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Boing Boing Threatened By Software Creator

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the wah-wah-wah-all-the-way-home dept.

Security 351

mfh writes "StarForce has issued threats to Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow in retaliation to Cory's post about the anti-copy malware that installs itself along with many popular (and unpopular) video games." From the BoingBoing post: "Yesterday, I posted about StarForce, a harmful technology used by game companies to restrict their customers' freedom. StarForce attempts to stop game customers from copying their property, but it has the side-effects of destabilizing and crashing the computers on which it is installed. Someone identifying himself as 'Dennis Zhidkov, PR-manager, StarForce Inc.' contacted me this morning and threatened to sue me, and told me that he had contacted the FBI to complain about my 'harassment.'"

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uh oh... Hope other companies dont hear about... (2, Funny)

jigjigga (903943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608374)

Well, I hope other companies dont find out about resellerratings... or the amazon.com reviews... or um just about anything lol.

arggg (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608378)

someone freakin' post something already!@!

fr|st ps0t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608379)

u r teh ghey

The FBI? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608380)

He contacted the FBI?

Well, there's only one response to this nut. Laugh at him because he obviously doens't have a clue as to how to bring legal action against you.

Re:The FBI? (1)

galimore (461274) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608398)

Well he *claims* to have contacted the FBI... probably just a scare tactic.

Turnabout is fair play. ;)

Re:The FBI? (1)

Steve B (42864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608447)

Well he *claims* to have contacted the FBI... probably just a scare tactic.

Yeah -- if you lie to the FBI and they decide to make an issue of it, you're gonna be the Bride of Bubba for a few years....

Re:The FBI? (5, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608508)

I think he should send a letter back to the company asking for verification that the email isn't just the ramblings of some unaffilated nut. If they own up to it, then craft your own legalish looking letter with threatining wording telling them how you're collecting the names of everybody they've done this to so you can form your own harassment lawsuit. I wonder how long it would take them to panic and try to shut you up with hush money? These guys only exist because they call up game companies, give a slick speech with terms like "50% sales loss due to piracy" and the like, and convince them to use the software. If the companies start hearing bad things about them destabalizing users machines and boycotts of their software, they'd probably think twice about buying it from them. They can't afford to have their actual practices brought out into the sunlight.

Re:The FBI? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608630)

The thing is, right now it's not a big enough issue outside the techie/geek community for that to work. Just ask First4Internet, and "whichever of those big companies it was whose DVDs couldn't play in car CD players or something". The two minutes of bad press they got was pretty damning, but how many people really remember it, or care enough to act on it?

Re:The FBI? (3, Interesting)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608631)

I think he should send a letter back to the company asking for verification that the email isn't just the ramblings of some unaffilated nut.

More importantly, make sure it's addressed to the directors of the company. I'm sure they won't appreciate their PR manager making a PR disaster even worse.

Re:The FBI? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608890)

These guys only exist because they call up game companies, give a slick speech with terms like "50% sales loss due to piracy" and the like, and convince them to use the software.

In years past when I was into gaming and had a fairly popular web site devoted to it, I had quite a few discussions with folks from game companies, esp. Epic and Apogee.

Epic's president (my senile old mind can't remember his name, bless him; it's been several years now) was thoroughly paranoid about piracy.

He was paranoid because while in college, he "pirated" all his software, he said. There's a good chance you can find posts from planetcrap.com from him on the "wayback machine" (archive.org) about this if anybody wants to find it.

So no, these guys don't have to give any slick speeches convincing the ganme companies piracy is rampant, they already believe that for every game sold there are ten pirated.

(Sorry about the A/C; mcgrew from the now defunct "Springfield Fragfest" (now a porn site, I believe) here. Almost MRC="terrify".)

Re:The FBI? (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608490)

The company is based in Russia and the guy is obviously not a native English speaker. I assume he doesn't have the slightest idea how US law works or how it's enforced.

