By EP / CosmiK
Piracy is the fact that stuff is frequently copied using a computer despite the copyright laws. The factors of piracy are: the internet way of communicating, the p2p creation, the easiness to copy stuff using a computer, the appearance of cheap TAPE / CD /DVD copiers and even cheaper blank medias.
With the large use of computers, piracy grows up faster: almost nobody has the consciousness that a musical CD, a computer game, a software is produced by a big team which needs money to live. When creators are not visible, and in fact each time an item is a bit abstract and not prehensible, meaning it's an intellectual creation, it's pirated easily because copiers don't think it's an act of stealing. They are right and wrong: when there is a steal the object stolen will vanish from the hands of its owner to appear in the hands of someone else, that's a first definition, but with intellectual products, you can get a perfect copy of the thing you want without taking the original one. That means you can be an outlaw because you just don't have the right to possess something which is abstract because you don't have paid the right to possess it like cd songs or softwares.
In fact, the internet brings distance between the creators and the copiers, meaning copiers think they are totally out of the hands of police. It's also so attractive for pirates to get a lot of interesting stuff meaning a lot of joy just for free and that what p2p permit. Piracy exists because it permit to get stuff for a very small fee compared to the real stuff price. Morever, as piracy is a mass phenomenon, it's hard for majors and art creators to maintain their rights: nobody can put millions of copiers to jail. But piracy isn't just a question of money in contrast to what majors tend to believe: piracy is a answer to a question. It's the answer to "how to get quickly this?". Yes when you want something which isn't on the shop like most of the stuff which are available via p2p like oldies what else can you do to get it? This is the cultural side of piracy.
The different actors of piracy are:
1) Artists, creators: They lose money due to missing sales but become more popular with the free advertisement which is the free distribution of their work.
2) Hardware and software industrials who for a part earn money with piracy like blank cd/dvd, cd/dvd burners or copy programs makers and others who lose money like cd/dvd majors burners or softwares makers.
3) Pirates win a good reputation of protection crackers and make a lot of reverse enginering coding experience doing this. They also for a minority win a small amount of money.
4) A lot of cracks of popular cracks sites (those which you get access from Astalavista or Asta-killer) which distribute cracks and keygens include in their downloads a lot of shit stuff like trojans and viruses. Theses can lead you to a loss of money or privacy and can also make your computer become a mailing server to spread spam for illegal business.
5) Users who can benefit at first sight from illegal free stuff and in fact get hands on difficult to buy stuff like indian musics, remixes, not exported or prohibited softwares like encrypting softwares.
Those who make the most money with piracy are certainly hardware copy system makers and cd/dvd blank media makers. Those who have the greatest loss are musics / video producers as their stuff is available for free using emule / kazaa and other p2p software.
Who makes the most benefit out of piracy?
There are several aspects of what we consider piracy:
1) The market aspect:
When we consider a sold product, there are three types of persons.
The first group is those who will buy the stuff at any price and at any conditions, because they need or want it, they are ideal consumers who have a lots of money and have no money problem at all.
The second group is those who will buy the product at their conditions, meaning almost all of the time, that they are interested if the price is as low as possible or correct and conditions are great in term of guarantee, after sales services are effective and fast (they can get a total refund if the product doesn't satisfy them). They are a really widespread type of customers. They are also those who will use p2p to get free stuff as free stuff is for them the best in term of price/quality ratio: 0/original quality = infinity.
The last group is those who aren't interested in the sold products and will not buy them. They can in fact get them for free via p2p and enjoy it very much: as you can understand it, not everything is known to be existing by everybody and non advertised products can be totally unknown from a virtually totally interested customer. That means p2p can be a way to discover products not well advertised. This part is certainly the most widespread type of customer: not many people really know what they want to buy or get. This is why there is so much advertising nowadays: advertising is a way to create the need. Simply think about the first time you played a good game, before that you were not experimenting a lack but after playing it a while, you just can't stop playing it for hours!
Here we see that the second and third part of the market will benefit from piracy.
2) The aspect "free tools" for computer enthusiasts:
When it comes to piracy, softwares has really become an important part of the deal. As you have probably noticed, a lot of software is really expensive like OS and tools to create something: music programs like Steinberg Cubase at 150$ for the basic software package and more than 500$ for the most advanced package, reason at 450€ by propellerhead software, almost 1000€ for visual C++ 6.0 enterprise edition by Micro$oft, almost 160€ for visual C++ .NET, 450€ for photoshop 7.0 or even 1170€ for photoshop CS by adobe. Most other software has a price higher than 30€ for the registration and infinite or one year of "free" support.
