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The Courts Government News

The Lik-Sang Saga Continues 138

Posted by Hemos
from the good-coverage dept.
The sage of Lik-Sang has continued with Dan Gillmor's recent visit to the region. He and Alex Kampl met and talked for a while. The comparasions are good ones - and ones that are clearly enough drawn that everyone should see the loss of their rights.
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The Lik-Sang Saga Continues

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  • cnn this weekend (Score:2, Informative)

    by Devilzad (85311)
    There was a story on CNN over the weekend about them and the suit Microsoft launched against them.
  • by altgrr (593057) on Monday December 23, 2002 @09:08AM (#4943762)
    Everywhere we look, all we can see is licensing. Regardless of whether the product be a tangible item (such as a games console), or a service (your phone connection, a piece of software), there are license agreements telling you what you may and may not do with it.

    Is there going to come a point where we will not actually own anything, merely own a license to use it? Do we really want to owe our souls to the capitalist companies we work for?

    Perhaps I'm exaggerating here, but I think it's a future that, currently, is coming for us, and one that I certainly don't want to live in.
    • It's hardly a new trend.

      See Microsoft .NET for an example. This type of "ownership" system has been in the works for a long time, unfortunately.
    • But are those licenses enforcable at all (in the US)? I know that they aren't in the EU. Services are of course different as well as things you rent since that affects other users of the same sevice or renting the same thing after you etc.

      Is there going to come a point where we will not actually own anything, merely own a license to use it?
      Not if people refuse to accept that - ie. if people stick to their old computer/software/whatever that they own instead of licensing something newer (even though better) until they can buy it and own it so that they can do whatever they want with it.
    • by sql*kitten (1359) on Monday December 23, 2002 @09:37AM (#4943878)
      Is there going to come a point where we will not actually own anything, merely own a license to use it? Do we really want to owe our souls to the capitalist companies we work for?

      I don't see how you get from the first sentence to the second, but that's beside the point for now.

      Owning a license is better than owning the real thing, if it's done properly. Think about it. If you lose your bank card, does that mean you've also lost the money in your account? No, because your account is effectively your license, so its physical representation, the card, can easily be replaced.

      If you buy a license to a piece of music, then wouldn't it be great if you could trade in your cassette or LP for a SACD or DVD-Audio for just the cost of duplicating the media? Or if you owned a game for PC, you could also get a Mac version for a negligible charge, because what you own is not the CD it came on, but the right to play the game? That's how licensing could and should work.
      • ... but it doesn't. Companies have used their power over the legislative process to get the best of all worlds... for them. So now we can neither (legally) copy our own software/music NOR get the kind of backup and exchange service you mention.

        So I think I can understand why the original poster was a little disgusted with licensing.

        Sean
        • but it doesn't. Companies have used their power over the legislative process to get the best of all worlds... for them. So now we can neither (legally) copy our own software/music NOR get the kind of backup and exchange service you mention.

          Exactly. So what we have now is basically a license to use only that physical piece of software/hardware/whatever you have in your hand.

          Lose it? Tough shit...you not only need to buy another hard copy, you have to buy another license (which is probably more onerous than the last one if the lawyers have had a go at it). Want an advanced version or one on a different type of media? Same story.

          The worst of both worlds if you will.
        • Strangely, I had this conversation with my semi-technical mother. We were going to a theme park and had a couple hours to kill.

          I explained how things are slowly moving to license-based transactions from property-based. I highlighted the issues surrounding digital TV broadcasts, DVD and CD format shifting and how the Industry (MPAA/RIAA) blew their chance at creating the business model.

          Now that broadband empowerment is upon us all, They want to control every aspect of data use. They want their cake and they want to eat it too. I specifically brought up the CD exchange scenario, which she sort of agreed with.

          Oh well.

          GTRacer
          - What about Unfair Use?

      • by surprise_audit (575743) on Monday December 23, 2002 @10:42AM (#4944176)
        Sadly, though, that will never happen as long as vendors continue to get away with selling you the same license over and over again so that you can access the product on different media.

        It would indeed be great to buy (the right to watch) a movie on a DVD, and for little or no extra cost, be able to copy it to video tape to watch elsewhere in the house. For such a future to exist, all your entertainment media systems would have to talk to each other to determine that any given "license" wasn't being used in more places in your house than you have licenses for.

