10 September 2010

Super Mario with peg leg and eye patch

CNN article, 'Video game piracy: Is it good for business?'

Here's the deal with 'piracy':

First off, this is not theft. The definition of piracy was expanded to include "the unauthorized reproduction or use of a copyrighted book, recording, television program, patented invention, trademarked product, etc" due in part to the case United States v. Harrell in 1993. The original definition of piracy is "robbery or illegal violence at sea". Big difference. Much like the original definition included robbery, unauthorized use has to do with money. The definition was expanded because there had to be a way for businesses to protect things that were immaterial; that is to say, things that you couldn't steal by picking it up and putting it in your pocket. So when I download a song from BitTorrent, thats now piracy and piracy now equals theft. If I hear it on the radio and record it on a tape, thats not piracy because the radio station has either paid royalties to play the song or permission has been granted by the 'owner' of the song (ostensibly the artists, but by proxy the producers and by extension the RIAA). What is the difference? The difference is money. Someone got paid along the way.

They dont care about you listening to the music, they care about getting paid.

Slightly less than admirable. I am not stealing the song. Everyone who had access to it before I heard it still has access to it after. I am not using the song to profit in any way. Is it theft if I am standing next to someone playing it out loud on their iPod? This is about money, plain and simple. CONDITIONAL STATEMENT:If downloading songs is illegal, and everyone avoids committing illegal acts, then everyone must buy the song which equates to the RIAA getting paid. That being said, video game piracy is great. Its like the natural evolution of people who are tired of being gouged!

This game costs $60 and has sold almost 12 million copies, as the article says. Great work Activision! If I were to sell this game to a used game store, EB games, GameStop, or the like, I could get maybe $10-20 for it depending on how hard the shop wanted to screw me on it. They then turn around and sell it for $50. Great job GameStop! Except Activision calls foul. Activision doesnt get anything when GameStop sells it for $50, and Id rather buy it used from GameStop for $50 and save $10. Activision has revealed its hand, its only in it for the money.

Of course, Activision is a company and companies must turn a profit to remain viable. But where do you draw the line? Why would I pay $60 for a video game if I can get it for $50? Or $20? Or for free? If Activision has been enabled to seek as much profit as they can, am I in turn enabled to get the best deal for my money? Consumers dictate the price of goods by saying "yes, I will pay this much for this item" or "no, I am going to get it cheaper". This is known as 'economic disequilibrium', where the consumer finds the product less attractive and purchases less because the price is too high. People want the games but are not willing to pay what corporations expect. People are going to get the games, or the music, or the movies, or the books on pdf, or whatever else they want and they're going to get it at the price they want. Companies like Activision are going to have to make a decision - continue the path they are on, where the focus is more profit, or change their business model to give consumers what they want at a price that has a disincentive effect on 'piracy'.

Its an interesting article. This is the same thing the music industry was going through years ago, when mp3s were becoming popular. The result of that was iTunes, sites like Project Playlist, and the CD/hard copy industry being more or less abandoned. These video game corporations will be forced to evolve or will die off. Theres too many games out there like Farmville that rely on a pay to play model (and are totally free if you don't care about the extras) for companies to expect $60 games to sell and there not to be any piracy.

You may accuse me of being a scofflaw, of not recognizing/caring about copyright issues or intellectual property, being wildly anarchic/socialist/communist, or a number of other unsavory things. It might be true. I don't really care that Activision wants to turn as much profit as they can. Video game 'piracy' is our way of fighting back. Too bad.

Heres a funny picture in support of file sharing, click to see it:

No comments:

Post a Comment