Gamasutra Talks to ESA, PCGA about Piracy

Leigh Alexander takes a look at piracy from the industry side in a two-parter for Gamasutra.

In the first installment, Leigh speaks with Ric Hirsch, the top IP enforcement guy for game publisher’s trade group the Entertainment Software Association. Hirsch talks about the ESA’s efforts to combat piracy, but points out that its work is undertaken only on behalf of its member (i.e., not on behalf of Activision and the six other publishers which left the organization in 2008):

Part of the problem is [that piracy is] vast… And that’s exacerbated by the internet, which has the effect of anonymizing a lot of activity… We use an outside vendor through which we monitor instances of infringing activity involving our members’ game product.  Based on the reports… we send takedown notices to ISPs all over the world.

We are trying to pursue some of the principal players… at the top of the piracy food chain, members of warez groups who within days of a game’s release and sometimes before, manage to get pirate versions of games available out there on the internet for download.

Over the last eight to 10 years, the U.S. government has stepped up its efforts in addressing IP piracy, in which game piracy is a small but growing part… Part of our mission is to make law enforcement understand better the problems that game piracy creates for the development of local game markets and how it impacts businesses and tax revenues from the game sector…

Meanwhile, in part two, Bo Svensson, a spokesman for the fledgling PC Gaming Alliance, discusses the controversy surrounding digital rights management (DRM):

[Stardock CEO] Brad [Wardell]’s approach is very hands-off. I think that if the PCGA as an organization is going to be all-embracing, if Stardock were to become a member and EA were to become a member, I think there are very obvious differences in their strategy as pertains to DRM. As a PC gaming organization, we probably need to be able to embrace both approaches, and still be able to make recommendations.

I think it’s fair to say that, along the continuum of what is the best experience for the consumer and what provides the highest level of protection for developers and publishers, there’s a whole realm of grays in there. I don’t think that anyone has the right answer today.

GP: Hirsch also discusses the ESA’s efforts to get the anti-piracy message into elementary schools. While I don’t disagree with the message, as a parent and a taxpayer, I find the idea of permitting a corporate lobbying group to waste valuable educational time to be fairly outrageous. It’s surprising that watchdog group the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood hasn’t weighed in on this one.

There’s much more to Leigh Alexander’s story than we can summarize here. If the topic interests you, be sure to check it out.

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