Jimquisition: Piracy Episode One - Copyright

Not-here-anymore

In brightest day...
Nov 18, 2009
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Hitchmeister said:
On the other hand, these big publishers didn't seize the rights away from creators at gunpoint. They walked up and waved a bag of cash in front of them. It seemed like a good deal at the time, and I have a hard time feeling sympathy for anyone who sold their soul, or IP, to EA.*

Then on the third hand, you get stuff like a band posting videos they created themselves of their own music on Youtube and getting takedown orders from their record company because they don't have the rights to promote themselves in any way that might interfere with the company's profits. Yeah, screw that.




*I know EA wasn't actually involved in the example in the video, but I wanted to draw a selling your soul to the devil analogy, and EA just fit so well.
I was informed by a professor today that he couldn't just give us the lecture notes for the course. Because the course is heavily, heavily based on a textbook that he wrote, he's been informed that distributing the notes would be a breach of copyright.
 

Bostur

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Mar 14, 2011
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Looking forward to the next episode.

The idea of Copyright is a good one, but it has turned into an uncontrollable beast doing the opposite of what it was intended for.
 

Techno Squidgy

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Nov 23, 2010
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Well said sir, well fucking said.

As a likely future game developer this has been very enlightening. Copyright legislation is indeed bullshit and needs to be thrown out and rewritten.

I applaud your efforts and your sterling message.

 

Baresark

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Dec 19, 2010
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I agree with Jim 100%, which is a scary prospect in itself. It is illegal, but I get tired of people using the whole "developers deserved to get paid for their work" thing. That is true, they do deserve credit and profits from their work. But when Bungie made Halo, they were forced to sell the rights to Microsoft in order to see that work realized. And there it is. The standard contract for any publishing company seems to be that the studio gets exclusive rights to the contents of your work. That is why this age of information technology is amazing. You are constantly seeing fantastic games come out on their own without the use of a large publisher. Hell, look at what Mojang has done without the use of outside publishers.

It's the same across the board as far as artistic endeavors are concerned. All the music that is heard on the radio is owned by the record label, and not the artist (with rare exception). Furthermore, as Jim states, people who have no right to any creative work what so ever own rights to different properties. Michael Jackson owned the rights to the Beatles albums, Bill Cosby owns the rights to The little Rascals and EA owns Battlefield despite never having put a single creative impulse towards the work.

I do not condone piracy at all, but I don't condemn people as horrible human beings if they participate in it. They are not good clean pure souls, but the aren't the 8 headed monster people make them out to be either. And it's not the fault of pirates if game companies treat their customers like shit. Just like I don't go to jail if my best friend robs a McDonalds and gets caught with that DNA security system. :p
 

Elyxard

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Dec 12, 2010
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I think about the most important franchise to me, the Xeno- series.

I have to really feel sorry for Monolith Soft. Despite creating Xenogears, SE owns the rights to that. What have they done with it? Just dropped it on PSN and that's the end of that franchise. Despite creating Xenosaga, Namco owns the rights to it. What has Namco done with that copyright? Diddly squat, at best we'll get a digital download for that too someday at best.

Monolith Soft created those worlds from scratch, yet they can't even touch them. SE and Namco can either profit endlessly from Monolith Soft's work or just leave it to rot, which is exactly what they're doing. It's depressing to no end. If I worked that hard to create a world and characters like that, I would be more than heartbroken to not even be legally able to goddamn talk about them ever again.

That's what makes the SOPA bull**** all the more vile. This has nothing to do with the creative culture, it's all about the greed and business culture, and congress thinks that's more important.

On the other end of the spectrum. I have not "pirated" a game in over ten years, and those were NES roms that you absolutely could not ever get anywhere else at the time. I absolutely despise people who pirate brand new games on release, I think they are despicable, self-entitled bastards. If you don't like the corporation, don't even play the damn game. You're only convincing them that you actually do want their products, and that they need to crack down even harder on piracy when they see the torrent download number.

Support the companies that you love and love you back. Ignore the ones that only see dollar signs and shareholders.
 

somonels

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Oct 12, 2010
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Jim, I'm sorry your good twin brother got busted.




Also, Welcome to the dark side
 

Luke5515

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Aug 25, 2008
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I completely agree. Half the world sees piracy as akin to murder. Piracy is not all bad. This site has some of the worst offenders. I've gotten paragraphs saying that I had bad morals for not thinking that piracy was bad. Christ, you'd think pirates killed their families the way these people talked.
 

