LGJ: Revising Piracy Strategy

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LGJ: Revising Piracy Strategy

Post by havoc802 on Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:07 am



It appears the music industry has decided to opt for a strategy more in line with what I've described, according to the Wall Street Journal (via GamePolitics).
It's definately a move in the right direction for a number of reasons,
but would the same apporach work for the game industry? And would it be
the right approach?

Let's start by examining the reported new
RIAA strategy, which really makes two key changes. First, it alters the
strategy to request ISPs issue warnings to file sharers, and then those
who continue stand to have their service cut off. The second change is
that this strategy goes into action when the RIAA, to quote the
article, 'finds a provider's customers making music available online
for others to take.' In short, rather than focusing on the demand,
they're focusing on the supply. The RIAA does reserve the right to sue
repeat offenders, but by and large, they're using the threat of loss of
internet as their main punishment rather than lawsuits.

Could the game industry do the same? Certainly. Is it a perfect
strategy for the game industry? Not quite, but then again, the game
industry also hasn't been as active in using lawsuits against the end
consumer. Really, there are a few key differences between the means
behind video game piracy and music piracy that will limit the success
of this strategy in the US. First and foremost, while games are
certainly pirated over BitTorrent and other peer to peer means, they
are often seeded overseas. Game piracy, like software piracy, is a far
more global issue. Music piracy, on the other hand, tends to be far
more localized based on music availability and popularity. You're more
likely to find a seed of a US album in the US than you are in some of
the traditional foreign sources of piracy.

This differential
roots itself back to the early days of online piracy. Software and game
piracy has been far more consistent, dating back to the warez sites of
the 1990s. Music piracy, on the other hand, exploded with the advent of
peer to peer file sharing with Napster around the year 2000. Yes,
software made its way into the peer to peer realm as well, but it was
still a more global entity. What this means is that unless you have the
cooperation of international ISPs, then you won't be able to get the
same results from the ISP based approach.

Similarly, there's
still significant game piracy internationally with hard copies,
something that hasn't been nearly as popular in the music piracy
circles. It's something that's received new life on eBay
in recent years. The game industry, really, has a two front fight
whereas the RIAA can largely focus on file sharing. This isn't to say
the RIAA doesn't address hard copies of pirated material, just that
piracy of that kind isn't as widespread in that medium.

Of course, none of this should suggest that the game industry
take up the abandoned approach of the RIAA. In fact, they're by and
large already employing a variant on the RIAA's new strategy.
Specifically, go after the source of pirated material, not the people
who end up with it. It's not even necessarily the most beneficial route
to target those who are cracking the software. Cracking in and of
itself isn't the primary problem, it's the distribution of the cracked
copies. After all, the idea behind piracy prevention is to ensure the
developer is compensated through sales for the work they put into the
product. Where that is truly hampered is when illegal copies are
distributed in the marketplace, and other points in the process, while
certainly related and possibly a good source of information to get to
the root of the problem, aren't the most efficient place to focus
limited resources.

After all, piracy prevention is another
business expense, and like any expense, it should be optimized as much
as possible. The RIAA has certainly found a way to minimize costly
litigation in favor of a new approach. It will be interesting to see if
groups like the ESA continue to avoid the RIAA's previous enforcement
mistakes in favor of more innovative means of piracy control.

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