Tag Archives | piracy

Despite Piracy, The Sims 3’s Doing Fine

Given the chance, the games industry will whine ad nauseum about the evils of software piracy, but the recent success of The Sims 3 shows that illegal downloading isn’t necessarily bad for business.

Electronic Arts is boasting that The Sims 3 is a hit, with 1.4 million units sold in the first week alone. That’s the biggest PC game launch in EA’s history.

The company doesn’t break from its victory cry to acknowledge that 180,000 people illegally downloaded The Sims 3 a few weeks ago, after it leaked to BitTorrent sites. The piracy statistics, cited by Bloomberg, come from BigChampagne, a company that monitors file sharing. I’ve contacted the company in search of up-to-date statistics. (Got ’em. See below.)

Even if illegal downloads of the game increased significantly since the end of May, it hardly seems that the leak dampened legitimate sales.

Why not? There are a couple possible explanations. First, there’s no demo for The Sims 3, so piracy could in some cases amount to taking the game for a test drive. Pair this with EA’s claims to Bloomberg that the leak is a “buggy, pre-final build” of the game, and there’s even more reason for downloaders to get the real thing. Also, there will always be a group of people who don’t want or can’t afford to pay for the game anyway. Neither of these scenarios can be justified legally, but they also don’t support the tired claim that every pirated download constitutes a lost sale.

And isn’t BitTorrent somewhat of  a niche anyway? The Sims 3’s appeal expands far beyond the tech-savvy Internet users who know their cracking software, and its online community features make a legitimate copy preferable.

I understand the games industry’s plight. It’s a shame that not everyone pays for their PC games, when legally they should. But perhaps instead of complaining that people aren’t buying software, publishers should study the people that do and look at why The Sims 3 earned their $50.

Update: Just got the latest stats from BigChampagne. The Sims 3, the leaked version, has been downloaded more than 700,000 times per week over the last few weeks, totalling 2.21 million downloads as of June 9.

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BitTorrent Search Aggregator Filters Copyrighted Content

In a win for big media companies, Mininova, a popular torrent search Web site, today deployed a content recognition system that removes any file linking to allegedly copyrighted content, and will permanently ban those files from being re-uploaded.

Torrents are a terrific way to distribute large files, but let’s face it: the technology has been used largely for piracy, despite its many merits. People don’t go to sites like Mininova to download Linux faster.

While sites that aggregate torrents are not hosting illegally gotten content themselves, certain ones know full well that they are facilitating it. They are just hiding behind the BitTorrent architecture.

There are various esoteric arguments made in defense of torrent search Web sites such as “a crime can be committed with product X, but the people that sell it are not responsible for the action Y.” I don’t buy that. There is a correlation between content piracy and torrent search sites, and everyone knows it. Pirate Bay is the perfect example.

Pirate Bay has infamously flaunted the fact that people could go to its site to locate copyrighted content, but argued that it was not engaging in any illegal acts due to the decentralized nature of torrent file distribution and the relative permissiveness of Sweden’s national copyright laws. The courts ruled otherwise.

The letters Pirate Bay has published from a gaggle of angry attorneys are oftentimes hilarious and amusing in a punk rock “stick it to the man” sort of way, but are also wildly adolescent. Web sites that profit from posting torrents files should perform due diligence to ensure that copyrights are not being violated as a consequence–period.

Mininova is cooperating with an unnamed association that represents copyright owners. It is doing the responsible thing, even if it was induced into taking action by the threat of lawsuits. The Web can’t be the wild wild west forever, and a business should not exist simply to enable illegal acts.


Just How Easy is it to Get Pirated iPhone Software?

app_storeYou might remember Brian Chen at Wired’s reporting on iPhone App Store piracy. That got us to thinking, is it really an issue, or just an exaggeration of a minor problem? To test our theories, we decided to attempt to install a pirated app on one of our own iPhone 3G’s here at Technologizer.

