General Question

keobooks's avatar

Is it unethical to "pirate" free promotional software after the promotion is done?

Asked by keobooks (14301points) April 23rd, 2012

I play a video game and a few years back, they had a promotion with a soft drink company. You could get these items for the game if you entered a promotional code found in the caps of the drink.

The promotion is long gone. You cannot purchase the items. I found a site that has “pirated” copies of the items that you can download and install into your game. They are specifically fixed so that the game doesn’t know they are “illegal” copies and rejects the attempt to download.

I am just curious. Is it wrong to download software that cost no money and is no longer available? My husband thinks it’s piracy regardless, because you have to “break” the software to make it run on the game. IMO, it was free and the promotion is long gone so it doesn’t matter.

I was just looking for some outside opinions.

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7 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Technically, it is piracy. You did not do what you were supposed to do to get the keys to the game.

funkdaddy's avatar

Legally speaking, my neighbor’s kids shouldn’t play in my yard. It’s private property, right? I haven’t formally invited them. Dirty trespassers.

But in reality I’m glad they’re out there having fun and as long as there’s no damage there’s no reason for them not to use the space.

The items you’re talking about aren’t for sale and the promotion over. There are no “damages”, no one is losing anything by you using them. As long as you’re not cheating in the game and gaining some sort of advantage, ethically it seems you’re using the items as intended. I’d say ethically you’re in the clear.

Legally you may be in the wrong, but someone would have to decide it was a big enough deal to track you down. My guess would be it’s like seeing someone jaywalk behind a reporter on the news, not a lot of people calling 911.

keobooks's avatar

Yeah, I pretty much knew it was piracy, but I was hoping for a loophole. I am trying to feel guilty about it, but I can’t rise to the occasion. They cost no money, and I’d likely would have done some of the promotional stuff if I was playing around when it came out because I drink a lot of the soda.

There’s no advantage to be had in the game. It’s single player, so I’m only competing against myself. The objects that I stole were decorative and added nothing but “screen bling” to the game. Like.. you can have a plain T-shirt by default.. or a shirt with the soda logo with the promo. It’s silly, but I am a completionist. I own the game and the expansion packs and I couldn’t stand knowing there were these “out of print” items out there I didn’t own.

I doubt I’ll get turned into the feds. They MIGHT care if I stole the game itself, or stole the game and put up a website so other people could have access to it.. but I kind of doubt they’d nail me on having some illegal digital T-shirt and the other little things that I got that they didn’t charge people for and they wouldn’t take my money for it if I offered.

ninjacolin's avatar

It’s always ethical to “pirate” software.
It’s just not legal unfortunately… which is stupid.

Fly's avatar

As others have said, it’s still piracy. And if you really think about it, it did cost money. I’m sure that both the soda company and the makers of the game profited off of this promotion. In not participating in the promotion while it was going on and pirating the items illegally, you are still ripping the companies off, even though the promotion is no longer running.

Like it or not, it is certainly unethical in some respects on a large scale; but ultimately, whether or not you consider it to be unethical can only be determined by you.

ninjacolin's avatar

Or me for that matter.. and in that case, it’s totally ethical. No worries.

keobooks's avatar

Just curious – what if the website was still active and accepting the codes – and people were posting the codes to get the items? This is not the case here, but I’ve seen it in the past.

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