Sylver - 2:00 pm on Mar 1, 2011 (gmt 0)
The "copying costs nothing, so pirating is ok" crowd is simply trying to find reasons why they aren't criminals. And they just grab any semblance of a justification for their acts because they can't face the fact that they are stealing. Nobody wants to look in a mirror and say "Gee. I am a bit of a low-life ****."
Let's go back on the comparison with car theft for a minute. A typical car contains $500-2,000 worth of raw materials and retails for $15k to $250K.
That's quite a margin until you realize that to be able to produce a car, you have to spend hundreds of million USD on development, thousands and thousands of man-hours, and take advantage of past developments, without which it would be quite impossible to build a car.
In other words, the cost of the materials in a car is fairly insignificant, in the same way that the cost of making a digital copy of a song or an e-book is insignificant.
When you steal a car, you are not stealing 2000 pounds of steel and 100 pounds of plastic. That's almost irrelevant. What you are stealing is a piece of all the work/knowledge that went into making the car.
Same thing happens when you steal an eBook or a song. What you are really stealing is not a bunch of bytes, what you are stealing is a piece of the hundreds/thousand of hours the artist spent on creating the work.
If you feel that the artist's time and effort isn't worth anything, why don't you come over and work a couple years for me? I won't pay you, but you will have my appreciation and maybe if I like your work, I will recommend you to other people who might perhaps pay you, (or perhaps not, don't be too optimistic).
"I wasn't gonna buy it anyway, so it makes no difference"
Sure. So, if it makes no difference, how about you don't use it at all? Ah, but you actually want it, which means that to some degree, there is a market there. (If there is want, there is a market).
Look at the big picture. Millions of people download and use pirated works. But, if piracy was not an option at all, do you think that they would stop downloading music or reading books or watching movies? No. Instead, they would consider other ways of getting access to the stuff. They might not go and splurge on DVDs, but they might get some cheap subscriptions
"Pirated copies advertise the work, which results in higher sales".
There is a part of truth there, but it is offset by the fact that people who use pirated "free" copies will recommend their friends to do as they did, so it doesn't necessarily result in additional sales.
More importantly, every person who uses pirated copies gives a poor example to those around them. They make it look as if it was "OK". Why do people consider taking a car without paying to be theft but are "fine" if it's a song or a piece of software?
Simple. Because there is enough people doing it, thereby demonstrating that it is "all right". "Bob is a good, honest guy who wouldn't never steal and he downloads songs for free from the net, so it must be OK".
Not to mention that a regular guy can't "keep up with the Jones" when the Jones aren't paying for their stuff. Kid goes to school and everybody else has a thousand songs on their iPod, which they haven't paid for, of course. And now he gets the choice between spending his full allowance to get a few tracks or get songs "for free" from his friends and spend his allowance on things that require "real money".
The single biggest issue with piracy is that it creates a culture in which it's not only "ok" not to pay for the stuff you use, but it's even "the smart choice".
Buying software, music... is a cultural issue
"Get on with the times" say the pirates to the music industry, the software industry and the movie industry. "You guys need a new business model".
Aside of the fact that pirates tend to be short on advice when it comes to what the new business model will be, what they should really be worrying is that these industries will end up taking the advice at heart, and instead of letting you buy what you want (current system), they will either work out a way to get money from you indirectly or collapse.