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First Person Shooters (Games) Security

Valve Cracks Down on 20,000 Users 1942

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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  • CD hack? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Izago909 ( 637084 ) * <tauisgodNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:54PM (#10900211)
    Is there a way to disable the "feature" that forces me to load the CD every time I want to play the game? And will doing so get me banned? Why can't steam disable this annoying problem after we activate our game and prove to them that we bought it? At least there is a hack for Doom 3 and other newer games that disable the CD check without getting you banned from the network.
  • Re:CD hack? (Score:5, Informative)

    by RomSteady ( 533144 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:56PM (#10900247) Homepage Journal
    From what I understand, if you uninstall Half-Life 2 after activating it on Steam, then install off of Steam, you won't have to use your media anymore.

    Admittedly, you'll have to download quite a bit of data and it's a pain in the rump and it might not work after their next patch, but that's what's been going around the message boards.
  • by Soulfarmer ( 607565 ) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:57PM (#10900256) Homepage Journal
    I wonder all the hassle about the activation. My Steam-version of HL2 worked fine from the preload to the ending credits. It serves them right to have accounts banned if you tried to use pirated cdkey etc.

    Although I wonder also why would anyone use their OWN account to try playing a game they didn't pay for. And the version I know of, pirated I mean, doesn't need the activation at all...
  • Good News (Score:2, Informative)

    by CleverNickedName ( 644160 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @01:59PM (#10900293) Journal
    It's comforting to see piracy protection which works.

    People who paid for the product can enjoy it and those who didn't can't. Seems fair.
  • Re:What? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:00PM (#10900315)
    Except...these people didn't actually buy the product, did they? No, they stole it. I don't see what the problem is.

    The implication that one or two who got screwed are legit owners, so we've a flismy excuse for yet another rant against Steam.

    But there's nothing to substantiate that.
  • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:01PM (#10900324)
    "People are discovering that when you buy any product that is subject to "activation", you haven't really bought anything."
    Exactly. After spending many thousands of dollars purcashing copies of Windows, Norton Systemworks, Photoshop and other programs over the years -- no more.

    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.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:02PM (#10900342)
    So you believe you'd have no problems buying a game and then using someone else's CD key? Hah!

    And yes, the box DOES state that you have to have a working account on their Steam network.

    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.
  • by mumblestheclown ( 569987 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:02PM (#10900343)
    Yeah, people who are cracking your CDs are being stupid but that doesn't mean that you have to act like a bunch of assholes about it.

    People who are cracking your CDs have made a conscious decision that a) you made something of value b) they want it c) they would rather steal it than pay for it. The rebuke that takes simply takes it away is a gentle one and shows restraint. The thieves (or "infringers" - the technicalities of the language are not important) probably deserve punishmnet. Given that Valve is acting with restraint, they certainly have the right to be as preachy as they want.

  • by Man in Spandex ( 775950 ) <prsn,kev&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:03PM (#10900358)
    There have been many threads going on where we argued on how useless and unfair (compared to customers who bought it off steam) the cd-check is and valve did not reply even once. Instead, the moderators deleted the "800+ replies" thread but it's far from over because there are many other threads currently on this topic that are open to discussion and hopefully, we will make enough noise to get them to listen.

    Using a no-cd patch with steam is a risk that you take because afaik, it could detect it but I can't confirm that. Frankly, this is Valve's job to remove the cd-check which is, like I said many times, utterly useless since activating Hl2 thru steam with your cd key is good enough to prove that one person has a legit copy. Even if the game had no-cd check, sharing the cds would be useless since Steam would popup asking for a valid key which is already in use....
  • Re:It's still fair (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:09PM (#10900440)

    Steam is the spyware [steampowered.com].
  • by dark-br ( 473115 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:10PM (#10900462) Homepage
    and it's still working ok... Am I lucky or it's only a question of time?

    Anyone else still playing with... err... pirated HL2?

    (And don't give me that crap "oh, bad you, pirate! go sit on a corner". Hurl the first stone those who have NEVER pirated a piece of software!)

  • Re:It's still fair (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:10PM (#10900470)
    As long as you can learn how the copy protection works before buying, you cant complain. And they are doing the right thing in protecting their product.

    And I think, in a year or so, theyll probably release a patch for the CD and online checks to make life easier for the modders.

