ESA Wants Govt Help Against Canada, Others over Game Piracy

Those pesky Canadians…

A press release issued yesterday by the Entertainment Software Association calls on the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to provide support to the video game industry in its ongoing struggle with software piracy. The ESA, of course, represents the interests of U.S. video game publishers.

Citing what he calls "persistent problems" in Canada, China, Malaysia, Russia, and parts of Europe, ESA CEO Michael Gallagher said:

Countries that support computer and video game piracy discourage publishers from establishing viable and legitimate markets… In 2007, our industry had a record-breaking year with receipts totaling $18.85 billion, but piracy closes off promising markets, artificially limiting our industry’s ability to contribute even more economic growth to the American high-tech economy and economies of our trading partners.

The ESA makes reference to a report issued by the International Intellectual Property Alliance which cites online piracy as well as factory production of discs, Internet cafe piracy, game cartridge counterfeiting and file trading. Regarding Canada, the ESA press release alleges:

Pirated copies of games and circumvention devices have permeated retail markets in Canada, due to legal deficiencies and that [IP] enforcement remains a low priority for public officials.

GP: We note that the IIPA report does not cite a figure for pirated entertainment software in Canada. The organization does, however, report a loss of $511 million worth of business software in the Canadian market in 2007.

Other nations highlighted for IP theft issues by the ESA include China, Malaysia, Russia, Italy, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Brazil, Paraguay and India. Said the ESA’s Gallagher:

We look forward to working with USTR and other supporting government agencies to achieve tangible results and hopefully succeed in lowering piracy in these key countries. Freeing these markets from the pirates’ stranglehold will also help empower a local video game economy.

A similar report from the ESA was released in February, 2007 (see: ESA Part of Group Seeking to Blacklist Canada).

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    Bruceongames says:

    We live in an age were many millions of people get away with stealing (6 million in the UK alone) . And they think nothing of it. They get all their entertainment for free. They download games, music and films at will.

  2. 0
    300baud says:

    It’s interesting that game piracy is so much different than other software. If you are running a pirated copy of Windows, Microsoft considers that a form of success. If you pirate one of Adobe’s premier packages and screw around at home, Adobe is happy that you are learning their tools. You won’t hear them say it it publicly too often (tho it’s on record), but they are better off to have someone “steal” from them than pay their competitor for a number of reasons.

    Unfortunately, for big commercial games to become that way seems to require awful compromises no matter how I look at it. Fortunately, big commercial games are not more fun or interesting than indie games. 😉

  3. 0
    gs2005 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The DMCA is a very realistic possibility in Canada. Why? The US copyright cartel (MPAA, RIAA, BSA, ESA) wants it-badly, and recently Microsoft Canada released a pro-Canada DMCA statement, so don’t assume anything. Everyone likes money and lobbying is basically money-for-favors…and if lobbying doesn’t do it, the US copyright cartel will pull any trick they can to get Canada to become “compliant.”

    I wish you luck Canada in banning a US export you don’t need-the DMCA. Personally I hope it’s like how Europe has basically rejected software patents so far, despite the crying and intense lobbying of the US copyright cartel and US corporations…

  4. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Lost Question
    Probably the same, demos are far worse now a days at one time most PC games had them you got to see 10-25% of the game now you are lucky to get a demo and then you get to see 1-10% since games have gotten smaller and more complex in programing one really needs to know how the launched product will pan out before they buy in.

  5. 0
    Lost Question ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    the esa has the right to be concrened however the worse customers are treated the worse it will end up for them. Im saying that if they go and start treating legitimet consumert like dirt all that will happen is the pirates gain ground (say if the esa restricts pc games till no more pc games come to canada then the ammount of pirates for pc games will skyrocket simple because there is that gap in the market for them to fill)

    most people will pirate the games that they cant or would not get under normal curcumstances.
    however what is the rate for piracy on games that have a demo? vs games without a demo?

