Minecraft's Creator Says Piracy, Theft Aren't The Same

Generally, those who create monster indie game hits don't follow up by spouting, well, corporate attitudes about their games when in public. So the fact Markus "Notch" Persson has a more liberal view of the piracy issue isn't that surprising. But he does have strong words for it.

"Piracy is not theft," he told the Indie Games Summit at GDC yesterday, according to Edge. "If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world."

How to combat piracy? ""Make a game last longer than a week," Persson said. "You can't pirate an online account."

"Is a bad review a lost sale? What about a missed ship date?" he asked. Food for thought.

GDC 2011: Piracy Is Not Theft, Says Minecraft Creator [Edge]


    ^Respect that^

    So I guess making fake money is ok too since the original stuff is still all there? I'm sorry Mr Minecraft but no matter what you tell yourself to help you sleep at night piracy is still theft and theft is a crime.

      You do realise that you're talking about someone who has created a very successful and very pirated game, and not some kid justifying pirating every game he plays, right?

      Yes, it's still wrong, but Notch still makes an interesting and valid point.

      What about when EB games sells a second-hand game? Aren't they in effect "stealing" money from the game developers too (none of that money goes back to the original developer, so every used game sale hurts them just as much as a pirated game)?

      The issues that surround game piracy are a little deeper than some people might realise.

        Not any more than used car dealerships 'steal' from car manufacturers or garage sales 'steal' from everyone.

        Notch is right, Piracy isn't theft. My friends and I always make comments with those 'Would you steal a car' piracy adds along the lines of 'no, but I might clone one and give it to a friend'. It's definetly a crime, but it's not the crime of 'theft'.

          nah I just park the car out back and go get a new one every 1, 2, 3 or 4 weeks.

          Bit different when you talk about $50-100 and thousands-ten of thousands. :P

          Also a lot of car companies struggle to stay afloat just like games.

        The piracy argument has little to do with physical ownership or possession and more with the ability (mostly due to the internet) to create a perfect digital copy of something.

      No. When you make fake money your are making something from scratch in the hope of making it exactly the same - which will never happen.

      Totally different to copying a piece of software that IS exactly the same.

      I don't agree with the whole "piracy is theft" argument. I agree with his assessment that theft is removing the original. Piracy just makes a copy. Back in the days of cassettes, copies of songs were made all the time and there was no problems. Stereo systems were even sold with dual decks for that purpose.

      To touch on the argument of selling used games: Car manufacturers don't get a cut of profits from used car sales, yet that is a thriving industry. Why should games be any different? A person bought the game. The company got their intended profits.

      What if vehicle manufacturers told you you could not put a third party stereo, tire, rim, or body kit on your car because they would get none of the profits? I'm just asking for some common sense here...

      Oh, and why I originally posted: Because making fake money messing with the economy. When games are passed around as legal tender, then you can use the counterfeit argument.

      i know in the past fancy things like 'logic' haven't been high on your list of "Things To Apply Before Posting a Kneejerk Reaction", but surely basic reading comprehension isn't totally beyond you?

      Here is what he said in a basic form:
      Theft: illegally or immorally removing a physical object from the possession of the rightful owner.

      Piracy: illegally or immorally making a copy of an infinitely reproducible intellectual property.

      They are not the same thing. They never were, never will be and at no point did he claim that the difference made one more morally acceptable than the other. He simply refuted the claims of a misinformation campaign and suggested a change of tack in dealing with the problem.

      Copying money isn't theft, it's counterfeiting. Kinda like a copyright the government holds. Notch didn't say piracy was right, just that it wasn't theft and it shouldn't be thought of as such.

      That said, your analogy is interesting because counterfeiting is generally fought by very similar methods to DRM; making it harder to copy and adding hidden authentication.

      No one thinks piracy is morally correct, but a lot of people see it as the best alternative. The way to fight piracy, in my view, is to fight that perception.

      If your sole purpose of making the fake money is to enjoy the money itself, then there's no problem with it. This includes covering your bed with fake $100 notes and jumping into it, using fake $100 notes as toilet paper and smoking fake $100 notes. (Best not to use the same notes...) Spending those fake $100 notes is different, as is selling a pirated game.