We’d like to apologize ahead of time to the developer whose apps we have used in this experiment. Your app wasn’t singled out or anything, it was merely selected to show the process. It has since been deleted: Technologizer has no interest in participating in this activity.

Anyways, back to our test. The first step in the process was to use the website Mr. Chen sourced, The Monkey’s Ball. We found that from a perspective of actually searching for sources say via Google and the like, easy-to-use sources for average Joe Pirater are not readily found. Yes, the searches will uncover places to download apps, but you’re pretty much on your own to figure out how to use them.

We surfed around TMB and found that there wasn’t any download links to use when looking through the applications, so we moved on to Appulo.us. Success. Within minutes I had surfed to find MLB At Bat 2009.

The next part absolutely floored me. I clicked on one of the apps and Firefox detected the .ipa extension as executable by the iTunes app. Fair enough, I selected “open.” Within moments, the full version of At Bat 2009 was in my list of Applications. That’s scarily easy.

We hit a road block however — MLB could not be installed because iTunes could not verify them. So we moved on to Capcom’s Mega Man II. Same error. So we did some searching, and found out why. To install cracked apps you need to have a jailbroken phone, and the application IPA Prep installed.

So, for the most part, developers can breathe easy because a majority of us are running non-jailbroken phones. But for those who have jailbroken phones, all you need is an app and a web browser, and just about any application you can imagine is well within your reach.

Apple has just made it too darn easy.

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Study Finds 25% of App Store Apps Pirated

app_storeiPhone developer analytics company Medialets studied piracy on the iPhone, and found a surprising number of applications on the App Store have likely been pirated. Of the 25,000 or so on the service, approximated 5,000 of them have been cracked, allowing users to use them for free.

Some applications are being pirated at as much as a 100-to-1 ratio. Obviously, that developer is losing a ton of money. Apple is not commenting on the situation, and its also not clear exactly how much piracy is going on in the App Store.

Personally, this is the first time I’m even hearing you could pirate these apps, and I’m sure it is for quite a few other individuals. But apparently its on BitTorrent. If you see a file called “X-Mas iBrain Pack,” it contains 808 cracked apps in a 5GB+ file. Sites have also cropped up across the Web hosting as many as several thousand pirated apps for download.

While some are seeing their profits decimated by piracy, others are saying its such an insignificant problem that they’re not concerned with it. I’m going to take a lucky guess and say the most overpriced apps are likely the most pirated.

Some developers are charging a bit much for some of their apps in relation to their capabilities.

(Update: We’d like to apologize to Brian Chen at Wired. A link to his piece was not included in our coverage as it should have been. Be sure to take a look at his take.)

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RIAA Abruptly Switches Piracy Tack, Works With ISPs

The days of the thousands of lawsuits against music downloaders may just be over. RIAA has apparently struck deals with ISPs which would now serve as the watchog for the industry group, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. What this seems to amount to is an admittance by RIAA that suing with wild abandon did little for its cause.

Altogether, its estimated the group has sued about 35,000 individuals. Obviously the legal costs associated with fighting so many cases simulatenously must be staggering. I’d willing to bet finances also played a large part in deciding on the new strategy.

ISPs would now serve as the eyes and ears of the industry. When a user is detected to be downloading pirated files, he would no longer receive notice from the RIAA. Instead, the ISP would contact the user and asking them to stop. If users continue, their Internet access could be crippled and eventually cut off altogether.

Chairman Mitch Bainwol says that it hopes the new strategy helps it to reach more people. He said he wants the public to realize that their actions on P2P networks are not anonymous. I’m wondering why they didn’t try this before, rather than make themselves look like unreasonable bullies.

RIAA is declining to specify who it has agreements with. It also said it would continue to sue heavy file sharers, but the lawsuits certainly wouldn’t come at the speed they had been previously.

This doesnt get those who were prosecuted under the old policy: outstanding lawsuits would still be litigated.

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