Future Tense: Piracy Revisited



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I first started reading your books in 1989. I purchased the book, “When HARLIE was one” and quickly then attempted to locate the rest of your body of work. At the time, “A Rage for Revenge” had come out and the first two books had been reprinted so I purchased them and read them as well. I also read some of your work in the college library.

The rest of your work I purchased at a (gulp!) used bookstore. Looking at my collection of David Gerrold novels, most of them are from this source. Books such as “Space Skimmer,” “Deathbeast,” “Yesterday’s Children,” etc. were not available from any other source as the internet was in its infancy and the bookstores which sell new books (Border’s, Waldenbooks, etc.) did not carry these titles. I read and thoroughly enjoyed all of these books that I would not otherwise have read.
However, now that I read this article, I realize that, since I did not purchase the book new, that I probably did not purchase anything resembling a “license” to the work. Certainly none of my money went to the artist.

Purchasing from a used book store superficially resembles software piracy. The main difference is that only one copy may be purchased from the used bookstore rather than any number of them. However, the principle is similar in that the author is not recompensed for what is in effect a secondary market. I suppose I could have contacted you; however, I did not see the used bookstore as being a criminal enterprise.



Well Mr. Gerrold, you have again managed to touch my heart with a beautifully written article. You have also reminded me of my guilt (as I sit here typing this in class) and how I am not truly experiencing what is going on around me. I'll be sure to turn my phone off more often from now on. I'd like to thank you for writing this and seeing what some of us may have noticed, but few of us have really had this much or this kind of insight. Much appreciated Sir. 



I believe that emusic.com has the right idea regarding music downloads. they offer alot of indie stuff as well as mainstream.they offer package plans instead of charging per download.i wish that the other music services worked this way also/.i believe it would cut down immensely on illegal downloading of music/.


There will always be the argument however ,from people that claim that they wouldn't have bought the product to begin with  so how is downloading a song illegally for free  stealing it?

there actually is some logic to that .

i've known quite a few people my own age who are disabled and unemployed and can't afford to pay for music thusly they use p2p like frostwire.

there will always be arguments for and against./i view the circumstances involved moreso than the general illegality sometimes,regarding this subject.




Internet book piracy might be more like an easement. Mark owns his front yard. However, if you take a short cut across it for six years, and he does nothing to stop you, you create a right of way. Now, Mark owns his front yard, but you and every one else have the right to walk across it on that path you trod.

If he wants to sell his home, his property is worth less because of the public easement/right of way.



 S, I'm sitting at my laptop, reading all these amazing comments and decided I liked them so much I hit save page as so i could read these at a later date while offline. uhoh i made a "copy" of this page for free!!!! did i steal this webpage????????????????? HELP me before i get caught!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

anyways just messing around, love the comments and the article



"You've been Sarge'd" - Sarge Red vs. Blue



my opinion is that people should pay more attention to their personal data... identity theft is much more damaging on a personal (micro) basis while commercial piracy has a macro effect because we all have to pay more and are subject to stricter rules... the suggestion I have is for the masses who use smart phones, iPhone, Droid, Palm, Blackberry, etc to be wise, don't share or sync over an unsecure link... try a webDAV app and a free account from SwissDisk, it's always encrypted end-to-end ... thanks David Gerrold for trying to be a moral, ethical and just voice, however you have a major uphill battle trying to fight the spys and thieves 



i'm definitly against piracy, but seriously, calling it stealing as equivalant to taking a car or anything from a house is just wrong. Adobe realized a long time ago, along with companies like stardock (see interviews where they talk about development of non gaming software), that a illegal download does not, and in fact almost never means a lost sale. Mr. Gerrold in fact what you should understand is that some things people simply will not buy. No offense but nobody was planning on buying you're specific episode of star-trek. But I understand your perspective, lets say they were going to specifically buy material you made. I'll even pretend I am going to buy your book heres my thought process "Wow, this author is great i'm interested to learn about his wiritings and I am going to pay $20 for his book." Followed buy buying your book.


Now in contrast a pirates throught process is generally one of the following: "I heard this guy was a good author, but I don't know that he is, let alone that his book is worth $20." (sorry but its what many people realistically think, or perhaps in the case of photoshop "Wow its great, but I don't have $599 lying around or anything even close to that." that last one can be true to a greater extent for people who possibly are suffering economically and thinking "It's great but im $5,000 in debt and have no job (or living paycheck to paycheck)".


Adobe knows that the people pirating it, for whatever reason they had, were not going to fork over the cash for it, thats the primary reason why products from companies like Adobe and Autodesk are so expensive, aside from the fact that they are well designed and made programs, they know that they generally arn't trying to sell it to the daily consumer, they are selling it to companies and the hardcore consumer. Companies and certain people won't pirate things like that, and so long as they are the standard and the best made product, they may as well have the price as high as possible. Because of this combined amazing product, and high price, you have one of the most pirated pieces of software ever.


But honestly, and let me say this again, I disagree with piracy, only thing I've pirated was like 2 or 3 really old games that were no longer being sold, even that I didn't really care for. But back to the point at hand. The producer like yourself, or creater of the content, gets paid based off of what they sell generally. Photoshop sells a lot of copies, and a lot of copies are shared. But it's called file sharing, there is literally an infinite amount of copies you can make of photoshop or anything digital, for zero cost. Your products, cost you nothing (except for inital investment), but they cost nothing after production, digital copies of these products however, costed you nothing, and if they are being shared by and to others, they are not stealing from you.


I know people who produce music, I know artists who write music, i've worked/work in music production. If anyone should feel robbed its the people in my office. Sure, would we perfer that everyone that took music paid for it? Yes, but we know its impossible, we know that our music wasn't going to sell 10,000,000 copies but that may be how many times it was torrented. We appreciate it, the people who will buy it, will certainly buy it, even if theres a 12:1 pirate to buyer ratio I still love that there are millions more people who can listen to the music.