  6. 0
    Tricause says:

    I can only hope for the best for my Canadian neighbors. The ESA is ridiculous. You cannot get rid of piracy. No matter what you do, piracy will always remain. Period.

    Like someone said before, lower the prices on the software (and yes that includes games), and piracy will drop. Don’t charge $600 for Photoshop, because then you have 50% of the users using a pirated version.

  7. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    The ESA needs to back off they are quickly becoming meaner than the MPAA/RIAA, Ifear they will become far worse than the RIAA as gaming out paces both film and music… one can only fear for their consumer rights as they gain power….

  8. 0
    Karsten ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    On the whole Bioshock deal here’s a thread form way back then:

    I’ve also found a quote from this thread: (part of post nr 21)

    “Topware, a german software company, once did a test: They released some games for a lower price of 29,99DM (usually a game cost 70-90DM back then) and without copy protection. They then waited what impact on sales that move had. It was negligible. The games sold as many copies as their predecessors, surveys and further analysis showed that they were also copied just as much.The people interested in the games, the “early adopters” who buy games when they come out new, who were genuinely interested would have paid a higher price for the game. The pirates on the other hand didn´t care for the lower price, they copied anyway. If someone doubts this, one of the games involved was the third installment in the “realms of arkania”-saga, “shadows over riva”.

    And this trend still continues, I think. (not a recommendation for pirating, though!!)

    The point is this: As this guy says people that will buy the game, buy the game. People that don’t wont to buy the game, won’t. Some of these people will pirate the game, just because they can or because they’re bored or because they want to show off for their friends (still not a recommendation, though!!)

    I don’t know the sales figures for Shadows Over Riva, but 1 extra sale out of 1000 or even 10 extra sales out of 1000 seems close enough.

    I have to admit, I don’t get why the ESA isn’t satisfied with selling games etc. for almost 19 billion dollars. I can sort of understand why they want to tackle pirating in China and Russia etc. since it is there the big pirating is going on – and has for years…. (this is still NOT a recommendation!!)

    Even if 100,000 people pirated it (a game) and they were elimanated as in stopped, it would only mean at least a 100 more sales or maybe 500 more sales or at best 1000 more sales. The sales figures would then rise ½-1½ percent at best, I think.

    And yes, this knowledge does put thinks into perspective…


  9. 0
    Thomas ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Once again, the an American group trying to force other countries into their way of doing things.

    If the ESA and other such groups had their way, we would all have to purchase a “single use” copies of every piece of software, music, art, movie, whatever we wanted to see.. every time we wanted to see it. We would be unable to back anything up, or watch/play something as a group without a group license, and we would never see anything new in any media because the copyright system would protect against anything that is even vaguely similar to something already in place.

    The existing laws for these things in the US and most other countries already destroy consumer rights and the future of creativity. I hope to god they don’t get any stricter.

  10. 0
    Scazza ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Canadian IP law is much stricter then the US, its just that when it comes to software piracy, there are certain rules that negate strict enforcement of it. Not only that, but ask any informed canadian and they will tell you that they cannot stand it when US organizations push US ideas into an imcompatible canadian system. They did it with the MPAA, the RIAA and now the ESA. Whats bloody annoying is that each time in the past few years that these organizations have attempted to get Canada to jump ship, they did it by paying off politicians, sending fake legal threats and harrassing regular folks in places they have no jurisdiction to.

    Also of note is the 100s of times its been misproven that canadian piracy is any worse then that of the US, only difference is its harder for US corporations to force legal action against canadian citizens (which is exactly the way it bloody should be). The MPAA got screwed 2 years ago when they made bogus claims that canada produced over 50% of all movie pirates, when infact, it was later shown that over 2/3 of pirated movies on sites like ISOhunt and Thepiratebay are from US Screeners…

    Infact, someone tell the ESA to check their sales figures for canada, and they will see that Canada had its biggest year in videogame sales in 2007, and has been on a steady incline, where as many markets are beginning to cool.

