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The Courts Government Entertainment Games News

EA, Atari Sue Over Videogame Copying Software 409

Thanks to the Monterey Herald/AP for its news story regarding EA, Atari, and VU Games' lawsuit against the makers of the Games X Copy backup software. The article explains: "The federal lawsuit [PDF version], filed Tuesday in New York, alleges that Games X Copy software by 321 Studios Inc. of suburban St. Louis violates copyright laws by illegally cracking copy-protection systems used by [PC] game makers." Doug Lowenstein of the ESA trade body, also backing the lawsuits, explains: "I wouldn't get into speculating on dollar losses here. What's at stake here is a rather important legal principle - that products with no purpose other than to circumvent copyright protection are illegal under the DMCA." The piece also notes that "Federal judges in New York and California have barred 321 from marketing... [similar] DVD-cloning software - a victory for movie studios, which contended that such products violate the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act."
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EA, Atari Sue Over Videogame Copying Software

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  • Just wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by infonick (679715) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:10AM (#9438879) Homepage
    13 torrent will become avialible in the following minutes, and their worst fears will come true.
    • Re:Just wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Synonymous Yellowbel (720524) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:35AM (#9439300)
      13 torrent will become avialible in the following minutes, and their worst fears will come true. Obviously you're joking, but I thought it worth reminding everyone else that the "powers that be" (that's the corporations, not the government, folks) aren't worried about the 0.05% of the population that are geeks using Bittorrent. It's the mainstream market finding out that they can copy their neighbours' software and music that keeps them up at night. Even more importantly, it's the legitimisation of such activity that they really want to crush. Even if it's legal to back up one's software, they want people to think it's not, because if the plebs know they can do that, it's just a short jump to widescale copyright infringement which they fear will wrest control from their cold, dead fingers. steve
      • Re:Just wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by crazyray (776321) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:03AM (#9439409)
        This is a very valid, and very true, point. They really don't care about the .001 per cent that can circumvent it anyway- its the "critical mass" of average joes and janes that cause concern. I would also add to your point that this can be seen in the "click to accept" agreements- no one really expects the user to read and understand them, but they do want the user to THINK that the software issuer grants and decides what is or will be "fair use".
      • Re:Just wait... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cloak42 (620230) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:04AM (#9440870) Homepage
        It's the mainstream market finding out that they can copy their neighbours' software and music that keeps them up at night.

        Somehow, I think it's not that. It seems to me that what they're really afraid of are people who download these games and programs for free off of P2P software (I'm thinking Kazaa, Morpheus, Gnutella, etc. more than BitTorrent). Even the RIAA has said that making a copy for a friend or neighbor is fine and that it's the mass distributors they're really focused on.
      • Re:Just wait... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sql*kitten (1359) *
        aren't worried about the 0.05% of the population that are geeks using Bittorrent

        You're missing the point that busting the early-adopters is a powerful technique for keeping the rest of the population in line. Especially since they're so easy to find, they post about it on /.!
  • by RobPiano (471698) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:10AM (#9438880)
    I had a game that takes several hours to defeat and spans more than one disc called, ``Lunar 2 Eternal Blue'' for Playstation 2. I was playing through the game very slowly and when I got to the second disc I realized the disc was scratched. Well, it had already passed the 30 day point, so I wrote the company and asked if they would sell me a replacement second disc. The answer, of course, was no. I would have to buy the whole thing over again.

    What kind of crap are they pulling. I am legally entitled to backup my games, but they put in measures to prevent me doing so. Would these companies allow me to ask for a copy? No. Could I send in a damaged copy and get another? No.

    Okay fine, piracy is a problem for you. You lose tons of money (well I don't actually believe this). Then it is your job to provide me with backups. I have a legal right, and a need as a consumer for legitimate backups.

    It is in the best interest of corporations to take away your rights if they can instead sell them to you. The only way our rights stand a chance is if we stand up for them. In fact I will go a step further and say, the only way our rights stand a chance is if we demonstrate common practice what our rights are.

    Laws are defined by practice. They are both made and broken by what we do. When we started buying ``copy protected'' materials we set a precedence that copying was not a legitimate activity. Had we wanted to keep our right to copy we would not have bought anything copy protected.

    This case is clear. Our right to copy is almost gone. We set the precedence for it by buying things with copy protection and now we have to live with it.

    Grr! I want the second disc damnit!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Did you have the American version? According to the publisher's web site [workingdesigns.com], "If you have a receipt ... we offer free replacement of defective discs for a 90 day period."
    • Have it resurfaced (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:35AM (#9439014) Homepage
      Many places charge as low as 5 dollars to have a disk resurfaced, and unless the disk is cracked it always works. The home-resurfacing kits are mostly jokes, but the professional ones work... ask at a local used CD store where they resurface theirs. Of course, you can always buy it new from EB and return the broken copy... that would be dishonest, but let's just say they lost that protection the day they sold me an unopened copy of FF7 on the release date that was scratched to hell, and didn't have a replacement available for weeks.

      I agree, with your position though, that if media companies are going to take the we-own-the-media-you-have-to-return-it-to-us-on-de mand position, we should get the rights associated with it.

      Lunar 2 was better on the Sega CD anyway. The animation was more charming.