David, thats what seperates an artist from a profiteer. An artist actually values the pervasivness of their work, when you're finished on a project, whether it may be an album or perhapse a book. If you are an artist, you wan't the entire world to read it and the only capacity money serves is that of a way to recoup your losses making somthing. Other then that a true artist wants their art to be propagated to the world. I mean no offense, but if you cannot accept people pirating it and even perhaps appreciate the consumers of your creations then I don't believe your a true artist.

Mr. Gerrold I don't like bashing you too much, but your articles, while at first they seemed fairly unbaised and taking a fair evaluation of the industry, have begun to look like a press release from parliphone or any other major lable like dominoe. 


The only sense that your frankly horrible analogy would make sense is if you could magically create exact copies of the steak, the books, the dvd's even the car, then simply take them. If you could do that, I feel that 'Mark17' would have no problem with you taking it, in fact if he could share good things with someone else he would help, he would be enthusiastic. And you, would be getting all of that for free, but at the same time you were selling some of those copies to other people who were willing to pay for these things Mark17 created.


Mark Hanchey

I'm curious as to where this sense of entitlement by pirates comes from. They have a choice to not watch, listen, read, or use items that are for sale. Instead of doing that they use excuses to try justify their actions. There is nothing about anything sold as content or copyright that is a requirement to live. They don't have to watch every movie that comes out. Clearly the content has value to them because they are willing to pay for the pc, internet connection, electricity and time to obtain the content. So what is the cost to the pirate per download ? It comes down to they are willing to pay but not what the content creator wants. 

I could understand pirating if things were being represented as one thing and then the terms change after someone hands over the money, but that isn't the case here. When someone works to make content and state clearly before the sale that these are their terms and the buyer accepts them and pays for the content that is a choice the buyer has made.   If a movie studio releases content and I don't like the terms I can walk away. The concept that if I don't like your terms I will make my own terms is wrong in so many ways. In essence pirates are telling the people that produced the content they have no right to control what happens with what they created.


Maybe content creators should start flooding torrents with programs designed to delete all of a persons data. They did not take anything from the pirates, it was just 0's and 1's . Whats that ? The data had value ? To me it didn't have any value, I wouldn't have paid for what was on the hard drive . 



It seems to me as an avid reader of Maximum PC and other publications 'not to be named', that the issue of media piracy has been addressed by a slew of passionate and outspoken authors and notables over the last few years. As the trend towards popular reliance on the internet for a wide variety of media to include everything from news & gossip, educational & reference materials, and entertainment media (i.e. music, movies, games, etc...) has resulted in a virtual black market dealing in this same media. The point made in David Gerrold's original article was that media providers as a whole have lost their focus on creating media and distributing it to their target audience in modern and more appealing ways, thereby creating legal and legitimate channels for obtaining that media and undermining the impact of the black market. His point is both relevant and accurate, however, I propose that the problem and its inevitable solution will make everyone think twice about downloading that "free" game hack or pirated song/video. It is absolutely true that music and video piracy is harmful to the development and sustainability of those industries because they rely on the revenue generated by the distribution of their existing media to provide capital for new projects. Even songs written by long dead artists and movies produced back when movies were shot in black and white provide for this ongoing production cycle. Authors and publications rely on their existing works to provide revenue to fund future projects as well, and the production of quality software that enhances the capabilities of our personal computers is no less costly. So how does an author, an artist, a computer programmer, a music producer, or a filmmaker recoup the cost of "free" access via the internet? Quite simply, the only way is to tax the user.

The problem with easily accessible digital media is also its greatest asset; it is all brought to you the consumer via the internet which we are all subject to accessing through our various internet providers. It is not a problem of file sharing, unauthorized copying of digital media, or the proliferation of the media from one person to another. It is an issue of access at the other end where the user has complete control of what media they choose to receive. If I was a betting man, and I have been known to gamble on occasion when I can measure the odds, I would propose that in the next 5-10 years instead of creating copy write protection schemes and chasing after private citizens for accessing media without a license to distribute, the aforementioned industries and their respective governing bodies will sue for the right to charge the user at the point of access. It is the most cost efficient and least inconvenient method of ensuring that the producers of digitally accessible media can continue to make high quality products that attract the attention of their target audience without alienating or aggravating their intended audience with anti-piracy schemes. No one said the answer would be pretty, and no one likes the idea of big brother looking over their shoulder to watch what they download. But, in all fairness to the people who take the time to create the stuff we enjoy, they deserve to get paid for their efforts, and it is a lot less costly to trample on your non-constitutional "right to privacy", than it is to prosecute a person for illegal file-sharing.



At the end of the day, there is nothing that can be said to make either side more sympathetic to the other. However there is a way to decide. You do what you think is right, moral and just, and I will do the same.

One last thing to remember though, at one point or another, the children of today will be the policy makers of tomorrow, and based on their views the landscape will change to benefit them.

Whether we like it or not.



first of all, at least write to the demographic that continues to return to the site. all this article accomplished is alienating its readers. the analogy used was poorly conceived. closer would be you coming into my house and taking the spare change off my dining room table every couple days. thats all our money is to the riaa and mpaa, spare change. maybe if they understood that raising prices lowers sales, and vice versa. unfortunately people are greedy. so why shouldnt we treat them with the same contempt and greed. especially when they try to tell me transformers 2 is worth more than a dollar.



Dear Mr. Gerrold,

It appears to me sir that you don't have any idea of what torrents are. My question is how a such good magazine like "Maximum PC" allows people who do not have any idea about technology to write articles and answer questions of users inappropriately. Never mind! Let’s get back to the point.

