Sunday, August 12, 2007

Software piracy.. we need to re-evaluate our definition.

Let me throw away my "Ms Universe" stance and admit that I am a hypocrite. I want to get stuff for free but I want others to pay for the things/softwares I create/produce. Apparently there are a lot of people who think like me, a lot of them do not produce/create anything.. they basically want stuffs for free.. which leads to piracy.

First of all, we need to assert the true meaning of the word Pirate; basically a thief/burglar working mostly off-shore. What do you need to do to be a pirate? umm... kill few people, take their belongings and perhaps wear an eye patch (Arrrrr..). Now how did the word piracy come to mean a guy sharing his music/software while still retaining the original copy of the music/software, I'll never know. The word coined by the likes of MPAA and RIAA (perhaps one of them but am not sure) totally defaces the normal norms required for the existence of a society.

By this time most of you anti-piracy advocates would be yelling : THERE SHOULD BE A REWARD FOR INNOVATION. Sure.. there should be one, but creating something does not justify being greedy. Apple developed iPOD in 6 months and as of April 2007 has sold 100 million copies.. isn't that a big enough reward. Harry Potter and the deathly hallows was the most preordered book in history and J.K.Rowling is a millionaire.. isn't that a big enough reward. Yes they are loosing couple of million dollars.. am sorry that they wont be able to buy the unicorn and a gold coated private jet.

Software Pirates are not kleptomaniacs who just download anything off the internet... just the stuff they dont want to pay for. E.g I will never download 300 or watch it on the television.. but I wont pay $10 to watch You, Me and Dupree in a theater. Being a movie junkie, I cant resist seeing the movie either.

Digital piracy is here to stay. Why? Because reverse engineering is always easier than engineering and the people who crack the DRMs and torrent the files are much more smarter than the people who put the DRM in the first place. Its a cold war thats going on between the sofware geeks and the stuffy corporate marketing managers on a turf where the geeks have spent their whole life... it's not too difficult to predict the outcome with most of the major players shunning DRM and MPAA/RIAA. Also the American law forbids the export/import of any strongly encrypted software (i.e. can't be cracked by NSA).. which means that the technology is always going to be crackable.

Lets do the math now.
US population: 301,139,947
Broadband Access: 40,876,000
Lets restrict our calculation to movies. Percentage of illegal movie downloads= 20%
Note that I am just considering broadband users so have accordingly bumped up the percentage by a conservative estimate of 2% (the source mentions 18% total).
=>Total number of Americans downloading movies= 8,175,200 (the real number is actually 25 million).
Number of cases filed= 87
Probability of getting caught = 87/8,175,200=.000001

Need I say more!!

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