    Its just that the first 3-4 months after a game is released is when they make something like 90% of the sales, and they have to fight very hard these first months or the profilation of cracked versions may deflate the sales.
    HL2 will probably sell pretty well in any case, but generally speaking, gamecompanies must fight piracy hard as hell during the first months.
  • Re:What? (Score:1, Informative)

    by m3j00 ( 606453 ) <meeyou@gmail.cDEGASom minus painter> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:11PM (#10900472)
    Except...these people didn't actually buy the product, did they? No, they stole it. I don't see what the problem is.

    RTFA much? Some people that _did_ buy it but tried to use a NOCD crack so they don't have to disc-swap all the time are now banned.
  • Re:Future Install? (Score:3, Informative)

    by justzisguy ( 573704 ) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:11PM (#10900482)
    If they are a responsible company, they should release a patch in a couple years, once they are no longer gaining revenue for the product. Intuit did something similar with Turbo Tax.
  • Re:The $100 Question (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:12PM (#10900491)
    Valve is not owned by Vivendi. Valve was stuck in a 3 game deal with Sierra. Sierra was bought by Vivdeni, ergo Valve is in a 3 game deal with VUGames.

    I don't know the details, but Vivendi did not acknowledge Counter-strike as the second title because it was only a mod.
    Title 1: Half-life
    Title 2: Condition Zero (I believe)
    Title 3: Half-life 2

    Vavle is free and clear now.

    What happens in the future, shall be interesting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:14PM (#10900529)
    Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel:


    Also the latest Nero has Nero DriveImage which does the same.
  • Re:CD hack? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:17PM (#10900574)
    Too bad PC users don't also have this [disc images]option

    Actually, PC people do have this option using software such as Alcohol or Daemon Tools (which is free for private use). This is why the newer CD checks refuse to allow you to run if you have these programs installed. In fact, I've heard of cases where the game refuses to run if you have Nero, a very popular CD/DVD burning package and rumors of games which won't work if you have a burner attached. If the Mac ever takes off, you can kiss your disc images goodbye or find a www.MacGameCopyWorld.com.

  • by MoFoQ ( 584566 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:20PM (#10900632)
    if activation is required, then why annoy end-users, aka the source of cash-flow for future projects with an ineffective method of protection such as SecuROM. Hell, a majority of those so-called protection schemes are the cause of so many incompatibilities and game crashes.

    Besides, it's probably for Valve for them to drop SecuROM as it's pointless and it costs them money (I believe a percentage of their profits is taken for it's use). If activation is required, why bother and pay for a third-party protection scheme when your in-house developed method works especially when the third-party method can annoy users AND potentially cause bugs?

    Annoying loyal, paying customers is like the BestBuy economics; it'll hurt you in the long run more than it'll help you in any parallel universe.
  • Re:michael: STFU (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:22PM (#10900660)
    > 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;

    No, actually what you wrote is the stupidest thing you've read on /. in a long time.

    The vast majority of the population have no clue about how digital restriction management can be used to take away something that they think they own. Whether they "stole" it or not does not matter here.

    What matters is that more than 50,000 people just learned that their continued use of a product that they thought they owned (after all, they have posession of it, like a car) is in constant jeopordy of someone pressing the big red stop button.

    Should Valve go under and their steam network be turned off, all legit purchasers of half-life2 will be in the exact same situation that these suspected pirates are today. People who paid for divx dvds are in the same boat already, they just weren't widespread enough for the lesson to make an impact.

    Maybe this time the lesson will have an impact, especially on the teenagers of today who will be the ones who have to live in the DRM-ruled world the copyright cartel envisions. Maybe the fact that people have paid money for something that could disappear in an instant leaving them no recourse, will sink in enough on these kids that they will decide that the next product, be it music from the iTunes store or WMV-HD DVDs with "phone-home" DRM or the entire MS "Trusted Computing" baloney is not worth their money.

