Updates:

December 1, 2003

  • My predictions for the latest trends in piracy seem to come true every year. But I really can't think of a significant one for next year. I think the movie industry will have a much more visible battle with piracy, and perhaps the music industry will finally see the results of their efforts to work with the file sharing community instead of against it. We have already seen the movie industry increase their efforts against piracy by ending the use of screeners. This has pissed off a lot of independent film makers, and I think it will only help a little bit in fighting piracy.
  • DVD piracy is very easy now. 321studios, which sells the popular DVD X Copy software is to my surprise still up and running, fighting off lawsuits from the movie industry. Although it is super simple now days to rip a DVD with a free program called DVD Shrink, then copy it to a DVD with nero. DVD shrink allows you to compress the movie so that it will fit on one 4.7 Gigabyte DVD.
  • Most commercial DVDs now days are dual layered, which means that they can hold somewhere around 9 Gigabytes. So someone either needs to use a program like DVD shrink to compress the movie, or else use two 4.7 Gigabyte recordable DVDs. In a year or two I hink we will see dual layered recordable DVDs though.
  • We have also seen increases in recording speed, up to 8X now, and dual format DVD burners which support both DVD-R/W and DVD+R/W. Burners are as cheap as CD-R burners now. I have seen them for $60 after rebate, normally $120, and media under $1.50 each.
  • I think a DVD burner is an important item for anyone who has a sizable DVD collection to own. Consumers should have the option of backing up their DVDs.
  • A hot issue is Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM is a system which restricts "the use of digital files in order to protect the interests of copyright holders. DRM technologies can control file access (number of views, length of views), altering, sharing, copying, printing, and saving. These technologies may be contained within the operating system, program software, or in the actual hardware of a device."
  • I found it interesting to note that recently Jon Lech Johansen, who was the 15 year old kid who broke the DVD copy protection system (CSS) a few years back has again broken another important copy protection system, the Apple ITunes MP3 system. This guy must be a genius. I don't know why some company like apple doesn't hire him right now instead of prosecuting him.
  • It is great to see that the music industry is adapting by coming out with pay MP3 systems such as ITunes and a pay-based napster. While the RIAA has tried their despicable scare tactics of suing 12 year old girls who download MP3s from kazaa, I think the future looks better for the music industry. CD prices have been lowered in some cases, and hopefully this will become a trend. I think music piracy will soon peak, and may lower soon.
  • If the music industry does this right, then hopefully the movie industry will learn a good lesson. Consumers are pissed off with the current system. Who the hell wants to pay $10+ for a movie ticket? There are very few movies that any of us would pay that kind of money to go see.
  • We have also seen the recent introduction of more companies following the Microsoft system of activating software over the internet or the phone before it can be used. Although I find this to be very annoying, I think it is effective in fighting piracy.... somewhat. It is no longer easy for a person to copy a CD and serial number from their friend. But smart crackers are going to find ways around any copy protection system (such as Jon Johansen). Look at what happened to Intuit and their TurboTax software earlier this year. They implemented the Macrovision SafeCast/C-Dilla DRM system. This forced users to activate their product, and only allowed them to use the software on one machine. This system included a spyware component which pissed a lot of people off, including me, and forced them to switch to taxcut. Consequently, Intuit says that TurboTax for next year will by spyware free.

December 7, 2002

  • Well, I noticed that someone submitted this site to be listed on Yahoo.  As far as I can tell, it was sometime in October.  Well, thanks to whoever did it.  There seem to be a lot more people looking at this page than ever before.
  • If you want to e-mail me, beware that I get 30-100 spam per day at my hotmail account, and very close to zero legitimate e-mail.  If you want to contact me, put in all caps as the subject PIRACY WEB SITE, or something like that so I will notice it.  Or else do some investigating and find a different e-mail address to contact me at.  It should be pretty easy to find one.
  • I've had a few people ask me if they could quote something I said in their paper.  That's fine, but you don't really need to ask.  It would still be cool if you told me about it though.
  • One new trend I can see happening in piracy is in the area of movie piracy.  Re-writable DVD drives are becoming incredibly cheap now, and I think a lot of people will start to use them to copy DVDs in the near future.  Also, DivX piracy is becoming huge, as I expected.  I heard that the new Harry Potter movie was floating around the net a day before it hit theaters.  The movie industry is starting to take serious notice now.
  • There seems to be a significant increase in e-book piracy too.  But, I don't see it taking off like DivX & MP3 unless the industry can come out with small, portable, non-PDA e-book devices that everyone buys.  Reading a long e-book on a computer doesn't seem very comfortable to me, and a PDA screen is just too tiny.
  • Fast internet connections have made piracy of just about anything possible to everyone.  File size is not a huge issue anymore, and peer-to-peer programs make finding what you want easier than ever.  People are pirating games for the latest video game systems after disabling copy protection devices with Mod Chips.  And people are also pirating CD Images (ISOs) of games and computer programs because it doesn't take much more time to download a full CD than it would to download a version that has movie clips and other non-essential stuff ripped out. 
  • I can't imagine the threat of piracy diminishing any time soon.  It is only going to get worse, and I think the movie, music, and gaming industry should accept this and come up with new ways to deal with it.  I don't think there are too many copy-protection schemes that haven't been broken.  And when a company introduces one that it claims can't be broken, it only encourages crackers to work harder to come up with a way to beat it.  The previously mentioned industries should embrace the internet and the potential media distribution power that it holds.  They should open up their own pay-based napster type systems, because that may be their only way to "beat" piracy.

