Kosumo wrote on Apr 10, 2012, 18:38:
*free riding - http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_3.html
This article is amongst the most biased, terrible articles ever written. The author has no idea of what he's talking about and he clearly has a heavy bias towards the industry, using fake data to support his thesis. in fact he doesn't even prove that piracy is the Free Rider problem at all. That author is the laughing stock of places like Slashdot and other tech sites. Don't believe me? Slashdot
, and this guy here makes one of the most brilliant debunking articles one can read on the net
on the subject of that tweakguides article. Be sure to read the 4 articles since that one is only the first one out of four.
To sum it up I leave the comments from a slashdot user who pretty much clears things up perfectly.
I call bullshit on this article, from a number of different angles!
One of the biggest reasons is lack of logical coherence. The author cites lots of numbers, but then does not actually put them together in an objective way to actually support his conclusions. In fact, his conclusions appear to be foregone. He seems to have ignored a good body of evidence that would lead to different conclusions.
For one example, he cites an article about game piracy on Macs. The article mentions the "pirate's argument" that it is okay to pirate because that person would not have bought the product anyway, therefore there is no lost sale. However, the article only discusses this topic from the point of view of whether it makes a valid moral or ethical argument.
The cited article (and main article too) ignore that several university studies have in fact shown that somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of piracy occurs when there would not have been a sale anyway. (In most cases because there was insufficient money to purchase the product, but there are several other reasons this occurs.) That may not be a sound ethical argument in favor of piracy, but that is irrelevant. More to the point: it is an economic reality. Economic realities are; they exist. Simply putting them down as unethical is to ignore the actual causes, and possible solutions, for the situation. Further, trying to prosecute -- and especially fine -- people for not buying a product they probably could not afford to buy anyway is completely counterproductive. It offers no societal solutions to the actual problem; it simply fosters fear and antagonism. And backlash, as the RIAA and MPAA are finding out, probably too late to do them much good. They were warned by the society of their customers, but they did not listen.
In another example of faulty logic, the author indulges in the classic logical Post Hoc fallacy argument to conclude that piracy causes DRM, not the other way around. (For those not familiar, this is the argument that because one thing happened after another, the earlier event must have caused the later event. This does not follow: in fact it is just as likely that some third event caused them both.) In particular, he states that a game that was released with no DRM resulted in lots of downloads, then claims that "The evidence is overwhelmingly clear: DRM does not cause piracy, piracy results in DRM." When in fact his "evidence" shows nothing of the sort.
As a systems manager and tech (and now Software Engineer) with many years experience, I can testify that there are a great many cases where, in fact, DRM causes piracy. One example is when I worked for an engineering company, which used quite a few proprietary programs for certain involved, specialized calculations. Many of those programs came with various forms of DRM. And I can tell you this in complete honesty: every one of the programs that used DRM failed on us. Almost always at an important point in the project. And I mean that literally: every single one of them failed, without exception. And in every case, the cause of the failure was the DRM. Further, our calls to support for the software were almost always unproductive: "You must not have installed it properly." or "You must have been tampering with the copy protection". Nonsense. We had paid a lot of good money for the software and were not about to treat it so casually.
In such cases, we were forced to either try to break the DRM ourselves, or to try to find a cracked version of the software, just to get the functionality we had already paid for! Which technically made us pirates. But it was DRM that forced us into piracy, not the other way around. Keep in mind that this was specialty software for which there was often no alternative product available. But just FYI, the invariable DRM failures did cause us to look for alternative products. Our official company policy became (this is true): "If there are alternative products available, or we can write our own, even if they are not as good, we will do that rather than buy programs that use any form of copy protection."
As a third example, on page 9 the author gives a decidedly (and pretty blatantly) one-sided presentation of StarForce, SecureROM, and Steam. In this presentation, he states, in effect, "even if these are rootkits or run at Ring 0, so what?" He further states that other tools used by users to crack DRM also install device drivers, and run at Ring 0.
For someone who is trying to make ethical arguments, this is worse than weak, it is biased almost to the point of outright dishonesty. The clear ethics here are these: the mentioned tools employed by end users are there voluntarily and openly: the user is aware of what is being installed and gives consent. In the case of DRM, the user is usually not aware and did not give consent for "secret" software to be installed at a level that can even override the operating system. There is a VERY BIG ethical issue there. And not just ethical, but practical. As a computer professional, I insist on being aware and in charge of what is being installed on my hardware and what is not, at ALL times!
The author completely ignores this issue, and unilaterally takes the side of the DRM vendors. To call it bias is to be complementary.
In summary, this article, while calling itself "thorough", is only thorough on the one side of the argument. It completely ignores important facts, causes, and ethical arguments for the other side of the issue.
This article is best ignored, for being the propaganda that it so clearly is.