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Copy Protection Firms Encourage Piracy?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the quite-possible dept.


Ars Technica has a reflection on the revelation that StarForce had linked to pirated versions of Galactic Civilizations II. From the piece: "It's not hard to see why the publishers use the stuff; after all, no one wants to spend a couple of years on a project only to see their efforts rewarded by flat sales and a robust pirate market. Still, in the quest for better protection, these copy protection schemes have grown in both sophistication and invasiveness. Some schemes now install their own hidden device drivers that monitor your computer's optical drive access, trying to prevent copying and other unapproved uses. (If this sounds familiar, it should. Game copy protection, after all, is just another form of DRM.)"

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Not surprising... (4, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928443)

They sell a product that solves (or at least claims to solve) a "problem".

They have an interest in making that problem as large and as wide-spread as possible.

Not surprising...Fresh Breath. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14928577)

"They sell a product that solves (or at least claims to solve) a "problem"."


"They have an interest in making that problem as large and as wide-spread as possible."

Proprietary Software.

Re:Not surprising...Fresh Breath. (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928621)

Proprietary software doesn't always present immediate and obvious problems.

I'd say that proprietary software is more of a "limitation" than a "problem", and that there is a difference between the two. Limitations are not a problem as long as you never want to do the things that the limitations prevent you from doing. When you do become limited in a way that affects you, it evolves into a "problem".

Re:Not surprising...Fresh Breath. (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929007)

If there was no piracy, anti-piracy measures would serve no purpose.

If there were no computer viruses, anti-virus software would serve no purpose.

If there was no proprietary software, OSS would serve no purpose?

That's just silly.

Re:Not surprising...Fresh Breath. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14929293)

If there was no proprietary software, OSS would be the only software. So, yes, it would serve a purpose.

Otherwise I agree with you...none of the big security software developers really want full-security, only the appearance of such.

Re:Not surprising... (1)

HoosierPeschke (887362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928617)

So that's why Microsoft is now making Anti-Virus...


Re:Not surprising... (4, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928725)

Yeah, I did consider pointing out Microsoft's major conflict of interest there, but figured most people have probably heard enough about it, anyway.

It's great for them that they can sell their users a problem for a few hundred dollars and then charge a yearly subscription fee for a "treatment" (note: not "fix") for the problem. Sucks to be one of their customers, though.

One interesting development that I think will come out of Vista/Trusted-Computing/Windows-OneCare is the fact that Microsoft will probably be able to squash piracy, now. Trusted Computing in Vista will probably mean that it will be very difficult to get Windows updates without having a legitimate copy. Assuming it's a given that Vista will eventually require security updates (safe bet) people won't be able to do much other than purchase Windows. OneCare will probably end up checking whether the copy of Vista is legit, too, since virus scanners updating themselves every week or so is a great way for Windows to constantly "phone home".

The end result might be illegitimate copies of Vista being impossible to update, which effectively means that no one will want an illegitimate version of Vista. I think this will end up being a big mistake for MS, though. Most home users do not want to pay a few hundred dollars for Vista PLUS a yearly subscription fee. If MS didn't think people would need the OneCare subscription for Vista, they wouldn't be selling it.

The one way that Vista could weasel its way onto everyones' computers would be by getting it pre-installed on all new computers. Companies like Dell only offering Windows seems like a very important part of MS maintaining their strangle-hold on the home OS market.

Re:Not surprising... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14930045)

Not to be pedantic or anything, but Dell offers Linux boxes. You just have to dig REALLY hard to find them.

Re:Not surprising... (1)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930645)

And they don't come with Linux installed (FreeDOS only), plus they cost more than the equivalent Windows model.

Those models only exist so they can say they offer them. They're not intended to sell a single unit.

Re:Not surprising... (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933007)

If the selling price is higher than that of the equivilent windows box, but without the OS Tax, you'd think that they would want to sell _more_ of them as the margins should be higher.

Re:Not surprising... (1)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14937933)

You'd think, but having another OS option reduces efficiency. In an environment where they can rapidly throw together a PC assembly-line style, seperating off a few machines for low volume changes takes time and labor, which in turn means money.

Obviously the cost isn't as much as the insane difference from the Windows model, but I'm sure it's enough that Dell wants to discourage people from buying them, thus the artificially increased price.

Re:Not surprising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14932860)

Alternatively, people will stick with Win2k and XP, en masse, "backinstall" them onto machines that ship with Vista pre-installed, and not buy any hardware that won't support Win2k and XP. Same for software that works only on Vista.

Microsoft's strongest competition is with itself. How they will convince people to switch (or even not to switch *backwards*) is a still-unanswered question. Too much "Trusted Computing" nonsense will settle it unfavourably for MS.