        Better yet, instead of multiple DVD, VCR and CD players around the house, have a central server that "checks out" a movie to the living room TV and won't allow it to play in the bedroom until it finishes, or stops, in the living room.

        • won't allow it to play in the bedroom until it finishes, or stops, in the living room.

          ... but shouldn't we have the right to a *combined* time of 24 hours/day? e.g. we could have 24 machines playing it for one hour... Or we can have one playing it for 24 hours... .. What about the time it is sitting idle? is that wasted? ... I doubt (and hope) that these sort of restrictions never become enforcable.

          • Who said anything about length of play? I'm talking about DVDs, CDs, etc that you buy and hand over to the central entertainment system. It would maybe rip it to disk to avoid having to have a large DVD/CD jukebox, but only keep it as long as the original was available to verify. RFID tag, maybe? Dunno...

            So, if you buy one copy of, say, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, you get 3 or more DVDs (depending on which version you bought). The system would let you play the main movie DVD in the living room, then "pause and transfer" to another room, such as the kitchen. Switch rooms as often as you like. Play one of the other DVDs from the set at the same time in yet another room - which is currently legal, surprisingly... :)

            Time would be wasted in exactly the same way as for any DVD, CD, casette or vinyl record that you currently own.

            • I like things as they are now. I rip my DVDs to a central file server and stream them to any room in the house or any P2P on the net. Then all my friends can watch or copy them whenever they like and fair use prevails. Oh, I'm sorry, was I not supposed to do that? ;)
              • No. You're not supposed to. I think that it's reckless. A few years ago, I would have thought it immoral, but that was before the new laws stripped all morality out of copyright legislation.

                These days, I just don't want to have evidence that you are breaking the law. I don't object anymore. I no longer feel that the law has any moral authority. Merely force. But please remember that this force can ruin peoples lives.

      • Owning a license is better than owning the real thing, if it's done properly. Think about it. If you lose your bank card, does that mean you've also lost the money in your account? No, because your account is effectively your license, so its physical representation, the card, can easily be replaced.

        I am sorry but that is just broken. A license is never as good as the "real thing". First let us dismiss the set of licenses that the state grants, license to drive, practice medicine, law, blow things up etc etc, but worry about why the term should be the same. These are licenses in the traditional, perhaps even legitimate sense.

        The banking analogy is not helpful, you are right about the abstract nature of the card, but that does not make it a license, my critical objection relates to a definition of license like "1 a : permission to act b : freedom of action" (www.m-w.com) because what we see when we talk about "licensing" in the posters terms is "Restriction from Action". That is, you are given everything you need to do a whole bunch of stuff with what you have purchased but the nature of the license restricts those freedoms to an extremely limited subset, this is _not_ better than unfettered access. By any definition.

        Even more disturbing is a definition like "2 a : a permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful b : a document, plate, or tag evidencing a license granted". Hmmm, otherwise unlawful, competant authority. Perhaps there is the root of the problem.

      • Owning a license is better than owning the real thing, if it's done properly...

        wouldn't it be great if you could trade in your cassette or LP for a SACD or DVD-Audio for just the cost of duplicating the media? Or if you owned a game for PC, you could also get a Mac version for a negligible charge, because what you own is not the CD it came on, but the right to play the game?


        Sound great. I'll give them a licence to whatever money I paid for the music/game licence. If they don't do all that stuff for me I'll just revoke their licence to my money.

        -
    • I scratched my CD to GTA III. If I download a replacement copy, I'm a pirate. I wish the licensing system worked better.
      • Yeah, isn't it the shits.

        If you bought the CD you should be able to do with it what you want. I.E. back it up. But if you only licensed it then they should be required to replace the damaged CD since you have a right via the license to use it's contents.

        They want to eat their cake and have it too and so far it's working!
    • Is there going to come a point where we will not actually own anything, merely own a license to use it?

      Read the book The Age of Access [barnesandnoble.com] by Jeremy Rifkin. His contention is that, unless we do something about this in a legal sense, the answer is "Yes". It's a good polemic and has some good ideas about what to do about this.

