Stolen Pixels #20: Not All Change is Progress

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Stolen Pixels #20: Not All Change is Progress

The installment of Stolen Pixels examines the evolution of DRM, from a relatively innocuous beast into a slavering behemoth hungry for your soul.

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The annoying truth is that the pirates got Spore weeks before it came out but the people who paid for it can't play.

XD! So true. I like your take on it, I'd almost forgotten about manual based protection...

Good work Shamus. Caught me off guard with the subject but still a good read. It does seem that all this protection just seems to increase the amount of people that pirate games. And I can completely understand, I hate all that nonsense you have to go through just to play a game that you've paid good money for.

I know that's why I didn't buy it.

Larry Lessig, makes the point though when it comes to copyright there are "two" unreasonable groups at play. Yes current approaches to DRM are ridiculous and only seems two affect the honest consumer. But there is a second group that believe it is their right to steal and freely distribute other peoples work. As long as both of these unreasonable groups stay in their respective camps, this wont get better. The sad truth is that the publishers make their money much quicker than developers. So with boycotts and pirates, the publisher break's even and it's the developer/designer that goes under.

That doesn't mean publishers don't pay for it. If a developer can't make money by going with a publisher that adds DRM to their game they may still have time to look for a publisher who doesn't ruin their games. If not, they die. Either way the publisher loses a valuable asset.

I'm aware this still potentially means good developers going under. I'm just saying that it isn't necessarily only developers who pay in the long run.

True, but as a gamer I feel more fucked by interesting developers going under than by DRM as I've encountered it so far.

Bah. I've usually held out for a PC port of many games I wanted, but the inclusion of current DRM practices makes me hold out for a console release. That is assuming it is ported.

Yet, publishers are likely not going to learn from their mistakes. As you said in your blog a while back: buy the game and they believe we accept the DRM business, don't and they'll think we don't want anything new and original or blame piracy. God knows they won't do anything logical like listen to their audience.

This was pretty fantastic. HOWEVER, you must now rationalize your decision to have the creature evolve into that scary-looking thing instead of one of the hundreds of penis-creatures that were posted on YouTube right after the Creature Creator was released.

DRM doesn't scare me - it makes me feel violated.

Eventually they will just stop publishing games for the PC. That'll be their next step against piracy.

Piracy occured on the high seas because at the time, the means weren't there to enforce the law. Now, with strong coast guards and naval forces, maritime piracy has declined. What society needs to do is either develop a way to police the internet with greater efficiency, or reorient IP copyright laws to account for the ease of copying and transmission. What game companies need to do is create versions of the game that are worth having. We have copy machines, we can pirate books with great ease. However, most people prefer a hardcover bound book to a big pile of xeroxed copies. Pirated DVDs are usually worse in quality than the legal versions. Game companies A. need to make quality versions of the game, not versions that encourage piracy, and B. need to stop marketing to the pirates. What games get pirated most often? Change your pace. Another possibility is changing platforms. Anyway, just some quick thoughts on the matter.

DRM doesn't have to be evil. Gas Powered Games requires me to type in the registration key, and after that it downloads a patch that turns off the DRM. Easy as pie. Current consoles are also full of "DRM" that doesn't inconvenience paying customers, and nobody really minds that.

KNICKERS! HAHA!

Have to agree. Good job.

Loneduck3:
What society needs to do is either develop a way to police the internet with greater efficiency

Buwahaha! What are you communist? China polices the net and bans websites from national view. What's ironic though is it is perhaps the largest contributers to piracy, as there are no laws against it there.

"...although it is hard to imagine where they could go from here without harvesting body parts from the user or implying unflattering things about their mother."

OK. THAT was funny!

Can you imagine what it would be like if Victoria's Secret suddenly decided to start treating their customers in a similar manner?

Each morning before putting on my VS(TM) panties, I would have to call up the VS hotline and validate said panties. There would be a little bar code number on the back of my underwear that I would have to enter into the automated system.

If I neglected to validate my panties before putting them on they would automatically self-destruct in 15 minutes, leaving me with a pile of panty-dust at my feet.

There would be an awful lot of women running around without panties. Or a awful lot of pirated underwear.

Leslee

Policing doesn't have to be at the expense of basic liberties. If you live in the US odds are you live in a town that employs police to uphold the law. Odds are also good that you are not being harassed for doing anything that is within your rights as a US citizen*. For instance, police don't regularly come to your house and demand that you show them a bill of sale for everything you own or have it confiscated, which is kind of like how DRM works.

The point is that whatever solution there is to piracy is going to have to punish pirates more than it punishes everybody else.

* Yes I'm aware that there are edge cases and there isn't %100 agreement on what your rights are, and that there are bad cops who harass people who aren't doing anything wrong or even suspicious, none of this is the norm.

My husband just informed me that I can do character entities on this forum.

So...

VS&trade

Maybe the success of Good Old Games will convince publishers that no DRM can actually be a successful selling point.

Now THAT would teach 'em.

So I guess the question is: How can you effectively fight piracy? DRM and everything before it seems to have done nothing but fail. I totaly agree that we shouldn't make a drawn out pain-staking process, but it's not something that should be ignored.

