Software Pirates Want to Legalize Drug Dealing

Yesterday’s post about piracy got some comments favoring different views here and also at indiegamer board.

I found it quite hilarious (and maybe bit sad) that people really think that preventing piracy is against “freedom of speech”. I mean, these pirates are sharing copyrighted material illegally. Banning pirate site means taking action to prevent this illegal action to happen.

Same logic could be used to make thievery, murders, drug dealing (you name it) legal. Let’s suppose that in your country, drug dealing is illegal. So, when people deal drugs, they are breaking the law.

To prevent drug dealing, countries have police forces to stop this.

To prevent games dealing, countries are banning sites to stop this.

If we think that “freedom of speech” has anything to do with “sharing games illegally”, then the next step is to legalize all sorts of drugs based on “freedom of speech”.


An update:

Basically, I think that:
– “Stealing stuff” shouldn’t be allowed based on reasoning about “freedom of speech”
– “Drugs” shouldn’t be allowed based on reasoning about “freedom of speech”.
– “Murders” shouldn’t be allowed based on reasoning about “freedom of speech”.
– “Put your own example” shouldn’t be allowed based on reasoning about “freedom of speech”

The Pirate Bay says that censoring their site is act against freedom of speech.

I fail to see how sharing illegal content should be legalized based on freedom of speech.

I’m not saying that they wouldn’t have reasons why they’d want to have their site unbanned, but freedom of speech doesn’t belong in the list of reasons.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I realise this is an old post so apologies for scraping the bottom of the barrel :)

    Actually there are many fine arguments *for* the legalization of (currently illegal) drugs and they are understood by many people other than software pirates. That was a silly comparison, obviously written in haste (possibly to garner traffic) but still silly, as are comparisons with paedophilia, murder, gang rape and granny bashing. As bad as stealing is those other examples of crime are in a different league to stealing.

    For the record I am not advocating stealing, merely pointing out the ridiculous assumption that software pirates want to legalize drugs and the assumption that the notion of legalizing illicit drugs is a bad thing.

    I personally would prefer legalization, regulation by authorities and an age rating with a health warning (assuming the illicit drug in question is damaging to ones health). A dealer doesn’t care less if he sells to a minor as to him the punishment is the same, yet a liquor shop with age ratings worries a great deal about selling to minors and asks for id.

    Prohibition does not prevent use it only excites the rebellious youth and drives control and power into the hands of unscrupulous thugs.

    Jake made some good points but was in error when he stated that “heroin addicts would probably still steal for money”, if heroin was made legally it would be a magnitude cheaper than it currently sells for on the street and the related crime-rate would drop.

  2. Heeey! You took out the last part..

    That was my drop in the bucket!!

    Its all good!


  3. I feel ya on your points Zeha. Nice argument..

    I feel that removing them, in both examples, would cut down on it in one aspect,

    It takes it all back to you gotta find it for yourself and like you said, be all undergroundy.

    Regardless of the pirate bays good aspects, they are still laying out the brick road for you to find the stolen stuff.

    Don’t get me wrong.. I used to pirate stuff all the time a few years back. In fact I was one of the first I think, way back when AOL had those WAREZ chat rooms and they would email you your stuff for you to download.

    I thought it was just sharing then (1996) it seemed cool, I mean yeah my “friends” gave me the stuff to “borrow”

    My “friends” also gave me their employee discount at Lion store back then too. then I got arrested for fraud.

    Luckily the charges were dropped cause I was about to Join the Air Force. And I truly had no idea that that was illegal. On top of the fact, my “friend” was using other peoples credit cards to pay off half the balance that was owed in the register.

    I still received the goods, I wasn’t even there when he used the credit card to pay off the register. But I was still receiving stolen goods,and committing credit card fraud.

    The same goes if someone at a store named.. The Pirate Bay.. (lol) Where they help people buy boats and boat equipment. pointed me to his back room where they have all this great stuff that some other guy from WAREZ inc. Stole off the back of a truck and was giving it away to me.

    The Pirate Bay is still responsible, as well as I am.

    Nothing in life is free….


  4. Yes, your example is horrid, but let me tell you that I don’t think it’s really comparable.

    The one thing is to set up a “pedophile” website with all the infos specifically targeted to “grab a kid”, along with the bus stop time schedules. A completely different thing, though, would be to have a “bus stop time schedule” page, which in turn COULD be abused by a pedophile in that he uses it to know when the school bus arrives.

