Renowned Hacker Arrested For Cracking Denuvo Anti-Piracy Tech

Denuvo’s notorious anti-piracy tech used to be seen as uncrackable. It held up against hackers’ best efforts for years, contorting itself into obtuse new shapes every time anybody broke through.

In 2016, a Bulgarian hacker calling himself Voksi came along with a breakthrough that revitalised the whole Denuvo cracking scene. He’s been a pillar of it ever since. Now he’s in deep trouble.

In a post today on CrackWatch<, a subreddit dedicated to removing DRM and other copy protection software from games, Voksi explained the sudden outage of the website of his hacker group, REVOLT. Yesterday, he got arrested, and the police raided his house.

“It finally happened,” Voksi wrote. “I can’t say it wasn’t expected. Denuvo filed a case against me to the Bulgarian authorities. Police came yesterday and took the server PC and my personal PC. I had to go to the police afterwards and explain myself.”

In a statement sent to Kotaku, Denuvo said that Voksi’s arrest came about through the dual efforts of Denuvo parent company Irdeto and the Bulgarian Cybercrime Unit.

“The swift action of the Bulgarian police on this matter shows the power of collaboration between law enforcement and technology providers and that piracy is a serious offence that will be acted upon,” said Irdeto VP of cybersecurity services Mark Mulready.

Denuvo’s statement also included a quote from the Bulgarian Cybercrime Unit, which said: “We can confirm that a 21-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of offenses related to cybercrime and that computing equipment was confiscated. Our investigations are ongoing.”

Voksi declined to reply when reached for comment by Kotaku, but on Reddit he lamented that this Denuvo-cracking days are almost certainly behind him.

“Sadly, I won’t be able to do what I did anymore,” he said. “I did what I did for you guys and of course because bloated software in our games shouldn’t be allowed at all. Maybe someone else can continue my fight.”


Comments

    Hope he gets punished severely. His rationale for cracking DRM is complete BS, developers are simply trying to protect their game from being pirated. While l played pirated games when l was a kid, nowadays l buy my games legitimately to support the developers efforts.

      Agree completely, though I'm sure we would be in the minority. I like the add at the start of some DVD's that went "you wouldn't steal a car"
      "you wouldn't steal a handbag"
      "you wouldn't steal a phone"
      It was on point but always got a laugh out of it.

        Those analogies are bogus though. Those are all tangible objects, so when someone steals them, the owner no longer has them.
        So no, I wouldn't steal an object because that would inflict tangible harm on the owner. "Stealing" software does not take said software away from any owner.

        The other thing which bothers me about those clips is that they only appear to people who have actually bought their product. A pirated copy doesn't have it at all. So what they do is punish the people who actually have paid money, yet do nothing to the people who haven't, which also holds true for DRM products like denuvo.

          I wouldn't steal your car, but if I could make a chip, quick copy of your car without you ever knowing about it or being impacted in any way... uhm, fuckyeah I would.

            Here's a market opportunity!

            I'm totally going to make my own copies of my car, then go down to the local market on the weekend and sell them for cheap.....

            Oh, wait....

            The obvious counter-argument to that is that the value of your car is more than just the cost of the bill of raw materials: someone created the design for the car.

            As a society we want to encourage more of that work, so give limited monopolies over the results.

              Well, yeah... I mean, the value of the car decreases insomuch as I'm probably not going to buy it anymore. Probably. Unless my copy is worse and I decide that I like it enough to get the real thing...

                The question is: if you were a car designer, would you be encouraged to design new cars if you were the only one who could make and sell cars based on those designs?

                  ...if you were the only one who could make and sell cars based on those designs?

                  That's where the reactive thinking comes unstuck. Piracy is only one form of competition. There is always, always a competing factor. The trick is to beat the competition, regardless of its strengths/weaknesses. It's why we've seen the music industry evolve as it has, alongside other creative digital industries. And not even necessarily beat it! Just... do well.

                  If someone wants to be 'the only one', that's a shitty motivator and a frankly unrealistic expectation. Car designers wouldn't be asking themselves that question. The question should be: does it sell? Can I make money?

                  Not 'can I make ALL the money?' just, 'can I make enough money for this to be worth it?'

                  The attitude of, "If we're not making ALL the money, then why bother?" is not only a distraction, but it avoids its own answer. If you can make shitloads of money, even if it means you don't make ALL the money, you'll probably still do it.

                  Mobile gaming has the highest ROI in 'gaming'. By comparison, it makes the high-entry-cost, high-risk variable return AAA titles look apalling. So why do the giants beholden to ROI-obsessed shareholders keep doing it, why hasn't all the smart money pulled out of console gaming, PC gaming? Because there's still money on that table, and they want that, too.

                  @transientmind: nothing I said relied on a single person being the only one allowed to make cars: this was about individual designs.

                  Imagine a world where all car manufacturers were producing the same car because it was commonly accepted as the best you could make out of the available materials, and none would risk spending money to improve the designs because once they'd sold one car with the improvement everyone else would take that improvement verbatim. How would you encourage innovation in that scenario?

                  The result is the same.

                  If I offer you a shed-load of good-faith money, with the caveat that a small number of people utterly uninvolved with contributing to the process will also benefit from the arrangement, so long as you are still profiting from the results of your work, you will still do the work.

