one, and they can make another? They ship quite a few into this country, and the practice of mass production was invented (I think) in the autmobile industry.

Well, how about this ...
by KadyMae on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:00 UTC

Okay, stupid me I got completely wrapped up in a project last wednesday and forgot to get my arse in front of the TV in time for Lost.

Thank goodness a friend of mine has a TiVo. He burnt me a copy of the episode and I watched it.

Did I steal?

What if I had found a P2P download and watched the episode that way? Did I steal?

Every bit of music on my harddrive at home is iTunes or MP3s given away by the artist. (I find 99cents a song the *maximum* I'm willing to pay. [Hell, it should be more like 25 or 50 cents a song given that there's nothing to manufacture.] If the RIAA thinks I should pay more, I think they can stick it where the sun don't shine.)

But, say I find an MP3 of something I have on a *record* and download it. Have I stolen? How is this different than me finding some sort of way to rip it to my HD? (At the moment I have no turntable.)

If I find a streaming on-line radio station with a bitrate that doesn't suck rocks and run wiretap, have I stolen? How is it different than an off the air recording?

What if I use one of those radio-tuners for my computer and run wiretap? Theft? Fair use?

See, the line between theft and fair use isn't so nice and crisp and clear as some of you would like to think, is it?
---

The only way I buy any new software these days is to take advantage of my academic discount; because when I go to stores and see the prices for things like office and dreamweaver, it's a total raping of the wallet.

I mean, $1000 for pro-sumer software? Aieee! And what sucks rocks is when you find a friend in the 3rd world can buy the same software for under $250 retail.

Okay so, $1000 or $250 plus the cost of an international money order, and 2 registered mail transactions to receive your "gift" from a friend. Which do you think the savvy consumer does?

And hey, that's NOT stealing. That's making the WORLD your marketplace. ;)





Oops ... Should be"
by Jason Mazzotta on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:00 UTC

Goofed on the title of the post above.

intellectual property is a myth
by Michael Wassil on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:04 UTC

Unfortunately the author is inadvertantly or not propagating the myth of "intellectual property". This is the myth that ideas can be protected from use. True enough, in the past attempts were made to suppress the widespread knowledge and use of various ideas from time to time, with varying degrees of success. And true enough the same sort of attempts to suppress the widespread knowledge and use of ideas is called "protecting intellectual property" in the current era.

As then, so now, such efforts are intended solely to benefit a few individuals at the expense of society as a whole. They should be opposed vigorously. Patent and copyright were never intended to protect ideas, but rather the tangible expression of ideas, to give the innovative individual the prospect of profitting from his/her "work" for a limited time before everyone else could use it for profit. But the idea itself remained in public domain where others could also express it in other unique ways, ways which could in fact compete with the original implementation. Thus society encouraged an individual to develop new things, works of art, etc, while society as a whole benefitted from their activities.

However, the concept of "intellectual property" works only at cross purposes. It is merely an attempt to subvert the whole notion of encouraging individuals to engage and invent new applications of ideas while benefitting society as a whole in the process. One need only look at the nonsensical software and biotech "patents" which have been granted in the past 20 years that do nothing but prevent others from using the same or similar ideas to produce competing works. Copyright has been subverted to protect the interests of copyright holders decades beyond the death of the original author or artist. None of this benefits society as a whole. Instead, artificial scarcity (ie monopoly) is maintained to the detriment of society.

@thom holwerda
by christian paratschek on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:11 UTC

well, i did agree with you (in both posts) that downloading copyrighted material is not a good thing, i even called it a crime (if it really is, has yet to be decided)

i am just amazed, shocked and bothered each and every day how the modern media controls minds. downloading stuff IS fundamentally different from stealing. the one and only reason why you are using "stealing" here is because, and only because you heard it on the media time and again. it got hammered into your head. it is not real information, in the sense that it contains ANY valuable truth.

you quoted skinner, i'll quote andreas gruschka (german sociologist): the information and intention of such a message only consists in the fact, that it was information.

i guess we merely have a defintion problem. but really, think about it. you are tricked by a massive mind-making machine. downloading is not stealing just as linux is not communism just as al quaida is not irak.

know your enemies!
christian

Random responses
by Archangel on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:14 UTC

Jason: I agree with the original poster. In the example he gave the vendor hasn't really been deprived of anything - they were never going to sell their product to that individual regardless of whether they pirate it or not. It's sort of a victimless crime - still a crime, but no-one's made less by it. Whereas if you steal a Porsche the dealer now has to get another, which ultimately has to be manufactured and paid for.
What this comes down to is that software is free to copy, whereas you can't copy and paste a Porsche.
And yes, the Model T was the first example of mass production.

Smartpatrol: Calm down. He's absolutely right in that point - that an Oracle license costing $5000 is overkill for many cases, where mySQL is quite adequate. There are a lot of cases where Oracle will be required over mySQL still.
He didn't say "open source is good and closed source is bad", he just said that many free (as in beer) products are good enough to replace commercial alternatives in a lot of instances.

KadyMae: I agree - when you start looking at full retail prices of Windows/Office/etc it's just ridiculous. Windows XP Pro is about NZ$700, Office is over $1000. This gives you one computer of each - meanwhile students get to pay $200 and get a copy of Office which can be installed on 3 machines.
Imagine if you went to Ford, and they said "Well this Focus is $35,000, but if you can show us your student ID we'll let you have it for $10,000". It's just nonsensical.
I'm not suggesting that students shouldn't get discounts - I think it's great we do - but it does go a long way towards explaining why people aren't too happy about paying the top price for software.

forgotten discoveries
by Anonymous on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:16 UTC

Talking about ripping copyrights, discoveries and so on...how come people in the US keep using the name America to describe the USA, when it was originally given to Cuba, La Espanola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico. Did the copyright of this fact expired? Does enyone know where the name America comes from? Hint: Colon's (aka Columbus) navigator.

