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Valve Wins Summary Judgment Against Vivendi

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the retaining-rights-where-they-should-be-retained dept.

The Courts 36

ShamusMcGee writes "Valve today announced the U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle, WA granted its motion for summary judgment on the matters of Cyber Café Rights and Contractual Limitation of Liability in its copyright infringement suit with Sierra/Vivendi Universal Games." From the judgement: "...based on the undisputed facts and applicable law, Sierra/Vivendi, and their affiliates, are not authorized to distribute (directly or indirectly) Valve games through cyber-cafés to end-users for pay-for-play activities pursuant to the parties' 2001 Agreement."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953236)

fp im am a troll - yeay
had to do it once, wolnt again

what does this mean? (2, Insightful)

luvbassonacid (776402) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953241)

how is this significant? not trolling... rather im encouraging the flow of meaningful conversation :)

Re:what does this mean? (2, Informative)

Datasage (214357) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953297)

As far as i can tell its not. The legal judgement is over cyber cafe distribution. Basically it states that valve cant be cut out of any cyber cafe distribtion deal.

Re:what does this mean? (5, Informative)

fireduck (197000) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953337)

the backstory can be found here [] . Valve was suing Sierra because they were distributing HL to cyber-cafes, seemingly w/o Valve's authorization. sounds like cyber-cafes weren't in Sierra's distribution pervue, and Valve was annoyed that their games were given away (?) to cafes.

Not sure what this means, except Valve has control over their games in cyber-cafes now. Given their community friendly stance, I don't see this as a bad thing (although if Sierra was just giving the game away previously, I don't see that as bad for the community either.)

Re:what does this mean? (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953667)

Friendly stance?

Aren't they requiring subscriptions to Cafe's now, not simply purchases of the game?

Re:what does this mean? (2, Informative)

Tobias Luetke (707936) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953778)

Caffes pay 10$ a month per computer for steam. Other than blizzard games ( which are 5k per year for all their games on up to 20 computers ) and ea games ( 850$ per year license for all ea games ) other games just require buying them.

Re:what does this mean? (1)

ttldkns (737309) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954063)

compare like with like, please!!

your fugures mean valve are charging $2400 per year for 20 machines. About half of blizzard but its more than your EA figure.

Re:what does this mean? (2, Insightful)

realdpk (116490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954147)

?? Community friendly? Have you tried Steam yet? It's about the most unfriendly app I've seen.

Re:what does this mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954240)

+1 Funny but sadly true

Re:what does this mean? (2, Informative)

unclethursday (664807) | more than 9 years ago | (#10961025)

Given their community friendly stance

Right, which is why Valve has helped out in expanding the community by wanting millions upon millions of dollars in licensing fees in order for someone to license Half-Life for Mac, right?

Valve is only 'community friendly' because without those user made mods, no one would still care about Half-Life this long after its release. Half-Life was semi-popular, and a decent game, but it wasn't until a small team of users made a little teensy mod called Counter-Strike that Half-Life really took off. Team Fortress Classic was popular for a while, but when Counter-Strike really hit, it completely took over the Half-Life onlne world.

Seriously, almost no one plays Half-Life itself, but Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat and such are still popular.

Valve pretty much owes its popularity to the community, not from their actual Half-Life game, which is basically a Quake 1 engine game with some Quake 2 features hacked in with a pretty decent story.

Without the community making those mods, no one would have cared about Half-Life enough to have made Half-Life 2 possible this long after the original.

Re:what does this mean? (4, Interesting)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953381)

As sebastard on Evil Avatar [] pointed out, cybercafes are a multi-billion dollar business overseas. Vivendi took a different approach to selling things like Counterstrike to these cybercafe owners (Valve uses Steam and a play-for-play approach).

I suspect that Vivendi will be paying Valve a fair bit of money in the near future.

