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First Person Shooters (Games) Security

Valve Cracks Down on 20,000 Users 1942

Posted by michael
from the third-degree-burns dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Valve have disabled 20,000 steam user accounts belonging to users who have been caught using a pirated version of the game, or have attempted to use a cdkey to bypass the securom protection found on the retail version of the game. The Steam Forums have been swamped with people now claiming they are unable to play, many claiming they have had their accounts disabled for no reason. A Valve spokesman says, 'The number of people who actually had bought HL2 and used the CD key cheat was VERY small. VERY small. Most people just tried to rip off the game and not bother buying it.'" People are discovering that when you buy any product that is subject to "activation", you haven't really bought anything.
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Valve Cracks Down on 20,000 Users

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  • You're wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) * <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:54PM (#10900205) Homepage
    You have purchased something. A license to play the game on the terms and conditions that are told to you by the company.

    If you violate the terms and conditions, the company can suspend or revoke your license to play the game.

    They do not owe a refund to you if you decided to violate the agreement.
  • It's still fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigman2003 (671309) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:55PM (#10900230) Homepage
    I know that a lot of people will have huge problems with this.

    I still don't see why though- most people knew about Steam going in (everyone who tried to use the crack knew about Steam).

    Someday, circumventing copy protection won't be seen as a white-hat activity. But it will be seen as people trying to cheat others out of compensation for their work.
  • !whip crack sound! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by armer (533337) <glenn.vander.veer@noSpam.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:56PM (#10900237)
    seems like someone may have slowed down the pirates for a little bit...
  • What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by avalys (221114) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:56PM (#10900239)
    People are discovering that when you buy any product that is subject to "activation", you haven't really bought anything.

    Except...these people didn't actually buy the product, did they? No, they stole it. I don't see what the problem is.
  • cd key? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demonbug (309515) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:56PM (#10900246) Journal
    I can understand someone who bought a real copy of the game using a no-cd crack so they don't have to have the CD in all the time (I do this for most of my games - I HATE having to swap CDs all the time), but using a cracked CD key? There really doesn't seem to be an excuse for this.
  • Re:CD hack? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:56PM (#10900249)
    Welcome to the world of tommorow!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:57PM (#10900254)
    "People are discovering that when you buy any product that is subject to "activation", you haven't really bought anything."

    Uh, yeah, actually. I BOUGHT THE GAME. I didn't use a stolen key, because I ACTUALLY PAID FOR IT. And I have zero problems.

    Puh-lease. Don't even try to slander Valve here, they're so on the ethical right on this they've got halos appearing over their heads right now.

    And anyone with half a clue and that can do basic logic realizes that down the road Valve will eventually just patch the game to run without connecting to Steam. Especially if the network itself is in danger of dying for any reason.
  • I'm torn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dougnaka (631080) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:57PM (#10900260) Homepage Journal
    I got the transgaming notice that I can download the latest with special half life 2 support, and I love all the half life games to date, but I like to buy games that I can *keep* and *own* and play on normally accepted terms. This scares me more and more away from buying the game.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:57PM (#10900265)
    ...that they have no clue how many legit customers were affected.
  • michael: STFU (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JohnGrahamCumming (684871) * <slashdot.jgc@org> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:58PM (#10900272) Homepage Journal
    Just don't post crappy editorial comments like this:

    > People are discovering that when you buy any
    > product that is subject to "activation", you
    > haven't really bought anything.

    OK? That's the stupidest thing I've read on /. in a long time; so Valve decided that to attempt to crack down on piracy (and it's not as if we haven't seen lots of leaked games) they would force "activation" of the product, even for single player use. Boo hoo, and now some people got caught trying to stiff Valve. Cry me a river. Valve is a for-profit business selling a piece of closed-source software.

    In other news, michael buys car and is shocked to discover must buy gas for it continue working.

    John.

  • Re:It's still fair (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:58PM (#10900278)
    "Someday, circumventing copy protection won't be seen as a white-hat activity. But it will be seen as people trying to cheat others out of compensation for their work."

    How is trying to bypass a broekn and buggy overzellous copy protection system AFTER I've payed money for the prodyct cheating anyone out of compensation for their work? Downloading the game witout paying for it would qualify, but getting their spyware off my computer seems like a good thing to me.

  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:58PM (#10900280)
    So, you try to pirate Half-Life 2, and they lock you out from playing it... That's all well and good. But if you've got other products you've legitimately purchased through Steam you can no longer access those either because you tried to pirate Half-Life 2? That sounds like a great reason to never use Steam. If you ever do something they disapprove of with one of Valve's products you could lose access to hundreds of dollars of software that is completely unrelated.

    Why aren't they just blocking those users from Half-Life 2 instead of revoking (shall we say "stealing" since they like to mis-use the word too) ligitemately purchased licenses for other products too?
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:59PM (#10900294)
    Is this license agreement on the box in a place where I can view it before I purchase it? Not the last time I checked.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stecoop (759508) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:59PM (#10900302) Journal
    Your correct but this reminds me of the Registration backlash against TurboTax 2002. TurboTax lost market share due to having to contact the TurboTax server to get authentication for the tax product. People know that software companies fade over the years and to have something so important tied to a company that may not be there one day turned many customers off to the product. Many sought alternative ETax solutions. And as any license issue, Money talks louder than the Pen.

    Now am I expecting people to associate the longevity of a game with the required longevity of tax returns? Of course not but I was thinking about purchasing HL2 but I think I'll pass until the dust settles instead of the risk/hassle of the validation scheme.
  • who cares (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bung-foo (634132) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:59PM (#10900305)
    Go valve. Please deny acces to everyone who hasn't paid for the game. And then go on to deny access to everyone who cheats. I couldn't care less about people who stole a product being denied the ability to use what they stole.
  • HL2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dewke (44893) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:01PM (#10900331)
    I bought Half Life through steam and was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly it went. I was expecting a nightmarish problem judging by Valve's earlier problems with network security.

    However, regarding activation. Maybe if so many people in the "community" weren't so busy pirating the games Valve wouldn't need to go through these hoops.

    What I'm more concerned about overall is, what happens when people have their steam accounts stolen? How is Valve going to deal with that. I could probably use Visa to get my $59 back, but what a tremendous pain in the ass.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mordors9 (665662) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:02PM (#10900334)
    I can understand people downloading warez and playing the games (not saying I agree with it, just saying I can understand why they do it). But I can not imagine the balls required to complain because the company has instituted protections that they can not get around.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) * <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:03PM (#10900365) Homepage
    You agree to it before you download it via steam. If you purchase the box, read the EULA and still disagree with it, click "I Disagree" and call Valve saying you disagree with their EULA and would like a full refund for the game. You can send them the game and they will refund the purchase price.

    Stores will not accept returns, but the company who put out the product usually will.

    Also, check your local laws. Stores in MA cannot have a "No Refunds" policy, because that is against state laws. Also, they cannot turn down a refund within 30 days of the purchase date.. but that's again in MA.
  • by dj42 (765300) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:04PM (#10900371) Journal
    It's their product. Why can't they say what they want how they want? Clearly there are enough people (like myself, who bought it over Steam and has been enjoying it with no issues) that could care less if a bunch of pirates (that don't deserve to play anyway) get booted and talked to harshly. It is AGAINST THE LAW, don't they have a right to be pissed?
  • Poor babies (Score:1, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:04PM (#10900376) Homepage Journal
    Use a cracked game, one which you didn't pay for, and then whine when you can't play.

    Awwwww.

    How about putting a crowbar in your wallet and actually paying the developers/programmers/distributors for their efforts.
  • Activation sux... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sefert (723060) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:04PM (#10900380)
    I bought HL2 the day it came out. The steam servers were so swamped that it took me over 2 hours to get the damn thing activated. Frankly, I do find the idea of being treated like a potential criminal every time I launch the game offensive. It's like having a store run a criminal record check every time you wander in to buy something. I'm not going to argue about the license - Valve certainly does have a right to protect their interests, but I'll certainly think twice once I see any product using Steam as a prerequisite to using it. They can do what they like, and me and my money just won't get involved. (btw - the post above about still needing the damn CD is right - what the hell for? If anything good could have come out of Steam it would have been able to stop having to swap CD's back and forth).
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jarich (733129) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:05PM (#10900385) Homepage Journal
    Is this license agreement on the box in a place where I can view it before I purchase it? Not the last time I checked.

    So you assume that you can steal any game that doesn't have a EULA on the outside of the box?

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:05PM (#10900392) Journal
    I'm glad that Valve is 'cracking skulls.' Mess with the bull and you get the horns buddy.

    In all seriousness, Valve is an intelligent company and has most assuredly been very careful about this. Of course there are going to be mistakes, but out of 20,000 warez a**holes there's probably only a very VERY (to quote Valve) few people who actually purchased the game and then for some reason went out and grabbed a key generator when they didn't need one.

    That's very likely 20,000 less cheating bastards at Counter-Strike Source (leaving on a few million to deal with.)
  • Future Install? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by don_carnage (145494) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:05PM (#10900393) Homepage

    So, what happens in 5 or 10 years when you want to play the game and can't install it on a new machine because Steam is gone or has been replaced? I understand their attempt to thwart piracy, but perhaps they should try a different approach. Perhaps innocent until proven guilty?

  • The $100 Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jackstraw2323 (730834) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:05PM (#10900394)
    What happens if I buy the game on ebay that somebody already played. Will steam not allow me since it's already registered to the previous user? More importantly what happens when VU shuts down valve and steam B/C profit margins aren't high enough or some other BS reason, and there are no servers to validate my copy? I don't want to buy a game that might not work in a few years.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lisandro (799651) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:06PM (#10900398)
    Is this license agreement on the box in a place where I can view it before I purchase it? Not the last time I checked.

    This is where the line is drawn; you simply don't know the licence details before buying. As far as you know, as a consumer, you're buying a boxed game which you expect to own, to do whatever you want with it. Sell it, play it, sit on it, burn it with gasoline. Can you even return the game if you don't accept the licence?

