I’m Almost Seriously Consider Joining the Pirate Party

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from those zen books (including almost must-read books such as Zen, Hardcore Zen, The Zen of Zombie) is that resisting something might not be the optimal answer.

Often, a better approach instead is accepting the (attacking) force and then gently leading this force to somewhere. Anyone who has trained any martial arts knows that this is the basis for many moves.

A pretty recent news is that GOG.com is offline now. They are coming back “but not in their current form” as they say. I hope they keep all the classics there, but we’ll see.

I recently saw one of their tweets, stating:

Sometimes it’s really hard being DRM-free… hard to keep things the way they are and keep management and publishers happy :(

GOG.com is a place where I bought games that I had bought or pirated in my childhood. Looking around in the internetz makes me feel that people aren’t pirating GOG games. Maybe they are but I feel that there’s tons of good vibes towards GOG and people want to buy these old classics.

And I can almost bet my left hand that it must be tough to try stay DRM-free. Traditional management and publishers are so pro-DRM that it’ll be easier to travel back in time than it is to convince them that DRM is a (somewhat) bad thing.

Which gets me to my next point. Maker of Minecraft blogged about piracy and said that he is voting the Pirate party of Sweden in the next elections. He had written a blog post that you gotta check out. One quite interesting quote from it:

To people who want to get paid for their digital works, myself included, that [sharing free copies] is a bit of a problem. All of society and economics is based on an old outdated model where giving something to someone would rid the original owner of their copy, so everyone who wanted a copy had to buy one from someone else who would lose theirs, and the only source of new copies was you.

I’d like to summarize my own pirate days:

  • Before I made my own games, I pirated everything
  • After I started making my own games, I pirated nothing

That’s quite accurate statement and almost true as well.

Anyway. I feel that piracy is somewhat a problem. I don’t know how big problem it is, but it can be a problem.

And here’s the second problem that piracy causes. The words we use to describe piracy is “problem”. Anyone who has read anything about business knows that “problem” can be “opportunity”.

Now, how could piracy be an opportunity?

I have trouble solving this issue:

  • Pirates (not Pirate Party necessary, although I don’t know what they want) want to share copies away free without paying a dime.
  • That’s indeed cool and the value of the stuff increases exponentially when everybody gets to use it for free.
  • But on the downside, the developers get nothing. Perhaps leading need to shut the shoppe. And then nobody shares nothing no more. Or at least something else.

That’s how I’ve rationalized why piracy is a bad thing, but I cannot ignore the fact that piratism could be an opportunity. People want to share things, and perhaps our economical system just isn’t modern enough to handle sharing.

Sure, we could think of ads and stuff like that – but pirated versions just take away ads so that also doesn’t work.

Or perhaps we simply need systems that work. Perhaps piratism is a statement against DRM, against non-easy sharing, against all the policies that make it difficult for users to consume games (or music/movies etc.).

But we soon get to the point I made earlier: what could be the new model? I’m not so convinced that just sharing everything pro bono between everybody is the answer, without thinking the developers and publishers, and for this I’d like to get some ideas and answers.

I’d also hope to get answers from people who aren’t just big time pirates (or members of the pirate party), I’d like to get answers from developers and publishers who are big time pirates & pirate party members.

Zen-wise, it might actually make sense to me to try join the Pirate Party and try and get answers from inside. I’m not saying that I would be supporting pirating in any form – heck no. I just want to get some answers.

Couple of things to note:

  • No, at the moment my stand against piracy remains: I don’t accept piratism in any form (I don’t consider buying a game and then copying it/finding pirate copy for your own use in any way you want in any platforms you use to be piratism – but that’s just me).
  • I hate DRM.

I think I need to first change my own image about piracy. If I keep describing piracy as a problem, I’ve already mentally labeled it to something bad.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I don’t live in Sweden, so I obviously don’t know much at all about your politics, but from what I’ve read; the pirate party is more about internet freedom than supporting piracy directly.

  2. Ranko you must not know the bulk of pirate consumers.

    I was one of them, everyone I know are, or was one of them, and that is not only locally.

    When they REALLY want a game, they /may/ end buying original or something, but usually the idea is download the game, or grab borrowed from someone, play it a bit, get rid of it, and move on. These people are /not/ willing to buy those games, because in their view would be wasted money.

    It is like those that buy games, and sell them right afterward.

    I know a guy that has 1 terabyte of pirated games, he does not even play them, and the ones that he could not get, he plainly don’t get, he is not planning in playing anyway, he is only getting because he can. That said, I went to a Lan party, and met more a hundred people like this, and they had fun exchanging games, some could even smuggle offensive crap inside the .rar files, noone was going to open them anyway.

  3. Maurício Gomes said :
    “what they want is NOT PAY, regardless if the play your game or not”

    No i think it’s more like this :
    “what they want is play and if they can download it for free it’s even better.”