  11. 0
    NovaBlack ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    lol from the bottom of the article

    “knowing that eliminating 50,000 pirated copies might only produce 50 additional legal copies does help put things in perspective. “

  12. 0
    NovaBlack ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    basically its an interview with a company exec for a games company that has its own in house DRM software included on all its releases.

    It found its last release suffered a MASSIVE 92% piracy rate (i.e. of all total owners 92% were pirates!)

    BUT when they analysed the impact DRM updates had on piracy, and wether stopping a pirate results in them going out and ACTUALLY buying it they found the following:

    “for every 1,000 pirated copies we eliminated, we created 1 additional sale”

    HAHAH so you stop 1000 PIRATES AND GET 1 ADDITIONAL SALE…. amazing! totally flies in the face of all the companies shouting we lost £XXX last year due to piracy, and also shows the futile reality of DRM

    IN FACT.. one might say that the company in question actually free advertisement an awareness to 1000 individuals who in future may buy products they would never before have been interested in! all in teh place of one sale!

  13. 0
    KayleL ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don’t know everything about Canadian piracy, but what you explained does make sense. I know for sure that the government would shut you down if you sell copied DVDs, but I don’t know if they go after people who starts up torrents.

    If what you say is true, then I am all for that. It’s much more efficient and could slow down piracy. I think a lot of problems would be solved once we start using a system they allows you download games onto the console’s harddrive, and play through your username.

  14. 0
    Simon Roberts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hey, I’ve got a number for the ESA: two — as in the number of weeks I had to wait while Ubisoft printed their French manuals. But hey, what was I gonna do about it, right? Pirate the game while I waited? I guess that would’ve been a viable option, since I’m an evil un-American communist. Next time I’m waiting on a game, I’ll just ring up my console modder in Italy, get him to install a chip that I’ll buy from a Malaysian website, and ship it here on a Russian airline via the deep, mysterious realm of “parts of Europe.”

    Seriously, Canada already got taken for a ride when Warner Bros. accused us of being a hotbed of film piracy and refused to screen any more previews up here, even though they were perfectly happy to premiere their latest Harry Potter cash cow in Asia a day early, thus giving the Hong Kong pirates an advantage in getting their bootlegs onto the market. A move like this smells of “with us or against us” tactics, designed to tighten the stranglehold of American production on the entertainment market, and I’m surprised the ESA was suckered into it. It’s a short step from attacking our copyright laws (and I’ve got as much respect for copyright as anybody; you don’t see me sticking unreleased Nintendo games onto flash carts and selling them on eBay) to demanding that the game industry keeps their productions within the States, much as the film industry does now.

  15. 0
    ColonelSlate says:

    Well, the ESA is a lot more powerful (or at least active) than the RIAA and MPAA, I was recently sent a cease and desist letter from them, after having a friend send me a copy of Bioshock.

    I own the game, but I have had massive trouble with it, due to the 2 installs, I installed it on my laptop, where it didn’t run correctly, and then installed it on my desktop, which had to be reformated recently. Due to me using a torrent to get Bioshock from a buddy, I was sent a cease and desist letter.

    Now, I do agree that pirating is bad, I have done my share of it, and I’m rather ashamed of it now that I have started working with my own company of people and products.

    But, as one of you said, a large portion of pirates download the game, either because they have no money, or… THERE IS NO FREAKING DEMO, which is a way to get people go try the game.

    Some demos are good, while others are like, this is a picture, you can click on it, but nothing else is going to happen. They need to make demos better, that would be one step in stopping piracy.

    In an ever increasing world of, “We said it is good, you buy yes?” the consumer wants to know what they are buying, before they buy it.

    Pirates usually don’t go out and buy the software if they can’t pirate it, they just ignore it and move on. I know I did when I was doing, that being said, pirating is wrong, but limiting people that bought it is wrong too.

    Pirates are at fault just as much as the people that created them are.