                  This concept that an industry will stop creating for fear of having their work stolen is a bogey-man. Especially in creative industries. Some individuals might let that baseless fear paralyze them and stop them from creating, but it is baseless. Those who ignore that fear and create regardless, profit regardless.

          There not bogus at all software and games still cost money if you obtain games and software without payment that's still theft, which is the point of the whole clip in the first place.

          Just because a game or software can be copied and the original creator still owns it doesn't mean they don't take loses.

          We wouldn't have all this DRM in the first place if people weren't stealing shit.

            You need to look up the definitions of theft and stealing.

            Just because a game or software can be copied and the original creator still owns it doesn't mean they don't take loses.

            That is EXACTLY what it means. All they are 'losing' is hypothetical/forecasted/potential/imaginary/hoped-for/NOT REAL sales. AT ITS WORST, if someone copies their work, all it means is the person who made a copy isn't going to buy it. Oh! Except it doesn't even mean that! People still buy things they've pirated, either when the price point is adjusted or when they decide it's a worthwhile value proposition!

            For all the charts and tables people can point to about supposed 'damages' caused by unauthorized copying, it's equally easy if not easier to point at benefits. Increased word-of-mouth/social capital/social pressure/later purchases at an acceptable price-point/increased franchise value.

            Copying bears none of the characteristics or traits that define theft or stealing. It's not even a crime. You can't be arrested for it. It's not in the criminal code. It's a civil infringement.

            Even the term piracy itself is incredibly loaded, an historical example of exactly the same dishonesty: going back to the earliest days of movable type, when book publishers found that their IP was being printed by unauthorized citizens, and they loudly called it 'piracy,' which at the time was the term for people literally robbing and murdering on the seas, a practice of high visibility and notoriety at the time.

            It was a false equivalence then, and it's a false equivalence now. Calling copyright infringement 'theft' or 'stealing' is exactly the same blatant manipulation, an intellectually dishonest appeal to emotion to try and make something sound a LOT worse than it is. The constant, consistent attitude of IP holders treating the terms as (utterly incorrect) fact is a very deliberate, conscious attempt to exploit ignorance, leading people to mistakenly believe that copyright infringement might actually be a crime (which it's not), or have provable, measurable negative impacts (which it also does not).

            Anyone who calls copyright infringement 'theft' or 'stealing' is either deliberately lying or ignorant. THAT is an objective fact. Look it up.

              While the majority of what you are saying is correct, the part about it not being a crime is only true in certain situations.
              For example, under the Australian Copyright Act, it may be an offence to cause infringement on a commercial scale, even if the infringer makes no financial gain.
              It may also be an offence if the infringer makes or possess a “device” that is to be used to make infringing copies of a copyright work.
              An individual who is found guilty of a summary offence may be fined or imprisoned for up to 2 years or both.
              But that's upto the court to decide

              People make this grasp everytime. Thanks for taking up the mantle for me ;)

              Lol, really how many people who pirate (or whatever word you want to use) actually sit back and go
              "you know what that game/movie/book was really good I'm going to go out and pay real money for it now even though I already obtained it illegally" what a joke.

              Copyright infringement is theft if someone creates something spends there time and money creating it it belongs to them it doesn't become public domain just because it's ones and zeros.

              What's the difference between a person painting a picture on real canvas and having it stolen or doing it digitally and having it pirated? why value something less because it was created digitally?

                Lol, really how many people who pirate (or whatever word you want to use) actually sit back and go "you know what that game/movie/book was really good I'm going to go out and pay real money for it now even though I already obtained it illegally" what a joke.

                People in this comment section. ME. I have done that. Many, many people do literally exactly that. Just because you can't understand it, doesn't mean people don't do it.

                Copyright infringement is theft if...

                No. Stop right there. You're doing exactly what I described before - you're deliberately re-defining the law yourself, to the terms you WISH were real, but WHICH ARE NOT REAL.

                Copyright infringement is not theft. We've covered this. And at the heart of that, the reason it's not the same because of the one primary, defining requirement for theft: the original owner still has the item. They have not been deprived of anything.
                And I'm not arguing in favour of instant, automatic public domain... it's still copyright infringement, it's just not a crime. It's a civil wrong. A claim can be made to collect compensation... but it's not a crime. You can't just say that jay-walking is the same as murder. Not all wrongs are equal, either in impact or consequence

                What's the difference between a person painting a picture on real canvas and having it stolen or doing it digitally and having it pirated?

                What's the difference? Are you fucking serious? THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT IF YOU STEAL THE CANVAS, THE ARTIST DOES NOT HAVE IT ANY MORE. IF YOU COPY IT, THE ARTIST STILL HAS IT. How is that so fucking hard for you to grasp?

                why value something less because it was created digitally?

                Are you familiar with the concept of inflation? In a barter scenario, if I have a physical item, and you want to trade it for something digital, something you can reproduce infinitely, what's to stop you from aquiring all physical things in the world with your infinitely reproducible good? Ergo: the reproducibility has less intrinsic valu...

