Note: This is not to say that piracy’s legal; far from it. However, I think it should be (at least certain types) for the following reasons. 😉
Here’s the deal. There are four kinds of pirates. They are:
- Poor: These people pirate because they cannot afford a particular product. If they had enough money, they could use or buy it.
- International: These pirates live in another country where the product is not available (e.g.: not sold in stores, or not available outside certain regions). If they move to the place where it is available, they could use or buy it.
- Selective: These pirates pirate only files with DRMs (such as games, movies) or games from EA, in order to vote with their money. They don’t pirate anything else.
- For the Sake of It: As the name implies, these people pirate just because, even if they have the money to buy the product, or live in the proper place to use or buy it.
Obviously, the fourth type is the worst one, but we are the second type (and the first type since the price is huge when paying with rupees), since we live in India. In India, China, etc. there are many shameless pirates, but the majority of them are the second (and/or first) type.
Here’s why those types (at least) should be legal.
1. The Product is Obsolete
Suppose you played an incredibly rare childhood game and yearn to find it again, but you cannot buy it from eBay or Amazon because there aren’t much affordable copies available or you have to pay more due to being in another continent, and it’s not sold in stores. What do you do? You torrent it! The only problems here are: lack of places to download it, the risk of viruses and not much seeds on a torrent; but if you’re lucky, you can get that product and not have to pay, not even in the future! Simply because, if it’s that rare, most likely the company is gone so, you won’t have to pay anyone later on to make up for it 😉 Usually these types of software are called abandonware, and they’re in a legal grey area.
2. Your Original CDs Don’t Work Anymore
It’s a fact: CDs are very temperamental. You might get lucky and have them work for a long time (even with light dirt and scratches!), but sometimes they’ll just die and not work anymore. Case in point: Magic School Bus Explores the Rainforest. It’s a CD children’s game, and it was one of my favorites when I was a kid (and now too!). Imagine my horror when I popped the CD in to install it on my third XP installation (tangent: which actually had a strange quirk; Microsoft Bob and other 16-bit applications didn’t work anymore even though they worked previously; Bob complained about Utopia.dll being missing; even when I moved everything from C:\MSBOB\HOME to C:\MSBOB, it crashed; I have a theory that it’s because of installing SP3 even though we didn’t install it before (dun dun dun!). Tangent over) and it didn’t open when I tried to open it after installing it! Oddly, the installation worked fine but I couldn’t open it since it crashed when trying to play the opening cutscene (i.e. the opening cutscene’s corrupt somehow). Also, in my third XP installation, Magic School Bus Explores the Ocean (another one of my favorites as a kid and now) didn’t install anymore. Luckily I found some ISOs… (Not tellin’ where though! 😉 Just search.)
3. The Dangers of DRM
DRM definition from defectivebydesign.org:
“Digital Restrictions Management is the practice of imposing technological restrictions that control what users can do with digital media. When a program is designed to prevent you from copying or sharing a song, reading an ebook on another device, or playing a single-player game without an Internet connection, you are being restricted by DRM.”
See the links below for info:
There was also an incident where Spore was cracked a few hours after release despite SecuROM, 😉 and a Sony BMG copy protection rootkit scandal.
4. Lack of Backups!
You probably know about Darkspore’s death (if not, watch this video now! 😀 ). It died because nobody pirated it! Okay, not really, 😛 but it required an always-online connection, even for single-player mode! Then the servers were shut down… (This is a recurring trend nowadays… 😦 )
Here are some more examples of dead programs:
- Jogames (can’t find downloads of ’em anywhere; my mom used to play them a lot before I was born; when I searched for them, all of the download sites linked to the developer’s site. Why is this bad, you may ask? Well, duh, the developer’s site had long been taken down, so you could never download the games again! I had also played them a bit when I was a wee pup, but unbelievably I had completely forgot about them before my brother reminded me of them and started said search!)
- ClockDomain (I downloaded a clock screenmate from the Internet Archive called Clock Domain, and the developer’s site was gone, since it was made in 2001. I tried downloading the Multizone version of it (which has more skins than the version on the Internet Archive), but… you guessed it… all of the download sites linked to the developer’s site. Note: Also, I can’t even find Clock Domain on the Internet Archive anymore! So watch this page and the Downloads page for a new download… 😉 )
- Windows ME, XP and Win7 Internet Games (their servers have been shut down as of July 31, 2019 [ME & XP] and Jan 2020 [Win7])
How to pirate ‘ethically’: 😉
One must only pirate old programs. Old = 10 & above year old programs. (eg. SimAnt & SimEarth are okay to pirate, but newer games aren’t). Simple. 🙂 (Or 5 years & above… 😉 )
One must also only pirate programs that are not available to buy from GOG, Steam, or similar places, as they ship internationally and give the price in your currency (specifically, Steam does even when not logged in, and GOG doesn’t when not logged in[?]). Especially buy from GOG if possible, as all the games they sell are DRM-free! It’s better not to pirate, for various reasons (including viruses), unless there’s no other choice or it’s only available second-hand (like on Amazon, eBay or similar), since you won’t be paying the original company (e.g. any The Learning Company game or Finfin).
Final Note: Piracy isn’t necessarily stealing, unless it’s 100% piracy. If the ratio of people buying it to people pirating it is 10:5, then it’s not so bad. 10:10, on the other hand…
Updated on Nov 6 & Dec 19, 2018, and Mar 8, July 15 (added another type of pirate and examples of dead programs; misc. edits such as bolding), Sep 2 (added ClockDomain note, changed ‘Garf’ to ‘my brother’ and added the word ‘had’), & Dec 10, 2019 (fixed tense, changed ‘Reader Rabbit’ to ‘The Learning Company’, and added DRM links and more info about DRM).