Copyright, Software developers, Android and You!

failmeterToday lets talk about copyright. I had the distinct “pleasure” of receiving an email from the US Department of Justice (Specifically the FBI), informing me that I was a possible victim of a crime.

Immediately I started trying to figure out what had been done to me across state lines that was so terrible that the FBI needed to get involved. I read the entire email, bewildered, trying to figure it out.

Obviously, the first thing I did was look at the headers. Completely legit. I had a little trouble understanding why the FBI would send an email, as opposed to a phone call. I couldn’t make any sense of it until I clicked on the press release.

Long story longer, the FBI seized domains of some sites who were distributing “cracked” Android apps. Which is entertaining, because my “apps” had no DRM in the first place. I am an Android developer (In the loosest sense of the word) apparently, and so it is “possible” that my “apps” could have been “stolen” and provided free of charge to gasped #dempirates  . Oh the horror.

Nevermind the amount of canceled orders from Russia I get on a semi daily basis. I am aware that those orders are likely people ripping it off. Do I care? Not one bit.

See, government types have been conditioned by the MAFIAA, RIAA, MPAA, etc, to think that by shutting down these sites does us, the “artist/developer”, some kind of favor. In fact, I look upon it as a source of pride. That my “apps” were good enough for someone to actually want to pirate them. I’m a-ok with that. I made those “apps” for a very specific purpose, and that purpose did not include grasping hold of them with a deathgrip until someone paid me to have them.

Some may be a bit surprised to find out that I oppose the prosecution of sites like this. They are on the seedy side of the internet anyway, and the apps tend to be riddled with malware (which is about the only way to get malware on Android anyway). Anyone with half a brain knows that it isn’t a good idea to grab an Android app from any of these sites.

It is my opinion that prosecuting for copyright doesn’t do anyone any good. Certainly not the Developers and Artists behind the copyrighted works. Most artists and developers are stuck behind the “Advance against royalties” model, meaning that the artist/developer gets paid an advance (usually about 5%), meaning that the artist/developer immediately gets paid say, $5,000, but then once whatever they are working on goes on sale, they don’t get squat until their item sells $100,000 worth of profit, at which point on future sales they receive 5% of the profit.

bullshit_detector4As you can see, that’s an even more crooked racket than credit cards and APR loans put together and makes Goldman Sachs look like a shining bastion of freedom and ethical behavior. So now, maybe you can see what I mean when I say that these sites being prosecuted doesn’t do artists/developers any favors whatsoever, other than getting potential malware off the internet (yeah, because seizing those domains made a real dent rolleyes ).

So rolling back around to what I was getting at… The government and it’s agencies are spring loaded to think that piracy = bad and piracy = starving artists/developers. The fact of the matter is that those artists/developers are already starving due to the fact that they are leveraged in this crooked AAR (Advance Against Royalties) scheme to begin with. As an artist/developer, the only way to not get screwed is to go Indie. Thankfully there are a lot of services bringing indie software to the forefront (Like, most notably, Moddb/Indiedb’s Desura, and also Valve’s Steam), so hopefully that will continue.

So does this domain seizure help me, the “victim”, in any way shape or form? Not at all, but I’m sure it made the FBI feel great that they took down another “filthy haven” of #dempirates .

The fact of the matter is that anyone that went to that site would not have paid for my “apps” anyway. So, in all honesty, who cares? The fact of the matter is that “piracy” is not a huge problem. Not even close. Piracy was never a real issue for artists/developers (People like to throw their money at developers; Not so much at publishers. If you disagree, feel free to visit kickstarter and be amazed), but MAFIAA/RIAA/MPAA saw a way to turn their customers into cash cows (intimidation via threats of criminal action, lawsuits, illegal subpoenas, etc) in addition to they way they were already screwing their artists/developers, and leapt at the chance to burn the candle from both ends.

Then you wind up with clueless adjudicators of “Justice” who do the exact same thing on behalf of the government, to the point to where someone is driven to suicide, even when what they did wasn’t even illegal. I am of course referring to #aaronswartz  (Aaron Swartz).

All of this done on behalf of “The people”. What a joke. I feel so much safer now that my $1 apps won’t be stolen by #dempirates .

Here is some food for thought… Piracy is not synonymous with “theft”. Theft is when someone actually steals something from you. Copying something does not constitute “theft”, as nothing was really stolen in the first place.

In my defiance of MAFIAA/MPAA/RIAA, I point out my completely free game, +Evolution RTS.

Makes me want to post my “apps” on F-Droid as an additional “Screw you” as well.

I’d say the primary difference between me and a publisher, would be this:
Imagine you are walking down the street with your phone out, and I notice that you have my app on your phone.

My reaction is one of joy that you found my app useful enough to have it on your phone

The publisher’s first reaction is to ask you for your name, address, birthdate, and serial number.

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