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How to Lose Customers

Bruce Everiss who is famous for being threatened with legal action by Evony has been writing about the supposed losses from game piracy, in his latest missive he copies the text from a number of blog comments without citing the original authors [1]. He copied my text without citing me as the author (which is at best shoddy journalism and by a fundamentalist attitude such as his could be considered as piracy). He also copied my text in with a bunch of other comments which he attributes to “The thieves“.

It’s unfortunate that Bruce doesn’t seem capable of understanding irony, he wrote “There is no doubt whatsoever that downloading and playing a game that should have been paid for is theft” and then copied part of the text of my comment where I provided a dictionary definition of theft that directly contradicts his claim. If he was at all interested in quality writing he would cite his references and then when a dictionary is cited which disagrees with his opinion he would at least try to find a dictionary with a more agreeable definition. It shouldn’t be THAT difficult to find a dictionary that has multiple definitions of theft of which one is agreeable to the MAFIAA [2].

Now if Bruce had properly read my comment he would have seen “I’ve started watching content from sites such as blip.tv (in the little time I have for such things) and I only play games that are part of the Debian distribution of Linux (free software)” which makes it very clear to any reasonable interpretation that I am not a game pirate and probably not even a movie pirate.

I did mention in a comment on Bruce’s blog that the DVD experience of being forced to sit through a whinge about piracy was a factor that made buying a DVD a worse experience than downloading it, a concept that I expanded into a blog post on the relative technical merits of DVDs and pirate MP4 files [3]. That post received a number of interesting comments including one from Josselin Mouette which had some useful technical detail about subtitles and audio track storage. I had believed that there were some real technical advantages of DVDs but Josselin corrected me on this matter.

Also one thing that is noteworthy is that Bruce seems to use a copyright picture in almost every post but he doesn’t attribute any of them. It does seem unusual for someone to use commercial artwork without any copyright or trademark notices attached. This usually isn’t a big deal for a blogger, a liberal interpretation of copyright and trademark law is usually expected in terms of blogging – corporations will tend to be hesitant to invoke the Streisand effect by suing a blogger (EG Bruce’ blog came to fame when he was sued by Evony). But when a blogger is writing about the importance of not pirating anything it would seem sensible to go to the effort of citing trademark and copyright references and also mentioning the licence agreements under which the IP was used.

I believe that any loss of customers and revenue by the MAFIAA and the gaming industry is due to the actions of the companies involved. They should just try to make their customers happy, otherwise they lose the customers.

The same goes for bloggers. I read blogs written by people who disagree with me, and sometimes by people who offend me on occasion. But Bruce is making baseless claims while deliberately ignoring evidence. He is calling for strong anti-piracy measures while doing what could be considered as pirating my work. He uses words in ways that conflict with dictionary definitions, and he calls for an end to our current legal system by demanding punishment based on three accusations rather than any legal process. I even pointed out to Bruce that if there was a “three strikes” law regarding accusations of copyright infringement then his blog would be offline after three accusations by Evony.

Sorry Bruce, if I was looking for irrational rants about copyright then I would look at what the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) are doing [4]. The SFWA people demonstrate as much knowledge of computers and the Internet as Bruce does, but they are at least really good writers. If it was just me unsubscribing from Bruce’s RSS feed then it wouldn’t matter (I’m one of tens of thousands of readers). But I expect that a large portion of the new readers Bruce acquired after being attacked by Evony will disappear when they see Bruce as the attacker and everyone who uses the Internet as a potential victim of the “Three Strikes” law.

2 comments to How to Lose Customers

  • Copying stuff against the law (I am a proud pirate myself) is totally different from theft. If you steal something, someone else no longer has it. “where the frak is my cow???” but if you copy something, the original copy still exists.

    Copying could possibly be seen as stealing potential revenue, but that is quite a different thing I think. I think copying is fine, and supporting artists and publishers by buying their work or paying to see it is fine too. In most cases, the same people copy/share/pirate stuff, and they also buy, rent and go to the cinema.

    I didn’t read Bruce’s blog, but quoting a small bit of text without attribution is fair use. Unless he’s copying great big chunks of your work I don’t think it’s illegal, or similar to pirating a game or movie.

  • etbe

    Sam: We agree on the theft vs copyright infringement issue.

    As to fair use, sure it may be legal to quote me as one of the commentators but not identify the source of the quote, but that doesn’t make it a good practice. Also if you want to criticise others then it’s a good idea to try and ensure that your own conduct is beyond reproach.