@ Michael Wassil
by Smartpatrol on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:27 UTC

As then, so now, such efforts are intended solely to benefit a few individuals at the expense of society as a whole. They should be opposed vigorously.

I couldn't disagree more! A simple example would be two competing tribes of primitive humanís competing for the same resources in a limited area. One tribe invents a more efficient means of hunting their primary food source perhaps deer. The survival of each tribe/family unit is paramount to the survival of their offspring. What you are saying is that the one tribe should share their method so that they can both deplete the same resource and jeopardize the survival of both tribes. This is basic human instinct to gain the advantage over another competing group of Humans. I do not believe there is anything wrong with that it, yeah it sucks to be in the tribe that canít hunt as efficiently as the other but you cannot escape this basic fundamental human truth. Hence the reason a free market cannot exist in a true large scale socialist society. There will always be losers in this game and/or a dependency on others for services.

@Archangel
by Smartpatrol on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:33 UTC

Smartpatrol: Calm down. He's absolutely right in that point - that an Oracle license costing $5000 is overkill for many cases, where mySQL is quite adequate. There are a lot of cases where Oracle will be required over mySQL still.
He didn't say "open source is good and closed source is bad", he just said that many free (as in beer) products are good enough to replace commercial alternatives in a lot of instances.


The problem I have with his assertion is that he did not suggest a cheaper closed source alternative. I agree an Oracle/SUN solution would very well be overkill but a Dell/Microsoft solution? Each case would need careful examination and would never fall under such a blanket statement presented by the author.

@ archangel
by KadyMae on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:42 UTC

And to further build on the whole discrepancy in price it's like ...

Okay, it's $150 for a student/educator to put it on 3 computers, but $300 for John Q. Public to put it on ONE computer ... so what, IF ANYTHING, do these prices have to do with actual cost?

See, when I see that the manufacturer is willing to sell *millions* of licenses to their software at $50/ea, boy oh boy oh boy does that $300 look like NOTHING BUT GREED AND GOUGING.

Because when you consider the fact that this "education" priceing has been going on for about 20 years now, you also question the "loss leader" factor. Loss leaders are short term pricing strategies, not generational.

The cost of software is like the cost of diamonds -- artificially created and maintained.

I'd really like to see a no BS accounting of what it costs to create a software package.

I think $50 a license is a reasonable price for Office. It's not like they're creating whole swathes of code from scratch any more, so why's it cost $300?







Re: Thom Holwerda
by Caliber FX on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:44 UTC

Suprised you didn't say something like "what if a household have 2 or more computers". But come on not everyone can afford 40 bucks a month and then expected to buy something like microsoft office which cost between 200 to 500 bucks depending on what the user needs. Also 50 bucks for a game come on look at espn only charging users 20 bucks for a NEW RELEASED GAME which are great games that can be compared to their EA sports counterparts.

It's OK for me to steel music
by CheapJoe on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:47 UTC

The reason it's ok for me to steel music is because it's not hurting anyone. If I didn't have the option to steel it, I still wouldn't pay for it. I simply wouldn't own the music.

A little rant on 'piracy'
by dweazle on Tue 26th Oct 2004 21:51 UTC

I think everyone has it's own motivations to pirate software/music (or justifications as others might put it ;) . I admit I pirate music, movies and software. But I also buy. For every product I 'want' there's a balance between convenience, price and quality (value).

I spend at least 200$ a month on music (mostly vinyl because DJ'ing a hobby of mine). DJ's like to have control over what they listen to. So I don't listen to the radio much, because I like to make my own playlist and hate to listen to commercials and talking DJ's all day. So I download a couple of songs I like in addition to the ones I bought, put them in a playlist and let my music player shuffleplay it. That doesn't mean however that if this all wouldn't be possible I would go into town and buy full albums of these artists. I just like one song, maybe two. That not worth paying up to 25$ for (that's what albums cost in Holland), no matter how much you like that artist. But I actually do pay for really good albums.

Actually since I discovered online musicstores I downloaded much less pirated music, just the ones I couldn't find in the musicstore:)

If I record my own mix made from bought records and put that somewhere on the internet for friends and relatives to listen to, can you call that piracy? I think it's a grey area. In holland you can subscribe to a license from the so-called BUMA/STEMRA (the dutch equivalent to the US RIAA) to broadcast music over the web. Non-profit organisations and invididuals have to pay 25$ a month to legally allow internet streaming (at a max of 96kbps bitrate). If you allow your users to control what they listen to you're out of options, because that's illegal. So streaming is the only option. That just plain sucks. They make it hard for you to make use of new technology in a legal way, so you do it illegally.

About software. I use 95% opensource software. I however like to make music on my pc too. There's no good quality opensource sequencer out there. So I bought Renoise (it's like fasttracker but it supports pro features like asio/vst) for like 60$. The virtual instruments I use are mostly free, the commercial ones I use I mostly bought too. Some vst's I like to 'try before buy' so I installed a pirated copy because the vendors don't supply fullfeatured demo versions. However, all this software runs only on Windows. So as a Linux user I'm out of luck. It's almost impossible to port this software to Linux, because the VST protocol is proprietary and copyrighted by Steinberg (the creators of the Cubase sequencer, which is way too expensive btw). I'm forced to use Windows (or Mac) for this. I, for one, will never buy software from Microsoft because I don't like to support a monopoly that locks me in. So I use a pirated copy of Windows. Is that stealing? Maybe, but the motivation for using a pirated copy is morally justified imho and I think many people here would agree.

