Disney's Decision Not To Renew SecuROM License Bricks 'Tron: Evolution'

from the drm-muh-gurd dept

Show of hands: who remembers SecuROM? Alright, put your hands down, we can’t see each other anyway. So, SecuROM was a really bad DRM used by several publishers to “protect” video games, by which I mean it mostly just annoyed legitimate buyers, got some of those publishers sued, and ultimately made the game unplayable on modern operating systems. The track record is enough to make you wonder why anyone would use DRM at all after this whole debacle.

But… it’s still happening. Back in 2010, Disney released the game Tron: Evolution. The game was laced with SecuROM and suffered many of the same problems as previously described. As an example of how you don’t really own what you buy anymore, the game simply bricked when Disney decided not to renew its SaaS subscription for SecuROM software.

Players trying to launch Tron: Evolution are now met with a message telling them that the ‘serial key has expired’. This applies to the retail version as well as the Steam version which is delisted from the store. The cause of this problem appears to be Disney not renewing their ‘subscription’ to the SecuROM activation system for this game. This means that even existing owners of the delisted game cannot play it for the foreseeable future.

Fun! Notably, those that pirated the game aren’t having this issue. Also notable is that when at least one person opened up a support ticket with SecuROM itself to fix the issue, the SecuROM folks told that person:

“You are right with your assumption, we can’t run this service anymore for Disney titles, therefore all activations are denied.

Best would be to contact Disney to get a refund for your purchase or convince them to release an uprotected version of the game.”

So as not to lose sight of this, the DRM company told the legit purchaser of a game that they should try to get the publisher of the game to release a non-protected game so that it could once again be played. If that doesn’t highlight the absurdity of this particular story for you, nothing will.

It also would have been one thing if Disney had been the slightest bit proactive about all of this. After all, the company knew it wasn’t going to renew the SecuROM subscription and therefore knew that such a decision would brick a whole bunch of people’s purchased games. Why not proactively release the game without DRM? Or alert purchasers, or the media, of what was coming? Why is it okay for Disney to essentially take back a product bought by a customer with no recompense?

The only reported communication from Disney is something like, “Yeah, we know, we’ll do something about it someday.”

Originally posted by Disney Games & Apps Support:
Hello raidebaron,

Our team is aware that the activation site for this game is no longer live and has since been shut down. At this time, if the game was not already previously installed it will no longer be able to be launched. We are looking into this hiccup and hoping to patch this in the future. However, at this time we do not have any current estimated time on when this will be.

Thank you for your patience.

No, thank you, Disney, for demonstrating that you don’t really care all that much about your own customers.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: disney, securom

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Disney's Decision Not To Renew SecuROM License Bricks 'Tron: Evolution'”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
107 Comments
Rekrulsays:

Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsuit

Most likely there’s a clause in the EULA saying that they’re not responsible for you being able to play the game and that you agree to resolve any disputes over your use of the game through binding arbitration. This is all thanks to a SCOTUS decision a few years ago that pretty much gutted the whole concept of class action lawsuits.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsuit

"Most likely there’s a clause in the EULA saying that they’re not responsible for you being able to play the game and that you agree to resolve any disputes over your use of the game through binding arbitration."

Of course there is. And even if there weren’t, I’m sure copyright law has the developer covered.

DRM remains one of the main reasons as to why no one should be dumb enough to install anything other than the pirated version – whether you bought the game or not.

Rekrulsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsuit

DRM remains one of the main reasons as to why no one should be dumb enough to install anything other than the pirated version – whether you bought the game or not.

In more recent years, I’ve become more leery of installing pirated software. Pretty much every patch or keygen gets flagged as malicious by every anti-virus. I was once told to just use a group’s verification tool to ensure that the release comes from them, but where do you get a trusted copy of the tool itself when even the tool registers as a virus?

And even then, half the comments say it works great and the other half complain of problems. Some games have complicated instructions like "Disconnect your internet, install the game, delete mot.dll, edit the INI file, run the patch, install the fake activation server, choose manual activation, run the game, quit, copy the game loader to the directory, enjoy. Note that the game will crash after level 7, so you’ll need to use the included save to continue from level 8."

OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but I know I’ve seen stuff like this in the comments for various games over the years. It used to be that you installed a game, copied a cracked EXE file to the game directory and either patched the game, or used the pre-patched one, which only had a few bytes different from the original. Now, the DRM has gotten so complex that you have to jump through all kinds hoops to get it working.

And for those who will interpret this to mean that I only used pirated software; I actually have a fairly sizable collection of original games. Most were either bought used or at closeout stores, but they’re genuine legitimate retail copies. I’d buy a copy of a game, install it, then use a crack so that I didn’t need the disc in the drive. I haven’t bought any games in a long time, partly because my system is outdated, but also because I refuse to buy anything that requires online activation. I would have bought a copy of Half-Life II long ago (I own the original games), if it wasn’t for the Steam requirement.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsuit

"Pretty much every patch or keygen gets flagged as malicious by every anti-virus."

To be expected. For a patch or keygen to work it has to write into RAM. The AV will flag this as a potential virus unless the write comes with a validation certificate or exists in the AV whitelist.
(Imho that provides only a false sense of security though. Any trojan written using a lifted certificate will go straight through your AV without getting checked).
Therefore ensure you only dl the crack which has a peer review, which most torrent index sites possess.

