Letter to the Editor



I'm having trouble sorting out a serious contradiction in the Sept. 26 issue of the Spectrum. Under the editorial heading of "Our Mission, Our Operation, Our Responsibility," I read the following - "This year, our goal is to provide the students and staff with sound, ethical reporting that addresses major issues and events related to the University at Buffalo."

On the front page, I see an article entitled "Fun and Profit From Computer Gaming" and read the following from Assistant Feature Editor Jamie Lynn Perna:

"For those ready to dedicate their leisure - and possibly class - time, but unable to part with the necessary funds, UB's vast residential network, along with an extensive unofficial search site, offers almost every game available on store shelves for free."

What we are talking about here, obviously, is software piracy. No, let's not even romanticize the act by calling it piracy. We're talking about software theft that is being carried out over the university networks.

And just in case anybody were to think that UB carried a site license for these games, the article continues, "'Accessing games on the network is as easy as typing in the name of the game you want and pressing search,' said sophomore Kai Magnus McNeil. 'If the video game needs a key, you download a key generator.'"

A 'key generator' is used to bypass copy protection. Using a key generator to play games you have not paid for is theft, and yet Perna and The Spectrum are strangely silent on this issue; nowhere in the article does it mention that illegal activities are taking place here. This strikes me as a serious oversight on the part of The Spectrum; at best, it is irresponsible journalism.

I can think of a number of possibilities, few of them good:

1) UB has a site license for "Diablo," "Half-Life," et al. This is highly unlikely: why would people be using key generators to run legitimate software?

2) Perna is terribly naive about such things. Still, The Spectrum's editorial staff should catch this kind of oversight.

3) The Spectrum is falling well short of its goal to provide "sound, ethical reporting."

4) The Spectrum tacitly approves of the theft of commercially available software.

Which of the above apply? I await your response with considerable interest.