    Now you’d think that I’d say “PirateBay is exactly the latter”, but I’m not going to say that. But I think it is located somewhere in between. It’s not exactly a “here you get the stuff!” site with a huge and shiny “news section” where everything is praised and “get all those warez for free!!” banners, and so on. It just looks like a search engine, and how you use it and what to search is up to yourself. But no one from the site tells you “look here, here’s Doom 3, wanna download?”

    Also, keep in mind that a site like that can be used in a good manner as well. There are tons of reports of people who weren’t able to play their legally purchased games, so they actually have a chance to get a DRM-free version there. And you can simply use it as an ordinary torrent tracker, as you can find legal torrents as well. Just like Google, you can find everything there. From legal sites to illegal sites. If I search for “[some movie name] download” in Google, the first 10 results already offer me a wide range of possibilities where I can download that movie.

    And one more thing (and I mentioned this before): If such a site exists, it’s far more easy to track down the pirates. You already admitted that with the pedophile example. Just think about it. Imagine the pedophile had made some undergroundy stuff (i.e. not such a public site), this would have made it far more difficult for the police.

    Finally, let me tell you that I fully UNDERSTAND YOUR POINT. The only thing I’m trying is to see the issue from different point of views. Every site that gets closed might lower the barrier for closing a site. And this would clearly hurt freedom of speech in the long run. Maybe not overnight.

    And honestly – do you really think it would help? Did closing the pedophile site stop pedophiles from abusing kids? I don’t think so. Would closing the Pirate Bay really stop piracy? I don’t think so. Piracy existed back in the 80s. The Pirate Bay exists since 2003. If it gets closed, piracy will still exist in 2015. It simply don’t matter, it would only get shifted into the underground. And as I said in another post, as soon as something gets closed, the next one is already there. Napster emerged 1999 and got closed in 2001. No illegal music downloads since 2001, then? Come on.

  5. …..ok im going to join…. I cant take it anymore…

    If you told me the address to someone house that sold guns or drugs you are just as at fault as the dealer.
    You know there is a drug dealer or gun dealer and you haven’t reported it to the cops or some other official, you are in ALL ESSENCE saying it is ok to sell illegal drugs or firearms.

    Turning the other cheek is NOT OK!

    It is the same as those pirate sites, even the Pirate bay, they know DAMN WELL that people are using the “search engine” to go and steal that stuff that makes them JUST as much at FAULT as the people that SHARE the warez, and the people that TAKE them.

    You want a good Simile? Im sweet at them.

    The SO CALLED hiding behind the “Freedom of Speech” is a total crock of CRAP, here is why.

    There was this pedophile that created this internet site about little kids and children. On his site he showed examples and ways how to pick up little kids, in fact he even showed where to pick the kids up in his neighborhood on his site, the bus stops the time schedules even pictures of them.
    Well after being up for a few months one of the little boys in his neighborhood went missing, then turned up raped and dead in the gutter a week later.
    The police through their evidence department was able to track down the killer and such and arrest him, upon going through all his stuff they found on his computer this private site hosted by that original pedophile.
    The way the little kid was picked up and the way he was raped and murdered were all outlined in this guys website, the killer followed them to the T.
    There were even pictures of the little boy that was taken on there playing in the park and such…
    Needless to say, the guy that owned and operated the website was arrested and convicted of child endangerment and Conspiracy to commit murder and a few other nastier crimes. He is spending MANY MANY years in jail.

    Im sure by now your a little angry and wondering what this all has to do with anything……

    Well here goes.

    The main defense that they pedophile was using in his trial was “freedom of Speech” it was his right to put up the website and talk about all his fantasies.

    Well, all this falls into the grey area now for some people, some people would say.. well yeah, its not his fault, HE didn’t do the killing.

    Your right, he didnt.

    But what HE DID DO, was provide the killer with ALL the tools that he needed to complete the crime, which is conspiracy.

    If you and I planned someones murder together, we both go down.

    If I planned someones murder and you knew about it and didnt stop it from happening, We both go down.


    If I show someone where to find stolen goods and give them all the tools necessary to get them. If I provide them a great “service” such as that. A nice little search engine, a nice little download program……………….




  6. With “serving the people’s needs” I didn’t mean to release the game for free of course, I just meant releasing a very nice game that the people love to play and maybe some other merchandise stuff that sells.

    If piracy really is such a big problem, then why is GTA IV able to make $500 million in the first week? It’s just a game that people are absolutely dying to get. This is what I mean by serving the people’s needs.