An odd choice as a PR figure, though...

Re:The FBI? (5, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608678)

I assume he doesn't have the slightest idea how US law works or how it's enforced.

Well I assume he doesn't have the slightest idea how US law works, or how it's enforced, or that Cory Doctorow [wikipedia.org] is Canadian, or that he lives in London.

In soviet Russia... (0, Offtopic)

Loether (769074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608810)

In Soviet Russia software pirates you! sorry.

Re:The FBI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608499)

Well, there's only one response to this nut. Laugh at him because he obviously doens't have a clue as to how to bring legal action against you

Yeah, because everyone knows you need to contact the NSA.

Or, you *would*, if they didn't know already from your email.

Re:Is it even possible to harass a company? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608519)

Even if it is, posting an blog-like article that is critical of them surely could not be called harassment - standing outside their offices yelling abuse and pushing dog shit through their letter box could be, however.

He sounds like a whack-job to me.

It's an idea. (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608799)

Some PR people believe that all PR is good PR.

Some PR people are idiots.

Well, it might be good for Boing Boing. But I doubt it'll be good for StarFarce.

(Oh, no! I mocked their name! Call the FBI! or maybe the Turkish government!)

Sure, ask the FBI (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608823)

"this digital terrorist is harassing us'.. Instant federal involvement.

Terrorist = anyone that doesnt agree with the DMCA, or any other federal law these days.

bleah (-1, Redundant)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608386)

This won't make Starforce any more popular.

Re:bleah (1)

MSZ (26307) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608428)

Popular???

Rather: It won't make StarForce any more unpopular, as their popularity hit rock bottom already.

Yay, more useless litigation... (5, Interesting)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608393)

That's right, folks. Criticism is harassment. It's no longer voicing an opinion. The press' right to inform the consumer and raise awareness about problems no longer exists. At least, that's how these guys would like it to be. What we need is a way for judges to penalize plaintiffs if they are clearly attempting to infringe on the rights of others for their own gain, as the case would appear here.

Re:Yay, more useless litigation... (4, Insightful)

dptalia (804960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608429)

Well, it's not the press - it's the internet, so OF COURSE it's harassment! That's why some companies/politicians are so interested in the FCC rulings on bloggers. If the FCC declares them journalists then we're talking free press, but it they call it political speech that needs to be regulated then the door is open for such lawsuits.

Re:Yay, more useless litigation... (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608590)

That's really not true. The supreme court has held political speech as the most protected form of free speech.

You are confusing two issues here, the stupid campaign finance reform laws, and the constitutional protections we all enjoy. Guess which will always win in the end.

Re:Yay, more useless litigation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608859)

Yeah. Sad, isn't it? ... or were you thinking that constitutional protection will win?

Re:Yay, more useless litigation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608724)

What we need is a way for judges to penalize plaintiffs if they are clearly attempting to infringe on the rights of others for their own gain

If only there were a term for this....
Something you could sue for....
Oh yeah, extortion.

Anagram (0)

CaptainFork (865941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608394)

"Dennis Zhidkov" is an anagram of "litigious prat" - if you change some of the letters.

Re:Anagram (2, Funny)

kunzy (880730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608468)

"Bill Gates" is an anagram for "libel stag". Hope that helps :)

Simple Fix - Don't Buy (4, Insightful)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608397)

When companies realise they are copy protecting themselves out of business, maybe others will learn from their mistakes and not treat every paying customer like a thief.

Bravo for posting information on this - the public needs more information to make educated choices.

the problem with "don't buy" (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608452)

People will buy until they know. Look around amongst your peers, mention "Sony rootkit" or "DRM" and check how many blank stares you receive.

Yes, WE know it. Now. Thanks for posting. But we already knew. We already take care of our computers. We already check on CDs if they are REALLY CDs. We already make sure that our Games don't hassle us with "I don't wanna run as long as you have that CD Emu soft running".

