Pirates: Give Away 50% Of Your Salary & See How You Like It!

In my Is Demonoid a DOJ Trap To Catch Unsuspecting Pirates Hub, I've taken a lot of flak for defending the rights of copyright holders to gain reasonable compensation for the use of their created works. There have been many comments (a fair number of them deleted due to language Australian Sheepshearers would be embarassed to use) which attacked my viewpoint as according to them, every copyright holder is a greed-defiled fornicator of innocents, and defending their nebulous "right" to obtain at absolutely no cost to them the created works of modern literature, art, music, media, software, and anything else that they may covet.

One of the latest comments was from a "Sir Patrick" who in sharp contrast to many other commenters restrained himself from ad hominem attacks as well as fallacious digital rights diatribes, and presented decent arguments supporting the standpoint of copyright infringers. His comment was as follows.

I've read this page top to bottom and while I understand both arguments, I'm inclined to take the side of the pirates here. What people have to understand is that there is a reason why people infringe copyright agreements. For the most part, these people don't have the disposable income to put into books, music, dvds etc. Their money NEEDS to go towards gas, electricity, and heat for their homes.

What you need to understand is that if piracy was not there its likely that while the sale of your book might rise a little, it won't be a large increase as many people still won't be able to afford it.

Also with regards to software pricing, are you realy that naive that you think corporate giants like Microsoft or Adobe would slash prices if the pirates suddenly stopped? If they are making sales at that price then they would leave the price as they stand. The high prices of their software push people into copyright infringement. Microsoft and Adobe have to make the first move in order to solve this problem.

Sir Patrick, you've made good points in an eloquent manner. However, I have to respectfully dispute your conclusions. Let us assume that you are a craftsman as a profession. Working full time, you produce 100 widgets per month and sell them for $50 each. One day I arrive at your location and ask for a free widget. My rationale is that I don't have sufficient disposable income after the monthly overhead expenses I need to live. Let's say that you have compassion for my predicament and donate me your widget. I thank you very much, and five of my friends arrive tomorrow with the same request. Ten the next day. Twenty the next.

You are now faced with approximately half of your monthly production being given away free, thus your monthly income drops from $5,000 to $2,500, but your manufacturing and other costs stay constant. You find that you cannot afford to maintain production at this rate, therefore you have the following choices:

  1. Raise the price of each widget to $100 to compensate for the 50% you're giving away free.
  2. Announce a "No More Freebies" policy.
  3. Maintain your price and go bankrupt.

If you choose #1, you will find that you will have a hard time selling widgets at double the price.

If you choose #2, you are confronted by "pirates" who call you a greedy bastard who is making billions off the sweat of people stupid enough to pay you.

If you choose #3, then everybody loses. You have no more income; your paying customers lose their source of new widgets; and even the pirates lose, as they have no more sources of new widgets to get for free.

There is absolutely no difference between intellectual property and tangible property. I have to work just as hard for months to craft a bestselling book as the widget craftsman does to produce widgets. Is there an actual difference between my pushing keys on my keyboard to write a book and a Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) operator pushing keys on his keyboard to produce a physical machine part? We're both sitting at a keyboard in front of a screen pushing keys all day. What difference does the actual final product make? Can anyone please tell me why I have to freely donate about half of my income to copyright infringers if the CAM operator doesn't have to as well?

I reject the argument that because my craft is intellectual rather than physical, I am not entitled to derive compensation for my work. And I assure you that if any of the copyright infringers were told that from this moment onwards 50% of their own salary would have to be cut since half of whatever they do or produce must be given away for free, they would go ballistic. All of a sudden the arguments that they propose against copyright holders would not seem so convincing... if they are on the side that gets the huge financial bite taken out of it!

Your assumption that Microsoft and Adobe would maintain current high prices should piracy be miraculously terminated betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of production, marketing, and pricing dynamics. If, say, Adobe were to continue to sell Photoshop at $700 a pop, another competitor would figure out that they could make a great profit at $350 for a competing version (which is the "real" cost of Photoshop if we assume a 50% piracy rate) and then Adobe would either have to chop prices or face a precipitous drop in their sales of Photoshop.

In most markets my book sells for around $20. From that I make about $1, as the rest is swallowed up by the multiple layers of distribution from publisher all the way down to retailer. If we could double the sales of our book through the elimination of the piracy contingent, the retail price would swiftly drop to $10, making it far more affordable to anyone who wished to legally read it.

"The high prices of their software push people into copyright infringement." Yes, and there is one and only one reason for these high prices: the copyright infringers themselves. In order to help themselves to products which they have absolutely no legal right to, they are pushing up and up and up the retail prices for all of the law abiding citizens who believe that a creator of a work is actually entitled to fair and reasonable compensation.