    People generally pirate games that suck, or they feel the game doesn't provide sufficient value to justify the price.

    Making/downloading a copy of a game (pirating) that I would never buy is not costing the developer or distributor anything.

    So if they are not missing out or loosing anything, then how can THAT possibly be called theft?

    On the other hand I have purchased games after seeing/playing an illegal copy of the game, so how it THAT not generating profit?

    So you guys think people shouldn't make interesting and engaging entertainment for the love of their common man?

    Because I was pretty certain that's why I do it.

      i develop games so i can roll around a giant money pile.

    I dont think any money is lost with piracy. the only way that money is lost is if the pirate was intending to buy the game in the first place.

    a lot of people pirate games because if they dont, they will never play the game because they were never going to buy it in the first place.

    its actually just copyright infringement.

    I can't see what's wrong with piracy, all I see is a bunch of greedy industries wanting to make money. I see a HUGE amount of people complaining about companies like Monsanto, which are extremely money orientated but do everything within the law, yet magically, those same people will defend to the death over-charging and greedy art industries which exploit artists and consumers for far more than what is fair.

    Did you know, the record industry hasn't even lost profits? In fact, profits have increased dramatically. It doesn't even make any sense, the record industry is outdated and pointless, anyone can now produce music with all the software that is out there, the only thing record companies seem to do is promotions and they're losing out that market to Last.fm and iTunes genius!

    As for the gaming industry, we all know that if people can't afford it, they're not going to be able to buy it. I really can't see the problem with piracy. Ancient greek amphitheatres worked on the same principle, you would pay if you had the money, hellenistic society seemed to be doing fine in the arts if you take a look at it, they didn't suffer from economic crises or people quitting because they couldn't make money!

    I think anti-piracy groups are fueled by media-based delusions funded under the table by these industries to grapple onto what little pointless foothold they have.

    Let's not forget that Piracy is the label slapped on the downloading of software presented online by a party who has illegally taken it.

    'Piracy' (which simply reminds me of pillaging on the high seas) occurs across PC, Mac and consoles rampantly. It happens not only with games, but with films, software and other digitally available products. It is without doubt a concerning problem, for developers and consumers alike - For developers it could mean loss of earned income - For consumers it could mean the degradation of an industry (in conjunction with the former example).

    There are several issues to this which exist along a set of facts. The facts suggest that gamers are willing to endorse products they enjoy and support, another fact is that consumers are willing to endorse products delivered on their terms, and lastly, software users will purchase products they enjoy so long as they feel as though they own the product once they rightfully purchase it.

    Unfortunately, these factors are in crisis because: Games and films are now produced on mass and large percentages of marketed content is rubbish not worth buying, products are sold at high prices based on their hype, country of sale (which for some reason distorts release dates), marketing and packaging expenses (which apart from 'hype' mean little to the consumer), and most software products are never actually owned by the consumer once bought (they merely pay large sums of money for 'licenses').

    Digital products are not made and sold under the terms of consumers, and because of this, they they are not purchased by consumers.

    Seriously what happened to the days where I could go to a non-malevolent store buy a brand new game and share it with my entire family. Now, I have to avoid misleading ads, know whats okay to buy, do research into my games, understand DRM constrictions, realise that we barely support the companies we want, know buying mainstream action games is fueling this non-innovative machine.

    Hence Piracy boomed. How can the modern hacker (not the scum you hear about) accept this? I only try to buy games that genuinely deserve to be made because they were great! The game industry distribution wasn't broken but they have broken it now.

    Wait until Mojang releases a retail game. I bet he will change his tune.

      I think Markus provides a clue on how his future releases will be managed.

      “You can’t pirate an online account.”

        Not to sure what he means there, all it would need is for someone to host their own online server and then everyone plays on that one?

        Like MMO free servers?

    While i'm not the hugest fan of minecraft (bought it, played it feverishly for, ironically, about a week, then got bored) I'm a fan of Notch.

    I especially respect the fact that he's unwilling, like many other developers, to simply point a finger at pirates and blame them for everything that ever was and ever will be wrong with the video game industry.

    He's also got the best philosophy to combat piracy. The solution is NOT to punish your paying customers with invasive DRM that gets cracked within the week, but to simply make the game BETTER and LONGER.

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