    • I find it laughable whenever someone indicates that they trust corporations to look out for our best interests.

      One only has to realize that the one and only goal of a corporation is to make money for it's investors. For right or wrong corporations are motivated by greed. How many CEOs would risk losing their job by doing something that, although was in the best interest of the public, lost money for the stockholders? (Well unless they could heavily pad their own bank accounts in doing so.)

      The problem is exacerbated by the fact that corporations are treated like something that they are not. Individuals. No corporation should be allowed to have the same rights as an individual and no corporation should be allowed to donate money to a political campaign. ALL campaign contributions should have to be made by real people individually using their own money.

      If you have ever talked to a politician, off the record just person to person, you probably realized that they are really not all that well informed about the issues. Most have only one thing that they really want and that is to be re-elected and gather more power to themselves.

      Given the three points above: 1. Corporations only want to make money, 2. Corporations are allowed to donate HUGE amounts of money to political campaigns and 3. Politicians really only want to keep their jobs, it's not hard to figure out that, in order to fulfill their goal to make money, the corporations will donate enough money to self-serving politicians to ensure that their interests are first on any political agenda.

      The real answer here is to remove corporate influence from politics. However being that our lawmakers benefit from not letting that happen it will be an uphill battle.

  • money? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by in_ur_face (177250) on Monday December 23, 2002 @09:09AM (#4943767)
    "The issue is front and center in an obscure but important legal battle under way in Hong Kong. The three major video-game console makers -- Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft -- have used the courts against a seller of hardware modification chips, often called ``mod chips,'' that give the boxes more capabilities than the makers allow when sold off the shelf."

    I wonder how the amount of money spent on legal fees compares to the $$ lost from just allowing mod chips? Is this just a principle thing?
    • I wonder how the amount of money spent on legal fees compares to the $$ lost from just allowing mod chips? Is this just a principle thing?

      A major corporation doing something out of principle? lol.

      It's about $$, like everything else.
    • It is no priciple thing. Look at it this way:

      The average cost of a console is far higher than it's retail price. If it wasn't as cheap as it is now nobody would by the damn thing. To be able to make money the games are sold at a higher than normal price. This is how they are able to make money. To control and make sure that their revenue stream is not disrupted by illegal copies or non-standard usage of a console (i.e. use it as a linux pc) they seek the courts aid in this. The loss in revenue outweighs te legal fees.

      Besides, those companies have their lawyers on a payroll so it isn't as if it will cost them alot extra like it would cost us alot of money.
      • Isn't the only console thats being sold at a large loss at the moment the x-box. AFAIK, sony and Nintendo are not making (or certainly weren't until recent xmas boosting of market share exercises) actually losing money on the hardware. The PSone, is dirt cheap to make now, with the PS2, Sony have got over their initial cost of developing a totally new chip and the GC uses only slightly modified PPC750 and ATI hardware. From the recent wave of consoles, as far as I can tell, only Microsoft went way overboard with the hardware costs....
    • Is this just a principle thing?

      Sort of. They (which means pretty much all big content producers) would rather have a market in which they controlled 100% of the available product, rather than a market 10 times bigger in which they only controlled 50% of it. Maybe their profits aren't so big, but then neither are their risks or the amount of effort they have to put into maintaining their hold. It's not in the public interest, and our governments should not be helping them maintain their dominance, but it's predictable that the companies themselves do anything in their power to maintain it.

    • Re:money? (Score:2, Insightful)

      The issue isn't the existing mod chips, per se; the corporations are defending against the slippery slope that takes us from Linux XBoxen and multiregion Playstations to hardware cracks that allow for the use of pirated media and bypassing other security features.

      Say, for example, that Sony doesn't have any problems with a particular mod chip, but can't let another type to so much as exist (the exact kind of each chip doesn't matter). If the company let some chippers continue business unchallenged, but files suit and/or initiates criminal investigations against others, then they'll have to defend in open a court a policy that makes (arguably invidious) distinctions between "good" and "bad" mod chips. Since distinctions of that fine and subjective a grain are exceedingly hard to defend, especially in successive trials, the companies are a whole lot safer spending the cash to go after mod chippers in general.