Piracy is criminal. Period.

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Comments 15 comments

issues veritas 7 years ago

illegal aliens are illegal


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Yes. So? :)


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

Great hub! I hate it when people give me copyrighted material that they have copied! If I want to read something, and am not sure it is worth owning, I will rent it or barrow it from someone. If it proves to be worthwhile, I will buy it. If I cannot afford it, then I really don't need it. If I truly need it, I will find a way to afford it -- the cost will be justified. Music, books and software are always on the elective side of the budget. We truly need none of it... kind of like coffee.


Headstrong Farm profile image

Headstrong Farm 7 years ago from Rhode Island

To preface, I agree with you that intellectual property should fall under the same governances as physical properties, your software pricing analogy doesn't hold water, though. For instance, there is freeware that can do most of the things that 90% of users need Photoshop for. Photoshop is the standard, though. If you can't afford photoshop and you can't/won't get a pirated copy, you will use the freeware. There are also MANY much cheaper drafting programs out there. Yet AutoCAD 2009 is still ~$4000. Eliminating piracy will not cause a price drop in either case and the companies will either reinvest any additional profits, or raise dividends and/or executive bonuses. Some may trickle down to the craftspeople, though. It's different for a writer/musician/artist because sales more directly affect their income.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Christa Dovel: Thanks! With the proliferation of content on the web which is completely legal and free there is absolutely no excuse to have to pirate. If an individual wanted to learn about the topic which is covered in my book, there are plenty of websites they could visit to read up on it. It may not be presented in a similar manner or be as in depth, but the basics are there and freely available to anyone. If they want my very specific take on the subject, then they can pay for it! The world would be a much better place if everyone shared your viewpoint on this issue!

Headstrong Farm: Yes, I've confronted the GIMP / Photoshop situation for many years now, and after extensive use of both products, it's quite obvious that Photoshop is a Ferrari and GIMP is a skateboard with three wheels missing. With all my years in the publishing industry I have yet to meet a single graphics professional who uses GIMP, which is best relegated to teenies setting up their MySpace pages. As for AutoCAD 2009, there are literally hundreds of CAD programs available either freely or through shareware, and all of them put together don't add up to AutoCAD 1999, let alone AutoCAD 2009. If you're using AutoCAD 2009, you're not a kid playing around, you're a professional creating drawings for extremely complex and expensive projects. I know of one industrial designer on AutoCAD who charges $220 an hour for his work. For him, AutoCAD is his tool and his way of making a living, just as a carpenter would have a table saw or a trucker would have a truck. Carpenters and truckers factor into their cost of business the price of their tools, why should an industrial designer not factor in the $4,000 for AutoCAD and expect to download it off a torrent site for nothing? In a hypothetical situation where piracy would be 100% eliminated, if Photoshop and AutoCAD maintained their current high prices, I can assure you that there would be plenty of competitors entering the marketplace with capable and equivalent software at very close to what is the "reasonable market rate" for that software. That is the essence of free enterprise.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

Great illustration! Though you can cut a board with a hand saw and nail with a hammer, the house will go up much quicker with a chop saw and nail gun. Build your own house, if you have the time, but don't think you can run a business with out the proper tools.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks, Christa Dovel. If a carpenter wants a Bosch 10-Inch Worksite Table Saw with Gravity-Rise Stand and Digital Rip Fence, they pay the $1,500! They don't expect to get it for free! :)


Headstrong Farm profile image

Headstrong Farm 7 years ago from Rhode Island

I'm not disagreeing that piracy is wrong, I was simply trying to point out that the price of certain things are not affected by piracy, nor is the potential profit of said thing. I totally agree with that as fact, however, when it comes to works such as music and literature. Having worked with AutoCAD 2009 for a month, I agree with your analogy there, though it wasn't enough time to get used to the dashboard, or like it. Full trials are good...


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

AutoCAD 2009 has a very steep learning curve, as befits its use only for advanced professionals. Thanks for your comments!


Kika Rose profile image

Kika Rose 7 years ago from Minnesota

I think I need to go and read the hub that started it all... If only for amusement's sake. Hal, you know me, I love readin' a good flame session. :P

I wholeheartedly agree that piracy is wrong, and that it is the main reason certain products cost what they do. And I use that argument a lot with some of my friends who think it's okay to download music and games and videos for free of the internet, along with things like Photoshop whatnot and all that happy-go-lucky horsepucky. ... Yeah, all that technobabble you know I know nothing about. But for real, Photoshop's way too dang expensive. And I would kill to own it, if I could A) afford it, and B) find the time to be a good little Kika and read the manual so when I go to use the program, I wouldn't be sitting on the phone for half an hour with Kyle laughing at me as I flounder about with buttons and doodads saying, "Wait, so you did WHAT with WHAT?! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

This would be promptly followed with a simple, "Shut the f*** up, assh***." Ah, asterisks, you do indeed come in handy...


