Having spent so much time in the virtual World of Warcraft, gamers can now experience the real thing … illegally.
In the latest show of just how little international copyright law matters, residents of Changzhou, China will now enjoy World Joyland, a gigantic theme park based on at least two of Blizzard Inc.’s video games.
The first section, called Terrain of Magic, is an entirely illegal copy of World of Warcraft. Everything, from the rides with names like “Splash of Monster Blood” to the statues resembling the series’ icons, is entirely ripped off from the ridiculously successful massively multiplayer online game.
Another part of the gigantic amusement park, entitled Universe of Spaceship, also owes its inspiration to the brilliant minds over at Blizzard and is based on the Starcraft franchise, another multiplayer series by the company that is massively popular in Asia.
According to Francesca, the park’s entrance fee is $30, meaning it probably isn’t drastically affordable for many Chinese residents. It did cost $48 million to make so the steep price point seem somewhat justified but it also demonstrates the audacity of its creators.
After all, you wouldn’t spend that much money on something stolen unless you were sure that copyright infringement would bring you no harm.
What this ultimately shows us, however, is that copyrights die the second they enter international waters. Just earlier this month, a Chinese businessman pleaded guilty for having committed software piracy of over $100 million and that really is just the tip of the piracy iceberg.
According to one study, the value of pirated software in 2010 was $59 billion. Leading the list were Georgia, Zimbabwe, Yemen, Bangladesh, and Moldova, each with at least 90% of software being pirated. Of course, the larger nations, despite being lower in percentage, were responsible for more overall theft by virtue of population.
Giants such as China, Russia, India, and Brazil alone accounted for nearly half the money being lost in pirated software. By one count, 65% of software in Russia was pirated while, in China, the number was nearly 78%. India, another nation where software producers such as Microsoft have a strong presence, also has the world’s largest film industry and is very fond of remaking American films without ever buying the rights.
In a strange turnabout, however, China is also second on the list of nations that lose the most money to piracy, with over $7 billion worth of lost software. America, despite having a fairly low rate of pirated software on its own shores, is the country that loses the most to piracy, with over $9 billion lost annually.
Interestingly, Japan, despite having a culture very fond of software and technology, has considerably low rates of piracy. They have also passed a very strict law to curb the crime, although it has lead to no arrests.
Copyright infringement is a tremendous problem for our economy. Software and movies are amongst the last things we can still manufacture better than the world but, until piracy is curbed, it severely limits our advantage.
I recently came across the old PSY song “Champion” and it heavily features Axel F. I don’t know if the Gangnam star purchased the rights but, looking at the state of international copyright law, he needn’t bother.