Baresark

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J03bot said:
I was informed by a professor today that he couldn't just give us the lecture notes for the course. Because the course is heavily, heavily based on a textbook that he wrote, he's been informed that distributing the notes would be a breach of copyright.
There was a Harvard professor that wouldn't allow his students from various classes compare notes on an online forum because he copyrights his lectures (he would record both by video and audio all his lectures). He has copyrighted his knowledge and it's not allowed to be discusses among his students in a forum where it's easiest for them to discuss and understand the material. Since no one would ever knowingly make a law that inhibits students from learning, I'm relatively sure he is gaming the system. Only, the students are smarter than the professors. When you attend a college or university, you are not paying for knowledge (contrary to popular belief), you are paying for a degree and nothing else. Especially since that knowledge is already pretty much everywhere. The way I see it, if you are charging $200 for a text book, the people who bought it have purchased a right to go through whatever means necessary to understand said book, including discussion among friends.

Also, as the copyright holder he could distribute notes to his class. He only needs to seek his own permission. Guy sounds like a huge dick who lies because he doesn't know what he is talking about. He isn't infringing on his copyright. And furthermore, anyone could distribute notes based on his work provided he was cited for it.
 

Dastardly

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Apr 19, 2010
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Jim Sterling said:
Piracy Episode One - Copyright

Piracy is one of those issues that will absolutely never die, like the secrets of the Bermuda Triangle of the truth of the Zelda Timeline. Jim Sterling has always had a set view on piracy -- it's not the worst crime in the world, but it's selfish theft nonetheless. However, in the wake of corporate attempts to buy our legal system, he has reexamined the piracy issue and come away with a rather altered stance.

This is the first episode in a miniature series looking at the problem of videogame piracy.

Watch Video
Regarding copyright:

You're oversimplifying things a bit, and you're attacking this from the wrong angle.

Publishers exist because the average Joe once had a problem getting his goods to market. A composer would spend his time and energy writing the music... but then he'd need to find someone with the equipment to print, copy, and sell that music. That would take time and energy (and money) the composer didn't have.

So instead, the composer would sell the copyright to a Publisher -- basically, an investor whose entire job it was to have the print/copy/market equipment and know-how. This was mutually beneficial to the artist and publisher.

The artist wouldn't have to worry about the logistics or expense of publication. And in exchange, he would give over distribution rights (and occasionally agree to produce a certain number of other works within a given time period, to present a more long-term investment). Over time, artists could even rely on the strength of a publisher's name to give more weight to a new product -- I might not know your music, but I know your publisher is pretty good at spotting good music, so I'm more inclined to look your way...

The publisher wouldn't have to worry about the creation process. And in exchange, they would promote and distribute the composer's work. Of course, the publisher would own the rights, to ensure the long-term viability of the arrangement -- you wouldn't want a composer to use your resources to get well-known, and then yank back his entire catalog to sell on his own, leaving you with no return on investment.

FAST FORWARD:

In this age, getting your goods to market isn't as big a problem. On the internet, David can be every bit as big as Goliath in the right circumstances. So there is less need for a publisher, overall. It hasn't evaporated completely, however.

And, given the ease of digital distribution and internet marketing, publishers have had to add little caveats and addenda to the contracts to make the investment "safer." They might oblige you for a few deadline-heavy sequels, or they might require that you sell the entire IP to them. And if things go sour, they're likely not going to give it all back so that you can then go make money under some other publisher -- It's not about you, though, but rather about not feeding competing publishers.

IF YOU WANT TO FIX IT:

Publishers are going to do what publishers do. Until creators stop letting them. Creators are who you need to target.

1. Encourage creators to forego publishers in favor of cheap, effective distribution methods. Why pay to have a CD made when you can just sell the .mp3's on your own site?

2. Encourage creators that want publishers to be more forward-thinking in the terms to which they agree. Don't sign contracts in desperation or naivete. "Hey, if there is a period of X months in which you do not move on this IP, we get back the name/characters/etc. You keep the rights to previous installments, but we're then allowed to go forward with the IP in other venues."

You touch on this in the video, but really it's the main point. Make publishers obsolete, and the problem is solved. The law isn't the problem, as much as the contracts under the law are. Go after the creators, get them to "kick the habit" -- no demand, no supply.
 

Aardvaarkman

I am the one who eats ants!
Jul 14, 2011
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One aspect that Jim misses is that outfits like MegaUpload are making money from piracy. It's one thing to share a copy of a game with your friends, it's quite another to run a racket where you are profiting from piracy.

In fact, the for-profit piracy sites are doing exactly what Jim condemns the big publishers of doing - making money off other people's work. Only in their case, they aren't even paying the creators a single penny, and they certainly aren't investing large sums of money and risk in having new games created.

Do publishers act shittily towards artists and customers? Hell yes. But the commercial pirates are far worse in their contempt for everything. Some of them even try to play the "fighting for the little people" card at the same time as turning a quick buck via shady means.
 