But we don't count, folks. We are a minority. We think before we act. And most of all, we think before we buy.

We're a small minority. We don't count.

Hint for corporations (0)

muertos (570792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608401)

Your PR people should not be whackjobs. I mean, come on, this is the standard MO of a 17 year old spammer. At least make him have to run all of his communiques through Legal.

Threatened? (1)

imoou (949576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608417)

In this lawsuit-happy corporate world, this guy is only threatening to sue? I don't think he has a toe to stand on.

No point in getting us riled up without a target! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608421)

Where's the company web site? How else can we slashdot them? C'mon! Someone dig it up! I've got an itchy mouse button.

http://www.star-force.com/ (4, Informative)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608559)

NT

WTF (2, Funny)

bvimo (780026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608422)

Cory Doctorow publishes an opinion and then someone called 'Dennis Zhidkov' runs to the FBI and makes claims about harassment. WTF

Re:WTF (1)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608819)

Yeah, looks like someone is taking his cues from ol' Jack Thompson.

My bad... my bad... (5, Funny)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608431)

Sorry. That was me. My Troll Tuesday antics got a little out of hand and I started calling everyone in my address book (Lycos People Search) and threatening to sue for unspecified amounts under the DMCA just to make a point. You can disregard the call. Sometimes a joke CAN go too far, can't it? ;P

Sweet (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608435)

Cory can use the money.

If nothing else, cartooneys are good for plenty of laughs.

Classic SLAPP Technique (5, Insightful)

Nf1nk (443791) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608441)

This is a classic SLAPP technique http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLAPP [wikipedia.org]
One nice thing is that states like California have fairly strong anti Slapp laws and lawyers that specialize in this sort of case

Re:Classic SLAPP Technique (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608825)

No, it becomes a SLAPP when they file a lawsuit. As long as they are just threatening a lawsuit, it's just bullying.

Here is a picture of Dennis Zhidkov (5, Informative)

Sundroid (777083) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608448)

Smile, you're on Slashdot: http://icoc.freehomepage.com/contact.html [freehomepage.com]

Re:Here is a picture of Dennis Zhidkov (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608595)

Question. Is he rowing that boat because he's running away from the public, all ashamed?

Ooooh i can hear him say: "You will hear from me again, Boing Boing! You will hear from me again!!!"

(At this point the caption "To be continued..." appears on the screen)

Re:Here is a picture of Dennis Zhidkov (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608612)

Posting my picture is just asking for a lawsuit, i've contacted my US lawyer. You are breaking 34 international laws.

-- Dennis Zhidkov

Re:Here is a picture of Dennis Zhidkov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608632)

a .ru email address. how completely surprising!

Re:Here is a picture of Dennis Zhidkov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608673)

Anyone else find humor in the fact his alias for the site is icoc (I cock)?

Re:Here is a picture of Dennis Zhidkov (5, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608883)

And apparently he's spends a lot of free time pissing gamers off:

Starforce Posts Thier Objections to Toms Hardware [subsim.com]

This may seem familiar (from C|Net): StarForce Response [com.com]

Can you say whacko? Ooooopppss! I may be attracting a lawsuit or at least a visit from the FBI...

How is this harrasment? (2, Insightful)

deathcloset (626704) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608459)

Honestly, it sounds and reads like boing boing is just reporting the facts. Nothing more.

Software is written that destabilizes a system, causes a crash and could potentially damage hardware.

What am I missing?

Re:How is this harrasment? (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608753)

You did it again !

Re:How is this harrasment? (1)

dwandy (907337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608774)

What am I missing?
The word allegedly.
I saw nothing in the post the back up his assertions. While I don't doubt that it is possible that everything stated there was fact, there is nothing posted, nor did I see any links to evidence nor how he came to the conclusions that the software in question did any of the things he describes.
If the company can demonstrate that any one of the statements he made is false then there is grounds for a lawsuit...

