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Thread: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

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    [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    The game Spore has been released just 3 days ago, but yet already if we see Amazon.com customer reviews, they rate this gamevery badly (as of writing, over 2,100 customers gave it a 1 star). This is because EA has added DRM to it?

    But when you think of Half Life 2 and Steam, that in itself is sort of a DRM, but very cleverly done. You can't mod the game files (otherwise the game would most likely cease to work) but you can get mods for the Half Life 2 game (e.g. Half Life 2 - Riot Act).

    What happens if you don't have the disc? You may need to download the game from their servers. What happens if they close their servers? Then it seems we are stuffed. But seeing as how popular Half Life 2 and all their games are, it's unlikely this will happen for a long time.

    I think the one thing that cinches it with gamers is that EA have restricted the amount of times a user can install a game to their PC, although EA claim to give support for those who need that number to be bumped up another notch (BAM!).

    Imagine if you made a game and you were concerned about it's privacy. Would you think EA's method is best? Maybe you'd go to Valve? Or maybe you aren't bothered at all with piracy, and you'd happily give the CD without DRM...? How would you do things? Personally, I'd see myself going for the Valve option if possible - unless one of the game's unique features to my consumers is modding. In that case, I'd release it DRM free and bite my teeth.

    Here is the link to the news story.

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software


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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Wow, I guess this isn't a big an issue as you thought, my feeling on it, I don't really care.

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Quote Originally Posted by DeanMc
    Wow, I guess this isn't a big an issue as you thought, my feeling on it, I don't really care.
    Then why open your mouth?






    Anyway, I think that using "phone home" is an odd way of making sure your game is legal. Perhaps once upon installation, sure, but every few days? No, that idea was devised by someone that should be forced to attend a Police Station and sign some sort of register every few days.

    This clearly is a hardware problem.

    Until they start making CDs, DVD, BluRay etc. with some kind of non-copyable ID on them (unobtrusive holographic barcodes around the centre) AND disc drives that can read them, we'll never get past this problem.

    OH WAIT, they do already! How silly of me. Except that Dell, HP, Compaq (and all the others) make a hefty wad of cash each year from their active software anti-piracy measures, that simply giving everyone a slightly cleverer DVD drive (which would - demonstrably - solve the problem overnight), would be a bad business strategy.

    News Just In: Smart-DVD-Drive manufacturing processes cause global warming.

    Oh well that clears that up then.
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    That's like pharmacies not providing a cure for HIV because they make money from these ill people and these cures will prevent it.

    Absolutely sick.

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    Frenzied Member MaximilianMayrhofer's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Oh don't complain, as long as they are still using software to protect their stuff, it can still be hacked/modded/reverse-engineered.

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Just play games that don't suck noodles.

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    TuxRacer ftw!!!1111111111

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    Hyperactive Member Arrow_Raider's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    EA sucks, and Valve is God.
    My monkey wearing the fedora points and laughs at you.

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    I used to respect Rockstar, then blah blah read sig replace council with dma design.

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    Banned timeshifter's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    It goes something like this.

    Some of us are prone to get frequent hardware upgrades and reformat often. I'd guess that it'd take me less than half a year to hit Spore's installation limit. At which point I'd have to call EA, explain my problem to them, prove that I legally bought the game, and they may or may not give me additional activations. So, what's wrong with this system?

    1) I bought the game legally. Why do I need EA's permission to install something that I already have EA's permission to install? Saying you can only install a game x number of times is basically saying you're renting the game, not buying it. You will never fully own Spore. That's just the fact of the matter.

    2) It's additional bandwidth and procedures that get eaten up by constant activation checks. While it may be relatively negligable on most modern computers, it still happens, and it's still bogus. If I bought the game, why does it have to check every time I start it up to verify that it's legal? It should only need to check once - at the moment of installation. If it isn't valid at that point, then halt the installation.

    3) Who is it that the DRM is supposed to protect the legitimate user from? Pirates. But the irony is ridiculous. The pirates will likely have the game days before the official release. Pirates will also NEVER have to deal with the DRM. Granted, they won't get the same extent of online content that a legal user will, but does a pirate care about that anyway? No, they don't. I speak as one of them. If I want to play a game online, I buy it legally. Spore is one of the ones I torrented, because frankly, it isn't worth the money, and no price is worth the DRM hassle.

    In short: DRM hurts only the legal users, not the ones it's supposed to prohibit from using the software. Pirates still get it quite easily, and they enjoy it just as much, with a wallet that's $50 richer than a legal user's.