"And even then, half the comments say it works great and the other half complain of problems. "

Usually the games which, even when installed through legitimate means, have issues. The rube goldberg-esque workarounds are necessary because some DRM is so heavy that it actively multiplies the load on your CPU.
In such cases the "game" you run is about 50% game, 50% DRM. One of the reasons why the latest instances of SecuROM are under such heavy fire.

But i guess you can see the issue. When Sony first launched the precursor of SecuROM without telling it’s consumers (google sony rootkit scandal) it actually destroyed the computers of thousands of legitimate consumers. Contemporary DRM is less destructive, but certainly not less obstructive. When your game sends a hundred calls a second for gameplay and the DRM sends thousands you KNOW there is a problem.

Rekrulsays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsuit

To be expected. For a patch or keygen to work it has to write into RAM.

How so? A patch just creates a new copy of the EXE with a few bytes changed, which is no different than a program that lets you change the tags in an MP3 file. A keygen doesn’t do anything to the original file, you run it, possibly enter the name you want to use, and it generates a serial number.

Usually the games which, even when installed through legitimate means, have issues.

One of the games I remember looking for on Pirate Bay and giving up because none of the cracks seemed to be 100% was Alice: Madness Returns. I refuse to buy it (even used) because it needs online activation.

Added to the above, these days if the game contains such heavy-handed DRM that the circumvention methods are too complex I simply choose to go without.

When Burnout Paradise Remastered came out for Windows, I was happy. Even though I have an older system that won’t run it, I figured that I can always pick up a copy in the future when I have a better system. Sadly it seems there was never a retail release, it’s digital download only and so far I haven’t seen any cracks for it. Apparently it’s infected with Denuvo. 🙁

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsuit

"How so? A patch just creates a new copy of the EXE with a few bytes changed, which is no different than a program that lets you change the tags in an MP3 file."

Any executable loads a program. That, essentially, is why most AV’s scan them on startup and quarantine them on suspicion. "Suspicion" here means there’s no verified digital signature or hash sum of the .exe file in the AV’s whitelist.
One of the troubles with DRM is that in order for a cracked .exe to work it often has to include writing into RAM to head off or intercept a few hundred DRM validity checks.

A key generator is an executable and usually get hit by AV false positive identification because the packaging and it’s purpose closely mimics a virus file.

"Sadly it seems there was never a retail release, it’s digital download only and so far I haven’t seen any cracks for it. Apparently it’s infected with Denuvo."

Ouch. I can believe that, given that it’s on EA’s origin. I’d rather take my chances with unknown viruses in my sandbox rather than let that active malware on my PC.

Rekrulsays:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsuit

Any executable loads a program. That, essentially, is why most AV’s scan them on startup and quarantine them on suspicion. "Suspicion" here means there’s no verified digital signature or hash sum of the .exe file in the AV’s whitelist.

Wouldn’t that result in most every program being flagged as a virus until someone takes an in-depth look at it and declares it safe? I usually check downloaded programs with the VirusTotal website. It first checks the hash of the file to see if it’s already been scanned. On a few occasions, it didn’t know the hash and actually uploaded the file to be scanned for the first time. Usually if I’ve downloaded it from a reputable source like Sourceforge or GitHub, the file scans as clean.

One of the troubles with DRM is that in order for a cracked .exe to work it often has to include writing into RAM to head off or intercept a few hundred DRM validity checks.

I assumed that removing the DRM validity checks was the whole point of the cracked EXE or patch. They don’t need to be headed off if they’re never made in the first place. Besides, wouldn’t leaving them in and adding more code to fool them increase the overhead of running a pirated copy, rather than decrease it?

A key generator is an executable and usually get hit by AV false positive identification because the packaging and it’s purpose closely mimics a virus file.

Its purpose should only be to run a mathematical formula to generate a code. And have you noticed that they almost never include any pre-generated codes in the readme file so that you can avoid running the keygen?

Ouch. I can believe that, given that it’s on EA’s origin. I’d rather take my chances with unknown viruses in my sandbox rather than let that active malware on my PC.

I’ve never run any game that requires Origin or Steam. I think my GOTY edition of Half-Life insisted on installing an early version of Steam to handle online multiplayer, but I never used it. It wasn’t required for playing the single-player campaign.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsuit

"Wouldn’t that result in most every program being flagged as a virus until someone takes an in-depth look at it and declares it safe?"

Not rarely, it does exactly this.

There are a few reasons as to why security specialists like Bruce Schneier claim the average user is generally screwed.

An AV works in multiple ways;

1) Compares any executable and any script loaded to a blacklist containing known segments of virus code.
2) Compares any executable or script loaded to a whitelist of exceptions.
3) Applies heuristics – i.e. tries to "guess", based on various variables in the executable, whether it could be considered a virus program.

Depending on how this has been set up then yes, you’ll end up generating false positives all over the place. And this holds particularly true for executables so small their whole hash sum resembles one or several key pieces of known virus code.

I’d compare it to hearing a few bars of a song hummed which could be any of a thousand songs but which immediately gets recognized as that annoying earworm you just can’t get out of your head.

"Its purpose should only be to run a mathematical formula to generate a code."

True enough, but see above – enough viruses have been inserted in key generators that by now most key generators have hash sums close enough to previously identified viruses that they are now identified as "Generic 32 bit trojan" and similar.
This is why I use spybot and malwarebytes in passive modes as well – because if neither of those or my active AV can identify an executable older than a few weeks or so as a virus by name, then I usually assume we’re talking about a false positive.

"I’ve never run any game that requires Origin or Steam."

