Look, I have no strong opinion on this issue yet. On one hand, I do get the concept of protecting products that can be shared digitally from being shared to the point where no one needs to buy them any more. There will be no incentive to create such products in the first place, if the considerable amount of it will just be distributed freely. After all, I'm a programmer myself, and I have friends-programmers who sale their software and are being hurt by piracy.
On the other hand... I live in Ukraine. That is, in the country where the level of corruption is one of the highest in the world, and the salary rate - one of the lowest in Europe. We have broken judicial system, great amounts of lands seized quite routinely by the oligarchs and government officials, people being abused by the police and dying while in custody, and what they're concerned with is Ukrainians watching movies for free? Talking about getting priorities right.
Ukraine's largest file-sharing portal that got shut down on 31st of January was like a huge public library. It was free, had just a bit of ads on it, a good search engine and contained some rare, old movies that you didn't think you could find anywhere these days. Soviet movies dating back to the 40ies, from what Ive seen, maybe something more ancient - Im not sure. Documentaries, software... Yes, I know, the producers are entitled to their royalties, but in this case I just don't think they'll benefit any from this resource being closed down. Even if they shut Ukraine off the internet completely, I don't think we'll see long lines near the licenced DVD stores. It's not that people are undermotivated to buy quality products here, it's that they don't have much money to spare for entertainment. With the average salary being some $330 a month, how many $10 DVDs can people afford? If thats a question of buying some fruits for dinner or buying a movie to watch. Although, what fruits am I talking about, a lot of families don't see much of those either. Synthetic vitamis are cheaper. Not to mention the average pensions, which are about half as high as the salaries.
Of course, there is a percentage of people who won't buy just because they can get it for free, even in Ukraine, but that number is relatively small, unfortunately!
A few more facts about the closed down Ex.ua. As I've already mentioned, it was free unlike Megaupload that charged their visitors, and it was only accessible from Ukraine, with most of the materials being in Ukrainain/Russian. Also, the administration was fully cooperative in taking down any content upon the copyright holders request. I've seen the 'content removed by the request of the copyright holder' notes there myself. One day smth was up, the next it was gone. I guess their largest sin was their popularity, not their policies.
There is a lot of conflicting information on media regarding the case. New details popping up only to be refuted hours later.
Meanwhile, the websites of the Interior Affairs Ministry (the one directly responsible for the action) and the official website of our president (considered to be indirectly involved, I guess) continue to be unaccessible sufferring DDoS attacks. The first was being hit shortly after it became known Ex.ua was closed by the government, the second shared the fate later, the next day. The instructions of how to help overload the servers are floating around the forums, comments and facebook pages where Ex.ua is being discussed. Ok, I admit, its sort of funny.)))
Some journalists are now writing in defence of shutting down the site because intellectual property is to be protected. While in the same time admitting they themselves use cracked software and OS. But they at least admit that what they're doing is wrong. So... there!
What is perhaps even more ridiculous, is the fact that the Ministry of Interior Affairs itself uses stolen copies of Microsoft software. "Some 47% of the software our ministry uses is not licensed", - said their spokesman today. "Microsoft is aware of it and we're negotiating the legalization process". (link)
Anyway, as I was saying, my mind is split on this issue. I'm looking forward to reading any comments on it.
Update. More sites going down presumably under cyberattacks caused by the closure of the file sharing portal.
The 'SBU' (Ukrainian security agency) is down
The ruling party site is down
Ukrainian Parliament website is down
The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine sometimes unavailable or slow
The Constitutional Court site is getting slower
Update, 2 Feb 2012
Police has allowed to unlock the ex.ua domain, however, the server with some 6000 terabytes of data remains seized. Till now no charges have been made. Today police reports it came to the conclusion that the presense of stolen materials on a portal is not a reason to block a domain.
Update, 3 Feb 2012
Ex.ua is up again, only some (or all - i don't care to check) files are not available yet. Seems like things might get back to the way they used to be.
Governmental websites are up and running again.
If someone has time and motivation to create open-source - thats wonderful.
But I also personally know programmers who can't fully live off their work, because once they release a program, its being cracked and offerred for download free of charge. Not everyone has the luxury of time to spend on the job that will not pay off. So if a programmer can not have their time payed off by the purchases of their software, they have to get a real job and only program on their free time. Or apply for a position at Microsoft hehe)))))
yeah, me too. i also try and donate to the developers at least a little bit as a sign of appreciation. well, if the software works, of course)) incidently, right now im evaluationg this free ebook management program. got my first e-reader today finally)