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This question already has an answer here:

Edit: There does seem to be a bit of confusion from some people about my stance, so I want to be perfectly clear: We shouldn't require users to prove they own a copy of the game, and we should assume they do. However, if a user admits to pirating the game, then we should close it. Remember, "Don't ask, don't tell" doesn't mean if they do tell us, that we just put our fingers in our ears and pretend we didn't hear them.

A question has popped up recently, where a user is having trouble running their pirated version of Battlefield 1942:

https://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/216118/bf1942-exe-has-stopped-working

This isn't the first such question we've received like this, and it won't be the last. However, as often seems to be the case when questions like this pop up, there's a discussion (either in chat or the comments) about whether or not the question should be closed. In this situation, I'll often see users point to RavenDreamers meta post, where he says:

I agree with Agent86 -- if all references to pirated content can be removed from a question (or answer), that should be done, and the question let stand

This is all fine and dandy, and I agree with this in the case of "I can't beat this boss! Also my game is pirated". However, in situations like the above, we're literally helping users run a pirated copy of the game. There's no dancing around the subject, no "don't ask don't tell", the user has freely admitted to pirating the game, and wants our help to run the software. Getting a pirated game to run is part of the process of pirating a game, so therefore us helping a user run their pirated software means we're helping them run a pirated game. Full stop.

I'm sure some people will claim we can't know piracy is the root of the issue, but we have no way of not knowing that either. After all, game developers have been known to take steps so that pirated software won't function properly. 1 2 Additionally, even if piracy wasn't the problem, it doesn't matter, because we're still helping users pirate the game.

If we don't apply our piracy policy in the case of helping someone run pirated software, then why do we even bother having that policy in the first place?

marked as duplicate by BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft, Mathias711, galacticninja, Robotnik, LoveAndCoding May 14 '15 at 16:36

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    But if they never mentioned it's a pirated version to begin with, you would have no way of knowing and would still help, right? – Chippies May 2 '15 at 15:07
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    @Chippies If a user doesn't mention it's pirated, we should assume it's not. We should always assume good faith, unless given cause to think otherwise. – Wipqozn May 2 '15 at 15:14
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    It should be mentioned that a lot of the times, when it's "I can't run this game", one of the first things we tell them to do is 'update to the latest version'. If they can't, whether it's because they're running a pirated version or literally don't have Wifi, then we generally can't help them further anyway – Robotnik May 3 '15 at 12:02
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    BF1942 is not obtainable thru Steam nor Origin. Although I hate pirating, this game is NOT available as an online download. We don't know if the asker can obtain a retail copy of a 12 year old game in a day, as he/she stated that they were doing a LAN party that night. I'd ask him to simply buy it, but in this special case, I think that he had the rights to pirate it. If he was pirating a easily purchasable game, I'd think just like you. But as this old and rare game is not available now and only chance of his to get is to pirate it, I think that we should 1) let the question live 2) help him. – Ave May 3 '15 at 12:13
  • @ardaozkal a lot of games have become unobtainable, and piracy is sometimes the only way to obtain them. I agree with your point - piracy should not be tolerated, except in exceptional circumstances. – Ben May 3 '15 at 12:45
  • @Ben he coulda get the game from ebay, it is 9$ or something, but the shortest shipping time is 5 days, which is something bad for him, as he wanted the game for a LAN party yesterday night. If I saw this question before, I woulda even sent him my own BF1942 serial codes (I legally own it). – Ave May 3 '15 at 13:08
  • @Wipqozn What would your stance be on this question? The user has admitted to pirating the game, but it seems to be a common technical issue, so it's been reopened. – Frank May 5 '15 at 0:38
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    pirates.stackexchange.com - we need this – prusswan May 5 '15 at 6:01
  • @Frank: We close it. Having a policy of "technical support for pirated games is fine if piracy isn't the issue" means we need to be able to prove it's not piracy (or the other way around). That's just a waste of our time. – Wipqozn May 5 '15 at 11:25
  • "We shouldn't require users to prove they own a copy of the game, and we should assume they haven't." I think you are missing a "…pirated it" at the end of that sentence. – Murch May 11 '15 at 12:53
  • @Murch Fixed, thanks. – Wipqozn May 11 '15 at 16:28
  • Did this user ever admit pirating the game? The question has been saved once in Wayback Machine. – user598527 Oct 29 '17 at 19:21
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Questions pertaining solely to pirated copies should be closed. We're not interested in helping users run the latest copy of Indie Game - SCENE repack. However, questions that are relevant to the game, whether pirated or not, should stay.