"Problem," they say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14936261)

The best advertising for a game that I've ever experienced has been a stable prerelease pirated version. If the pirates can put out a solid release, then that bodes well for the final product and encourages me to go out and buy the real thing -- which I have done about 20 times over the last two years. Of course, if the copy protection is nasty enough that the pirates can't break it within a couple days, it's nothing I want on my computer anyway. I use virtual drives legitimately for mastering, and video games have no business messing with my setup. /rant

Anyway, yeah, since copy protection folks are in the business of doing nasty things (supposedly to pirates, not customers), building up a healthy "threat" of piracy probably would be within their companies' ethos.

Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (3, Interesting)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928496)

While this tactic might be unethical, they are certainly behaving legally- it's allowed for me to tell people where they can download software. Now all the makers of Galactic Civilizations need to do is link to where people can illegally download Starforce-protected games with the protection removed. Turnabout is, after all, fair play.

Re:Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (1)

Woy (606550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928539)

"Now all the makers of Galactic Civilizations need to do is link to where people can illegally download Starforce-protected games with the protection removed."

That's when you realise the brilliance of starforce's move: their stuff is also on the site they linked.

Re:Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (3, Insightful)

rhino_badlands (449954) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928663)

I agree, especially since I don't belive in the starforce system. The best check you can have is requiring the player to have an online account linked to a serial number. You sign in, you play and no cd is required, and you can use as many computers as you would like to play from. Heck I play my games on several different computers depending on what I have going on, ie rendering/compiling tasks, on the road ... and toating a cd around is painfull. In addition physical media is on its way out to distribute content.

Re:Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (1)

Deadguy2322 (761832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929317)

Carrying a CD would not be so painful if you didn't use the Columbian mule method!

Re:Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (4, Interesting)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929389)

The problem is only changed a bit when you goto such schemes.
    Imagine you need to re-install your game a few years after release (hd upgrade, a virus imploded windows, you ran McAfee anit-virus, etc.). IF the company still exists, and is still supporting 'activation' and your not installing on a machine you don't want on the net, you are o.k.
    A lot of IF's there, I don't want to be beholden to some companies good will and financial stability to use software I've already paid for.
    And since these schemes DONT prevent copies being made I don't understand how these companies keep justifying the expense to the share holders, except to assume the shareholders are largely ignorant and/or apathetic.


Re:Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931172)

I think he's talking about games that are primarily played online.

Re:Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14939408)

Not shure, he just said the game should require an online account. For online only games this sort of system makes some sense, still not perfect, but at least it makes sense.


Re:Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (4, Insightful)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928998)

it's allowed for me to tell people where they can download software.

Not exactly. As the MPAA v. 2600 case showed, linking to illegal material can get you in trouble. The only reason why StarForce is able to do so without a legal challenge is because they are based in Russia, where it may be legal. Stardock, based in the US, cannot do the same thing in return.

Re:Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (0)

rabiddeity (941737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929599)


In Soviet Russia, software protection cracks YOU!

Re:Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931423)

But they DO opperate in the US as well.
The only reason they can get away with this is that they're on the same side as the big anti-consumer-rights organisations. Those organisations are practically the only ones in the "scene" who start lawsuits.

Re:Perfectly Legal Scare Tactic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14929424)

Counting games I've pirated versus games I've purchased without pirating, I've purchased more games after pirating them than I've bought without pirating them (since the shareware days of actually getting to try before you buy into the whole game). Somewhere around 5 games in the last 5 years I've pirated and followed up with a purchase. And I'm not currently playing any games I haven't purchased. Of course I'm not interested in purchasing anything new at this time.

Part of that disinterest is in the fact that I don't want to end up taking home a game that installs StarForce on my computer.

If I had the spare time I'd be interested in downloading and giving the game a test run. If I continued to enjoy it after a month I'd likely pay for it.

Sheesh, conspiracy theorists (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928523)

That'd be like letting a consortium of automobile and oil companies buy all the public transit companies so they can dismantle them.

Next thing you'll be telling me that the President is Schicklegruber.

National City Lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14932059)

Haven't heard of National City Lines, have ya? This is exactly waht they did in 1936. See: []

The end result was the destructon of 100 public transportation systems and replacement with their own product -- their buses that use their fuel and their tires... Cost the local governements has been estiamted at billions.

"Between 1936 and 1950, National City Lines, a holding company sponsored and funded by GM, Firestone, and Standard Oil of California, bought out more than 100 electric surface-traction systems in 45 cities (including New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, and Los Angeles) to be dismantled and replaced with GM buses... In 1949 GM and its partners were convicted in U.S.district court in Chicago of criminal conspiracy in this matter and fined $5,000." -- []

Re:National City Lines (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932081)

Haven't heard of National City Lines, have ya?

Haven't heard of irony, have ya? And by the way, the president is a Schickelgruber.

I never buy software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14928541)

But I'm buying Gal Civ 2.