My favorites were the Manual based protection, and the online activation.

I want to say that to someone now, "yeah we can play TF2 for a bit, but then I gotta kill myself".

zoozilla:
Maybe the success of Good Old Games will convince publishers that no DRM can actually be a successful selling point.

Now THAT would teach 'em.

I look forward to that, but I doubt it will happen. When Diablo 3 was announced the Diablo battlechest got in the top 10 games sold a few days later. You can easily pirate a game that old (or not depending on your OS, and certain "ISO" manipulations..).

Stranger Danger:
So I guess the question is: How can you effectively fight piracy? DRM and everything before it seems to have done nothing but fail. I totaly agree that we shouldn't make a drawn out pain-staking process, but it's not something that should be ignored.

My own thoughts on the matter here:

Five Ways to Fight Piracy.

Stardock is pretty much the only major publisher that does all five.

Akafrank:
But there is a second group that believe it is their right to steal and freely distribute other peoples work.

steal:

to take the property

It wasn't taken, it was freely given for an agreed upon price.

But who cares when we can look awesome by employing the fallacy of the middleground with hyperbolic speech!

Imitation Saccharin :

It wasn't taken, it was freely given for an agreed upon price.

But who cares when we can look awesome by employing the fallacy of the middleground with hyperbolic speech!

I don't follow. How exactly are pirates not taking these games?

JazzX:

I don't follow. How exactly are pirates not taking these games?

How did they get a hold of them in the first place?

I was really considering getting a graphics card to play Spore, but this really put me off. If I own the goddamned game, that's the end of it. You no longer have power over it. It's mine. I'm not renting it from you pricks, now shoo.

Imitation Saccharin :

JazzX:

I don't follow. How exactly are pirates not taking these games?

How did they get a hold of them in the first place?

Pirates frequently pride themselves on pre zero-day releases so there's a very high chance they didn't purchase it legally.

And even if they didn't steal their copy, this part still stands:

Akafrank:
freely distribute other peoples work

JazzX:

Pirates frequently pride themselves on pre zero-day releases so there's a very high chance they didn't purchase it legally.

The price can be free (I.e.- reviewer copy).

JazzX:

And even if they didn't steal their copy, this part still stands:

Akafrank:
freely distribute other peoples work

Which is different then having a few friends over to watch a flick except in numbers of people how? You're still sharing other people's work for free without your friends paying for it.

shMerker:
The point is that whatever solution there is to piracy is going to have to punish pirates more than it punishes everybody else.

Why is punishment the answer? Why not make the sold copy more valuable (I dunno, useless crap like figurines, badges, dogtags, a piece of the berlin wall) than the pirated (digital only) copy?

Akafrank:
But there is a second group that believe it is their right to steal and freely distribute other peoples work.

Copying is not stealing. Stealing involves me removing property from someone, copying is me making a duplicate of said property with them still having said property.

Akafrank:
But there is a second group that believe it is their right to steal and freely distribute other peoples work.

What one group think is wrong, another one might believe is a right. Who gets to decide which side is wrong?

lesterley:

Can you imagine what it would be like if Victoria's Secret suddenly decided to start treating their customers in a similar manner?

Each morning before putting on my VS(TM) panties, I would have to call up the VS hotline and validate said panties. There would be a little bar code number on the back of my underwear that I would have to enter into the automated system.

If I neglected to validate my panties before putting them on they would automatically self-destruct in 15 minutes, leaving me with a pile of panty-dust at my feet.

There would be an awful lot of women running around without panties. Or a awful lot of pirated underwear.

Leslee

[edit] you missed the part where victoria's secret could arbitrarily shut down their panty server, leaving many women sans knickers. or if they went out of business.[/edit]

Women without underwear? Pirate underwear?

Your proposal is accepted.

Zukhramm:

Akafrank:
But there is a second group that believe it is their right to steal and freely distribute other peoples work.

What one group think is wrong, another one might believe is a right. Who gets to decide which side is wrong?

I do. Problem solved.

Imitation Saccharin :

Which is different then having a few friends over to watch a flick except in numbers of people how? You're still sharing other people's work for free without your friends paying for it.

Its different in that you are granted use for private, non-exhibition viewing of the movie.

It's almost like saying that having your friends over to watch is the same as setting up "Imitation Saccharin's House of Movies" in your basement, selling tickets and screening the movie to them.

The former is completely within your rights as the purchaser/renter of that media. The later is a violation of the creator of that media's rights.

"Copying is not stealing. Stealing involves me removing property from someone, copying is me making a duplicate of said property with them still having said property."

By that logic counterfeiting isn't stealing.

The attempt to take it into the abstract, remove all context or impose other contexts, doesn't actually help see the problem better. I think with game piracy we are simply stating that:
1. The developer needs to sell copies in order to both continue creating games and earn a living.
2. Anyone who seeks to provide or acquire games and not contribute to the above proposal is stealing from them.

Free copying and distribution of games costs talented people jobs. Right or wrong, the developers are the last to turn a profit on a game. A pirated game comes directly out of their pocket.

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