    Michael put it with little subtlety, but he's right. You buy something and you have absolutely zero control on how it works, when it works and for how long. Hence, you don't really own it. This is fine if you're buying the game online via Steam, where the licence should be agreed on before the purchase. Not for a boxed game.
  • by NinjaPablo (246765) <ninjapablo.smashtech@net> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:07PM (#10900417) Homepage Journal
    If a program requires 'activation' I either don't use it or get a cracked/warez copy. I'll be happy to go back to buying their software when they drop the stupid activation schemes.
    Yes, because pirating the software in protest to their anti-piracy schemes will encourage them to drop activation. Riiiight. How about just dealing with it and getting on with your life, or finding a competing or open source version of the product?
  • Re:cd key? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zackeller (653801) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:07PM (#10900426)
    Nobody who bought the game would use a cracked cdkey. That's the point.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GrouchoMarx (153170) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:09PM (#10900449) Homepage
    You have purchased something. A license to play the game on the terms and conditions that are told to you by the company.

    No, I purchased (gave money for) a CD that included the game on it. I was not informed of any other conditions on the usage of that piece of pressed plastic until after the sale was over, and I was no longer permitted to refuse the agreement. That makes makes EULAs dispicable. I am NOT "told the terms and conditions of usage by the company" until after the sale transaction is completed.

    Of course, the very idea of "terms and conditions of usage" violates the doctrine of First Sale. I paid for it, now go away and let me use it as a coaster if I want, dagnabbit!

    (Note: I am using "I" here for argument's sake, although I myself have not purchased or played HL2 and don't intend to, specifically because of this sort of underhanded BS on the part of Valve/Steam. I also don't use Windows XP for the same reason.)
  • Re:michael: STFU (Score:2, Insightful)

    by OnTheFringe (754510) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:10PM (#10900459)
    > I guess you don't read /. much if that is the stupidest thing you've seen. Like many others you miss the point (not the one you hide under your hat). The point is that many people who BOUGHT, yes I SAID BOUGHT the game are unable to get it working and have no recourse now. The question is how many? I agree that if you pirated the game you got what you deserved, but because SOME are pirating is NO EXCUSE to rip off those who did pay. I'm just gonna die laughing when software you purchased legit stops working because of some anti-piracy scheme. It WILL happen to you too, mark my words... perhaps not with HL2, but if you buy software it will happen.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:12PM (#10900490)
    You can't just dictate whatever terms you want to people. They'd like ot pretend you have a contract with them. No, sorry, it's not. A contract requires an exchange of things (goods, money, whatever) and requires both parties to agree and sign. Saying "You agree by opening the box" isn't valid. Also contracts must be open to negoation. If you are leasing an apartment and disagree with a clause in the lease, you can strike it out, inital the change, and send it back to the management company. They are not required to accept these changes, but they have to negotiate it.

    EULAs try and do many things that are just unenforaceble. Basically they want the best of both worlds. They want it to be a physical good when it suits them, but a licensed product when it suits them. Doesn't work that way. When you sell a product on the shelf, with no contract signing, you are selling a good. Things like the doctrine of first sale apply, even if you write an EULA that says they don't.

    This is different from something like an MMORPG. Here there are two parts: the good and the service. The game they sell you is a good, and you are welcome to keep it, even if you never use it online. Their servers, however, are a service, you pay for the right to use them. Being a service, they can put restrictions on that without a contract, since if you don't like it, you are free not to use the service.

    Think if the logic Valve applied here was applied to a physical good, like a dishwasher. You go and pay for it up front, no contract, and take it home. Then, one day, it stops working so you call for warentee service. They say "Oh no, it's not broken, we just deactivated it. See you violated your license for using it, so we are turning it off. You'll need to go buy another one if you want to use it."

    That's how stupid this shit with the software is. It's not a service, it's a good. You are purchasing it with the expecation that oyu are able to use it as such. You can use it in any way you like, reverse engineer it, resell it, whatever. All you can't do is make a copy of it, or a derivitive work. Those are copyright infringement.

    Either way, I hope it blows up in their face. I can gaurentee I will not be buying a copy as a result. I'll stay with the Unreal Engine series, as Epic aren't assholes about things like this. Likewise, I'm recommending to all my friends that they do not purchase it.

    Should such a time come when Valve wises up and gets rid of this retarded protection, I'll reconsider, but at this point, there's no way they are getting my money.
  • Re:michael: STFU (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:13PM (#10900499)
    Valve is a for-profit business selling a piece of closed-source software Valve isn't selling any software, they're selling the license. If Valve goes away, or the Steam servers die, or they decide to drop support for HL2 in a few years what then? I can still play my legally purchased copy of Quake and even Half-Life, but I know 10 years from now I most likely won't be able to go back and replay HL2. Michael's comment was perfectly valid. When you buy HL2 you're not purchasing anything tangible. Frankly I'm shocked at how many geeks I know who are OK with the fact that their $60 game will expire at some point in the future.
  • Re:michael: STFU (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xemoka (536420) <xemoka@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:13PM (#10900501) Homepage
    >In other news, michael buys car and is shocked to discover must buy gas for it continue working.

    Except this isn't like buying gas, buying gas would be a MMO(RPG) however in this case, people buy a product to only find out that they dont really have full rights to what they purchased.
    In reality it would be more like:

    In other news, michael buys a car, tries to take the govenor off and finds out that FORD (who he bought it from) says he can no longer drive it, and pushes a little button at head office to shut down the engine for good.

    So did michael ever really own it in the first place?

    Void their warrenty, void their abillity to play online while they use such a crack to disable the cd-check, but really, don't disable the single player, just because you feel they cheated you, I have a feeling I wont be getting this game because of these circumstances, even though i wasn't planning on buying it anyway. (not that i was going to pirate it, just not interested)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:15PM (#10900535)
    Let's turn this around, shall we?

    If you come to my home and steal my silverware, you may not come back. I really don't care if the last time you came over you didn't lift my wallet. Doesn't matter... you are simply not allowed in my home again.

    Of course, I know someone will point out the obvious "but" in this... so let's address it now, shall we?

    You came into my business, rented time on one of my computers and then copied licensed software from my system. You are not welcome back. I don't care if you cam in last week and didn't copy anything... I don't want you as a client. You are a risk because you can't keep your grubby little fingers where they belong -- in essence, out of my cash drawer.
  • Re:I'm torn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RsG (809189) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:15PM (#10900537)
    Unfortunately, that's not strictly true. You need to have steam installed to play. Note that, after activation, you can play offline, but nevertheless the system takes away your control of the game; if valve goes under, or decides to arbitrarily ban you from multiplayer (which also requires steam to run), there really isn't much you can do. Also, if I'm reading the complaints correctly, they can remotely disable a "pirated" copy without the user's consent if steam is online.

    That last part scares me, since it indicates to me that the game has some sort of malware built into it, and because it would require valve to reenable wrongly disabled cd keys. Bluntly, I don't trust any corporation to find me innocent or guilty of any crime. That's a matter for the courts. I like halflife, but I kinda hope this doesn't catch on, or if it does become widespread, it gets shot down legally.
  • Boo hoo.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chicane-UK (455253) <chicane-uk@ntlworl3.14159d.com minus pi> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:15PM (#10900542) Homepage
    I've pirated a few games in my time.. and when a patch comes out and when I am no longer allowed to play it over the net because I am out of date, or they move to make some restriction that stops the juwarez monkeys from playing their game I don't bitch about it.. I accept it as the flip side to being able to play the game early or for free. Tough shit if I was too cheap to fork out the money for it!

    Kudos to Valve for having the balls to try and tackle the root cause of the problem.. combine cutting out the publisher and a pretty darn secure way of delivering games to people and we might yet actually see a reduction in game prices. They are hopefully setting the trend - combine that with not needing the CD to play the game either, and you have a winning combination IMHO. Not quite sure whats gonna happen though if my broadband net connection goes off for some reason?

    For the record I purchased the bronze package (cheapass I know.. never mind) about 10 minutes after Steam pricing packages were made available, and then at about 30 seconds past 'zero hour' when they were supposed to have enabled the HL2 authentication servers I closed and reopened Steam, unlocked HL2 and was playing in about 10 minutes.

    The game is awesome. I finished it this weekend and loved every minute of it.. those who haven't tried it thanks to some irrational fear of Steam or something really need to get over it and try it out.. you ARE missing out by not playing this game. Its the new benchmark quite frankly.
  • Re:who cares (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bung-foo (634132) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:16PM (#10900552)
    Are they, really? or are people just pretending to be innocent? Valve says that there were only a few people who tried to activate legit copies with fake cd keys. I'm inclined to believe them because it is in their best interest not to piss off people who are actually paying customers.

    I think that 99% of the pissing and moaning is coming from the 12 yeard olds (chronologic or emotional) who got caught.
  • by FLAGGR (800770) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:16PM (#10900554)
    Urg, he/she/it was refering to the fact that legally you don't own the game, you just own a license to play it. That license can be revoked by Valve if they think your breaching their ToS, and tough shit to you. The article mentions people that BOUGHT the game at the store, but are still getting banned, so how does that make valve "so on the ethical right on this they've got halos appearing" even though theyre basically saying tough shit to paying customers?
  • Re:CD hack? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dr.fishopolis (604072) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:16PM (#10900565)
    "Is there a way to disable the "feature" that forces me to load the CD every time I want to play the game?" Yes, you buy it on Steam. CD keys are a byproduct of a retail/in-box game. Valve came up with an entire system so you never need a CD again...
    And of course, here we are bitching about it b/c we can't pirate it.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:17PM (#10900582)
    Before the DMCA, I did it all the time. I do not own a big harddrive for no reason. One of the reasons to have it is that I can do a full install of all the games I get (though these days most games require a full install). I want to install it, put the CD back in the box, and not worry about it. It seems really stupid to me to have to give it a CD so it can do a little check just to let me play. Hence, I'd crack the game so that it would just run.

    Of course that's not legal anymore, than's to the DMCA, but it still is in the rest of the world and you can see why peopel would want to do it. I don't really care that people also use cracks for illegal purposes, something shouldn't be illegal just because it has an illegal use. MOST things that have legal uses also have illegal uses.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by learn fast (824724) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:18PM (#10900587)
    Here's where you're wrong:

    If you violate the terms and conditions, the company can suspend or revoke your license to play the game.

    This should actually say:

    If * the company says that * you violated the terms and conditions, the company can suspend or revoke your license to play the game.

    Whether or not you violated the terms and conditions is not at all relevant.
  • by acceleriter (231439) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:20PM (#10900623)
    So in other words, this activation/CD key stuff is just an end run around the doctrine of first sale.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by don_carnage (145494) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:20PM (#10900635) Homepage

    I doubt the people that stole the game are complaining -- the people whose keys were hacked or stolen now have disabled accounts with little or no recourse. I mean, how do you prove that you purchased the game? The UPC? You can read that off a box at any store.

  • by RocketScientist (15198) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:20PM (#10900638)
    You said "People are discovering that when you buy any product that is subject to "activation", you haven't really bought anything." OK, let's play this game "You bought a product license, you haven't really bought anything". That's not a true statement: You buy the right to use the product, which is the good you paid for. It may not be the good you THOUGHT you paid for, but then again, you do read the end-user licenses, right? All product activation does is enforce the license. Oops...you don't want license enforcement. That's fine. Find another game then. The market will decide if this technology is a good idea or not.

    Umm...more likely, people are discovering when they steal a product with product activation, they haven't stolen anything useful. And later, when they try to cheat playing Counter-Strike, they'll find they can't play anymore. All in all, I don't see the problem here. I quit playing CS a long time ago because of the repeated wallhacks and other cheats, even though I found the game very entertaining. Part of the license compliance that's enforced by Steam is also enforcing anti-cheat measures. I'm 100% in favor of features that keep the playing field honest. And if it gives the guys at Valve more money, well, as far as I'm concerned they've earned it.

    Unlike the vast majority of the people here who don't like Steam, I actually do believe in giving people money for what they produce. I think people deserve to be compensated for their work. I don't think you have the right to deprive people who want compensation for their work of that compensation. And I think the "but I don't like swapping CD's" argument is thin, at best, and more likely it's an outright lie. It's a stupid argument all the way around. If you want to listen to a CD while you play the game, CD-ROM drives are what, $20? Here's a nickel, kid, buy a real computer.

  • Re:It's still fair (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:22PM (#10900667) Homepage Journal
    How is this flamebait? If we had an appropriate moderation option it would be (-1, Poor grasp on English) but this is clearly not flamebait. Why is it wrong to bypass a copy protection mechanism if you're not violating copyright law? Hint: It isn't. If I want a no-CD-check patch, it should be my right to use it. There's still a key that you need for online play.
  • by Lisandro (799651) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:23PM (#10900675)
    Fine, but the thing is you don't know that until you open the damn box. This is the root of the problem. You go purchasing a game, you purchase a game, come back home having purchased a game and find out you actually got a licence agreement instead.

    Again, this is fine on Steam. It's not on a boxed game.
  • Re:michael: STFU (Score:5, Insightful)

    by over_exposed (623791) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:24PM (#10900688) Homepage
    Story contents aside, why wouldn't michael just post that IN THE FORUM? I think the objection here essentially lies in his ego being so large to think that his opinion is so important that it needs to be in the article text as opposed to posting a comment like us underlings get to do. Forget about Half-Life, forget about steam - the editors are abusing their privilages by posting their personal comments where they don't belong.
  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:24PM (#10900689)
    People are discovering that when you buy any product that is subject to "activation", you haven't really bought anything.

    What the hell do you expect them to do then Michael? Is Valve just supposed to put up with tens of thousands of people playing their game without paying for it? So does this mean I can find some way to hack the Slashdot premium membership database and just start giving away premium memberships to whomever wants one? Would that be OK with you?

    I understand that activation probably isn't the best method to handle this problem, but right now what's the better solution? This isn't some enterprise-level database you can just open source and start charging for support. Nobody needs a maintenance contract for HL2. A company like Valve has to try and keep their product from being blatently stolen.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:24PM (#10900695)
    "MOST things that have legal uses also have illegal uses."

    So true. In fact, I think one would be hard pressed to come up with something that does not have illegal uses.

    For example:
    a pen - stabbing someone in the eye with the pen;
    mayonnaise - drowning a person by holding their head in a five gallon vat of mayonnaise.

  • Re:CD hack? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd@harr[ ]onfamily.org ['els' in gap]> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:24PM (#10900697) Homepage
    The ideal solution would be one in which the purchaser controls where and how they use the product for which they've paid money, while preventing unauthorized users from doing the same. Valve seems to have nailed a lot of actual piracy with the method they've chosen to use, but they've also impacted some legitimate users as well.

    Actually, the ideal solution would be for everybody to be honest and buy the games that they play! But instead, people have the attitude that they have the RIGHT to have something that they have not paid for. This leads to a few possible outcomes.

    1) The company does nothing. They loose sales. Bad for them.

    2) The company builds in DRM. This causes consumers to complain. Bad for us.

    3) In addition to the DRM, the company lobbies for laws cracking down on "copy technology." Of course, these are a "BFG-900" which, in addition to having some affect on the pirates, has the side-effect of causing a lot of collateral damage do the honest consumer. Bad for us.

    4) The company does what Valve did and disables cracks. The is another "BFG-9000" which hurts the pirates, but also causes some collateral damage to a few honest users. Users complain, bad for us. They also get a black eye in their reputation. Bad for them.

    In short, if they do nothing, they are screwed. If they do something, everybody complains and they may be screwed (depends on how much people complain).

    To those who pirate games: If you don't like DRM and the DMCA, look in the mirror for the reason that we are stuck with those. If you want to change the world, start with the only person that you CAN control: yourself.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by router (28432) <a...r@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:25PM (#10900707) Homepage Journal
    I won't even looked at HL2 because of this. I read their "policy" on that forum and it basically sounds like if you screw up, they cancel your account for a year or five. Why anyone would put up with that I don't know, paying 50$ for a game that, if their servers crash, or someone bought copied and returned to the store, or they make a mistake AT ALL, cancels your ability to play it sounds like idiocy to me. It seems like it should be a pleasant diversion not some fscked up nightmare of registration servers and copied CD keys. Maybe I don't understand the new math, but aren't we customers? Why would anyone put up with this crap?

    andy
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:28PM (#10900736)
    Shouldn't a reasonably well-placed copyright notice be all the license we need to use computer software after purchase?

    You don't have to sign a EULA to use a book after you've purchased it.. why should it be different with software?
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PriceIke (751512) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:31PM (#10900779)

    True, but that's what hardcopies are for.

    True, but that is not an excuse. If you use a program, say Quickbooks, to manage your company's financial data, and then you want to get into your data, and you own a legitimately purchased copy of the software bought and paid for with your own money, you'd better damn well have access to your data whenever you damn well please, irrespective of the software company's wish for you to buy the $200 upgrade every other year.

    I did not buy the "license" to use this software until the software developer arbitrarily decides my time is up. I bought the fucking software. I should be able to use it however I want, for as long as I want, on any and however many computers of mine that will run it.

    I'm so sick of software makers restricting my freedom to use software the way I want to use it when I've paid for it. Same goes for DVDs. I'm SO SICK of sitting there waiting for the FBI, Interpol, Mossad, Secret Service, MI-6 and the Office of Navel Lint warnings that I've read time and time again. I want to skip them, dammit. Don't tell me what actions are and are not "permitted" by the disc. It's my fucking disc!

    Back to decaf for me ..

  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:31PM (#10900787)
    I mean, how do you prove that you purchased the game?

    A receipt? A credit card statement? A copy of your check? A picture of you holding today's paper and the original game CDs?
  • by scowling (215030) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:32PM (#10900799) Homepage
    Doesn't matter how many are in each camp. There is a legitimate use, and that legitimate use should be protected.
  • by MooseByte (751829) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:36PM (#10900861)

    "I have little sympathy for people stupid enough to used a CD-Key hack on a legit copy of a product they bought."

    I'm operating on the assumption that "CD-Key hack" means circumventing the need to have the !$$%^! CD in the drive to launch the game. If that's not the case, nevermind.

    However if it IS the case, then yes I think blacklisting those few legit users is obscene. I'm ALL for screwing the warez pirates, but "CD in the drive" copy protection is little more than punishment for the legit owner. It's downright natural to want to disable it.

    And as one of those who even pays for all their shareware, I've been penalized more than once when I couldn't run my legit software because the CD was unavailable (traveling, or across town and an unexpected opportunity for LAN play arises.)

    And all the while I was thinking how the warez crowd wouldn't have that problem, only legit users. That sucks. Makes no sense whatsoever.

  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by networkBoy (774728) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:39PM (#10900927) Homepage Journal
    Will Valve pay me for the time i spent in going out and buying their product?
    You would have spent that same time if you went to the store and decided not to buy it while you were there. This is not a valid argument.

    How about for the hassle of sending it back and getting my money?
    You, in theory, could request reimbursement for postage fees, though they likely would only want the CoA and Media back, so shipping should be nominal.

    How about for the time i spent reading the whole EULA?
    That's you're job as a consumer. If you care enough to read it that's on your time, not theirs, thus no refund.

    Will they pay me for the legal costs incurred in having a lawyer read the whole thing and explain me the legal implications of the EULA (Since it's unlikelly that a layman can fully understand the meaning of the EULA)?
    Hazard of the territory I suppose. IMHO you're being unreasonable.

    Do i have a full lifetime guarantee that i can give it back if have never installed their product and disagree with the License Agreement?
    No, because that's absurd.

    No???
    no.

    I thought so,!
    You thought what? please fill out an I.D. ten tango form on your way out the door.
    :P
    -nB
  • by Babbster (107076) <[aaronbabb] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:44PM (#10901008) Homepage
    You can prettify it all you want. The bottom line is that there ARE people who bought the game and are unable to play it because Valve has decided to ban them based on the fact that they don't want to put in the CD-ROM every time they play the game. You're welcome to proselytize for the strict EULA advocates, but this is the kind of thing that discourages PC gaming. People spend long periods of time installing multiple gigs of data on their PC and then the asshat publishers/developers force you to have the CD-ROM handy anyway. Then, Valve uses their "Steam Power" to screw over people who don't want to follow a really stupid rule - note that they didn't just re-patch to evade the crack but instead prevented even legitimate players from using the game. Every time someone pulls something like this it's going to disillusion a PC gamer and they're going to be that much less likely to buy the next game.
  • by ADRA (37398) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:50PM (#10901109)
    You own the media, nobody's taking that away from you, its yours. There aren't FBI swooping down on you to confiscate that 'property' of yours.

    As for books, once again its the media that you own. If you illegally reproduce that media, then you can expect to be punished.

    For those downloading and installing cracks, etc.. then expect for your account to be banned. If you mod your satilite digital box, expect to get banned, if you uncap your cable modem, expect to get banned.

    I am use that you can view every one of these service's EULA's before you buy the them. Hell, I bet that if you ask, they'd even mail a copy to your door.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wo1verin3 (473094) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:50PM (#10901116) Homepage
    [Anonymous Coward] Hi... I'm having trouble stealing some software...
    [AG] uh... huh?
    [Anonymous Coward] Well I stole it fine originally.. but they took it back!
    [AG] So you want help stealing something back that you stole in the first place?
    [Anonymous Coward] Yep, pretty much.
    [AG] You know that this is illegal?
    [Anonymous Coward] Who cares, I want to play my game and blatantly steal, it's not fair they won't let me
    [AG] What is your name?
    [Anonymous Coward] ... +++ATH0
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Datasage (214357) * <Datasage@NOspAm.theworldisgrey.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:58PM (#10901223) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, the disc is yours, but the IP on that disc is given to you under terms of their licsence.

    If they want to stop letting you use thier software, they have the right.

    But you have the right not to purchase thier software if you dont agree with the terms of thier licence.

    If you dont like the terms of quickbooks, you can purchase peachtree or use one of the GPL'ed accounting packages.

    Property and Intelectual Property is not the same thing, nor should it be looked at under the same rules. Software is kind of a place where both rules areas cross. The physical cd is property but the software stored on that cd is not.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AusG4 (651867) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:58PM (#10901228) Homepage Journal
    Nope, -you're- definately wrong.

    You purchased media and data for a nominal cost (a fraction of the sticker price).

    Minus that nominal cost, the bulk of the sticker price was the fee to license, for personal use, the contained software. This isn't a mystery and isn't anything new... the whole software industry works like this.

    No, you can't read the EULA before you buy in most circumstances, and maybe that is a problem, but it doesn't change the fact that you still have a full and legal recourse to have your funds returned to you if you do not agree to the license terms.

    No, you didn't pay to own it... you paid to license it. You could argue that you own the media and yes, you could indeed use it as a coaster... and fair enough. But who cares about the media? In the case of Steam, you don't even get media. Media does not the included software product make.

    So, to say "I am NOT "told the terms and conditions of usage by the company" until after the sale transaction is completed." is actually true, because there is -no- sale transaction for the software itself. It's a licensing transaction, and in that case, you do indeed get an opportunity to read the EULA before you invoke the license.

    That said, I am constantly confused by people who get irrationally worked up over internet activation schemes. Frankly, how many people have tried to steal the game? Lots. That said, Valve has every right to protect their creations. They've been working on this game for half a decade, and if some whining /.'rs want to feel like they're part of some cool, new fangled movement for summarily dismissing any product that requires them to *gasp* prove *grasp* that they actually didn't steal it, then don't buy the game, and even better, don't complain about it. Nobody gives a fuck that you think you're too cool for activation systems.

    If you really have a problem with the activation scheme, you're either irrational or you've stolen the product. In either case, don't talk about it in public, because nobody cares.

    Sure... sometimes the activation technique can be annoying, and that's a fair argument. Valve will surely fix the Steam system so that once you've activated you're golden... but Windows XP?? You activate it once and then it's done... no hassles. If you need to re-install, it generally works. If it doesn't, call them and they'll sort you out. 99% of people don't re-install Windows every week, so 99% of people won't notice any inconvenience with the activation system... unless they've stolen their copy of Windows.

    Why do I defend Windows XP? I don't... I can't stand it. I'm writing this from my PowerMac, and I wouldn't use XP if you paid me... but I know a bullshit argument when I hear one.

    "Just watch me" ... -Pierre Trudeau.
  • Re: You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brad Mace (624801) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:58PM (#10901231) Homepage
    Holy Crap, do you work for valve or something? You seem to have been completely duped into accepting this notion of buying a license. Suckers like you are going to ruin it for everyone. If consumers accept this, we're going to see more and more software subject to cancellation on the whim of corporations. Perhaps more likely, when companies fold or even just get bought, we may be stuck with useless software. For me that is unacceptable, and where games are concerned it will push many people toward consoles where activation isn't an issue.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Danse (1026) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:10PM (#10901401)

    No, you can't read the EULA before you buy in most circumstances, and maybe that is a problem, but it doesn't change the fact that you still have a full and legal recourse to have your funds returned to you if you do not agree to the license terms.

    Tell that to all the people who couldn't get their money back when they tried to return a copy of Windows. You make it seem like it's a clear-cut legal right to get a refund if you don't agree to the EULA. It is anything but clear-cut.

    So, to say "I am NOT "told the terms and conditions of usage by the company" until after the sale transaction is completed." is actually true, because there is -no- sale transaction for the software itself. It's a licensing transaction, and in that case, you do indeed get an opportunity to read the EULA before you invoke the license.

    In the case of half-life2, you are not even told that there is a license before you buy it. Nowhere on the box does it say that you are licensing rather than buying a copy of the game. It says it requires internet connectivity, but mentions nothing about activation.

    If you really have a problem with the activation scheme, you're either irrational or you've stolen the product.

    There's another option here too. You're pissed because their activation requirement, which is not mentioned anywhere on the box, took 4 hours to authorize you to play the damn game in the first place. I don't think it's irrational to be upset about having your time wasted.

    If you need to re-install, it generally works. If it doesn't, call them and they'll sort you out. 99% of people don't re-install Windows every week, so 99% of people won't notice any inconvenience with the activation system... unless they've stolen their copy of Windows.

    What about that 1% that does have problems? What's their recourse?

    In closing, I'd just like to say that any contract that you can't read prior to making a financial transaction is not a valid contract.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:18PM (#10901513)
    I will not purchase HalfLife 2 at this point. I had intended on purchasing it in a few weeks (after a system upgrade). This Steam thing puts all the cards in the hands of Valve. If they miss identify behaviour on your part, they can literally "unsell" hundreds of dollars of software in the blink of an eye. Now, of course, they will not refund your purchases, they will gladly keep that. I do not condone the theft and use of Valve's software, but I also am getting really tired about the "terms and conditions" that companies are giving themselves. Software should be treated no differently than any other form of purchase. Companies should not be able to give themselves super-judge powers, that in the blink of an eye can undo all purchases which have been done with that company. Kick the illegal software out, most certainly. But also kicking out legally purchased software, is not right.
  • Re:Who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pedestrian crossing (802349) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:23PM (#10901591) Homepage Journal
    Why all of the whining about having to have the CD to play the game? How is this different than buying a GameBoy game? You have to have the GB cartridge to play the game. So, you have to have the CD to play the game. No different than GB, and I don't see hundreds of whining comments about that....
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by psyco484 (555249) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:25PM (#10901635)
    If there is no EULA then you have no right to the work at all in the first place..

    I'm sorry, short of flat out insulting you, I can't say more than that's just stupid. I'll be coming by to confiscate all your food, furniture, clothing, and all your other personal possessions which you can't produce a license agreement to. Clearly without one you have no rights to these possessions.
    Really, that's nonesense. Why would the default case be giving the consumer, you know, the person who paid for the product, no rights to the product at all? EULAs exist to restrict rights of the end user, you are (really, look it up) free to use a product that you purchase in any way you see fit unless you are explicitly forbidden to by law, or license agreement. If you do not agree to the law, you have little recourse besides not purchasing the product. If you do not agree to the license agreement you have more options: just don't buy it at all, or once bought and once you understand the terms of use, return it to the place selling it or the company producing it. This is typically protected by law in most rational states.

    Remember all the arguments about how if the GPL is invalid then SCO has no right at all to any GLPd software... it doesn't just become public domain.

    No, the argument there is that if SCO feels the GPL is not a valid license and they do not agree to it, they are not free to use it. That's pretty clear and your gross misunderstanding is, frankly, alarming.

    Look, what this comes down to is that the consumer doesn't have a right to rip Valve off, and Valve has no right to rip the consumer off, it really is that simple. If Valve choose to make steam the only method to obtain the product fine, the EULA is presented before you purchase anything. If they want to have both means of distribution then they either need to make separate rights to the product and make this clear, or they need to make the terms of the license clear and available to everyone. Otherwise they should have no option but to refund every person who does not agree to the terms.

  • by PriceIke (751512) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:28PM (#10901667)

    Does it say on the box that you must have a working internet connection to play the game? Just curious.

    How would the game authenticate itself without said internet connection? And is the game playable without authentication?

  • by Samrobb (12731) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:28PM (#10901672) Homepage Journal

    Maybe you can answer a question for me, then:

    If I buy a book, I can then sell it to someone else. Doctrine of first sale, correct?

    If I buy HL2, but *don't* install it, I can then sell it to someone else. Again, doctrine of first sale. At this point, it's a product that I own; there is no licensing agreement, no contract entered into, etc.

    If I buy HL2, and *do* install it, then Valve (and other companies) argue that I've entered into a contract with them. As part of that contract, I have *lost* something - my ability to resell the product. I cannot sell my copy of HL2 to someone else without Valve's permission. Well, I guess I can still sell it - but because of the issue of registration, that particular copy of HL2 is worthless now, to anyone but me.

    Here's my question: how can Valve sell me something that is obviously a product, a physical good, something that can be resold and treated by law exactly as if it were book or a car or an iPod... but which later is somehow redefined or transformed into a license?

    It's as if the law considered a car a "product" only so long as you didn't start the engine; but as soon as you actually get behind the wheel and put the key in the ignition, you no longer *own* a car, but instead now have a "license" to drive that one particular instance of a car.

  • by DunbarTheInept (764) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:29PM (#10901679) Homepage

    If you have the CD, stick it in.

    Scenario 1:
    One CD drive on the computer.
    Try to play a game while playing a music CD as well.

    Scenario 2:
    Taking a laptop on a trip. Space is at a premium. Now you have to bring CD's of all your games just to activate them even though you installed their contents to your hard drive with full installations.

    Scenario 3:
    CD gets a scratch. Without CD keys, you just play anyway since you installed it already. With CD keys now you can't play until you wait to prove your case to the company, and get a replacement sent to you via snail-mail.

  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miskatonic alumnus (668722) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:29PM (#10901684)
    ... and the government should pay you to read the entire governiing document for wherever you may live.

    You know, that's not a bad idea. Maybe it would give them some incentive not to pass so damn many laws. I've always heard that "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Fine. Except for one teeny tiny little thing --- attaining knowledge of all the laws you are expected to obey is practically impossible for most people. One has to have (1) access to the information, (2) the time to peruse it, (3) the ability to read English (in the U.S.), and (4) the ability to understand legalese.

    Let me tell you a little story. I used to drop off/pick up my child at Kindergarten. The parking lot was usually packed, so I parked at the curb. Now, I was nowhere near an intersection, and there weren't any "No Parking" signs anywhere. As I headed back to the truck, a school janitor informed me that a cop had just told him that if I continued to park there, I would get a ticket. So, I conducted a little investigation.

    I went to the cop shop and made an inquiry. Why would I get a ticket? Exactly what ordinance was I in violation of? Well, one officer said "I think there is some rule about parking on a street adjacent to a school building (which I later learned was false). Another told me that maybe the traffic would be congested --- you could not park at a curb if there was less than 10 feet between your car and the other side of the street (that condition was not satisfied in my case.) So, in other words, none of them knew. However, I was told to consult the book of city ordinances, of which 2 copies exist in our town of about 20,000 people. I went to the library and looked it up. The book is about 1000 pages long. I asked how much they cost --- $800 per copy! Now, do the math. Most people cannot afford or will not purchase one of these books. This book is in the reference section of the library, so cannot be checked out. With 20,000 people and 2 public copies for viewing between the hours of 8am and 8pm, and a conservative estimate of about 1 month per person to digest the book, I come to a figure of about 833 years for each citizen to be familiar with its contents --- and that is just to learn the city ordinances. If we are to be held accountable to the law, our government needs to make it simple and brief and plentily available.

    Incidentally, after reading the entire corpus of ordinances pertaining to parking, I discovered that I was in the right after all, and photocopied the sections of the book for the occasion of receiving a ticket. Oops. Guess I broke some copyright laws there.
  • by D. Book (534411) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:32PM (#10901724)
    The trouble with product activation is that it's implemented in such a painless and convenient way (in the majority of cases, where it works properly) that people fail to see this process for what it actually is: repeatedly asking permission from the manufacturer to use the product you purchased, after you purchased it. It seems the process is too automatic, too obscure not only for Joe User, but surprisingly, technically literate Slashdot readers who you'd normally expect to understand abstract threats to their freedom.

    Perhaps if people had to actually speak to the company and say the words, "could you please activate my software?" and say it a few more times for other software packages, and a few more times after reinstallation, it might hit home. Perhaps if they had to wait on hold for thirty minutes, desperately seeking permission to use the software they purchased, it might sink in. Perhaps if, in a fit of nostalgia they decide to reinstall an old game only to be dismayed they can't play it because the activation system no longer works and no patch is available, they will get the message.

    Indeed, whenever I've had to phone Microsoft to activate Windows XP, or Intuit/Reckon to activate Quicken, it's not the annoyance of being put through a five minute exchange of serial codes that sticks in my mind, but the more profound emotion of resentment of being put in that situation in the first place. I resent having to obediently request permission to use something I'd spent hundreds of dollars on. I resent having to repeatedly ask permission during the life of the product, according to criteria set by the company. I resent not knowing if I'll still be able to use the software a few years down the track. I resent that many of my friends, who paid nothing for their pirated/cracked copies, don't have to suffer the same indignities or worry about such things.

    The most important issue about activation is not whether it's convenient or inconvient, but the way it fundamentally changes the relationship between the customer and a company selling proprietary software. For the life of the product, the customer is now dependent on the company to repeatedly affirm the most basic right of any software user. Not to peak at the software's source code or modify it, but simply to run the program they purchased legitimately.
  • Re:Who? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by retro128 (318602) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:37PM (#10901773)
    It's very different. The entire game is on my hard disk, and only works after I authenticate a valid key with Steam. Why the hell should I have to dig out the CD? People who bought the game directly on Steam don't have to deal with that.

    And suppose you could take all of your carts and load them into memory on your GB. How would you feel about still needing to haul the carts all over the place when the data already exists in the box?
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AviLazar (741826) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:39PM (#10901804) Journal
    The only thing I am bitter about is I can't sell/give my old Half Life to someone. I had Diablo - when I was done with it I sold it. I had Diablo II - when I was done with it I sold it. Can't do it with half-life because it is integrated with my user account. As long as only one person is using it - then I can't see why Valve would care.
    So on a marketing stand point what they did really helps their bottom line. On a security stand point what they did really helps their bottom line. But for the LEGITIMATE people who want to transfer their product to someone else...well I want a Murcealago, but it ain't happening...
  • Re:Simple solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Danse (1026) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:39PM (#10901809)

    Why dont companys just put ultra fine print on the box that says.

    Why should it be ultra-fine print? What do they have to hide? Aside from that, I wouldn't have a problem with them making it available online. Just as long as they understand that some or all of their EULA may not even be valid where I live, and they should not be allowed to take action against me by removing my right to play the game if I violate unenforceable portions of the EULA. Now they could refuse to sell the game to people that live in places that won't enforce parts of the EULA, but that's up to them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:42PM (#10901855)
    The law of Unintended Consequences predicts:
    Valve will loose more legitimate purchases than the number of illegitimate users it has banned. This will happen due to alienating consumers with it's tactics.
  • Re: You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abscondment (672321) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:46PM (#10901925) Homepage

    You seem to have been completely duped into accepting this notion of buying a license.

    Duped into buying a license? Have you (legally) bought any software that wasn't licensed? Companies don't sell software; they never have. They sell the license to use their software. You don't own Windows, or Half-Life, or any other copyrighted software; you're bound by the license agreement, and all you own is what that agreement gives you. Obviously, if you're playing the game then you've already bought a license for your operating system. Console games too are mere licenses; you can't simply redistribute Halo 2, becuase it would be in violation of your license.

    Activation is what you have a problem with, and that exists because people are dishonest. Activation is an attempt to make the "cost" of pirating a game higher than the cost of actually buying--if you still think the games are too expense, stop buying. No, I don't like it either; just try not to confuse it with licensing. CDs are licensed. Movies are licensed. Some software is licensed. A license does not necessitate any "activation" in the terms which you spoke about.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:47PM (#10901937)
    Quote from a person who had his account banned:

    "on my account i had over 200 dollars worth of legit software. in the consumer world they cant just take it away form u. its like stealing."

    Apparently Valve "like stealing" his supposed legit software is verboten, but him straight out stealing HL2 is a-okay. Thats sound logic to me! Whatever. One less asshat to deal with in C-S.
  • Re: You're wrong. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:54PM (#10902026)
    Um, this is all bullshit in the first place. If you buy the game, and use your key, be it retail or over STEAM, then this works. You have no problems. If they canceled your account unwarrented, you still have proof you purchased it (atleast you should, either from the steam reciept you were supposed to print when you purchased or from the store) If you pirated, you lose. If you bought it and STILL used the cd-ky crack or whatever, that is not fair use, thats just idiocy. The ONLY use for cd cracks that I see is when you crack it so you don't have to put your original CD in every time.

    The issue some morons may be having with steam is that they think they have to log in and activate all the time, but there is an offline mode. I've been using STEAM for a very long time for alot of mods, and at first I hated it, its not without bugs. But I love it now. I have access to everything they've made without the need for discs that get lost or scratched. I don't have to hunt for updates and everything whenever I reinstall. Even if it takes a while to download and install (which it doesn't on my connection), I could care less. ITS AUTOMATIC! YOU CAN WALK AWAY AND COME BACK AND IT'LL BE DONE EVENTUALLY. Hell I knew they'd have problems with the 3am business, anyone could predict that. When was the last time a game update (or a new mod) came out that there was instant access to the files? I remember with one mod, they said update would be available on a certain Friday, but then it wasn't till about 10pm on that Friday. It's a lack of patience and understand on your parts. My steam install may or may not have worked immediately, I dont know, I got up an hour after the release to an unlocked copy. So, you know, I don't CARE. I've played through HL2...even if I had waited 2 more days, I'd already be done with it. What is so fucked up with our society that everyone needs everything now. If you'd gone to sleep, waited till morning, instead of wasting hours of your life for a game that didn't unlock instantly, then you'd have been better off.

    Those of you who chose to use the cd crack when you had a valid copy, I call BS. Why in the hell would you do that, its needless, you had a key, and you can play offline.

    Its like my cellphone company. They screwed up once, removed internet service from my phone, and there was a computer error. I wasn't being charged for the service (which was a flat rate for unlimited service monthly) but I was still getting it. I'd turned it off before, and the service was supposed to say unavailable. So I figured I'd use the service, which I shouldn't be getting and wasn't paying for on my bill. Well, most people would say "oh well, their loss, free service for me" Well, when the bill came in next month for a PER MEGABYTE USAGE (which isnt supposed to be possible on a T-Mobile Sidekick), I was ripped. I fought, and lost, and basically, they were right, I was in the wrong.

    Go ahead. Take advantage of these situations if you want. Don't bitch about it when you get caught. It's like a hacker claiming he should be allowed to hack a companies server. No, he shouldn't. Even if he has good intentions, he needs permission. If he gets caught, he has no grounds to stand on. No offense to hackers, it is an important discipline and a whole other philosophy. But there is a difference between knowing whats right and wrong. The companies may be in the wrong, but two wrongs don't make a right. It's called playing with fire, you could eventually get burned. Don't curse god for making fire burn you, you knew the laws of physics (or should have) would apply.
  • by Godeke (32895) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:57PM (#10902076)
    I would agree with many of your statements. I have not bought Half Life 2 and will not buy it because of a prior experience with activation based gaming. I dropped a small amount to Real when they came out with Real Arcade. I downloaded a small number of games and played them off and on. Finally, the computer failed and I replaced it. Tossed the old drive in the new machine and found the games didn't work. Called Real and they told me to get bent (short form). Turned out that the games are hardware locked and replacing your hardware invalidated all game purchases. (This was near the product launch, have no idea if it is still so daconian.

    So yes: you "bought" a license. Live with the terms. And vote with your wallet, hopefully *before* you get burned.

    In my opinion, however, the posters statement you quote is a true statement. You didn't buy anything, you *rented* it, and there is a big difference between buying and renting. People should be aware of that difference. A sticker on the box of HL2 that says "you can play this game until: (we go out of business|decide you can't|want to force an upgraded version on you)" would make that a bit more clear.
  • Re:cd key? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThousandStars (556222) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:27PM (#10902480) Homepage
    I ended up just giving up and buying a second copy of the game because the store where I purchased it wouldn't accept a return. A cracked CD key would have saved me from having to buy the game again that I already legitimately owned.

    I find it remarkable that you were willing to support a company that screwed you out of ~$50 by selling a faulty product. No wonder game companies continually roll out more onerous anti-piracy systems -- they're being financially rewarded for it.

    A cracked CD key might have saved you time and money, but that isn't in the company's best interest. Their best interest is getting you to give them as much money as possible, and their ploy worked.

  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maximilln (654768) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:29PM (#10902506) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, the disc is yours, but the IP on that disc is given to you under terms of their licsence

    I wish people would get over the holier-than-thou ego trip that they get from invoking licensing.

    Face reality. A license is a fancy name for a rental concocted by lawyers to turn the breach of a rental agreement into a federal felony.

    Face reality. There is nothing real in an attempt to enforce a rental agreement of intangible material such as intellectual property. The software industry can't, in reality, license software any more than I can license to you a method to make biscuits. Either you sell it or you don't.

    Stop feeding the trolls/lawyers. Quit hiding behind licenses.
  • by genjo (810561) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:35PM (#10902573) Homepage
    "You, Socrates, are breaking the covenants and agreements which you made with us at your leisure, not in any haste or under any compulsion or deception, but having had seventy years to think of them, during which time you were at liberty to leave the city, if we were not to your mind, or if our covenants appeared to you to be unfair."

    ... if you don't like/agree with the rules as we ALL pretty much know them to be at this time, do not purchase the game/license/vapor/whatever. I think the number of people who disagree with these kinds of measures is probably ridiculously low compared to the number who won't purchase based on these tactics.

    Now that we know, put your money where your mouth is and don't play the game. If you do purchase, I don't see how you can argue that you disagree with the method Valve is using.
  • by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:37PM (#10902599)
    I wish I had considered your argument previously, as I regret my purchase of HL 2 now. Like other hard core players, I just marched out and bought it, thinking, Here's quality!

    But the game itself is woefully overrated. I'd say, "Off to eBay with this," but who knows whether HL 2 will work if it has to be reactivated by a new owner?

    HL 2 suffers most from being broken and from a fundamentally bad design choice. The STUT-STUT-STUT-STUT-STUT-STUTtering of dialogue at the start of virtually every new scene is something Valve will have discovered in testing, but obviously (and arrogantly) shipped anyway to get Xmas sales. The Source engine has big memory management problems.

    Then there are the long, painfully slow load times, one coming every 10-15 minutes, and lasting around 60 seconds. Levels are split at arbitrarily unidentified points, so you never know when you're going to get hit with another minute-long delay--or make that 2-3 minutes, if you decide you want to go back to explore or find supplies.

    HL 2 definitely has moments of brillliance. Fighting giant striders is interesting, and skimming along water reservoirs in your Road Warrior-style craft is fun for a bit. But it is far from being the masterpiece that the sold-out gaming press has blathered on about.

  • by Felonious Ham (709958) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:40PM (#10902645) Homepage
    I've read through plenty of comments, both the idiotic "Valve has no right to require activation!" and the common sense rebuttals, but what I haven't seen is an instance of a wronged user. Again, lots of argument about how you "own the code" (or whatever) after you pay your $60, but nobody who paid saying Valve cut them off.

    Honestly, if you don't want to deal with activation, don't use the product. End of story. Free Software will surely produce a game of HL2 quality before you die.

  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DM9290 (797337) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:41PM (#10902662) Journal
    You can send them the game and they will refund the purchase price.

    Once you have notified them that they are breeching the original sales agreement at a minimum they can refund the purchase price, pay you damages for wasting your time, and come and retrieve their product at their own expense within a reasonable period of time (probably 10 days) or else you are in your rights to simply throw the product in the garbage and still get your money back.

    Alternatively you can also file a civil suit for misleading advertising and sue for actual and punitive damages. And just once I wish someone would.

    This notion that a software developer can sell you something and retain a residual right to change the terms of the agreement merely by offering you your money back is not supported in law.

    This type of activity is generally called extortion.

    You could even take the retailer to court as they are a party to the crime. The court merely needs to find that the retailer knew (or ought to have known) that the packaging was misleading and then the retailer is liable because the retailer knowingly displayed the misleading advertising.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:46PM (#10902727)
    The better analog is to have a Gameboy game that requires you to have the box in hand whenevre you want to play. In short, an annoying physical vestage of the game that makes no sense to keep otherwise.

    When you install a game on the PC, it copies all media to the PC itself (generally). In this case why are you required to ALSO have the game CD?

    For HL2 this is doubly an issue. Because the game material you get via CD is the same encrypted stuff you get via Steam - only in the case of STeam you have no physical CD, so it doesn't require one to play. The HL2 CD should be treated as a much faster download from Steam, and then things are the same after that.
  • by slaida1 (412260) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:47PM (#10902749)
    It's not like HL2 is the best game evarr and everybody neeeeds to play it. It's just a game. Repeat with me: It's just one stupid computer game. Nothing earth shattering here, move on.

    Wait a year or two and when it's in discount bin and working no-activation crack has been released, then buy it. Good games don't get old. If you suspect it might get old then maybe it isn't very good afterall.

    Maybe FarCry2 or 3 or something else will be better. You just don't know. But you can bet that you'll know whether HL2 is any good after waiting a year, without even trying it out first.

  • Why is this News? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iamthetru7h (782302) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:50PM (#10902783)
    Honestly? It's a game. You purchase a license permitting you to play said game. Some people pirate it and then get their accounts killed. If you buy a legitimate copy and follow the directions, I don't honestly see how you could get banned. Then again, the people who are whining are the ones you used a NO-CD crack, or using an outright illegal copy. Go Figure. The people who whine the most are the people who don't like paying for things. Oh wait... this is SLASHDOT, not Fark.com. What am I doing here?
  • by Frobozz0 (247160) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:55PM (#10902865)
    Who the hell are the whiners complaining that you're account was terminnated because they circumvented copy protection and/or stole the product? Are these people INSANE? Who on earth thinks it's okay to steal something, have someone take it back, and then feel like you've been cheated?

    It's like looking at the sky and flat out refusing to say it's blue. Come on, people, fork over the $50 to buy the game and support the people who BUILT IT so you can enjoy it.

    How many games per year do you buy? Is $50 really that much for a game? It's not.

  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Drachemorder (549870) <brandon@christia ... g.org minus poet> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:56PM (#10902888) Homepage
    "So you assume that you can steal any game that doesn't have a EULA on the outside of the box?"

    No, I assume I can buy that copy and use it however I please as long as I don't make more copies and distribute them. That is what copyright law prohibits. If I buy a copy of a game, I own that one copy, no matter what any text inside the box might say and no matter what stupid human tricks I have to perform in order to make it work. The only thing I don't own is the right to distribute it.

  • Re:Who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @05:17PM (#10903126) Homepage Journal
    Why all of the whining about having to have the CD to play the game?

    You obviously don't own a notebook and spend half of your weekends away from home. I do.

  • Re:20,000 Thieves! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @05:19PM (#10903147)
    I don't care what you think about the definition or semantics of "steal" and copyright infringement; honest people inherently know that the two are for all practical purposes, equal

    Say it as much as you want, but you're still wrong. For all practical purposes they are completely different. In one case, a person has been deprived of the possession and use of an object. In the other case, they have not. How you can say that for "all practical purposes" these two are equivalent, I can't understand.

    I'm in agreement with you that both are unethical, but they are definitely not equivalent. We draw much, much finer distinctions than this in the legal system. Consider manslaughter vs. murder.

  • Re:Who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by farnz (625056) <slashdot@far[ ]org.uk ['nz.' in gap]> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @05:26PM (#10903261) Homepage Journal
    Because with a GameBoy, I put the cartridge in, play the game, get fed up, change the cartridge, play a different game, ad infinitum.

    With a PC, I install the game, play the game, install another, play it, and repeat until I run out of disk space. Then I've got to work out which game I won't be playing in the near future, uninstall it, install another one, and I have to start juggling installers. If I don't want to do that, I need to open up my PC and fit a new harddrive.

    The difference? Installing the game before you play it. If GB games needed installation, I'd definitely not be interested; who wants to install a game before you can play it, just because you've uninstalled it to fit something else on? And if PC games didn't need the CD, I'd be more interested; at least I wouldn't need to carry all the CDs around.

  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maximilln (654768) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @05:27PM (#10903275) Homepage Journal
    Valve made it abundantly clear that you had to activate the product and made no effort to conceal that fact

    They're abusing the common perception of a product and misrepresenting a rental as a sale. People buy products. 99% of the population does not buy licenses. Even in geek circles people are generally of the mindset that, if you don't want to play online, you don't need to be online.

    It's all hogwash to feed the lawyers. There is no reality in licensing an intangible product. Either you sell it or you don't. Once companies begin to face reality then society will be a much better place. Rather than wasting their time (and our money) on these useless cat-and-mouse authentication schemes maybe they'll put thought into more effective and controllable distribution.

    The reality is: If you don't want someone to know something, DON'T TELL ANYONE. Once you tell one person you must face the reality that they may tell someone else. Sure, you can waste your life and everyone's time/money trying a legal pursuit... Or you can quit being a dumbass and decide that, if the IP Is really that important, you should keep your mouth shut.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @05:49PM (#10903493)
    And twenty years of software sales says you're wrong

    I am too tired to join this Valve/Steam fray, especially that I had my fight in it already, days ago, even before this 20k account fiasco hit the fan. But this particularly illogical part of your argument caught my eye. Someone on ./ here has a great sig, something to the effect of "Lets eat more shit! After all millions of flies cannot be wrong!"

    You should ponder this in light of countless times in our history when far worse stupidities were accepted as "common sense" for far longer then 20 years by millions of people. Popularity and longevity of something does not have a slightest bearing on its validity and morality.

  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by codermotor (4585) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @05:56PM (#10903556)

    You need to stop validating a broken so-called authentication system (read software rental system) - one pretty much unique (so far) to software.

    If I buy a box on a store shelf (I haven't and I won't) purportedly containing media with a legal and fully functioning copy of HL2, I expect to get just that. What I don't expect to find is that, after paying $50+ for that legal copy of the game, I have to ask yet again for permission to play it (use the product), even in single-player mode on a box not even connected to the Internet!

    Having been around software probably longer than most here have been alive, I am not exactly naive about how software is distributed in the context of licensing agreements. So, I expect to find some document either inside the box or displayed during the course of product installation telling me that, among other restrictions(1), I am not supposed to install the game on more than one box at a time or to distribute copies to others. Big deal, those "Terms of Use" documents have been around for years. And, generally speaking, I don't have problems with such reasonable terms.

    And forget all the arguments about "Well, it's no different than Everquestish games" or "Publishers have been doing this for n years". HL2 is not Everquest. It's more like Doom 3. I don't have to ask id for an account to play D3 and I don't see them going out of business. And just because someone's gotten away with doing something questionable doesn't mean it's right or acceptable.

    It looks to me that the Steam Scheme(tm) is not too different from renting cable. Without the monthly fee. The guy I'm renting from can turn off the service anytime he wants for any reason at all. If Valve/Vivendi decide for some arbitrary reason that I shouldn't be able to play anymore because I've somehow offended them, I'm screwed: "Sorry, the server is busted", "Sorry, we think you cheat", "Sorry, someone wrote a crack which just happened to use your key among many", or "Sorry, we don't care to support this game now, maybe you should try our New Game - lookie here, we'll rent you that too!", and "Oh, by the way, we really don't give a fuck what your side of the story is".

    If you think I'm whining, I don't really GAF. I'm whining with my wallet. I really want to try HL2, but not under the current Steam Scheme(tm). I'll wait till someone does a practical crack so I can at least play single player, and then I'll buy the game but play with the crack. In any case, it's not like there aren't other games out there. I've got thousands of dollars worth of stuff to play - all of which I bought off a store shelf. And they all still work!

    I'd also like to comment on all those aguments saying "Steam just keeps pirates from stealing the game". Bullshit. Copyright violation is not stealing. It's Copyright violation. Depriving someone of a sale is not necessarily depriving them of property. Neither is illegal copying piracy. No vehicles were hijacked, no planks walked, noone murdered or raped. You can call copying stealing and piracy all you want, but it doesn't make it so. If you get caught illegally copying, you won't get charged with either theft, or piracy, you'll get charged for illegal copying.

    (1) Just because there are all kinds of intmidating legalese in the "license" doesn't necessarily make it either legal or binding, whether or not you agree to it. On the other hand, if you don't agree, the publisher doesn't have to sell you the product. That's just like in a brick and mortar business. The problem with such software agreements is that you've already given them your money before you know the terms, and you'll usually play hell getting that money back, if at all, if you don't agree to those terms.

  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dr.badass (25287) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @06:21PM (#10903818) Homepage
    Why would anyone put up with this crap?

    People put up with it because the likelyhood that there will be an authentication problem is very small. Less than the chance of having some kind of hardware incompatability or glitch; something PC gamers already deal with all of the time, and gladly.

    Remember, the people that Valve is cracking down on are people who are too cheap to buy the game. They aren't customers, and Valve has little incentive to treat them as though they were.
  • I think the point our poster is trying to make is that traditionally, we have not been beholden to companies to consistantly affirm the right and (in most cases) ability to purchase, execute, and run applications purchased. People do make a good point.. (What if company A is absorbed by Company B.. there are no promises that Company B will uphold your ability to use that product.. if they don't.. then your X dollar purchase just became void. Not so bad with a 50 - 100 purchase.. but when you are talking in the thousands and hundreds of thousands... it makes a BIG difference).. Or company A decides that in addition to whatever initial provisions are made to use the software, you now have to activate it via this SPECIFIC ISP.. (not such a far fetched idea as lets be honest.. everyone need to do what they think will enable them to survive and grow)

    Lets also be clear here.. yes, there are some indivduals for whom all software (in their eyes) is to be free. But the percentage is VERY small relatively speaking. Most users agree that talent (and the firms that represent them) need to be compensated. (if this were not the case, valve would have just enforced a purchase online policy and there would be no shrink wrapped issues.. (its significantly cheaper for them to do so..)

    What we are seeing here with this activation trash is the notion that they might loose 3 cents to the 5 people that did not purchase the software over the 5000 that did.

    I believe there have been numerious studies from our dear friends at the RIAA and others which, dispite their cries, show that those 5 people don't make a bit of difference in their profits..(in fact, in many cases they help in the "advertisement" of the product itself).

    Personally, I refuse to make use of any product (hardware or software), regardless of method or means, that forces my use down a path that THEY enforce. This is a personal choice so lets not start flaming here. For others, they choose to wave that right (ie: choice) in favor of doing what they wish to do..

    But I do have a problem with the masses that hand over their supposed rights (little tested as they are) in favor of the simple rewards they think they have.

    Of course, that is just my 2 cents.
  • by sprayNwipe (95435) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @06:44PM (#10904041) Homepage
    I hate to break it to you guys, but not all companies are the same.

    "Duh, but what happens when the servers go down?!". Well, we're talking about a company that releases game source for their products for people to modify. I'm pretty sure that Valve is more likely than anyone to release a "No-Steam" patch if they went out of business, just like they released a solution for WON being removed (remember that? HL1 had to log into a central server that doesn't exist anymore for multi, yet you're still playing that)

    This is ignoring the fact that they'll be alive for at least another 5 years unless they blow all their money on coke, and that YOU CAN PLAY THE GAME OFFLINE ALREADY! So really, there's *no* situation where you won't be able to play the game.

    What's funny is that the people the most pissed off about it haven't even bought it or don't know the facts behind it. I mean, it's way less restrictive than Apple's DRM on ITMS, for starters. I guess they're pissed that there's no Linux port and need a way to vent. It's okay. We understand.
  • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75@nospAM.yahoo.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @07:21PM (#10904464)
    I don't know about you but I do have a license to drive my car. A license that can be revoked if I don't follow the terms of aggrement. Just like a HL2 CD just because the license has been revoked they don't come knocking on your door to take away your CD as well.

    Your comparison is not valid because a) your driver's license is with the state, not with the car manufacturer, and b) your license can only be revoked if you break the law, not if you simply break the terms of the license (in this case, the terms of the license is the law, but you wouldn't need a license if those laws didn't exist).

    If the state wants to license me to play video games on the condition that they revoke my license if I break the law, then I actually probably wouldn't have much of a problem with it, provided I didn't have to pay anything to obtain that license. But Valve is engaged in vigilante-ism right now, and just as in other forms of law enforcement, their version of vigilante-ism is probably violating various laws themselves (the biggest issue I see is that they're nuking legally purchased, unrelated products of those who are simply using a NoCD crack - there's no way they can legally do this that I can see, whatever their EULA says).

    Issues of law are not left up to the private sector, as your own example inadvertantly demonstrates. If somebody commits a crime against you, for example, it is illegal for you to personally go and take your own revenge on that person. What you must do under the law is contact the police and let them deal with it. That is how civilized society works. And even if that isn't common sense, it's the law of the land in this country.

    The software industry seems to think this is the Wild West, but it isn't. The same rules apply to them. Only the state and federal governments have the power to enforce laws regarding copyright and commerce, and a company cannot take those rights away from the government through a EULA, especially when that EULA is between you and the publisher, not between the state and the publisher (in other words, no contract can invalidate the rights of a third party that's not even involved in that contract).

    I said it in another reply - what Valve is doing is similar to what the RIAA wanted to be able to do if they found a single illegal MP3 on your hard drive. They want to be able to search your hard drive and nuke the contents if they so choose. The RIAA was attempting to get a bill passed that allowed them to do this, but the point is they knew that they couldn't do it without being authorized by congress. Valve apparently thinks they can get away with it without such authorization, but I hope one of these customers takes them to task over it, and to court.

    Note that I don't even own HL2, not a legal and certainly not an illegal copy of it. So hopefully I am looking at this through unbiased eyes. I do hope to buy it at some point but I will not until issues like these are worked out - to me, the whole Steam authentication thing sounds pretty onerous, and if Valve is just going to nuke my games for using a simple NoCD patch, then I'm not really sure I need the aggravation.
  • by CyberKnet (184349) <<slashdot> <at> <cyberknet.net>> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @08:17PM (#10904969) Homepage Journal
    I once had this book that had a lock on the outside of it. Every time you wanted to open the book, you had to insert this dumb little key. It was like a diary or something.

    One day I had this bright idea to use my scissors (sp: dmca violating device) to cut the lock off so I didnt have to insert that dumb key all the time to open it. Imagine my surprise when I notice that the ink on the paper had all disappeared!

    0h nos! My w3rdz 4re b33n st0l3n!

    Now I cant read the book, it's as good as a doorstop. I called the publisher, and they said "Hey, man, you only bought a license to read the book IF you use the key to open it! Even if you glue the lock back on, you still lose, space cadet!".

    But they didnt count that you couldn't see that it was a license until you unlocked it the first time, and there on the first page was "By opening this book, you have agreed that..." ... nobody would take the book back cause it was opened.

    It was really sad... I dont think I'll ever get over it.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by horza (87255) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @08:27PM (#10905052) Homepage
    So you believe you'd have no problems buying a game and then using someone else's CD key? Hah!

    Uh? I do this with friends all the time with Half Life 1. We've bought more copies than we have people that play it. What's the problem?

    Fact of the matter is, there's no excuse to pirate this game, and Valve took the logical step that they can to protect their property. Don't even try to front like you've got any ethical ground to stand on.

    How is using someone else's CD key pirating the game if you've bought an original copy?

    The fact is that Valve have messed up big time. I don't know how they could throw away so much goodwill that they bought with HL1. Everyone who has bought HL2 will want to go online at some point, at which point they will need a valid key. What morons are still left in the software industry that haven't learned:
    * don't require the CD in the drive - much as your precious software is *your* baby, we have several hundred other bits of software just as important to us stacked all over the house
    * no hardware dongles - again, your software isn't the only one we use. Can you imagine trying to plug a dozen dongles into one parallel port, ignoring the usual screwing up of the printer
    * no online activation - we don't all have Internet, and those of us that do don't trust being able to connect to servers. Steam sucks, I've lost count of the number of times I couldn't access CS for days at a time.

    I'm going to hold off buying HL2 for a few months, and if they don't change their tune then I'm sure a new title will come out I can purchase instead.

    Phillip.
  • Re: You're wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rpdillon (715137) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @08:43PM (#10905177) Homepage
    No, his point is the same point I made in an article I wrote concerning adhesion contracts:

    It is not reasonable to expect someone to pay money for something whose use is restricted by a contract whose terms are not known at the point of sale. That's essentially saying:

    "I'll sell you this software, but you can only use it in ways that are specifically outlined in this contract that's in the drawer over there. That contract may also say things about certain information you have to give me about yourself before you can use the software. In fact, I'm not even selling you the software, I'm licensing the software to you. And no, you can't see the contract or terms of said license until you pay me for the software."

    Combined this with the fact that you often cannot return the software to the guy who sold it to you, and instead have to call the manufacturer, get an RMA, and then pay for packaging and postage to to send it back, I'd say that is a pretty unreasonable deal for the customer.

    The point here is that with software, you are basically coerced into pressing "I Agree" because of the non-trivial amount of time necessary to read and agree to the EULA, as well as the time and money required to return it to a publisher, all occuring after your money is in someone else's hands. You must remember, as long as you hold the money, you have a certain measure of bargaining power. After you let go of the money, you are basically at the mercy of a company's good will. This is why companies are eager to get you to part with your money as quickly as possible, and as early in the process, with the least amount of information as possible.

    I argue that any software company MUST make the terms of any contract readily accessible as the point of sale, BEFORE and money changes hands. There will still be unfair bargaining power in favor of the publisher (as was cited by a judge on 30 Sept in the bnetd case - mainly because that particular publisher is the only source of legal licenses for that software), but at least it will be more balanced than it is now.

    Your peaches analogy is not appropriate in this context, because peaches are a consumable that has no license, and whose condition is apparent at the point of sale. Neither of these conditions hold for software.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:09PM (#10905411)
    How about they give away the CDs for free (see AOL CDs in stores at the register) or charge $5.00 for them with the following written in big letters on the box:

    You are purchasing a CD, which does not give you the right to play the game, but does save you time in downloading it from our system. Whether you purchase this CD or download the game from our system, you will be required to log on to our system and pay us $45 before you will be able to play the game, and you will be required to connect to our system every time thereafter that you wish to play the game. If for ANY REASON, we decide you shouldn't be allowed to play anymore, we will revoke your ability to play the game and you WILL HAVE NO RECOURSE. If our servers ever become unreachable, you will lose your ability to play the game and you WILL HAVE NO RECOURSE.

    I think that's fairer than selling someone a box for $50 and delivering essentially the same thing, but the purchaser doesn't know what they have agreed to until AFTER spending $50 non-refundable (or at least it is likely to be very difficult to get a refund) and then only if they understand convoluted legalese.

    Alternatively, have the sales jerk/clerk EXPLAIN the agreement every time someone buys it... nah, I think that's asking too much of your average retail clerk.

    Of course I also think anyone who would agree to either Valve's agreement or the one I suggest really needs to think about where this is all heading... This is a bad trend, it will spread to movies & music, and the best way to stop it is to refuse to purchase this stuff. I know, it hurts that you can't play the latest game, but if everyone said no, they'd license it differently. Find another game, nearly as good but with a better license, and play that.

    Disclaimer: I do not own (nor do I play) HL2, and do not anticipate I will do so ever.

  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JW Troll (607432) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:12PM (#10905457) Homepage
    If the Steam network dies, does that mean I get a refund? Asking as more a point of intellectual curiosity, since the Steam network has been down for some time now.. and the poor suckers who paid good money for HL2 are now unable even to play single-player mode without "authentication" that they won't get until Valve fixes their entire system. Which won't happen anytime soon.

    So basically, you think everybody should be fucked. How intriguing.
  • by Spiked_Three (626260) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:05PM (#10905876)
    I have purchased no less than 3 counter strike games - each from regular retailers and each came with CD keys. Why 3? Well so me and friends could play legitimately on my T1 at my home.
    Imagine my shock and horror when I try to play one day and receive a message that my steam account has been closed because I am using a cracked CD key. 3 F'n times I have paid, and I'm denied access to play to game.
    Then along comes Half Life 2. I refuse to buy it in principal and because of my previous experience. But the reviews are too good. "It's the best game ever, again." Not to mention my IRC chat buddies calling me a moron because I object to steam.
    OK, I give in and buy it. What do I get? The first CD cant be read because of the imbedded copy protection. It takes over 4 hours to install as I go through 4 CD-Rom drives until I find one that will read the disk. An hour to "decrypt" the files, WTF?
    I play it - and indeed it is good.
    Today I read ./ and learn of this mess, 20k users banned - and you know all are not valid bans, the forums closed because of all the negative postings, basically the entire community is in rebellion. S.O.B I was right to begin with and should have never spent $50 for such total bullshit.
    But, who do I blame? Is it valve/vivendi's fault? NO. IT IS THE LAME ASS COPYRIGHT STEALING IDIOTS THAT CAUSED THIS PROBLEM TO BEGIN WITH.
    Two Days ago I read with disbelief incredible responses saying how walking into a movie theater with a video camera and then posting the movie on the internet is an OK thing to do. Some idiot even associated it with free speech.
    There is an incredible "steal it if you can" culture here that has resulted in me having to deal with unbearable BS in copy protection - and I swear to God - if I see one of you in a movie theater with a video camera actively recording I am going to pull out a gun and shoot you between the eyes.
    I am that pissed off.
  • by borgheron (172546) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:17PM (#10905954) Homepage Journal
    Ha!! Ha!!

    I'll never understand the mentality of some people. There is an old saying "he who pays the piper calls the the tune". This means that Steam made the HL2 game and they get to dictate it's licensing. You don't like it? Stop buying proprietary software and start using open source or free software as, yet again, those who made it, licensed it as they saw fit: freely.

    You people who think that just because you *can* download it means that it's "okay" need to get yourselves spanked ever now and then.

    Is your ass sore now? Good. Think twice before screwing someone like this in the future.

    You guys give the rest of us a really bad name.

    GJC
  • by The Bringer (653232) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:40PM (#10906094)
    Why is this even an issue? First of all, I have no sympathy for anyone that has had their account disabled, and I see nothing wrong with what Valve is doing, or how they are going about it. If you used a leaked CD Key, you deserve all of what you've gotten, and if you installed a patch that was not endorsed nor created by Valve, you are stupid to do so. If I were in Valve's shoes, I would do the same thing. There is absolutely nothing wrong to enforcing the EULA in this manner, you agreed to it by installing the software, and the only reason that your account was disabled in the first place was because you violated it. You didn't HAVE to agree to the EULA. Well, that is what I think, IMHO.
  • by No Such Agency (136681) <abmackay.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @12:08AM (#10906621)
    But the game itself is woefully overrated. I'd say, "Off to eBay with this," but who knows whether HL 2 will work if it has to be reactivated by a new owner?

    Presumably, if Steam still exists, and you sell the original CD key along with the game discs, the game can be reactivated (after all you can activate it on multiple machines). Now, if you sold it but kept a copy, and try to still use it yourself, your use of that key will conflict with the new owner's. But doing that would be quite naughty anyway, and the new owner (and Valve) would be justified in being right pissed at you. Just make sure you uninstall, and the new owner should be perfectly happy.

    Levels are split at arbitrarily unidentified points, so you never know when you're going to get hit with another minute-long delay--or make that 2-3 minutes, if you decide you want to go back to explore or find supplies.

    I can see why this pisses you off. It's annoying. I do find that the load points tend to be in "quiet" areas - deserted tunnels, empty rooms etc. I.e. areas that you're just passing through, so the pause is less jarring than it might be otherwise. However, I doubt that mid-level loads are avoidable in a complex 3D game with today's desktop technology level. Until computers can hold the whole level in memory at once, we'll have to cope with it.

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