That means that to begin legally to do something with your computer you either have to be really motivated, and try a high quality free software and spend a lot of time downloading it and its addons and docs, which are great for those who have been into computer science for a long time, or you have to pay a lot. You have also to buy a documentation to understand and use it too: it's hard to have both the doc on the screen with your project running and a book have generally a better and synthetic plan to help you understand and use the most basic concepts of your tool. That's why a lot of people after paying 800€ a computer try to pay absolutely no software at all using cracks, and p2p to get what they really or not really need!!!
I think that piracy really serves several type of person when it comes to softwares. Some arguments:
a) It really serves "serious" gamers who can in this way save from
30€ to 60€ per games but if they start to collect as much as they
can, they never played a game to an end. I have made the experience
in the past: I have played more than 250 pirated games on atari 520
ST and Amiga 500 / 1200 and finished perhaps 10 without a trainer. I
have totally lost my time consuming games without enjoying most of
them: when you have 10 games to play at the same time, you just can't,
you don't have enough time per day. So you play one for 10
minutes, you play another one for 10 minutes and in fact you don't
enjoy a game because you don't get enough time to enter its
spirit. Nowadays I don't play very much as I have almost totally
lost the taste for such entertainement. But when I do it, I try to
buy a one year old game at a really low price or buy it from the
secondhand market and so I pay it and own it legally at a really low
price. I always get one or two games per year using cracks but I
never played them more than 10 hours / year and usually delete them
one month after the download. In fact games are insterresting when
you know other people who ply them: you can then share knowledge
with them, special technics, ... That why lan games have taken a big
part of this market.
This shows that games piracy serves copy hardware makers (35€ a cd-rom burner) and blank mass storage makers and copy software makers (85€ for nero / 100€ for cloneDVD). 100 CD-R of 80 minutes cost 35€ inclusive of tax meaning 80 minutes of musics will cost you 0,35€ plus the price of the use of cd rom burner and some electric current to burn it, plus nero (which is highly pirated too!) or old softawre non sold today like cloneCD, instead of paying 30€. After 6 copies the hardware and the software cost is write off.
b) It can also really serves serious coders / musicians / 3D
raytraycers / graphicians. As we have seen above, software to
create is expensive, just because when you release commercially
something using them, you're supposed to make a lot of money. That's
true for a professional like guys who work for pixar or other movie
companies. But for the from time to time user, or the beginner, it's
really hard to buy 3dsmax at 5000€ HT just to see if the software
suit his needs or even if you will continue in this type of creation!!!
Remember that softwares to create aren't only expensive, books
to understand and use them are too! Remember also, that after
buying them you will need 6 months at least if you are a total
beginner to get something interesting meaning you will not create
something which will give you money back before one year! Remember
also that when you consider selling art marchandise, you will have
to convince people to buy it and believe me it's hard: a painting,
a music, a tool is hard to sell. So you will need to enter a team to
sell a final product like a game and that also means months or years
of hard work. Well, in fact it's hard to build something from
scratch and get money from your art and it's expensive to start so
you will have to be more than motivated and join a big society to be
paid each month before the final product will be released meaning
art for leisure is for really rich guys or for those who use illegal
copies or secondhand stuff.
This shows that computer books publishers get a lots of money from piracy because having a tool without an instructions leaflet is having useless compact disks in your own.
c) It can serve music, and video addicts: music is from cheap to
expensive to buy as first price begin at 8€ a cd album and can reach
30€. This range is for most of modern music albums. But classical is
starting at 8€ to reach 60 € for several CDs. One thing which annoys
buyers of music who use p2p is to wait at cashdesks or being forced
to buy a whole album when only one or two songs interest them.
Others aren't happy to pay such a high price because the artist just
gets 5% of the incomes from the CD sales. They think majors get too
much money for nothing. But majors have to produce the album, build
special studios, produce albums for totally new artists and take
risk. Paying sound engineers and organising the mass production of a
CD is also a good job. Don't forget last that they have to make some
advertisement and all these things have a price. In fact music
piracy will end the day piracy will be more expensive than buying
the original songs. That's why "itunes" and other pay per listen
sale sites will became important in the near future.