August 12, 2001

  • This page has really been a work in progress since fall 1998.  The page started out as a digital version of a research paper I had to write for my Intermediate Writing class.  Then in fall 2000, I updated, expanded, and created new topics for the page, and gave it a new design for an assignment in my Professional Writing class.  I forgot about this page for about a year, so I'm bringing it back again.  In the 3 years that the old site has been up I have received many comments from all over the world from people who found the page useful, and were using my work in their research papers.  Feel free to use my work, if you acknowledge me in your works cited/bibliography.  And if you do, please let me know, and send me a copy of your paper too if you want. Drop me a line for whatever reason; whether you hate this site or find it useful:  bcole1@hotmail.com

  • Like I said, I have updated and added topics.  One of the new topics that really didn't exist in 1998 is movie piracy.  Even in 2000, it wasn't very wide spread.  The movie industry is starting to take serious notice now because of the increasing availability of high speed internet connections and peer-to-peer file sharing programs.  I feel like this is the "next big thing" like MP3s were around 1998.  It won't be the last thing that becomes popular to pirate though.  I think there may be an increase in the piracy of e-books soon, since more and more book are becoming available digitally at the same time as they are available for print.  The increase in popularity of PDAs and e-book devices may bring about an increase in e-book piracy.  Perhaps in a year or two I'll have another reason to update this site.  I could probably double the amount of information on this site with what I have learned in the last year.  But for now, I'm sorry if the links and information are somewhat outdated.

Introduction

"Worldwide losses due to software piracy were a staggering $12.2 billion in 1999" (SPA). "In 1997, the worldwide estimate of losses [due to piracy] was approximately $5 billion" (RIAA). "Worldwide piracy is estimated to have cost the U.S. entertainment software industry $3.2 billion in 1998" (IDSA). From the facts shown above, computer piracy is a costly business for many companies. Although there are many advantages in piracy for the end user, the damage done to the industry in lost revenue, increased prices, and lost jobs is staggering. The advantages do not outweigh the disadvantages. The chances of being caught are increasing with several anti-piracy organizations hunting down offenders. Creative pirates have come up with many arguments as to why they think piracy is legal, or why it should be. But, contrary to what many of the uninformed pirates believe, most of their arguments are invalid. The organizations are lobbying the government to pass new laws to close the loopholes in which pirates escape, and to increase the already large fines which offenders must pay. With the tremendous expansion of the Internet, anti-piracy efforts need to be re-evaluated and modified to address this new, powerful instrument of piracy.

Computer Piracy is the unauthorized reproduction of a copyrighted work without the consent of the copyright holder. Computer piracy started in the late 60's and early 70's when programs run on the computer "switched from hard wiring to data cards" (Dakin, 20). While the computer industry became more advanced, so did the methods and types of software piracy.

In the early days, computer programs were very small. The means of transfer was slow. With the increase of program size, the method of data transfer has evolved from computer disks holding 0.360 MB to recordable CDs holding 650 MB. Ways of transferring information have gone from giving your friend a disk with software, to local bulletin board systems, to the globe spanning Internet.

Rising costs of software, and increases in technology have also made piracy more appealing. Methods have been developed so you can fit 10+ hours of music onto a single CD, and play your favorite video and arcade games, and movies that are still in the theater on your computer.

Why pay $2000 for a program when you can download it for free in just a couple of hours? Why should you buy a music CD with 10 songs for $15, when you can have one with 10 of your favorite songs from the artists you choose, for a few pennies? And why would you pay $40 for a video game, when you can fit over 700 different games on a CD to play on your computer, for next to nothing? The answer that most legitimate consumers would give as to why they don't pirate are the negative effects that piracy has.

The effects of computer piracy are numerous. The consumers of piracy run the risk that their computers may be infected with viruses. Pirates also receive no documentation, and no technical support. Pirates run the risk of massive fines and possible jail sentences if they are caught.

Developers suffer greatly from piracy. The combined amount of lost revenue from different types of piracy totals in the billions every year. Developers use part of their revenue for research and development for future versions. If there isn't money to sustain R&D, then the developers won't be able to hire new employees. "There were 130,000 jobs lost due to software piracy in the U.S. alone in 1996" (BSA).

Legitimate consumers also feel the effects of piracy. They pay higher prices for the product. They also miss out on new versions of software due to companies going out of business.

To combat piracy, the developers have formed many different organizations. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Software Publishers Association (SPA) were formed to fight software piracy. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the main combatant in music piracy. And the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) is the advocate for the video and computer game companies.  The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) fights movie piracy.

Computer piracy can be divided into four main areas

  • Software (Warez)
  • Music (MP3)
  • Movies (Divx, Asf, Real Video, and other compression formats)
  • Console Video Games (Emulation)

One advantage of using a computer to perform these types of piracy is that each copy of a program, song, video, or game is an exact replica of the original. Unlike copying a movie on your VCR, or a song off of the radio, or from a friend's CD to a tape, there is no degradation in the quality.

[ Next - Warez ]

 


Copyright 2000-2003
Brian Cole
bcole1@hotmail.com