I'm ok with Piracy done properly, and before you start flaming (and banning) let me explain!
I find it interesting that software industries are willing to sue pirates when 99% of released software is incomplete and full of bugs. Would you accept buying a tire with a hole in it? I know, how about a faulty fire extinguisher? That, in effect, is what these companies are doing when they release games that thousands of players have problems with. Know what their problem is? Their beta teams barely represent 1% of the computer hardware out there in the real world. It's pretty convieniant that the EULA's protect the software companies while incriminating the pirates, isn't it? But the industry's crimes go much deeper than that...
These days it seems that demos of games, when demos are even available, are rarely incorporating the vast amount of code that's included in the whole game. This leads to you, in most cases, able to play a free demo when your computer can't handle the actual game. In addition, the advertising campaigns behind most games rarely depict the actual gameplay and usually either include cutscenes or wonderous 3D creations that don't even exist in the game. Can you honestly say that you'll like a game based upon a cutscene? With games costing close to a full-day's pay (for those of us at minimum wage) wouldn't you rather truly test a game before you buy it? Expecially since you can't return a game to a store once it's open. Who came up with that policy, I wonder?
Here's a couple examples from my personal experience as an "honest pirate"...
Oblivion (Elder Scrolls 4) was a very highly hyped game. Let's face it, ES3 was a pretty good game in it's own right so when they said they improved it, OH MAN! I couldn't afford to buy it at launch time so I downloaded it off a torrent site. I played it for a few minutes and suffered enough crashes that it really wasn't playable. I liked what I saw so reformatted my system (not the one with my download), updated all the drivers, and tried again. Crash after crash was the result. I deleted the game thankful that I didn't buy it.
Fallout 1 and 2 were blockbusters, and beleive me I loved them (more than halo!). Thus, when I heard that Fallout 3 was coming out I wanted to be one of the first in line. Fortunately I WASN'T. I did a bit of research and found out that the same "engine" used for Oblivion was being used for Fallout 3. So, instead I went on launch day to my favorite torrent site and downloaded copies of the disks. After playing for 30 minutes, and suffering 90+ crashes, I was more than happy that I didn't buy it. I found out later that thousands of players (who paid for it) were suffering the exact same problem, which is a result of the "engine", and still are!!! I deleted the game, and saved myself from buying, in my opinion, a beverage coaster.
When Spore came out it was again highly anticipated. I went and, yes, downloaded the game from my favorite torrent site. I played it for just over 2 hours and decided that it was a game that I enjoied, and was well designed (no crashing). The next day I went out and spent the money to buy the game, and in addition bought every expansion for the game that has come out since. I did the same thing with the origional Sims 2, pirated and then purchased it and every subsequent expansion.
I got burned a long time ago with MOO (masters of orion) because I went and bought the game, and hated it. Unfortunately SoaSE looked very similar, gameplay wise, to MOO and I almost didn't give it a chance. I would like to personally thank Stardock for making their game easily pirateable. It doesn't have protection forcing the use of a "No CD" hack. You can pirate it, try the full game as it's intended, and then buy it to gain access to the patches and online game play. Being able to have the full game experience before buying it is what led me to go down to EB Games. Yes, that means I own a legal and registered copy of it. Because of such a good experience I will even return for any sequels that Stardock may have planned.
This is piracy done PROPERLY! It's the whole reason why when you check the "NFO" files that accompany pirated software they will 99% of the time say "If you like this software support the developers and buy it"
Most people look at the piracy "industry" and immediately think that everyone who pirates software is commiting a crime. From my personal experience, and that of my friends, I can safely say that there are a vast number of software pirates that download software only to use it on a very limited try before you buy basis. The software that they don't like is (more often than not) deleted from their computer in under 24 hours. Those who don't delete the software either;
- Can't afford to buy it in the first place, thus the gaming industry hasn't lost any money.
- Are "12 year olds" who don't respect the fact that their money helps bring about expansions and sequels.
- Are computer addicts that play games 24/7, live in darkrooms, and need to get lives!
I personally have probably downloaded terabytes of software, eventually deleting most of it (sometimes I buy the game but still play the already installed pirated version), but I've also pumped in thousands of dollars into the software industry as a result. Once something is downloaded I decided usually within 2 hours if I'm going to go and buy it, or delete it. Why should I, or anyone, be prosecuted for that? Why should I walk into a store and buy a game based on the advertisment of it's perfectly rendered cutscenes? Why should I download a demo that doesn't show me 10% of the game's overall experience? Honestly, I rarely decide to buy a game based upon the game's first (demo) level. Therefore a lot of games I did purchase would still be on the shelf if I hadn't tested out pirated versions.
Yes, I know there are a lot of arguments that all pirates are bad and "steal" from the industry, but don't label us all that way.
EDIT: added the paragraph about MOO and SoaSE.