Thoughts about Piracy

February 25, 2018

Written by Jason Row

Pirates, you gotta love them. After who who doesn't like watching Cap’n Jack Sparrow and his merry men cavorting around the turquoise waters of the Caribbean? Of course this being a blog dedicated to X-Plane, the pirates that we today refer too are nothing like Jonny Depp’s alter ego. The pirate we refer to are those individuals who feel that they need not pay for the hard work and thousands of hours of dedication that our developers pile into making X-Plane (and other sims) a great application. Today we are, like the presenters of a certain American TV show, going to bust some myths. I am sure that this article will not apply to the majority of people reading it. However there might be one or two of you out there that are not 100% sure on how piracy is defined. This is for you.

Pirates Are Moneyless Students.

The common myth is that most pirates, particularly in the sim world are teenagers sitting at home who do not have the money to buy expensive add ons. Yes, this is without a doubt one subsection of the genre, however there are many many more examples who do not fit into the stereotype. There are well known Youtubers and live streamers. Prolific beta testers and livery creators, even owners of groups dedicated to X-Plane. There is no average, no stereotype to an X-Plane pirate. It could as easily be a woman sitting at home in the Midlands of England as a pensioner in an apartment in South Africa.

Pirating To Test Add Ons is OK.

If you think this argument flies, take a trip to your local car dealership and take one of their cars for a test drive without asking their permission. You might not think that this analogy is a good one. You would be wrong. In both cases you are helping yourself to someone’s product without having their permission to do so. In both cases what you are doing it nothing more than theft. You cannot self justify that you will buy the product if you like it, thats not how selling products works.

Sharing Keys Amongst Friends Is Fine. 

Really? No its not, and it never will be. And here is the reason why. You cannot share something that you do not own. You do not own that plane or scenery that you have purchased, what you own is a license to use it. That license will have rules, some are fairly generous, allowing you to install to up to three separate computers, others restrict you to just one. In all cases though the computers licensed must belong to the person that installs the software first, usually the person that bought the license. You might think you are being generous by sharing a key or license. In fact what you are doing is depriving a small business potential revenue. Revenue that may be used to improve their products, or may simply be needed to feed their family. In other words, its theft. 

Copying An Idea Is Not Piracy.

Yes it is. Copyright has another name. Its called Intellectual Property, in other words a concept can be protected by copyright as much as a physical or digital product. If a developer has an idea, no matter how simple that idea, and they take the time to develop and monetise a product based on that idea, you cannot simply copy the concept using different code. Let’s be honest, if that was the case someone would have made a better copy of Microsoft Windows by now. 

So that’s some of the myths of piracy. Of course there will be a sub genre of people who will steal just because they can. They have no intention of buying the product, they do not even try to self justify their motives, they are purely thieves.

All of which brings me neatly to my last point. One or two of the most prolific and unrepentant pirates in X-Plane are actually serial beta testers on many of the upcoming products that you and I will almost certainly purchase. I for one am continuously astounded that people can be beta testing one product have stolen a copy of it’s direct rival! Do the developers know the history. In most cases they don’t and there is one simple reason for this. We, as a community, tend to brush piracy under the carpet and forget about it. Of course we show suitable indignation at the time we hear of it, but that is soon forgotten as we enjoy the products we have paid for. There is one section of the community however that does not forget the pirates. They are the developers that have been directly effected by it. The individuals and small businesses that have lost money and in some cases the inclination to continue. For that reason it’s time to make the taboo of piracy one the we never tolerate but do talk about openly and frankly.

Threshold encourages informed discussion and debate - though this can only happen if all commenters remain civil when voicing their opinions.