#1-3
01 января 1987

Shoutburst - piracy: good or bad?

<b>Shoutburst</b> - piracy: good or bad?
      PIRACY - GOOD OR BAD?     
            by Brian Cavers     
      ---------------------    
I hold a rather controversial
view of software piracy - I
DON'T BELIEVE COPYING SOFTWARE,
OF ITSELF, IS NECESSARILY
HARMFUL AND MAY EVEN HAVE HELPED
THE SPECTRUM SOFTWARE INDUSTRY!

Now hold on, before you reach
for the poison pen! The key
words in my statement are: 'OF
ITSELF'. Let me explain...

Imagine two people on a desert
island, cut off from
civilization and with no hope of
rescue. Sensible people that
they are, they've got their
priorities right and, having
been on a survival course, the
first thing they do is to get
the generator working so they
can plug in their Spectrums.

Now, Mr X notices that Mr. Y has
a rather interesting game
running on his Spectrum. He
borrows it, duplicates it on his
ghetto blaster and returns the
original tape to Mr. Y.



Meanwhile, Z Software Company,
who produce the game are happily
counting their profits back in
London, blissfully unaware of
what has taken place - that
someone has just stolen
something from them and that
they have been deprived of
`7.99. Or have they?

If Mr. X made a hundred
duplicates would Z Software be
`799 worse off? If Mr. X did not
make ANY duplicate would Z
Software be BETTER off?

It seems clear to me THAT IN
THIS SITUATION the Software
house is completely untouched by
the duplication of their game.
WHY?



Now imagine another two people:
Mr. A and Mr. B. The latter
rarely buys games. He has a
casual interest and buys little
software. Like our Mr. X, he
notices a game on Mr. A's
Spectrum, borrows it and makes a
duplicate. He thinks the program
is 'not baddish' but wouldn't
dream  of paying `9.99 for it!
If Mr. A protests and stops him
from making the copy, Mr. B has
no intention of going out and
buying a copy. He's not that
bothered.

It seems clear to me THAT IN
THIS SITUATION the Software
house is completely untouched by
the duplication of their game.
WHY?

In a third example, Little
Johnny has about `10 a month to
spend on games. He can buy a
couple of budget games or a
full-priced game. However, each
month, on average, he not only
buys the one or two games he can
afford he also 'borrows',
'swaps' or copies one or two
from his mates.

It seems clear to me THAT IN
THIS SITUATION the Software
house is completely untouched by
the duplication of their game.
WHY?



Surely the answer in all three
cases is that the duplication
only harms the software house IF
THE DUPLICATION TAKES THE PLACE
OF A SALE. IF THERE WOULD HAVE
BEEN NO SALE WHETHER COPYING
TOOK PLACE OR NOT THEN HOW COULD
THE SOFTWARE HOUSE LOSE
ANYTHING?

Let me hastily add that nothing
in this article is intended to
encourage piracy but rather to
encourage people to think! -
particularly those reactionary
people who have been claiming
for the last five years that the
software industry will grind to
a halt if piracy doesn't stop -
IT HASN'T DONE YET HAS IT?



I find it annoying to read
claims by representatives of the
software industry that x million
pounds is lost to pirates every
year. What they really mean is
that they estimate (we don't
know how) that a certain amount
of copying goes on each year but
if the copiers were to BUY every
copied program instead of
copying, then these sales would
produce x million pounds.
Clearly this isn't the same
thing at all as genuine loss of
profits.



This brings me to the second
theme of this article. Let's go
back to little Johnny. He makes
a new friend who hasn't got a
computer called Billy. (The
friend is called Billy, silly!).
Billy notices that Johnny has no
more pocket money than himself
and yet gets 3 or 4 new games
every month for his Spectrum.
Billy remembers another mate of
his with one of these new game
consoles. Games cost about 20
quid so he can only afford one
new game every other month AND
HASN'T GOT A HOPE IN HELL OF
DUPLICATING THE CARTRIDGES. What
does Billy persuade his dad to
buy him for Christmas? - That's
right, a Commodore 64 (ONLY
JOKING!).



Anyway, doesn't that illustrate
the notion that IT IS HIGHLY
LIKELY THAT SALES OF THE
SPECTRUM AND THEREBY SOFTWARE
SALES, HAVE BEEN ENHANCED
BECAUSE OF THE ATTRACTION OF
BEING ABLE TO 'SUBSIDISE'
SOFTWARE PURCHASES WITH
'FREEBIES'.

Couple that last principle with
my earlier claim that great
numbers of duplications, i.e.
the ones that DO NOT REPLACE A
SALE, do not harm the software
companies and you can see that
the overall market may be far
more lucrative to the industry
in a curious way than if copying
were not possible.



Let me finish by saying that
none of this is proven and only
represents one possible point of
view. Quite frankly, I'd love to
really know - but how could
anyone accumulate sufficient
information about such a tricky
subject? There is also the
difficulty of deciding whether a
person WOULD have bought a piece
of software if they had not been
able to copy it. It's highly
subjective...

We may never know for sure!

             - Brian Cavers     


Just one more page!...



POSTSCRIPT  I would just like to
add to the above that I do, of
course, recognize and believe
that any duplicating done with
the DELIBERATE intention of
avoiding paying and any
organized activity involving
actual sales of pirated material
is OUTRIGHT THEFT.



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Outlet editorial - a new concept in electronic magazines for the Spectrum

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Shoutburst - piracy: good or bad?

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