About movies. Well I would pay for movies if I had the convenience of streaming broadband video, with an uptodate selections of movies and for a decent price. Unfortunately that's not an option at this moment. So what's the logical course of action? Launch my browser, click on a torrent and wait for it to come in. Don't you just love the internet ;) In addition to 'leeching' I frequently visit the cinema.

The problem is that consumers want convenience and they take the 'lower pricetag' for granted. I think that for most people price is not the motivation to pirate, except maybe kids who don't have the money to buy all the software, albums and movies they like.

Internet brings these people convenience. They can just sit back and click around the web. They can easily locate what they want and they download it and put it on a cd to watch or listen to. Eventually the RIAA/MPAA will just HAVE to come up with equally convenient, but legal alternatives to this. And they will become popular (iTunes is the most prominent example of this). Alhough piracy will always remain to exist (as it always has existed), these corporations can earn back their customers (or thieves as they call it) by listening to them and giving them what they want: No stupid DRM restrictions or copy protections, no obsolete portable media, but internet distribution, no confusing produkt activation sequences. Consumers just want convenience. Period.

I will justify myself here :))
by Emil Oppeln-Bronikowski on Tue 26th Oct 2004 22:04 UTC

I see some justification here. Im being a big Ska fan. It's quite unpopular genre, so finding anything good in Poland is next to inpossible. Sure, Im buying one, two CD's per 3 months because I can't simply get most of the old bands. So, from time to time Im downloading some old, Jamajcan Ska and enjoy good music. That's my excusse numer one. For my second act, I'd like to say: testing. Few of my friends are downloading some mp3 from album and after they decite if it's any good, they are going for shopping. So, they are buying anyhow, and if music sucks, they wouldn't buy anyway. So noone looses. I don't download movies. It take ages (even on decent connection) and effect you'll recive is nothing to be compared with cinema. Plus I can go with my girlfriend, drink a caffee, watch a movie and then go for a beer and disscuss what I saw. :-)

@Smartpatrol
by Michael Wassil on Tue 26th Oct 2004 22:09 UTC

Nice story but you're missing the point. If it was really just about "survival of the selfish" human beings would have gone extinct thousands of years ago. Patent and copyright theory and law is an order of magnitude or more removed from one hunter discovering a better stalking technique and keeping it to himself.

Society, in the form of laws, grants a limited monopoly to the inventor/artist to exploit his/her "work" for personal profit. Society does this to encourage the individual to develop ideas into new and useful "works" that will be of benefit to society as well as profitable to the individual. It is to the greater benefit of society that such monopoly be limited because someone else may come up with a better way to do it, that is cheaper, more efficient, more environmentally friendly, etc. Thus society takes away the monopoly as it deems most useful to its larger goals.

The real issue I am trying to make is that by granting monopoly rights to an idea (rather than specific "works"), society shoots itself in the foot because it thereby prevents other innovative individuals from developing alternative "works" that might be better than the original patented/copyright work.

@Smartpatrol
by Archangel on Tue 26th Oct 2004 22:10 UTC

Okay, but a Microsoft solution would be SQL Server (Access being, well, hopeless) which still costs a couple of thousand? I'm not totally up on the pricing of it but that's still that couple of thousand more than mySQL.
And I think the article basically was talking about open source at that point - the point being that if there is a free alternative people feel less happy about paying money for the commercial one, even if it has advantages.

@KadyMae
by Archangel on Tue 26th Oct 2004 22:27 UTC

Agreeing again... if they can afford to sell Office for $150 to students, why does it cost so much more for everyone else?

And yes, why is it so damn expensive? Every two years they add a few bits, and oh look, hundreds of dollars again.
Meanwhile if you want to buy say a game, it costs US$50. The whole thing had to be written from scratch (or the engine licensed, in which case that cost has to be recovered). Then if it's something like Diablo 2, it sells five million copies at that price - compared to Office's 100 million or so? What happened to supply and demand?
And frankly I find it hard to believe that Office is harder to code - you don't need artists or modellers either (except for the Excel easter eggs).

Microsoft are very clever with their pricing and marketing though. The student licenses are sold with the sole purpose of making the brand ubiquitous (something Bill G is very big on). Then you buy a full copy of Office - after that you can upgrade, so you also received some sort of intangible "office user" asset that you'll be 'wasting' if you don't buy the next version.

Or there's Windows - XP Home is basically XP Pro with bits cut out. Despite what they advertise, they clearly didn't write it that way then add functionality for Pro. So if anything there's more work involved for Home - but it's more like half the price.
The reason for that is simple - they think it's all home users need, and it gets the brand out there. Whereas they can make money off businesses who have to buy Pro, and also can afford to buy it.

As you say, this cost must be artificially maintained - open source software, which is often available free, has become a viable alternative. Companies are making money off it. So if OpenOffice can work as a free product, why does MS Office have to remain so expensive?

@ Michael Wassil
by Smartpatrol on Tue 26th Oct 2004 22:34 UTC

The real issue I am trying to make is that by granting monopoly rights to an idea (rather than specific "works"), society shoots itself in the foot because it thereby prevents other innovative individuals from developing alternative "works" that might be better than the original patented/copyright work.

yes but i think is incorrect to assume that and individual idea owner monoply or not somehow owes "society". If i invent a cold fusion process and keep it to myself thats my right to do so, i owe society nothing. I wouldn't of course becasue i am too nice of a guy to keep something like that to myself.

@Archangel
by Smartpatrol on Tue 26th Oct 2004 22:38 UTC

Okay, but a Microsoft solution would be SQL Server (Access being, well, hopeless) which still costs a couple of thousand? I'm not totally up on the pricing of it but that's still that couple of thousand more than mySQL.

