As an extension of last week’s discussion on “Free versus Paid Plugins”, CraftBuzz proudly presents the equally controversial and intriguing topic, “Is Piracy Justifiable?”
Prior to delving into this noteworthy subject and how it directly relates to the Minecraft community, it is important to understand exactly what piracy is. Piracy, as defined by dictionary.com, is the unauthorized reproduction of a product, either digital or tangible. Piracy is seen as a form of intellectual theft, and various countries have passed strict laws mandating fines or, in the worst cases, imprisonment for the unauthorized reproduction of products.
Piracy has affected the Minecraft community as well, both in the game itself and in third-party softwares. Piracy has evoked a variety of responses; for example, from Minecraft creator Notch who, when asked by a fan what to do if they could not afford his game, responded “just pirate it.” However, many users feel differently, especially in the Spigot community, where the addition of paid resources has encouraged piracy. Paid resource author MrCleverTrevor states that “piracy is never…okay because developers work hard to make their own plugins,” and that “you should never download a pirated file because you don’t know if its safe.” Therefore, beyond denying proper compensation, pirated files are unpredictable in regards to security, as they have been modified in order to bypass any anti-piracy installed. Why would anyone want to pirate software with these risks in place?
In order to further understand the community’s stance on this topic, we decided to open another poll. As predicted, twice as many users voted that piracy is in fact unjustifiable (29 stated it was justifiable, whereas 60 stated it was not). However, those who voted that it is justifiable gave an interesting explanation. Most users who justified piracy stated that all paid resources should have a “trial” to ensure the plugin/resource works as expected (most authors prohibit refunds), or that software that is too expensive should be distributed at a just price. One user stated that the main reason he pirates movies or shows is due to soaring prices that are a challenge to pay, especially when the demographics show that viewers consist of a younger (typically teenage) audience. In that case, should companies accordingly shift their prices?
Another user states that piracy can be justified if that specific piece of software is not available in a user’s country (for example, anime). This statement itself can be argued. Should users intentionally pirate software they cannot obtain it legally, or should they find another hobby to enjoy?
As demonstrated, it is clear that our questions cannot be answered directly from the community. I decided to contact WifiSpy, the owner of a Spigot resource leaking community. “I think piracy is…fine if you can’t afford it,” he says, “if you can buy it, but don’t…to save money, then you’re an a**hole.” Additionally, he provided me with the text of a conversation between him and md_5 (the administrator of Spigot) about this topic in Spigot’s IRC chat (which will be left out via request). In the conversation, md_5 vigorously attacked piracy, making it clear it is a sensitive topic to the Spigot staff members.
Let us piece together all this information. Those who argue that piracy is justifiable give inaccessibility, limited trials, and lack of funds as supporting evidence, whereas those who shun piracy defend the time developers have put into creating resources and assert the possibility that pirated software can be infected with viruses. Who wins in this argument?
According to the conclusion reached in our previous article, a resource’s price should be determined based on its quality and niche factor. In other words, a resource that is unique and most probably used by a very specific type of server should be compared to a luxury car in the sense that it is, in fact, a “luxury” good. These are the resources that should be purchased. However, lower-caliber resources, including those that already have free alternatives or are not of decent quality, should be provided free of charge. In the end, it’s an agreement that must be made between the customer and the developer. The value of creative development must be accurately judged and accordingly set.