Steam, i can accept, as long as they have a page describing which of their games use Denuvo so i can avoid them. But i can heartily empathize with anyone who avoids them.

Rekrulsays:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsuit

True enough, but see above – enough viruses have been inserted in key generators that by now most key generators have hash sums close enough to previously identified viruses that they are now identified as "Generic 32 bit trojan" and similar.

I thought hashes were supposed to be generated by an algorithm that generated a truly unique hash for each file? I just tried it myself by creating two small text text files of only 14 bytes and changing only one letter between them. Each had completely different hashes whether I used SFV, MD5 or SHA1.

Steam, i can accept, as long as they have a page describing which of their games use Denuvo so i can avoid them. But i can heartily empathize with anyone who avoids them.

I won’t even accept a modern console game that downloads patches and DLC from an online service because none of that stuff can’t be truly backed up. If I can’t buy it complete in a retail release, they can keep it.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsui

"I thought hashes were supposed to be generated by an algorithm that generated a truly unique hash for each file?"

Yep. My fault on the definition. All checksums are hashes but not all hashes are checksums.
Let me restate the above;

"..enough viruses have been inserted in key generators that by now most key generators have code sections and call commands close enough to previously identified viruses…"

An AV checks the blacklist and whitelist against a hash and comes up with a name of the running executable but for the heuristics it has to look at similarity to examples of known viruses.

So anything close enough to look like a virus or a bit of one but which doesn’t match the hash of a virus in the AV database will be identified as "generic" malware.

The key here is that if the bit of code you’re looking at is older than a few weeks and was indeed malware then it would have been identified as such and your AV would give it a name. If three different security suits either don’t peg it as malware or try to say it’s a "generic" then pot odds are it’s not malware.

Malwarebytes and spybot will almost always peg it as a "Potentially Unwanted Program" when they can’t identify it but are fairly sure it’s not actively harmful.

Rekrulsays:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a la

Yep. My fault on the definition. All checksums are hashes but not all hashes are checksums.
Let me restate the above;

Thanks for the clarification. Even seeing false positives makes me nervous though. I guess it’s just a psychological thing.

It’s too bad that even legitimate game owners have to go through this crap if they want to avoid the effects of DRM. In the olden days, there were entire companies dedicated to removing this garbage from programs and it was all legal. Now the DMCA makes criminals out of people who dislike being treated like criminals.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsui

I thought hashes were supposed to be generated by an algorithm that generated a truly unique hash for each file?

For hash n bits long, there are 2^n-1 unique hashes. For a file of length l, there are 2^l -1 unique files possible, and each set of files of different l can be considered a unique set. Therefore the are many more possible files that possible hashes, and hash collision are possible, and will occur.

A hash is useful for security purposes so long as deliberate collisions, that is two files with same has, cannot be realistically created with available computing power. MD5 hashes are deprecated for security purposes, as with modern computing power is is possible to create deliberate collisions.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds ripe for a lawsuit

Added to the above, these days if the game contains such heavy-handed DRM that the circumvention methods are too complex I simply choose to go without.

I’ll buy a good game, then install the cracked version.
If cracking it is too hard I choose to neither buy nor download.

The rare few games i get through steam? Only if they’re usable in full offline mode and I can verify they aren’t protected through SecuRom or Starforce.

Fortunately Fallout 3 and New vegas are on GOG – and notably far more stable without DRM.

1st & 5th amendmentsays:

Let's hear it for no-disc and fixed .exe's

I just wanted to play games without the CD/DVD in the drive to protect my investment in a shiny metallic disc. gamecopyworld has been my friend and savior since the mid-2000s. Just be careful about what buttons you click, so you get the actual files you need instead of an ad or necessary "installer."

More recently, I have used it to get these games to run at all on Windows 10.

Davidsays:

Re: Re:

Paid for what? You mean "we already got your money". To qualify as payment, there must be a delivery of agreed-upon goods.

If Disney can prove that the purchase was for the purpose of having a nice packaging and accompanying leaflet as well as an original CD rather than a playable game, they’d be off the hook. However, it is unlikely that the purchase occured through a channel advertising this kind of ware, like, say, an antiquity store.

And even then that does not stop Disney from having obligations it agreed to unless they are part of this antiquity scheme: I remotely remember someone buying up a bunch of antique war bonds on a hunch that happened later on (due to some comparatively unrelated bilateral settlements) to become cashable as a side effect, making a killing for him.

bhull242says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Most people consider it a payment even if the promised good(s)/service(s) is/are never delivered or fail to work upon delivery. In such a case, though, the payment is supposed to be refunded or substitute good(s)/service(s) of equal or similar value are to be provided. Otherwise, a lawsuit is feasible.

Basically, a payment is a transfer of money with the understanding that the recipient of the money will deliver (or has already delivered) some predetermined good(s) and/or service(s) (that is not directly related to the money) in exchange as part of a bilateral or multilateral agreement, or to pay off?in part or in whole?a debt. Even if the other side(s) fail to keep their end of the deal, it?s still a payment.

bhull242says:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Class action?

I’m pretty sure you can legally circumvent it for your own game since the DRM is broken.

I?m pretty sure that the DMCA makes it illegal to circumvent DRM, even if you paid for the good/service containing DRM, and that the Librarian of Congress hasn?t made an exception for cases like this. So no, I don?t think you can legally circumvent the DRM for your own game.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

"Putting DRM on an ebook version of Jane Eyre does not put that novel back under copyright."