Try a pirated GalCiv 1 and you'll see these guys make great games.

It's addictive like civilization...

They are going to be sucessful and it scares the crap out of Starforce and the other DRMERs.

Re:I never buy software (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933202)

Instead of a pirated version, get the version with the latest patch. Instead of using copy-protection, Stardock uses frequent patches and new features to reward paying customers. Chances are the pirated version is the release version, so you'll be missing out on lots of new features, including improved AI.

Re:I never buy software (1)

BigDaddyNyth (932952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14938184)

They are already coming out with pirated versions of the patch features, having the nonpirated version just means that your going to get it sooner than waiting to find the torrent for it.

GalCiv2 (3, Informative)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928559)

GalCiv2 does have DRM of a type; you have to install StarDock in order to unpack the game data files. Think of it as almost like Steam.

You also need an official CD key in order to download patches and other additional content.

GC2 allows (and encourages) you to install a copy of the game on as many computers as possible. I even got instructions in the official IRC channel ( #galciv) to make it easier to move the files between PCs.

The only other commerical game I can think of that has no real DRM is Falcon: Allied Force. The only time you need the CD is when you install a patch. There is no CD key and the game is huge online. If you ever wanted to learn more than the common person wants to know about the F-16 Fighting Falcon, grab Allied Force and a joystick.

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928615)

you have to install StarDock in order to unpack the game data files.

I might be talking out of my ass here (I bought it over the internet) but I believe if you buy GalCiv2 boxed you don't need to install Stardock at the same time. You do still need to both install stardock and enter your CD key to get patches though, as well as package the game up to send to another computer, and unpack it again.

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

akaariai (921081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928946)

I can confirm that you don't need to install stardock. I think that you need a stardock _account_ to get patches but you don't have to actually install the application. You can download the patches manually. The copyprotection is based on the fact that there is a constant flow of updates. If you want to update your game easily then you have to have a bought copy.

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

KozmoStevnNaut (630146) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930967)

Exactly. They way I see it, it's the "carrot, not whip" method. And it sure works for me :-)

I bought Galciv: Gold Edition and Galciv2 a few days ago and I absolutely love both games. I didn't even know about them until this whole Starforce affair, but now they have my business and my attention, and if they continue to put out such great games, I am definitely a loyal customer.

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929742)

I should have elaborated. In the edition you download from, you *must* install StarDock in order to download and play the game.

What's interesting about the d/l edition: It actually costs more to d/l the game vice purchacing it in the store. The publisher didn't want to piss off retailers, so they price the game at MSRP both on the boxes and on the website. However, retailers are allowed to price below MSRP while the website cannot. The game costs $44 to download and I saw it at WalMart for $35.

But, Wally World is evil, so I downloaded it anyway.

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930182)

i downloaded it because i am lazy and i don't feel like dragging around looking for a store that
A)carries it
B)isn't sold out

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930192)

to be more clear i bought the download, i did not warez it

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

rossjudson (97786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935787)

I bought the download because that's straight cash going to Brad Wardell and his employees. Their profit margin is way higher that way; I'd rather the people who _made_ the game get the profit instead of retailers that do nothing but progressively marginalize PC software more and more.

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14937584)

Damn straight! I did the d/l edition too.

Re:GalCiv2 (4, Insightful)

courtarro (786894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928737)

I appreciate Epic's approach with the original UT and UT2004. For a few months after each game was released, you needed the CD in the drive to play the game. After a few months, a standard patch is released that removes the CD requirement, after the most significant piracy problems have died down. From then on, you no longer need to deal with the original CD.

Re:GalCiv2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14929449)

If I remember correctly, the only reason it required the cd to begin with was because the publisher required it.

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

JFitzsimmons (764599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930423)

This has also been standard with idgames releases. Neither Doom3 or Quake4 require the CD to play once it is patched.

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931516)

Thank goodness for that, too - I've lost my disc one of Doom 3, due to shuffling it in and out of the drive for other things, and it got put somewhere.

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

Finkbug (789750) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932926)

Stardock's earlier game The Political Machine had something similar. The publisher (Ubisoft I think; GalCiv 2 is self-published) insisted on copy protection. Stardock argued them down to protection which would sunset not long after release.

Re:GalCiv2 (1)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931155)

I donno about the downloaded version (I got the boxed version) but you do NOT have to install StarDock to install or play the (offline) game.

Stardock != Steam (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931854)

Steam is a bad comparison. Steam is invasive, and if you buy a game that uses Steam, you do need Steam to play the game.

If you buy Galciv2 on CD, however, you don't need Stardock Central to install it. And while you need the CD key to get patches, updates and extra stuff, you can get them manually if you really hate SDC. Stardock Central just makes it much easier to get patches and other updates. That's really all it does.