    Stardock has it right. They don't care about the pirates. They completely understand that if somebody wants to pirate their game, there's nothing they can do about it. But for the rest of the world, their games are reasonably priced, DRM-free, and easily available through Stardock Central (same concept as Steam, only with a less flashy and much more responsive GUI). I installed a cracked version of Sins of a Solar Empire, and not only did SDC pick up that installation, it offered to update the game for me. Do you ever hear of Stardock or Steam complaining about piracy? Rarely, if ever. I've never heard it. The reason is because they make it easy for consumers to get what they want. I don't like having to get up and go to a store, so if I can download something online, I'm going to. Caesar 4, for example. I found that game for sale via digital download, and didn't have a single problem paying $50 for it. It's a great game, easily worth it. EA doesn't seem to get it. Make it easy and hassle-free for the user to get your product, and the motivation for piracy flies out the window. I may not even buy Red Alert 3 because of DRM, and I've been waiting for that game more than anything else, ever. DRM is a very serious issue, and EA seems to be one of the few who doesn't get it. Spore went from being projected as making record sales to becoming the most pirated game of all time, simply because EA made it a hassle for people who change/upgrade computers a lot.


    For the record, I did NOT purchase Spore legally, and I'm glad I didn't. It frankly isn't worth the money. The gameplay is so simplistic as to be ridiculous, and you can get through 40% of the game in well under two hours. Pretty much a waste of time for a real gamer. A casual gamer might get a lot more entertainment from it than I did, though.

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    Hyperactive Member Foxer's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    I agree with TS.

    I pirated version 1 & 2 of a music program (not a game) and used them to death for years. When they brought out version 3 for Vista I did the right thing and paid direct from their website. Only AFTER I paid money and got sent a d/l link and key I was informed :-

    - it had to be installed/activated within a fortnight
    - my key was good for 10 installations

    WT F???!?!! I thought I bought the software to use as I like as long as it was for personal use?

    Not knowing this, I installed it 6 weeks after purchase and had to call their tech support for a new key and then found out I had 10 activiations?!?!?! What a load of crap.

    I now check/research/google exactly what the restrictions are before I purchase and if I'm not getting an unrestricted version then I'll happily torrent it.
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    What is this, some sort of confessional therapy group for warez junkies?
    I don't live here any more.

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    Hyperactive Member BillGeek's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Quote Originally Posted by wossname
    What is this, some sort of confessional therapy group for warez junkies?
    Barely, though I would like to add my 10 cents to the picture here...

    I hate any game / device that has some sort of online activation and/or failsafe. And I do agree with everyone stating that if I have to pay R500 (that's the average price for a game in SA) for a piece of software then I should be allowed to have it. I refuse to be told that I'm not allowed to install the game more than ten times, or something rediculous as that.

    Fortunately, Steam does not have this "feature" as far as I'm aware. Also, I have found a way to get past the annoying updates for Steam. It's irritating as hell when you double-click on the game's icon only to be forced to wait for 20 minutes while it attempts to download some pointless update for Steam from what seems to be a calculator connected to the internet. What good is ADSL if updates only download at a speed of 2kbps??? Now, I open Steam, let it finish updating, then simply disconnect while Steam is still running. (Worked for me up till now)

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    MS SQL Powerposter szlamany's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Admitting to crimes on public forums is a novel way to get the FAST cops after you

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Quote Originally Posted by wossname
    What is this, some sort of confessional therapy group for warez junkies?
    :rofl: They are all sharing the warez needle.
    Last edited by kregg; Sep 17th, 2008 at 07:50 AM.

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    I come down somewhere in the middle on this.

    I don't think you ever have a right to pirate someone else's software and I don't buy the oft touted argument that it's OK because, if you like the game, you'll buy a legitimate copy later. When someone produces a product, provided it's not one of life's necessities, they have a right to sell it at whatever price they choose, allowing (or not) whatever free trials they choose and enforcing whatever random inconvenience they feel they need to impose upon the end user they choose. If you don't like the terms and conditions a product is sold under, don't buy it.

    On the other hand, I am concerned that there seem to be increasing restriction placed on the use of a software products, in particular, which is not advertised to the purchaser in advance. I personally didn't like the steam system and found it intrusive but at least Valve were up front about it pre-release. It was all over the media and you couldn't fail to know they were doing it. EA, on the other hand, really didn't advertise their restrictions at all. I bought the game a few days ago on an impulse and only discovered about the draconian DRM issues (and I do view only allowing me to install the product 3 times before going cap in hand to EA as draconian) when I wen't online looking for a forum. I took a look at the box last night and I can't see any mention of it anywhere I could have had access to until after I bought the product (I have no doubt it's in the terms and conditions on installation but by then I've parted with my hard earned cash).