Don't you love how every time these people... (5, Interesting)

Avillia (871800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608461)

Threaten to involve or claim to involve the FBI (Cybercrime)? Really, I swore they had better things to do than investigate petty sites using legally protected free speech to label corporate interests as having malicious intent with their product. Like, I dunno. Child Porn? I hope so.

And then, of course, comes the OMG LAWSUIT brigade, claiming libel and slander when, again, opinions of a entities buisness practices are protected free speech...Hoping to tie up critics in a huge and costly (in the short term) legal battle to silence them. (PriceRitePhoto scandal, anyone?)

It just goes to show the sort of people behind this company that, instead of making logical arguments against their critics, they choose to take the 'dirty route' with the aforementioned threats...360, Claira, Jack Thompson, PriceRitePhoto..

I really, really, really hope someone gets up the gonads to take one of these foolish corporations, PARTICULARY so a adware/spyware corporation or someone with similar malicious intent to court when they issue a groundless Cease and Desist in a attempt to hold face and further their own intent.

Fin.

Cory is lucky (2, Funny)

geneing (756949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608471)

that Boris Zhidkov didn't contact the russian mob... :)

Why is this guy 'CEO'? (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608477)

Maybe that CEO thought that he could bully them around a bit and make the negative press disappear. After all it is probably his ass/job on the line.
Why this id10t call himself CEO is a wonder to me. Anybody with two braincells would have known how his actions could backfire badly. But then again, the company makes software that works against their users, so they cannot be too smart anyway.

They should be SLAPPed (1)

k98sven (324383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608482)

I hope these guys are in a state with anti-SLAPP [wikipedia.org] legislation, so Cory can go after them if they do file suit.

Two sides to every story (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608491)

I have Starforce on my machine (came with Silent Hunter III) and I've had no problems. If someone was spreading rumours that my software was screwing up people's machines when it wasn't I'd be pissed too. Try and see both sides of the argument before naturally attacking people who just don't want to see their work stolen.

Re:Two sides to every story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608606)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our Industry Plant for this thread. Sheesh, your post was way too obvious, at least try and hide it.

Re:Two sides to every story (5, Insightful)

Mathonwy (160184) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608625)

Wow, can you say "astroturf comment"? Either that or troll, not sure which. Anyway, I'll bite:

If there have been documented cases of it causing problems, then it doesn't really matter if there have been other cases where it was fine. Even if only 10% of end users see problems, don't you think everyone still would like to know about it, so they can make informed decisions?

Or, to put in another, more emotionally charged frame: If there was a baby-food that worked fine most of the time, but in 10% of cases caused the baby to explode violently, don't you think people (particularly potential customers) should be told that there were risks? Just because someone could say "well, MY baby didn't explode" would not somehow absolve the company of responsability of the 10% that did.

Re:Two sides to every story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608640)

Try and see both sides of the argument before naturally attacking people who just don't want to see their work stolen.

I don't think the argument is "Useful program vs. libelous thieves," I think it is "Annoying copy protection vs. free speech."

As a side note, a software program can work fine on one computer and cause problems on another. It's one thing if the program generally does something of value for the consumer, it's quite another when the consumer would rather have it disappear completely.

Re:Two sides to every story (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608731)

hey Dennis Zhidkov... come on down, we know it's you...

So Let Me Get this Straight... (-1, Flamebait)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608505)

You're a gamer. You buy a CD-ROM with SOMEONE ELSE'S intellectual property on it and a license to use said property. They go out of their way to keep honest people honest and all of the sudden, it's a crime? What's this country coming to? You can't have it both ways folks! We live in a (read it with me now people) CAPITALIST SOCIETY. That means that people here are beholden to businesses to make boost their profits by ANY means necessary. Be it, making a useful product and selling it. Be it, offering a helpful service and renting it.
Be it, eating babies and producing fertilizer. So you say you're a red-blooded American in one breath and that you "support the troops" and are "pro-business" but then you turn around and start complaining about those businesses unleashing the troops on you to protect their profits? What kind of logic is that! Either your a true American or your agin' us! That's what our president continues to say at every opportunity. Shape up or ship out folks! You got the country you voted for (in corporations we trust), LIVE with it and shut the fuck up.

