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Is Piracy a Problem?

Piracy is a huge problem online right now… or is it? Well before we can determine whether or not piracy is a problem I think we need to realize why 2/3 of all teens and 1/5 adults have pirated in their lifetimes. So why do people pirate? Well, for the most part, it’s simply because ease of it, you can get hooked up with some torrenting software, go to any of the many pirating sites out on the web and get movies, music, and software for completely nothing. Yes, it’s really that easy! So how exactly are electronic media companies dealing with this? Well as far as music and movies the scope of what publishers can do is very limited as once someone downloads a song as an mp3 or wav file, there is no encryption or serials that need to be bypassed and so that single song could spread across the web being downloaded and re-uploaded continuously. In this scenario, the author and publisher of the music or video are rendered powerless to stop the illegal downloading and forced to watch as millions of sales go down the drain.

On the other hand, the second most pirated industry would be software and games. These are much harder to pirate but still incredibly simple in most cases. Games and software come with something called a ‘Crack’ or a ‘Patch’ which is used to trick the software’s anti-piracy measures into thinking you’ve got a legit copy and serial. So what are software companies doing to stop this? Well, an example is Adobe’s creative cloud, which is a subscription-based service to allow middle-class people to afford Adobe products. The thought behind making a subscription-based adobe software platform was that if people could get the software’s for only $10-20 a month then pirating rates would go down. However nothing is perfect, and adobe missed one key feature; because they allow you to download the full version of any of their products for a free 30-day trial, it is as simple as switching the amtlib.dll file with a cracked version. This is because the trail is the full version but with a ‘Trial’ license attached to it, the amtlib.dll is the license file that tells the program if you have a trial or full version of the software. So swapping out the license file with a full version license will trick the program into thinking that you have the full license even if you had downloaded it from adobes own website. Another innovative idea that Rockstar North had when making the popular title GTA IV to combat piracy was to actually give people to games. More specifically two different .exe’s, the idea was when pirates looked to try to crack the game they would use GTA.exe when in reality the actual game was titled GTALauncher.exe. The GTA.exe included what is now called the ‘drunk cam’ making the game camera shake, but also to make the pirated version unplayable all cars in GTA.exe would speed up until they flew off the map and not allow the player out. Eventually, the pirates figured out how to fully crack the game using the GTALauncher.exe but it was a valiant effort from Rockstar North.

So as you can clearly see, so far there has been no permanent solution to completely clear a software or game from being torrented, and even the ones that do work don’t last long. But does all this really affect the software industry like they claim it does? Well, it really depends on the company, for small developers and studio startups this makes a huge impact and could mean the difference between success and failure. But for giant development corporations like Ubisoft and Adobe, it for now at least simply means a slightly lighter paycheck for the employees.

Now finally time to answer the question is piracy a problem? Yes, but No I think that saying the piracy is a standalone problem is incorrect. Overall the reason that most people pirate is because they simply can’t afford it; with our current economy which is less than stable at best most people simply don’t have the jobs to pay for today’s movies and software which can sometimes cost up to thousands of dollars.

By Kyle Piira

I'm a computer science student at the University of Massachusetts and the founder of the Hoxly Corporation.

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