Why No Prison Bay?

Interestingly enough, most of the readers of this blog voted no for “was it a good decision to find P.Bay owners guilty”. Earlier, I had another poll where you could would whether you are making games for a living. Here’s the polls (you can still vote).

[poll id=4]

[poll id=2]

Obviously these 2 polls were shown separately earlier, so basically it means that I don’t know how many people voted to both polls, and unfortunately I have pretty no way to tell. Regardless of that, it’s still quite interesting that majority who read about the pirate post voted “bad decision”.

I voted neutral – I don’t know if it was a good thing to punish the owners of Bay.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% non-pirate and I dislike piracy and really think that anybody who currently pirates something, should really consider the consequences of his actions, and maybe if not stop piratism, perhaps (1) suggest how game companies should do things so that everybody wins and (2) meanwhile supporting some developers whenever they can. (Even though I was pirating quite a lot of stuff 10-15 whatnot years ago, I was also buying some stuff and arranging so that I bought some $40 video game together with a group of 4 kids, and each one paid $10, and the one who paid $10 postage got to keep the package and the real CD. The rest of us got a pirate copy.

I know this was not the optimal solution, but for a group of 4 young kids who could have pirated the game, at least we bought one copy legally.

Today I’m not totally against that behavior from those who buy nothing, and if it’s really consistent and as a stepping stone to pirate-free. Of course I’d hope that people would become 100% non-pirates (I’m kind of proud to be 100% “clean” today by the way), but meanwhile taking action and showing support is okay in my opinion.

So, voted neutral…
Okay, got bit carried away. So anyway. I voted neutral for the reason that I don’t know if it’s good to find this guys guilty. I mean, they are now like “martyrs”. They’ve become heroes. And when you get a hero, you get followers. My guess is that piratism might actually become more popular, and that the reason I didn’t vote “yes, was good” is that… I kind of feel that you can also turn the vote upside down. Those who voted “no” might actually be voting “no, this was not good decision because now pirates will have their leaders” – and those who voted “yes” could be about “yes, this was good reason because now we got our leader“.

Or, it could be that “no, this was bad because we (pirates) got punished”. And “yes, it was good because we (developers) got our target”.

Game industry has grown this year (at least here in Finland) even though so called global ‘recession’ (or ‘bad times’ or whatever) is been going on, so that suggests to me that things have been pretty good even with the scale of piratism there might be.

I have zero tolerance to piratism (see also above “kid who wants to stop being a pirate” exception), and I think everybody should aim to having pirate-free computers. With that being said, I think that lawsuits is not going to be the best route (well, of course lawyers will be happy…) to deal with this. Attacking attackers might actually attract more interest, more pirates and lead to spreading of more illegal material. Instead of “trying to fight pirates”, I think we should be “making our product so much better that pirates cannot compete with us or cooperating with them.”

I don’t yet know how, but something tells me that there’s untapped market potential among pirates. Maybe they aren’t ready to pay pretty close to anything, but they sure seem to be interested in clicking ads for example. (Clicking ads alone as a monetization doesn’t probably help much, but I think there’s still room for something unseen innovation here.)

Or, we can just continue fighting against each other and see how many casualties there will be.

So, why you voted yes/no?
With all this being said… I’d wanna hear more reasons why you voted yes/no.

Do you think this was bad because “pirates should freely distribute everything?” Or did you vote ‘no’ because “now pirates will get more popular”? Did you vote ‘yes’ because it was about time that pirates stop having excuses and hide behind laws when they aren’t acting towards the spirit of the copyright laws? Or did you vote ‘yes’ because “now pirates have a heroes to follow”?