First of all, you used the word "piracy" with wrong meaning. Piracy does not have anything in common with copying and what the torrents actually do (I can assure you that the torrents copy and do not steal). Even your nine-year-old son can tell you the difference between stealing and copying if you do not understand it. Stealing is when you take the whole thing and keep it for yourself. Copying is when you make a replica of something that already exists. (Check it in the dictionary).

Mark17 asked you the right question; however, you do not understand it. So let me explain it to you the easy way, like to a little child. If a product is free, nobody will ever be able to steal it. Why? Because the product will be distributed free on the market and anyone can use it or/and benefit from it. It is simple logic. When you go to his house, and take stuff, you are definitely stealing, but what people do with torrents is copying. You just make a replica of the content without taking it.

Third, there are more than 3 billion people around the world. It is impossible that everyone think for completely different things. There will be at least two individuals who created the same invention, without even seen eachother. If you have ever noticed the songs and movies look pretty familiar. It is like a "De ja vu"(it is in French and it means "Already seen"). Tell me my little article writer, why singers and movie producers are allowed to steal from each other and even present it as their own and benefit from it, and we, the users, are not allowed to benefit from something that was already on the market few years ago? For example, the movie that everybody loves-"Avatar". Doesn't it remind you of "Dancing with the wolves" and the American history? I really hope i opened your eyes about it, because it seems that people paid their roughly 90 minutes of experience for the computer effects. If it was all about effects, I can make them at home as well. If other people are allowed to copy, why we are not? Is it only me that thinks that only the people who do not give a damn about the law benefit the most and the normal guy suffer because of him?

Forth, we are living in a world that lives through communication. It wasn't long time ago when people began to use internet on their cell phones. Communication is what the world is spinning around. A dream of the Dark Age’s messengers wished for. People now share thoughts, ideas and guess what, files most of it multimedia. Information is everywhere around us. First came the operation systems. How does this have anything to do with piracy? I bought the OS and the thing I like the most are the functions "copy" and "paste". Now I can copy pictures, text, files and paste them wherever and as much as I want. Is it my fault that these two options are there and I am using the thing I am paying for? Have you ever checked your contract with your internet provider if there are any requirements that you are not allowed to copy, paste and download content from internet? I can assure you that there are no such things. Then the websites began making rules of what is and not allowed to do on their soil. None of them or anywhere is mentioned that I cannot copy or benefit from what is posted online. If the function Copy is not allowed and copy a picture, I can always use (and now pay attention, it is a hardware button) Print Screen and paste it in Paint and save it later. Well it seems that we are allowed to do what we want to do online sir. We can comment, criticize and download content. It is not the person who watches the movie that is breaking the law, but the person who posted it online.

I am pretty sure that you remember the old years with VCRs and Audio Cassettes. They also have in common with the copyright infringement. But let me tell you that nobody chased the people who recorded their song on an audio cassette and nobody also complaint about it. The music industry continued to develop. The VCRs then appeared and people were allowed to record the movies they want from their TV set FOR FREE. Nobody chased them either. So why is the big fuzz about that the industry loses money from something that is already allowed and you as a user already paid for when you bought your recording VCR? Nonsense!

The inconvenience of the companies is to make you pay for something that you don’t even want. Why I should pay 20 bucks for 20 songs from like only one? Why I have to pay for a movie that I did not like?

The entertainment is information. The easiest way that information is shared is through the media (TV, radio and internet). If the internet downloading is prohibited, that would stop the flow of information which will be against the law itself.

Let’s check now what I cannot do if downloading is prohibited:

I will not read your articles anymore

I will not be able to see all these banners from which so many companies benefit from

I will not be able to entertain myself with flash games

I will not be able to listen to music unless I bough it from the store which is 600 km away from me

Pretty much you will not be able to use your computer for anything else except as a box where you will keep dust.

I really hope that you are aware that Russia, China and India already stopped chasing the people for downloading content online. I can assure you that you can easily Google a movie and find it either with Chinese or Russian dub. Bu how these countries benefit? Why their entertainment never dies? The answer is pretty simple - ads. When a person enters Baidu and look for a song, he visits a website full of ads. As many hits certain website has, the more money it makes. The more money it makes, it takes part of it for the license of the media. Genius isn't it? Nobody complaints, and everybody is happy.

Did you dear Gerrold knew that you are also stealing from the companies? As in Bulgaria we like to say "Home cooking steals from the restaurants, and is more delicious". Viewed on this side, it means that if you do not go to restaurants to eat and spend money, you steal from them. You get up early in the morning and the first thing you do is to boil a coffee. But wait! Isn't the receipt the same as the one in the restaurants? You just copied a piece of information of how to make coffee. Wow! Such a clever law! It won't be very long until we get taxed by character in each SMS. Next step is to get patent over the English language, and everybody gets charged because they use something that is copyrighted. What would a regular person would do? Off course, it would invent other language, and talk for free.

To sum up, is it really us who break the law or we are actually allowed to benefit from what we have paid for? Isn't it the law that is obsolete or the companies just want to benefit from the court cases and earn a bit more money?

As we say in Bulgaria "когато ножът опре в кокала, тогава нещата се променят". Literally translated "when the knife reach the bone, the things get changed". Explained: when you get in the same situation your point of view will change. Nothing will ever stop right now the file sharing. It is impossible i guarantee it to you. What would happen in future? All companies will finally give up and find other way to benefit from whatever is possible.



P.S. I'm paying for everything I'm listening to or watchnig, just because it is illegal to download the content. It is necessary just to think about it to find out that it is logically correct to people to do what they want to do. Otherwise, why we ever elect people who represent us? If you do not someone to copy your invention or the content you have made, simply do not advertise it and keep it for yourself and from other people's laws. There is no privacy anymore, everybody is sharing, and "sharing is caring" and also the future.



Wow, that was really long post to show off your ignorance.  You shold have left it at what torrents do that was all it took the rest was just padding.