Except in practice. Sure, the legal situation may be different but in reality the only way you own that book is if you circumvent the DRM. I think that remains illegal whether the data is covered by copyright or not.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yep, circumventing DRM (regardless of context) is illegal. I don?t think there has ever been an exception for that since the DMCA became law.

There are a bunch of exceptions, changed triennially. For example: "Video games in the form of computer programs embodied in physical or downloaded formats that have been lawfully acquired as complete games, when the copyright owner or its authorized representative has ceased to provide access to an external computer server necessary to facilitate an authentication process to enable local gameplay" (2015) and "Literary works, including computer programs and databases, protected by access control mechanisms that fail to permit access because of malfunction, damage, or obsoleteness" (2000).

Anonymoussays:

It would be easier for disney to give customers credit for the value of the game,buy any game or film on the disney store .
after 9 years who would be playing this game anyway.
it would be hard to release a patch to remove drm from the game .
It seems the only drm that works is steam amd games released by ea, blizzard and its not really practical or easy to copy games released for console,s ,when you can buy a preowned game for 10-20 dollars .

JoeCoolsays:

Re: Re:

after 9 years who would be playing this game anyway.

Strange as it seems, many people don’t just play a game for a day or two and then never again… unless the game sucks bad. I still play many games from the 80s and 90s.

it would be hard to release a patch to remove drm from the game .

Sorry, but that’s super-easy, barely an inconvenience. GOG does it all the time, and they’re not even the developers of the games they remove DRM from. The actual developer can do this in less than an hour, depending on the complexity of the build system. Most games would take less than 5 minutes to rebuild without DRM.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re:

after 9 years who would be playing this game anyway.

Super Metroid was released in 1994. 25 years later, people still play that game???bolstered, in part, by the Super Metroid Randomizer.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was released in 1991. 28 years later, people still play that game???bolstered, in part, by the Zelda 3 Randomizer.

Final Fantasy (the first one) was released in 1987. 32 years later, people still play that game???bolstered, in part, by the Final Fantasy 1 Randomizer.

And I can think of dozens of older games, all from an era before CD-ROMs and polygons and whatnot, that people still play. Those games don?t need randomizers, either. Hell, you can still find people who say the best hockey game ever made (and maybe even the best sports game ever) was NHL ?94 for the Sega Genesis. And the annual Evolution Championship Series has side tournaments for fighting games that date back to the days of (and sometimes includes) Street Fighter II.

Games can have far more longevity than you think. When you want to ask ?who would be playing this years-old game?, I can give you a simple answer: ?Someone.? And that answer alone is enough.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Who would read or watch the Iliad, after all it is nearly 3000 years old as a written work, and was centuries old when it was written iown,"

…and sadly our resident troll, the ever-present Bobmail/Blue/Jhon still insists that it is because the Iliad wasn’t copyrighted that homer isn’t writing much today…

Rekrulsays:

Re: Re:

after 9 years who would be playing this game anyway.

If I like a game, its age doesn’t matter to me. At some point, I plan to play TRON 2.0, which came out 16 years ago. I still occasionally play some C64 games from the 80s.

Frankly, TRON Evolution doesn’t appeal to me much, not because of its age, but because it looks like a typical console-style 3rd person game where even though you have a mouse on the computer, the game is designed to be played with two thumbsticks. Hordes of respawning enemies requiring tons of melee combat. Basically God or War inside a computer.

It seems the only drm that works is steam…

Until the day that Valve gets bought out and the new owners decide that they no longer want to support all their old releases any more.

What happens to all the Steam-crippled Star Wars games when Disney decides to create their own game distribution platform and revokes the license for Steam to sell them? Does Steam have some provision that anyone who paid for one of those games can continue to activate it and even download a new copy if necessary, even though they no longer have the license to "sell" it to new customers?

bhull242says:

Re: Re:

after 9 years who would be playing this game anyway.

A lot of people still play the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, the original Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora?s Mask, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong Country 1, 2, and 3, Pac-Man, Galaga, the classic Mega Man games, the Mega Man X series, Street Fighter II (and its subsequent iterations), the first three Mortal Kombat games, the SNK fighting games, Final Fight, Mario Kart 64, Mario Party 2 and 3, Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2, and 3, Sonic CD, Metroid, Super Metroid, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, Pok?mon Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, and Crystal, Earthbound, Final Fantasy I, III, IV, V, VI, VII, and X, the Dragon Quest series, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and many other games from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. People love to play games from their childhoods over and over again if they?re any good.

Also, the reason why we know about this is because there were a number of people who wanted to play Tron: Evolution and had purchased it but couldn?t play because they hadn?t previously installed it, while others could play because they had already installed it and hadn?t uninstalled it, thus allowing people to discover the issue didn?t affect anyone who had it installed by October 2019 but did affect everyone who didn?t but attempted to install it after that month.

I hate it when people (publishers, developers, gamers, critics, or outsiders) assume that a game stops having value just because it?s X years old, so no one plays it anymore. Sure, Tron: Evolution doesn?t have anywhere near the same active player base as, say, Super Mario 64 or the latest CoD game, but they?re far from nonexistent. I still play Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 1 and 2, a pair of B-grade platformers from the ’00s. They were games I grew up with, so I always feel nostalgic playing them.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re:

"It seems the only drm that works is steam amd games released by ea, blizzard…"

Because all of your stated examples are of DRM which is either less intrusive, easily cracked, or both.