      • by nathanh (1214)

        Many places charge as low as 5 dollars to have a disk resurfaced, and unless the disk is cracked it always works. The home-resurfacing kits are mostly jokes, but the professional ones work...

        One of the home kits worked for me. I had a really badly scratched PS2 game (second hand, Prince of Persia, bought it on ebay). It refused to load a certain level. No amount of cleaning would make it work. I picked up a $5 kit, rubbed the chemical solution over it for 5 minutes, and the disc worked first time and

      • by Rinisari (521266)
        The thing is, though, he shouldn't have to pay to have it resurfaced. He has a legal right to backup his own games for personal use (I would find and quote the USC, but I'm too lazy ATM) and since the gaming industry now seeks to prevent that, they should have to provide that backup copy.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:39AM (#9439034)
      For what it's worth, they actually can't refuse even after the 30 days. Game companies, as well as music companies, are obligated to replace media that becomes damaged (even if the owner is at fault) for the cost of replacement.

      I've had software CDs replaced long after they were originally purchased, usually about $5-$15 dollars. I think $15 is probably a bit stiff, but the original software cost enough that we were more than happy to pay it.

      Whoever you talked to didn't know their posterior from a whole in the ground. Next time, insist on talking to a superior and - if necessary - call their legal department if the superior is also an idiot.
    • You have to be very careful with this sort of "law A says I'm allowed to do such and such, but law B hampers it, so law B must be violating my civil rights" reasoning. It's true that the U.S. Copyright Act contains a provision that allows people to make backup copies of copyrighted works, but this does not mean that you have some sort of inalienable right to make backup copies - it merely means that there is nothing wrong in principle with making backup copies. You're still legally obligated to follow any o
      • by badasscat (563442) <[basscadet75] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:29AM (#9439521)
        And no, I don't think that the DMCA is a good idea, I'm just trying to correct a common legal fallacy that I've see repeated many times on slashdot.

        It's not a fallacy. US Copyright law specifically says "it's ok for you to make copies under circumstances including this, and this, and some other stuff". Case law supports making backup copies as fair use under that law.

        Now another law comes along and says "well, whether or not you're allowed to make copies, you're not allowed to make copies by getting around this thing we put in place to stop you from making copies." This is like saying you bought a car, and yes, you own the car and are legally allowed to drive it, but you're not legally allowed to open the door to get into it. It doesn't make any sense, and one law is clearly designed to contradict the other, even if it doesn't do so specifically or by actually retracting any part of the original law. It's a sneaky way of taking away rights you were specifically granted by legislation and then case law.

        So I realize that you're not arguing in favor of the DMCA, but it sounds like that's because you're morally opposed to it, not because you think there's any legal problem with it. There are legal problems with it, in as much as it basically retracts portions of copyright law in practice without doing so specifically. If you ask me, congress got hoodwinked on this - I don't think they meant to pass a law retracting portions of copyright law as they pertain to digital media, but the RIAA and MPAA told them the law was good and congress believed them. I think most members of congress probably honestly believed they were simply adding to and clarifying copyright law as it pertains to digital media. But that's not what they did; the DMCA by nature cannot be applied fairly (since it only applies to digital media - an artist holding a copyright on a painting, for example, can't invoke it), and it so far has only really been invoked in this one specific way in lawsuits, which is in the restrictions it places on fair use rights defined elsewhere in copyright law.
        • In cases where laws overlap, legal precidence simply states that the previous law trumps the later one.
          • In cases where laws overlap, legal precidence simply states that the previous law trumps the later one.

            That's exactly backwards - in terms of both statute and case law, the more recent law supersedes the older law. It has to be that way. After all, if old law always trumped new law, you'd never be able to repeal old laws - they'd simply trump any attempt to do so ;)

    • Most game boxes don't state that they have copy protection schemes.

      You can't return software once it's been opened.

      It's hard to vote with your dollar once they already have your money.

    • On the flip side of this though, you are expecting something that you couldn't get for any other product as well. If I buy a book and find out that 2 pages are ripped out at the end, the store won't take it back after 30 days (or whatever their policy is) and the publisher isn't obligated to replace the book (and won't replace it). Same thing if I buy a light bulb and notice it doesn't work. They may replace it, but they aren't obligated too.

      Don't get me wrong, I certainly think they should replace it i
    • My car was stolen years ago. Had about 20 ORIGINAL CD's (I didn't use my cd burner for anything other then data backup at the time). I have 20 empty cd cases with the booklets from the music, but I do not have the songs. I'll be damned if I have to buy those 20 CD's again.
      For those that might say "your car insurance company should pay for it" - the car companies response to theft of non-auto parts (cds, clothing, books, etc left in your car) is that you are not covered for this unless you want to get extr
  • This is the same EA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:12AM (#9438890) Journal
    This is the same EA that just made it IMPOSSIBLE to bypass the 15 second startup movies that play every time you start up Ultima Online. There is a way to disable them, but they can ban your account for making unauthorized mods if you use it.

    • What? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Trillan (597339) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:37AM (#9439552) Homepage Journal

      Delete the movie files. They won't ban you for that.

      They might ban you if you modify the client, but why bother when you can just delete the file?

    • Thou art a town crier, sworn to tell the decrees from the lord of the land to the townsmen unaltered. The lazy and vain lord asks thee to begin the news with a pompous praise to him. Dost thou
      A) Honestly refrain from praising the lord, knowing the townsmen dislike him as well, or
      B) Honor thy agreement and do as thou hast been told?