Whether the user pirated the game is irrelevant, so long as the problem is reproducible in non-pirated copies. If the problem is unrelated to the piracy, so long as the question is only closed and not deleted, it'll still surface in search results. This can be confusing to paying customers looking for help with the same problem.

We shouldn't be taking a heavy-handed approach, like publishers and DRM; rather, we should only close when it's certain that the problem originates within the piracy.

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    +1 for supporting other users too. But as I stated in a comment in the question, the game is 12 years old, it is not obtainable thru Origin nor Steam. He was trying to get it to work for yesterday night for a lan party, which in case is a short time to get such a rare game as retail. I think that if the game is not obtainable anymore, we must support pirating. (ps. I normally hate piracy, I get ALL my games thru steam or origin) – Ave May 3 '15 at 12:20
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    @ardaozkal No. Absolutely not. Whether you can get it legitimately or not is absolutely irrelevant. We can assume good faith, but there is no excuse that makes piracy valid for support here. – Frank May 5 '15 at 0:29
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    @Schism How would you approach tech support questions of a freely admitted pirated game? There's no way we can determine whether the issue comes from the actual pirated copy, or is an actual legitimate bug. – Frank May 5 '15 at 0:42
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    I agree! Helping users run pirated software is a no-no. Answering a legitimate question about a game, whether pirated or not, is what Arqade should focus on. – miva2 May 6 '15 at 8:20
  • @ardaozkal. There are very few games you cannot obtain legitimately. Whether that be through Steam, Origin or retailers who deal in second hand games. There is almost always a legitimate way to get your hands on the game you want, no matter it's age. Just because a game is not immediately available to download from a legit site does not excuse piracy. – DMK May 11 '15 at 12:50
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At first, I was against VTC such questions, because often you cannot conclusively say that a problem only occurs in a pirated/cracked version of a game, but after some consideration I also came to the conclusion that: Yes - Questions where the user has problems running a pirated version should be closed, even if the problem might also occur in the legit version.

The problem really is that we would help someone play an illegally acquired game.

BUT

If the user comes back and asks the same question again, but he states that he now owns a legit copy, we should try to help. Except someone finds out that the user is lying and can provide evidence.

  • As I stated in a comment in the question, the game is 12 years old, it is not obtainable thru Origin nor Steam. He was trying to get it to work for yesterday night for a lan party, which in case is a short time to get such a rare game as retail. I think that if the game is not obtainable anymore, we must support pirating. (ps. I normally hate piracy, I get ALL my games thru steam or origin) – Ave May 3 '15 at 12:19
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    No, we really don't. Even if a game is unavailable or difficult to get, it's still illegal to pirate it (with a few exceptions like abandon-ware and such), and that's the elephant in the room. It is illegal, full stop. – 5pike May 3 '15 at 13:21
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    I'm not a regular member of Arqade, but doesn't this run contrary to the purpose of Stack Exchange as a knowledge repository? If the Q&A for resolving a problem would be helpful to someone using a legitimate copy of the game, why does it matter that the particular asker is running a pirated copy? Or are you saying that since we can't determine that the problem would manifest with a legit copy, it's therefore not obvious that it would ever help a legit user? (Then, in cases where it is obvious that a legit copy would experience the same issue, it should remain open.) – apsillers May 4 '15 at 15:22
  • To put it another way, Stack Exchange doesn't help solve your problem; it's here to publicly display an answer for the category of problem that you have. For this reason, I think questions that are generalizable to non-pirated software should be kept (and any reference to pirating removed as noise). If the circumstance of piracy is not noise, and is at the core of the question, then it's off-topic. I can see the argument that it's not possible to know a priori whether a problem is piracy-specific before solving it, but it's not currently obvious to me that you're making that argument – apsillers May 4 '15 at 15:35
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    @apsillers That's what we already do. If it's a problem that can be encountered in a legitimate copy, we edit out the reference to piracy and keep on going. But I think Wipqozn makes a good point; we shouldn't be helping with tech support for a pirated game, because we can't know if the problem originates from the pirated copy or not. – Frank May 5 '15 at 0:31
  • The whole "BUT" part seems like wishy-washy nonsense to me, I'm sorry. All this will do is have most people claim they now own a copy, and, even though everybody knows it's a lie, it's suddenly a legit question. You're still helping people getting pirated games to run. (Which is, my opinion, fine once the game is unavailable for purchase within a reasonable scope.) – No. 7892142 May 5 '15 at 11:58
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    @No.7892142 - It's not because we usually assume good faith. I know it seems ridiculous, but we really have no way of finding out if the person is lying or not. We also shouldn't enforce "Guilty until proven innocent" approach. – 5pike May 5 '15 at 12:07
  • @5pike It does seem ridiculous, I agree. Not answering a question solely on the grounds that piracy was mentioned, that is (read: issues that arise with any version of the game), waiting for the asker to "buy" the game. – No. 7892142 May 5 '15 at 12:11
  • @No.7892142 - Well, we actually do answer questions even if piracy is mentioned, but these questions are about in-game problems. This is about problems with running a game. – 5pike May 5 '15 at 13:14
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So here's the problem I have with that: Let's say the user comes back an hour later and asks the same question with a "I bought a copy" (or edits the old one or whatever). Does it then become a legit question? Even though we have absolutely no way to verify if they actually own a copy?