You jest, but... (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608555)

The Senate just confirmed Alito to the SCOTUS.

That might actually be the mentality that we're stuck with for the next 50 years...

Re:So Let Me Get this Straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608589)

America has never been truly capitalistic.

Re:So Let Me Get this Straight... (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608603)

That's a pretty clumsy attempt at a troll.

Re:So Let Me Get this Straight... (-1, Troll)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608629)

Troll? TROLL?? Huh? Look mister jandrese or whatever your name is. Get this through your head. This is America now!! Land of the free and home of the brave! Love it or leave it! The commies have been put down and we're smokin' out terrorists daily. You're next if you don't watch your mouth. Freedom doesn't come without a price.

Re:So Let Me Get this Straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608641)

In a Free market, citizens are free to not purchase the products they don't like. They are free to find alternatives. This is capatlism at work: sharing information about a company so that others can make decisions as to whether they want to purchase a companies products. Nothing in Capitism says that a person must purchase a product: a free market ensures this isn't the case. We love Capitilism because it empowers the citizen, and removes powers from the institutions. Institutions are empowered when there are monopolies: in that case, if StarFart software was one, it might force us into using their software, and we would have a much harder time dealing with them.

commie traitor! (0, Troll)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608646)

The company doing the threatening is in Russia! That means they are godless red commies, working to undermine the US freedom of speech and bring communism to the US. Supporting commies in anything they do makes you a terrorist! You even allude to "red-blooded" americans! My blood ain't red like you commie freaks, it's red, white, and blue. ...and keep your damn flouride out of my water supply you commie!

Re:commie traitor! (1)

eargang (935892) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608701)

Also makes you wonder how the FBI would listen to a foreign company...

Re:commie traitor! (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608807)

The company doing the threatening is in Russia! That means they are godless red commies

You're a little out of date. Today they'd be the Russian Mob.

-jcr

Re:So Let Me Get this Straight... (1)

cosmo7 (325616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608711)

Read the article (unless you're just trolling, in which case "well done".)

Cory criticized the side-effects of the copy prevention software. He didn't say companies shouldn't be able to use copy prevention, just that they shouldn't damage the security of your computer.

The person who threatened vague legal action is attempting to stop reasonable comment simply because it would damage his business.

What has been broken (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608509)

List of games they fucked up:
http://fileforums.com/showpost.php?p=299834&postco unt=205 [fileforums.com]

courtesy of http://www.fileforums.com/showthread.php?t=70333 [fileforums.com]

Whew..what a relief. (2, Funny)

phrackwulf (589741) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608752)

Apparently Starforce only protects games that really, really suck! I feel much better now.

This is going to backfire, like Sony (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608517)

Making that threat was a big mistake. Now more security people will take a look at this "protection software", probably confirm the holes, and get it marked as hostile code. That will hit the mainstream press, and some major game vendors will be in the position Sony is now in. Expect some product recalls.

This controversy is good. Games must be stopped from installing code which runs with kernel or administrator privileges. That's introducing too many security holes now, by preventing users from running as a nonprivileged user. Users can't lock down their machines and still run games. That's no longer acceptable.

Signed drivers in Vista (2, Insightful)

thallgren (122316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608782)

I wonder if MS will let companies like StarForce create signed drivers for Windows Vista. This is interesting since if not, many games will not work in Windows Vista and we will have almost the same scenario as when games were DOS based and NT first came out. But if MS let them, you'll end up defeating the measures taken to create a much more stable operating system.

Re:This is going to backfire, like Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608842)

and some major game vendors will be in the position Sony is now in.

