If only software pirates were really pirates. Think about it. How cool would it be if we could pull out cyberswords, swing on a digital rope to a passing software merchant software ship, loot the hold filled with previous DVD gems and golden movies? Then escape with the winds of T1 at your back and share a digiale back at the coding tavern.
Software pirates are thieves. I won’t deny it. Companies produce software to make profit, and software pirates are stealing profit. I’m not trying to justify stealing. I do mock the fact that they’re called pirates; I think its silly. But in a way, its also sort of accurate. The twentieth century had its shares of people standing up for change. The 1920′s had the Speakeasies. The 1960′s had Hippies. The 1990′s and beyond have Webosos.
The Internet is part of new generation of people, Millennials as we have been dubbed. I’ve heard of kids who are still in single digit years who apparently know more about computers then I do. When I say Webosos, I’m not talking about Millennials, surrounded by technology, electronics, robotics, and a invention market where stuff is outdated as soon as you take it home from the store. I’m talking about bloggers, web developers, and wikipediaites. People who believe that information is not for a privileged few, and that information should not be controlled. Not everyone wants everything available, but more often then not, Webosos believe in a new level of freedom. Critics have referred to the Internet as Pandora’s Box, opened releasing who knows what into the world. Webosos think of it as the Apple of Knowledge, and that everyone should be allowed a bite.
Recent discussions with my dad and other people from older generations have shown me the difference in values. My dad sees information to be coveted and valued. I see information as no one’s property. I’m not saying there’s no room for profit and industry when it comes to information, but information is something everyone has the right to.
The recent rise in infamy of software piracy comes from the unforgettable release of Spore. One of the most anticipated games of the year, with players waiting for over a year. It was supposed to be revolutionary, in game play and genre. It was also given the most hated of piracy prevention methods in a long time: an antiquated DRM (Digital Rights Management). The original Spore DRM was something out of a horror book, requiring activation every ten days through the Internet. The original outrage forced Electronic Arts to scale back, and instead created a DRM that is essentially a rental system: a total of 3 activations. Once three activations has expired, an owner must call up EA Technical Support (renown for terrible service), and convince them that they are in fact a legitimate owner and deserve another activation. This all supplements the fact that DRMs are well known for causing problems on computers. DRMs install without permission, track information on computers on which they are installed, and are extremely difficult to eliminate. Someone remind me, how do we define spyware?
To me, the most amusing part of all this is the Spore DRM was supposed to be unbeatable, uncrackable, and the best deterrent for all software pirates. Yet Spore was released online, cracked, days before it was even available to paying customers. It also quickly became one of the most downloaded games online, and received over 2,500 one star reviews on Amazon. The unbeatable Spore DRM was decimated. And all because of the mentality of the new generation.
There are software pirates and hackers (not synonymous terms) who do it because they don’t want to pay for anything and feel they are entitled to more. But I’d wager most of them do it for the challenge. Every new security measure on software is deemed to be unbeatable. And software pirates want to prove them wrong. They showcase their talents by proving they can do what others claim can’t be done. Then EA boasted about the best DRM yet, simultaneously creating the worst piracy prevention methods yet, and basically asked top crackers and hackers to find a way to beat it. The combination of something just short of spyware, plus the metaphorical waving of a chunk of meat in the face of the lion led to EAs (not so great) Spore to becoming one of the most popular cracked games of all time.
And so I ask honestly, why do people look down on software pirates and hackers? They’re considered no better then Speakeasy bartenders in the 20′s and Hippies in the 60′s. They’re the corruption of society, and the downfall of mankind. Yet they’re also the first steps in a new generation, a new mindset of humanity. The idea that everyone is equal and that information is not currency to be traded, but is as water, for all to have. They’re not out for fame or for credit; they’re out for equality. Webosos, those of us who don’t have quite the skill, or the gaul, are out there as infantry support; to step up when a corporation has the nerve to consider everyone a thief, because they think it will stop the real thieves. But the real thieves always have a way out, and sometimes its the people at the bottom of the moral ladder that lead to cultural revolutions that reshape how we all see the world.