                No, actually, we're done here. If you can't understand why something finite and only transferrable once is somehow worth less than something that can be infinitely reproduced, then there's no point in trying to communicate further. You don't meet the minimum requirements for this class.

                  Wow you seriously don't get it do you, your part of the problem, with attitudes like yours towards the respect and ownership of digitally created property.

                  Thinking that pirating a digital property is perfectly fine is ludicrous for any reason, let me put it in a simple way you can understand
                  If you get something that costs money without exchanging money for that something then that is "stealing" weather it is digital or not.

                  transientmind - you are in an EXTREMELY small minority of pirates who buy what they pirate and I 100% guarantee you don't purchase every item you pirate.

                  Your ''not hurting anyone with a replica" mantra has been the litany of the pirate that I've heard for the past 30 years and it always comes from selfish entitled pratts who believe they aren't harming anyone with their actions.

                  It takes money and time to produce computer games, music, movies, ebooks, digital paintings etc. So it is you who CANNOT FUCKING GRASP that digital items have value.
                  When a company does NOT sell enough copies of digital product X, they then do not have the finances to continue to employ the creative people who created it. Those people do not always go one to other creative jobs, where once again their time and effort may not be rewarded and their employment cut shorter than working in a "standard" job.

                  I was a pirate in my teens and twenties. I then worked in video-game and TV production in my 30s and 40s - and realised the long hours and effort people put into their projects - NO ONE intentionally makes a bad product, the vision may not be there or the skills necessary to polish the product to greatness - but no one spends hundreds or thousands of man-hours intentionally producing a turd.

                  Your comment of "Copyright infringement is not theft." I find hilarious, as the total opposite is being bleated in the Nintendo Switch pirate circles where a commercial product was released to play backups, using open source code. The majority of the kids and teens are whining about the audacity of the commercial group stealing open source code and making money off of it! And even more horrendous no one has cracked the backup enabling software yet and $25 is too expensive when they've already paid $300 USD to buy the switch. Entitlement at it's finest.

                  YOU don't meet the intelligence or morality test for theft of time and intellectual property. Maybe with some real life experience and another 10-20 years you might. Especially if you're making an income from creative digital commerce as our illustrious government are suggesting we all do, since manufacturing is a sinking ship in Aus.

                  The irony of @gizmomelb trying to claim some lofty moral high ground of supposed maturity when using a shitload of words that boil down to, ‘no u’ is almost amusing, but in this instance falls short into pitiful.

                  Ignoring the ad hominem, you’ve damn near won a logical fallacy bingo card.

                  Starting with the false dichotomy and straw man. I didn’t say everyone should pirate, that there’s nothing wrong with it… only that the negative impact and consequences (because as I've also demonstrated, there are positive ones, too) are far, far different – and lesser – to stealing or theft. Claims of equivalence to theft/stealing are absurd, emotional exaggerations which bear as much resemblance to the actual offense in principle, and in impact, as jaywalking does to assault. And there’s a big difference between claiming creative work is ‘worth less’ as opposed to ‘worthless’. Which one did I claim? NOT worthless. Only an idiot - or someone who's never tried to buy photoshop - would claim that digital works have NO value. Only that their infinite reproducibility makes the value of a copy virtually insignificant. It’d take a a truly unprecedented and disproportionate ratio of piracy to sales to have ANY kind of impact whatsoever.

                  Which brings us to reductio ad absurdium: Studio closures? Really? No-one’s closing down their studios due to piracy. That’s not the consequence of piracy, and it’s ludicrous to even bring it up. Money is being made and will continue to be made. Piracy is only a measurable ‘loss’ in the wildest imaginations of the self-entitled. Fact is: you can’t ‘lose’ money from the ‘lost sales’ of people who were never going to be customers in the first place.

                  And let’s wrap up with argument by association: Switch pirate circles? Did I champion their arguments? Did I even appear sympathetic? No. Nothing they say about those subjects you bring up are even remotely relevant to me pushing back against the legally incorrect and morally incorrect claim of piracy being equivalent to theft. I might as well claim that you’re arguing in favour of MPAA claiming that piracy costs trillions – sure, you didn’t say that, but people ‘in your corner’ do, so you must support it, right?

                  For all that you claim, from your weak-ass arguments, it seems a lot more like you've mistaken ‘maturity’ for agreeing with what you believe.

                I used to do it all the time. There were numerous movies I'd download to watch, then go and buy. I looked at it as a screening process to see if it was worth the cost or not. So am I a lost sale or not? My movie collection is insured for $50,000 by the way, which is well under what the RRP would be to replace it.

                The irony is that when I was downloading, I was more likely to go buy the movie that I would be today with streaming services. Because of the convenience of those services, it takes me longer to get around to buying the movie, if at all. End result, I still buy movies, just not as many so I invest less using legit services than I did with less legit options.

                The industry ignores the benefits of downloading, which is that the people interested in their movies are generally the ones most heavily investing in the movies themselves. Proven in multiple studies, squashed by the MPAA and RIAA. People that pirate spend more money on movies than those that don't.

                With games, I have a lot of classic games I like to still play. I have them on disc, which makes it problematic to install and be able to play when my laptop doesn't have an optical drive.

                Is downloading a copy to mount and play still piracy if I have a copy sitting on a shelf next to my PC? I haven't dodged a sale, I'm just adding convenience.

