Column is a monthly feature that explores the world
of creativity and aesthetics.
Cracks, Hacks, and
de Sousa, Director, AbleStable
A significant number of computer users download
copyrighted content or
install software on
their systems without paying. I explore
many feel at ease using
illegal content, and ponder on issues surrounding
content may be music, movies, games, or software.
The media, various, from DVDs to downloads.
The data is of no worth unless processed
by the appropriate hardware, be it an iPod,
DVD player, games console, or computer.
transforms the data into signals we interpret,
use, and enjoy. From
sound or images for our pleasure to software
task, the data moves from the virtual to
the physical and becomes "real".
of the data realm
the high seas where pirating is rare, the virtual
highway is home to pirates
at every turn. All
by the aim of self benefit and the avoidance
generally weigh up the "risk of consequence"
whenever we break
a rule, whether it be social, legal, or commercial.
If we attempt to drive off with a Ferrari
from a fancy car showroom without paying, we're
not likely to enjoy the rush for too
long before we're caught and locked up. If however
we view an illegal movie clip on YouTube
we're highly unlikely to be prosecuted for
prospect of not being caught is an irresistible
factor for the majority of computer users who
either plead ignorance, or give way to the
temptation of data theft.
data is available at the click of a mouse. One
person pays for digital content or cracks the
code then distributes the key or disk to their
colleagues, or in the case of software, more
widely to anyone punching in the appropriate
keyword for a specific title via a website that
provides a list of illegal serial numbers.
is simple, is perceived to have unlikely negative
immediate self benefit, may stimulate a sense
of feeling smart,
be viewed as "bargain hunting",
and is private.
It's rare not to have an illegal
copy of a software title, MP3, or DVD,
and if everybody's playing the same game,
there's a feeling it's
socially acceptable. Put
simply, people believe pirating doesn't hurt.
Data theft, so the mind-set
than criminal, a sign that you're "in-touch".
Like Jack Sparrow, there's something
that's even to be admired in outwitting
commercial and political forces. Think
of it as an assertion of independence
associated with the free software movement
the more radical anti-establishment
An expression of individuality if you will.
are, and always will be, those who rationalize
what is of self-benefit
the interests of others.
music, movies and the like are considered as
intellectual property. Indeed whatever is discovered,
invented, or created is automatically protected
by law, and ownership of this kind of property
is controlled by various license agreements.
licenses for example are legal documents describing
its proper use and distribution. Payment of a
license fee provides the publishers and developers
of the software with the revenue necessary to
continue maintaining, improving, supporting,
and developing their products. Any reduction
of revenue resulting from pirated software directly
affects the company's profitability and ability
to grow. Individual developers and smaller software
especially vulnerable to the effects of pirating
which hampers their success. The incredible sums
of money lost by larger companies as a result
of illegal copying results in lower investment
in existing and new projects.
author/developer of freeware or freely available
content may continue to assert their right to
be known as the originator of their work, although
no charge is requested to reproduce it. Freeware
and free content is also abused by hackers
and plagiarists who present or use this work
as if it were their own. This too is piracy
much as the illegal copying of commercial
value of ideas
ideas have a profound affect on our daily lives,
we often fail to recognize their significance
or value. Ideas come in all shapes and sizes,
but whether spiritual, mechanical, political,
or artistic, we are less given to pay for them
than concrete comodaties.
are for example more willing to buy a book, than
download and pay for an e-book with identitical
content, and not simply because books have a
more pleasurable "interface". To restate
a point I made earlier, we value physical commodities
over the virtual. The majority of people are
sensory beings first and thinking beings second.
primal urge and the loss of belief
propensity to pirate data
is initially driven by our primal
urge to survive. We are first and foremost hard-wired
to consider that which will benefit ourselves.
we developed into social animals, so we adopted
rules that allowed us to live together
in greater harmony and ensured the ongoing
success of the community. Those that
rules were either punished or
ostracized, however, social rules are
the needs, beliefs, and values of
often in conflict with the "desire of
emphasis on spirituality
generally declines as nations grow rich. The
desire and psychological need
for religion is less intense as physical need
or hardship is lessoned by economic stability.
The influence of formal value systems crumble
in secular societies, and the population adopt
more fluid morals and behaviors according to
their own desires.
start of something new
the dominant model of exchanging goods and services
since the Industrial Revolution, adopts the desire
of the self, and through
of trade", has policed the dynamic
of material greed and necessity. For the
best part of four hundred years the legal, political,
and institutional bodies in the West regulated
and enforced the commercial contract between
seller and buyer effectively.
the onset of the digital age the
exchange of data has changed the way
people act. The
governing influence of religion
in the West is no more. The
world is new, and the exchange of data is
the difference. It is clear the majority
do not view data theft with the seriousness as
they do the theft of real world goods. Perhaps
because they mistakenly believe they are less
likely to be personally disadvantaged.
are many reasons why pirating software is not
the great idea as it might at first appear.
Computers with pirated software for example are
more vulnerable to
spyware, trojans, and
viruses. Information may
also be collected from your computer without
your knowledge via unauthorized Internet connections,
long as we buy and sell, so piracy
limits our creativity, stifles
others, and compromises our
term I am certain the market will
give way to a more enlightened model of living,
but for now, the crises of data theft will continue
capitalist venture moves towards its swan song.
look forward to a time when our exchanges are
governed by the desire to grow rather than being
powered by the pursuit of wealth or material
acquisition. Only then will we act more honestly
and reward the
products of creativity.
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