      Aww heck, as if that would matter. =)

    • in seven years, and I haven't been banned yet.

      You're just making shit up. There's even a setting in the UO.CFG file (ShowIntroAnim=On/Off) to bypass the movies.
  • Kids (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BancBoy (578080) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:14AM (#9438895)
    Many children (young and old) treat their game discs with a bit less respect than they should sometimes. Who wants to buy a new copy everytime your copy starts skipping or fails? Won't you please think about the children!?
    • Re:Kids (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:26AM (#9438966) Homepage
      They're kids. For the most part, they've not reached the point where they realize that things actually break, deteriorate, or die - they don't have the perspective of multiple years of life yet to reflect back on. A week is a very long time for 10 year old, and a month an eternity.

      Sure, kids shouldn't abuse their stuff, and most don't unless they're spoiled. But expecting a kid to keep a CDROM scratch-free is a bit absurd when most grown adults have difficulty with it.
    • Re:Kids (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MMaestro (585010) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:49AM (#9439095)
      True, but its goes beyond that. Do you REALLY think that just because you keep your CDs in a nice jewel case everytime you stop using it, its not gonna take some wear and tear? Course not, by merely owning it its gonna take damage. Lets go over the list of "what goes wrong, when you're doing things right."

      1. Merely removing the shrink wrap from the jewel case exposes it to air and airborne chemicals which will erode your disc.
      2. Removing the CD, causes pressure to be FOCUSED on the center because thats really the only part of the CD thats being used to hold it in place. This leads to potential cracks and simple wear and tear.
      3. USING THE CD, causes its damage. Think about it, whats the RPM (rotation per minute) of your CD player? How long do you typically use that CD at a time? How hot does the CD get when its rotated that quickly and for so long? What about the heat generated from the rest of the system (PC of stereo system?)
      4. The area you live in also predict the lifetime of your CD in the longrun. If you use the CD in a closed, temperture controlled, atmosphere controlled laboratory and use the CD maybe once a week, yeah its gonna last about the estimated 10 years. But if you live in a tent, in the middle of the Sahara Desert and the sand just somehow manages to get into your air-sealed CD case and scratch it up, you'll be lucky if your CD managed to make its way into the hands of a black market dealer with 2 tracks still playable.

  • by phaetonic (621542) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:15AM (#9438903)
    If all of the companies (like EA) who sold CDs (movies, music, video games) had the same sort of support that Disney movies have (disc replacement program), would there still be a justification for this sort of program?
    • by SenatorTreason (640653) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {nosaertrotanes}> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:24AM (#9438958)
      For the others who had no idea what the parent was talking about, see the following site:
      Disney FAQ, see "How do I replace a damaged DVD?" [go.com].

  • Now I know (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BobPaul (710574) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:15AM (#9438905) Journal
    Thanks to this article, I know of the existance of "Games X Copy," a product I would never have known about had EA and the others sued.

    What will I do with my knew found awareness? Probably nothing right now, but I'm sure I'll let others know about it eventually and there's a slim possibility I might buy a copy before they're gone...

    Thanks EA and Atari! Now I know about another great 321 Studios project!!
  • Fair Use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnCivil Liberty (786163) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:15AM (#9438907)
    "What's at stake here is a rather important legal principle - that products with no purpose other than to circumvent copyright protection are illegal under the DMCA."
    What's at stake here is a rather important legal principle Mr. Lowenstein, it's fair use. A fair use clause must be added to the DMCA, this is a travesty.
    • Re:Fair Use (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mothz (788133)
      What I don't understand about that quote is this: Suppose a brand of refrigerator, bicycle, wristwatch, or telephone had DVD cloning functionality. Would these products be legal simply because they have purposes besides copy-protection circumvention?

      If that's the case, then DVD cloning cannot be illegal on its own (although any copyright infringements still would be, of course). And if that's the case, then DVD-cloner products are legal without any attached refrigerators.

      If it's not the case, then any
  • DMCA (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:16AM (#9438912)
    Doesn't the copyright protection have to be "effective" for the DMCA to apply?
  • Dumbfucks . . . (Score:4, Informative)

    by DA-MAN (17442) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:19AM (#9438931) Homepage
    Federal judges in New York and California have barred 321 from marketing... [similar] DVD-cloning software - a victory for movie studios, which contended that such products violate the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act."

    God some people are so fucking retarded. 321 got spanked in court for decrypting dvd's without having a legal license to decrypt. The products functionality was never in question, the way they got that functionality going was . . .
  • 321 Studios (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rick and Roll (672077) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:21AM (#9438939)
    Somebody needs to come out in support of these guys [321studios.com].

    These are the good guys. They are pissing off the evil copy-protection guys. They have a very reasonable argument.

    I would like to see RMS write an article about this specific issue. It may help people to see how stupid these lawsuits are. I would like the Electronic Frontier Foundation to help out as well.

    If I had a DVD-R drive, I would definitely buy their products.

    • by ThatsNotFunny (775189) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:48AM (#9439089)
      I would definitely buy their products If you want, I can make you a copy. ;)
    • Re:321 Studios (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:18AM (#9440096) Homepage
      Somebody needs to come out in support of these guys [321studios.com].