Wow, lots and lots of Ignorance.  The biggest points:

I still don't understand why people think that these companies just have lots of money from nowhere, It comes from sales.  For example movies are very expensive, and why are they?  Because they weren't made in your basement like you say you could create your own avatar special effects example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_biggest_box_office_bombs

Like I already posted you and people like you are greedy in thinking that everyone whose job is involved in creating intellectual property should just distribute their content for free just doesn't make sense at all.  That is what they sell, how can they make a living in their job if they don't sell it?

There is freely distribute content also, its called open source and freeware, and why is it free? Because the people who created it didn't put a price tag on it, most likely because the persons involved in its creation already have a different job, and its quality isn't the same as a professional product, like they couldn't sell it if they wanted to.  Like a college film compared to a box office film.  I'm not saying all open source sucks, its just easy to see the difference.



You attempt to dispell ignorance while having your own.

How much does acting pay? Why does it cost so much to get actors? In addition to that, movie crews do not get royalties. They're paid a flat rate. Kind of bullshitty, but I digress.

Yes, it's piracy. And yes, his loose change analogy was better. Piracy isn't the stealing of property, and neither is copyright infringement, etc. It's an ABSTRACT form of stealing money. Of course, the other side of it is "would I have paid anyway?" How many pirates would be paying customers?

Also, how many artists actually own their own work? Wholly. Who is going to come knocking down your door? The Label, the Studio, and the Publisher. NOT Johnny McMoviemaker or Harold Van Music or Mikey Don Writer. I'm with whoever said I'll follow my morals and you'll follow yours. Go ahead and obey the system, even if it's broken.

Also, do you think every person that downloads will never ever see a movie in theaters? Personally, I went and saw Avatar. In 3D. At an IMAX. It was pretty, but not particularly entertaining.

Not everyone says "it should be free." People who make good content should get paid to make good content (and hopefully will make more). A good portion of people on the piracy side of the argument tend to find that good content is rather hard to come by (and don't appreciate paying for shitty content).

You know, if they had their way, it'd be illegal for me to borrow my friend's DVD to watch it (A lost sale!) Actually, that's exactly what they did want. They didn't get it. The problem is "piracy" makes it way too fast and convenient for people to share what they have. It was ok when we shared at our slooow, in-person pace.

Also, their leaps in legislation probably have to do with... wait for it... IGNORANCE. It was fine and dandy when we had VHS and DVD (Even grandma can work it! Sorta.). But now we're getting into these fancy-pants thingamagigs and Judge Oldasdirt can't figure out this mouse thing.

Movies don't have to be expensive to be good. Promotion is kind of pricey... well-known actors are kind of pricey... Of course the tech can be pricey, but without a decent story (that isn't shameless) the movie will suck... Of course, just make lots of fire and explosions, with a touch of ass and titties (especially in slow motion) and you've got a hit (Transformers).

Free software doesn't have to be bad or less than their professional counterparts. Open source just means that you can view/modify (but not necessarily distribute) the source. You can have professional open source and you can have free closed source. Also, I like a lot of the free software I use. It works well and hasn't given me problems.....

...you ignorant twat. :)



I didn't see what ignorance you were trying to point out by my post, it seems you prove my points.  Except Three points that I disagree with but still don't prove any ignorance in my post, one, how much actors make, you should realize that not all actors in the entertainment business are rich  http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Actor_%2f_Actress/Salary/by_Years_Experience and take into account that there are a lot of no name actors in a movie that need to get paid also... you know all the names you don't know in the long list of credits at the end of a movie.

Two, I've seen this argument a lot.  People claim that they wouldn't buy the pirated content anyways so either way the people involved in its creation wouldn't get conpensation for their hard work and its distribution to the pirater, which in theory is correct but can we honestly conduct business that way?  If someone claims that they wouldn't buy it anyways they deserve a free copy?  It just doesn't make sense no matter which way you look at it.

Three, Artists may not always own their content, but you can't dispute the fact that the money they do get paid is from the sales of intellectual products by the company that they work for.  Is it really that hard to comprehend that for example an author makes money by the end result of his books being sold?

As for the rest of your post I don't know what ignorance your trying to point out, I don't argue the quality of open source, or the definition of piracy, or if some people pirate content as well as buy it, its the fact that it was pirated in the first place, or the quality of movies.  The fact remains that movies cost money to make and the compensation received from people paying to watching it in turn pays for its production and hopefully some profit, and pirating the movie takes away from that compensation (minus the people who wouldn't buy it anyways, lol they deserve a free copy) and an example of non-profit movies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_biggest_box_office_bombs of course lots of movies make profit but all that money goes to a lot of people and not equally distributed.




I didn't think I had to spell out that I was talking about the royalty-recieving, rich, well-known actors that can take a film from number 200 to the top 10 in movie sales, but I guess I did. I apologize for not being less inferring! It doesn't change my point. Let's take this to an extreme example... if a business commits a crime (false advertising let's say) but not everyone participated, it's ok? Making more (and I mean A LOT more) money for a bullshit reason.

 The second point is a moral dillema and related to the incomprehensibility of intellectual property (where you or a coporate entity get paid for all time for having or buying an idea - and yes, the law keeps making the time longer and longer and longer...). YES, business CAN be conducted if people who pirate wouldn't buy anyway. The sale isn't lost and there is only the moral delimma (or is there since you couldn't buy it anyway?!).

My main point about artistic ownership was how much art ends up being "just business." That, and I should mention Publishers and Labels are nearly obsolete (Labels moreso, Publishers are approaching it) because the cost to publish (digitally) and make music has dropped significantly. That is why it's hard for the industries to move on to new media because the business men in the middle want their money, even if its gonna hold back the industry from being more convenient for the consumer (and thus sales become easier to make). The music industry, for example, blames privacy for all their woes. I don't know about you, but I usually only wanted one or two songs off of most CDs.