Meggiepants

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Jan 19, 2010
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MetalDooley said:
meganmeave said:
The reason I think it is still stealing to pirate a game like Metal Arms, is because the publisher that rightfully paid the creator for the rights to that game entered a contract saying, "I promise to give you money now, on the hopes that I can make a profit off of this thing in the future."
Activision own the rights to Metal Arms now despite the fact that they didn't put a cent into the development,publishing or marketing of the game.That's why Jim is saying he couldn't condemn anyone who pirated it now
They still paid for it. Whether or not they shelled out for the production of it in anyway, they paid money for it.

Does that mean you don't really own the video games you purchase because you didn't pay anything to produce them? That we shouldn't have the right to sell them once we are done?

Does that mean anyone who owns a used house or car, I can take it without any claim of moral wrongdoing? Because the people who bought that used home or car didn't pay anything toward the original creation of it.

Transfer of property is transfer of property. You can own something without having created it. We do it all the time, every day.
 

Hosker

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Aug 13, 2010
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Yes, we'll show those publishers what for by pirating all our games! Oh, all the publishers have gone out of business? There are barely any games any more because no one can afford to make them? Whoops!
 

BrotherRool

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Yeah I couldn't get through this video. I hope you turned it around at the end, but if I'd believed that I would have kept on watching.

I think maybe you've got some problems with dealing with authority? I'll say this, last time I commented on your video it's because you were being a fake conformingly non-conformist hipster without adding any real thought or value to your video, and at least it seems like here you had a general thought out opinion, even if it's not one I can agree with in any respect. I guess you were maybe still a bit 'Occupy Wall Street' the only thing wrong with the world is people being richer than me etc but you sounded quite genuine
 

Jonny49

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Mar 31, 2009
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I, for one, will destroy all those who prohibited the creation of the Metal Arms sequels. That game was actually awesome.
 

Comrade_Beric

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May 10, 2010
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Sober Thal said:
FelixG said:
Sober Thal said:
Jimothy Sterling said:
Sober Thal said:
Fun fact. The artists and developers own 100% of their IP. They then decide to sell the rights away for money and more resources. Duh.
That's what happens when the rights-buyers have rigged the game in their favor before the artists create their art. Duh.
Creators have a choice to sign these contracts. Are we implying that these people who make games don't know how to read?
Yeah they have a massive choice don't they? "Oh you don't sign the contract? You get no funding, you don't get distribution, you don't get advertisement. Have fun making your game jackoff."

OT: Thank god for jim, at least someone can admit when they are wrong instead of acting like the publishers need little white knights to defend them from the big bad pirates
Notch is such a jackoff, isn't he...
And if the publishers had had their way, the things that made Notch's success possible (word of mouth through social media such as facebook, twitter, and this very site right here) would all be gone. One more victim in the corporate crusade to stop people on the internet from doing anything that doesn't make the publishers money.
 

Pandabearparade

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Mar 23, 2011
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Dammit, Jim, I thought your line about being right about everything was just blustery bullshit, but you keep proving me wrong. Thank God for you.

Your view isn't going to be popular around these parts (mainly because you get banned if you don't call pirates baby-eating scum around here), but you're completely right.

Anyone want to time how long it takes for the Escapist to shut that video town? I'm guessing less than a week.
 

Pandabearparade

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Mar 23, 2011
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Duol said:
Stealing a loaf of bread from a rich person is the same as stealing it from a hobo.
No.

I think 'no' really sums it up pretty well, but I need to add more to avoid a 'low content post', so I'll add that this logic is morally bankrupt. Stealing is never 'good', but stealing a Whopper from a starving man and stealing a Whopper from Jabba the Hutt are two completely different things ethically.
 

drthmik

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Jul 29, 2011
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Mahha said:
Did you know that copyright law was not meant to create huge profits?
The original law was meant as a protection of intellectual property for a period of max 28 years, as to prevent stealing of new ideas and after that period ANYONE was permitted to change alter and publish new stories based on the works without permission. It's a pretty awesome idea at the core, smart and creative people get incentive to make new shit and after 28 year (lets face it if you haven't been working on new ip or updated your old ip it's very unlikely that a sudden bolt of creativity will hit your brain and you'll start expanding on your 28 old year book or whatever) fans can start tangents and new stories based on you work. This was so that no one person could live a whole life with just one contribution to society.
Now for sake of an example let's look at the creations of Walt Disney. Do you even remember when was the last time a good Mickey Mouse cartoon, book etc. came out? Well I don't and I fucking love Mickey Mouse. The thing is that by extending copyright ad infinitum you prevent eager and capable people bringing new life to old creations.

here's a nice video that explains it:

I don't know how this would relate to more modern problems such as piracy, but I'm sure if the 28 years rule was still in effect things would be a lot different.
Yep, furthermore the owner of said copyright had to PAY the government for the privilege but if you were still making a ton of money after 28 years you could pay to get another 28 year extension. But that was it.