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There is an unfortunate paucity of honesty in perspective on both sides of the argument here. There is no question the torrents can be and are used for legitimate purposes, but the highway/bank-robber analogy is surely flawed unless we imagine that the roads were built for and primarily used for bank-robbery. This doesn't change the fact that simply to block the protocol would be to throw the baby out with the bath-water, but I believe that glossing over or sidelining such illegitimate use in order to make this argument will only add to the belligerence of the anti-piracy lobbies, every bit as much as their dismissal of the legitimate uses angers their opponents. Similarly, there is a tendency to treat the question of whether or not piracy translates directly to lost sales as binary. The RIAA and MPAA would seemingly have it that every single copy of some copyrighted work downloaded illegally has effectively cost them the full asking price, and this is ridiculous. But I'm afraid I simply don't believe most people who defend piracy by claiming that they would simply go without if illegal copies were not available. I'm quite sure many of them genuinely believe this to be the truth, but in my experience, willpower breaks long before desire. Historically, console games - which are generally harder to pirate than PC versions - have sold at a higher ticket price than their PC equivalents. Why? Because they can. Faced with the option of buying a title or not getting to play it at all, sales seem to remain healthy. Similarly with 3-D movies. It's my opinion that it's this tendency for each side to bunker down behind black & white arguments, unwilling to budge an inch, that's preventing this debate from getting anywhere. Until the loudest voices are willing to be honest with themselves and each other, piracy will continue to run riot, and content owners will continue to punish their legitimate customers in a futile attempt to fight it.
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May 17, 2012