    If you really have the desire to have something, you will do what it takes to have it.

    @Maurício Gomes >> I agree that downloading the game illegaly is usefull when you can’t find an old game in a shop or you can’t ship it in your country.

    The main goal here is to attract enough money so that the developper can keep creating games…

    I don’t want to “sue” people, this is not my mindset, i want to be rewarded for the work i have done. An online game may be the solution.

  4. The pirate party, have a point, their issue is with the copyright law that turned upside down.

    When copyright law got invented, the purpose was to prevent someone from using someone else work without permission, a modern example would be the game “Jump Boy” shipped with Samsung cellphones, that copies art from a Miniclip.com game and use music from Sonic.

    Then suddenly we started to see copyright length multiple extensions, and the invention of the model that is based in selling information (that was never the case before), and thus also the abuse (not use) of the copyright law, to bash costumers.

    Legally (at least not in US), copyright law actually does not prevent people from getting stuff pirated, the copyright law is meant to get the sharers, the ones that did the sharing, not the receivers, suing someone that used a torrent is only possible because the p2p system also shares by default, but it should not happen (specially when you see someone get sued 1000 times their entire assets for downloading 20 music or 1 game…)

    So, the idea of the pirate party is fight against copyright, some want to completely get rid of it (I am against this stance), some favour reforming it.

    Now, a reply to Ranko, that said that if someone want a game, they will buy it.

    I do still pirate games, plainly because they are not available at all here, the only way to get them is pirated. (it is like, that or nothing). When I can, I donate some money to the developers of games I liked, or buy their new games IF they become available.

    Also, when I was younger I pirated ALL my games, plainly because I had no money, and my parents never supported my gaming habits.

    Now I am a game developer too, fan of several games, and a sort of game guru (when someone want a good, or totally new game, they come to ask me… sometimes I get wierd questions like: “Hey, do you know any trading game that is not boring and real-timeish?” and I can say: “MULE, Capitalism Plus, Transport Tycoon Deluxe, Industry Giant…” all those games I pirated, because I could not figure even how to import them, or they plainly don’t exist anymore (MULE… I never saw a original copy of that, in fact I don’t played even the original pirated, I played a clone), but I am sure some people bought some of these games because of me, or a sequel (I bought Locomotion myself, sequel to Transport Tycoon, also I bought Rollercoaster, sequels and expansions, from the same developer).

    Some people would argue, that if I have no money I am not “entitled” to have them, I am not supposed to play those games at all, and that if they are not available, or the original is not in my language, and etc… I am not supposed to play them.

    So, I am to be denied culture (because games are culture, no matter if you consider them art or not), just because I am poor, or live in a country with censorship, or live in a country that no publisher ever remember to release their games?

    That would like forbidding someone from watching a theater piece from a window because they don’t paid it, or preventing someone from hearing a music that their friend is playing because he don’t paid the original composer.

    Tell me, you, or some of your friends ever played in their musical instrument a music from someone else? Do you hear VGM bands that play Mario music with guitars? All those is piracy too.

    I am not here defending people that pirate because they are cheap and want not waste money in games, those that CAN pay for the games they want, but they don’t, but those, even if you prevented them from pirating, they would probably not buy your game, because what they want is NOT PAY, regardless if the play your game or not. Of course, they may still really like some game (let’s say for example, Starcraft 2) and may still buy it, but they would for example don’t get some game for a genre that they are not really interested, if World of Goo (according to the developers pirated by 90% of the players) were impossible to pirate, they would get 0% piracy rate, but probably only 10% of the total players, or maybe even less, as the word of mouth is smaller.

    The Cake is a Lie.

    How many times you heard that phrase? Now think about it, do you think that EVERYONE that knows about it, bought Portal? Probably lots of people that get the joke, or head about the game from someone else, or pirated the game, if Portal were impossible to pirate, I am sure you would hear the phrase “The Cake is a Lie” a lot less.

    And I got Portal pirated, only to see all those memes that people were mentioning.

    And the game was godamn awesome.

    Thus I finished it pirated, and as soon as Valve made a Orange Box promo, I bought it.

    Yep, I was interested only in Portal, but I bought the whole Orange Box because of it.

    Then I finished it more 3 times.

    And started playing TF2 (awesome game btw… make me waste a lot of time instead of be working), and although I was not interested in HL2 (even after finishing HL1), I am now waiting for HL2:EP3 or HL3 and I will buy it as soon as I can, because I played HL2, and the story is awesome. (the game still featueres Zombies, and I dislike zombie games… but the story compensate for it).

  5. Same for me. When I was “young” I pirated everything but since a year I am making games and I pirated nothing. Funny how things are changing when you are on the other side, the side of the person who’s software is pirated ;)

  6. I think there are a couple of easy solutions to the piracy problem. A lot of companies are figuring out a new model that makes piracy worthless in the form of micro-transactions. Give the software away for basic use for free and then charge people a small nominal fee for extra features. Give them a taste for free and they will come back for more.

