14

Answer: https://gaming.stackexchange.com/a/281091/127901

Basically, that answer is getting flagged got removed as spam as it contained a link to an unofficial download link of the game Pokemon Go.

Do we consider sharing links to download sites that host unmodified installers as piracy or not?

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    Quick nitpick - it was not removed as spam. I burninated it myself while I removed the offending content. – Kaz Wolfe Aug 10 '16 at 18:23
15

No, we should not allow those links, but they are not necessarily piracy

Our scope should not include determining copyright claims on unofficial links to tell if something is piracy or not. You mentioned that these are "unmodified installers", but how are we supposed to determine at a glance if they are modified or unmodified? Even if they are unmodified at the time we check them, are we going to recheck them periodically and then take action when the site owner swaps the unmodified binary for a big bundle of malware or for a game client that has been subtly broken? What about when the unauthorized site gets a cease and desist letter from the devs and shuts down? This is the same problem as we have for answers that link without summarizing the relevant content.

Pokemon Go is challenging enough for us to troubleshoot as it is. Between strange UI choices, unstable backend servers, unreleased regions, geographical data differences, and actual game bugs, we have our hands full without adding "game sideloaded from questionable source" to the list.

Just as we don't support games from non-legitimate sources, nor should we encourage users to download games from non-legitimate sources. Instead, we should push them to get it from the official sites.

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    Completely agreed on this answer. Just to add, SE is a large source of traffic for most people. By linking to unofficial downloading sources, we're giving credibility to that location/source. - we need to be mindful that our answers and acceptance of that answer has weight beyond this site, and any external fix needs to be thoroughly vetted and that's not something we (or anyone besides the devs) can confirm to be safe for users. – NBN-Alex Aug 10 '16 at 19:59
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    +1, if for nothing else, for this statement: Pokemon Go is challenging enough for us to troubleshoot as it is. – king14nyr Aug 10 '16 at 20:51
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    I'm not really seeing the justification for not allowing them, beside "inconvenient" and "icky". The first paragraphs seems to be full of reasons that we should allow them. "Our scope should not include determining copyright claims on unofficial links to tell if something is piracy or not." -> Therefore we can't be disallowing links based on the idea it might be unofficial or not have a copyright claim. Determining that is not part of our scope. If it's not a great link, downvote. – DCShannon Aug 11 '16 at 0:40
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    Also, since we don't do software recommendations, it would seem that no on-topic answer should have such a link as a core component, so I would expect this to be a non-issue. – DCShannon Aug 11 '16 at 0:42
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    I think the justification is pretty clear - this is essentially becoming software recommendation with only unofficial sources. If we're going to be proudly displaying these links, there's at least some onus on us to make sure they're not actively harmful. – two bugs Aug 11 '16 at 13:12
  • @DCShannon If you think this is just saying "icky", then you're severely mis-reading. It's not just "icky", it's flat-out dangerous. There have been several reports in tech news of malicious Pokemon Go imitators ranging from Remote Access Trojans to Ransomware. The volunteers who curate this site's content cannot be expected to have or expend the resources necessary to properly and thoroughly vet every "unofficial download source" that gets posted, nor can we assure that sources which are good today will remain good indefinitely. – Iszi Aug 17 '16 at 15:32
  • This issue wouldn't even be getting questioned if Pokemon Go wasn't free. But does the (lack of) price on a product somehow magically make all unofficial copies safe and reliable? Not in the least! – Iszi Aug 17 '16 at 15:34
-6

We should allow those links. The primary problem with piracy is its similarity to theft: obtaining a product that is only legally distributed in exchange for money without actually paying for it. Unofficial distributions of free software does not have this problem.

Policing copyright violations is not our responsibility. We don't check that sites we link to have the right to publish the text that they publish, and we should not make it our business to check that sites we link to have the right to publish the software that they publish.

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    Because allowing answers that have malwared copies is good. – Frank Aug 10 '16 at 18:33
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    That's an orthogonal problem. We shouldn't allow people to link to malware, whether or not the linked site has the copyright for it. – murgatroid99 Aug 10 '16 at 18:34
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    @Frank And if a copy is proven to be clean, by say a SHA1 hash? – Kaz Wolfe Aug 10 '16 at 18:34
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    Please don't liken piracy to theft – badp Aug 10 '16 at 19:10
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    @badp You wouldn't steal a car, so why steal a song? – Kaz Wolfe Aug 14 '16 at 18:50
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    Piracy hurts the community, not just the company. – TwentyCharMax Aug 17 '16 at 10:18
-8

Unofficial download links, whether the game is free or not, still count as piracy. Our stance on piracy is simple: We don't allow it. Full stop. Encouraging readers to download an unauthorized copy conflicts with our stance on piracy, and should not be allowed.

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    Would a direct link to the Google Play Store count as unofficial, even though it's hosted there? – Kaz Wolfe Aug 10 '16 at 18:32
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    Why has this been down voted so much? – Yates Aug 24 '16 at 13:39

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