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

When you get right down to it, Photoshop CS4 is an extremely intuitive program and is actually fairly simple to use. As for the price, yes, it is outrageous, but I paid it because I use the software almost daily, and it is a key element in my earning a living. It is worth every penny I've spent for it. And yes, where would we be without asterisks? :)


Jason 4 years ago

After reading the thread this article is in reference to and then reading this thread only one this is clear, Hal Lucino can not and will not allow you to dispute his argument. In the original thread all he does is call people morons and other words to demean their intelligence, exactly what he bans others posts for. Even when a good argument is presented slaps it down by stating that they're liars or using an analogy that makes little to no sense. My favorite is at the end of the original thread where he's found himself cornered, and trys to get out of it by calling the argument stupid, the poster idiotic, and then closes the comment section. Too bad he hadn't closed up this comment section.

O yea btw, its now right before 2012, and Demonoid is still up and running without a single claim from a user that its a DOJ conspiracy. I know, and thankfully, you've removed yourself from posting anymore, but next time rather than shouting out "Demonoid is a cover DOJ operation" and "prices will go down 75% when piracy is stopped" you should dig a little deeper into things that back your claims. ITS CALLED EVIDENCE.


Jason 4 years ago

After reading the thread this article is in reference to ,then reading this thread only one thing is clear, Hal Lucino can not and will not allow you to dispute his argument. In the original thread all he does is call people morons and other words to demean their intelligence, exactly what he bans others posts for. Very little debate is exchanged. Even when a good argument is presented he slaps it down by stating that they're liars or using an analogy that makes little to no sense. The only clear opposition post that he responds to with class is the entire article he wrote above. My favorite moment however, is at the end of the original thread where he's found himself cornered, and trys to get out of it by calling the argument stupid, the poster idiotic, and then closes the comment section. Too bad he hadn't closed up this comment section.

O yea btw, its now right before 2012, and Demonoid is still up and running without a single claim from a user that its a DOJ conspiracy. I know, and thankfully, you've removed yourself from posting anymore, but next time rather than shouting out "Demonoid is a cover DOJ operation" and "prices will go down 75% when piracy is stopped" you should dig a little deeper into things that back your claims. ITS CALLED EVIDENCE.

Note:Same post as above, though, with some minor grammatical corrections that were needed after I failed to see them while proof reading my original post. My apologies.


Jason 4 years ago

I have to disagree with your rationale. Physical property and tangible property are clearly not the same thing, nor are they valued as the same thing. The total amount of a "products" pirated % is not nearly close to 50% of the total distribution. I would argue that the loss of sales as a result of piracy may be as low as 2 or 3% of total sales. Each illegal download is valued as a lost sale, a theft, lost opportunity and income...this just is not accurate. Most downloaders of "illegal" content would otherwise not be interested in the purchase of that same content. Additionally, most scene members encourage the purchase, especially in the software avenue, of the product if the downloader deems it useful. I do know that many downloaders are very active at making donations to the creators of software...the little guys, more so than the big guys, if they find the software useful. I would also say that 90% of what they download they deem to be junk...and would have been royally irritated if they had purchased it. Movies for example...90% of what Hollywood produces is junk, if I watched a movie that I enjoyed, I would be more inclined to purchase the Blueray of it later...anyhow, it just isnt accurate to say you are giving away 50% of your income, that income was never realized nor expected...it is not the same as if I had produced 20 widgets each at a fixed cost and then gave them away. If I had a machine that magically created an unlimited number of widgets and I charged for those widgets, and then gave those who couldnt afford them...or thought they might be crap and wanted to try it first the widget for free...well then we would be talking apples to apples.


OldWitchcraft profile image

OldWitchcraft 3 years ago from The Atmosphere

Good article! Voted up and accolades.

Regardless of your moral stance or your personal rationale for engaging in criminal activity, consider this: Authors and publishers are increasingly in the position of being forced to take legal action to recoup lost revenues. This means they pretty much have to come after thieves to protect their livelihoods. Losses to an independent author or publisher can be a substantial portion of their income. "Sharing" a reasonably priced book or other item could end up costing you the amount of the author's revenues, $200 to $150,000 for each instance of infringement and prison time. It hardly seems worth it!

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