Combating Piracy



“The ‘irony of ironies’ for me is how the jury cruelly played it on us. They pirated our ‘Anti-Piracy’ policy!”

From software conception to hardware design, from Intellectual to entertainment, piracy is one of the sprawling buzzwords of the Information epoch. Call it a brain-child of IT or the devil’s last word on the same, it has somewhat evened out to be a ‘necessary evil’ – or has it?

Piracy has become ever-present to the point of becoming normalized, sometimes state-moderated. As such, we cannot expect to exclude ourselves from partaking in it. Rather, piracy seems to be flourishing in insti.

How do we look at piracy? As students belonging to an elite institute, do we expect ourselves to think better, and do better, or do we act like the rest of the world in a rule-breaking that is only too easy to commit?


The answer is fairly clear – we all know where we stand. Some may choose to rationalise it with a humdrum ‘Everyone’s doing it’, or ‘How will this one software crack contribute?’. Others may eschew piracy out of principle, but they are certainly not great in number. The majority, it can be said with confidence, don’t really think about it.


I will go one step beyond and disclose the following: (An entire half-wing of a certain hostel has been kind enough to part with these details)
The students were surveyed on a recently downloaded movie, software and a game.

S. No.



Software and Games



Kreyzig’s – “Advanced Engineering Calculus”




Griffith’s – Classical Electrodynamics

Auto CAD


A Tree of Life

Schaum’s Electrical Circuits

PS-Creative Studio


Source Code

Charles H. Roth

Age Of Empires


Rise of Planet of Apes

Halliday and Resnick’s “Fundamentals of Physics”

Adobe Master Collection CS-4



Linear Systems and Signals – B.P.Lathi

Microsoft Office 2010



“Mechanics” – Miriam L.Craig

Counter Strike



Norton Internet Security


A tentative ‘auditing’ shows that the loss to the developers in this one spiral can be pegged at 52,636 Rupees, taking into account today’s market prices for the above. Certainly, one can imagine the huge losses, when we compound all the students in the institute for a much larger period.


Does the average IITian, even in its slightest hue think of piracy before he double-clicks to download?

We posed a similar question to Dr. Madhu Mutyam, Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department. “This book costs 2000 Rupees, It’s a book on multi-core cache hierarchies”, he added displaying a less than 200-pages book. “Students borrow it from me saying that they will just photocopy a page or two, in the end of it they photocopy the entire book for less than 200 rupees.” Certainly, such instances are not isolated. The cost is far-fetched for any typical student, no doubt. When a 90% reduction is ensured more than 90% will be tempted to go for it.


Is resource scarcity or unavailability driving us towards piracy?


Dr. Mutyam adds, “For a course that I’m teaching this semester, we required a book – ‘Modern Processor Design’ by LiPaste. I checked at TATA book house, it was unavailable. The very next day, a student said he had got pirated e-book, and circulated it to the rest of the class”. Such conundrums do stare at us, making piracy almost necessary! It is not just laughable, even unthinkable to order a shipped version of such a book, and then even pay for its intrinsic value when a far viable alternative, at least from the student’s perspective is available at almost zero-cost.


Another widespread form of piracy in the Institute deals with software. Be it learning utilities like MatLab and Auto CAD, or even software like Photoshop, software piracy is as common as its other forms. Going by present trends, licensing and buying software is ludicrous.

The next most widespread piracy comes in the form of movies, easily downloadable into one’s computer. One fourth year student praised the efficiency of this system, claiming that a certain movie was available for download on the day of its release! However, there is a school of thought that views movie piracy as the worst form of piracy. In all the above cases, piracy seemed to be driven by a ‘needs’ motive; there is not even that excuse in this case.

multi-core cache hierarchies

A recent discussion by the Colloquium, IIT Madras well touched upon this topic. It dealt with the question of dealing with the internet piracy in the institute. Though the conclusion was not very firm, almost everyone in the crowd agreed that due to today’s technology race, piracy cannot be stopped in any way. There can always be techniques to overcome whatever the companies do to prevent it. One thing was certain; everybody in the crowd had downloaded pirated content, not many were averse to using them.



Considering all this, can we ignore the creative and intellectual toil which the original architect has put in to by putting ourselves before him? Can we continue to impoverish him, not giving any credit to his accomplishment? The following excerpt, from a popular blog, brings out this pain:

“So here I am, a commercial artist, trying to make a living off my work. I work full time writing music for film and television. To get by, I live in a house with 6 other people. I drive a Hyundai Elantra that was recently keyed with the words ‘Don’t Park So Close’ and I can’t afford to buy it a new paint job.”

A near feasible solution, out of all this is the probable change in the distribution architecture, as discussed by Colloquium. Though we aren’t in a position to propose a model, we certainly can hope for a good system that would overhaul the present and ensure due remuneration to those that invest.

I will end with an interesting quote from an alumnus of IIT Madras, (Batch 0f 2008, graduated from the CS department, wished to remain anonymous) he aptly puts it, “When I happily downloaded pirated content, I never gave it a second thought. Today I am a game developer; it pains to watch my game being pirated. ‘You always can’t be making a Pirate movie. One day, you must end up watching one!’

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