I understand what you are saying but as far as pricing with support we are talking apples and apples. Its a much used misguided argument that running an OSS solution is costless. It is just not the case hence the reason I branded the authors statement FUD.

why I dl for free
by Anonymous on Tue 26th Oct 2004 22:56 UTC

hello all,

just to say why I dl music for free - maybe 90% of my music is p2p downloaded. Why do I download all these songs? Because it's fancy to have 20-30gb of music... and it helps me find some music which I wouldn't have found any other way... Although I pay for all my software...

Just my 2 cents

My 2 cents on piracy
by Piers on Tue 26th Oct 2004 22:59 UTC

It's a double edged sword. In the music scene p2p has allowed for consumers to get access and hear much more music than the regular media outlets would allow. This has lead to an increase of sales consistantly from the introduction of Napster onwards. What is pissing the main record labels off is that it is not mainstream music that has seen the benefits of this music access, it has been the smaller labels and independents.

You check the industry revenue and you'll see it in black and white a steady increase in revenue over the last 6 to 7 years. Audio piracy issues relate more to that of market control. The big wigs want to clamp down on who gets to play and distribute what music. This the public can not allow at any cost as it will lead to a very staid industry with music void of any form of artistry at all.

Now on the software side, either you pay for what you use by buying it from the shelf/subscribing to it/or donate funds to the developers who contribute to the code you use. Don't shaft people who create. I actually hope MS (who has a history of allowing piracy and now is trying to create revenue of the pirated software dependence they have generated) is successful in cracking down on piracy as it will drive people to alternatives. What I don't like is the big wigs of the media industry trying to lockdown the capabilities of PC's in the name of preventing piracy. As soon as you do that millions of creative artists will be shafted as the hardware needed to create as an alternative to PC's will become out of their reach. I know what it's like as a musician trying to get a studio together and be able to create legally. If I had to purchase DRM free audio workstations from a proprietry hardware vendor, I couldn't do it. I don't have the financial resources to do it and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

So much philosophizing today
by Garadis on Tue 26th Oct 2004 23:25 UTC

Whilst in the capitalist systems, folks can millions or even billions, meanwhile people are sleeping on the streets, starving in 3rd world countries, dying of various diseases because they can't get medical aid, etc. So you say stealing is wrong, but hoarding money isn't? I'm no communist, but really now if you encourage a dog-eat-dog mentality in people, expect it to come back to bite you in the @$$ whether you be the RIAA, Hollywood, Bill Gates or just the ordinary schmo on the streets. Don't like theft? Make a world where everybody has whatever they want or need...or learn to live with disappointment. Isn't the basic premise of our economic system that there is no good and evil, only winners and losers?

@ Smartpatrol
by Michael Wassil on Tue 26th Oct 2004 23:34 UTC

>>yes but i think is incorrect to assume that and individual idea owner monoply or not somehow owes "society". If i invent a cold fusion process and keep it to myself thats my right to do so, i owe society nothing. I wouldn't of course becasue i am too nice of a guy to keep something like that to myself.<<

Many people think they don't owe society. So society forces them to cooperate by limiting the monopoly. As originally thought out and implemented, patent and copyright law were quite ingenious in persuading innovative people to share their innovations with society at large.

People like Franklin and Jefferson did not assume that individual inventors would feel like they owed society. But "society" in fact provides the environment, education, tools, and the market from which to make a profit. Only a man living alone on a desert island or the remotest north woods is truly a society unto himself. The rest of us owe a great deal to the social environment in which we are born and raised whether you want ot admit or not. And I agree, if you have a great idea and don't want to share it with anyone you will take it to the grave with you.



@ KadyMae
by clausi on Tue 26th Oct 2004 23:55 UTC

The cost of software is like the cost of diamonds -- artificially created and maintained.

Your first post was interesting, but the above sentence is false. Demand and Supply usually determine prices, and the theory explains the differences of diamonds and water prices perfectly.

The method just don't works for goods with margin costs of zero for additional usage: Busses, Cars, Planes, Radio Stations are nice examples (within their capacity). It doesn't matter if there's one more consumer, and thus free riding happens. The problem is that all the free-riding usually makes the service a loss. Thus, nobody would usually be interested in providing it without additional rules.

@ claus
by KadyMae on Wed 27th Oct 2004 01:07 UTC

Demand and Supply usually determine prices, and the theory explains the differences of diamonds and water prices perfectly.>>

The key being "usually" determine prices.

DeBeers controls sales on 2/3 of the world's Diamonds. At fixed times the each year they offer "sight holders" an opportunity to buy diamonds. The prices and quantity are fixed and non-negotiable.

---

There's also

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/040903.html

and

http://www.shaneco.com/jewelry/debeers.asp

Diamonds cost what they do because DeBeers says they cost that much.

Very good article
by Metic on Wed 27th Oct 2004 01:41 UTC

Congrats for an excellent article! I would also recommend it as worthwhile reading for people like business and It managers & students too.

I would like to add to this discusion one thing that many readers of this site (with well-paid IT jobs) may not quite get: One of the main reasons for global software piracy is the simpole fact that commercial and proprietary software may just cost all to much to most people in this world.

We may even consider the rich western countries only, where people like students, the unemployed, or people just not having well paid jobs but lots of expenses instead, often just cannot afford to pay for something like an official copy of Microsoft Office. Luckily at least students may get cheaper student prices in some countries but not everywhere.

What can those thousands of people do to keep up with the personal computing and Internet revolution of the recent decade? Also, keep in mind that keeping up with the IT development is also more and more necessary especially in the rich western world in oder to maintain one's work competence, to pay the bills online (encouraged by the banks more and more too) etc. Often the only way to solve the problem is to get a pirated copy of MS Windows (and/or MS Office etc.) from a friend or a relative.