    For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

  16. 0
    JQuilty ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Jabrwock: ‘Intellectual Property’ is a fraud. I believe in copyrights, patents, and trademarks, but throwing all of them into one pot and calling it ‘Intellectual Property’ is nothing more than a ploy by Copyright Mafias like the MPAA, RIAA and ESA to make electron duplication sound more severe than it actually is, and to make you think of intangible product as the same thing as a physical object, such as a car. If I steal your car, you can’t use it. I also cannot duplicate it. If I copy a CD or DVD, you are not being denied use of that CD or DVD. I can duplicate it without any problems, too.

    I have nothing against copyrights, trademarks, and patents (although software patents are a load of crap and a lot of patents are overly-broad, but that’s another argument), but lumping them together when they have little, if anything to do with each other is just a ploy by the MPAA/RIAA/ESA to scare you.

  17. 0
    jab49 says:

    As a Canadian and a rampant Mugger/Raper of the video game industry I say they can go to H*** and pry their pirated content from my cold dead hands. I’m not paying 70$ Canadian (which is more than America, both in price and dollar for dollar) for a game I’ll play maybe 20 hours. Unless there is reasonable pricing which there isn’t I will download to my hearts content and I feel no guilt towards them whatsoever. Everything on my computer is freeware or ‘illegal’ from my OS to openoffice to my video games, excluding WoW.
    These companies are making exorbitant profits and complaining about how they aren’t making enough due to piracy? Doesn’t that seem kinda cyclical. I would imagine one of the reasons Canada is so full of piracy is because we get reamed, video games don’t have to go any farther (in many cases they ship shorter distances since Canadian cities are mostly on the border), have no extra expenses and we’re charged more in a more valuable currency for something that is already over priced. Most Canadians just give them a huge middlefinger and download it illegally then smoke up and get gay married after dropping our friends off at the abortion clinic, heathens the lot of us.

  18. 0
    Moriarty70 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wow, first Al Gore tells us how Canada views “Climate Change” and now the ESA tells us how WE handle piracy? I have to offer a big one finger salute to both of them since we have our own experts who talk about these issues.

    It’s weird that since we don’t bother dealing with piracy, condone it even, that I see a couple reports a month on the local news about operations being shut down. These must be the ones who aren’t paying the hush money to our corrupt government.

    Oh, and as for these “legal deficiencies”, try looking at some parts of the constitution in the USA for problems there. At least our laws aren’t black and white, and when we rule on them, we read the WHOLE THING, not just the part that the lobbies want. Second Amendment anyone?

  19. 0
    KayleL ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Us Canadians are pesky. I seen people steal music (like Americans don’t) and I seen stolen movies. I never seen a stolen game for consoles. Nobody wants to risk their $400-500 console to steal games. As for PCs, just use Steam. It has pretty darn good protection, and it isn’t much of a pain to consumers.

    I don’t mind DRM, but use good DRM that isn’t painful for the consumer like steam.

  20. 0

    If the ESA can’t provide solid numbers (i.e. not ones they just pulled out of thin air), then they can shut up. Our laws are stricter than the US and I am firmly convinced that organizations like the ESA are simply claiming countries like ours that won’t implement the kind of oppression nonsense that is the DMCA are havens for pirates. We’re sorry that you can’t accept that a certain amount of piracy is an UNAVOIDABLE cost of doing business but too bad.

  21. 0
    Tank ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “due to legal deficiencies and that [IP] enforcement remains a low priority for public officials.”

    And thats the way it should stay…the last thing I want is the Canadian version of the DMCA. Our Politicians should be more concerned with what they’re going to have for lunch on an all-expenses-paid “discovery mission” to some tropical paradise than this crap.

  22. 0
    300baud says:

    Expect to see a lot of this in the coming months. We have entered an as-yet unofficial election campaign. One of the election issues is shaping up to be copyright reform. Everyone wants it, but disagrees on what reform would mean.