Or what about a legitimate user who has the same question? Do they now have to specify "I bought this game" just because someone before asked a question relating to piracy?

While I agree we shouldn't be helping people pirate games, I also don't think it is our place to make that call and try and enforce a "you shouldn't be pirating" policy. If it is clearly about piracy or helping to pirate something, yes, we should not help. However, if they are experiencing problems, and those problems are unrelated to the piracy mentioned in the post (as it is reproducible in a non-pirated version) then no, we should not close those question. All that does is encourage people to lie about pirating it in their posts. Because while they should definitely buy a real copy of the game, we are trying to do more than just help out a single user.

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    Your first situation is a tricky one, and I'd lean towards closing the question, on the grounds I'd assume they are lying. In the second case (legit owner), no, we should not make them prove they own a copyl. We should always assume good faith on behalf the user, unless given good cause to believe otherwise (aka they admit they pirated the game). – Wipqozn May 2 '15 at 23:55
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    @Wipqozn "...on the grounds I'd assume they are lying ... We should always assume good faith on behalf the user ..." What are you on about? Or rather, where do you draw the arbitrary line? – No. 7892142 May 5 '15 at 11:53
  • @No.7892142 I'm not going to waste my time engaging with you further, since you're taking my quote out of context, but I will just take the full quote: "We should always assume good faith on behalf the user, unless given good cause to believe otherwise" – Wipqozn May 5 '15 at 13:00
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    @Wipqozn Define good cause. Because that was precisely the arbitrary line I was talking about. – No. 7892142 May 5 '15 at 14:58
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I agree that we shouldn't help users with pirated stuff... But then an issue arises, some games are so old you can not obtain them (BF1942 is one of those games that are extremely hard to get anymore)... For example I own the original BF1942 I bought it while I was living in russia as a kid (it's even on russian lol) but nowadays? How do you expect people to play really really old games unless they pirate them... Not to mention the companies no longer gain profit from those games! Basically it's like they don't exist!

Second... Any user who posts a question about a game that is actually buy-able and easily obtainable through online purchases or local game stores, shouldn't be even bothered with... That I do agree with 100000%

And I am not even going to lie, I own a very good number of really old games that I can no longer buy anywhere, and I live in a country where there are no game stores (at least not ones that sell anything from the 2 decades let alone anything older >.>).

So if a user is asking questions about a really old game, or basically a game that is almost impossible to obtain, then why would you not answer them? It's completely illogical and makes no sense.

And last but not least... What if the user just lies about owning the game, old games nowadays have multiple issues that don't pertain to only pirated versions, and I can tell you that from experience as I played Titan Quest cracked and I bought it on steam and they both had both similar and different errors on newer hardware and OS. So you will never be able to 100% confirm if someone is lying about owning an old game or at least a game from the 2004 and older era.

Basically... Just help the people who own games that are hard to obtain legally (like BF1942) and pretty much kill everyone else asking for help on pirated versions.