It is much cheaper to get old PC hardware than official versions of, for example, MS Windows and MS Office. In fact, it's perfectly legal and acceptable to get or donate a free PC with all possible hardware and peripherals. But - with all the legal mumbo jumbo of commercial software licenses - it's much more problematic even to know what might be acceptable copying, donating etc. of some commercial software, according to that legal mumbo jumbo, and what not.

Fortunately we have Open Office and other free alternatives now, but alternative operating systems (to Windows, and to some degree Mac OS) seem to be a bit too difficult choices still for the mainstream like home users - whether they've money to buy a legal copy of MS Windows or not.

At the end of the day
by Yamin on Wed 27th Oct 2004 01:43 UTC

At the end of the day does it really matter where this fine line between copying/piracy/stealing is. Me personally, I think it's morally wrong. But IMHO, the law is not meant to enforce morality, but to ensure we all get along somehow.
I think if we step back a bit and ignore morality for a second, we can ask ourselves one simple question.

Are those invovled in the production of a digital item being paid proper compensation on the whole. This in the end will determine which direction software takes.

Maybe we are a crossroads right now where too many people are not paying for the digital items. But last I checked artists are still making loads of money, games are still being made, movies are still raking in millions, microsoft is still making loads of money... Business will still need legal software and this law and order WILL spread to those other countries in time. People are often spontaneous and WILL rent a movie/game from blockbuster rather than spending 4 hours searching/downloading it.

Especially with executables, I often don't 'trust' downloaded content and often buy them. I personally find the 'fake' media items on p2p software (you know the songs iwth the right name, but end up just playing the chorus with a scratch on it) is really an effective way to ensure everything works accordingly. I don't even search for any song I think could possibly be on the radio because I'll have to sort through 10 fake ones first. Whatever the morality of that, it works, and keeps everything in balance.

@dweazle
by rain on Wed 27th Oct 2004 02:20 UTC

So as a Linux user I'm out of luck. It's almost impossible to port this software to Linux, because the VST protocol is proprietary and copyrighted by Steinberg (the creators of the Cubase sequencer, which is way too expensive btw). I'm forced to use Windows (or Mac) for this.

That's not true. VST and VSTi modules are very easy to port and supported on all major OS's (even BeOS). The main problem in that case is that most of them are closed source. Even most of the free ones are closed.
Some developers are happy to share the source with another developer that will port it for him, while some aren't. And commersial developers doesn't care about any other platforms than Win and OSX at the moment.
But technically, it's no problem at all. So the good thing is that if/when linux grows as a music creation platform companies will easily be able to port their VST and VSTi modules. But it's not really there yet, if it will ever be.

Making music is the only thing I use Windows for these days. And I don't like it. But the only realistic option is a mac, and it's way too expensive.

I feel the same about supporting MS. I'll never pay for any MS software. But my Win2K install is actually legit, I got it for free.
What most people doesn't realise when they say that they won't pay for Windows because they don't want to support MS, but still uses Windows, is that they are actually supporting MS anyway. Especially if they are buying software made for Windows.
It helps MS to maintain their place in the market and it hurts the growth of the competetors.

This is something that bugs me a lot. But for music making at a low budget there aren't really any realistic competetors to support yet. When there is, I will jump right at it.

Numbers, please???
by MHV on Wed 27th Oct 2004 02:41 UTC

For example, the complexity of the Oracle database and the amount of man-hours that has gone into its creation is probably less than that of the Windows operating system, but it costs a hundred times more. Lucky for Bill Gates, there's a demand for a much higher quantity of Windows licenses. I guess that's why he's more than twice as rich as Larry Ellison.

What kind of an argument is that?

If my memory serves me correctly, it was actually some form of gun that was assembled on an assembly line like cars are, though not nearly as complicated to manufacture.

But then, if we want to break things down more, there are more ordinary items that were first made on assembly lines, such as cloth, and perhaps furniture for the common person, though I can't give a year for that.

One thing I've not seen mentioned in either the article or all the preceding comments to this one (58 as of the time I wrote this) is the amount of time and effort required by a creator of software to learn and master their trade sufficiently well to create the product. I find it curious that many people will insist that software should/must be free, simply because it costs nothing to distribute (or very close to it) and yet, if you ask them to do some sort of labor or provide the time/effort to instruct you in something of their expertise, they'll quickly complain that they had to work hard to get/learn/earn that, and they'll say no, there's no such thing as a free lunch!

Now, if societies that have the infrastructure to support software development actually paid some sort of stipend to software developers that produce software that the public sees as having value, then by simple logic, there'd be nothing wrong with people profiting off the work of the developer(s), as the developer(s) would be assured of some form of compensation that allowed them to pay for minor things like food, water, fuel, shelter, and perhaps a few nice things. How that stipend would be calculated would be an interesting discussion unto itself, but perhaps something agreeable to the society and the developers could be worked out, based on experience/skill/quality of the works, combined with some assessed value for fitness of use for one or more tasks the software is designed for. To some small degree, this is where some people are getting a small amount of income from people making PayPal donations to support the development of software, but entirely on the honor system, which doesn't appear to ensure nearly enough income to depend on someone making a living off of.

The university I attend (IUPUI) assesses a "Technology Fee" (I think I've got it correctly named) for the usage of the IT infrastructure, which is assessed each semester for all students. For a long time, I saw no value in paying that fee, as I had all the IT infrastructure I wanted/needed at home. However, as of this time, I'm finally recouping the fees in terms of value, by using the dialup account I had available, as opposed to using some horrible "free" (advertising supported) ISP, or some other provider (note: I'm currently severely underemployed, and I might argue it is related to the whole article attached to these comments) and though it isn't ideal for many things (certain ports are blocked, for example) it is of enough value in a crunch.