Steam, Blizzard and EA sell because their brands are good. As Steam has repeatedly noted, they know their DRM is cracked by boilerplate template hacks these days and they don’t really care because people keep buying their stuff anyway.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re:

"after 9 years who would be playing this game anyway"

Raises hand

Although I’m on XBox rather than PC, this game has been in my endless backlog for a while. Thanks to my participation in community events and achievement hunting sites, I often dig into my backlog, and as it happens the current Christmas themed challenge I’m involved in includes this game as eligible.

You might personally be happy never to look backwards and only consume whatever’s being sold to you right now, but there’s still an audience – especially for things that a person has already bought.

"it would be hard to release a patch to remove drm from the game .

It really shouldn’t be any more difficult than patching any other kind of bug. The fact that this bug was deliberately introduced should make it easier to fix, unless their software development process is so broken that they made an optional 3rd party product a vital component of their builds.

"It seems the only drm that works "

No DRM "works". It only stops piracy for a matter of days or weeks (if at all), and once it’s cracked nothing is "protected". After that, it’s only people who legally ought the game who have problems.

That’s the problem – all DRM fails, and when it does the pirates have a better product than people who bought the thing.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"That’s the problem – all DRM fails, and when it does the pirates have a better product than people who bought the thing."

Except in those cases when the pirates have the better version from the get-go. Assassin’s Creed stands as sterling example on where when the certificate server went down, ONLY pirates had a working game at all…

GOG is a goldmine these days. FO3 and Oblivion are far more stable without any DRM at all, I’ve noticed.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Tell that to the Skyrim modding community. Especially the Skyblivion Dev team…"

Or, looking through the nexusmods supported games section, a few dozen other old goodies, including most of the fallout and dragon age series as well.

Most games which were good enough to develop a following and can be changed to accept modded content will remain popular for decades.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

It doesn’t even have to be something like that. One guy I work with has recently decided to replay the Mass Effect series in the last week (the first being now 12 years old). I see people on Reddit getting excited over their retro console purchases all the time. I’ve personally been known to pick up games on GoG that are way older and decide to give them a shot, or replay something I haven’t played for years (one example from this year being Zak McCracken and the Alien Mindbenders… from 1988!).

A person who accepts self-destructing cultural history because they don’t personally want to play anything that’s older than a few years is calling themselves out as an idiot on numerous fronts.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

"I’ve personally been known to pick up games on GoG that are way older and decide to give them a shot, or replay something I haven’t played for years (one example from this year being Zak McCracken and the Alien Mindbenders… from 1988!)."

Hell, I’d make a guess that the old Sierra Games and Lucasarts stuff – King’s Quest, Monkey Island 1&2, Maniac mansion: Day of the tentacle 1&2, etc…still have followings.

Uh, damn, a quick google later and I see that a few of those even have fan-made sequels…and remastered versions issued in 2016.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Jim Sterling did a video on this earlier in the week, and he said something that rang true with me: Publishers should call it ?conditional access?. As in: ?You?re not buying a copy of the game for yourself, you?re buying conditional access to the game.? He also said publishers should absolutely have to advertise the ?conditional access? fact with every game they sell. I?ve had a hard time finding a flaw in that argument.

Qwertygiysays:

Re:

If you read the EULA, they usually do.

For example, here are some paragraphs from Minecraft’s EULA, one without too much legal jargon:

"When you buy our Game, you receive a license that gives you permission to install the Game on your own personal device and use and play it on that device as set out in this EULA. This permission is personal to you, so you are not allowed to distribute the Game (or any part of it) to anyone else. This also means you cannot sell or rent the Game, or make it available for access to other people and you cannot pass on or resell any license keys."

"Although we license you permission to install on your device and play our Game, we are still the owners of it. We are also the owners of our brands and any content contained in the Game. Therefore, when you pay for our Game, you are buying a license to play / use our Game in accordance with this EULA – you are not buying the Game itself. The only permissions you have in connection with the Game and your installation of it are the permissions set out in this EULA."

"We might make upgrades, updates or patches (we call them all "updates") available from time to time, but we don’t have to. We are also not obliged to provide ongoing support or maintenance of any Game."

"When you get a copy of our Game, we provide it "’as is"’. Updates are also provided "’as is"’. This means that we are not making any promises to you about the standard or quality of our Game, or that our Game will be uninterrupted or error free. We are not responsible for any loss or damage that it may cause. You bear the entire risk as to its quality and performance."

But of course, as the EULA also states:

"The terms of this EULA do not affect any legal (statutory) rights that you may have under the law that applies to you for the Game. You might have certain rights which the law that applies to you says cannot be excluded. Nothing we say in these terms will affect those legal rights, even if we say something which sounds like it contradicts your legal rights. That?s what we mean when we say ?subject to applicable law?."

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re:

Nobody reads the EULA. Not even people who make games for a living read the EULA. And Jim?s suggestion was that ?conditional access? games advertise the fact up front, not in a legal document. The box cover or the Steam description or what have you would have ?conditional access? on it. And, again, it?s hard to find a flaw with the proposition.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Nobody reads the EULA.

True, but a moot point until the courts start accepting that view and striking EULAs down. They’ve shown little willingness to do so. Until then, they (like other contracts of adhesion) should be treated as legally binding.

The FTC might have some leeway to call it false advertising, when the EULA and advertisements contradict each other. But they have little real power.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re:

They’ve shown little willingness to do so.

That’s not really true. We don’t know what the courts would have done because the game publishers have all pulled out or settled out of court rather than risk their EULAs being killed completely. The courts have yet to have a chance to rule on them.