Re:Stardock != Steam (1)

guardian-ct (105061) | more than 8 years ago | (#15004199)

Best thing about Stardock Central is, once you've installed the games/desktop apps/etc. you want from Stardock, you can uninstall Stardock Central, and keep playing the games. You're all set ;)

Unlike say, WildTangent, which requires you to have their rather large "WildTangent Web Client" installed in order to play any of their games. Most of those WT games are single-player, and have no reason to keep contacting the servers in order to play. They claim it's just to send back information on what game you play, and for how long (and that's probably all that gets sent back), but do they really need that info in order to keep it running? Nope. However, they want it, and since they designed the game, they get it.

If you've got a recent Compaq computer, it comes with WildTanget DRMed game demos installed.

Not sure. (4, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928563)

I'm not sure that copy protection encourages pirating but I won't install a bought game on my machine without a no-CD crack, etc. as well. The original games are safest when in the jewel case packed in the box on a shelf.

Re:Not sure. (2, Interesting)

LiquidAvatar (772805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929082)

I'm not sure that copy protection encourages pirating

The point of the article wasn't that copy protection software, as a technology, encourages pirates... it was that StarForce, as a company, *does*

See the (censored) screencap [] that is hosted on the GalCiv site, showing a StarForce employee linking to a pirated copy of the game.

Re:Not sure. (2, Informative)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929804)

StarForce are really showing their colours here. These guys are basicly acting like mobsters. "Buy our software or we'll show (with links) where people can pirate your game." There really needs to be a day of recokning for these Russian Mobsters, as well as any company who buys their product.

Ubi is officially on my shit list. I actively encourage piracy of Ubi games until they stop using SF. I give classes at local LAN parties on how to use BitTorrent, VMWare, GameCopyWorld, and Daemon tools to actively circumvent copy protection.

Re:Not sure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14930927)

Maybe I just need some sleep, but how does VMWare come into play for circumventing protection? I understand the others, but that one puzzled me.

Re:Not sure. (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931236)

It's good to run keygens and other "unknowns" before trying them on your production system.

Re:Not sure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14934584)

That makes perfect sense, thanks for the reply. I just wasn't sure if you had some other reason for including it with the others that I wasn't thinking of.

Re:Not sure. (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929818)

Unfortunately, NOCDs are going the way of the dodo. More and more, we are seeing mini-images that, when loaded in Daemon Tools, fool the game into thinking that the CD is present.

The problem is that, eventually, games will refuse to install if DT is present. Some try to refuse to load, but DT is pretty stealthy.

In the arms race between DT and DRM, the only sure thing is that the customer will lose.

Re:Not sure. (2, Insightful)

blincoln (592401) | more than 8 years ago | (#14930097)

Unfortunately, NOCDs are going the way of the dodo. More and more, we are seeing mini-images that, when loaded in Daemon Tools, fool the game into thinking that the CD is present.

I actually prefer disc images to patch-style no-CD hacks. My thinking is that I'd rather be running an unmodified version of the game program, because I don't know what secondary effects a hack will have on the game.

I say that as someone who *does* hack games. I am pretty sharp, and so are most of the people who make no-CD patches, but it's not the same as being a developer who worked on the game and understands what removing a function call or forcing a particular value will do to other parts of it.

PIA (2, Insightful)

AK__64 (740022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928568)

The article speaks about the invasiveness and general irritation that DRM causes and I think when they state that DRM may be contributing to the problem of piracy, it's the same thing where legit Windows buyers have to jump through the Product Activation hoops and rigamarole. I know of at least one person who legitimately bought WinXP but installed a pirated version to avoid the hassles. Legitimate, law-abiding users pay the price.

I'm all for the Valve's Steam method of distribution. It's the wave of the future...

Re:PIA (1)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928641)

I installed Microsoft Office 2003 on a computer with no internet access, and I didn't want to go to the trouble of activating it over the phone. When the evaluation period expired, I just stopped using it.

Since then, I have uninstalled Windows and mostly use Linux. Part of the reason for this is because I don't want to have to deal with DRM, and because I don't want to have to read a very long and restrictive EULA to work out whether my windows installation is even legal or not.

Microsoft are possibly losing more sales through people refusing to use DRM'ed products than they gain through having DRM in the first place, especially since it is generally not too hard to find keygens, cracks, etc. which make the DRM useless.

Re:PIA (3, Interesting)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928853)

Not trying to be critical or funny, but you're not normal. Your need to use Office or Windows isn't compelling enough for you to keep using them. Most people who buy Office and Windows don't see much of an alternative. Linux, Open Source, etc. are simply not on the radar screen. They don't read the EULAs either, by the way; they just use the products. When pushed to "validate" their product, they just go ahead and do it and don't worry about it. Where you can't be bothered with EULAs, they can't be bothered with DRM. After all, they're legit, so who cares? My point really is that the average customer for this software will go through the hoops as long as it amounts to a coupla clicks. You're a lot more sophisticated and you see the alternatives. But there's not a sufficient number of people like you to make a difference to the market.