  7. Yeah, i quite agree with ZeHa based on d question will closing d site solve the problem? I think not. Cos closing it won’t STOP it but reduce it.But on the other hand obeying to the people’s need’s (when it would affect them personally) will be harmful because lets face it – if they produce a game and found out that it has been either cracked, has a patch, loaders, keygen, and of course registration files would they be happy? I mean who would ever like that especially when u employ the state of the art technologies in developing such a software.
    Yeah it might be expensive but people!, someone has to make some profit as an enterpreneur or a company.Nothing will ever be perfect because that is the world we live in.
    Freedom of speech will certainly diminish here becos they braking the law.So in order to control it these measures has to be in place.

  8. I can see your point, but I also mentioned that in my first comment already. But on the other hand, I can see the Pirate Bay’s point as well. If I support their opinion or not is something entirely different, but I can understand why they’d complain about closing their site.

    If it would be shut down, it would be indeed censorship, and if it’s done one time, it can be done for other sites as well (which might be even more legal than the Pirate Bay!), so this might indeed hurt freedom of speech.

    And you should also look at the situation from another point of view: If there is a gathered source of links to illegal downloads, it’s actually easier for the authorities to prevent piracy than if it would be completely underground. So closing the site down might be a shot in the own foot.

    And to be honest, has closing a site or destroying a P2P-client ever solved the problem? Napster emerged in 1999 – that’s almost 10 years ago. Since then (and even before) we had a lot of different possibilities to download music, movies, games and so on. Many of them got closed and banned, but it didn’t change anything. As soon as one got closed, the next one was already there.
    The only thing that changed a bit of the situation were legally paid downloads. I think I read several times that they lead to less piracy. So it seems like the only solution is to accomodate to people’s needs. They want to download and they want it cheap and DRM-free, so give them downloads and make them cheap and DRM-free.

    Observe people’s needs and try to serve them. It’s as simple as that.
    If people keep walking a dirt track into the grass, don’t put on a sign that reads “keep off the lawn”. Lay out some tiles instead.

  9. “In fact, they are not sharing illegal content. They are just sharing links (and as far as I know they are not hand-picked or something, they act more like a search engine).”

    Oh come on ZeHa. Are you honestly believing this?

    I don’t care if “they aren’t technically breaking the law”. They are acting against the spirit of law, and you bloody well know that. :) Basically they are enforcing people to act against the law – they are building a bridge to piracy. To reply to your other example:

    “If I told you the address of somebody who can sell you a gun (or drugs for that matter), am I the one who’s sharing illegal content? I don’t think so. The one who does would be the gun or drug dealer, but not me.”

    I’d certainly wouldn’t want you to walk anywhere near kids in schools telling them where to get drugs.

    I don’t care if you wouldn’t technically be breaking the law. I know you’d be building a bridge between legal and illegal activity.

  10. Wow, 99% of you missed the point all together.

    Juuso compared to two to show just how DUMB it is to compare freedom of speech to piracy and Freedom of Speech and Drug Dealing….


    Both ways are wrong totally.. wow..

    I keep feeling the need to explain it more, but then I just read everyone posts again… wow… I don’t think it will work though..

    For those of you that posted like you did… yes… I am insulting you.

    (I figured you wouldn’t get it)


  11. The last comment by Juuso sums up my view.

    I’d like to recommend a book to anyone interested in piracy or somehow affected by it(like us game developers), it’s called “The Pirate’s Dilemma”, by Matt Mason. It’s a brief history of piracy and how it created the world we currently live in. The book is available for free in the author’s website, if you don’t mind ebooks.

    Basically, either you adapt and start competing with the pirates or you die. Piracy always appears to fill out a gap in the market or to create new markets altogether.

  12. The Pirate Bay says that censoring their site is act against freedom of speech.

    I fail to see how sharing illegal content should be legalized based on freedom of speech.

    In fact, they are not sharing illegal content. They are just sharing links (and as far as I know they are not hand-picked or something, they act more like a search engine).

    If I told you the address of somebody who can sell you a gun (or drugs for that matter), am I the one who’s sharing illegal content? I don’t think so. The one who does would be the gun or drug dealer, but not me.

    But I agree on Ben’s quote. This is the way that I see it as well. It’s like fuel prices… people keep complaining everytime they rise a few cents… yet it’s something pretty normal these days, and you just have to accept this. You don’t have to like it. But you have to accept it, since you can’t change anything about it. Rather find a way to compensate.

  13. Actually… I think Ben said something very good. It’s pretty much the same what I think about this matter:

    You can’t stop piracy. Instead of complaining you should adapt. It’s a new business model and your only option is to embrace it or loose out. Think of it as evolution or survival of the fittest.

    Instead, put your energy into making a better product.