Davidsays:

Re: Re:

Also I’ve noticed when talking about this almost anywhere, people justify it saying how it was an old game, so who cares.

I guess they’d be slightly unamused if they had some historic car in their garage and then a representative from the manufacturer came by to remove the wheels and motor.

"It was an old car, so who cares."

GHBsays:

Saw this on youtube.

Jim sterling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yUmR6eQNrY
Yong Yea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir0sL-f-65c

This pretty much explains that video games are like food that have a shelf life. For games that don’t rely on a server (as in, don’t use always-online DRM or require periodic ?authentication?), they are only (legally) available for a limited time (as long as it is being developed and sold), but once you bought it, you don’t have to worry about the company having the ability to essentially destroy the game you bought.

Not so with games that do require internet connection to the server. Only a few companies would patch out the DRM to make the game useable after the end-of-support of the DRM.

What cause games to no longer be available is because:
-Company goes out of business
-Company gives up support of their works, couldn’t upkeep the game.
-The license to use other IPs (movies, TV shows, comics, etc.) have expired. I can’t stress this enough that lots of old games end up biting the dust and people wanting to play these games are FORCED to pirate these games. This also includes region-exclusive games.

And companies wonder why people pirate. Copyright is portrayed as the problem, and piracy as the solution.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re:

In regards to game preservation? Yes, it is. The 1994 Alien vs. Predator arcade game never had a release outside of arcades for 25 years. Capcom could have lost the source code in the interim, or rights issues could have never allowed for the game?s re-release. People could only preserve the game through copyright infringement. I cannot fathom how many games might similarly be lost without (technically) illegal preservation efforts.

Copyright poses a problem. ?Piracy? delivers a solution. Publishers should not act shocked when this kind of situation happens and people turn to illegal acts for the sake of playing a copy of a game they believed they owned.

DBsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I argue that binary code shouldn’t receive direct copyright protection. Only source code, with the resulting binary covered as a derivative work.

The bargain with society is that you are given a limited government-enforced period where you have the exclusive rights to publish a work. If you aren’t revealing the complete work e.g. by registering the work with the Library of Congress, then you shouldn’t get the government benefit of copyright protection.

Qwertygiysays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re:

That’s a complicated argument. A counter-point would be that the source code and the compiled binary are merely two different translations of the same work; one in Human-readable source code and one in Machine-readable binary code.

It’s not too different from two copies of the same book, but one is written in Japanese kanji and one is written in Latin letters.

It is true, most people who would run the Library of Congress cannot understand the Machine-readable code directly, and must rely on a translator to decompile it first.

But most people who would run the Library of Congress also cannot understand Japanese kanji directly, and must rely on a translator to convert it first.

Consider the ever-popular art of manga and anime, often created in Japan in Japanese, then occasionally translated to English by an American company.

Would it be fair to deny copyright to a work written in Japanese unless they provide an English copy?

Or, if what matters is what was the original written form, and not readability of the work: would it be fair to deny copyright to an English translation of a Japanese original, unless the Japanese original is first registered?

I feel as if the first argument is rather facetious, but there are good points on either side of the latter.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re:

*Disclaimer: Yes, I’m an otakku. Get over it.

Would it be fair to deny copyright to a work written in Japanese unless they provide an English copy? … I feel as if the first argument is rather facetious

Not entirely. If the country issuing the copyright receives no benefit from the work, it makes sense not to enforce it’s copyright. After all it’s the country that receives no benefit that must expend resources (police, judicial system time, legal filings, all funded by their taxpayers) to enforce the copyright within it’s jurisdiction. Not the holder of the copyright.

Now some may say that the issuing country gets a benefit in the enforcement of it’s copyrights in other countries / jurisdictions, and even that common enforcement bolsters the chances of a localization being produced, but that’s not a guarantee unlike the enforcement. There is no requirement here that a localization be made, nor even the requirement that the original (native) version be made available to the public of the enforcing country. Indeed, there are many works that remain unavailable short of importing them from other countries, yet we have a requirement to enforce their copyrights. In some cases, even importing is actively fought by the copyright holder. (See Lawsuits / VPN-Bans on Content Distribution Networks / DRM that refuses to allow access based on location / Customs confiscation / etc.) The only thing that is mandatory is our expenditure of our own resources to defend a work we may never have access to.

would it be fair to deny copyright to an English translation of a Japanese original, unless the Japanese original is first registered?

I would say yes. Translations are often not accurate to the original portrayals. In fact many translations (especially of the Japanese To English variety) tend to include censorship or complete re-works of intent to make the translation more appealing to the local audience. Sure some are not going to care that the latest loli manga’s MC gets a longer skirt, but just as many would be angry if something like an entire game were to be reworked to remove references to Christianity (The Legend of Zelda) or not be released outright (Terranigma). In fact there are many fan efforts to undo these kinds of alterations in works across the board. Indicating that it is indeed the original work in their eyes that is more valuable. That’s not to say that every translation is bad, but fundamentally all translations are derivative works. If the original work is what is truly important, then the translation shouldn’t really be getting it’s own protection independent of the original. Nor should the protection of a translation extend beyond the protection of the original.