@Smartpatrol
by greg on Wed 27th Oct 2004 03:06 UTC

"..alot of people use OSS because it is the path of least resistance..."

Least resistance?!? Do you have any idea how long it took me to get Debian installed on my laptop? :-)

greg

RE:Jonathan Thompson
by Jophn Deo on Wed 27th Oct 2004 05:52 UTC

One thing I've not seen mentioned in either the article or all the preceding comments to this one (58 as of the time I wrote this) is the amount of time and effort required by a creator of software to learn and master their trade sufficiently well to create the product.

That's self investment, as it is when you attend University
or whatever institute.As opposed to research.

Piracy
by Maltaq on Wed 27th Oct 2004 07:26 UTC

If someone called the BSA and said my company dident pay any licenses, it would be true (except for some zend licenses). Open Source software has served us well, but it somehow still baffles people i talk to in the industry, that you can live without Microsoft, Oracle and IBM Software + various industry dependent software.

Re: foo (IP: 156.26.119.---)
by drsmithy on Wed 27th Oct 2004 08:55 UTC

I think the "underlying" factor may be referring to is called Cognitive Dissonance. When people do or think something they don't feel right about, they will try and "make it better" by using methods such as rationalization, ie. "Stealing is wrong, but copying MP3s isn't all that bad when you consider how greedy the record companies are."

Or they may have simply not been brainwashed with the "copying == stealing" line.

Perhaps rephrasing the problem helps
by Richard James on Wed 27th Oct 2004 09:53 UTC

Making the copies is not stealing it's what you do with the copies that count.

For example if Syria sends a spy to Israel and copies information about the location of a research facility. Then Syria sends a missile attack against the facility.

The copying is not wrong. It is the misuse of the copy that is wrong. If having a copy stops you from buying a copy then that is where the crime lies. However since we have no real name for such a crime the industries use stealing as a name, but we know that it is not really stealing. It is another crime altogether.

Also morality comes not from logic but instead from ethics.

Re: Thom Holwerda (IP: ---.cable.quicknet.nl)
by drsmithy on Wed 27th Oct 2004 09:56 UTC

Indeed, the phenomenon is called cognitive dissonance-- it's what happens when observed/expressed behaviour does not fit among the observer's set of attitudes. Like, when John Smith, a law-abiding citizen downloads and album from the web, the fact that he steals does not fit his "abide-the-law" attitude-- therefore he will indeed try to justify his actions, so that his behaviour will match his attitudes and the state of cognitive consistency is reached again.

Yeah, I like my university study of Psychology ;)


Maybe you should recall your "correlation != causation" principle. Just because someone "obeys the law" except for a single incident does not mean their behaviour is *dictated* by the law - so "breaking" a law may not necessarily be against that person's morals.

In my opinion, downloading illegal music/software is stealing, no matter how you look at it.

It's not stealing, it's copying. There is a _vast_ gulf between the two in both practice and principle.

I tend to disagree. Of course you take something away from someone! By downloading an song, you won't buy it, so, you are depriving the owner of the song from income.

No. You've only "deprived" the "owner" of the song of income IFF you would have otherwise bought the song.

Would you take an Aston Martin from that parking lot? I hope you won't, because it's stealing.

Of course not. However, if I could whip out my Star Trek replicator and make a complete and perfect *copy* of one of those Aston Martins, I would.

The difference between "copying" and "stealing" is that in the case of the latter a direct and tangible loss is suffered. In the case of the former there is only the intangible possibility of not gaining something to lose.

Erm, do you know that performing and recording is work? How much time do you think it takes a band like Radiohead (just an example), to create and write the lyrics, the music, then go into the studio, record it, record it again, and again, and again, untill it's perfect? A 4 minute song does not take 4 minutes to make, you know.

The real question is why do you think Radiohead should be paid over and over and over again for that one bit of work, including their descendants for 3 or 4 generations ? Most of the working world only gets paid *when they actually do the work* - why should "artists" be any different ?

Re: Jason Mazzotta (IP: 216.75.211.---)
by drsmithy on Wed 27th Oct 2004 10:00 UTC

Morality is based on logic.

Morality is not in any way, shape or form based on logic. Morality is a construct of society. The principles behind logic are objective and defined, the principles behind morality are subjective and constantly changing.

The only reason someone possesses something (or more to the point creates something) is because it has/or is expected to produce value. To deprive someone of the possession of an item is to deprive them of something from which they could otherwise derive value. So stealing someone's wallet (which has money, something with undeniable value, in it) is morally no different from stealing software (from which someone might derive value).

But they _are_ completely different things, for the very reason you state. In one case, you are stealing something that *definitely* has value (ie: money). In the other, you are copying something that *might* have value.

In other words, in the first case there is direct and tangible loss, in the second case there is not - you can't lose something you never had.

Re: Smartpatrol (IP: 66.248.215.---)
by drsmithy on Wed 27th Oct 2004 10:03 UTC

One tribe invents a more efficient means of hunting their primary food source perhaps deer. The survival of each tribe/family unit is paramount to the survival of their offspring. What you are saying is that the one tribe should share their method so that they can both deplete the same resource and jeopardize the survival of both tribes.

No, he's saying that should the other tribe find out this method (or simply discover it themselves), *they* haven't done anything wrong.

Hence the reason a free market cannot exist in a true large scale socialist society. There will always be losers in this game and/or a dependency on others for services.

The objective of copyright is impose *artificial scarcity*. It subverts the principals of capitalism.

yes but i think is incorrect to assume that and individual idea owner monoply or not somehow owes "society".