    A free market requires education and Michael's comment is exactly the kind of education that the masses need to avoid a DRM-ruled world.
  • by shuz ( 706678 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:23PM (#10900673) Homepage Journal
    In Minnesota you have 3 days to return any item, in it original purchased condition, to the place of purchase and recieve a 100% refund. One exception to this rule that I know of opened software cannot be returned in Minnesota under any circumstances.
  • Valve pissed me off (Score:2, Informative)

    by screwdriver ( 691980 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:25PM (#10900698)
    I bought my copy through steam and now I have to connect to steam every time I want to play. If their server is down or my net connection dies then I can't play. This is complete BS! There are pirated copies of the game in circulation which indicates that their copy protection is nothing more than a major PITA to their customers. I'm sure I am not alone in thinking that I should not have to ask mommy (i.e. their game servers) permission to play a game I own! What if this sort of activation scheme extends beyond games? Imagine having to ask Microsoft if you can use your computer each time you boot it. As soon as I can get a crack for this nonsense, I will.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dorothy 86 ( 677356 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:29PM (#10900759) Homepage
    No, they won't, and they don't have to.

    Will Valve pay me for the time i spent in going out and buying their product?

    Will the grocer give you a discount because you had to go to the trouble of getting to the store?

    How about for the hassle of sending it back and getting my money?

    Yeah, a phone call and a stamp are a big hassle.... you're just lazy

    How about for the time i spent reading the whole EULA?

    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)?

    uhm... yes... they should pay you for reading the document that tells you what the rules are for using their property... and the government should pay you to read the entire governiing document for wherever you may live

    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, that's just idiocy on your part if you do such a thing

    No, they won't pay you for these things... but there is no reason for them too... get it, read the EULA if you wish, and then return it if you don't like it... the return process will probably take no more than 30 minutes, if you have to wait a long time and then have to go buy the necessary stamps or whatever. It's been this way for a long time... only now you actually have to play by the rules.

  • Re:CD hack? (Score:3, Informative)

    by cyxxon ( 773198 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:30PM (#10900765) Homepage

    I had read that as well, but at least here in Germany with a German retail version and a Steam download, it did not work.

    I bought the silver package via Steam, and a friend of mine bought the regular retail edition here in a store. When he found out about the DVD check he was quite pissed, since he had already contemplated buying via my credit card off Steam. We just have had to wait till Valve unbanned my card (they ban it for further purchases from Steam after a successful purchase for security reasons, and you have to use a web form to re-enable it). He was impatient, did not care for the goodies as much or whatever, he decided to go retail.

    Just today we tried it all. He uninstalled and redownloaded CS:S (we are on a T1 in our office and the admins), he ftp'ed all the files from my machine, same thing - still a cd check. He manually searched for registry keys, all clear, no luck.

    So, we really wanted to know now, and he logged in on my machine. Remember: my machine had never seen a HL1 or HL2 CD/DVD in its life, only Steam and downloads and my account. He entered his account information, waited a second, double-clicked CS:S in the games list, and was asked to instert a disc.

    So they actually do have some way of tracking if you have to have a disc in the drive, I am still urging him to contact Valve about it, maybe they have something to say. They always said if you redownloaded it would be no problem.

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

    by realdpk ( 116490 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:31PM (#10900791) Homepage Journal
    "And yes, the box DOES state that you have to have a working account on their Steam network."

    This is a lie. It says you have to have an Internet connection.
  • by DroopyStonx ( 683090 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:36PM (#10900857)
    Yep, got my copy off alt.binaries.cd.image.games.

    Works perfectly!

    It's funny how people are acting like this is THE end of pirating. Sorry, the data is on the CD, therefore, it can be used and copied no matter what restrictions you think may curb it!

    Us smart ones know where to look ;)
  • Re:CD hack? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hyphz ( 179185 ) * on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:36PM (#10900860)
    > But instead, people have the attitude that
    > they have the RIGHT to have something that
    > they have not paid for.

    Let me clarify something here.

    I bought HL2 via Steam. I now have a copy of activated, legal HL2 on my machine. It doesn't need a CD to run (which is good, because since I bought via Steam, I don't have one)

    Now those people who went and bought the CD had to do the Steam activation *and* put the CD in the drive.

    Arguing that they're "stealing" and "ripping off Valve" by CD-cracking the retail version ignores the fact that Valve are quite happy for people to play with the online activation only, since Steam purchasers are doing just that.

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

    by WhatAmIDoingHere ( 742870 ) * <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:36PM (#10900865) Homepage
    Or contact your state's AG. Most of them have some kind of fetish for kicking the asses of large companies.
  • by Eric Savage ( 28245 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:50PM (#10901106) Homepage
    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.