    The government and lobbyists want to go beyond WIPO and implement DMCA-style provisions. Consumers want to keep the right to circumvent DRM if there is no infringement, a definition of fair use, limited and unextended terms of copyright, resent being treated as a criminal before the fact, the usual. There is a surprising amount of resonance with the public. Copyright has never been an election issue as long as I can recall, and until recently it’s been hard to even start a conversation on the subject. It seems to be an issue young voters identify with, so it could have a huge impact on the results since they are people who usually do not vote.

    The government has been very devious about this. They are claiming there has been ample public consultation, but it was more than seven years ago before anyone had seen proof of the mess the DMCA was. The edgier media shops have been crashing Christmas parties and the like so they could force a little bit of discussion; the government has not provided a better opportunity. One of the election promises was to bring all treaty ratifications before Parliament for debate, but this particular one (WIPO ratification) they are mysteriously excluding from their own policy. They really want to pass this legislation, but it is so unpopular they don’t even dare publicly release the draft before the coming election.

  23. 0
    Overcast says:

    I got an idea!

    Just put biometric/RFID chips in everybody.. Then you can control us all like machines! Then when crap gets downloaded, we can be jailed for 50 years for ‘High Treason’ against the ‘Corporate World’.

    Or wait, nm, they are already planning on that.

  24. 0
    NovaBlack ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    tbh im sick of the ‘x amount of illegal copies of our software were made last year, that equates to a direct loss of (x*Product Price).’

    NO IT DOESNT… many pirates who pirate a game only do so because they would never actually buy it in real life. If for instance they COULDNT copy it, they wouldnt just always go out and buy a copy as software makers always like to assume. Theyd just genreally shrug n go ‘oh well it looked crap anyway’ and move onto the next thing.

    Personally i dont actually pirate anything, so im not tryna be a pro-pirate poster, i dont agree with it morally. i kinda believe in paying for something if some1 has worked on it. But doesnt change the fact that the blanket statements about losses are actually very far fetched.

    The BioSHock issues also proved a great point , that in some cases the only people the Anti piracy DRM stuff hurt was legit consumers!. And the whole limited to 2 installs thing was a load of crap. It was ironic there was a crack out in about 24 hours of release, and whilst the pirates were happy playing away, the forums were full of legit consumers who’d payed n then couldnt use it!

  25. 0
    Skyler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “I’m a pirate, so sue me.”
    They just may.

    While I think piracy is bad, DRM is based on old technology. Disks are NOT a viable permanent storage device. The tech just isn’t there. If publishers can give out software on s medium that will last forever, then I’m ok with making copies illegal. Until then, I’m going to back up the things I buy because I want them to last.

  26. 0
    Setesh says:

    It’s the same as the record industry, people who pirate games aren’t people who are big consumers in the first place, most of them are either trying to make a point, or simply don’t have the money in the first place. They see this huge market they think they can somehow capture, but they don’t understand that these people will never be regular music buying software purchasing people.

    DRM, IP, and all that other crap is nothing but an attempt at oppression, as far as I’m concerned, the more laws that circumvent corporate control, the better. They already have consumers by the balls in nearly everything else. Here is some food for thought, say I don’t agree with my cell phone providers contract, and I want something different, there is no negotiation, I accept, or they show me the door, shouldn’t the cell phone company be trying meet MY requirements? Except it’s hard for consumers to coordinate as a whole, but easy for a company to unilaterally dictate it’s terms to consumers. I’m not a bad driver, yet, because of my sex and age, I pay high insurance, shouldn’t I dictate MY terms to the insurance company, and if I prove myself dangerous or unreliable, then appropriate actions can be taken, no, instead they discriminate based on my sex and age, because they can, because consumers let them. Large corporates make CONSUMERS take the risk away, I say, screw ’em. I support any laws taking power away from them. You want to make money? Make your product so appealing you CAN’T lose money, instead of trying to coerce people into agreement of their terms of use.