As for the original issue, source code vs. machine language, format is irrelevant. In my personal opinion, a list of instructions shouldn’t be copyrightable. As it is, by definition, a set of specific actions that produce a specific result. Anyone replicating these actions as written with the same starting resources will produce the same result within a degree of error. A degree that computers reduce to near zero. Even in practice, it is not the novelty of the instructions that is protected, but rather the result of executing them. I.e. "The experience", the actual object made as a result, or the personal changes that the executor places on their interpretation of said instructions. Those are the "novel" part of copyrighting instructions. The actual copyright is just a means to an end, and only serves to inhibit rather than promote progress. (But that’s just my $0.02. I’m sure others will disagree.)

GHBsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not just game preservation.

There are other copyright departments that also have issues that forces you to join the pirate party. One good example is what farmers are experiencing with John Deere’s licensing scheme to monopolize repairs. Several of them, had to switch to Ukraine cracked software, and you guessed it, go to the high seas.

GHBsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Like seriously, abandonware is under threat

It makes no sense for when the copyright on a product continues to be in-copyright, when the holder neglects enforcing the product and therefore, in copyright, in-name only.

This means that copyright protection last far longer than the holder is willing to enforce them. 75+ years of protection, vs 5-20 years of enforcement.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:2

Imagine how much more of our culture would be available to everyone if copyright terms only lasted for 20 years. Then imagine how much money studios would lose if their precious back catalogs were available for free. Is it any wonder, then, that the movie industry will fiercely defend copyright even after the Internet fundamentally broke copyright?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

imagine how much money studios would lose if their precious back catalogs were available for free.

Also imagine how much more incentive there would be for them to create a well polished product rather than ignoring what their customers demand.

Another dark-side to copyright: "Customers? Our only customers are our shareholders. The public pays us regardless."

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

How much of the studios back catalogue is available, and how much is left in warehouses to rot away? A lot of films, TV shows and music recordings are no longer available because there are no useable copies left.

The main benefit of long copyright is that the titles in circulation can be limited to maximise the profit of those that they choose to make available.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re: Re: Re:4

It?s almost as if greedy capitalist motherfuckers who want all the money all the time will do whatever they can to ensure they can make all the money???and that includes buying off politicians to change laws in ways that make the laws more favorable to corporations.

Corporations are, by their very nature, sociopathic. The people who run them? An argument could be made that they are, too.

bhull242says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Personally, I feel that copyright should have a 20-year term by default that could be extended up to some specified amount of time (maybe 75 years or the life of the author plus 10 years, whichever is smaller) so long as it keeps being produced and/or supported. I feel that that would be a reasonable compromise. After all, if you?re no longer maintaining it or making it available for new consumers, why shouldn?t others be able to use it in their works as part of the public domain?

bhull242says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I feel like you?re ignoring derivative works. Any copyright on derivative works becomes more limited once the original goes into the public domain. At any rate, it?s meant to be a compromise and to further encourage devs/publishers to make their copyrighted works more available. Maybe the default term should be lesser, and the suggested maximum term was really just a shot in the dark. My point was that, if publishers and authors really want to maintain copyright beyond when it makes sense, they should have to keep making it available.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re:

"Personally, I feel that copyright should have a 20-year term by default that could be extended up to some specified amount of time (maybe 75 years or the life of the author plus 10 years, whichever is smaller) so long as it keeps being produced and/or supported."

The issue is that it’s just not possible to keep that restriction. Copyright is essentially an unholy hybrid of information control and monopoly. It’s one of those fundamental violations which in itself ensures ordinary market rules no longer apply.

Introducing copyright is, to the market, the equivalent of abolishing "innocent until proven guilty" in law. It’s a fundamental paradigm shift which can not be alleviated by mitigatory measures.

Case in point, look at any, even cursory and inefficient enforcement – which all assumes by necessity that freedom of speech, personal integrity, burden of proof, and actual ownership rights all go bye-bye.

Because of copyright we have entire industries dedicated to the destruction of all forms of mass communication.

I don’t care about the vestigial potential benefits of copyright. It’s pretty much given that the harm severely outweighs them.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re: Re: Re: Re:

"I was talking about the legal limits on the duration of copyright."

If you have copyright AT ALL you already have an unacceptable deviation from common jurisprudens. The various methods of enforcement come with the package and WILL we malicious and unacceptably intrusive.

Far better to simply use trademark law and commercial restrictions to catch those trying to actively profit or plagiarize.

Most of what we have in the culture sector today was issued completely outside of copyright. And yet it works. Do we really need to cater to every crap artist who can’t obtain a fanbase of their own in favor of mass-produced hype only upheld by a dedicated marketing team for about six weeks?

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"Then imagine how much money studios would lose if their precious back catalogs were available for free."

It’s worse than that. Old games and movies are competitive threats to their future offers. That’s why Disney locks every old movie they make in the disney vault, to ensure that the purse and eyeball time of their customers will always be pointed to the next release.

If the movie and game industry could burn the originals of every offer they made older than a year, they would.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re:

I sense you’re joking, but the reason is really that a) it’s prohibitively expensive and restrictive to keep supporting a codebase very few people use and b) programs like DOSBox and VMs exist to allow people to run those programs equally as well as they could with native support.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re: Re: Re: Re:

Virtual 8086 mode isn’t available when operating in 64-bit mode. It’s still around, and can be used by switching to a 32-bit mode or using certain Virtual Machine features, but that gives Microsoft the choice of dropping support or of essentially re-writing the 16-bit mode. They couldn’t choose to just not touch it.

It’s a no-brainer to remove it when DOSBOX can run Windows 3.1, and most old DOS games, usually much faster than the systems they originally ran on.

Uriel-238says:

Why is it okay for Disney to essentially take back a product bought by a customer with no recompense?