Hey, thats Sony BMG, the rest of the company wants nothing to do with those pricks.

Complain Anonymously (1)

Bodysurf (645983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608521)

You know, there's a lot to be said about being an "Anonymous Coward".

Consider the following: Provide all the proof of your allegations, but do so in an anonymous manner (e.g., Mixminion).

There is one inescapable truth: If you are truly anonymous, then you are lawsuit proof.

Starforce: Take A Lesson From The Sony Playbook (1)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608523)

This is the point where you start apologizing profusely, because as the Sony incident showed us, everyone just loves hidden DRM.

In a quote from the plaintiffs filing... (2, Funny)

Churla (936633) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608528)

"Must get moose and squirrel, Boing Boing is a moosey/squirrey sound"

Starforce incompatabilties (2, Interesting)

OvErRiDeX (324498) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608540)

The Heroes of Might and Magic V public beta is protected by starforce, which is unfortunate since it worked in Wine on Linux up until they added Starforce... Ubisoft just lost me and most likely any other Heroes fans that run Linux, who would of been able to buy and run the game otherwise.

Starforce causes more harm than good, and I believe gamers have to show their dismay by simply not buying games with it. Hopefully if the sales are hurt enough, game publishers will stop using this "protection" and we can finally put a bullet in it. Unfortunately too many people who buy games don't realize the game is protected by this, and might just be blaming Windows for their computer's crashes.

It is just me or (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608544)

does this sounds peculiarly like Jack Thompson tactics?

Good thing (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608552)

The more I read crap like this, the more I'm glad I've pretty much stopped buying video games. Oh, I admit, it's not strictly because of this bullshit ( although it does play a large part of it. Who wants to go research to find out if the game you want to buy has intrusive copy protection? ), games in general have stopped being interesting.

Give me back the days of Sam and Max. Grim Fandago. Even the old wing commanders were good games.

Were I in the game industry, I would be very careful about what i put my customers through. And I'd be irritated to no end for other companies doing this, as they scare potential customers ( like myself ) away.

Geeks embrace copy protection and DRM (4, Interesting)

Paladin144 (676391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608554)

At slashdot, we like to pretend that we're the Geek Mecca, and that we speak for all geeks. This is, of course, bullshit. Geeks are a huge demographic and they cannot be so easily summarized.

That may explain why some people here might be puzzled to notice that geeks are among the most fervent supporters of DRM, copy-protection, spyware and other restrictive technologies. Witness the many gamers who have StarForce installed on their systems. Witness the many iTunes lovers (myself included) who've bought into the DRMed songs Apple offers.

It's sad to realize that we are heading straight into a DRM/copy-protection nightmare, and the worst part is that we're fully aware where we're going. Gamers are leading the way. They seem to be fully content to have anti-copying and anti-cheating software running in the background while they play World of Warcraft or Half-Life. It seems that these companies are using our geek tendencies (must...play...new...game!) against us. Is this the beginning of the end of our freedom on the net?

Re:Geeks embrace copy protection and DRM (2, Insightful)

frogstar_robot (926792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608643)

Most gamers have more in common with the Comic Book Guy than hackers. True there is overlap but the geeks outraged about this are the ones who see their freedom to tinker in peril. Most gamers don't tinker (apart from things like (sanctioned) mods) with the guts of their systems.

Re:Geeks embrace copy protection and DRM (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608686)

I'd wager a bet most people (even on Slashdot) had no idea what this software was until their DVD burner suddenly died for no apparent reason halfway through a burn and they had to read online forums to figure out that the problem was with a game they'd bought and installed recently.

Copy & Crash (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608565)

...posted about StarForce, a harmful technology used by game companies to restrict their customers' freedom. StarForce attempts to stop game customers from copying their property, but it has the side-effects of destabilizing and crashing the computers on which it is installed.