Or what was the reason? Why vote yes or no?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I see many people start to tell “piracy become a problem”. They try to show the matter as “increasing in piracy decreases our profits”. If you are ignorant and unaware of world, yes, you can say that. But in fact, there is a world-wide crisis and it’s caused mainly from US. What was the reason behind this? Greed of multimillion dollar companies, banks and similar business people. First, they’ve found a place money fountain. In the early times everything was sweet. Many big companies earned lots of profits. But in the end, this method became problematic and most of them gone bankrupt. You can read or watch documents about this crisis. Many small companies still being closed and bankrupt, many people get fired from their jobs, related with this crisis.
    Weird, game companies and movie companies don’t want to see this situation and try to sue and blame the pirating. Yeah, torrent sites are easy target for scapegoat. Pirating is the scapegoat of movie and game companies. In fact, there was “pirating” before. But in that times it was not called “pirating”. It was sharing. Many people were copying programs, music, films from their friends. They were not doing for “pirating” purpose but to “using” purpose. Blank casettes were selling much more than original casettes. Also there were “bootleg” issues. Many big and small market were selling copied products, not the originals. In that times, production companies would still get good profits. But in these times, this kind of situations are called as “pirating”. Not just “pirating” but “stealing”. They trying to show prefering low priced products are stealing. So, if you want not to steal, to be honoured citizen, you must buy high priced products. How high the price of the product is, that high is your honor…
    Don’t be misunderstood. I am not a big fan of P2P. But i think showing the P2P as scapegoat is wrong. It is escaping from real reasons. I am purely sure, production companies must to increase attractiveness of their products. For example they can add bonus items to their products. You can not get posters or vinyls from P2P sites. So if you are fan of that game/music/film you will purchase the original. Or another example, they can lower their prices to attract people. Please look at researches about STEAM. They started “weekend deals” and they earned much more profits with lowered prices than standard prices. So, high prices don’t always give you more profits. Companies that complain from pirating must firstly blame theirselves. Besides, most of the people that download from P2P sites are already non-potential buyers of that product. Even there was np P2P site to download from, they would not buy the original product. People who are potential buyers, prefer buying the original product. Also there is another thing about P2P. Many people likes to try the product before buying it. They want to see if they like that product or not, they want to see if that product deserves its value. For example I went to cinema for Iron Man and loved the movie. I also wanted to have the game and hoped the game would be as good as the movie. But when I bought and played the game, i see the game was very awful. My 40 dollars become wasted. In that time, there was not a place for downloading the game’s demo also. In fact, many game companies don’t release demos nowadays. So you can not try the product before buying it. P2P gives the customers this opportunity. Maybe the big companies complain from P2P because of this opportunity. People get chance to see how bad the actual product is before giving money to that company. Companies can comfortably release wrong and misguided adventisement and fake their customers, but they think they can earn privilege to complain about P2P.
    I’ll tell it again. I don’t praise P2P sites. I just say companies try to scapegoat other people and blame elsewhere other than theirselves. If their profits decreasing, they should review their current strategies and try to atrractive their products. They should thake GOG and STEAM as an example. Trying to start a war against P2P won’t give benefit to both sides (sides of producers and customers).
    I also want to talk about arguments like: “you would understand if you produce a real product”. Actually I am a developer myself. Yes, a producer should earn money that he deserves, but the solution is not highly priced copyright costs… Otherwise, open source developers would be stupid. They give freely their products, even they give the source of the product. Paying copyright costs to middleman companies is not the solution. Look at the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America Strike. Real producers, real creators of the idea behind high selling games, movies, tv shows, etc… are the writers of that product. But they don’t take enough rate from the profits. Most of the profits are being taken by middleman companies. There are similar issues in music business too. I am against that kind of things. I think creators, developers, makers should get the rate they deserve. Entertainment Companies should review their strategies and tactics before attacking to P2P. That’s all I can tell.

  2. Two points:
    1: Sentencing them to a year in jail won’t make a dent in piracy. What is it really achieving? There are dozens and dozens of other big torrent sites. And the thing about bittorrent is that it’s so easy to distribute. You’re not reliant on huge server farms, on all the files actually being hosted in any one location. A megabyte of storage is enough to store hundreds and hundreds of torrent files. So what’s the point?

    2: What exactly has the Pirate Bay done *wrong*? They’re not hosting the files. Yes, piracy is wrong, but is what *they* are doing also wrong? They are effectively offering a service that lets users share files. And that is all. They don’t even have a simple way to inspect the contents of shared files, since they never reside on TPB’s servers. Isn’t it a slippery slope to convict people simply because a service they’re offering is misused? Should ISP’s be fined as well, if their users pirate games or music? How are something as simple and primitive as *roads* legal? They’re used routinely for huge amounts of crime. Drunk driving, jaywalking, car bombings, or just for burglars to get to and from “work”. How is that legal?
    It seems that the only thing they can be blamed for is passivity. They do not actively remove torrents that are deemed illegal or in any other way actively police their site. But that’s not piracy, is it? And how can we expect them to do more? They don’t host the files, so they can’t inspect them to see if they’re legal. Not without downloading the files themselves, and then it *really* becomes piracy.