  • Yep, I think that you are right. – Ave May 3 '15 at 13:06
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    If you are concerned about games that are no longer commercially available, you could instead try and raise interest in getting them released under public domain or a licensing structure that allows easy/free dissemination of the product. Good Old Games for example bring old games back to the forefront, and their forum community is pretty lively in terms of garnering interest for these sorts of things. – Robotnik May 3 '15 at 14:58
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    @Robotnik ... You are under the impression that GoG will have everything, which is not even close to being true (simple example? BF1942 and if you want I can list you more games). I never said pirating is right... But if you studied even little about economics and accounting, you would realize that these games that are no longer on the market, no longer make profit for the company that made them or the publisher. In short, those games that are not sold through normal means are basically dead to the company who made them, in terms of profit. So yes, old pirated games are an exception to therule – Chessbrain May 3 '15 at 15:03
  • @Chessbrain - wow, no need to insult my economics skill mate, I just pointed out that there are communities out there willing and able to make a difference, and if you care deeply about a particular game, you should be helping to cajole those companies into releasing them or at the very least into changing the licencing around them. I only used GoG as an example of where this has succeeded, I am under no impression that they have every game nor would I expect them to. – Robotnik May 3 '15 at 15:10
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    @Robotnik - So you are legit asking people to go around, searching for communities and sites wiling to partake in their idea, and afterwards attempt to find people that are also willing to pay so they can play with you. This whole time spent just to get 1 game back and you don't even know if you will. And no company will reboot a series because of 1 person or even 1 group of people... Example? Valkyria Chronicles, why do you think it had a reboot? And I can assure you, 100s of people got it cracked on psp or emulators :) It's because it had an actual success SELLING :) continues on ↓ – Chessbrain May 3 '15 at 15:24
  • Companies only care about profit and whether the game will have promise compared to its original release. So I can tell you no company will bother making an exception for a game just for a group of people, not even thousands (talking about less than 10 thousand people hell maybe even more). And I can tell you no one will waste their time in a wasteful vendetta of getting a game they may or may not succeed at getting as an original legal copy. Especially in case of very VERY old games. And if there were few successes those are called "exceptions that prove the rule" :) – Chessbrain May 3 '15 at 15:27
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    I think policies on abandonware (which this isn't) and unavailable games are a big enough issue for a separate discussion. – Studoku May 3 '15 at 17:03
  • @Studoku this all contributes to the same topic... It's not something irrelevant to what I am saying. Old games that are almost impossible to get are and will always get pirated by people. Trying to come up with a solution that I can assure you at least 90% of the people won't bother doing isn't really a solution. That's why I said help ONLY those who have REALLY hard to get games (mostly old ones are in that category). – Chessbrain May 3 '15 at 17:26
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    I disagree with this answer completely. We can assume good faith if the asker doesn't mention the game is pirated, but if they do, we cannot and should not help them get it running for any reason whatsoever. – Frank May 5 '15 at 0:35
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    Being unable to acquire a game legitimately is no excuse. It is absolutely irrelevant to the matter at hand. Regardless of your attempt to make it look illogical, it's the epitome of logic. Games are a luxury. They are not a life and death situation. If someone can't acquire it legitimately, then don't play it. – Frank May 5 '15 at 12:04
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    We are not in the business of supporting piracy. For any reason. Full stop. There is no exception to this rule. It's not, "We don't support piracy, unless you meet these specific criteria X and Y." That way lies madness. There is no leeway because you want to play a game that's hard to get legally. None whatsoever. We're not in the business of judging what would and wouldn't fit the exception. Keep the policy simple. No piracy. Done. – Frank May 5 '15 at 22:42
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    Yep. Uh, huh. You're going off the deep end now, so I'm done. – Frank May 5 '15 at 23:52
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    My apologies for my last comment. It was a bit over the line. The thing is, you haven't introduced any relevant arguments at all. Whether a game is hard to find or not is immaterial; established policy currently has no exception for the effort required to locate a game, and indeed, those pirated copies can be (and quite often are) the source of the problem. That's one of the reasons we don't support piracy in any form. We have a (rather small) exception for problems that can be encountered in legitimate copies, but those tend to be few and far between. – Frank May 6 '15 at 0:40
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    So if you want Arqade to make an exception based on how hard it is to find a game, and support those too hard to find legimately, then I would encourage you to make a new meta about that. But I, for one, will most certainly oppose it. – Frank May 6 '15 at 0:41
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    Just to address one of the points raised in the comments : the argument that 'piracy is allowed in some other countries' is kind of a non-starter: Stack Exchange is a US-based country and must adhere to rules present in that country, and any rules the US has agreed to abide by (from the UN for example), which include all the copyright & DMCA laws. We are not lawyers, but we generally want to keep our nose clean, which is why we don't offer support for cracks, keygens or other DRM-circumventing tools. (cont. below) – Robotnik May 6 '15 at 3:46

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