But they do. Society provides the infrastructure (food, shelter, protection) that allows them to spend time just thinking up ideas instead of worrying about basic survival.

Re: KadyMae (IP: ---.lv-llb.nevada.edu)
by drsmithy on Wed 27th Oct 2004 10:05 UTC

Okay, it's $150 for a student/educator to put it on 3 computers, but $300 for John Q. Public to put it on ONE computer ... so what, IF ANYTHING, do these prices have to do with actual cost?

Absolutely nothing, the same thing _any_ price does in a free market system.

I think $50 a license is a reasonable price for Office. It's not like they're creating whole swathes of code from scratch any more, so why's it cost $300?

Because that's what the market will bear. You think the raw materials in a Ferrari cost anywhere near as much as the selling price ?

Not to mention, Office does tend to increase in functionality reasonably significant with each new release.

Cycle
by Jophn Deo on Wed 27th Oct 2004 10:16 UTC

The real question is why do you think Radiohead should be paid over and over and over again for that one bit of work, including their descendants for 3 or 4 generations ? Most of the working world only gets paid *when they actually do the work* - why should "artists" be any different ?

It's in generall protected for about 25 years.After that they have to release the same again to get a new cycle going.

Something to remember
by drsmithy on Wed 27th Oct 2004 10:22 UTC

The major losers from P2P and massive copyright infringers are those businesses who have built themselves up on the basis of copying being difficult and time consuming. Now that copying is simple and quick, their business models are obselete. It's no different (to use the ubquitous example) to the car manufacturers obseleting buggy-whip manufacturers.

Why should obselete business models be protected by law ?

Re: Jophn Deo (IP: ---.block.alestra.net.mx)
by drsmithy on Wed 27th Oct 2004 10:29 UTC

It's in generall protected for about 25 years.After that they have to release the same again to get a new cycle going.

In most countries (where copyright is respected at all), a work is copyrighted for 70 years *after* the death of the copyright holder.

So that Radiohead album you buy today won't be in the Public Domain for at least ~100 years and for that time, Radiohead and their descendants are able to make money from that album.

How on Earth does this system encourage Radiohead to create more work ? Their great-great-great-grandchildren will still be able to make money from their albums. Where's the incentive ?

There is no justification whatsoever for copyright lasting beyond the death of the copyright holder.

@drsmithy
by Archangel on Wed 27th Oct 2004 10:42 UTC

I'm pretty sure Australia uses 25 years - check out Project Gutenberg, they have a bunch of e-books available which are in the public domain. They're working on 25 years after the author's death.

Re: Archangel (IP: ---.adsl.ihug.co.nz)
by drsmithy on Wed 27th Oct 2004 11:13 UTC

I'm pretty sure Australia uses 25 years - check out Project Gutenberg, they have a bunch of e-books available which are in the public domain. They're working on 25 years after the author's death.

According to this:

http://www.copyright.org.au/PDF/InfoSheets/G010.pdf

The general case is currently 50 years after the author's death, extending to 70 years (thanks to the AUS-US FTA) at the end of this year.

However, this is really semantics. My point is copyright should expire well within the creator's lifetime, not well after it.


Incidentally, where in NZ do you live ?

@ KadyMae
by clausi on Wed 27th Oct 2004 12:35 UTC

DeBeers controls sales on 2/3 of the world's Diamonds.

Sorry, I thought you were referring as to the diamonds / water prices 'puzzle', not to DeBeers monopoly position.

However, a monopoly position is no contrast to the 'demand and supply determine prices' theory - in fact, it's quite the opposite. ;)

hmm..
by hobgoblin on Wed 27th Oct 2004 12:50 UTC

if we had unlimited amounts of power and quantum combiners on every street corner so that anyone could go up to them and just push a button to get a hot cup of coffe, a new set of pants or the latest from some composer then the composer to can do that and dont have to get payed for his work. basicly the sole reason for our need for money (be it physical or electronic) is the fact that we have limited resources. and as long as we have limited resources a resource have a value. but outside of the act of creating software, a work of art or similar technology today makes images, strings of code and sounds basicly a unlimited resource, thereby turning the value into 0 quite fast ones its out in the wild. only by applying the virtual limitation of intelectual property does the value stay above 0. but remeber that any physical item loose value with use and shelf life. this forces the creators of said items into makeing new ones. but virtual goods have a unlimited shelf life and therefor have no real need for being renewed. the original creators of the idea "intelectual property" did see this and put in a timer. the problem is that this timer have gone the wrong way. in this modern age it should have been tuned short as the time it takes to make a new product is shorter, but with pressure from the special interest groups its instead become longer so that it basicly overlaps. if the special interest groups got it how they wanted there would be no timelimit and they would become a kind of printing press or black hole for money if they allso could apply dark age tactics to get people to pay up. basicly there is a creation of a new kind of aristocrasy going on, one fuled not by blodline but by money (or one could in fact state that it was allways fueld by money but now the idea of inheritance have been ripped out). basicly this time the war is not fought by soldiers and generals but by lawyers and marketers. the only kind of job that have crossed over intact is the spy.

...
by Thom Holwerda on Wed 27th Oct 2004 13:06 UTC

If I hear most people here, it seems to me that most of you wish that music was freely available and that no one ever would have to pay for it again.

Now, it's my strong belief that Aston Martins should be freely available, that no one would ever have to pay for one again.

Re: Jophn Deo
by Jonathan Thompson on Wed 27th Oct 2004 14:28 UTC

Quote myself:

"One thing I've not seen mentioned in either the article or all the preceding comments to this one (58 as of the time I wrote this) is the amount of time and effort required by a creator of software to learn and master their trade sufficiently well to create the product."

Jophn Deo said:
"That's self investment, as it is when you attend University
or whatever institute.As opposed to research."