                Why the hell should I be forced to buy an identical product just to take the disc out of the process? What possible reason outside of greed is there to force that?

                The industry would have people believe that by doing that I'm some mafia level criminal mastermind, and committing corporate level crimes against them that demand restitution that would destroy me.

                I don't agree with this guys rationale by the way, but every time the piracy debate comes up, it pisses me off no end that people have such blinkered views (on both sides btw) that they cant see the good that piracy does along the way, or that there are justifiable reasons to download stuff.

                  The way you explained it, no it would not be stealing if you own the item already on disc and then downloaded it to play as you have purchased the right to play the game initially and still have the original purchases disc.

                  However if you sell or exchange the disc to someone else you no longer own the original copy therefor it would in turn become an illegal copy of the game.

                  Same way that turning your music into MP3 format from a disc, you own the right to play the music.

                  For me personally if I wanted to try a game I would download a demo or hire it from blockbuster, if it was a movie same thing hire it if I liked it I would buy it if not the few dollars spent on the hire was no loss because I still watched or played it.

                  I have friends that are the complete opposite they never buy games or pay for movies because they either don't have the money
                  (which in that case find something cheaper to occupy your time)
                  or they have the money but have the whole Fuck you EA attitude.

                  @almightysparrow I don't drive, and for a looooong time, haven't been conveniently near a Video Ezy or Blockbuster to hire stuff. Which is why I started buying movies in the first place. As I said, there are justifications to piracy that most people against it just ignore. I hope you can see that.

                  I also don't sell stuff after I buy it. If I buy a game or movie, theres a good enough reason that I'll keep it regardless, just in case I want to play it again.

                  When I have 1500 movies, and a couple of hundred seasons of TV shows, its hard to paint me as the thief people want pirates to be. The 3 full bookcases at home say otherwise.

                  I've had this argument for 10 years. The general assumption is that someone that downloads is only ever doing it to save money, and never buy a single product. Which has been proven repeatedly to be false.

                  The arguments that it costs jobs has also been proven false. Or at the very least, based on incorrect information. If you want a good read on how biased the rights owners arguments are, have a look at this from about 10 years ago.

                  arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2008/10/dodgy-digits-behind-the-war-on-piracy.ars

                  Its worth the read to show how flawed their sensationalised claims are. Once you read it, consider how deeply biased their arguments inevitably are, and ask yourself where the real truth is. Its not where they claim.

                Ok, here's a hypothetical situation for you.

                Say you've purchased a game, given your money to the developer for your right to use the software. The developer has taken the very wise decision to put denovo [or some equivalent] on the product. You install it on your system and you play the game.

                Fast forward a couple of years; Your old system dies so you build a new one. Your old operating system is no longer supported so you need to use a newer version. Upon installing your game you find that the DRM does not operate correctly on your new system. You are now unable to play the game.

                The publisher of the game is now selling a new version of the game with the DRM removed. What do you do? Would you purchase another 'copy' of the game? Or would you find someone else who had it and obtain a copy from them?

                Last edited 26/07/18 2:54 pm

                Ok, here's a hypothetical situation for you.

                Say you've purchased a game, given your money to the developer for your right to use the software. The developer has taken the very wise decision to put denovo [or some equivalent] on the product. You install it on your system and you play the game.

                Fast forward a couple of years; Your old system dies so you build a new one. Your old operating system is no longer supported so you need to use a newer version. Upon installing your game you find that the DRM does not operate correctly on your new system. You are now unable to play the game.

                The publisher of the game is now selling a new version of the game with the DRM removed. What do you do? Would you purchase another 'copy' of the game? Or would you find someone else who had it and obtain a copy from them?

                Though you also admit to renting games. Video game rentals and 'used' games are the same as piracy [from the developers perspective]. You get to play the game and they receive no money for it. It's actually worse as you actually are still paying money to play the game, but they receive none of that and it all goes to the company doing the rental.

                  Like I said if you have a legitimate copy of the game already than its fine because the initial purchase of the game it's self is the "rights" to play it.

                  Although the game being re-released might not if they made improvements, like say the god knows how many versions of Skyrim that were "improved".

                  Back in the day rentals (mainly movie) were either provided to the store by the publisher or through the company, usually.

                  Not sure about the price points if they were higher or if there was an initial commission to the studio, through the rental.

                  As for used/preowned games if I "sell" a game I'm selling my "right" to play the game, someone else can purchase my "right" to play it themselves.

            And lots of people have problems playing games or using software they've legitimately paid for because of the added DRM that's been created. Not to mention other problems like increased wear (some DRM is linked to decreased SSD life), software crashes and incompatibility. Oh and potentially opening creating security holes opening the way for malware.

            Or hell, it could be as simple as not wanting to have to dig out a CD/DVD everytime the person wants to play the game. Or like linux users, literally having no legal software to do stuff (like play DVDs) so having to break the law to use stuff they legally own.

            Just because someone uses a crack that removes DRM doesn't mean they *didn't* pay for the game/software.

          Counterfeiting money isn't taking away from an owner either. Is that one o.k.?

            I think you've got a booming career in DVD-piracy-analogy-consulting ahead of you.