This battle is only the first... (1, Interesting)

mconeone (765767) | more than 9 years ago | (#10957652)

Valve & Vivendi are in another legal battle concerning the sale of HL2 on Steam. Apparently the deal was inked back when Steam was still in beta, and Valve told Vivendi that they didn't expect steam sales to even come close to retail sales. However, with Valve's early release of Counter-Strike Source bundled with a to-be-released copy of HL2, and the midnight activation on release day, Valve has sold tons of copies of HL2 on Steam. Vivendi is suing Valve for misleading them on steam sales, causing them to agree to the contract under false assumptions. However, there was no specific clause limiting steam sales in any way. This is much different that the one in the article as Vivendi explicitly broke a clause in the contract, whereas in this one Valve did not.

Look at this case as the first blow in a legal battle... The next of which is due in court by December 31st.

Cyber cafes in general (3, Insightful)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953331)

Have been causing a stirr, they were actually outlawed in Greece I heard, and then re-instated - too many kids playing games!

I say the distributors could sell licenses to the cafes themselves... this seems to be a funny way of capturing a wierd stake... valve shafted thier publishers, almost making sure they had an escape plan... or thier publishers are greedily holding onto something that isn't thiers.

Publishing will not go away, but become a gift based medium, an 'order nice boxed set (collectors edition) for gifts.

Anyway, In Korea only old people use pay-per-play

Re:Cyber cafes in general (2, Informative)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954013)

I believe the whole thing about games being banned in Greece was a step to curb illegal gambling, and the law passed included pretty much any type of video game. But it was later modified in order to just include gambling games, not all games.

Re:Cyber cafes in general (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956672)

Come on now, did you really think Greece would pull off a successful video game ban? They couldn't figure out how to market the olympics or build a stadium properly. Enough said.

A good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953341)

Well, a contract is a contract, but is limitation of distribution such a good thing in the larger scheme of things?

Re:A good thing? (4, Interesting)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953421)

It is a good thing when it comes to contracts. We have been able to keep quite a few people employed by selling rights to 3rd parties to distribute in limited geographies we won't go to anyhow. For example, someone wants to sell equipment in Turkey, we don't have any business or foothold there, it'd cost a lot for us to even try. We do have partners however who live there and can do business profitably, they just need our product to sell. More power to them, but they better not sell to anyone else. Thus limitation is a good thing. In this particular case it is good too, Valve made the game, they own it, not the publisher. The publisher in this case was given the right to sell the game to a specific market. Vivendi needed to be smacked for the old fashioned belief that they simply own anything they are chosen to publish. Bad doggie.

Yeehaw (2, Insightful)

TychoCelchuuu (835690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953435)

I suspect I will be one of the few people happy about this; most are going to see it as corporate suits fighting for every last penny at the expense of the gamers. Oh well. I'd rather Valve have control over the Cyber Cafes than Vivendi.

Good. (3, Insightful)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953484)

Maybe now cafes will have to carry games other than fucking Counterstrike.

Re:Good. (0)

kusanagi374 (776658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953579)

Well... In Korea, only old people play counterstrike

Young people play MMORPG kekek ^_^

How this affects in the long run (1, Insightful)

TJ_Phazerhacki (520002) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953699)

Most people who would even bother to read this post are well aware of the longstanding issues between publishers and programmers - specifically the catfight between Valve and Vivendi. Well, I for one am glad to see this judgement swing in favor of the Designers. Vivendi obviously overstepped its bounds, and needed to lose this.

Now the real question - How will pubs treat Game Designers in the future? If the pendulum swings too far to the money (Pubs), many smaller designers will never see the light of day - the dominating control they have exerted on them will drive them out of the business. I personally would love to see more systems like Steam - Vivendi is scared stiff of it, and for good reason. The lack of need for physical stores could do to the corporate game model what online shopping has done for some aspects of retail. When they realize selling a CD for 50$ is simply unnaceptable, the cream of the crop will rise, and we will see more, good, and most importantly, new game ideas. No more rehashes, no more annual updates for the sake of pushing product - If you want to make money, you need to make a good game. Period.