In the context of movies, it's starting to approach the same place as Internet speeds increase (in the US at least - we're WAY low on the scale of speeds) making it easier to acquire large files (moving distribution from 1 sale, physical discs to reuseable, near-limitless distribution methods based on digital networks (TV and Internet).

It's EXPENSIVE to try to squash piracy to support the old business models. The reason they keep harping on it is because they want more money, and there's more money doing things the old way. I don't think you actually realize that sometimes change occurs by doing the "wrong" thing. You can't make parodies in Canada, for example. It's not about whether people who can't pay "deserve" a copy, it's about following the CONSUMER. Find a cheaper, more modern distribution method that costs less and/or is more convenient.

Dear Industry: Please change to a more convenient delivery method as it exists and will save you money. Wait, what? You want me to adapt to you? I pay you. What? You don't care? Well then... up yours...(torrents).

As for your open source comments: "its quality isn't the same as a professional product, like they
couldn't sell it if they wanted to" - I'd call that putting it down unless I missed some sarcasm.

I'm not claiming that every pirate on the planet has a thought in their head beyond "lol, i like musik," I'm just saying that it's NOT black and white like Johnny has an apple and Ron steals it, so Ron is a criminal. It's more akin to Johnny thought about starting an apple selling business, claimed the idea for his own, sold Ron an apple, Ron ate the apple, took the seeds, planted the trees, and the distributed the subsequent apples for free to people in his neighborhood. Some people still like Johnny's apple's better, or they like Johnny and not Ron (or they don't trust Ron), and some go to Ron for free apples because they live nearby or Johnny charges too much (because he has the apples individually wrapped). Johnny could instead spend that money on a delivery service, making it more convenient to get your Johnny's apples.

And... I got tired of writing. I'm not coming back and you may not read this. Whatever... :P



All the people that work in a job that involves the creation of intellectual property are not rich, in-fact its a difficult, competitive field to jump into.  Proof:

I make more than the max of all these jobs listed as a server administrator.

Someone compared these jobs to doctors in an earlier comment which is just ridiculous in so many ways, including the fact that doctors work on people not intellectual property, and in a very big pay difference.

So everyone that things that all intellectual property should be free, how are the people that made the content get paid? They already don’t get paid enough.  It sounds very greedy a lot of these post that people thing they are entitled to other people's intellectual properly and bitch because the creator wants money for doing their job.  This content is not open source.  Which open source is made to be publicly distributed, usually by people who already have a job and make open source in their free time.



Some people think the content should be free. Some people hate paying for bad content. Some people would never have paid anyway. Not everyone is in the same boat, but supports piracy.

Personally, I don't like the corporate side of intellectual property. Make content solely to make money, and throw how ever much money is needed to make that profit. Hang whoever stands in the way. Sacrifice the intellectual, artistic aspects if it means MOAR PROFITZZZ!! Of course, I'm talking music and movies. Software is a different story.

Also, most anti-piracy advocates (like the industries) think they've somehow come up with a way to quantify piracy.


Not unless we get all "1984" in this country. Even then, not all pirates would be customers.

And don't forget, music artists are starting to catch onto the relation of music piracy and increased concert sales. The Label makes more of the money on song sales, the artists does much better on stage.


David Gerrold

You have confused the issue.  You are assuming that a physical or digital copy gives you ownership of the content.  It doesn't.  

The content is the intellectual property of the person who created it.  

Your ownership of a physical copy is access to the content, that's all.  The same applies to a digital copy.  It is an access to the content that someone else has created.  

You do not own the content.  Be clear about this.  Ownership of a copy is not ownership of the content.  Your copy, digital or hardcopy, only grants you access to someone else's intellectual property.  Your copy is a limited license.  Is that clear enough?  

Now ... 'fair use' gives you the right to make a backup copy, lend your copy to a friend, reread the book, listen to the music as much as you want, watch the movie again or invite friends over, because you have paid for that access to the content.  

But you are not entitled to upload a copy to the internet -- because when you do that, you are uploading the content, which you do not own, for public distribution, which you do not have the authority, right, or license to do.

When you upload the content for others to copy, you are infringing on the right of the copyright holder to control the distribution of the intellectual property he owns -- he owns the content, you only own a copy.

So no matter how you try to justify it, distribution of other people's property is a crime.  Receiving copies of stolen property is also a crime.

While I personally do not like the copyright extortion tactics of the RIAA and the MPAA, because I think there are better solutions, I remain adamantly opposed to copyright infringement.  

No matter how you think you can justify it, you are causing damage to the legal owners of the content.  You are entitled to fair use of the copy you have paid for.  You are not entitled to distribute that content on the internet.  

And, BTW, I've been to Wrigley Field, but I prefer Dodger Stadium.  The Dodgers win a lot more games. 



Still, saying that an idea can be property is quite ridiculous. And trying to put a lock on people's freedom of speech (communicating over the internet), is against our rights. It's like saying that if someone tells a friend the plot of a movie, the lyrics of a song, or how it feels to play a game, it's illegal. Same thing over the internet, people are just sharing 1s and 0s with each other, that resemble a movie, or any other copyrighted software.


PS: Some reasons to make piracy legal: http://piracyfaq.com/



Think about it.


People deserve to get paid for the work they do, if a person doesn't create a good quality end product then don't give that person business. If you decide to use a product that someone else created and wishes to charge money for and we remove the choice of the creator (please don't come up with a need to justify piracy) to charge what they want for it. Ultimately thats what the whole debate about piracy is about. Is the creator/owner able to choose what they should charge for their product. When we pirate we tell that person that they have no right to decide what they should charge for their product.


What does this do?

well it elevates us above the creator. We give the resounding message that the creator has no sense in asking the price they are asking and take it for free. So essentially we are saying, keep creating content that we will keep using, but you have no right to try to use your skills to try feed yourself or your family with those skills, but we will happily  use/view/whatever the things you create.

