from the reddit:-making-the-impossibly-cool-seem-almost-commonplace dept
A recent Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything, for the .005% of readers who aren't aware) featuring Peter Sunde, co-founder of the Pirate Bay, had a visitor drop by to pay his respects… and nearly derail the whole thing.
The perception of the Pirate Bay as a lawless infringement paradise makes it an unlikely entity for a software developer to be praising, even with a few reservations. But this is what Notch, the creator of
Legos Minecraft, had to say when coming face-to-face with Peter Sunde.
How much money have I lost because of this? Do I need it? God knows I certainly work hard enough to deserve it. That said, thanks for making the world a better place.
Notch and TPB go way back, or at least Notch and piracy do. Minecraft has proven hugely successful for the developer (check out the “Do I need it?” link), much of that due to the sort of “rampant infringement” that makes Chris Dodd and Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot cry themselves to sleep at night (and craft terrible DRM strategies during the day). The difference between Notch and the aforementioned weeping sleepers is his refusal to equate piracy with either “theft” or “lost sales.”
Piracy is not theft. If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world.
There is no such thing as a 'lost sale'… Is a bad review a lost sale? What about a missed ship date?
Notch addressed the “lost sale” fallacy again, following up on a question from another Redditor.
Do you think the sales that you've made through pirate versions are worth the number of downloads? I know I bought the real Minecraft after testing it out via. pirate software, as I do with most worthwhile software.
This is an extremely interesting question. For a game like Minecraft, I definitely believe it's at least broken even because the game has quite a long lifespan and has viral aspects in that people enjoy sharing what they create in and with the game. More users means more talking about the game, which means more sales.
For other games, I think piracy can definitely negatively affect the total number of units sold. This is especially true for hollywood style big story heavy big productions that are only expected to sell well and stay in the public conscience for a few months. That still doesn't mean anyone has actually LOST any money, as a bad review also can affect the total number of sales, and hopefully nobody thinks it would be sane to sue magazines for “loss of profit” over bad reviews.
And for a few games where there's a per-user cost, piracy can definitely be directly harmful to the company.
As Notch states, no one's suing magazines for bad reviews… yet. And that day may never come, especially if a convenient scapegoat like “piracy” can be asked to shoulder the blame for lousy sales. As for the statement about per-user cost, Notch is referring to ProjectZomboid, which was taken down, not because of piracy itself, but because of a glitch in the program that downloaded the entire game from Zomboid's cloud server any time the player clicked the “Update Now” button, racking up bandwidth charges for the developers. Unlike a torrent, where the delivery cost is footed by every user, Zomboid was footing the bill for bandwidth on its own. Not your usual “taken down because of rampant piracy” situation.
And then there's his response to a Redditor's simple “I'm sorry.”
For what? Pirating the game?
I strongly believe individual rights are much more important than corporate rights, and I consider piracy to be an extremely minor offense. It's less harmful than jaywalking.
Organized and business run copyright infringement where people try to make money of someone else's work is a problem, but people sharing stuff casually is just barely even worth talking about…
This is the part that is often overlooked when the usual suspects begin decrying piracy. They choose to conflate it with counterfeit goods, child pornography, drug trafficking, terrorism… whatever it takes to make individual, non-commercial file sharing look like criminal behavior.
Thousands of individuals sharing stuff they like adds up. But attempts to place this behavior in the same basket as commercial enterprises that sell pirated content just make the person doing the basket-loading look ridiculous. As Notch says, casual file sharing is “barely worth talking about.” This sort of behavior has gone on since the day of cassettes (for music and software) and isn't going away anytime soon.
By taking a more pragmatic approach to infringement, creators may find that an entity like The Pirate Bay isn't the enemy — or at least, not the only one or even the worst one. Attacking The Pirate Bay also attacks its users, and its users are people you want on your side, not fighting against you. Notch sees both the upside and downside of free (and uncompensated) distribution and his solution has been to craft something that people want to pay for, even after they've already picked it up for free. Part of that profitable equation is an awesome product. The other part is simply being awesome — something that's much easier to do when you're not painting potential customers as freeloading pirates.
(This really was Peter Sunde's AMA, so I'm going to give him the last word with this particularly hilarious response to a somewhat loaded question.)
Leeches: you have been served.
Filed Under: brokep, markus persson, minecraft, notch, peter sunde
Companies: mojang, the pirate bay