    IANAL, but one of the first things taught in Business Law 101 is how basic contracts work. There is no requirement to offer, accept, or negotiate a contract. If I make an offer, you are certainly allowed to make a counter-offer (what I assume you mean by negotiating) but now my original offer is void. Also signing is not required for contracts, only certain types of contracts.

    If you buy a piece of software, and it says that you agree to whatever terms by opening it (and purchasing it, which you have already done), then the deal is complete when you open it. If the terms are not available before you open it, obviously nothing is binding. These days its more often done as part of the installation. If you change the terms of a lease and send it back, you are correct that they do not have to accept it, but they also don't have to ever talk to you again (or accept a subsequent unmodified lease that you send them, since its now void).
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:3, Informative)

    by WhatAmIDoingHere ( 742870 ) * <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:53PM (#10901153) Homepage
    That's not what I said at all, try going back and reading the comments.

    I said that if you disagree with the EULA, and Valve refuses to return your purchase price, to contact the AG.

    Nowhere was I defending the people who downloaded the game without paying for it first.

    And it's not theft, it's copyright infringement.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:53PM (#10901158)
    The nice Unreal people actually released their own "no CD" patch for UT2004. AND you can use more than one copy on your subnet, and still play online (eg to show a friend how great it is). They figure that if you want to play it online, you'll pay for it. One sale, one licence key, one online experience, simple as that.

    I admit it is a little harder for HalfLife as it is a more single-player oriented game. However regardless of the rights and wrongs of EULAs, I want a game I can come back to in a year and still play without having to ask permission to do so. I will not be buying HalfLife.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Devalia ( 581422 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:58PM (#10901218)
    Here in the UK your contract is with the seller and not the manufacturer. Its up to them to sort out
  • Re:CD hack? (Score:2, Informative)

    by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @02:59PM (#10901243) Homepage

    Too bad PC users don't also have this option.

    I think you should have said WINDOWS users. Lots of PC users have this option and they read slashdot. What you are seeing on your Mac is just a happy user interface on top of the good old fashioned Unix concept of mounting a raw image as a filesystem. Not all PC users are Windows users.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:01PM (#10901274)
    Some people don't seem to understand what Valve did.

    Valve released a cd key to the public, through warez forums.

    Valve took note of all STEAM accounts trying to register HL2 with that cd key, if the user tried to circumvent the activation process.

    All accounts (20,000) that Valve recorded were disabled.

    Many people tried to use the fake cd key on their normal accounts, and now cannot play their original HL/DOD/CS1.6/mods.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Invulnerable Bede ( 831365 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:02PM (#10901293)
    Jesus Fricking Christ, what is wrong with (some of) you people? It is not like you have to get humped by a bullsquid every time you want to play HL2. You get it through Steam (giving Vivendi the proverbial finger), you activate it (once), then you put Steam Client into Offline Mode and then you play the goddamned game without ever having to log on to Steam again. Sheesh.

    Plus, when your HL2-playing OS of choice dies on you or something, you can just copy the Steam directory from previous installation to the next one and you're good to go. No backup, reinstall, redownload (*shudder*) required.
  • Re:CD hack? (Score:3, Informative)

    by lidocaineus ( 661282 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:03PM (#10901300)
    Actually, you can use daemon tools [daemon-tools.cc] to achieve a similar mode of operation on a PC. While it's not integrated into the system, the creators of the program made if *exactly* for this situation, and it makes things easier even if companies integrate obnoxious anti-cd duplication protection schemes (RPMS, etc). I like the mac's simplicity, but since I hardly play games on my powerbook, I'm not quite sure how well it works with games/without the CD (apparently quite well). Anyway, I recommend d-tools if you like to horde huge libraries of CDs on a file server on your network (including games).
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

    by SScorpio ( 595836 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:04PM (#10901328)
    That isn't how Steam works, there won't be stolen cd keys like what happened with the original half-life.

    Half-life 2 uses a MMO style activation where you create an account and enter your key. One account, one key. Once a key is registered to an account is cannot be used on any other accounts. The only thing that could possibly happen people getting their steam accounts hacked.

    I suspect the people complaining fall into one of two catagories. They purchased the retail game and got pissed that they had to insert the CD everytime they started it while people who bought it over Steam don't so they downloaded a nocd crack.

    Somebody bought it retail and also installed it at their friends house and had their friend login with their Steam account and used a nocd crack to allow their friend to also play.

