While it may be, by legal definition, illegal to pirate software, I sincerely doubt that there is any risk of being sent to prison as a result. Might have a throttle placed on your internet connection and fines levied against you, but prison? It's not as risky as you might think.
Now, my issue with piracy is that you are violating a manufacturer's right to distribute their own product for the fee of which they choose to place upon their product. The idea of "I'm demo-ing it first, and if I like it I'll buy it" or whatever else is incorrect on its foundation that it has anything to do with traditional theft- piracy isn't theft of property, but theft of distribution rights. It's like buying something from Amazon, but instead of paying shipping you hijack the truck and deliver it to your house and then give the truck back. You may have not stolen the thing you just bought, but assuming that the truck was also owned by Amazon, they now lose out on the money that they put on top of the shipping fee so that they make a profit.
Again, it might not seem like a crime; if anything, you're doing the work that they pay people to do for free. But they take a cut on that- for companies doing online distribution of digital products, that cut is oftentimes all they earn as a result of sales.
@ BHX: You know better then to think that I'm a rational person. So I mean that Intellectually, being screwed out of 15K would send me off the wall in a rage. But the knowledge that my product was worth risking prison for would inflate my ego beyond the impossible point that it exists in now. Come on, the knowledge that you ideas and your product could inspire that kind of risk and effort would ensure that you never stop working at this stuff as well. Hubris is a large part of what keeps us going.
Risk of prison? The only time I heard anyone getting prison time was when Sony ran the piracy campaign during the PSX days. Now, the most you get is a slap on the wrist and a fine (assuming the company wants to waste resources to bring the charges). No, in reality, they are more likely to either force you, as the developer, to put in stronger anti-piracy measures, or -- if you refuse or they worry this will become a regular thing with your products -- will just sever ties with you and find a new developer. Same with music, if the label thinks you, as the performer, will be the target of piracy and lose money then they will release you from the contract. All industries are similar in that regard as you constantly see stories of developers being dropped, closed, bought out, moved, etc. in the different industries.
No, in reality, they are more likely to either force you, as the developer, to put in stronger anti-piracy measures, or -- if you refuse or they worry this will become a regular thing with your products -- will just sever ties with you and find a new developer.
Depending on the product, no publisher means no product. In terms of music, games, and videos, you can try to self-publish, but even then that would require money to mount a decent campaign to spread word about it. You likely won't have enough to pursue those who pirate it.
I do like see people discussing the law as if all laws are universal and they are black and white.
In the UK at least there are a whole raft of laws that can be use in cases of IP 'theft' . Piracy is covered by Civil and Criminal law, so it is entirely feasible to face a custodial sentence[*]. I all depends on who you P**s off and how much.
[*] Under UK laws you are liable to a potential fine of up to £50,000, and a custodial sentence of up to 10 years.
Guys I'm not making this stuff up. Piracy comes with the possibility of a fine and\or a prison sentence in the US. You know that message at the beginning of every DVD\Blu-Ray movie that you own? The one you try to ignore because you can't skip it? Try reading it sometime.
Just because that part of the sentence isn't often used does not mean it's non-existent.
@ Grey Wolf: Wasn't there an effort to more or less homogenize the sentencing for this stuff made by the WTO? I thought that passed. I could be wrong.
Wasn't there an effort to more or less homogenize the sentencing for this stuff
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property (IP) regulation as applied to nationals of other WTO Members.
I think minimal standards is the key phrase here. The laws will cover similar areas but not to the same degree.
I see what you mean now, I had not noticed the bullet in your earlier post about the fine being 50K GBP; that's f---ing insane. You would think the median income of the general population would be taken into account with this sort of thing.
I never questioned his view of it because he taught US Government, Criminology, was a licensed lawyer, and was part of the Sheriff's Department. Just always thought him knowledgeable and slowly started to see law the way he presented it -- black and white with the lawyers job to blur it enough to create grey areas to help either prosecute or defend the case they are working on.
If they're trying to remove gray areas, then that quote is just false.
And, sure, many are fairly clear. Criminal law in particular. Others, not so much. For example, go ahead and try to decide whether a particular application of a computer is patentable in the US.
Yah BHX likes to live in his little bubble world where if you follow the law everything is in black and white (grey areas don't exist), I am the law, but the law is relative to where you live.
This ad hominem attack was completely unprovoked and it is indefensible. Further, it is generalized opinion on legal modus operandi. (Which is why I reported it!)
"The law is black and white, human interpretation makes it grey."
My Criminology teacher's favorite quote, he used it a lot.
This directly rebuts the attack with a (valid) appeal to authority. Further, it advances the conversation by opening discussion of what point said teacher was endeavoring to convey -- a point with direct bearing on the current topic.
This is the problem I have with civility. If reasoned discussion doesn't work, start attacking the participants. When the attacks are (rightly) rebuffed, someone will begin silencing the participants. The pattern is patently obvious yet thoroughly ignored. Alas.
I don't personally believe that the vast majority of human laws can be written with enough precognizance to obviate the need for a mediator, or judge to justly apply the law. The problem is that judges are drawn from the same pool as the judged, and so the application of the law is uneven.