              I don't need it. I have a normal career so I can afford things, rathet than pirating them, then making lame justifications because you're to poor to afford what you want.

      Meanwhile with some of the DRM involved developers also make simply playing the game inconvenient, and/or outright causing performance issues even if you paid for the product.

      But hey they've already handed over the cash, so fuck those customers I guess.

        Well they used to use less intrusive DRM but that got hacked pretty quick.

        guess what? there are alternatives.. I buy most of my games from www.gog.com - where every single copy is DRM free. I like that I don't have to be online to play, I don't have to log in to Steam, Origin, Ubisoft, whatever.

        Support the alternatives and you'll see more AAA titles appear that way.

          CD Project Red deserve all the praise they get for making GoG what it is, and putting their own title on the line with Witcher 3 to prove the point.

          But it is miles away from being standard practice though. Especially when some developers, or their publishers more specifically, simply don't want to bother with the effort of releasing a game as complete and well supported as Witcher 3 was.

            absolutely I've bought Witcher 2 and 3 direct from GOG / Project Red when they were announced. Good developers deserve my money in my opinion.

      Much as I'd love to agree with you, I simply can't.

      There are so many DRM solutions that limit legitimate usage, which is completely unfair to legitimate buyers.

      I've had a few games I the past that I've bought and had to then pirate to actually play. If in these situations there was no 'alternate solution' I would have not been able to play at all.

      The sooner DRM dies, the better. And groups like this have a role in proving the futility of these actions so that everyone can use and enjoy software.

        Heh. I remember in the 'olden days' I would actually install nocd fixes for stuff I owned, just to avoid the issues it caused making unnecessary calls to the CD for DRM-only purposes, or to fix certain black-screen-fail-to-progress errors (and in no small part actually for the laziness of being able to play a wide variety of titles without having to physically change discs; even then, convenience was King for me). It was beyond fucked up that for many games of that era, the fix to certain bugs was a nocd fix.

        Additionally, I also vividly remember turning to megagames for keygen hacks for titles I also already owned, because when you started ramping up the number of titles in your physical library (the ONLY library in those days, with no digital downloading going on outside of piracy), disc wallets started to make it hard to keep the relevant keys with discs. I know I lost a few after a couple of house moves. I've bought and re-bought Diablo 2 god knows how many times... at least three or four.

      That's kind of the point, though. You pirated them as a kid and when you matured you decided to contribute. DRM played no part in that decision. CD Projekt Red have pointed out several times that they release their games with no DRM and they sell gangbusters.

      If the guy was actually distributing games (I don't know the specifics here) then sure, fine him. But that's not the same as releasing the information or tools to remove invasive copy protection from a product that you legitimately purchased.

        You should check out the documentary that NoClip did on Good Ol' Game. It's great and a huge part of their philosophy has always been DRM free is the best way to go.

        I actually go out of my way to buy CD Projekt (and GoG) games even when I am not that interested in playing them. Simply because I really appreciate their attitude and want to support them. And if it's a game I really want to play I'll pay more to get it from GoG instead of Steam (or somewhere else with DRM).

        I'd love to know what the typical costs related to using popular DRM is. There's got to be a purchase/license cost, probably integration costs, support costs and probably other costs. I'd love to know what that cost would be for a typical game. Then compare that with likely loss in sales due to piracy.

      Geez, what sort of authoritarian wonderland do you envision for us all to live in?

      Punished severely? Really? We've got murders and sexual abuse and all sorts of horrifying things going on, and you want someone who modified software on their own computer to be thrown in jail with his 'peers'?

      The concept of DRM is entirely archaic as well, and there are multiple platforms which demonstrate that it is completely unnecessary, and only actually punishes the people who buy your product. How many people pirate music any more? Make a platform easy to use and people are willing to pay for it.
      You even gave your own example which argues against yourself. Many people play pirated games as a kid, and it had almost zero impact on the game developers. You can't get blood from a stone and if you don't have money, not being able to pirate it just means you won't play it at all. Speak to almost anyone who pirated games when they were young/poor and almost unanimously everyone now buys games from those same franchises now they have the money to do so.

      By your logic, every manager of an EB games or JB HiFi should be thrown in jail, as they are facilitating the trade of used games which as far as a developer is concerned has the same impact as piracy. People are playing their games without them receiving any money. Worse, EB and JB are actually receiving money, but the game devs are not. Should these stores also be "punished severely"?

        How many people pirate music any more?

        The irony is, back in the Napster days, music piracy actually increased music sales.
        Instead of having to buy a $30 CD without knowing if you liked it, you could listen to it, decide if it was worth it, then buy it; and a lot of people did.

          It's well established that piracy is far from being a black-and-white negative force. Just ask Neil Gaiman.

          Lowering the barriers to entry matters now more than ever, as the increase in available content makes visibility, discoverability a major if not primary marketing consideration. If one person asks another person, "Hey, have you tried [x product]?" and they reply, "Yeah, it's great!" but didn't pay for it, that's still better than if they reply, "Nah, can't afford it, don't care enough to prioritize its value over the other things I buy."

