Yet another study shows that the most effective "anti-piracy" strategy is good products at a fair price

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Some people will always pirate, even when the content is available on Netflix. Those are not “lost sales,” they’re people who either cannot afford to pay for content, or who will never pay for content on principle. If online piracy did not exist, they would be checking out media from the library and/or doing without.


Note: I generally don’t download current games or apps from pirate sites. I also never visit one without full adblocking and tracker blocking in place. I am told that pirate sites serve tons of obtrusive ads with obnoxious popups appearing with every click, but I never see more than a tiny fraction of them that get through my ad blockers. That said:

The amount of malware on torrent sites is really quite minimal. Even when I have gone crazy and downloaded a big whack of vintage games that I wanted to be able to install without digging out the damn disks, I’ve never run into any issues with malware. I’ve seen a few videos uploaded in wmv format and assumed they were infected, but I just avoid getting them and the torrents never stay up for long.

By far the biggest pain point with torrenting current video content is stuff that is mislabeled, or that was originally ripped from a non-anglophone source, so it has burned in subtitles and/or title cards I cannot read.

With vintage video content, it’s finding rips that are good quality and that have active seeders. Substandard rips tend to crowd out good quality rips for some reason, so, for instance, the best copy of Gerry Anderson’s UFO series available to download appears to be from a decade ago, seriously downscaled from the original DVDs, and encoded in xvid at a miserly bitrate.

With music and books, the biggest pain is inaccurate or missing metadata, and/or crappy formatting in books.


The few times i pirate stuff is because no online service is streaming what i want to watch, and the rental or digital purchase price to see X thing is too high. That said these days i try really hard not to resort to watching illegal uploads, sometimes there’s just no other way around it tho.


Additional reasons to pirate:
“in order to get a drm-free version of something I’ve legitimately bought”
“as a more convenient alternative to checking something out of the library”
“when it’s the only way to get something that is out of print and not available for a sane price used”
“as a quick way to determine if something is actually worth spending money to own”


Who cares about effectiveness? It’s all about messing up evil-doers! Smite! Smite!

Yeah people often forget that it was essentially iTunes that killed Napster. “Walled garden” or not it was still hard to beat for selection and convenience, and 99 cents a song was a perfectly reasonable price.


There’s an anime series i really like, to buy the series boxset its like 15 bucks. They also eventually did a follow up and you can only find it broken up into two sets and each half of the show is worth 35-45 bucks so you’re looking at spending over 60 bucks to get it.

The alternative is to stream it from Funimation, it is available for free to watch but holy shit does Funimation bombard you with constant video ads to the point of being unwatchable. I would have pirated the show if i could’ve but the versions i found online were english dubs which i really could not stand. Temporarily bit the bullet and got a sub to the site ]:

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I used to pirate a lot but mostly stopped once I had Netflix + Prime Video.

But l’ve found myself doing it more - often something isn’t available on either service. Or I can’t access at the quality I want. For example, apparently even if you pay for 4K Netflix you can only use it with certain “smart” hardware, laden with DRM and snooping:


I’m not sure how big the effect is, maybe it’s wishful thinking, but people seem more willing to pay when they know artists will get a fair share of the money, and they are not just lining corporate pockets. The anecdotal evidence being that people seem willing to voluntarily fork over sums of money to support podcasters they love even when the same content is offered for free. This seems to be, in large part, because the money flows directly to the artists themselves, with some reasonable percentage going transparently to the production company that _truly_supports them. Kickstarter seems like similar evidence for this phenomenon.


And Itunes music went DRM-free over a decade ago, so ranting on about it being a walled garden today is, well, a bit out of touch.


Remember Civ IV? When it first came out it had some kind of lame-ass DRM that relied on having the original disk in the DVD player. Unfortunately the DVD drive in the laptop I had at the time ran hot, so it wouldn’t work. One of the few times I’ve installed a game crack.

(I eventually got a portable DVD drive which played the purchased version of the game just fine. It turned out to be a great investment since it saved my ass at customer sites several times over the years. Nonetheless it cost them some money, since I didn’t buy the add-ons.)

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The Sierra adventure Gold Rush required you to look up words on specific page numbers of the manual. It was also really hard to beat the game without the historically accurate information in the manual (locking the axle of your wagon to make it across a craggy road, etc…). That kind of DRM-lite wouldn’t cut the mustard in the wiki age, but it was at least a clever implementation.


I’m dealing with a license code situation at the moment. Well, “dealing with” isn’t the right word. Run into a wall is more like it.

There’s a game called Escape Velocity Nova that was put out by Ambrosia software for Mac and Windows.

I legally purchased it back in the day (2010), and it appears to still be for sale – in fact there’s a post in their still functioning forum by someone who bought it about a year ago and can’t get the code to license it – but the website doesn’t have a functioning security certificate and the copyright date on the site is 2017.

Add to that, they are so protective of their software that your license code expires after a certain amount of time, and it’s no longer possible to get an updated license code. The lights are on, but nobody is home.

Ah well. Thank god there are thousands more games out there. But I really wanted to give that one a go again, because I quite enjoyed it. And I paid for it.

So for me the lesson is, if anyone else is in charge of the keys to something yo’ve paid for, you do not – and never will – own it.

And I know that also goes for my entire Steam library and anything else I buy digitally from a “service” that embraces DRM; whether it’s games, movies, music, books, audio books, etc.

So any chance I have to strip DRM from the products that I’ve paid for, I will do it. Now and forever.

(eta) I was telling my daughter about this, since she and I both played it a lot, and she pointed me in the direction of the open source game Endless Sky; “a 2D space trading and combat game similar to the classic Escape Velocity series.”


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And it should be priced accordingly. I’m not sure why I should pay the same price to “buy” a DRM’d digital copy of a movie as I would to buy a DVD. Maybe the online version more convenient in some ways, but the DVD is essentially in my control in a way that the digital file never will be.


Well, in most cases there is DRM on the DVD as well. It’s just easier to circumvent. Which I also do and then add it to Plex. It much easier than dealing with discs, and it’s like having my own video streaming service to myself. Plus it eliminates the FBI warning, and unskipable commercials (for the ones that still have those).

That’s how I feel about ebooks vs paper books. So much is saved on production and distribution that there should be a lower cost. Sometimes there is. For “bestsellers,” not so much.


So I have this “friend” who has no qualms about pirating movies and TV shows. None whatsoever. However even “he” prefers to just get it from one of the streaming services because it’s simply easier.

“He” doesn’t have to deal with the hassle of the torrent sites, sometimes having to transcode the video to get the sound to work on “his” Roku box, the hard coded subtitles in foreign languages and hand held videos sneakily taken in movie theatres. (Who watches those horrible things?)

“He’s” happily paying ~$330 a year because “he’s” too lazy to “steal” the content.

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