Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Corporate, and protected by copyright

There is a tendency these days, when whining about ‘the evil RIAA and MPAA’ (often hilariously respelled MAFIAA), to be critical of two concepts: Copyright and Corporations. Again and again, I hear people saying stuff like “The corporate copyright MAFIA” and “The content lobby” and other silly terms that try to lump all corporations and all copyright holders together as some super-evil-cartel that presumably has pointy beards and cackles on piles of gold whilst stroking cats and sentencing poor innocent consumers to death.

This is silly.

Corporations produced probably 99% of the stuff in your house (at least). It’s likely everything you currently wear was made by some corporate entity. And even if you have a local independent butchers or bakers, they are likely a corporation too. Not all corporations are evil like Sony or British Airways. Some of them are small family or one-man firms that have been set up as a corporation to look more professional. Positech Games is in fact “Positech Computing Limited”, registered at companies house UK. That doesn’t stop it being just me sat in a spare bedroom.

In a similar way, copyright isn’t some evil monopoly held by EA and Viacom. I own the copyright for all my games. I know loads of people who work full time but write software or games for extra income, and own the copyright on them. Clearly not all copyrighted content earns people millions of dollars. Copyright royalties also provide an income for people not directly in control of it. I employ artist and sound people on contracts, and although they don’t have ownership of the IP, I can only afford to pay them because people are paying me royalties on my previous IP. Without copyright, my artist doesn’t get paid, and nor for that matter does my local baker or butcher.

Another popular argument being thrown around and repeated as though it makes sense is that “I don’t get paid for work I did years ago, so why the hell do musicians and IP owners, they are just lazy.”

I get paid for games I wrote years ago (very little now), and because that system works, I can invest time and energy in making them. I have worked for 8 months on Kudos 2 now, seven days a week, maybe 8 hours a day. You know how much I’ve earned from it?


You know what my guaranteed future income is from it?


I do this because I’m *hoping* I’ll sell enough copies over the next few years to make that investment worthwhile. If copyright didn’t exist I’d have spent those 8 months doing contract programming for some bank. The game would never get made as there aren’t enough hours in the day. THIS is why copyright exists, and why it’s a GOOD system.  Anyone who clings to some hippy dream that “artists will still make music and software and movies without copyright” is either delusional, or living off daddys trust fund. Copyright is essential to provide an incentive for people to invest up front costs in the production of copyable products. If you know of a better system that WORKS NOW, then feel free to make yourself mega-rich by showing us silly copyright supporters how it’s done.

8 thoughts on Corporate, and protected by copyright

  1. Just being a corporation doesn’t mean you need copyrights for your business model to work. You recently mentioned Google because of their exeptional speed at which they are serving their customers. At the same time, it is as a great example of a corporation, which has established a system where there is no need to charge private people for using their products. And it “WORKS NOW”.

    In fact, enforcing copyrights is exactly what prevents the kind of interaction you envisioned here:

    And while you don’t have a guarantee that Kudos 2 will succeed: if you go bankrupt, wouldn’t the limited liability rule of your corporation setup protect you from any serious fallout?

  2. Google works, because they basicly ripp off anybody that places their adds in a site, with big enough audience to make a dime. I’ve seen it several times.

  3. Goggle charge people a fortune to use their products. it’s called adwords, and they use it to subsidise everything else. I pay them over £300 a month myself.

    And if I go bankrupt, I lose every penny I’ve spent on the game. That money doesn’t come from anyone else, it’s my earnings from previous games. It also means I suddenly have no income at all, and worked for a year for zero pay. That’s not true of people who work for someone else.

  4. Yes, you pay Google £300 a month but you are corporation. That’s why I said “private people”. The products for private use like their search engine, mailing system, calender – all of those are for free.
    But if you don’t like the Google example, try these:

    >It also means I suddenly have no income at all, and worked
    >for a year for zero pay. That’s not true of people who work
    >for someone else.

    Well, it’s not that simple. This is exactly that happened to two friends of mine working for a larger games company. The publisher was in financial trouble, sold their studios to a mailbox company to let them go bankrupt and they received no pay for the last few months. Oh yeah and the game one of them was working on wasn’t even published – it was bought by the publisher the bancrupsy auction and transfered to a Chinese contractor to finish it and sell it directly in the bargain bin. So both friends were on the street with lots of debts. They didn’t have any limited liability, no previous games to pay their bills, nothing.

    What I’m trying to say is that I think you should consider yourself lucky for being able to do what you want to do and being paid for it. I understand that it is difficult to deal with piracy and the the financial risk but It is part of the deal and I think It isn’t a bad deal. In fact, I on my way trying to do the same thing, because compared to the madhouse out there this IS a privileged position and the problems you’re describing are true for everyone – at least to some extent.

  5. Copyright lasts for life plus 70 years or for 95 years, depending on the jurisdiction and the situation. Why should an author continue to receive money after he’s dead and after the format of the work is dead?

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