Another thing to add is that nowadays CD is on the dead period like audio tapes were when CD-R have appeared. That means DVD has become more and more important just because they have a better sound and a lot of bonuses. In France the disc manager of a very important cultural sales shops chain called LA FNAC has said that "internet doesn't have to be demonize, CD is old now. Don't close our eyes. The book market has risen up by 6% last year, the video market has rised up by 18, 8%. It's clear that buying power have been transfered from musical products to other leasure products. Music consumers, young notably, are big mobile phone consumers." The magazine called Nouvel Observateur, tells us that DVD sales came from 49 millions in 2002 to 76 millions in 2003 (grow up by 55%). When we buy a 20€ CD, in fact we have given an average of:
8,69€ to the majors
3,68€ to the shop and wholesaler
3,18€ to artists and singers
1,17€ to lyric writers and composers
and last 3,28€ for VAT at 19,6% (at least in France).
When we take a deeper look at the major parts (8,69€), we can see that:
2,69€ = 31% to promotion
0,52€ = 6% to record the album
1,48€ = 17% to exploitation margin
1,82€ = 21% to disc production
2,17€ = 25% to overheads
We see that advertisement is a lot of money wasted: good things sell by word of mouth, and here the Internet helps reduce the advertisement wave we see on TV broadcast and radio. We see also that majors have a good margin and can reduce their overheads as they are far too much higher. Internet can help this and can also help erasing the 21% of disc production.
Here we see also, that music piracy serves the blank CD makers and copy hardware makers (CD / DVD burners) and companies like ahead (for nero!). DVD sales kills CD sales, and money which was used for music past years is now used for others purchases, p2p isn't responsible for this.
Video is expensive when you watch them at cinemas but the ambience in them is far better than using any home cinema system: the cinema screen is at least 5 times bigger than the largest home cinema screen, sound is better too and you get everything which come from a large place to watch, you have tons of guys and girls around you and the place is soundproof.
A cinema ticket can be as cheap as 4,5€ to as expensive as 8€ to see one movie. But even though, it will be better and cheaper than buying a home cinema system: you will get the best of picture and sound technology for 8€ instead of buying a 300€ to 1600€ home cinema system + a 700€ 16/9 screen! Before writing off the cost of your home system you will have to watch 125 pirated movies! Add the time to burn and encode the movies, going to the salesman to buy blank CD, getting cd from friend or from internet and you will see that in fact you don't save money, you loose it and your time! It takes more than 3 hours to get a movie from a p2p client and the quality is far from being as good as the original, morever the language used in non yet marketed versions is not your mother tongue. Remember too, that you don't get the same feeling watching a copy than watching a real cinema movie.
I'm a moviegoer and I can say that majors have lost a lot of audience since long days ago now, well before p2p appears. The problem is that a movie ticket is expensive: 15 years before it was 4€ at the maximum, nowadays 8€ in France, that means the cost was multiplied by 2 and as you generally don't go alone to movie, it's a really expensive hobby. 15 years ago, cinema going was more than 4 times what is what now, now a movie is played with only 10 persons watching. Cinema rooms are most of the time empty, not because people watch ugly pirated copies, but because this is a really expensive hobby and movies TV channels have taken the audience at home. With TPS and others specialised channels, TV have killed the cinemas, that's a fact and p2p have nothing with that. At least, I advice you to go to cinema watching good movies, you will not regret it. Go to cinema 6 times per year and rent video DVD, you will get better quality, don' t lost your time and save finally money: a DVD location cost 1.5€ for 6 hours.
We see there that video downloading via p2p is a bad computation, and remember too, that there is taxes on blank medium. Here follow taxes on each blank media sold in France, since 1985, CD-R 0,33€ DVD-R 1.50€, Disquette 0.015€, MP3 walkman til 5 Gb 8€, walkman 5 to 10 Gb 10€, walkman 10 to 15 Gb 12€, walkman 15 to 20 Gb 15€. TOTAL for 2002, 135 M€. These millions are collected by SACEM (French body responsible for collecting and distributing music royalties) and given to artists.
Globally when you download and use the product like the original, those who lost a lot of money are the majors and the state: More than half of the CD / DVD price go to their pocket. That's why they are going to court and act to change the laws.
d) It serves those who give you the way to download: ISP (Internet Service Provider) gives you the internet access which is required to download and in the past years, they have sold their service with a publicity campaign telling us that with Internet we will be able to download music and video so if they aren't responsible for what we do with our Internet access, they at least encouraged us to be hackers. And now they are collaborating with majors and politics to stop us using p2p or getting other illegal contents. So they play a double game: they take money from their subscribers and will stop them to use p2p. But believe me or not, if they will cut your internet access because you use emule or kazaa, they will cut their market part and so will loose money so be prepared to a new wave of: "don't do that, it's forbidden" while they will close their eyes as money talks and customer (you) is the king!
e) Finally it serves those who are searching to get a better knowledge: try to search all documents containing a "a" inside there name using emule and you will find a lots of documents. It's paradise for a curious mind and a searcher: it can read a lot of stuff he will take days to find on a library.