  14. That’s a hard issue… Close down a website for allowing (or not stopping) people putting illegal material is a dangerous action and sometimes you can punish the wrong person.
    In Brazil we had a different kind of internet crime in public site (Orkut.com). a few users had share under age sexual material, but instead of closing down orkut, the police asked the company for the pedofiles IPs and started making arrests. I think it was the right thing to do, if it’s illegal.
    When we think about torrent files, several game developers uses it to distribute their own games (cutting bandwidth costs).
    If you wanna talk about freedom of speech, I totally agree, but when anyone shares a file, he should sign your name and address on it. and if anyone share copyright material, FBI can do the same as brazilian police.

  15. Well the way you see it as “Software Pirates Want to Legalize Drug Dealing” it means that you hate them so much Hey but who wouldn’t?.
    It won’t be nice after spending several months on a game and it’s finally out in the market for you to reap your hard labour, only to find out that it has been either cracked and subsequently distributed for all. I kind of agree and see your plight as saying Legalizing Drug dealing.

  16. This post of yours was so retarted, well atleast that analogy was…

  17. @asfads (yes I know this is a random selection of letters): Well software, music, and film producers can deal with it by:

    a) not making any more stuff and becoming farmers (hopefully no one will steal your potatoes), which would be a bummer for most people

    b) come up with more and more annoying copy protection schemes

    c) have stricter anti-piracy laws/punishments including banning piracy-related sites

    d) find a new revenue model like advertising, but is advertising really going to pay for a movie like Batman the dark knight? I doubt it.

    e) ignore it and see what happens. My guess is that would mean continually decreasing revenue as more and more people turn to piracy (especially kids who see it as normal) until it became non-viable to stay in business. Again, this would mean no more “quality” movies/games/music, just free stuff that people do in their spare time after they finish spreading manure on their crops.

  18. I’m am very disappointed in you and with what you’ve written here. I’d add more but the other comments have it pretty much covered.

  19. Here’s the world as it is today. Things are digital and easy to copy. Software, music, film producers need to deal with it.

  20. Amusingly enough, most drugs actually should be legalized, just because keeping them underground is far more dangerous, it is impossible to fight drug dealers effectively, and it creates an incredibly lucrative business for gangsters. See: the period of alcohol prohibition in the US.

    It is entirely different logic than the piracy argument, though, so I don’t really see why you’re linking the two concepts, and in fact implying that software piracy is somehow related with drug freedom, the apologists of either might find quite offensive.

    Preventing piracy with aggressive DRM and such is not against freedom of speech, but it’s just lowering the industry’s standards. Back in the day, before Steam and other absurd systems, borrowing games from friends was common. If you bought a legal game, you got a nice CD which you could use on a net-deprived computer on the North Pole and still play. Multiplayer lobbies enforced unique CD keys anyway, so people who really liked the game still had to buy it.

    Seeing as even airtight protected games such as Portal get cracked, fighting piracy is pretty much a waste of development time, and more of an annoyance to the legal copy owners than to the pirates. The real solution is quite simple – create a game good enough that people will want to pay for it instead of the next overpriced industry hit. If you produce real value it will attract money – see Radiohead’s ‘free to download, donate whatever you consider appropriate’ album which actually brought them more profits than the previous ones distributed the traditional way.

  21. I’m not sure it’s quite the same. Let me explain…

    Sure I agree that both are illegal. We know that piracy means making illegal copies of copyright material and that the authors loose out. So it’s nothing to do with Free Speech. Also it would be silly to say you have a “right” to illegally copy some copyright material despite laws to the contrary.

    Various drugs are illegal right now (and some are not). But perhaps it IS the right of the individual to take what drugs whey want PROVIDING it does not have an adverse affect on others (like family members). The problem with illegal drugs is that criminal gangs distribute and sell them, and also some people desperate for certain drugs e.g. heroin may rob and steal to get the money for them. This is clearly a pretty bad situation because it adversely affects other people (like piracy does). But if drugs were made legal, then people would have jobs farming and processing them and the government would tax them thus there would be no criminal gangs controlling them. I guess you may still get the issue of heroin addicts stealing to get money, but you can’t imagine a pot-head or a e-taker robbing someone to get a fix because those drugs are non-addictive. Also the government may be able to help heroin addicts more effectively if it heroin was legal.

    There’s also an inconsistency with the legality of drugs. Some are illegal and some are not. This is arbitrary because we all know how dangerous alcohol and tobacco are, yet they are legal. With piracy, ALL copyright infringement is illegal and that’s pretty clear.

  22. The two are not remotely the same. Piracy is a commission of the theft of one entity’s property by another, but the selling of drugs commits no such act. The problem with the “war on drugs”, which is a fraudulent concept at its root, is that the only items that ever end up banned are the ones that those in power find to be distasteful.