Re:PIA (1)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14940619)

I agree. I am in the minority. My point, though, is that there *are* people like me who will stop using MS because of DRM, and there are a very small number of people who will buy MS products because of DRM. So, overall, microsoft are possibly losing out.

Big Picture (5, Insightful)

ludomancer (921940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928603)

Fact: Anti-Piracy software developers are doing the same thing that regular software developers are trying to do: sell software.

Fact: Anti-Piracy software does not stop piracy.

Fact: Anti-Piracy softare adversely affects legitimate players.

Fact: Not everyone who pirates a game is a guaranteed sale/loss of a sale.

Fact: Pirated software is another model of distribution which helps create product recognition with your audience.

Partial Fact and Opinion: Many people, myself included, use access to pirated software as a tool for determining what games are worth our monetary support. I can not count the number of times that piracy has either
a) saved me from buying a horrible piece of software that marketting led people to believe otherwise, and
b) caused me to buy a game (many, many times) that I would have otherwise never looked at or had a chance to try in another form.
I wish everyone had this state of mind. Obviously that's not the case, but I also feel that the latter group of individuals also encompass the demographic that would not grant your title a sale even if they did not download the title. That is, they are usually either downloading it for the sake of downloading it, or have no access to the funds to purchase games regularly.

There are as many beneficial reasons to piracy as there are negative aspects. The lies given by anti-piracy software developers are underhanded scare tactics, and not worth a publishers time. I hope the majority of educated individuals agrees when they weigh the facts in.

Re:Big Picture (2, Insightful)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929120)

Yes but then again, game companies dont wnat you trying out a game first and finding it sucks so you dont buy it. they would rather you find out after you purchased it

Re:Big Picture (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14929413)

Exactly. I probably should have mentioned that control is as much as issue as the feined piracy problems, but there were already too many points I was trying to make on such a small space.

Hopefully others realize this too, though not likely. It echoes of the RIAA and the music industry's motivations for shutting down filesharing. There are no moral, ethical or lawful barriers that will stop a company from convincing you it's okay to syphon your bank account away. It's only if they can get away with it.

How long until negative game/music/movie reviews will be viewed terrorist propaganda attempting to disrupt our economy? ;)

Copy protection itself encourages piracy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14928638)

I work on a computer all day. I rip all the music I buy so that I don't have to carry around loads of CDs or bother swapping them around all the time. Digital media is more valuable to me than physical media, but I will only buy CDs because a) I want some kind of physical master copy in case my hard drive dies or anything like that and b) I want lossless compression.

So what does the copy protection do? Lock the thing I value most away from me. If I'm lucky, I get crappy MP3s on a data layer. No thanks. You know what I do if I find out an album I want is copy protected? I download it.

The simple fact of the matter is that, where copy protection is used, anonymous pirates provide a better service than the music labels. And the sad thing is that this isn't due to the record companies falling short in some way, it's because they actively choose to harm their own product.

The reason they can get away with this is because there is no competition when it comes to media. I'm not talking about the RIAA cartel, I'm talking about the basic nature of copyright. If somebody owns the rights to a particular song I like, then no competition exists for that song. I either buy it on the terms the copyright holder chooses, I don't buy it at all, or I obtain it from a black market.

For a free(r) market to exist, with competition acting the way it should, artists should be legally prohibited from signing exclusive contracts. Reduce the record labels to investors and publishers instead of the people with all the power, because right now, the situation is upside-down.

Re:Copy protection itself encourages piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14930130)

For a free(r) market to exist, with competition acting the way it should, artists should be legally prohibited from signing exclusive contracts

You should get the Nobel for that one.

No truer words have been spoken.

Two Words (4, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928647)

Two words: Notebook, CD-Check.

There's a strong trend towards notebooks as the everyday computer of most people, replacing desktop machines. Once you have a notebook, you use the mobility. Whether you go into the living room for a comfortable surf or take it with you on the train.

And all these stupid CD-Checks force you to carry a bundle of CDs with you all the time? How stupid is that? Not to mention that they're all fooled, cracked, broken in less time than it takes them to write new versions.

Like I said before: If game developers would save the money for copy restriction stuff and instead pour it into writing better games, they'd probably sell more.

Those who pirate always have, always will. Mostly it's the kids who couldn't afford more than one game every other month anyways if they had to buy them. Most of the pirated copies would not have been sales with harsher laws, better copy restriction or whatever else to prevent copying. They would simply be less people playing the game, not more people paying for it.

Re:Two Words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14928903)

If game developers would save the money for copy restriction stuff and instead pour it into writing better games, they'd probably sell more.

