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/ Forums / Accept the user agreement, or else?
 

  Interesting subject.... and a bit contentious too 
 
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Ollie T Feb 03, 2005, 08:38am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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It's a really interesting issue, and it covers everything from music to software right now.

It reminds me of the whole DRM/user agreement issue with CDs and AAC audio ("If I've paid for the track/CD, who the heck are they to tell me what I can play it on or stop me from making a backup copy?").

Same kinda thing with software - "if I've bought it, how dare they allow me only to use it when I have an internet connection up and running or after I've registered my details with them/activated it?"

It's certainly unfair that the first you hear of any restrictions is in the licence agreement that appears upon *installation* (by which time, as Sander mentions, it's too late for a refund!).

It might be fair enough if they alerted you to any restrictions in big letters on the outside of the packaging, so that you can make your choice over whether or not to purchase armed with this knowledge. But frankly I think even that is unacceptable. If I've bought something, I expect to be able to use it *where* I want, *when* I want, without requiring to notify and ask permission from some company first!!

I think the only solution is for us to vote with our wallets, and steer well clear of stupid 'pilot' products carrying the very latest in activation/registration/DRM restrictions!

PS when I read this <what if Microsoft’s servers are down, or if there’s a problem with your internet connection? You will not be able to use your PC> I just KNEW there was a Valve/Steam dig coming up :) lol


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Jim Collier Feb 03, 2005, 09:09am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Interesting subject.... and a bit contentious too
One of the key factors I believe is being left out... World of Warcraft is an "an online role-playing experience set in the award-winning Warcraft universe." (worldofwarcraft.com). It would be hard to market an online game to someone that doesn’t have an internet connection. That would be like a carpenter without a hammer, a plumber without a wrench, or playing City of Heroes without a broadband connection.

I do understand what you mean about the EULA that the software retailers validate upon you purchasing the software (having not had a chance to review the agreement through the box) with their “no return on open software” rules and regulations. I received a bad copy (cd unreadable) of Rise of Nations from Walmart and they would not even exchange it as it has a CD Key. It only took Microsoft (literally) four months to get me a replacement copy. Not too bad for a $30.00 game!

Anyway, keep up the interesting topics for discussion and the great website.

JC

John Bailey Feb 03, 2005, 09:12am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Interesting subject.... and a bit contentious too
DRM is a serious problem right now. The various American media organisations have a very strong lobbying machine, and a lot of the government bodies they are lobbying are not the most technically literate. I belive one guy was even advocating a system that would disable a computer running pirated software at one stage.

Because of the very strong vested interests pushing for more and more draconian measures, how long is it going to be before we have to connect our DVD players to the net so we can watch a movie we have already bought? Games are already there it seems. And when a couple of high profile companies try it, how many more smaller companies will follow suit?

The current move toward digital media for everything is good in it's self, Higher quality images on DVD and the light weight convinence of MP3 players etc But it has the negative aspect of allowing the technology to be monitored to an insane degree.

The concept that we buy the content and not the physical object has been kicking around for ages, and has been a recording industry dream for a long time, but is only now enforcable. The day when we have to buy a new permission each time we use a particular media is not far away.

B_radr Feb 03, 2005, 09:27am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Interesting subject.... and a bit contentious too
Thank you Sander for bringing this issue to the forefront. What are we going to do, as consumers? Are we going to allow this unacceptable process to continue? What can we do?

I don't know where to begin. I keep deleting what I type. Is there a lawyer in this forum?

Further complicating the issue is that this software is shipped to all parts of the world, which has different laws. Their needs to be an international standard to recognize consumer rights. Why can't their be a copyright protection announcement, like when your watching a movie, at the beginning of loading the software? I'm having trouble articulating what I want to say so I'm going to sign off.

Todd Goodman Feb 03, 2005, 10:07am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Interesting subject.... and a bit contentious too
I think the trend, as pointed out in the other thread, is that software publishers are moving towards a subscription based service for much of their product, much as magazines and newspapers currently do. I've got no control over what will be in each issue of a magazine I subscribe to, but I don't find it appalling that they make me subscribe up front because I know how up front how it all works.

I think the World of Warcraft was a misplaced comparision, but it is an example of what publishers are moving towards. I don't think this is a bad thing, it's just different. I agree that the distinction between software you "buy" and software you "subscribe to" should be made clearer.

Professional software is moving in the same direction (Photoshop CS, for example, has a registration system like Windows XP does) and I would hate to see productivity software follow Steam's lead...

Sander Sassen Feb 03, 2005, 10:44am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Interesting subject.... and a bit contentious too
Todd,

> I think the World of Warcraft was a misplaced comparision, but it is an example of what publishers are moving towards. I don't think this is a bad thing, it's just different. I agree that the distinction between software you "buy" and software you "subscribe to" should be made clearer.

Oh, I agree, but often that distinction is made after you opened the box, or installed the software. Just as I outlined previously with a DVD I bought that was DRM protected I want to know prior to buying this.

DRM at its worst? Here's a prime example
http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/daily_column/article/1765/

The point I was trying to make, and that's why I used WoW as it is such a popular game anyone can relate to, is that if these things work out, and they seem to in the case of WoW other developers might go in that direction as well. This could mean not just other MMORPG games will be subscription based, but for example also Doom 4 or other genre games.

Sander Sassen
Editor in Chief - Hardware Analysis
ssassen@hardwareanalysis.com
Sean B Feb 03, 2005, 11:22am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Interesting subject.... and a bit contentious too
When we purchase software, we are paying for an indefinite lease. Obviously the fancy packaging and contents aren't worth the >=$30 pricetag, but what is?