  27. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I believe in intellectual property. I just don’t believe that civilization as we know it will collapse if copyright isn’t extended to 100 bajillion years after the work was created. Because really, that’s honestly what they want. Copyright to expire… never.

  28. 0
    Chibi Sylphe ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    ‘Countries that support computer and video game piracy discourage publishers from establishing viable and legitimate markets…’

    When did representatives of a country ever said : ‘Yeah, I endorse this?’ the fact that ESA thinks we aren’t doing enough to protect copyright doesn’t mean a country support media piracy, this is absurd!

    As for discouraging publishers from establishing here, Montreal is one of the really big place to be a publisher, I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m just missing something here…

  29. 0
    JQuilty ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I want to puke whenever I hear the term ‘intellectual property’. It’s such a fraud. And it’s even worse when it comes from a Copyright Mafia.

  30. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    “Praytell, what is the current system doing to stop video game piracy? Or is it not considered stealing up in the Great White North?”

    As much as the ESA/MPAA/RIAA would love to claim otherwise, our laws are actually stricter than yours. See my comments about “fair use”. We have NONE. Our law currently has no need for extra protections for encryption, because making ANY copy is already illegal.

    So there’s no need to outlaw mod chips, because if you are using a mod chip with an illegal copy, then you are ALREADY breaking the law. Because you made a copy. Doesn’t matter how you get it to play.

  31. 0
    JB ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    While I don’t agree with pirating why not put a stop to the causes of pirating. Crap like StarForce, extremely overpriced software, inability to create legit personal backup files, etc., only encourages it.

  32. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    “Never gonna happen. We don’t have the DMCA for a reason, you know. We’re much happier with the current system.”

    Don’t be so sure. The Harper government has seemed pretty keen to not only implement the DMCA, but the DMCA as it was originally, before any amendments were put in for stuff like “fair use” and “safe harbour”, and “first sale”…

    You’d think the ESA would be praising Canada. Afterall, we have NO fair use rights AT ALL. None. The DMCA is being modified to allow breaking encryption for personal backups. The Canadian version would have no such provisions, since regular Canadian law allows no such thing. That’s why that stupid “iPod levy” exists.

    As for “mod chips”, the ESA can get stuffed. What’s next, gonna outlaw soldering guns? Just because the industry is so lazy and/or greedy it doesn’t want to bring certain games across the pond, doesn’t mean I can’t break a piece of hardware I OWN in order to “fix” that lack of a feature. Calling me a criminal when I’m trying to use games I legally purchased? Well, now THAT’s criminal…

    Remember US car dealers who refused to sell to Canadians when the dollar hit parity, even pretended it was illegal to do so, because they were being all protectionist of their industry? Yeah, we have a word for people like that.


    “Pirated copies of games and circumvention devices have permeated retail markets in Canada”

    Give me a number. And it had better not be a number you made up, sent to the RCMP, and then quoted them a source to give it legitimacy. That’s MPAA type lying…

  33. 0
    ShadowMagus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    We have a surcharge on blank media (and CD Recorders) down here in the States, too. It’s invisible, so not many people know about it.

    Praytell, what is the current system doing to stop video game piracy? Or is it not considered stealing up in the Great White North?

  34. 0
    MaskedPixelante ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Never gonna happen. We don’t have the DMCA for a reason, you know. We’re much happier with the current system.

    We have a tax on blank media that is used to pay all of the copyrights, we don’t need you people coming in and telling us what to do.

  35. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Ah yes by making the product more costly and unstable(via more protections) and putting less effort into its design you want to be able to survive off cheaply made crap by cracking down on a group of people who would not buy your sht anyway…logic…gotta love it…keep pushing that bottom line on the consumer and the consumer will start boycotting your product as well.

  36. 0
    shady8x says:

    Canada has much much more strict legal system but from what I heard it ignores people who download for private use and goes after the real pirates like the uploaders and those who sell pirated software…

    so I don’t see what the problem is…

    seems like a much better system for everyone, innocent leechers and the entertainment industry…

Leave a Reply