I don't know about you... but doesn't that sound like slavery? don't we get upset when we hear about the working conditions at foxconn and about the suicides and whatnot?


how would we react if writers/programmers/whatever started committing suicide  due to their lost wages?

pirating software/movies/books/whatever is slapping the people who create said things a slap in the face, we are telling them they don't deserve to get paid, but we the consumer still deserve to reap the benefits of their hardwork. That sounds like slavery to me.


Think about this pirates: how angry would you be if your work told you your paycheck in a week was going to be 500 (after taxes) but then on friday you only got 350(after taxes) for that weeks work. I would be willing to guess that you would be right angry.

So why is the anger of people who create content we pirate not justified when they only recieve 350 when they were expecting 500? 




 Well, I just don't understand the moral code that some people have. I grew up knowing that taking a handful of candy from the corner store without paying for it is wrong. Today I'm happy to say I don't own any stolen or illegally acquired software, content, etc. I may have pirated in the past, but it dinged my conscience.

That being said, this comic explains the situation we face quite nicely. 




YES! This post made it through the Spam Filter!



Like everyone else probably mentioned or implied, pirating is not equal to breaking in.  By pirating, companies don't lose actually lose any money.  If someone steals physical items, companies lsoe money since it costs money to make those items.  However, with digital stuff, they can be copied as much as a person wants.  It doesn't actually cost money to make copies of music to sell.  Its not like making copies of MP3s to sell by companies actually costs money excluding licenses and all that.

Note:Forgive me if there are some errors as wording some things were tricky.


s1r 70nk

Hey David Gerrold,

I've backing up my movies and song that i have on disc cause i find that after owning my discs for a couple weeks that they don't play like they used to. I've even managed to do this backup with some of my records as well. Is it considered stealing if i have to burn a new copy of say Blood sweet and tear's album nuclear blues? Keep in mind i do have the vile copy its just every time i listen to it it damages the recordings on it.


I just don't want to lose awesome music.

 sir tonk 



I don't know if you are being sarcastic or not. If you are not, then it is considered stealing according to the *IAA. Personally though, I am doing the same thing as you.



+1 !



I enjoyed the last article and the discussion it caused, however
this article was professional suicide. The author is oblivious bias
towards his views as a creator and the readers are mostly bias to
views as consumers. I understand his view, being concerned for his
income. However most consumers believe they are "entitled"
to good valve for a good product and will pay accordingly, legal or

 I was a pc gamer pirate, then joined Steam I rebought all my
games and threw out all the pirated copies. In the country I live we
don't get sued for downloading. So why did I pay? Added value: Steam
updates my games, and to support the developers of games I like and
boycott with my wallet companies like Ubisoft.

 A download does not equal a lost sale. I pirated Stargate
Atlantis season 1-3, love them so much I bought season 1-5. So some
downloads equal sales. But apparently I "Owe" them for my
illegal download because it isn't considered the same content as a
DVD? Then how do you evaluate it's value? It's not like there is a
digital store I could have bought it in. So screw the movie industry
I will use my content how I choose, even it it some countries it is

 "They say you can buy there steak (media) on plate
(physical copy) and eat it. But if you put your steak (media) in a
bowl (digital) and eat you owe them money. They don't even sell
bowls. It is my Steak, I will consume it how I choose. legal or not.

 Where is our digital distribution for movies? Until
consumers get it they will Pirate them. I use Canflix but, I want
digital distribution (I can't get Netflix here).

 Finally to the author: If i download you book (Don't worry I
won't, I see no value in digital books and have no interest in ever
buying anything you ever made.), Do I owe you the price of a physical
book? Ok, now I download that same book 100 times. Do I owe you for
one book or 100? If a download equals a lost sale and would put you
out of work, I supose I could download that book 1 million times, and
make you starve.

 Disclaimer: I am in you way am telling anyone how to consume
media, do what you think is right. But, If you like something I
believe you should support it with your wallet.



I will pirate stuff I already own.  I remember the first time I spent money on iTunes only to find the stuff I "bought" still under lock and key with DRM.  I paid for the music, and damn straight I was going to use it how I wanted to.  So I downloaded another un-DRM'd copy with uTorrent.  Yeah, I basically broke the law, but let's be honest I'm one of millions and I'm not re-distributing.  


Oh!  Here in Central Illinois we had a great flood.  In my basement were many many things called "cassettes" from the Olden Days.  Most of those were bought at a discount because I worked at a music store during my college days.  After the flood, they were all rendered unusable.  I could spend literally thousands of dollars rebuilding my collection legally, or just download the same thing, again, with uTorrent.  The choice was clear.


But you will never catch me pirating software!  This is because I'm not STUPID.  I'm one of those rare people who understand that when you pay for software, you are NOT paying for the code, you are paying for the license to use it!  That's why it's called a LICENSE AGREEMENT derp derp derp.



I'm with you on what you're doing with the music, but I agree with Mr David on the software. I wouldn't be the computer expert that I am now, if I hadn't pirated Windows Xp 5 years ago. There was no way my parents would drop $100 on a license. But now I own 2 legal Windows 7 copies plus one extra. 


Donate blood!     http://www.redcrossblood.org/



 While working on a friend's computers (no, Really!), I saw that he had 300 Gigabytes, again, 300 GIGABYTES of music. How many songs was that? I have no clue but at least a few hundred thousand. Now I figure he did not purchase all of this music so most was probably sneaker netted around from his buddies (a lot of musicians).

 How many of these "valuable and royalty due" songs has he actually listened to? The guy laughs and said maybe a couple of hundred as he has his own favorite music folder. That comes out to about  4/100ths of a percent. And that is just listened to once, like a demo. Let's say he throws 20 into his favorites folder. That is 0.00004 of all these songs.