      What this also means is that the situation really isn't as cut-and-dried as "they're taking away our consumer rights;" to protect against selective abuse of the laws, our legal system(s) require companies to defend their rights across the board, or accept a very truncated version of them. Given that choice, they'll litigate every time.

    • Re:money? (Score:3, Interesting)

      "I wonder how the amount of money spent on legal fees compares to the $$ lost from just allowing mod chips? Is this just a principle thing?"

      They're pretty much forced to enforce their rights, or risk losing them. If Nintendo were to find that 1 million games shipped and 10 million people have a copy, they wouldn't be able to sue anybody if they just allowed it to happen.

      I don't see why they're so afraid, though. The PC has no 'mod chips' to speak of. Yet, the game market on the PC isn't dying due to piracy. It's dying due to lack of interesting games.

      One thing that could push me towards modding a GameCube (assuming that is possible, no idea if it is or not) so that I can play downloaded games is that I can't find game demos anywhere for the system. PS2 and XBOX have this, but Nintendon't.

      I'd find modding the PS2 or the XBOX to be quite worthless as long as I had demos of games to try out.
      • is that I can't find game demos anywhere for the [Nintendo GameCube] system.

        There's always blockbuster. Or do you live in a country where the copyright law lets the publisher ban rental on console games, like the USA does for PC games?

        • "There's always blockbuster. Or do you live in a country where the copyright law lets the publisher ban rental on console games, like the USA does for PC games? "

          I live in the USA. :P

          Not everybody wants to go rent a game, mainly because at some point you have to take it back. My life's busy enough without having to do that.

          I work at a software company, it isn't uncommon for me to have to stay here real late.
  • I wonder just how big the issue of "piracy" is and if it's even feasible to spend the amount of money they do with finding ways to encrypt software, or region encode them.

    Have they even evaluated just doing worldwide releases and saving the cash? I mean really, the days before macromedia didn't kill off the movie industry, and the easily available radio shack macromedia disabler didn't kill em off either.

    I would hope that they re-evaluate their perspective on this sionce no matter what they put out, some person in the world will circumvent it, and teach others how to do the same.

    I mean really - Sony spent how much on their last encryption? And it was disabled by a ten cent marker?
    • Re:Software (Score:4, Insightful)

      by altgrr (593057) on Monday December 23, 2002 @09:17AM (#4943785)
      Have they even evaluated just doing worldwide releases and saving the cash? I mean really, the days before macromedia didn't kill off the movie industry, and the easily available radio shack macromedia disabler didn't kill em off either.

      The fact of the matter is, as long as there is a disabling technology (Macrovision et al), there will be a re-enabling technology (Macrovision Disabler) which renders this useful again.

      The reason why there is so much money in piracy is because the entertainment industry is creating opportunities for piracy to make money. If DVDs weren't (a) encrypted, (b) so expensive, then there wouldn't be so much of a call for ways round the problem, and these semi-legal* systems wouldn't have to be made.

      *semi-legal: Illegality under US law is constantly under doubt; such actions in other countries are often legal.
      • Licensing is by region in software, music and video. This makes sense because cultural differences in various regions change the value of media accordingly. Games and music that are popular in the US are not necessarily popular in Japan, and vice versa. Console manufacturers are against mod chips because they enable piracy. It's not just the developers and third party publishers who lose money, the console manufacturers lose significant licensing fees. Games are expensive to develop and offer arguably better value than music or movies in hours of enjoyment vs. money spent. The game industry does not push crap at its customers like the music or film biz. Rampant piracy of games would cause retail prices to increase rather follow the natural effects of the market, which is to decrease as hardware penetration increases. Also,distributors of mod chips are under fire, not users. This is as it should be. The author of the article in question points to a Hong Kong retailer selling games from other regions as proof of the industry's hipocrisy. This is patently ridiculous -- what does the stock of an independent retailer from the epicenter of world piracy have to do with the game industry? It's doubtful the out of region games were not pirated. Mod chips and pirate software will always be available, but when everyone has access to mod chips and pirate-enabling software, profits go away and pubs and developers have zero incentive to make any more games. Then gamers will have to make their own or wait for the open source community to make some. I'll bet those games will suck. Lik-Sang should stick to selling other wares which do not enable casual piracy. BTW, DVD's are cheap.
    • Have they even evaluated just doing worldwide releases and saving the cash? I mean really, the days before macromedia didn't kill off the movie industry, and the easily available radio shack macromedia disabler didn't kill em off either.