          Social awareness is word-of-mouth discoverability, social pressure extends sales tails for everyone wanting to experience the same thing their friends/acquaintances are discussing, and in many cases, even just 'try before you buy' turns the cautious undecided into purchases, even if it's outside of the initial window for main revenue generation - a sale at half price because they played it and think half price is all it's worth it is still more of a sale than someone who avoided out of caution entirely or got a refund because expectations were not met.

          The root of almost all complaints about piracy is the emotional, "That's mine, you have it and didn't pay for it!" complaint (which I can sympathize with), and the utterly-divorced-from-reality wishful thought that all (or even the majority of) pirates are 'lost sales'. Money that they had in their hands, taken away through copyright infringement. Even if that was never, ever, EVER going to be the case.

            Just to explain the Neil Gaiman bit - 2011, Gaiman discovered that his ebook sales had suddenly started jumping through no action of his own or his publisher's. The cause got pinned down to the release of a pirated copy generating legitimate interest.

            There's fucktonnes of articles about it, but have some succinct quotes:

            He admits that early on, when he saw his works "pirated" on the web, it made him quite upset. At first, he (totally incorrectly) believed that if he didn't fight online copies, it might mean he'd lose his copyright (a myth based on a weak understanding of trademark law that sometimes people confuse with copyright law). Thankfully, he learned that wasn't true. However, where it gets interesting is when he realized that whenever his works got "pirated," it actually seemed to help his sales:
            "Then I started to notice that two things that seemed much more significant. One of which was that places where I was being pirated -- particularly Russia (where people were translating my stuff into Russian and spreading it out into the world) I was selling more and more books. People were discovering me through being pirated. And then they were going out and buying the real books, and when a new book would come out in Russia it would sell more and more copies."
            He then mentions that after a lot of persuading, he got his publisher to release a free digital copy of American Gods, and sales went up by 300%, even though it had already been selling quite well before that. And that was his epiphany moment that you're "not losing sales" by having stuff out there. And he explains how "piracy" is just a giant way of lending books, and points out that, when asked this question at talks, he asks how many people in the audience found their favorite author because someone lent them a book vs. going into a book store and buying it. And only 5 to 10% of people found their favorite authors first by buying the books.
            "That's really all this is. It's people lending books. And you can't look on that as a lost sale.... What you're actually doing is advertising. You're reaching more people. You're raising awareness. And understanding that gave me a whole new idea of the shape of copyright and what the web was doing. Because the biggest thing the web was doing is allowing people to hear things, allowing people to read things, allowing people to see things they might never have otherwise seen. And I think, basically, that's an incredibly good thing."

              Quite an interesting read and the analogy with lending is on point. DRM prevents even lending stuff to your friends which in our current state of the gaming industry (DLC, season events, achievements, etc.) is ridiculous! Games have so much content now that very few of them can be truly "completed" over a normal playthrough. Someone borrowing an AAA game nowadays for a couple weeks is almost guaranteed to buy it if they liked it enough. And if not? Oh well, that sale was never happening anyway.

              Imagine how hilarious it would be from the book industry to try prevent lending.

            I'd like to add to the try before you buy argument. There are people like me who suffer simulator sickness. Basically it's like the reverse of motion sickness. I get nausea, sweating, vision problems and headaches from playing certain games. Lots of people have the problem and it makes games unplayable.

            Certain games trigger it and I never know whether a game will do it without actually playing it (I can play any of the Counter-strike games but not Half-life 2). But within 10 minutes I'll know if the game causes it. When shareware and demos were really common they were a godsend because it was possible to try a game and know it'd make me sick before I handed over $50-100.

            Since lots of games these days don't offer a playable demo if I have the problem then I need to fight to return the game and get a refund. Or use a cracked version for 10 minutes since that's all it takes to figure out if it's safe to play.

              the try before you buy argument is valid, but when you have digital ''collectors'' having terabytes of content which they've never paid a cent to the creators, then that totally invalidates the argument.

              as for other try before you buy allegories.. there are these wonderful things called libraries....

                I dunno about you, but my local library doesn't stock video games. It used to be possible to rent them from a video store, but they've all closed down. And heck, even before they closed down it was problematic because so many games (PC at least) require accounts to play so they basically weren't rentable.

                Getting back to digital collectors. I think if someone has terabytes of content there's a really good chance that they won't ever get around to playing/watching/listening to it. I believe that a sale should be linked to consumption of the product, in other words a sale is not lost to piracy unless the pirate actually uses the product. So the producer hasn't really lost their sale to these sort of hoarders.

                That said, I'm not fond of the "I'll pirate everything and buy nothing ever" attitude that some people have. I can understand most of the justifications except the people who never plan to buy *anything*.

                  Yup. lots of libraries stock video games, movies and CDs, although usually not the latest as soon as they come out.

                  It's a pity that the video stores / game and CD rental stores have mostly closed - but you can preview songs easily enough online legally for free (at worst look on youtube). Video game let's plays on youtube and twitch should give you enough information as to whether it'll be a game type you'll enjoy.

                  Most games nowadays have some online component - either a unique code to be able to play the game, linked to an account of some kind, which in turn can also be linked to specific hardware. SO even the second hand market is shrinking in regards to gaming. Also with online generally the pirated copies are excluded from online play due to not being able to authenticate with the online server / services.