      These are the good guys. They are pissing off the evil copy-protection guys. They have a very reasonable argument.


      you obviousally never owned one of their products... their activation and CALL HOME scheme is nastier than anything any game maker or movie maker has ever created.

      I a msitting here with a legitimate copy of DVD X copy PLatinum that they REFUSE to give me a activation key for bcause they did not see a "uninstall call home" when my hard drive crashed.

      they are Assholes that are no better than the people suing them. and their products are BASED on open/free versions that are on the net now... DVD shrink is 20 times better than their dvdXcopy product. (I unfortunately found out about 2 months after I bought the crud from 321.)

      and the tools to backup PS2 games have been on the net for just as long...

      they are NOT the good guys otherwise they would not be jerks to their own customers.
  • by RLiegh (247921) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:23AM (#9438949) Homepage Journal
    ...protecting the consumer's fair use rights. Too bad there's no money to be made going that route.
  • Maybe... (Score:4, Funny)

    by NightWulf (672561) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:24AM (#9438954)
    321 Studios should have listed 123 Fake St. as their address. Then the subpeona wouldn't have reached them.
  • by meanfriend (704312) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:30AM (#9438988)

    Three makers of video games sued a Missouri company marketing software that enables consumers to make backup copies of computer games.

    Very well then, if I cant make a backup or bypass the copy protection, then they should be legally required to issue refunds for software if that backup protection renders the software defective.

    From my own personal experience, I bought KOTOR the first day it came out for PC. For some reason, when doing the cd check when launching, the game would hang about half of the time requiring a hard reset. After a couple weeks I got fed up and downloaded a no CD-crack and havent had a problem since.

    My PC met all the requirements on the box, yet when it doesnt work properly because of stupid copy-protection schemes the publisher has no accountability to the consumer, yet *I'm* the one breaking the law (DMCA) when I take steps to make the damn thing usable?

    If I bought a toaster and it only toasted half the time, I'd return it to the store and get a new one with an apology. Yet if it's software, why does consumer protection go right out the window?

    • by Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:42AM (#9439051) Homepage Journal
      " If I bought a toaster and it only toasted half the time, I'd return it to the store and get a new one with an apology. Yet if it's software, why does consumer protection go right out the window?"
      I think this is the case for a couple of reasons. Typically, to get consumer protection, it usually takes negative publicity to force the company and/or government intervention. Both of these take a motivated consumer group that is going to push for reform and has the power/money to make it happen. Also, a news story on 60 Minutes where some old grandma buys a toaster, it doesn't work as advertised, and the company won't make it right is a public relations nightmare. Some male between the age of 15 and 40 who can't play his computer game isn't going to receive much sympathy from the viewing public, if such a story were to even make it onto 60 Minutes.

      Another issue that I see is the fact that most people have a very limited understanding of computers and the software running on them. Sure, you knew that the copy protection scheme was what was causing the problem. How many other people can figure that out? A lot of people don't know that copy protection schemes are leading to these problems and will instead blame it on their own computer instead of the company for including a mechanism to prevent theft.

      So I guess we just need to get some old ladies playing KOTOR, call 60 Minutes, and start a rally to get some change.

    • Every time there is a copyright story I tell this story -- but its similar to yours.

      Few years back I bought a copy of Steinbergs LM4 and 3 sample cds to go with it (200$ total I think)... LM4 won't install on Windows 2k because it has a LAME copy protection that only works in 95 EVEN THOUGHT WIN2k IS A SUPPORTED PLATFORM FOR CUBASE (lm4 plugs into cubase). Steinberg basically says "fuck you" and I download the Oxygen release of LM4 and continue about my business having vowed not to purchase any more stei

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@NOSpam.lynx.bc.ca> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:38AM (#9439030) Journal
    The purpose of this software, and software like it, is *NOT* to circumvent copyright protection, as they would seem to have us believe.

    It is to circumvent *COPY* protection, not copyright protection.

    These two ideas are not one and the same... And they need to get it through their skulls that this is the case.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:04AM (#9439159)

      Um, they're very aware that copy protection and copyright protection are two different things. But they use the words interchangeably on purpose, because that way consumers begin to associate the two. It's like that whole Al Gore invented the internet versus helped create the internet thing. He said the latter, but the former, which is only subtly different, sounds much worse. So people always use the former. Not that the second one is much better, mind you, but the point is that as it has less punch people avoid it.

      These sorts of word games are one of the most basic concepts in propaganda. It's like the whole apocryphal story about Bush bringing up 9/11 everytime Iraq was mentioned, and although he never specifically stated that the two were related, the end result was that most Americans thought the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens. This may actually be true but I'll be skeptical since I don't have a link to back it up, but anecdotally it demonstrates the point well.

      RMS has similar problems with the terms "Intellectual Property", "Content Providers", and "Software Piracy", because these terms are designed to make people interpret a situation one way when it actually probably oughtn't to be.

      I used to think that RMS was a hippie zealot tin-foil hat wearer, but I'm beginning to see what he's been going on about all these years. Free Software (using his definition of the word) is the only way to circumvent this kind of nonsense. When you have no corporate backing and the code is copied freely, it's very hard to sue anyone for it. When I first read his "Right to Read" I laughed my ass off. What a twat! But go reread it now. It's scary. Just imagine for a minute if he really is right about all that stuff he yammers on about.

