Playing With My Weiner

Gaming at the mercy of miniature daschunds.

GTAIV For PC – Now With SecuROM! December 2, 2008

Filed under: Games,GamesLaw.net,GTA,Other Folks,PC — Gwyddia @ 8:05 pm
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From my piece on GamesLaw.net:

Despite the truly epic amount of litigation fomenting around DRM and SecuROM in particular, Rockstar has decided to use the product on the PC release of Grand Theft Auto IV this week, stating that SecuROM is “the most effective form of disc based copy protection[.]”

 

It is important to note that while SecuROM makes a product that many people dislike, the use of a SecuROM product by a company does not necessarily mean the advent of the sort of draconian measures found in Spore. GTAIV’s flavor, for example, will require anyone who does not purchase the game via Steam to have the disc in the drive while playing, and will require a one-time authentication on install. There are unlimited installs of the game after the initial authentication, and those do NOT require re-authentication.

 

That being said, like Spore, uninstalling GTAIV will still leave some remnants of SecuROM behind. As per Rockstar:

In regards to SecuROM, deleting GTA IV will remove the active functions if it is the only application that requires SecuROM, but some traces will remain, such as a registry entry and file, which allows you to reinstall without re-entering your authentication code. We are working with SecuROM to post information on our support pages regarding how to remove these inactive traces of the program for users who wish to do so.

At least they’re working on it, but why does the program do that in the first place? And isn’t that potentially malicious lingering part of what is calling SecuROM to legal question in the first place?

 

The Weiner Goes Live! November 20, 2008

Filed under: Games,GamesLaw.net,Industry,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 3:40 pm
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Kinda.  I will be at VGExpo in Philly this weekend, enjoying myself and covering it for the Weiner and, to some extent, GamesLaw.net. If you’ll be there, sent me a tweet and we’ll get together!

 

Weinercast Wednesday November 12, 2008

The Weinercast is go! This week: The Future of DRM.

As always, the Weinercast is available on Gwyddia - Weinercast

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we’ll address it on air next week!

A non-iTunes link if you need it.

 

Guitar Hero World Tour Creation Mode Woes November 9, 2008

Some snags this week for users of Guitar Hero World Tour’s Creation mode.

 

User-created versions of existing, copyrighted songs are disappearing. This comes as no surprise, as Blactivizzion warned that content would be monitored for infringement. That being said, I think there is a significant legal argument to be made that what people are creating in World Tour is not copyright infringement per se.

 

A little law first, from  the U.S. Copyright Office:

One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the Copyright Act (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” Although fair use was not mentioned in the previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. This doctrine has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

1.)  the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2.)  the nature of the copyrighted work;

3.)  amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4.)  the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

 

Making your own version of the Green Hills Zone available for free download in GHWT is not “commercial”, at least for users.  You don’t expect to realize a dime on it.  Blactivizzion, however, may.

 

Kotaku is reporting that the company is considering a fee-for-service model for user-created content. That sounds like foul play, as users were not warned about this possibility before buying the game. Why should we create content for the company to sell and not realize a dividend? And what, then, is the effect of the use of these tunes on the potential market for the copyrighted work? I would think it would encourage people to enjoy the original, whether that be playing Sonic or picking up a song on iTunes. These three “instrument” versions of songs are NOT the original. The nature is substantially different. No one is going to mistake your lyrics-free version of Bohemian Rhapsody with Queen’s magnum opus. And no one who wants to sing along with Freddie is going to miss their chance to do so with the actual song.

 

The implications for your own creations of original material are different, and possibly worse. If Blactivizzion does what they are proposing, you will be creating new music and handling them the licensing fees. Moreover, it is unclear how this structure would affect your own copyrights in the future. All in all, this seems bad bad bad bad and bad. Fun, fairly used tunes are being taken out of play and it seems that they are to be replaced by play-for-play wholesale acquisition of your music.  It’s enough to make me want to stick to Rock Band.

 

Excuse me now, I’m going to exercise my right to reproduce this piece over at GamesLaw.net.

 

“Mind Theft” Suit Leveled at Blizz November 6, 2008

Hello?  Mind taker??

Hello? Mind taker??

An inmate in South Carolina has attempted to file suit against Blizzard for “mind theft”. You can check out the filing and my take on it over at GamesLaw.net.

 

Preview: The New XBox Live Experience November 4, 2008

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Are you experienced?  As Jimi rock and rolls in his grave, Microsoft prepares to roll out their “New XBox Live Experience” on November 19th.  First announced and shown at E3, the NXLE is essentially a giant Dashboard update, which means that ready or not, it is coming to your system in two weeks. In response to a “can I keep my old system?” FAQ, Microsoft replies, in near-Orwellian fashion:

 

“Why would you want to? The New Xbox Experience is the same experience you had before and so much more! As a matter fact, the blades that people have come to know and love are integrated directly in to the guide button so that every aspect of the Xbox experience is always only one button click away. The new Xbox experience is built with community as its foundation and requires everyone to upgrade.”

 

Microsoft is touting NXLE as the “ultimate social entertainment experience”.  Apparently concerts, clubs, coffeeshops, and the like are done for good.  But enough of slagging on the change for change’s sake. What’s new?

 

633608089139281317First up, move over Miis.  Avatars are here.  Immediately after downloading the new interface you will be asked to create an avatar, which will take the place of your gamerpic and will be used in games ranging from Scene It! to . . . Scene It! 2.  

 

Next comes Themes 2.0. This PS3 Home-esque feature gives you your own little piece of virtual real estate. Each graphic you see in a theme ties into the overall effect, and there are rumors of purchaseable theme items for that “special touch”. People with friends can invite them into the Friends Channel to host an avatar party, complete with dressup dolls and pudgy unicorns. Ok, I made that last part up. Still love your Penny Arcade blades theme? Microsoft assures us that we won’t lose our old gamerpics and themes, but as of this writing, they “haven’t given out specifics about how your Gamerpics and Themes will be used when the update launches”.

 

One of the biggest new features, both in terms of impact and hard disk space, is the new Netflix on Demand feature. If this works like the PC version, XBox Live users will be able to watch any of thousands of movies on their large shiny TVs without having to wait for a disc to arrive in the mail. This feature requires membership in the Netflix unlimited subscription plan and, I’d imagine, sufficient hard disk space to store the data. This should become interesting to Comcast subscribers, who have a shiny new bandwidth cap.

 

But they were both the streets of shame...

But they were both the streets of shame...

Where does this leave “Arcade” and “Core System” users? Microsoft states that “to download the update, Xbox LIVE members will need to have at least 128MB of memory available. However, we recommend having a hard drive for the best experience.” Right. So upgrade now, folks, lest ye be judged.

 

All in all, I think that some of these changes are decent. The streamlined interface will be nice after the learning curve, and avatars look fun, if useless. The big draw is really Netflix, and we won’t know how well that actually works after launch. Here’s hoping they can keep the system up longer than Sony has of late with Little Big Planet.

 

Jack Thompson Calls Me A Criminal October 29, 2008

Filed under: GamesLaw.net,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 11:28 am
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Well, indirectly. Actually he was talking about GamesLaw.net, a site for which I am a Contributing Writer.

 

In his last death throes before disbarment, Thompson filed a motion in his lawsuit against the Florida Bar referring to GamesLaw.net as a “video game enem[y]” doing “criminal activities”. ”

 

Way to spell there, Jack. You’re a credit to the profession. Oh, wait, you’re not a member of the profession anymore.

 

I have never been so proud of being disliked by anyone.