You fool! Why would they want to pay more game developers when they can spend $100's on each copy of the game they send out? And, real soon now, someone will develop the ultimate protection that no one can hack! Mwahaha!

More and more, I subscribe to an idea I originally read about in "Up the Organization" (I think): the ties required by management types only succeed in cutting off bloodflow to the brain!

Re:Two Words (1)

Osmosis_Garett (712648) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929246)

I don't know that you can classify 'CD-check' as a single word.

Re:Two Words (1)

BillX (307153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14938484)

Not to mention that requiring the notebook user to put in an optical drive takes up a slot that could be used for something else (say, another battery). Then there's the effect of spinning up the drive all the time on battery life...

Well covered by Penny Arcade (4, Informative)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928711)

Penny Arcade news post on StarForce thugs []

The comic will briefly be available here [] ,

And later it will appear in its permanent location: Penny Arcade comic on StarForce thugs []

(I wonder if they'll ever sort out their flakey software.)

Re:Well covered by Penny Arcade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14929489)

Hahaha! It's one long dick joke! Hahaha!

Even the guy's name is a dick joke! Pinkwood, get it? Hahaha!

Why do people even bother reading Penny-Arcade any more?

Re:Well covered by Penny Arcade (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931497)

I only read it for the articles.

Alternative models (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14928784)

Honestly, the best way to stop piracy of all kinds (for all mediums) is to adopt a new marketing model. Consider digital distribution as a model ...

For the average game it will probably cost less that $1 (definately less than $5) per copy sold to deliver the game to the customer via download through the internet; at the same time you no longer need an expensive distribution network nor do you have to cut a retailer in on the sale. This means that the only people who have to make money on the sale of the product are the developer and publisher (and in the case of a console the licence provider); Publishers tend to take in the money at $5-$15 per title and then give the developer their cut (licence providers [like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft] tend to get $5-$10 per title). This means that you could sell the average game for between $10-$25 and still make the same ammount of money. If you could buy the average new release for $15 why would you bother to steal it?

If you look at music ... at $1 per song people are still willing to hunt the music down and steal it ... at $0.25 why would you bother?

Re:Alternative models (1)

typidemon (729497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929483)

1. Music companies complain that US$1 is too little to pay for each song.

The preception is that moving distribution to the internet destroys traditional markets for non-proven income.

Re:Alternative models (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14932001)

I'm posting as AC because I don't want any karma for this (if I'd get it).

I think $1/song is just fine. I was given an iPod for my 40th birthday recently and I've purchased a few songs because I did not want to spend $15 for a CD which only had 3 songs that I actually liked.

However, I also download music because some of the music that I like is not available here in the US. It's that simple. Go to the Japanese iTMS. See what is available there. Try to buy any of those titles here from the US iTMS. You can't. The Japanese iTMS does not accept paypal, and my credit card has a US address, so I can't use it there.

The music cartels are causing their own problems by limiting distribution. There are plenty of people here in the US who would purchase foreign music _if they could get it_. I have learned about some wonderful foreign groups that sing in languages other than English from my friends from those countries. Sending money overseas is expensive and risky (especially sending it to China), but there is some wonderful music being produced overseas that Americans cannot access because of the stupidity of the music cartels.

I would be perfectly happy to pay $1 per song for some of my favorite Japanese and Chinese artists' songs if I could find a way to do that legally!

That's a nice game... (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928891)

You shunta wan' anythin' to happen to it. We can mak' sure it don't, for just a small fee. Oh, what's in the violin case? (wink) Just a violin. Call me Guido, cuz I'm sure we're gonna be buddies.

In other news... (2, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928916)

Antivirus software companies write viruses...

Microsoft codes venerabilities into Windows, then patches in the next major version of Windows, coding different venerabilities into it...

Congressmen ignore their constituents once they get elected...

More at 11.

Re:In other news... (0, Offtopic)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14928984)

Am I trolling or being insightful, or both?
Paranoia will be the judge.

It kinda hurt a bit (1)

BrentonSucks (961497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14929706)

I installed Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (contains SF), and my computer exploded, blinding me, and then the president of SF came and kicked me in the shin.

This is not worthy of the noteriety its getting. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14929883)

People should really look at what all this SF fuss is about: read what they ACTUALLY did and judge for yourself whether it's worthy of all this media attention. Hint: It's not.

(Basically, some guy proved a point that it's easy to find pirated copies of a game that wasn't copy-protected. So what. A 13 year old with three minutes on a 56k can do that... it's not like they hosted and distributed it)

Re:This is not worthy of the noteriety its getting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14931322)

Um ok. A guy, who is part of a company who works to stop pirating, provides an easy access to a pirating source for a game isn't worth this media attention? Ahem, think again.