If I told you once, I have told you a thousand times - NEVER mess with STAR FORCE! [mst3ktemple.com]

StarForce starts a new Sony/ROOTKITS novel! (1)

marioespinheira (931850) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608567)

This is not a smart move from StarForce, and it seems it's not the first time it reacts aggressively to critics to their software. This episode will bring much (bad!) pubilicity to StarForce, in my opinion. Instead of suing people that critize it's software, they should be worrying with law suits from people that discover what StarForce does to their systems. Hope this is the beginning of the end to StarForce!!!

Email Denis and tell him what you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14608574)

denis.zhidkov@star-force.com

If you do a Google search for his name, you'll see this isn't the first time this dude has done something like this. He's also based in Moscow, so I don't see exactly how he "contacted the FBI" or why they would care.

Hopefully, they did contact the FBI (1)

taustin (171655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608581)

Because the FBI takes a dim view of assholes wasting their time on civil matters the FBI couldn't possibly get involved in even if they wanted to.

I've yet to see someone claim to have "contacted the FBI" who actually did, after being read the riot act.

Boinging for justice (5, Interesting)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608582)

Boing Boing might in fact have a strong case vs Starforce here. Precedent was set by Kyle Bennett of HardOCP when he successfully defended [slashdot.org] vs Infinium Labs last year. I think what won him the case was his freedom of press rights. I wonder if Boing Boing could countersue for slander as Starforce contests his journalistic integrity.

Interesting side note (3, Informative)

szembek (948327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608611)

Check out http://www.star-force.com/protection.phtml?c=261&i d=707 [star-force.com] for a claim that star force makes. They say if you can prove that their software causes the noted problems with dvd drives they will give you $10,000. Not that I believe they would actually pay you, or would expect anybody to travel to Moscow to do it, but it's pretty funny.

Too bad. (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608649)

There are some games on that list I might have wanted to buy... Not now. This copy protection scheme is an anti feature to me. AKA it makes the game not worth buying.
You want to stop it? Flood the publisher of these games with email telling them that you will not buy games with this use this DRM.
They have the right to put it on and we have the right not to buy.

Interesting. (1)

michrech (468134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608652)

I found a comment "Dennis Zhidkov" made to C-Net interesting:

"Now, let me ask you a question. If you are not a pirate, why would you need a debugger simultaneously running with the protected software? It is in the interest of the developer to keep the debuggers and emulators out of business when the protected application is run."

Apparently he's never heard of decal for Asheron's Call. I'm sure a debugger (or something) was needed to find the memory locations it needed to integrate with the game properly. I'm sure some WoW "plugins" work the same way.

Am I suddenly a pirate because I want to use third party plugins for a game I legally own (and pay a monthly fee to play?!)(note, I no longer play AC and have never played WoW, I only used them as examples).

Yow, they picked the *wrong guy* to go after... (1)

chrisspurgeon (514765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608657)

...I look forward to watching Cory tear this Zhidkov guy a new one.

approximately 11 international laws? (2, Funny)

jitterysquid (913188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608698)

How does one violate _approximately_ 11 international laws?

Jeez, if you're going to bully people with legal threats at least make them long, with intimidating legal letterhead and scary pronouncements like, "you are in violation of statute 3 subsection q9 of the corndogian legal code, punishable by forced ingestion of flaming crickets."

The quality of legal threats really has gone downhill in the last few years.

What about shipping software into the US that deliberately opens security holes? Doesn't that constitute some sort of cyberterrorism?

Making a list and checking it twice (5, Informative)

thaerin (937575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608718)

Ever since I heard about some of the random issues caused by Starforce a few years back, I've always avoided any game title under it's protection. You can find a pretty good up-to-date list of known Starforce protected titles over here - http://www.glop.org/starforce/ [glop.org]

Starforce (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608722)

Heh, I just RTFA. How did a man who writes so poorly get to be a "PR-manager"?
I have been stung by Starforce, and it is TOTAL BS. I refuse to purchase or play any games that are protected by that virus.