$50 for a cd?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10953845)

When they realize selling a CD for 50$ is simply unnaceptable, the cream of the crop will rise, and we will see more, good, and most importantly, new game ideas.
How about $49.95 for a license to play a game which could be taken away at a moments notice? Yeah that sounds much better.

Re:$50 for a cd?? (1)

Ahnteis (746045) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954291)

You're talking about MMORPG's then?
Or are you whining about the EULA update (which no one has actually posted -- instead referring to a summary translated from some non-English site)?

Re:$50 for a cd?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956165)

No, I'm talking about Valve, Steam, and Half-Life 2.

Re:How this affects in the long run (1)

realdpk (116490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954171)

Steam is not the first method of downloading games. It might be one of the first to do so in the background, but there are plenty of examples of people using web servers to distribute their games, even commercial paid-for ones.

Dunno why Vivendi would be scared of Steam in particular, considering it is awful tripe. Maybe they're more afraid that Valve has enough money to self-publish? Publishing is a lot more than just distribution.

Re:How this affects in the long run (1)

Torgo's Pizza (547926) | more than 9 years ago | (#10957330)

While sell a perfectly acceptable version for $50 when a bloated one can be downloaded at $89. Don't be drinking the Steam Kool-Aid just yet my friend. There are many advantages that the game box has over the downloaded version. What is truly needed is a dual-system where the consumer has a choice.

Many are touting that Steam is the new savior of content delivery. If you look closely at the economics, there are hidden costs involved (most of which deal with the costs of Valve become their own developer) and duplicity of effort. Steam is only a band-aid, not a cure.

Steam + Viviendi = $50, Steam - Viviendi = ?? (2, Insightful)

Chillybott (835894) | more than 9 years ago | (#10953969)

With this lawsuit result, I would imagine that Valve and Viviendi may be going their separate ways in the future. What would this mean for the gamer?

Will Steam allow Valve to pretty much be its own publisher? Think about the fact that Viviendi is a middleman, delivering the packaged game to those of us who bought the actual box and CDs.

Do those of us who purchased via Steam actually seen any benefit at all from Valve's relationship with Viviendi? I don't think so, all we saw was a publishing house dictated price. A price that included overhead costs for box and CD printing (and design etc) that we will never see.

I think it'll be interesting to see if this suit brings Valve to a pub-less distribution method, and if we as gaming consumers will see the cost benefit when the middleman is officially eliminated.

Re:Steam + Viviendi = $50, Steam - Viviendi = ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954121)

uh sorry to break it to you but publishers aren't just middleman in most game companies today. They front the production costs for most developers to make their games. Without a lot of publisher funding, a lot of games would have stayed on the drawing board.

Re:Steam + Viviendi = $50, Steam - Viviendi = ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10954826)

But we're talking about Valve, here. They're self-funded.

Re:Steam + Viviendi = $50, Steam - Viviendi = ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10956259)

yeah but valve had half-life to thank for that, a game which was published by Sierra, which is now owned by Vivendi. Every games company today, because of the movie like productions that are going into making games today, has to start somewhere to gain some capital to produce their first major project, and unless the team of developers are lucky enough to have enough cash between to make it a go, you need publishers. And while there is a valid argument that publishers are just greedy corporate a-holes like Vivendi, without them, for e.g. Eidos, we might not have gotten games like Soul Reaver, Hitman, Tomb Raider etc.. because the developers didn't start out as millionaires, they needed cash to make their games. Publishers provide that opportunity.

Re:Steam + Viviendi = $50, Steam - Viviendi = ?? (1)

mconeone (765767) | more than 9 years ago | (#10957177)

In addition, HL2 is $50 on Steam because the contract stated that Valve could sell HL2 for no less than retail. Expect future games to be cheaper though.