    On the plus side, I actually quite like the game. It is very simplistic and I normally prefer hard core strategy but it's quite a nice diversion when I come home from work and want to switch my brain off. The cell stage is little more than a flash mini game but the creature and tribe stages are lots of fun. Civilisation and Space stages aren't bad but not as fun as the previous two stages - too complex to be played in a zombie state but not complex enough to really fire up the grey matter.

    If you really hate DRM I'd recommend paradox games. They don't hook up to the internet and don't even require the disk to be in the drive to play. You'd better like hardcore strategy, though, these guys don't do light.
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    MS SQL Powerposter szlamany's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Aren't we all one big happy software family?

    ...Milk-blood to keep from running out.

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    Hyperactive Member Arrow_Raider's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    One of the new prevaling theories is that the DRM in all of these new EA games is in place to prevent reselling the game. The idea of this angers me much more than DRM that just tries to prevent pirating.


    Here is something that I have experienced:
    I lost my Command and Conquer 3 cd. I wanted to play it, so I purchased another C&C 3. Of course, I found the original CD after already installing my additional purchased copy. So I tried to give my original copy to my friend, but it didn't work because the cd-key was tied to my EA account and it can't be transfered to another account.
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    MS SQL Powerposter szlamany's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    You all don't understand how software is licensed - I assumed this one fact and then found it on the net as such.

    "EA" grants you a non- transferable non-exclusive license to download and/or install and use one copy of the software
    Do you all see this same language in the agreements you click OK to when installing or downloading EA games?

    This is standard in the software industry. Matter of fact we do the exact same thing with our applications and software with our customers.

    It is a license to use - that's it. You don't buy someone's software - it is intellectual property - you use it.

    You are all lucky they don't make you plug in a dongle or download your fingerprint!

    If one of my customers called me up and said that they lost our application from the drive that they should be backing up it would be a billable experience for us to repair the problem.

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    Hyperactive Member Arrow_Raider's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Who gives them the power to declare that it can't be transfered? They just claim it and it is so? Perhaps one of these non-transferable clauses should be tested in court. Until then, I remain pissed.
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    I've always hated DRM. I don't pirate much anything anymore (abandonware mostly) but nothing messes up a game faster than 23 meg of DRM on a 3 meg executable and a half-ruined non-standard copy-protection track on a pressed CD disc with some weird hologram that the DRM is trying to tell my CDROM how to read, but has trouble understanding because it's like telling a blind man to describe what color blue he sees...

    That's not to say I still don't remove DRM from every game I buy. I get a No-CD/crack patch for them only because
    1) it's more convenient to play when the game is installed on a hard drive and the disc is safely stored in a media binder,
    2) when the company stops supporting the game, I still want to be able to load it up and play it.

    I put up with Steam because I love Half Life 2 and TF2, but you can be assured I periodically download the latest full official updates to the Orange Box as well as the latest cracks for that day when they decide it's not worth supporting anymore.

    I see games as artwork, and this push to online-only distribution and licensing worries me in that "will we be able to preserve these works of art for all time?" Already, massive programming and scavenging efforts have been put forth by emulation groups to preserve arcade and console games, as well as abandonware groups to preserve the PC games of yesteryear, but much of this effort has relied on physical media being available. What happens when games start slipping through the cracks and there's no physical media to track them down on?

    Another point, look at Auto Assault. Perhaps the funnest death-race style game since Carmageddon. It was an MMO though, and a truly horrible one at that (it would have done much better as a single-player game) so the game was a flop, but it was tons of fun just cruising around blowing things up and running over things. The company shut down the server and that's it. This game is now impossible to play and will never be played again. Will they ever release the server code to public domain? Doubtful.
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    I'd just like to take a break just so say something.

    Quote Originally Posted by DeanMc
    Wow, I guess this isn't a big an issue as you thought...
    Lulz.

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrow_Raider
    Who gives them the power to declare that it can't be transfered? They just claim it and it is so?
    Well, yes: that's how licence agreements work...

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    Hyperactive Member BillGeek's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Hmmm... your posts made me think for a minute there... Perhaps it is true then. No-one ever sells the product, they just sell the license.

    If this is the case, then I'd rather buy all my games for the XBox. HL2 for example, I had a choice of buying it for PC or XB360 so I opted for the latter.