> Basically, some guy proved a point that it's easy to find pirated copies of a game that wasn't copy-protected,

Wrong, here showed how easy it is to find pirated copies of games. Whether or not it originally had protection is irrelevant. 0 day warez of protected titles attest to this.

> So what. A 13 year old with three minutes on a 56k can do that...

This wasn't a 13 year old. It was someone who (supposedly) actively supports prevention of piracy. Then he helped it by posting a link to a pirating source. Tell me, if a firefighter turned out to be an arsonist, would you also say ho hum? What would be worth media attention to you? Sun doesn't support .Net? Microsoft believes Linux is inferior? Person buys books only to read them? Sorry to disappoint, but highly public hypocrisy will always be worthy of that attention. People who walk the line they preach rarely will.

Re:This is not worthy of the noteriety its getting (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933037)

People should really look at what all this SF fuss is about: read what they ACTUALLY did and judge for yourself whether it's worthy of all this media attention. Hint: It's not.

He posted a link to illegal copies of a game that didn't use their protection, suggesting that this proved that lack of protection meant more piracy. Then someone else pointed out that he could just as easily post a link to pirated copies of games that do use StarForce. Then another employee of StarForce pointed out that doing so would be illegal and would get him banned from the forum.

Can you say "double standard"? Or, for that matter, "protection racket"?

Re:This is not worthy of the noteriety its getting (1)

Captain Chaos (13688) | more than 8 years ago | (#14936620)

This most certainly is worth the attention that it is getting, but I have a feeling you are just one of the many StarForce stooges prowling various forums and doing damage control. As stated by the others it is their hypocrisy that is causing all this attention. They violated their own forum rules about posting links to illegal content and then left the link up until well after the intial news post on Stardock's site about them doing so. Anyone else making posts like that or posts too critical of their product sees their post promptly edited or outright deleted by the moderators and this was one of their own admins who posted the link in the first place. They left their own link up for a week though until the influx of users from Stardock's forums, Slashdot and Digg brought them a lot of bad publicity. I went to their forums after the story posted here on the 11th and the link was still there and working.

There was also another admin in a different thread requesting scans of a PC Gamer magazine article that mentioned their product because the editor had problems with their protection and wrote a piece on it. This is a company selling products to protect copyright, yet they have no qualms against violating copyright themselves. One of their admins, sage386, also advertises his ties to the cracking group UCF. You can google him and find his name listed in nfo files. This should show you the type of company we are dealing with here and why it is important to get this news out and let the publishers know we do not want to support them if they use StarForce on their products. Since the linking to the torrent they have already lost the support of one publisher, with hopefully more to come. Aspyr Media will not include StarForce in the North American release of Spellforce 2, even though the demo currently uses it. []

This is not worthy - Original Author Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14936726)

I am NOT a StarForce employee or supporter in any way - I'm a strong privacy advocate, and when I first read about all this StarForce fuss I immediately went and checked for it on my system. So don't make me out to be some stooge - I'm not. But at the same time, it's ridiculous to have such a hoopla over one employee posting something in a company forum. Yes, not removing it was a poor decision. But at the same time, his actions weren't so outlandish to support being posted on every news agency on the net.

To reiterate: I do not like StarForce. I do not like the company, I don't like the practice, I don't like their market sector to begin with. But what one employee posted to prove a point was not worthy of any of this. Look at the screenshot: []

Is that the world's most threatening thing ever? No! It's a valid point: he's showing that despite someone's (obviously flamebait) post that a game could get along fine without the company's protection, it was right then being downloaded thousands of times. He was proving his point, not encouraging people to download. Look at the screenshot and tell me that's not something you could see yourself posting in his place. It's not that epic.

Re:This is not worthy (1)

guardian-ct (105061) | more than 8 years ago | (#15004513)

If you happen to check out that screenshot more closely, you'd realize that JM is posting as an administrator of the starforce forums, and I think he should be held to a higher standard than "if you were him, would you have posted ___".

To be honest, if I was him, I wouldn't have posted a link to a pirated torrent download of _anything_ on an official copy protection software forum (or anywhere else).

Located pirate version to easy use of legal versio (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14931225)

I use Alcohol 120% to make images of all games that I buy. Not only does this help keep the original cd in good condition, but the game loads faster and I don't have to spend time looking for the cd I just misplaced. I was looking forward to Doom3 for some time. I had followed its development and read each new scoop on the game as soon as it became available. When the game released I purchased it the second day of its availability. I felt good. I was getting a new game and doing the right thing when I new many others would be pirating it. I get home and find out that it refuses to run until I disable Alcohol. I had been so looking forward to the game I hadn't even made a copy yet. Alcohol just had an linux bootable cd I was building open. Definately legit. I then began the full realization that I would have to shut Alcohol down every time I wanted to take a break and play. This pissed me off so much that I wound up locating the pirated version just like so many others. It worked easier. By giving over my money for the legal copy, I was the one being penalized. What kind of crap is that? To this day, I still refuse to have anything to do with that company. You penalized me for being a good consumer. Bite Me! You will not see a single dollar from me again. On the other hand, just hearing about the complete lack of pain, brow beating, strip searching, and unwarranted monitoring in the protection scheme for the new Galactic Civilizations caused me to go check out the details on that game. Guess what? You got it. That's where my money is going. So in a nutshell, the copy protection in Doom3 caused me to encourage pirates by downloading their warez for the game as well as sending my money to a different company. So ID has it worth it? I'll bet Stardock thinks so.