                  @gizmomelb: The Lets Play type videos might give you an idea about the style of gameplay but they don't help working out whether the game will cause simulator sickness since it's not the same as actually playing.

      I haven't played a cracked game in ages now but the latest versions of DRM do in some poor implementation cases have detrimental effects on the performance of a game and also with the customer trying to load the game itself. Whilst his motives are different from what I state in the end DRM only harms and impacts honest customers because those who circumvent it don't have to deal with issues of the DRM.

      Not really want if he only cracked the code and didn't distribute any of the games just showed others how to do it?
      Not sure in this day and age of gun murder and terrorism that the reasources of a government should be used to hunt down such low level stuff.

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    As a former game developer myself, good on Voksi and I hope he gets out. DRM is not the solution to fighting piracy, and DRM solutions have become far too intrusive over the years, interfering with system performance, spying on running processes and sending that data to unscrupulous businesses without consent, and shady practices like rootkits. DRM doesn't stop pirates, but it does create a worse experience for paying customers.

      This. What was that game, recently, that had Denuvo cracked on the first day, meaning that legitimate owners were suffering from poor performance due to Denuvo while hackers skated right on by?

      and shady practices like rootkits

      I take it you're referring to the (back in the day) Sony-BMG CDs and (more recently) the antics of Flight Sim Labs?

        The Sony CD bullshit was the one that immediately came to mind. I didn't know about the Flight Sim Labs one but that's super shady too.

          SidAlpha has a video on the topic (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s03nyiMbaPI) but I'll give the 5 second version here.

          Basically the developer found that some have been pirating their product.

          Their response? They put malware into their installer to basically lift account passwords off those using pirated keys.

          While not DRM in any sense of the word I listed it to show the extremes some will go to in their "fight" against piracy.

            Didn't it lift their entire password list from Chrome? So like banking passwords any everything?

              I don't the extent first-hand, but it doesn't matter.

              The fact it could lift passwords in the first place was outright alarming.

          Those Sony (and subsidiaries) CDs gave me the shits. I bought about five of them in a row and had to return each one. They flat out refused to play on my stereo because of the protection. I reckon the store thought I was pirating them because I bought one then returned it the next day for five days in a row. In the end I realised they were all the same company so I stopped buying them.

      Exactly... The latest case of Denuvo hampering performance is the release of Sonic Mania Plus, Sega rushed to put Denuvo in and it is having a severe effect on performance with people who have lower specced systems.

      One person said even they meet the system requirements, the game is completely unplayable, but the pirated version runs perfectly.

    Denuvo have probably just offered him a job now.

    The last time I pirated a game it was Hotline Miami 2 because it got banned for no good reason. The previous time before that was The Stick of Truth.

    Funnily enough I learnt how to get pirated games due to censorship :D

      Pretty sure the developers themselves told Australians to pirate Hotline Miami 2 as well.

    If only the DRM wasn't cancerous to begin with, then I can understand them going after these people, but when you include malicious DRM that either tracks data or slows the gaming experience down or otherwise hinders the end user, then I really have no respect for these companies that use it.

    Was it AC:Origins that recently had DRM that used like %30 of the CPU cycle while playing? it was one of them anyway, pathetic!

      Was it AC:Origins that recently had DRM that used like %30 of the CPU cycle while playing?

      I don't know about the 30% level, but I'm certain it was AC: Origins that came under fire for having Denuvo for the game and VM Protect for to further "protect" the game.

      I'm not against DRM per se, but I do frown on cases where there are multiple layers.

    Pirates are bad? But Jack Sparrow is the good guy!

    For the tl:dr crowd:

    When there are no perceived repercussions people will do whatever they want, then try to publically justify it when others question / discuss it as being different to expected behaviour.

    The main reasons people justify why they pirate:

    1 - it's not a lost sale, I'm hurting no-one (so why do you deserve a copy then?)
    2 - I wouldn't have bought it anyway (so why do you deserve a copy then?)
    3 - the DRM is too invasive so I use a cracked copy (cool, if you also own the original. justifiable)
    4 - I don't like company X, fuck them
    5 - it's not available in my region so I copy it (so buy it from another region, it's not like it's hard online anymore, hell I used to buy DVDs and VHS from overseas back in the 1990s for shows not in Australia at the time)
    6 - it's too expensive so I'm not buying it (again, why do you deserve a copy? other than entitlement?)
    7 - I'm just trialling it to see if I like it (justifiable imo, but then it's up to your personal ethics how long the trial is and whether you buy it. eg: Having something for a few years is not trialling it any more)
    8 - I'll never get caught

    Transientmind's reply is exactly how I expected it to be - pompous and pretentious. The ad homimem attack is warranted when YOU started being a complete dick with replies:

    Transientmind said: "No, actually, we're done here. If you can't understand why something finite and only transferrable once is somehow worth less than something that can be infinitely reproduced, then there's no point in trying to communicate further. You don't meet the minimum requirements for this class."

    I treat people the same way they treat others, and you treat others as beneath you. if you're going to throw shit little man, then step up to the plate and prepare to start batting because it's coming back at you.

    Your self entitled importance shines through as does your aggression towards those who disagree with you. Something I see quite often in #notallmen arguers. Not accusing, before you get even more pompous. I'm just observing.