   Piles of the huge compliations must be out there everywhere. Movies, TV shows, music, books, magazines, games are all downloaded as fast as they come out. But how many are used? If they are not used, listened to, watched, or played, is it even a crime? Having all the Star Trek shows downloaded does not affect anyone's bottom line if they just sit there on the computer.

    Yeah, it is illegal but it is cheap and easy to do. It takes up minimal space and most never get touched again. The stuff can be swapped easily enough and no one bothers to delete anything. The guy would be in big trouble with RIAA if his drive was audited but what are the chances?

  It just bothers me to listen to the moans of the recording industry about "songs downloaded" like each and every one is listened to over and over again. I guarantee you that is not the case.



Ok so downloading a copy of any random movie from the pirate bay which was ripped and uploaded by a random person is illegal? If so, sue me! 



So I'm just sitting here eating pizza reading the article and comments, its like watching a live epic verision of Clash of the Titans, each comment more epic that the last.

Yes I read every comment, and wow.

I somehow see something dark brooding over the horizon, I think apologies are in order, no one should of called a reader a theif and no one even in proper situation tell someone they have an intent to kill them even if they mean it. Well its just my opinion.. guys are stubborn, I should know, I'm stubborn.

Side note: If I watch a movie at Best Buy, you know the ones in the show room that demo on the big TVs its that copy right infringement or is that stealing? What if I record the demo of the display model for the length of the movie is that copy right infingement or stealing if for personal use of course? Who drew, draws, or notes the line? LOL I just wanted to add some random senario or wild analogy like everyone else involving a sponge, a cat, and a cheeseburger.



double post..



You are correct, I don't like your answer. I've heard this answer many times before (you didn't copy it from somewhere, did you?). However, it fails to distinguish the difference between property and "intellectual property". 

Example: A person decides they want to upload a DVD to the Internet. They purchased it, therefore it is theirs and they can do what they want with it. Unless I'm misunderstanding what it means when you purchase something. I was under the assumption that when you purchase something, it becomes yours. Anyway, the person that purchased the DVD then decides to upload the DVD and in doing so they publicly broadcast their IP address (kind of like inviting them) so everyone can see it. Then another person decides they want to go and download that file and they proceed to do so. Now, they have that file as does the person who originally uploaded it. They have a COPY. Copying IS NOT stealing. I don't understand how copying is stealing. And quite frankly, I don't understand this concept of "intellectual property". It sounds rather childish to me. "Daddy, he stole my idea!" 

Now, I'll give you my address:

1060 West Addison St

Chicago, IL 

You then come in uninvited and you start taking my steak, ice cream, and anything else you like. You would be correct to say that I would say that you are stealing from me. Because you are. You are physically removing things that I own. I don't know if you know this, but downloading a file does not physically remove it from it's location. 

Or, I could invite you into my house and let you see everything I own, and instead of taking it you could copy it. Kind of like giving someone your IP address and letting them see the files you are uploading. It's just that it's much more difficult to copy steak, ice cream, etc. But, let's say you do decide to copy everything I have inside my house, so now in your fridge you have the exact same steak, ice cream, and beer and on your bookshelves you have the exact same books and DVDs I have. Basically,the contents of your house are the exact same as mine. I guess then I would have to go ahead and sue you for having the exact same things that I have as you have just copied or, as you would say, stolen from me. The difference is that it is just much cheaper to copy data that resides on a hard drive than to copy something like a steak. 

You then go on to say that if I were to download a book you've written that I'd be stealing from you, I'd be taking money out of your wallet, taking your income, and taking food out of your fridge. Only, that would be impossible to prove as you would have to be under the assumption that if the option of downloading this book for free from the Internet was not available, I definitely would have paid for it. I guess for that to be true then there should be a law that states that any piece of intellectual property that is created by anyone, should then be required to be purchased by everyone for the price the original creator determines it's worth. That way if someone doesn't purchase this intellectual property as required by law, and they copied it instead, you can then prove that they would have had to buy it, as they are required to by law. That sounds kind of crazy.

Not only that, but if I had downloaded A COPY of your book you would not see any difference whether I did or not. Did I download one of your books right now? You'll never know unless I tell you. With actual property, like a laptop, I can tell if it's been stolen. How can I tell? It's not on my desk! Could it have just randomly vaporized? Maybe, though I don't think that happens very often. 

One thing you said in your post though, was interesting. "And as much as I appreciate the public library effect of the internet—at least the public library pays for their copies. " I don't think that you can definitively say that everything that is uploaded was not paid for, and if it was paid for, then how is that any different than a library. 

Example: I go and buy a couple DVDs and upload them for other people to download. How is that different than a library? The media was paid for just like a library. 

As far as me downloading files illegally, as it seems you are under that assumption, I never said that I do. I have little reason to, as I can find most media and software for  free and legally on the internet. One example is http://manybooks.net/. They have tons of free e-books, and there will be enough there to last you lifetime. For movies and tv shows, many tv stations have their shows available on their websites or on sites like Hulu for free. For music, there are tons of radio stations and websites that stream their music live online, and it's free. Regarding your opinion on Photoshop, I'd have to say that there is one piece of software that in my opinion is on par with Photoshop or better and that software is Gimp. Gimp is an excellent piece of software and it's 100% free. It doesn't cost $600. And, right now I'm typing this on a machine running Ubuntu 10.04, which is also free. As far as legal free stuff, I'd say most of it is better than the stuff you have to pay for.  

Also, this statement, I have something to say about:

“That’s just the excuse you make to yourself to avoid having to deal with the hole you just carved into your own integrity. But you and I both know, you’re still a thief.” 