    In the first case it sucks to be them as they got screwed over by Vivendi in needing to use authenicate with a CD, and felt screwed over that online purchases didn't need this.

    For the second case they were committing piracy, and well it really sucks to be them, but they were pirating something with activation. They took the risk and lost.

  • Re:TurboTax (Score:5, Informative)

    by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:08PM (#10901364)
    Save yourself now.
    Either purchase or steal the full version of Adobe Acrobat, or any other software that allows you to print PDF's.

    All of my tax returns get printed to PDF's then to paper as nessecary. I don't normally keep the paper copies around for more than a year, but it's easy to keep an encrypted zip file contianing those precious documents.

    People laugh at PDF's but they are really convient, and can be read over long periods of time without dealing with MSFT's change the format per minor version games.
  • by Qrlx ( 258924 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:10PM (#10901407) Homepage Journal
    Yes, you have to install Steam to run HL2.

    Yes, steam allows you to install the game onto more than one computer.

    Yes, you can only play on one computer at a time.

    Think of it as a Microsoft Passport for online gaming.

    When you log into Steam you create a unique account, and you enter the CD keys for HL2 or Coutnerstrike or whatever. Then, when you go to the cybercafe or what have you, and log onto Steam there, you have access to all the tiles you've registered CD keys for.

    In some ways it's a great idea, in other ways it's not so great. For instance, you can buy HL2 right from Valve over the Steam thingie. The downside of this is the time it takes to download 5 CDs worth of content. As many people are complaining, it really messes up the pacing of the game if you get to play for a few minutes, then have to take a break while the next batch of content loads.

    But the bright side is: No Vivendi. No need for bricks and mortar. Pure electronic publishing. Of course for the bright side to really shine you'd think they would charge maybe $10 or $20 less since surely they save that much by cutting out the middleman...

    Anyway, I own the original Half-Life and I tried playing it on Steam. (This was after completely installing the full 5 CDs of Half Life Platinum Pack or whatever.) Now, the annoying thing was... loading content. Even on the dang train ride in the beginning of the game, it had to pause and download the next level. I said, this is dumb, I have the CDs, why is it downloading stuff? So I ditched Steam and played the Old-Fashioned Way. Though it's a mess, I'm not sure if I was playing the most up-to-date HL because it seems like some of the patches are steam-only... but I'm not gonna download a whole game via Steam when I've just installed it all on my hard drive and Steam is too dumb to use the files I already have. (Checksum anyone?)

    From what I can tell the most benefit comes from Steam if you are a big Counterstrike player and you go to lots of cybercafes and are such a junky that you play at work, grandma's house, etc. You buy the game once and when you log into Steam it doesn't matter if you're at the computer lab or at home or wherever.

    For the average home user, who plays games on one PC at home, steam doesn't really offer a lot, and the fact that it automatically starts and hangs out in the System Notification Area when you boot is kind of insulting as well.

    Just my two cents. Two cents I still have, since I am playing the warez version of Half-Life 2. :)

    Oops, I just realized my Steam account is the same name as my Slashdot account. Oh well, not like I was planning on using Steam anyways. ;)
  • Left out text (Score:2, Informative)

    by dbacher ( 804594 ) <dave.bacher@earthlink.net> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:11PM (#10901421) Homepage
    From the article:
    Yesterday, Valve disabled approximately 20,000 Steam accounts which had been used to try to access Half-Life 2 without purchasing it. The method used was extremely easy for Valve to trace and confirm, and so there is no question that the accounts disabled were used to try and illegally obtain Half-Life 2.

    Accounts also may be closed due to fraudulent activity in an attempt to obtain additional products for your Steam Account. This includes Credit Card fraud, theft of accounts you do not own and using cracked versions of Valve games.


    There is a direct link to what to do if you believe they made an error, etc.

    I think this part of the message is vitally important, compared to the other piece, because people are going "oh I applied a no-cd patch, etc."

    Note that the steam agreement does say you won't alter the software. Note you can also get a no-cd patch (as other posts have been saying) by simply uninstalling the game, and then running it via Steam.

    And note, when you install a Steam game from CD, it doesn't necessarily copy the entire CD (or CDs) into the cache. When you play the game over Steam, the steam title has the option of loading files from the CD that aren't present in Steam's cache (and AFAIK there's no way to turn this option off from the steam client).