    Micro-transactions can end up netting more then the full price for buy it once and own it all software anyway. While this model can’t fit every piece of software, it would work for most products. Also I think if better demo’s were built and established more products would be sold. Most people I know who pirate software do so because they would like to try a product out and see if it fits their needs. If better demos were available they wouldn’t have to do this. Now I understand that you should buy the farm before you taste the milk, but the ever increasing price of software makes this a very unrealistic choice.

    Which brings me to my next solution. You mentioned notch the developer of minecraft. Minecraft is a wonderful product made and sold for about 13 bucks (10 pounds). While I know all too well that production costs can easily creep much higher then that of an indie developer like notch requiring somewhat higher costs, the costs can not be near as high as most inflated software costs.

    I think this sharp decline will force change in our industry and I think seeing how many of even the larger studios are changing their models we can expect much more of this in the future.

  7. I don’t agree with Lumooja…

    People who want to play a game will buy it if they can’t pirate it !

    The true question is : how to prevent piracy ?

    I think there is some ways to do this :

    ->Before releasing the full game, upload the full game with corrupted data, on all the pirate websites like rapidshare, megaupload and on the peer 2 peer servers…
    We can create a community of indie developpers and share a lot of corrupted seeds (roots?) so that it spreads the corrupted games for free. (lol)

    Unfortunately, it’s not really easy to do and your game may have a bad reputation…

    ->When the game is launched for the first time, it asks for the login and password of the Player and checks a mysql database to check if the user has already activated his game once. If it is the first activation, Player can play, otherwise he must send an email to the developper of the game with his name, login, pass, Paypal ref so that the mysql database is reseted…

    Unfortunately, the customers don’t like these practices.

    ->Create a multiplayer game with a login and pass for each user.

    Unfortunately, i don’t like multiplayer games.

    Maybe there are others ways…

  8. Heh, one of my favorite subjects to rant to myself about and try to figure out the ethics of….

    As far as games go, I don’t pirate them. I think I have a couple pirated copies somewhere, but I don’t play them. Plus, I just don’t trust pirated software. Hence why next time I see those game they will be deleted.

    The ethics of digital sharing are wonky because of the nature of digital information. If you consider copying a product in any way at all to be illegal, then every time you move a file you are breaking the law… The file gets copied to ram, the copied again to a new place on the hard disk. Oh, and the file sill exists in the old place until it is overwritten…

    Then there’s the fact that digital file sharing probably started out as two friends thousands of miles apart who just wanted to share a couple things. If they had been in the same town, no one would blink an eye at them sharing stuff, but digitally….

    I believe that the best way to solve the problem (and it is a problem) of piracy, is to monetize it. The simplest way would be to use in game advertising. Or loading screen advertising, or something like that. If publishers released games for free legitimately, many people would prefer to get their games there. The only ones who would continue to pirate would the the pirates who are actual problems (other than the ones left out by the games not being published in their region).

    I believe this has somewhat been shown to work in the world of anime. Five years ago, the only way to get anime was to torrent it from fansubbers. Then they started publishing legitimate streaming videos of various shows. I subsequently started watching what I wanted legitimately, even with the ads.

    Now, piracy still exists with anime, but I mostly blame that on the idiotic region restrictions the publishers create. I also blame Flash since Flash doesn’t run well on Linux. And of course only streaming it is a form of DRM as well. So they haven’t quite figured it out yet.

    Another way to ameliorate piracy is to try the model that NoiseTrade.com uses. Basically, you tell your friends about an artist/album, and you get the album free. You also are given the option of tipping the artist however much you want. Starting at a dollar… I’d love to see some indie developers get together and try that.

    So yeah, I rambled a bit… Anyway, piracy is just a symptom of the new digital world that is here. The entertainment industries will either have to figure out how to monetize piracy, or die.

  9. Microsoft has said many times that they don’t mind piracy. If there wouldn’t be any pirated Windows, there wouldn’t be legitimately sold Windows games and application either.

    People who pirate Windows, wouldn’t buy it anyway, so they would then probably use Linux and it would have gotten as popular as Windows is today, and Windows would have been as popular as Linux is today.

  10. I think Piracy can be a good thing and a bad thing, like thievery can be a good thing and a bad thing.

    In my opinion if a company is small with only one or few developpers, piracy or thievery of their products is a bad thing because it won’t allow the developpers to earn money for their hard work.

    But if a company is big, earns lot of money and dominates the market (especially communication through paid ads), piracy or thievery is a way to lower their monopoly and allows others developpers to publish an “original game”.

    Monopoly is also not good in the material world. It kills small companies…

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