    Finally, let’s face it, piracy is a two-edged sword. On one hand, some people will pirate your game instead of buying it. That means *some* number of lost potential sales. (Keyword here is potential. It’s naive to assume that every pirated copy of your game equals a lost sale)
    And on the other hand, piracy means that more people are made familiar with your game. More people hear about it, get to play it, become familiar with the name. Which means they might decide to buy it 6 months from now, or in 2 years, when they see it in the bargain bin and think “hey, that game was kinda fun”. Or it might mean they buy the sequel, which they would have otherwise ignored.
    And last, but not least, piracy simply draws in a lot of new gamers. Many, if not most, people in their twenties today grew up on pirated games. On the Amiga or C64, piracy was pretty much the norm. PC floppy games were easily and often pirated as well. And that allowed an entire generation to grow up as gamers. How many of us would have bought games *At all* today, if we hadn’t been surrounded by games when we grew up? And the only reason we were surrounded by games is that we could copy them from our friends. That was then, we were 10 years old and didn’t exactly have the personal economy to buy a game per month. Now we can afford that, and many of us do.

    So I think a lot of of the anger about piracy is misplaced and shortsighted. I’m not saying piracy is good for business, as such, but it’s a lot more complex than “theft”, and in some ways it does work in your favor as well.

    Like Brad Wardell seems to have spotted, what matters is not how many people pirate your game, but how many buy it. Rather than working on minimizing piracy, you should maximize sales. Selling 10 copies and getting it pirated 1000 times is better than selling 8 copies and not getting it pirated at all. It’s also better than selling 10 copies and 0 piracy. You get the same amount of money, but a much bigger mindshare among potential customers.

    But none of that has to do with TPB. I don’t think they should be convicted for piracy, not because “Piracy is good”, but because I’m having a hard time equating their work to piracy in the first place.

  3. @ Juuso Hietalahti: I’m not a fan of the piracy, but before to buy a game I want to test it to be sure that I’m not going to throw my money out of the window…

    …for example let’s speak about mobile gaming market… you go to the CompanyofyourChoice portal page to buy and download a game. The price is 3€, but what about the unmentioned 12€ you have to pay to download this damned game? You are going to pay 15€ for 3 hours of gaming. So for sure I will not buy a mobile game. This is called theft, but this is a legal theft.

    Let’s speak about next gen games consoles or pcs… Why I have to pay more than 60€ for a game bugged that as not been tested enough just cause producers (sorry, nothing personal :- D ) were pushing too much on the development side when the team was 2 days before the gold?

    It’s too bad to buy something, paying it too much, just to see that the game didn’t start at all and you have to download a patch… so wtf I just bought a s***t with a nice package, when something like this happens You’ll never “buy” a game from that company?

    What about the fact that I had to upgrade my machine every two months just cause they didn’t have time or enough skill to optimize the damned code?

    I always bought an orginal copy of a game after playing a pirated copy if the game deserve it. If I’m not going to buy it is due to the fact that the game don’t deserve it or the fact that I don’t have money to buy it, so I’m not a potential client.

    I’m personally “trying” to make a living with advertisment in flash games.

  4. I think this is a rather difficult topic. I voted for “No” simply because the law isnt used on an equal basis. Google and TPB do the same thing and only TPB gets prosecuted, which in my eyes isnt fair. There are only two real differences between Google and TPB. TPB advertises that it offers pirated data, Google doesnt. And TPB offers almost only pirated data, Google has a lot of legal data. But thats where the differences ends. Bot TPB and Google offer me the possibility to download torrent files, using ext:torrent with Google. Also Google animates users to download using torrent and dont buy things like TPB. When you type in a movie title in searchfield, google proposes you quite often to append torrent to the searchkeyword. With this information I find it difficult to understand why TPB is prosecuted and Google isnt. Ok, they remove links if you ask them, but if this is the only meaningful difference for the court I think the law is beyond help.