      Makes you think.

  • by radimvice (762083) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:39AM (#9439035) Homepage
    A while back (Oct. 28, 2003), the Librarian of Congress granted certain classes of works a three-year exemption [copyright.gov] from the DMCA. The classes of interest are:

    (2) Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete.

    (3) Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and which require the original media or hardware as a condition of access. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.


    I know these classes apply to old, obsolete console systems, but couldn't they apply to CD-ROM anti-circumvention programs for games that are no longer being manufactured, because in that case the original CD-ROMs themselves are the necessary systems? If so, copy-circumvention programs like this would have a legal, legitimate use.

    Of more general concern is the fact that such special exemptions need to be made in the first place, suggesting that the whole DMCA is bogus in the first place.
  • BPAC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argoff (142580) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:45AM (#9439063)
    I know this has been posted here before, but ....

    BPAC [adiungo.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:46AM (#9439074)
    I don't want to have to put a CD in the drive to play a game:

    (1) CD drives spinning up and down as I'm playing drives me up the wall. They're noisy fuckers. I had a game (Black & White) kill a CD-drive because it accessed the disk constantly for about 3 hours as I was playing. The drive overheated, the plastic holding a cog in place softened - and the mechanism broke. I've never seen a game that would allow me to play 100% from the CD anyway - so what the hell are those game developers doing?

    (2) I have a notebook computer. I'm not going to carry a bundle of CDs with me when I'm travelling. Period.

    (3) Copy protection methods don't work. People who copy games were never going to buy them in the first place. It only opens the door to organised criminals, a black market - and limits market penetration. If people copy your game they're going to be more likely to buy a sequel.

    Anyway, the game I play the most on my notebook is Quake 2 simply because it doesn't require a CD in the drive. Newer games are such a hassle to start:

    (1) find game disk
    (2) set DVD movie that was in the drive somewhere on the table
    (3) put disk in drive
    (4) close drive, wait for drive to spin up
    (5) double-click game icon
    (6) remove wrong disk from drive (disk 2, oops), insert disk 1 instead, click okay
    (7) wait for drive to spin up
    (8) sit through annoying uncancellable logo / fanfare. snicker that the logo looks better than the game itself
    (9) navigate horrible 3D rendered main menu

    Ironically, this ritual has made me appreciate online game much more. They have personalised keys, accounts and passwords. No stupid CD in the drive. It's relatively bliss.
    • by Hellasboy (120979) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:47AM (#9439337)
      I keep on hearing complaints from everywhere as to why people are still playing counter-strike.

      you want to know why i still play it? i don't have to have that damn CD in my hard drive. The last game I bought was battlefield 1942 and it's sitting here collecting dust. I was sick and tired of it spending all of its time seeking and searching for the CD. It already takes up some 1.4 gigs of space on my HD so it obviously doesn't need to retrieve any gameplay information.

      Battlefield 1942 will be the last game I buy from EA. If you want to treat me like a criminal for paying 50$ for a game, then fine ... go ahead. You won't see a further dime from me.

      Go ahead game companies. Use macrovisions latest "security" feature that end up pissing off all your paying customers (thousands and millions) so that you can delay crackers for an extra 5 minutes.

      If you're going to force me to go through the troubles of using no-cd cracks, etc, why should i even bother paying for your product when i could go ahead and download a fixed (pirated) version of your broken software? It seems like I would have less problems by going the pirated route.
      • by Maestro4k (707634) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:42AM (#9441769) Journal
        • Go ahead game companies. Use macrovisions latest "security" feature that end up pissing off all your paying customers (thousands and millions) so that you can delay crackers for an extra 5 minutes.
        The latest version of Macrovision for games may have finally gone too far. It checks to see if you have certain "bad" software installed such as CloneCD. (There are others, I forget which though.) If it finds one of them installed, the installation fails, and without telling you properly why. Worse yet, if the software's not still on your computer, but the registry entries didn't get all removed it assumes the software's installed and fails.

        Now aside from the fact that the copy protection software is trying to tell you what other software you can and can't own to play the game is how I found out about this. The letter from the Editor in the latest copy of Computer Games. It happened to him on a new game, and he was quite unhappy about it. While other magazines might not be quite as bold about reporting this fact, it's not going to go over well with them either. Pissing off the gaming press is a really great way to get the gaming market in general riled up.

        In any case I know that thanks to Macrovision and this latest idiocy I refuse to buy any more new PC games. I'll still pick up games for my PS2, since I don't have to worry about the copy protection making them unplayable, but for the PC I'll pass. Neat how they lost my business even without it affecting me directly ehh?

  • by tmundar (587769) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:52AM (#9439106)

    I have alway felt that all of the copy protection schemes only hurt those suckers (like me) who actually pay for the software. CDs won't last forever, and with no way to backup the games to another media (when CDs go the way of the floppy disk), the money I spend on copy protected software ends up being wasted.

    The funny thing is, all of these copy protection schemes never stop the real pirates. You can find a cracked version of any popular piece of software. All that the software companies do when they attack a company that enables users to backup their software is stop a few amateurs from giving the games to their friends. Maybe they even drive a few to try to find another way to get the game for free, and suddenly the user who used to buy software finds out that they can get it all for free.