3) The aspect "hardware and blank media"
When you see that the biggest public electronic brands like philips, sony, samsung and goldstar build and sell TAPE / CD /DVD burners and a part of them is also selling blank media, you can think "Hey, they don't want piracy but they give us the way to do it". They will say you: you got now the power to create!!! Well, to create we have seen that we need free time which is nowadays a lux due to all the time we spend talking, writing emails and so... To create we also need money as tools to make music, graphics and code are expensive. When we are at home after a long working period of 8 hours per day, we have an idea: getting an activity to stress out and forgot our problems. Not a lot of guys create especially those who are more than 40 years old: they have a family to care for and creating is a time consuming task they can't allow them. So they watch TV, try to stay in peace with their wife and try also to care for their children and friends. So creating isn't for them a priority, that's a pity but this is the sad truth. So what they do: they are consumming, and if they are short in money, they use pirated copies as this is a cheap way to save money. So our friends who have sold us "this is to create" stuff have a market to sale copiers stuff. This market is made of people who want the stuff available on shops but don't want to pay for as they don't have the money for or want to kept the money for other things like paying the car or the house loans. So piracy is made possible by big brands. And when piracy is too high what happened? Well it's easy: they go to court for getting even more money from the most important hackers and illegal competitors. That means they try and succeed to put in jail those who make money on their business without paying their part to the whole system.
Here we see that it's a question of computed tolerance and financial logic which animate the hardware copier + blank medias + music market.
The cultural side of piracy
When we see what is available via P2P, we can say: "hey this is not only current commercial stuff which is available here". Yes, we can say that a lot of stuff available via P2P is made from oldies (at least one year old) and there is also a lot of stuff not available on the national market. Using Kazaa or Emule, we have in fact the most exciting collection of musics (for the videos see higher) easily available for " free". It's the same or even better for documents like .txt .pdf .doc. So we can download and enjoy goods which are rare and not findable or hardly from a shop or a saling web site. It's definitively a good thing for knowledge.
The majors' reply to p2p isn't acceptable for now
In fact if majors want to do something to counter this, they will have to do something which isn't easy at all: they will have to merge all their goods in one big virtual place!!! They can change the hegemony of p2p in digital file distribution at several conditions:
1) Give customers one big virtual place with all their goods (past, present and future) in a really high quality (better than CD / >= DVD in fact).
2) Every songs must be sold at 1€ maximum including all taxes: a higher price is simply not acceptable for 3 minutes of listening pleasure.
3) There must be no restriction about the right to copy the music: no DRM, not only 3 copies to CD, no special format, nothing which is now imposed by sony DRM: why paying for restrictions when p2p give us total freedom? Majors rights mustn't be so restrictive and remember that with a virtual tape recorder we can record at high quality the protected songs and even if this is not possible (meaning it's software protected...), we can plug a wire from the sound output socket to the sound input socket of soundcards and then record unprotected music!!!
4) The web site must not install any software or anything else to let us download music easily and quickly: Sony have really upset me with their music selling web site as they have installed not less than 3 programs, activeX controls and have forced me to reboot my computer. And for what? To let me buy atrac music, playable only with their player!!! Are they dreaming or what? No, not people will buy a MD recorder to listen to their crypted music. Now apart from a few websites like www.virginmega.com, buying digital music online is harder than installing and using a p2p client like kazaa lite K++.
5) Be available even when millions customers download at the same time.
Time is money, free time is what you need to make your real life. When some don't have money, they try to get things they want by anyway, trading everything with everything else. In the numeric era, products are dematerialized and so people trade files and news. So the money disappear and those who are rich in term of money aren't happy because they lost their power. These are the majors and the politics. And they build and use laws or even force to compel you to follow the rules they have created to make money.
Some others try to sold what they don't own legally: they use hackers to do the bad job like cracking protection and sold cracked software, musics or video on illegal CDs / DVD. The result is that the final customer and internet user is compeled to follow stricter rules.
Nowadays all the basic needs are totally satisfied: we have sufficient food we bought to supermarket, we have a house with a good temperature, we are in security, have a way of going from a point to another at a good speed. That means we are now in rich countries of Europe concentrating to comfort, well-being, leasures and sex: the main ideas behind almost all the products sold nowadays.