-d

Awww crap- (1)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608750)

I'm not much of a gamer, and the other day I saw a game called "Area 51" (A FPS) for the PC. Looked cool, the system requirements were modest, and I didn't see anything about content protection. So I bought it.

Gameplay is nice, but from seeing this article, it installed "gameforce" crap on my system.

Damn, 1st malware I've had in decades on any PC I've owned.

Ah well, thanks to /., at least I know about it.

my letter to Zhidkov (1)

stinky wizzleteats (552063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608768)

I read with great interest your attempts to bully and silence Cory Doctrow for having shed light on just what Star Force software is and what it does. I understand that you are the PR manager for Star Force. I would just like to say that you have done a good job in illustrating and explaining the goals and intentions of Star Force to the general public. I think your style of PR creates a more open environment of understanding how companies like Star Force operate. I applaud your efforts and wish other PR managers were as forthright and direct as you have been on this issue.

Boycott Starforce (2, Interesting)

Pyrosz (469177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608776)

http://www.glop.org/starforce/ [glop.org] I just picked up X3: Reunion without knowing that it included this Starforce software. I would not have purchased it had I known this. I will be writing both Egosoft and the publisher about this. Here is a reply by Egosoft on their own forums to concerns about Starforce:
Starforce is picked by the publisher, not Egosoft. You should be writing this to either Deepsilver or Enlight, depending where you are. So no, you've not proved that Egosoft used Starforce. The publisher did. Likening Starforce to the whole Sony/root-kit thing is a little silly, as Starforce is clearly named as the CP in the game's manual. You're told it's gonna install. Almost all discussions on CP turn into discussions of piracy, and as a result this thread is being pre-emptively locked. If you have a problem with the CP, feel free to register your game and post the issue in the sticky in the Tech Support forum.

Perfect. Just Perfect. (4, Interesting)

Maxwell'sSilverLART (596756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608783)

This is absolutely perfect. StarForce is accusing Doctorow of slander and/or libel (probably libel, as his remarks were published). Now, if he wants to press that case, Doctorow will have the opportunity to validate his claims in court. If he fails, he'll be found liable (of libel), and punished accordingly--as it should be. If he succeeds, plaintiff (StarForce) will lose, and will get the additional bonus of having their software be demonstrated in court as malware.

As an additional bonus, if StarForce loses, Doctorow can countersue, also for slander and/or libel--if you accuse me of lying, and I'm not, it damages my reputation.

As long as Doctorow is confident in his claims, his only thought should be "bring it on."

We've seen this before... (1)

Confoundit (930152) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608837)

You are breaking the slandering law and we have full intention to persue legal action against you web site and the individual who posted the article. This is a warning before more serious actions are taken.

Sincerely,

Fantasia Studios


And there's a new SA legal threat!

How doe one... (1)

Facekhan (445017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608844)

How does one "approximately" break 11 international laws. I mean there are grey and untested areas in the law but usually the amount og laws that one is breaking has a definable numerical value.

time to get even (1)

wishiwascool (60898) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608879)

I read this on my boingboing feed earlier this morning. I'm glad this is getting some attention. Cory was in no way breaking any laws, local or international. I was actually quite mad at this guy for sending this crap email, whoTF does he think he is?

Now would be a good time to contact game publishers that use this "technology" and let them know how you feel about the matter.

X3 (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14608892)

X3 came with StarForce, like someone above said.

It absolutely REFUSED to let me run the game because it decided that my oldish DVD drive was emulated. So rather than disconnect my DVD drive I found a way around StarForce. So now not only can I play the game without the DVD, but I know how StarForce works so I could do it to all the other StarForce games, too. Rest assured that I will never buy another StarForce product, especially after noticing a reduction in performance (boot time and FPS) because it likes to run memory-resident and look over my shoulder.

Hell, I might even go out of my way to download said games now that I can play them freely. Good job. Liking those increased profits?
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