    I have been burned by DRM in the past. I probably have paid about $1000 for games for my Amiga (a long time ago). I occasionally have a bout of nostalgia, and want to play some of my old games (that I paid for) through emulation. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to make image files of the copy protected games, and in order to play the games that I paid for, I had to find pirated versions of those games.

    Now imagine it is 5 years from now and suddenly Microsoft somehow manages to push through "trusted computing" or some such, and the only way to play your older games is through emulation. Or more likely, one of the CDs for your favorite old game that you break out every once in a while starts having read errors. The game companies just tell you "too bad, sucker" because some people (or maybe even most people) out there might use the software to break a law and give the game to their buddy down the street.

    I buy all of my software, or find a free alternative, and I actually have a legitimate use for backup software in order to protect the investment I have made in my software. It really annoys me that the software industry just assumes that all of us users are criminals.

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:58AM (#9439137) Homepage
    I'd not be surprised if they'd call tools such as cp, dd and friends piracy tools as well - they interact with data in manners that can be used in piracy if used for such purpose. The only worse I've seen outside of trade organizations (and other antitrust law dodgers) is Novell in the 1990's who'd sue BBS's left and right (and brag about it).
  • by TimTr (124434) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:59AM (#9439138) Homepage
    Contrary to FSF beliefs and other moral pundits, I actually think copy protection should be totally legal, protected, and respected. A company should have the right to say "you have rights to ONE instance of this software and rights to use this ONE instance for every $40 you pay". You want it on two computers, you pay for running it on two computers (or you take the CD and bring it to the other CD.)

    Here's the problem and why the game companies and other media companies are full of "stuff". Their argument is that the $40 for the game is due to the effort and IP contained on the CD. Totally true, and since that thought pays my salary, I love it. The problem is, if I scratch my CD or DVD, shouldn't I be able to replace it for the price of the media (like $1)? I still have rights to the value I paid $40 to own, right? The crappy media scratched or whatever, so the company should make it POSSIBLE for me to replace that media so I can continue to get my $40 value.

    Companies need this policy: "send us your scratched CD and we'll replace it for shipping costs and $1" or "bring the CD to your game store and they will replace it for you for $1." The software company I work for sells software for up to millions of dollars - the last thing we would do if a customer's CD died is tell them "tough luck". Why do game companies think "tough luck" is an ok answer for a scratched $40 CD? And when someone tries to protect that $40 investment with a backup they want to stop it? Maybe they do think the CD itself is the value?

    If they had this replacement policy, then this legal argument that these backup tools serve no purpose but piracy would be legit. As it stands right now, if I am paying $40 for "rights" to the contents of the CD, I should be able to back up those contents. Some people could use those for piracy, but until the industry comes up with a way to know the difference, then backup tools DO serve a legitimate purpose.

    When I had to buy a replacement copy of an XBox game a year ago I sure wish I had a LEGAL backup DVD...

    ~Tim
    • The problem is, if I scratch my CD or DVD, shouldn't I be able to replace it for the price of the media (like $1)?

      Buena Vista Home Video has actually implemented this [go.com]. But that still doesn't end the boycott [losingnemo.com].

    • by Mycroft_VIII (572950) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:14AM (#9439460) Journal
      The only serious problem I have with your premis is the fact that many copy protection schemes are BAD for your computer.
      The most common issue is software that boots on startup and always runs, stealling cpu cycles. but at least one system not only doese that, but installs itself as a driver, one that till recently conflicted with the usb drivers used by windows to work with usb-memory key type device. I read at least one report by a colledge student who lost a good part of a semesters work while transfering files to such a device.
      Then there are copy protection schemes that like to write to areas of the HD in the boot track so that they can hide data and protect it from a format, nevermind that the owner might be dual booting with an os that needs that area to boot properly.
      So no, even if they were willing to replace a damaged or defective disc for free, should they be putting that crap on my computer. especially when they don't even tell you thier doing it. If it runs when the program I installed is not running, or it writes to parts of the HD that are NOT in user space, or tinkers with my o.s. without my explicit and informed consent, it's morally the same as hacking in and trojaning my system.

      Mycroft
  • by Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:03AM (#9439158) Homepage
    Anyone remember Skeleton Keys? Back around 1979 or so, we used it to copy all the Apple ][ floppies we were selling AT AN AUTHORIZED APPLE RETAILER so we could have a backup. Customers could easily wipe the media they went home with, and they expected us to replace it. G #600 (boots a floppy? something? well, you see...)

    This was innadaze of badly mimeographed manuals and a couple disks in a ziploc bag. BTW, that was the first ziploc bag usage I recall. Sue Glad, eh?

    I still have an s.keyed "Wizard and the Princess" floppy here somewhere. How the HELL do you get past the snake???

  • by colonslashslash (762464) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:04AM (#9439161) Homepage
    Preventing people from making legal backups of their games that they purchased for $50 odd is insane.

    That basically boils down to the fact that when you spend your hard earned 50 bucks, all you are getting is a CD / DVD disc (and hopefully a box and a manual), as you have no rights to do anything to the data contained on it.

    That's one damn expensive disc.

    Don't get me wrong, its their work and they should keep ownership rights, but for the money consumers pay for the product, they should at least have some freedom to copy the data providing it is for personal use. Whatever happend to "fair usage"? I can understand their concern over piracy, but from a business point of view, is screwing over your customers in an attempt to stop a few people getting the product for free really a wise move? Seems like the path most corporations and companies are travelling recently.