It’s not, or it shouldn’t be. But Disney’s very big and it will be very hard for anyone to do anything about it. Having the most control in this case, Disney shows it cannot be trusted.

Once again, it is demonstrated the IP holders don’t have moral high ground over the pirates.

There’s barrels of fun enough for ev’ryone!
And you’ll get treasures by the ton
So come and sign the book
Join up with Captain Hook!

Bruce C.says:

Keep this episode in mind...

As the hype train for Disney+ streaming rolls on. Not saying "boycott Disney", altough that’s an option. But you do have to make a judgment of how much anti-consumer BS you’re willing to put up with as they start increasing the monthly rate and adding hidden fees. Preferably before you sign up.

Remember that this is a company that actively exploits the fantasies of pre-schoolers to make a profit.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

Re:

Boycotting Disney is also a much more difficult option nowadays. Marvel, The Simpsons, Fox film franchises, Star Wars, the Muppets, and a sizeable portion of everyone?s childhood in the form of classic animated films and TV shows???all of it resides in the House of Mouse. Disney rules a big part of the pop culture landscape with an iron fist. Avoiding that fist becomes harder with each new acquisition.

Kill the Mouse, take his House.
Kill the Mouse, take his House.
Kill the Mouse, take his House.

Anonymoussays:

"It also would have been one thing if Disney had been the slightest bit proactive about all of this. After all, the company knew it wasn’t going to renew the SecuROM subscription and therefore knew that such a decision would brick a whole bunch of people’s purchased games. Why not proactively release the game without DRM? Or alert purchasers, or the media, of what was coming? Why is it okay for Disney to essentially take back a product bought by a customer with no recompense?"

This is part of the reason it’s important to support DRM-free platforms such as GOG.com and itch.io that prove you can release quality, commercially successful games without needing to saddle them with DRM, whether it’s Steam’s own platform that mandates an internet connection every so often to authenticate, or software bundled with something like SecuROM.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Report this ad??|??Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
12:25 Australian Privacy Commissioner Says 7-Eleven Broke Privacy Laws By Scanning Customers' Faces At Survey Kiosks (6)
10:50 Missouri Governor Doubles Down On 'View Source' Hacking Claim; PAC Now Fundraising Over This Bizarrely Stupid Claim (45)
10:45 Daily Deal: The All-in-One Microsoft, Cybersecurity, And Python Exam Prep Training Bundle (0)
09:43 Want To Understand Why U.S. Broadband Sucks? Look At Frontier Communications In Wisconsin, West Virginia (8)
05:36 Massachusetts College Decides Criticizing The Chinese Government Is Hate Speech, Suspends Conservative Student Group (71)
19:57 Le Tigre Sues Barry Mann To Stop Copyright Threats Over Song, Lights Barry Mann On Fire As Well (21)
16:07 Court Says City Of Baltimore's 'Heckler's Veto' Of An Anti-Catholic Rally Violates The First Amendment (15)
13:37 Two Years Later, Judge Finally Realizes That A CDN Provider Is Not Liable For Copyright Infringement On Websites (21)
12:19 Chicago Court Gets Its Prior Restraint On, Tells Police Union Head To STFU About City's Vaccine Mandate (158)
10:55 Verizon 'Visible' Wireless Accounts Hacked, Exploited To Buy New iPhones (8)
10:50 Daily Deal: The MacOS 11 Course (0)
07:55 Suing Social Media Sites Over Acts Of Terrorism Continues To Be A Losing Bet, As 11th Circuit Dumps Another Flawed Lawsuit (11)
02:51 Trump Announces His Own Social Network, 'Truth Social,' Which Says It Can Kick Off Users For Any Reason (And Already Is) (100)
19:51 Facebook AI Moderation Continues To Suck Because Moderation At Scale Is Impossible (26)
16:12 Content Moderation Case Studies: Snapchat Disables GIPHY Integration After Racist 'Sticker' Is Discovered (2018) (11)
13:54 Arlo Makes Live Customer Service A Luxury Option (8)
12:05 Delta Proudly Announces Its Participation In The DHS's Expanded Biometric Collection Program (5)
11:03 LinkedIn (Mostly) Exits China, Citing Escalating Demands For Censorship (14)
10:57 Daily Deal: The Python, Git, And YAML Bundle (0)
09:37 British Telecom Wants Netflix To Pay A Tax Simply Because Squid Game Is Popular (32)
06:41 Report: Client-Side Scanning Is An Insecure Nightmare Just Waiting To Be Exploited By Governments (35)
20:38 MLB In Talks To Offer Streaming For All Teams' Home Games In-Market Even Without A Cable Subscription (10)
15:55 Appeals Court Says Couple's Lawsuit Over Bogus Vehicle Forfeiture Can Continue (15)
13:30 Techdirt Podcast Episode 301: Scarcity, Abundance & NFTs (0)
12:03 Hollywood Is Betting On Filtering Mandates, But Working Copyright Algorithms Simply Don't Exist (66)
10:45 Introducing The Techdirt Insider Discord (4)
10:40 Daily Deal: The Dynamic 2021 DevOps Training Bundle (0)
09:29 Criminalizing Teens' Google Searches Is Just How The UK's Anti-Cybercrime Programs Roll (19)
06:29 Canon Sued For Disabling Printer Scanners When Devices Run Out Of Ink (41)
20:51 Copyright Law Discriminating Against The Blind Finally Struck Down By Court In South Africa (7)
More arrow