    Note as an example that marijuana is illegal in the United States, yet neither alcohol nor tobacco is, while both are more dangerous products. What is the difference? The difference is simply that the “conservatives” and “liberals” (I use the labels loosely) in power like to drink, so they sure as hell aren’t going to illegalize that, even though every day we wake up and know that somewhere in America, someone died of alcohol poisoning or as a result of drunk driving, yet not one person–EVER–died of marijuana use.

    Moreover, the message that “drugs are bad for you” is ruined by the inclusion of an item such as marijuana, which is not particularly dangerous, because the inevitably rebellious and curious youth decide to go ahead and give the old MJ a try, they realize it’s not so bad after all, and then they start to think “gee, if they lied to me about marijuana, then other drugs probably aren’t so bad either!”, which of course, many of them in fact *are* as bad as we’re told. Inevitably, the “war on drugs” becomes little more than a sham.

    I am not myself a user of any drug at all; as a person who grew up with drug addict parents I find the idea abhorrent in every way. However, that doesn’t make it right or just to ban people from using or selling drugs. A smarter move would be to regulate the sale of drugs just as we do alcohol or cigarettes: on the free market, sold to adults only, subject to quality controls and taxation. Let those who are dumb enough to go out and OD do so–we didn’t need them in the gene pool anyway. Those who are left standing will identify the safe drugs from the unsafe, and the market itself will eliminate the products that do the most harm by the simple fact that eventually, they won’t sell because people in general don’t want to kill themselves.

    That argument made, the analogy still doesn’t fit :). Piracy is theft, drug dealing is not.

  23. Yes, I agree. People are lazy and do not want to do the work it requires to pay for their game. One young homeless man told me last summer that he is not willing to pay rent. His entire attitude is that the world owes him a free world. Sad and true.

  24. i’m sorry, but the parallelism between drug dealing and copyright breach is utter BS.

  25. Why am I still following this site’s feed? Reading this tripe, I feel as if I’m losing intelligence. Well, I can change that. Goodbye, foolish site.

  26. Sorry, misspelled “censorship” twice.
    And I forgot to add: I think your posting is based on the “Pirate Ships Are Sinking”-post, so that’s way I mentioned how the “freedom of speech” should be understood (they’re talking about this in the quote of that post)

  27. Well, the “freedom of speech” doesn’t relate to the sharing of games here, it relates to simply providing the service of searching for stuff. ThePirateBay are only listing links to torrent downloads, just like Google also lists links to various websites based on your search.

    I know that it’s a difficult thing to discuss about, but in that case, banning the site (which doesn’t host or directly provide illegal stuff) would be simply cencorship.

    So with your analogy of drugs, it would be comparable to closing clubs because you’re able to find dealers there. But if you go there to ask for drugs, it’s not the fault of the club, it’s your fault and it’s the dealers fault if he sells you some. It’s the same as if you go on Google and search for somebody to illegally sell you a gun. I think you’d agree with me if I said that Google shouldn’t be closed down simply because there are millions of people each day searching for questionable stuff.

    Of course, the things that can be found on ThePirateBay are indeed mostly illegal downloads, and the name of the site also suggests that in some sort of way, so it’s maybe not exactly the same. So I can understand the critics who see it as an “illegal download site”. Yet, it isn’t, and I can also understand the other party, and that closing it down would be cencorship and unfair, because they are not the ones who are doing illegal activities.

  28. Come on Juuso. Getting governments to block access to websites on a case-by-case basis is not a solution to the piracy problem. Apart from the deeper issues of supporting a free and unrestricted internet (accepting all the problems that causes in exchange for the greater benefits), bureaucrats SUCK at figuring out what to ban and what to allow!

    Once you start enforcing such bans for specific cases, for the sake of consistency you need to consider all other websites too, and then you run into grey areas. This is one can of worms that does not bear opening.

    Real meaningful change on the copyright issue requires fundamental culture changes, and probably some compromise from both sides as well. Lowering the US copyright term from its current ridiculously high duration would be a good start. 70 years after the death of the author is too long.

  29. I think this is a bad analogy.
    When someone supplies pirated software what they are actually doing is providing the means for a third party to steal someone elses intellectual property. It is so obviously wrong and the law should aggressively protect the rights of software developers.
    When someone supplies drugs they are making available a product that has been designated contraband by a government. Nothing has been stolen and the legal status of the product could change. e.g. Alcohol prohibition in the U.S.

    In both cases though you are breaking the law!!! Of course, whether the law can be practically enforced is another matter.

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