    Also, by preventing your customers from copying the data, you are implying guilt before innocence, ie: people are more likely to be pirating than making legimate backups, so treat them as criminals by limiting their experience.

  • Without backups (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dtfinch (661405) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:14AM (#9439209) Journal
    You're basically just renting the game until the CD is damaged beyond usability. At an inflated price nonetheless, to pay for all their extra work, lawsuits, lobbying, and lost sales due to copy protection.

    I can still listen to my music, despite some of the original CD's having turned into coasters, frisbees, or messes of shattered plastic. Had my purchases died with the CD's, I'd be out of luck.

    I expect the same courtesy with my games. And it's not just the backup issue. "Copy protection" doesn't always work like it should, causing other problems. But since copy protection is now so widespread, my gaming budget has gone to the open source crowd. Commercial game developers don't want my money anymore, so now I just give it away freely to those who've earned it. $70 in the past year to support open source games, of which none of them demanded anything, only $20 to buy two commercial games from the bargain rack, and no piracy ever.
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:14AM (#9439210) Homepage

    I truly hope they skip the 1st-Amendment arguments entirely. There was an early case in computers involving a user making backup copies of software, and the software maker tried to sue him for violating copyright. IIRC the judge in that case not only ruled that making backup copies of computer software was fair use under copyright law (and the DMCA specifically says that nothing in it may be construed as limiting fair-use rights) but that any license provision purporting to take away or limit those rights wasn't legal. That right there would take the legs right out from under the game company's case, and would leave 'em with the hard argument to make that the courts should ignore existing precedent.

  • by Indy1 (99447) <spamtrap@fuckedregime.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:16AM (#9439221) Homepage
    i use alcohol 120% from http://www.alcohol-software.com and it kicks some serious ass. Bypasses every game protection i ran into, and i can emulate cd's so i dont need the fucking cd to play the games i've LEGALLY have purchased. EA, eat me lusers, i've paid for my copy of 1942, and i'll use it any goddamn way i PLEASE.

    • Amen to that! I use DiskJuggler to rip an image of my legally purchased game cds, and mount them as virtuals using Daemon Tools. Quite apart from the issue of damage to original cds, the bullshit cd checks on level loads for some games means load times are preposterous off the inserted original cd: if game developers cared two hoots about user experience then surely if I've got a valid cd licence code the friggin' game doesn't have to verify this every map load?

      They got my dollars - are they seeking to guar

  • Ooh. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Trillan (597339) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:46AM (#9439585) Homepage Journal

    Free publicity. I'd never heard of this software before...

  • 321Studios? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TwistedSpring (594284) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:35AM (#9439960) Homepage
    Who the hell are these guys? I'm glad the game publishing industry is so clued up on these things that nobody uses. If they were really serious they'd go after Alcohol Software [alcohol-software.com] or Elaborate Bytes [www.elby.de], both of whom offer CD/DVD copying software with options to "break" copy protection. Of course they don't "break" the copy protection at all, they simply copy the copy protection.

    As Macrovision (creators of SafeDisc) have said in the past, their products are not so much copy protection as copy dissuasion: making it more of a pain in the ass to copy stuff. And it sure is. Copying a SafeDisced game takes hours in raw mode, as exactly duplicating the ECC/EDC data on the disc is a painfully slow process (probably because ECC/EDC checking has to be done in software for every block when it's disabled on the drive).

    Anyway, all the above is besides the point. 321Studios have made a critical error which I see as remarkably foolish: Marketing their product as "HAY GUYS, SOFTWAREZ TO KOPY UR GAMEZ!" Who in their right mind would do this and not expect their ass to be kicked severely by some legal body? You don't get any more obvious than calling it "GameXCopy" which is a name that doesn't even make sense anyway. What the hell is the X about? Other software remains legal because it sells itself on the fact you can create exact clones of any CD for back up purposes: not just games.

    It's not this kind of software they should be going after anyway. People don't copy games onto another CD anymore. People create images of a game and distribute it over the internet. It's considerably easier to create an image file, and from what I can tell GameXCopy doesn't let you do this. Furthermore, software such as Daemon Tools, Alcohol 120% and Virtual CloneDVD will let you mount ripped protected images in Windows as if they were a CD-ROM drive. Just download and mount. No burning. Surely this should be what they're worried about?
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @07:46AM (#9440353)
    A company sees that they are "Leaving money on the table" because there are a percentage (I am going to pull a made up number here) lets say 25% of the people will pirate the game to 2-3 friends on the average. So they put copy protection on their products and magically they seem to be getting less revenue from the product so they go after all the people who find a way to break their DRM.