This really sums up your view of the world and what YOU think it should be as you're saying I'm just making an excuse. I am not. I am stating what I see as logical. That's fine with me if you don't think that, but to go around calling people thieves is a very childish thing to do. Thinking that somehow I am trying rationalize thievery is absurd. Stating that I know I am a thief is absurd. I know I am not a thief. I could go ahead and state that you know I am not a thief, but that would not be right as I know that you truly don't understand anything I have just stated. 

One more thing, David. If I see you in my house stealing my steak, I can assure you my phaser will be set to kill.  



the act of copying content for yourself and your own purposes isn't the issue. It is when content is copied for other people. Reproducing it for others allows for the other people to use the content without paying for it and THAT is where the problem begins. Those other people were supposed to pay for their copy, and it is being reproduced for them.



The problem is telling someone what they can do with something once they purchase it. If someone wants to copy it and distribute it, that would be at their own cost. If someone wants to download it, that would be at their own cost.





Donate blood!     http://www.redcrossblood.org/



What is law has nothing to do with whether something it is right or wrong, or whether it is moral or immoral. Did you know that the Boston Tea Party was illegal? Did you know that it was illegal to sell or possess alcohol in the U.S. from 1920 to 1933? Did you know in China that parents are not allowed to have more than one child?

You can go ahead and obey those laws. Since those were all laws, that means they couldn't have been changed and that they are all moral, correct?



I know that you would not want to mix legal and moral responsilbity. Mark17 is not going to fall for it although much of the population of several countries will obey a law blindly. I assume that your primary argument is that reading your book without supporting you the writer is immoral. The legal argument is for the sheep and for maintaining order in society.

I suspect that you would not be too keen on the law if your publisher and others placed their legal and fiduciary responsibility ahead of any moral sense. Your publisher's responsibility is to drive a hard bargain and get you to write books for next to nothing. As long as you have enough food to eat and enough strength to write your publisher has executed his fiduciary responsibility. There is no legal responsilbilty to make sure that authors or artists have a better life.

Law abiding captitalists should limit the payment for art as much as possible. An efficient society would not need to pay very much for art because many artists will live just to create and are not that keen on money. Society just has to grow enough food to allow them to continue to create.

Sure downloading will put a crimp in the business and entire genres of music will die out without support but art will survive on a lot less money.

People with a different sense of morality would go to your website and drop some change into your collection pot. People who can drive a harder bargain will not care and will flout laws that are hard to enforce.

I wonder which camp the law abing sheep will choose if they are allowed to graze freely.



I take the Internet I gave to David Gerrold back. You can have it. Kudos. 



Thank  you.



Nice response, but I do wonder if giving your address on a public site is wise.



1060 W. Addison St. is the address for Wrigley Field.  Our friend Mark17 is smarter than you give him credit for ;-)



Did not know, so thank you for enlighting me. I guess I could have looked it up on google maps, but I didn't think of it.



A well thought out, well written response. Nicely done. A good example of how things that
people put in the Internet for free can be better than the things have been paid for and then put on the Internet (I'm assuming Mr. Gerrold was paid for his article).


Fecal Face

Even though everbody seems to use the analogy of "stealing", I don't think it really fits:

Yes, you're taking something that isn't yours. No, you didn't pay for it. But you're not really "Stealing" it. When you steal something, the owner of whatever you stole doesn't still have what you just stole.

What I'm trying to say is rather than using the analogy of breaking into someone's home and taking everything, a more accurate analogy would be going to someone's home and making a copy of everything inside, then taking THAT with you when you leave. Sure, you now have everything that was in the house, but so do they!

Basically, if you PIRATE a movie, the original owner still has the movie themselves, obviously.

When you STEAL a movie, the original owner wouldn't have the movie any more - you've stolen it!

Don't get me wrong, pirating is still wrong / illegal, I just don't think Theft/Stealing is the right analogy.


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Zune HD = Happiness



The analogy you used was very awful. The point was clear but you over-reacted terribly.

Anyway, in reality, the world has changed. We cannot go back. As someone mentioned in this thread, internet is a revolution just like the Gutenberg printing revolution.

I don't blame people who sues people for copyright infringement, because it is illegal under current environment. But all authors, media productions, or any related entities must find a way to make living in a revolutionary way not in a conventional way. (I already know people, especially fiction writers, who began to change their income source from conventional publishing to something drastically different paradigm, and it is very ambitious and risky idea but eye-opener.) Time will come when there is no paper book, no CD, no DVD, nor any kind of physical media for a single copyright entity. Everything will be on the net or in your local media storage. How to generate income from this new world is the right issue.

ps. The real problem is for those who writes non-finctions, science books, and other unpopular books, which actually advances the knowledge of humankind. How can they adjust themselves into the new era? I don't know yet, but I'm sure they'll find their own way because they brought us the internet revolution and they're always on the front line. I expect their solution will be very different from the solution of entertainment-oriented media industry. (Think about top-rank universities that are sharing their precious and expensive lectures for free on the net.)




      I am not here to say right or wrong. Like beta max, their just tools. Just like those people that think employees are that make less than poverty. I think that the world should embrace the barter system. I think thats just me. Even our government as well as others has stolen companies and peoples rights for their own purpose. Good bad or ugly, it has been done for ages. Just some people are more ruthless than others legal or illegal. Laws seem to protect those with money do to it bankrupts the other or an agreement is met. So how is that for some one who could not afford a computer until a few years after building one from a trash can. For-shame the companies that treat lower employees like trash as well as bickering on a touchy subject depending on who's right and who's wrong. We are all still growing and theirs like this some childish fits that come and go. I am one that watches prices and tries to buy my media for as cheap as I can and I am pissed at a few companies that got me hooked on their media and discontinued it by the time I was able to buy so they lose do to I just go else were. I hope I well run in to them at some old software store some time. I enjoy things that the majority does not. Just like I rebuild, update, switch parts, and some times blindly repair computers. Every once in a while I sell one or two. There is more than one way to live besides hate.      

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