We're paying the premium for an assumed, non-contractual agreement between the consumer and the developer that deems us the proprietor to a lease of said copy of software until we are no longer in possession of the medium the software is stored on.

The problem with this, however, is that our rights as consumers have been squandered.

Some DVD companies, such as MGM Studios, allow you to register your DVD so that if it somehow gets damaged or lost in a fire, you can redeem a copy of that DVD to compensate for your losses. You don't even have to pay shipping and handling if you live in the continental US.

DVDs cost $20, software costs upwards of $50, and sometimes higher.

Why aren't we entitled to this?


Say, for example, that you lose everything but the software and the application requires that you have a valid serial key to use such software.

I, myself, was subject to theft after bringing a copy of Halo to a LAN party. All that I was left with was the manual, box, and the game which was installed on my system. Now, unlike Valve, Microsoft chooses to encrypt their CD-keys to prevent theft over internet exploits. This means that if an owner were to lose their CD-key, there is no way to retrieve it.

I contacted Microsoft with what information I could come up with, including the Product ID, which is just as long as the CD-key. Their answer was that I could either A) Purchase a new key for $14 or B) Purchase a new copy... even after I presented proof that I had owned the software.

At this time, Halo was being sold for $30... almost half of what they had suggested I pay to aquire a new key... and $15 LESS than I had originally purchased it for.

Microsoft is definitely out for blood when it comes to these matters.


As far as pay to play games are concerned, there is no reason they should be priced as much as all other retail software. I have no problem paying something, but people are definitely being taken advantage of when they have to pay $50 to aquire their lease on the software AND a monthly $9.99 to $12.99 to further fuel the company's development and upkeeping of the game.


What needs to be reassessed more than anything are the user agreements. People have lost any sense of ownership in software... because they realize they're slaves to the developer. Valve even has a switch that could invalidate everyone's serial keys in a matter of minutes.

The user agreements need to include a consumer's rights section that gives the consumer security in their software's lease.

Albert Crocker Feb 07, 2005, 05:34pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Interesting subject.... and a bit contentious too
No. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and what you choose to buy or not. Caveat emptor! Many of you speak as if there is some unalienable right to play the games you want whenever you'd like. Reality check: you do NOT have to buy any game you don't want to buy! All those "poor people" out there who bought WoW, oh, I'm all choked up! Wait a minute. They had the choice to buy it or not, and judging by the activity, most of them seem happy with the choice they made. Some people would buy it a twice the price, go figure.

If you choose to abdicate your faculties of reason and create some government regulatory agency to make your purchase decisions for you, then more power to you -- just leave us adults out of it. I'm not only capable of taking responsibility for my choices, but I find life generally more enjoyable when I do. The only thing I want the government to do in this area is to enforce truth-in-advertising (one of the main charters of the FTC). As an adult, I can take it from there. (And even if I'm fooled by an unscrupulous business, I can file suit.) The system is in place for those of us willing to participate as independent agents, responsible for our choices. All this talk of "consumer rights" is making me feel queasy. I have the ultimate consumer right -- I can choose not to open my wallet at all! If more people did that (instead of buy first then complain ineffectually after), then many businesses would take more care to provide consumers with what they really want.

The economy is dynamic and interactive. If you "let things slide" with a business, any business, you are merely encouraging them to do more of the same. Almost any complaint that consumers have about, say, the declining state of customer service (to name one popular topic), can be ultimately traced back to the behavior of consumers who were willing to let it happen, and thereby allowed the status quo to change, to the detriment of the rest of us consumers. You must never forget that you are the most important part of the equation to a business. They must work hard to get your patronage. Don't give it to them lightly or they will start to take you for granted.

And never buy into hype. That is Madison Avenue's way of getting around your reasoning faculties.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
i7-920 @ 3.3 | GA-EX58-UD5 | 6GB OCZ 1600 7-7-7 | 4870X2 | ~7.4TB Storage | PCP&C S750 | BenQ FP241W | Win7 64
angryhippy Feb 10, 2005, 06:15pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Interesting subject.... and a bit contentious too
Caveat Emptor. And what happens when the games start dictating what you may and may not have installed on your PC? Nero sets up a virtual drive. I also have Alcohol120% on my machine. I use Alcohol to copy all my games to my hard drive. I find it much more convenient and responsive when run from the HD instead of ROM. Now there are games and programs coming out that will not run if a virtual drive is detected on the system. That IMO is tantamount to an accusation of criminal behavior. Guilty until proven innocent? Yes there are reg tweaks for work arounds. but I for one will just shun their products. Who the hell are they to dictate what legal wares I have installed on my machine. And you can bet there is no outside packaging warnings about virtual drive incompatability. As for the EULAs, I read the ones attached to ANY program I download off the net. I wade through all that mumbo jumbo. More than half the problems we deal with here on the boards helping people with spyware and hijackers, are programs they installed on their machine, or gave permission for within the context of the EULA agreement. Download AIM and just click through the next buttons without reading the screen and presto you have just installed Wild Tangent, and changed your browser home page to Netscape. not to mention the AOD folder in your program files and several adverts in different favorites categories. And mention of sharing with partners or third parties gets a quick and thorough delete. And I mean thorough. Many will have already written to the registry before you agree to the EULA. I think trying to return a purchase who's EULA you didn't agree with and then were denied the return based on open package policy would be a good legal test case. I'm surprised I havent heard about one already. Yep Caveat Emptor for sure. Let the buyer beware.

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