Valve's Cyber Cafe 'Agreement' (2, Interesting)

SilverThorn (133151) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954053)

After talking w/ a Valve sales partner, the cyber cafe agreement is that of a pay per computer agreement for the Steam application.

This is where the fun part comes out of it:
  • It depends where you live for licensing rights to use the Steam application and its games.
  • There is also a minimum of 10 computers that must be signed up for using Valve's Steam application.
After a quick inquiry, my rate (for living on the East Coast) was $10/per machine per month ($100/month for 10 computers -- quick math for you non-geeks). Comes out to around $1200 per year.

Noted that some places this would be a decent deal expecially if you have a large crowd of players, but if you are in a small town (like where I am), forget having any of Valve's Steam-based games if it means just breaking even on a per month basis.

-- M

Re:Valve's Cyber Cafe 'Agreement' (1)

SilverThorn (133151) | more than 9 years ago | (#10954071)

Here is a copy of the sales quote price:

All commercial licensing of Valve software is done directly with Valve Corporation. The Valve Cybercafe Program costs $10USD per month per computer. You will need to maintain an active subscription for a minimum of 10 licensed seats to participate in the program. Subscription fees are due on a quarterly basis, however, with the advance purchase of a one-year subscription, café owners will receive a 10% discount.

You do not have to purchase the underlying products at retail. Rather, the software will be made accessible to you by Valve. The licensing fees entitle you to use fully licensed versions of products in the Valve Cybercafé Program in your cyber café subject to the terms of the Steam Subscriber Agreement and the Subscription Terms for Licensed Cybercafe Operators which can be found at ber_agreement.

Products currently in the cyber café program are:

Counter-Strike Counter-Strike:Condition Zero
Day of Defeat Ricochet
Half-Life Deathmatch Half-Life
Team Fortress Classic Deathmatch Classic
Half-Life 2

Day of Defeat:Source (when released)


Valve will provide you with software and product keys for each subscription you have acquired through the program. Valve may deliver new products or updates to you automatically when released in the Valve Cybercafe Program.

Valve's Cybercafé program includes a Café Administration Server (CAS) which allows cafés to manage their licenses on a concurrent user basis which means you only need enough licenses to cover your peak user volume. The CAS also allows for local updating of individual computers on a café's local area network (reducing bandwidth needs for updates), and will allow individual users with personal Steam accounts to access their account on any computer station located at a cybercafé site.

Valve's Cybercafé Program also assists members with banned or stolen product keys. We understand that it is sometimes difficult to prevent users from misusing your computers or gaining access to the registry and taking the product keys. To help combat this problem, cafés in the program can contact Valve to have their systems "un-banned" and/or to receive a new set of product keys. Old product keys may be quickly turned off in order to prevent unauthorized use.

Re:Valve's Cyber Cafe 'Agreement' (1)

jack0 (833713) | more than 9 years ago | (#10958937)

I aggree! However, may break even??
Hl, Hl2, Counter-Strike, not worth it!!
Our cafe will not pay that price!
Steam, is more trouble than it's worth.
Valve won't pay my time trying to keep it working, will they ;)

Re:Valve's Cyber Cafe 'Agreement' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10961918)

Your monthly rate is $10 per machine for access to the Valve games, and you can't cover this with the income from the machines?

I don't what know kind of rates you have, but around here it's about $5-10 per hour for a P4 with good graphics. I'm inclined to think that having Valves games available would generate _way_ more than one paid hour per seat every month?

I can see where this is going ... (2, Interesting)

2TecTom (311314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10956828)

I was involved with several cyber / gaming cafes that went broke largely due to licensing issues. In fact, if the full license fees had been paid, these fees would have been the single greatest expense, exceeding that of wages or lease costs.

It's been my experience that many gaming places don't have sufficent numbers of retail licenses nor do they pay extra for commercial site licenses, all of whom call for regular on-going payments. If they did, they'd be unprofitable.

Here's my prediction. The big corporate publishers will abuse licensing, eliminate mom & pop cafes and replace them with franchises.
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