I spend way to much money on games (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14931330)

I had a good income but worked nights so needed something to do during the day and the internet (being dutch I payed by the minute, peak times) was to expensive.

So I played a lot of games, wich I bought. Still got a huge stack of CD's. The floppys were thrown out a few years ago as I figured if I ever wanted to replay one of them I would just download them.

Recently I haven't bought a lot of games. Why? Well I was starting to feel screwed. Hard. In the ass. By a big black guy.

While I am from amsterdam I still did not enjoy that feeling.

What was giving me that feeling? An increasing number of games that were to short, to buggy, to kiddy and just not worth the high price charged.

Lucasarts is for me the perfect example. Their early games were all near perfect. I had little doubt about buying x-wing and its expansions and sequels. Their adventures? Who needs a review when it got the lucasarts label?

Then came games like that horrible Monkey island with the moronic 3d interface that was a bitch to control. Yuck. Fun but ruined by some kind of need to use 3d in the marketing bullshit.

Worse was still to come. Forgot the title that was the galactic bit version of the current Empire at war release. Or howabout that RTS eh? The first one that was not based on the age of empire engine?

Crap games, that were buggy and just not fun to play and certainly not worth full price.

Even the x-wing series went downhill as it became less and less dogfighting and more and more missle dodging.

I feel less and less inclined to buy the new releases as I know that what awaits me is a poorlyb designed game riddled with bugs.

FEAR was great but is a 8 hour game really worth full price? Not in my book.

But there was anoter problem as well. That is copy protection. Why is it that the PAYING public has to mess around with game-cd's, impossible to read keys, non-working drives etc etc when the pirate can just download a far better game that just runs, with the update and isn't slown down by constant CD accessing?

An old sequel to elite, frontier something, took the absolute price in stupid copy protection. It stopped every 20 minutes or so to ask you to look up a word in the manual. Gee thanks, for that lovely experience. It was still BBS for me in those days but finally a friend gave me a cracked version of the game that skipped that stupid check. My first pirated game. Going from constant interruption to trouble free gaming by NOT paying 79,- guilders.

Current game protections would be like having a DVD that forces you to watch a 10 second segment warning you not to pirate the movie that ofcourse no ripper includes so only the persons who do not pirate see it. You would have to be completly insane to do that to your paying customers.

I still got money to spend, just that if I go to a game store today I just don't see that many games worthy of my money. The few that I still buy seem to insist on rewarding me for buying them by giving me a harder time then the people who pirate it.

Oh, and none of the copy protections work anyway. Empire at war has starforce and all you had to do for hassle free, free play was to wait till a proper group got around to crack it.

The game is indeed a current lucasarts game. CRAP. Worth about 3 euro in the store. Not 49.95

Re:I spend way to much money on games (1)

scribblej (195445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14935553)

Current game protections would be like having a DVD that forces you to watch a 10 second segment warning you not to pirate the movie that ofcourse no ripper includes so only the persons who do not pirate see it. You would have to be completly insane to do that to your paying customers.

Wow, things must be different in Amsterdam. They *DO* that here in the US. Your non-hacked DVD player won't let you skip the warning reminding you that pirating the film is illegal. They really don't over there?

Re:I spend way to much money on games (1)

Captain Chaos (13688) | more than 8 years ago | (#14937057)

I played a few here in the US that would let me skip it or fast forward through it. I just mute the volume if it doesn't as I can't stand the music they use. The ironic part is I recall seeing a story a while back that said they didn't license the music used in that trailer.

More accurate article title... (2, Funny)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14932193)

Instead of "Copy Protection Firms Encourage Piracy" it might be more accurate to title it "Russian Software firm re-invents 2nd-oldest profession, extortion ala 'protection racket'."

Gee, mister, it sure would be a SHAME if your store BURNT DOWN. Perhaps if you were to share your profits with us, we would MAKE SURE something like that WOULDN'T HAPPEN. If you choose not to participate in our generosity, who KNOWS what MIGHT happen?

Sounds like someone could use an axe-handle across the knees.

Games people don't want in their computer (1)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14934648)

Another reason switch to open-source games. Unfortunately there aren't any good yet.So hacks,warez and NOCd loaders will stay for awhile.
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