    Addressing your rant - " I didn’t say everyone should pirate, that there’s nothing wrong with it… only that the negative impact and consequences (because as I've also demonstrated, there are positive ones, too) are far, far different – and lesser – to stealing or theft."

    I never claimed you did say everyone should pirate, I did say that there are consequences to piracy which are overlooked by those who pirate - people lose jobs and projects get cancelled - that is at the corporate level. Yes piracy does work as free advertising - when the pirate then goes and purchases other works from the author / creator / studio - when it doesn't work is with digital hoarding where the pirate never contributes fiscally, which in turns helps lengthen the amount of time said creator(s) can continue doing what they (generally) enjoy - producing content for others to appreciate.

    "Claims of equivalence to theft/stealing are absurd, emotional exaggerations which bear as much resemblance to the actual offense in principle, and in impact, as jaywalking does to assault. And there’s a big difference between claiming creative work is ‘worth less’ as opposed to ‘worthless’. Which one did I claim? NOT worthless. Only an idiot - or someone who's never tried to buy photoshop - would claim that digital works have NO value. Only that their infinite reproducibility makes the value of a copy virtually insignificant."

    Here is where you totally do not get it - piracy used to be totally against corporate businesses - who were the only ones who had the money to develop content aimed at the mass market. Smaller and individual content makers were few and far between and the depending on their content pirated copies might gain them some advertising via word of mouth, however the people that pirated their content would then usually attend concerts, buy later albums, books etc.

    Just because something is infinitely reproducible you think that digital copies have LESS significant value and you directly state that. Content creation at the corporate level is budgeted on cost vs estimated return on initial investment. No company is going to fund a project that is estimated to niche and sell only a small number of copies - if they did then each copy would potentially be horrendously expensive, and the pirates would have a field day with the perceived value of said items. eg: if they had a copy of "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin"

    The whole point of corporate pricing for digital copies of any content is to at least recoup initial expenses, with projection to make a profit. So the cost of producing the content may be worked out that 10,000 copies at $X need to be sold. If sales do not reach that, either through the content not reaching the public's expectation of quality, pricing or piracy affecting quantity of sales - then the usual corporate decision is not to make more of that same content and disband the content creators.

    You also said: "It’d take a a truly unprecedented and disproportionate ratio of piracy to sales to have ANY kind of impact whatsoever.

    Which brings us to reductio ad absurdium: Studio closures? Really? No-one’s closing down their studios due to piracy. That’s not the consequence of piracy, and it’s ludicrous to even bring it up. "

    Less than one minute of googling reveals many - Stardock Studios, Hunted Cow, Project Zomboid (almost - indie studio), and I'm digging further to find smaller and older game studios from the 16 and 8 bit days.

    https://gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/54749/has-piracy-ever-resulted-in-a-developer-getting-shut-down

    See here is the main thing with piracy - historically it was larger companies who funded creation - then in the 1960s because of improved electronic communication it became easier for small groups of content creators - the musicians mostly - to spread word of mouth and more of the general public would then buy their records. Same happened with home computers and ''bedroom coders'' in the 1980s. Similar again for artists and writers. Of course we all know that internet fame for content creators is easier than it has ever been and lots of people aim to be twitch, twitter, youtube etc.celebrities and have the cash rolling in and them all being self funded.

    I mention this and going back to COMPANIES being the early funders, making copies of stuff wasn't seen as denying the content creators of an income - they'd already been paid! (But of course it could influence FUTURE paycheques for those content creators). Ripping off a large company, and then later a large multi-national company was easy to self justify because said company has millions of dollers, so ''they can afford it''.

    Modern Indie content creators of course cannot afford it. Pirating content in quantity from a smaller content creator may be directly denying that creator income. Not many Indie creators can afford to leave ''their real jobs" to do what they love all the time - that is creating more content.

    So think about that.

    Transientmind also said: "Fact is: you can’t ‘lose’ money from the ‘lost sales’ of people who were never going to be customers in the first place."

    No, but you can influence sales if a free version is available. Those free copies which are also useful for word of mouth are useless when enough potential users decide to choose the free option instead of purchasing their own copies. That is what can kill new content creators from being able to fund more content in future.

    Transientmind also said: "And let’s wrap up with argument by association: Switch pirate circles? Did I champion their arguments? Did I even appear sympathetic? No. "

    Did I say you did? No, I was giving an example of how I thought your exact words of ""Copyright infringement is not theft" were said by those in Switch pirate circles where a commercial product was released to play backups, using open source code released by Switch hackers. So thank you for the argument deflection.

    Transientmind said: "For all that you claim, from your weak-ass arguments, it seems a lot more like you've mistaken ‘maturity’ for agreeing with what you believe."

    No, people can believe what they like - but you are deluding yourself like copyright pirates have for the past 40 years at the least, with the pirate's mantra as listed earlier in this volume of text. You do not see how you are doing anything or anyone any wrong, because that is what you want to believe. I'm telling you your ''facts'' and your belief is wrong and if you were to discuss it anywhere in public other than an anonymous forum, then we know how that would end up don't we.

    Piracy is morally a dick move. IMO.
    Also.... woah.

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