I won't argue that it isn't self-investment. It IS personally-directed research, regardless of how "scientific" it is. It involves real risk that what is studied won't be valuable to anyone else, or even themselves. A lot of the development of software can clearly be considered research, as it isn't possible to know immediately how to accomplish/implement something the first time. Also, even if it is known how to implement it, needs aren't always clear, or static: this requires (for great software, anyway, that actually has longer lasting value) some research into the target audience and their needs with appropriate interaction. Software designed without that feedback has a tendency to not be used by anyone but the original creators.

What I wanted to get across is that that self-investment/research is not significantly different than the same sort of self-investment/research required of a doctor or a lawyer that wishes to remain competent/employable in their respective fields: it takes TIME, ENERGY, MONEY expended to accomplish all of this. This is where the big schizm between what people think the value of software creations (once created) should be and what they are considered to be worth: they can't afford to be completely free, because that ignores the reality that a real human with real human limitations of time, energy, resources, etc. put their time and effort into accomplishing it. People don't truly expect to keep on going to a doctor for many hours each week and getting their services for free, and we know lawyers aren't cheap or free (if you aren't destitute and the government doesn't appoint one for you, courtesy of the taxpayers, which still isn't truly "free") because the cost of their investment in themselves needs to be recuperated, not to mention the fact that if they don't get sufficient remuneration, they will be incapable of providing any more service: they need food, shelter, clothing, etc. to survive. Software engineers are humans with exactly the same mortal needs, and this is what is clearly forgotten!

Wonderful article
by brockers on Wed 27th Oct 2004 14:57 UTC

I did not believe that OSNews was still capable of articles of this quality. Great stuff.

Bobby

Time investment
by David Adams on Wed 27th Oct 2004 15:25 UTC

"One thing I've not seen mentioned in either the article or all the preceding comments to this one (58 as of the time I wrote this) is the amount of time and effort required by a creator of software to learn and master their trade sufficiently well to create the product."

This is indeed a good point, and it's one of the reasons why music, software, movies or anything else should never be free (gratis) unless the creator wants it that way. There are many reasons why a creator of a virtual good might want to give it away for free, and they should be free to do so. But the truth is, no matter what happens, all these kinds of goods will always have some production cost involved, whether it's education, hardware, or just office space.

And there isn't anything wrong with the creators of software, music, or whatever having the hope of really hitting the jackpot with one of their works. That one of these days one of their programs or songs will become really popular and make them a lot of money, even a disproportionate amount compared to the amount of work it was to create it. And that's because 1) I believe in a free market where people have the right to create goods and sell them without some authoritarian regime judging what is a fair return on their investment (and pocketing the rest, of course) and 2) because trying to make a living in the music or the software business is hard, thankless work, and most of the people who try, fail.

All those people plugging away in order to try to hit the big time, motivated by that dream, has always been the primary engine of the world's innovation and economic development. If there isn't that possibility of wild success, not as many people would end up trying, not as many people would endure the initial hardships.

Therefore, even though I recognize in this article that the IP-based businesses are bogged down by obsolete layers of middlemen and the struggle to maintain the old order will only damage its long term viability, I still think that in order for this system to work, there must remain a way for creators to be rewarded for their work, and to have the possibility to be rewarded far, far beyond their input in those rare cases where the work is desired by many people.

Information wants to be free
by Tyr on Wed 27th Oct 2004 16:05 UTC

The 'abnormal' situation isn't the copying of information but rather the looking at it as a good. You cannot prevent th copying of information (wether it's music, a painting or source code) because of the very nature of the thing.

Every time I look at a picture or hear a piece of music it gets copied into my internal memory. People intuitively understand the nature of information which is why it doesn't 'feel' wrong to copy a song, the rationalization is treating it as a good which imposes sociatal values on something where for reasons of practicality it doesn't apply.

Note that this dichotomy is relatively new and only really came to the fore in the latter half of the last century. The classic view of information (that it is to be distributed freely) survives in institutions like libraries where you can freely access cds, books and yes even software.

RE:Jonathan Thompson
by Jophn Deo on Wed 27th Oct 2004 16:41 UTC

Very good to the point, it's hard to bend your view.
But i'm not going to, in fact i can agree with a lot you said.It's sad though that in some countries justice is somewhat inherent to depth of the pockets.As the good lawyers aren't cheap,and the cheap ones have more often to
much cases but that's a different story.

Agreement
by Smartpatrol on Wed 27th Oct 2004 16:58 UTC

1) I believe in a free market where people have the right to create goods and sell them without some authoritarian regime judging what is a fair return on their investment (and pocketing the rest, of course)

I agree, that is why i cannot understand the mentality that is applied to Microsoft. They did just that and were punished for their success by various governments.

re: smartpatrol
by hobgoblin on Wed 27th Oct 2004 17:06 UTC

its not the success the try to punish, but the way they did it. every system have rules, and if you break those rules then punishment is the reaction. the only way for a market to grow is open competition where the curstomer can go from supplyer a to supplyer be if b have a better product. this without worrying about filetypes and similar. interoperability and standards are the name of the game. and im not talking about de-facto standards but real standards that are not owned by any one entity...

Re: Thom Holwerda (IP: ---.cable.quicknet.nl)
by drsmithy on Thu 28th Oct 2004 11:10 UTC

If I hear most people here, it seems to me that most of you wish that music was freely available and that no one ever would have to pay for it again.

Now, it's my strong belief that Aston Martins should be freely available, that no one would ever have to pay for one again.


Still haven't figured out the difference between physical objects and legal constructs, eh ?

If a performer wants to perform somewhere and charge me a fee to see/hear them, I have no problem whatsoever with that. I would never suggest that they should have to perform for free.