  5. I’m a full time game developer
    full time supporter of the Bay, the Pirate bay…

  6. I voted neutral, because I really don’t know what will come of this. I’m kind of guessing not much will change.
    I think that this could be a deterent for a percentage of downloaders that just wants something for free. But stokes the fire for the ones that want to “stick it to the man”.

  7. I make money from advertisement in games and advertisement on the webpage containing the games, so I don’t have a problem with my games being copied. They are free.

    I have no problem using an illegal copy of windows. Windows is essential to me, (don’t talk to me about linux crap. It’s just not enough) but there’s no way I am paying that high a price for it. Software is just priced way too high. They don’t need to be making that much money of it. The price has nothing to do with production cost. It only has to do with how much they are able to squeeze out of people. They could charge a tenth of the price on most software and still make a load of money on it. If they did that, at the same time I would buy a lot more software instead of downloading it illegally.

  8. I just think the industry needs to keep up with the times and find new ways of making money. Follow in the footsteps of monty python’s flying circus. Instead of whining about the illegal copies on youtube, they decided to put part of their videos on youtube themselves, in proper quality, and just in the description, have a link to their full videos on amazon. Their sales went on more than a 1000%!

  9. Im an open supporter of TPB and filesharing.
    For me it’s not about the newest games or the movies. It’s about having access to material you would not be able to find in a video rental, or games long since out of print, documentaries, comics, art movies, foreign movies… If you take for example Peter von Bagh’s top 100 movies, how many do you think you can get easily, from video shop or store? maybe 20 from rental, maybe 50 from shops. I haven’t checked yet but I’m willing to bet that I’d find 75/100 from torrents.
    There’s so much freaky stuff out there, and stumbling across them on the web will make you a buyer quite easily. To name some examples I’ve found via p2p and then acquired because theyre so damn good ( and rare and often expensive :E ).

    Uzumaki by Junji Ito
    Knights Of The Dinner Table by Kenzerco

    Dead Leaves by Hiroyuki Imaishi
    Company of Wolves by Neil Jordan
    Shaun of the Dead by Edgar Wright
    CatSoup by Tatsuo Sato

    Documentaries, imposible to buy afaik so not purchased yet
    Machines by Arthur Ganson
    Theo Jansen documentary

    Shadowgrounds by Frozenbyte
    Kane&Lynch by Eidos

    Mario Built my Hotrod by Desert Planet
    Various Ninja Tune recordings

    I accept that the system has questionable traits and undoubtedly does cause real hurt also, but having that hard copy defines a product for me. Everything else is pretty much just going through a sieve, I look at it and pass it on. Having this stream of material to pick and choose from, and to take random picks from uploaders whose taste I find to match mine has made my cultural menu much more diverse. I do accept that libraries, stores and rentals do their best, but by refining my taste, showing friends stuff i like and buying select quality items I believe the resulting effect should be quite positive.

  10. Stardock’s Wardell made a post on his personal blog quite a while ago in which he explains that piracy should not be considered lost sales. People who pirate can be considered consumers who would not buy the product in the first place. In this it is assumed that, for instance, a streetdate is not broken.
    I fully back him on this so I don’t believe the verdict was completely justified in a realisitc sense. Although I can see why others would not agree on this.

  11. I think it is bad because the people at Pirate Bay are not pirates. And they weren’t prosecuted for that reason. They were prosecuted because they assisted people in pirating. That’s quite a different thing. They are just a forum, but with a name that makes people post illegal things :) (there are also legal torrents posted at Pirate Bay, of course)

    On the other hand, as you indicate on this post, it could be seen in a more “Machiavellian” way. Their prosecution IS a good thing because it rose awareness of this issue. Just 7 hours after the sentence, this happened: http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/17/2041208

    Pirat Partiet became the 5th biggest Swedish political party in terms of members. But it didn’t stop then, by now it is already the 4th biggest party, having 31000 members. Which means they will hopefully get seats in the Parliament on this year’s elections.

    Each time something big happens towards harder copyright laws, the Pirate Party grows bigger, getting Sweden closer to a total copyright reform. It would be interesting to know your thoughts about their proposals (They are on the pirate party’s website)

    This spells a not so dark future (at least in Sweden) and maybe the charges get dropped off before the appeal takes place (which will be in 1 or 2 years).

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