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    The confusion is perhaps related to terminology: what is 'the product'? When you buy or sell a car, it is quite clear what the product is. With intellectual property it's not immediately obvious; there is the IP itself, and then there are licences to use that IP in various manners. I speculate that most people think of the licence as the product, then get caught out because licence agreements can impose all sorts of restrictions which don't apply to unconditional sales of tangible items like cars. When timeshifter says "you are renting the game, not buying it" he's correct in a sense: you're purchasing the right to install and run the software on EA's terms, which does not necessarily equate to a right to install and run it indefinitely. As szlamany says, this has been standard practice since the commercialisation of software.

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    So now everybody will start to use open source software more fequently?

    Yeah... It's going to take some time though.

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    So, in terms of buying a license rather than a product, where does the law stand on the insertion of a non-standard (and arguably unfair) clause into a set of terms and conditions which are only available to the user after the point of purchase?

    Taking my Spore experience as an example (and I don't feel particularly cheated, by the way, so this isn't me grinding an axe) the information that my ability to install the product more than three times was not made readily available to me until after I'd bought the product and that's assuming that's it's described in the terms and conditions on install which, I must admit, I haven't checked. I just did a quick google for 'Spore Terms and Conditions' the closest that got me to a set of conditions that would apply to me purchasing the game is the spore site. The site has terms and conditions for downloaded content and for use of the site but nothing that covers buyiong the game through a store. This means I could not have known about that clause until after I'd bought the product and certainly wouldn't have expected it.

    Now, once I've bought the product, the distributor has no obligation to refund my money if I disagree with the terms and conditions as the product isn't, in itself, faulty so my statuatory rights won't come into play. I'm not sure that the manufacturer has an obligation to refund my money under these circumstances either. So assuming I come across something truly onerous in the terms and conditions on install, what is my recourse? I don't think I actually have one.

    I suppose you could argue that I could have actively contacted EA direct prior to making the purchase or demanded the terms and conditions from the seller (though I'm not conviced the spotty oik in Game would have been able to tell me) but is that a reasonable expectation of a customer about to make an impulse purchase in a store?

    My problem with this situation isn't that EA can apply conditions to their license when they sell a product. My problem is that they can keep me in the dark about those conditions until after I've bought the product. There should be some obligation on them to push (I don't believe I should have to pull them) those conditions to me as part of the purchase process rather than at install. I can't think of a sensible mechanism for doing so though. A license agreement is way to big to print on the back of a box (though maybe if they write it plain english instead of the kind of legalese that requires a solicitor to read that mightn't be such a problem).
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    Hyperactive Member Arrow_Raider's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    If EA would just make their DRM more like the DRM in steam, there wouldn't be a problem.
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Maybe at some point EA will make an agreement with Valve to have Spore on Steam. Then it could be more popular, perhaps? That's excluding the possibility of the game being complete crap.

  31. #31
    Hyperactive Member Foxer's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter
    There should be some obligation on them to push (I don't believe I should have to pull them) those conditions to me as part of the purchase process rather than at install. I can't think of a sensible mechanism for doing so though.
    How about the back of the box saying "Purchase price includes a maximum install of 3 times after which you're rooted".

    I don't see it happening but that's what's needed.
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter
    I don't think you ever have a right to pirate someone else's software and I don't buy the oft touted argument that it's OK because, if you like the game, you'll buy a legitimate copy later.
    I agree. I have nothing but respect for the developers at EA. They make some amazing games, and that's just how it goes. But for how long as it been, when you buy a game, the complete use of that game is up to you? It wasn't until fairly recently that any game manufacturers started putting those restrictions up, and Stardock seems to be one of the few companies that still DOESN'T. SD doesn't care about the pirates. They realize that anti-piracy measures only hurt the legitimate buyers. But I digress.

    I am occasionally amazed at what some games do, because as a programmer, I have a tendency to analyze things, and sometimes there's just no simple way to do something, but it still gets executed flawlessly. I also know that I rather despise EA as a company, because of all the limitations that they feel they need to put in place, even though not many other manufacturers have the same level of restrictions. Pirated games can't be played online. That's a pretty nasty restriction that most every game shares, and we're all used to it. My personal issues with EA show up when EA is trying to change the playing field. Yes, they have a right to, but they're very quickly losing respect for the people who pay them. If EA continues with the DRM, then they will lose MASSIVE sales. Good for them. I honestly hope they learn their lesson. And I hope they learn that lesson before they start sacking developers. Steam has it mostly right. Stardock has it right. EA's just ignoring them both and saying "Yes, this way works" even though the rest of the world knows it really doesn't. Call me crazy, but I refuse to support that mindset. I have purchased several games through Stardock Central and Steam, and a couple other sites that offer digital distribution. Why? Because I'm confident that I'll enjoy the game enough to validate the price, and it's available via digital distribution, and if I change computers or reformat, I don't have to worry about licensing. I've purchased the game already, so if I do reformat, I still own the game, and can still install it and play it the same way I did the first day I bought it.