    This "might" be why one of the CDs has to be in the drive, because it might be reading an index (I've not licensed Steam to develop games, just investigated licensing it, and that's one of the features in the list).
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:23PM (#10901592) Journal
    As much as Microsoft and the other big software companies would like you to believe, EULA's are non legally binding documents so in essence you did purchase the product.

    You need a notary to witness you sign it or a laywer present for a real contract document.

    Unless you specifically sign the document in writing with a notary or Lawyer present as a witness its non valid.

    No one has ever took a software company to court over this its currently a gray area.

    Big businesses who buy corporate licenses actually have lawyers and notaries present so the licenses there are valid.

    Just because the CD is copyrighted does not mean you own your purchase.

    Most places like CompUSA will charge you a 15% restocking fee or will refuse to let you return it since the package is opened.

    You may want to read the news with retailers refusing returns if you return items frequently. That is another penalty that will happen as a result.

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

    by Bullet-Dodger ( 630107 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:28PM (#10901663)
    No, you're wrong and you don't understand what the GPL is. Copyright doesn't come into it until you copy something. You don't need to agree to a license to read a book you bought, or listen to a CD. First sale doctrine.

    And for the last time you do not have to agree to the GPL to use GPLed software. The GPL is a license to distribute the software. It gives you something over and above the rights you already have with copyright, as opposed to EULAs, which take some away.

    If the GPL were invalid SCO would still have every right to use the software themselves, just not to distribute it.

  • by -kertrats- ( 718219 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @03:58PM (#10902109) Journal
    I live in Minnesota, and you actually can return opened software here, but you must trade it in for a new copy of the same product; no cash refunds.
  • Re:TurboTax (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:18PM (#10902388)
    In Window, just create a fake postscript printer that prints to a file, and you can view and print the document using any postscript viewing program, such as ghostscript.
  • by stanmann ( 602645 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:22PM (#10902418) Journal
    Not so, I bought diablo 1 when it broke $10, Diablo 2 when it broke $10, LoD when it broke $15(on sale), Everquest evolution when it broke 20, Everquest GoD when it broke 10,Wolfenstein 3d when it broke 15, HL1(platinum/gold/whatever) when it broke 30.

    NOTE: Some of these games I played before I bought them some I did not.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:1, Informative)

    by B'Trey ( 111263 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @04:56PM (#10902881)
    nd yes, the box DOES state that you have to have a working account on their Steam network.

    I don't know about this. I do know that they don't seem particularly concerned with making information available. I went to Steam yesterday following the Slashdot story on the Half-Life review.

    I don't know jack about Steam except that you have to have an account to play Half-Life and you can download the game via the service. I went to the site because I had some questions about how it worked:

    If I download the game and my hard drive crashes, can I reinstall it via Steam to a different hard drive? Can I install it to more than one computer if I only play one at a time (ie my desktop machine and my laptop)? Does it cost anything to have a Steam account other than the initial cost of the game? etc, etc.

    Pretty straitforward questions that are almost certainly Frequently Asked. You'd think that a company selling a product would have some information on their site about it. Not only isn't there any information on what Steam is or how it works, there's no information on how to contact the company to get answers. There is a set of forums, but there's no indication that anyone from the company reads the forums.

    If they're not concerned about having me as a customer, then I'm not concerned about it either.
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:2, Informative)

    by drmancini ( 712059 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @05:26PM (#10903259) Homepage
    well ... try your luck here [custhelp.com] or see the complete FAQ here [custhelp.com]...
  • Re:You're wrong. (Score:3, Informative)

    by zurab ( 188064 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @05:31PM (#10903320)
    The point I was making is not about what you said here, but about the contracts involved and made during the sales transaction. If you want to make your car analogy, fine - then you cannot buy a used car and at a later point the seller tells you (via the "EULA") that you cannot use your newly purchased car unless you agree to give a ride to the seller's sister to and from work twice a day. Well, unless you expressly agreed to do so during the purchase, it cannot be imposed on you afterwards.

    Indeed if the seller wanted to impose additional restrictions or a new agreement after the sales transaction they would also have to offer new consideration in return; while the buyer would have to have an option to decline the new consideration and simply be stuck with what they agreed to purchase originally.

    i.e. if you wanted to drive the seller's sister twice a day out of goodness of your heart - you could do so but it would not be a legal contract between you and the seller. If you additionally agreed with the seller to drive the seller's sister to work for $35 a day (payable to you) - then that's a consideration from the seller that will likely constitute to a valid contract. But by no means does the seller have an authority to single-handedly impose on you that you have to drive his sister or you cannot use the car you just purchased. The contract law doesn't work that way.