    There is a much smaller amount of people who use DRM software because they are normally lazy. So their profits should be going up from all the sales that they are not loosing. But they are not. It is a simple reason why. Piracy on a small scale is good for business! what piracy is, is a form of advertisement for their product and for the company. Lets use some old true story to show my point. Back when I was a kid on my Amstrad 8086 (thats right a 8086 (Or a 086 or the Pentium -5) not an 8088) I liked to play games but mostly action games but my friend gave me a copy of Sierra's Kings Quest 4, (and for the amstrad buffs) the 80's Kings Quest 4 came with a video for the Amstrad 16 Color Display! The only game that had it to my knowledge. So I was in awe of the graphics it displays if you squinted it looked almost real), All my other games were in 4 Colors (Red Green Yellow, 1 of 16 background colors usually back) or (Cyan, Magenta, white, and one of 16 background colors usually black) that was in 300x200 resolution. so a 16 color game was like heaven. After that I was hooked to the Sierra Game company and Ill save up my money and buy myself a new game when it comes out (and copy the video driver over) Like Quest for Glory 1 (hero's quest back then), Code Name Iceman, Space Quest 6, Quest for Glory 3, then share it back with my friends and they did the same Space Quest 3, Quest for Glory 2, Kings Quest 1 remake. So except for the company making 1 sale from 2 people of the product they actually made 4 or 5 sales out of 2 people because each version was a little better and encouraged them to get the next game.
    Controlled piracy is great for business and the companies should not try to hard to contain it, just get the big guys who actually sell the pirated software, or people who mass spread it. But for the friend to friend sharing it actually is helpful.
    • by Mitleid (734193) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:49AM (#9441273)
      I think this is a really good point. Take DOOM, for example. Now, that game boasts sales numbering in the millions, which I guess was pretty insane for its time, but for all those millions of people buying DOOM with cash money, my friends nor myself had ever paid a dime. Yet DOOM still remains one of the most popular games ever release for the PC, not to mention several other interesting ports...

      Anyway, my point is that even though DOOM raked in enough cash to buy Carmack a shiny new Ferrari, it's "ownership" wasn't based completely on legitimate paying customers. However, the game was HUGE, and it still has a pretty strong loyalist following. Source ports, internet deathmatch clients, you name it. Bottom line is, a greater majority of the 14 year old pirates of today become the 23 year olds of tomorrow with a great deal of disposable income that goes to buying videogames.

      The publishers really need to stop having kittens about the fact that people can copy their games. The widespread bootleggers and pirate organizations are the ones they need to go after, not the consumer-base. Strategies like suing a CD-copying software company just displays that the publishers have no faith in the value and merit of their product, and I feel it is essentially an admittance that they are trying to shill the customer with half-assed releases. Why else would anyone get so concerned about a few individuals having the ability to copy a game disc? People spend money on the things they want, and chances are if something is getting stolen or copied it's because that person wasn't interested in buying it anyway. I'm not suggesting that it's justified to take something you weren't going to pay for, but people take things because they can, not because they "don't want to pay for it". Closing off channels people use to take things is only a means of preventing the publisher from being the victim, not a method of increasing sales like the suing companies apparently claim.
  • by cbreaker (561297) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:26AM (#9441056) Journal
    But I really feel the need to comment here as well. It's my law-given right to make a backup of my games.

    I take all my games, and put them into CD-Images. If they are copy protected, I use something like this or CloneCD. I never have to worry about losing my media. It's always right there on a hard disk. I simply mount the disc when I need it.

    Many games now a days don't require the disc in the drive (or virtual drive) since you can play online, and they verify with your CD-Key. Making a copy of my CD won't allow someone else to use my CD-Key.

    Now, if they SOMEHOW manage to get all the copy protected copiers off the streets (which they will never do anyways) I'll STILL be able to play all my games without the CD's because people will continue to write game cracks.

    Going after this company for selling a lawful application is not just wrong, it should be illegal. They do not claim it to allow pirating, and it DOES NOT BREAK copy protection, it copies that too! You can't copy the copy.
  • EA Games: (Score:3, Funny)

    by SlashDread (38969) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:41AM (#9442481)
    Challenge EVERYTHING*

    "/Dread"

    *Except EA Games.
  • by Sloppy (14984) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:45AM (#9442543) Homepage Journal
    If the games were on really robust media, like ROM cartridges or something, I might be able to buy into the argument that backup tools are somehow related to copyright infringement. But in this case, it just isn't true.

    I don't know how anyone who has been around for a few years, can possibly believe tools that copy CDs or DVDs, are primarily intended for copyright infringement. It is just plain stupid to not back them up, and that is particularly true with games, which are often handled by children. I wonder if any of the legislators who voted for DMCA, actually own any CDs or DVDs.

    Maybe this would be a sneaky way to both bribe and demonstrate the principle to legislators: Find the ones that have kids, and then give them a console game system that is based on CD-like media. Let the legislator spend their own money buying games for their kid, and then let them see what inevitably happens.

  • EULA? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joeljkp (254783) <joeljkparker AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:12PM (#9443503)
    I don't get how this is a legal position. In their EULAs, they say you can make a copy of the disc for backup purposes. Then, they implement a copyright protection scheme that makes it illegal (in the U.S.) to make such copies.

    Perhaps they should be held to their side of the EULA, just like the users of the software? Or maybe they should have to put a "copyright-protected" notice on the box.
  • The Big Lie (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:47PM (#9445136)
    that products with no purpose other than to circumvent copyright protection are illegal under the DMCA.

    And that's the Big Lie. The programs serve the purpose of allowing the making of legal, usable, backups. What you do with those backups may or may not be legal, but making them is. The DMCA was badly flawed from the beginning, and this type of lawsuit shows it. They can't sue on the basis of copyright violation, so now they sue on the fact that you have to break their anti-backup system to back it up. Damn the assholes that ever passed the DMCA in the first place!

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