  33. #33
    Hyperactive Member Foxer's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    I don't buy EA or Sony games anymore due to their aggressive marketing. They change the terms (online games) or put copy protection or in-game advertising in such a way you're never really sure what you're paying for.

    They have the right to do that (maybe) and I have the right to boycott them.
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    Hyperactive Member BillGeek's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    There's just ONE argument that I disagree with in the whole of this discussion. I don't care about DRM or Steam or any of that. If they want me to connect, I will. But to limit the number of installs? That's just crazy. Look at steam, for example. You can install ANY copy of HL2, and if you sign in with a legit account, you can play it. Simple as that. I've installed HL2 on the PC probably close to 20 times now. Formatting, uninstalling, corrupt files, etc... and every single time it works. I find it utterly ridiculous that they put a restriction on the number of times you can install software. It makes no sense to me, and I doubt to anyone else. If ever I get to a point where I can sell a piece of software commercially, this would be the LAST thing that'll cross my mind.

  35. #35
    Super Moderator si_the_geek's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter
    Now, once I've bought the product, the distributor has no obligation to refund my money if I disagree with the terms and conditions as the product isn't, in itself, faulty so my statuatory rights won't come into play. I'm not sure that the manufacturer has an obligation to refund my money under these circumstances either. So assuming I come across something truly onerous in the terms and conditions on install, what is my recourse? I don't think I actually have one.
    In the UK (according to respected TV programs) it is covered by your statutory rights, as you have not "signed" the legal agreement - you are entitled to a refund from the distributor (but if they don't understand/comply you can go directly to the manufacturer, who are the ones who eventually pay for the refund anyway).
    Last edited by si_the_geek; Sep 19th, 2008 at 12:42 PM.

  36. #36

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Quote Originally Posted by BillGeek
    There's just ONE argument that I disagree with in the whole of this discussion. I don't care about DRM or Steam or any of that. If they want me to connect, I will. But to limit the number of installs? That's just crazy. Look at steam, for example. You can install ANY copy of HL2, and if you sign in with a legit account, you can play it. Simple as that. I've installed HL2 on the PC probably close to 20 times now. Formatting, uninstalling, corrupt files, etc... and every single time it works. I find it utterly ridiculous that they put a restriction on the number of times you can install software. It makes no sense to me, and I doubt to anyone else. If ever I get to a point where I can sell a piece of software commercially, this would be the LAST thing that'll cross my mind.
    I think your point is the main crux of this argument. While anti-DRM fanboys are huffing kittens, the most of us would generally agree that the limiting installation of software is an issue. I would be more understanding if the manufacturers of operating systems implemented this idea, but that doesn't make it right. A game company doing this just sounds awful.

    I think the problem with EA is that they often don't put themselves in the feet of their customers when it comes to issues like this. They obviously want to generate high revenue, but doing this may in-fact do the opposite, which is the irony.

    I remember when I saw the Windows XP EULA a couple of days ago. It reads:

    "The Product may not be used by more than two (2) processors at any one time on any single Workstation Computer"

    Now the issue here is that I have a Core2Duo processor, which is actually two processors. By having XP still installed on this PC, I've broken the license agreement here for something I really cannot help (OK, I could have avoided purchasing the core2duo processor in the first place, but it's not that I can say stop to emerging technology - I want to take advantage of the 64 bit technology legally with the Linux operating system). This would mean I'd have to stop using my Windows XP just because of a choice I made without looking at the EULA. Ouch.
    Last edited by kregg; Sep 20th, 2008 at 03:29 PM.

  37. #37
    MS SQL Powerposter szlamany's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    When they talk processors at MS they are talking sockets - so if you have two sockets - yes. If it's a dual core processor you should have no issues.

    Btw - someone at MS explained how to work these issues using VMware - install a VM instance and have it only see one socket and you are properly following the EULA. This was based on a conversation about a two processor file server and wanting to avoid having to buy two processor licenses for MS SQL server if we ran it on that box.

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  38. #38

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Well at least it's no problems.

    But seriously, what is these sockets you are talking about? Are you talking about the internet socket?

  39. #39
    MS SQL Powerposter szlamany's Avatar
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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Server's come with two sockets on the board to plug two CPU's into. Make then dual core CPU's and you have 4 on board!

    But MS licenses the sockets - not the cores. At least with MS SQL they do...

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  40. #40

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    Re: [Serious] Discussion of DRM in software

    Now there is the business of calling Microsoft when things go wrong. Either that or a technician, and I'm not sure that they do a good job either...


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