When piracy is involved, the products are musics, games, softwares, videos and in fact what I called "illusion" products meaning they aren't really existing but are present in our mind not in our hands. Yes things in our mind are more and more important nowadays as when it comes to comfort, the mind state is what is important. That means, what is important nowadays is that a lot of people are dreaming 24h/ 24h for them to be happy. This is psychological happiness.
Politicians want you to dream and not to think, they want you to go working without thinking (I'm a slave in this system, I have to work to make money, I have to totally pay what I want to buy, I have to be an honest customer to be good, I have to get and own this to be in). When you use pirated stuff, you need a brain to do so as getting them isn't as easy as going to the supermarket buying them. To use software you get this way, you got to pay books and read them, that means using your brain, one more time this is not their aim and so they try to stop us from getting knowledge. Yes politics wants sheeps and not intellectual, rebellious, clever, creative spirits. That's why TV is built: to clean your brain from intelligence watching people doing anything else than thinking or taking good decisions. Information is power, information is what you need to take good decisions. When information is too much confused, you can't take decision. On TV most of the information is soap operas, showing you American life. The one who have real power in this world as they have the biggest and the more armed army. They have a spirit which say that everything have a price and everything can be bought. So piracy is an ennemy of this spirit because it kills money and those who put most of it in their pockets.
As a proof, just see that for years now, video games have been highly pirated and there has not been such mediatic circus about this, just some act of justice. Note also that porno movies are downloaded a lot and that no majors of their circle have attacked p2p users. Piracy is just an excuse, to take your free time, to take your money, to make you dream and to put something in your mind: military spirit. Just see what their in video games: battles, fights, against the evil. Hey wake up: in life, nothing is bad, nothing is good, everything is both dependent of both the eyes who see it and the spirit with his prejudices, conceptions, visions, values and a lot of of personnal history, it's not unbiased it's totally biased. You think you get something for free but hey your life and your spare time isn't something to waste. It's true that a lot of stuff is swapped on the internet and by p2p but a lot of people download stuff and don't watch or listen to them, hard drive are full of useless stuff. It's just logic: how somebody can download and listen millions of files. Morever, lots of stuff are porno stuff or elite stuff (tools for hackers or advanced user) and aren't of any use for a lots of users.
Piracy is a "hidden" way to get some money from time to time, for the industrial (like Sony / Philips which sold also DVD burners...), while legal stuff is a way to get more money from far away period. Piracy is a part of the commercial game: Tape, CD, DVD copiers are released and available after the golden age of each technology. Why? Money talks!!! During these golden years sales are on the top, then when sales became not so important, the piracy market appears: blank medium, copiers, and so on are available in shops, build by Philips, Sony,... People are then "allowed" to copy for free as they pay a small fee (the price for the copier aka the high speed dubbing double K7 copier, the CD/DVD burner + the price for blank medias which are taxed and the big price of a whole computer) for.
Piracy is attacked now because majors aren't ready to jump to numeric era: they were happy with their controlled, planified progress (vinyl disc, tape, CD, DVD) but now they are obliged to change their plan and to explain where the money go to justify prices they practise. They lost also a lot of power they have on artists who can do a lot of things alone. Politicians aren't happy because they are hungry and want to get more money from piracy: taxes on the blank medium don't suffice. They want also to get the 19,6% of VAT. Remember also that even if the collected taxes on blank media are fully given to artists, this money cross a bank account were an interest fee is added... And politicians want to get control on the information as it's here to sucker spirits: most songs are of love, most videos are of non fundamental stuff, madness and not so rational stuff. They use information both to turned against each others (majors / p2p users), just see what happened in a television series like the "young and the restless": an history without an end and what a hell of actions. They also use video clips to sleep spirits with joy, beautiful dancing girls, this is dream. And they want control over this like the one they have with TV.
When people aren't happy politicians can use police or army to force them to obey. That's it: those who have power are those which are the strongest. Be clever: copy less, buy more quality products (think that P2P goods quality is not as good as shop goods quality) and pay the good softwares you use frequently when you can. Try to trade off the price when it's too expensive: with the net and direct buy from the coder, it's possible. Don't let the system take you in control. And don't forget: the musical market was 11 billions dollars in 2003 for the Europe only, USA market is even bigger, so majors don't make enough money with music? Liars!!! In fact the more p2p users there are, the harder it is to stop them, so...
EP / CosmiK
Comment from Adok: Note that this article represents only Emmanuel Poirier's personal opinion, which is not shared by all members of the Hugi staff.