    Regarding what you said - of course, Valve or anyone is free to require and include any activation or copy protection they want in their products - nobody is arguing that - it's just that it cannot be a violation of any EULA if some buyers did not follow those activation rules; simply because unless that EULA provided any additional consideration it cannot be considered a valid contract.

    Disclaimer: IANAL.
  • Re:TurboTax (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @06:04PM (#10903633)

    PDF Creator [sourceforge.net] will do a nice job converting to PDFs, it will be just like using a printer. Set up is easy and the price is right (its free).

    You can also tweak a PS printer, Ghostscript, and Ghostview to do a kick-ass job, converting to PDFs. If properly configured, you can get better compresion levels compared to Adobe's Acrobat.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @06:07PM (#10903652)
    That is what disables the steam account. That is what caused this story, that is the big deal.
  • by spoco2 ( 322835 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @06:23PM (#10903848)
    Did you even try and look for these answers? I had exactly the same ones and found them out VERY QUICKLY:

    "If I download the game and my hard drive crashes, can I reinstall it via Steam to a different hard drive?"
    Yes: I want to move my Steam installation to a different disk or computer, how can I do this? [custhelp.com]

    "Can I install it to more than one computer if I only play one at a time (ie my desktop machine and my laptop)?"
    Yes: Can I use my Steam account on other computers? [custhelp.com]

    "Does it cost anything to have a Steam account other than the initial cost of the game?"
    No: " Is Steam really free? [custhelp.com]

    At least try and find these things before bitching the information is not available... that took me longer to cut and past the hrefs than it did to find those answers....

    All you had to do was go to Support [custhelp.com] and type your question. I've had no problem with downloading all the Steam content onto my computer, then copying it over to my brothers (he only has dial up)... and that was it. He now has and is playing HL2, and when he is done with it, I just fire up Steam and away I go... it's already there for me to play. Excellent stuff!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @06:49PM (#10904095)
    And yet I play the game without any STUT-STUT-STUT-STUT-STUTtering, or magical slowdowns, or other problems plaguing everyone. Why? Because I don't have the bleeding edge drivers and bleeding edge 3D card. I have a GeForce 4 Ti4800. And it plays BEAUTIFULLY.

    The problem isn't that they didn't catch it, it's that it never occurred with the testing machines that they were using. Given all the time they've spent saying "it's not done till its perfect" that they would let something as egregious as this be overlooked intentionally in a rush for sales? Something they would have known about for a good year and had good time to fix?
  • Re:The $100 Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lawbeefaroni ( 246892 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @06:57PM (#10904197) Homepage
    The problem here is that Valve's Steam "service" is a vital part of the product. It might not be necessary in theory, but they made it so in practice. So now every time you fire up HL2 or play CS:Source you're accessing their service. You're accessing your non-transferable account on steam. They are not obligated to provide this service to anyone not party to the original license (the first buyer).
  • Re: You're wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @07:42PM (#10904667) Journal
    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.
    No. You own a copy of the software, exactly the same as if you own a copy of a book. You don't have to believe me or anyone else on the matter. Check out for yourself how the appeals court for Valve's area has ruled that software purchase it is a sale, not a licence, even with the EULA. [uscourts.gov]

    Specifically, from their court ruling,

    Because we look to the economic realities of the agreement, the fact that the agreement labels itself a "license" and calls the payments "royalties," both terms that arguably imply periodic payment for the use rather than sale of technology, does not control our analysis. .... Other courts have reached the same conclusion: software is sold and not licensed. .... In particular, the following factors require a finding that distributing software under licenses transfers individual copy ownership: temporally unlimited possession, absence of time limits on copy possession, pricing and payment schemes that are unitary not serial, licenses under which subsequent transfer is neither prohibited nor conditioned on obtaining the licensor's prior approval (only subject to a prohibition against rental and a requirement that any transfer be of the entity), and licenses under which the use restrictions principal purpose is to protect intangible copyrightable subject matter, and not to preserve property interests in individual program copies.

    So unless Valve lawyers are going to try to challenge the district appeals court, The individual own that copy. I can smell the lawsuits in the works.


"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen