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Games Your Rights Online

Video Games: Goods Or Services? 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sure-the-suits-will-decide-for-us dept.
silentbrad points out an article about the gradual shift of video games from being 'goods' to being 'services.' They spoke with games lawyer Jas Purewal, who says the legal interpretation is murky: "If we're talking about boxed-product games, there's a good argument the physical boxed product is a 'good,' but we don't know definitively if the software on it, or more generally software which is digitally distributed, is a good or a service. In the absence of a definitive legal answer, software and games companies have generally treated software itself as a service – which means treating games like World of Warcraft as well as platforms like Steam or Xbox LIVE as a service." The article continues, "The free-to-play business model is particularly interesting, because the providers of the game willingly relinquish direct profits in exchange for greater control over how players receive the game, play it, and eventually pay for it. This control isn't necessarily a bad thing either. It can help companies to better understand what gamers want from their games, and done properly such services can benefit both gamers and publishers. Of course, the emphasis here is on the phrase 'done properly.' Such control can easily be abused."
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Video Games: Goods Or Services?

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  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:52PM (#39222941)

    2. permission to use the software in spite of copyright and patent protections is a license;

    Assuming US law, let me fix that for you:

    2. permission to use the software in spite of copyright and patent protections is unnecessary.

    Copyrights due to Title 17 S 117 [cornell.edu] (part a1 for the most part), patents because you don't need a patent license to use goods created by someone else.

    As much hate as Congress gets, Title 17 S 117a1's wording is very flexible. For instance, if the instructions for using a program say you have to install it to a hard drive, that copy is "created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner." Same goes for the copy in RAM when you load it.

    It does say "and that it is used in no other manner," which, strictly speaking, makes reverse engineering it illegal, but I seem to recall other laws protect that.

  • by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Friday March 02, 2012 @01:54PM (#39222965) Homepage

    Post-scarcity production and distribution technology is clashing with industrial-capitalist economics.

    While I somewhat agree with that, I see no conflict between modern digital distribution of software products, and shrink-wrapped boxes.

    You provide me a copy of software product, I pay you 1x fixed amount for the privilege of having & using that copy. Whether that's shrink-wrapped box or download only is irrelevant for this purpose. X people buy their copy, developer gets X times fixed amount. If developer sells X copies / month, then developer has X times fixed amount / month coming in to support that software and work on new products. If developer sells too few copies, or takes too long to produce something new that also sells, too little money will come in to make a living from it.

    Nothing new there, no conflict with modern distribution in the digital age. Whether customers should be forced to pay for their copy, and/or keep paying after getting it, is another matter (or different matters, in fact).

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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