      The anticopying technology company you ar thinking of is Macrovision, not Macromedia.

      • Yup, You're correct - Just finished my mug of coffee and my first pepsi one of the day.

        Started nibbling on my chocolate coffee beans and realized my mistake. Thank you for the correction.

        Off to codin now! Wheeeeeeee!
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Monday December 23, 2002 @09:23AM (#4943816)
    A lot of these prosecutions seem to hinge on a modification being marketed in a fashion that leaves its intended purpose open to interpretation.

    While lawyers will of course always oil the wheels of litigatation regardless of commonsense, morality, ethics, or the laws of physics, one should at least make it a little bit harder for them wherever possible.

    For example, in the case of the Xbox mod chip, if a company created and marketed a device with the single and sole purpose of allowing Linux to be booted natively on powerup, and supported this purpose with Xbox Linux distros on its website plus all the relevant FAQs, and with extra features in the bootstrap making the purpose plain (eg. kernel boot parameter storage) as well as displaying a prominent intended-use disclaimer, this would make litigating against the company significantly harder than at present.
    • by IanA (260196) on Monday December 23, 2002 @09:27AM (#4943827)
      No one would make a significant profit on a modchip designed only for using Linux.

      95%, at least, of modchips are used for backing up games/getting around regional protection/playing warez copies, and a defense for that type of usage (esp. warez) would not be feasible imho.
      • I think he meant that it would be marketed as a Linux thing, but would still allow piracy, but no mention of that would exist on the spec, FAQs, docs etc.
        • It doesn't matter how it's marketed, it only matters how it's used. If the presecution can show that its' primary use is STILL warez then it can be deemed illegal. Ever wonder why you can't buy those handy lock jimmys the cops use? They can be marketed as an alternative method fo ropening your car when you have a brain fart and lock the keys inside it. They could also, and most likely will be, used mainly for stealing cars, hence their not being made avialable on the open market.
          • "Those handy lock jimmys" are known as "slim jims". You can find these for sale if you know where to look (hint: locksmith, tow company, or law enforcement supply). There are a number of cool products out there that aren't marketed to the general public and won't be found in the local WalMart. Most of these are even legal to sell/buy/own.
          • Ever wonder why you can't buy those handy lock jimmys the cops use? They can be marketed as an alternative method fo ropening your car when you have a brain fart and lock the keys inside it. They could also, and most likely will be, used mainly for stealing cars, hence their not being made avialable on the open market.

            Ever wonder why people on /. just make shit up with no substantiation? There are multiple non-infringing uses for lockpicks, "Slim Jims" and the like. It certainly is not just the police who can own or use them. For example, you can buy one right here [spy-store.com], long with other lock-defeating devices. It is not illegal to own lockpicks or a Slim Jim, it is just illegal to use them to aid in the commission of a crime such as burglary. Just like it should not be illegal to sell modchips, it should only be illegal to use if you are using it to play pirated games. There are substantial non-infringing uses, I hope the courts see that and allow the sale of the chips to continue.

            • There are substantial non-infringing uses, I hope the courts see that and allow the sale of the chips to continue.

              Like they did with DeCSS, Napster, and the rest?

              GTRacer
              - I wanted a modchip for Japanese games but bought a whole Japanese PS2 instead...

          • Ever wonder why you can't buy those handy lock jimmys the cops use? They can be marketed as an alternative method fo ropening your car when you have a brain fart and lock the keys inside it.

            Actually, slim jims and similar tools are legally available in Florida and in several other states in the US. I'm not suggesting that mod chips are mostly used for legitimate purposes because I've not seen any data one way or the other, but I take umbrage at a company dictating to me exactly how I may use the product that I spent hundreds of dollars for. It's not cost effective to use an Xbox for running Linux, but I should still be able to if I want, and if I have a bunch of legitimately purchased Japanese anime DVDs I don't feel it's up to an American entertainment cartel to tell me I can't watch them on my DVD player.
  • The root cause (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tanveer1979 (530624) on Monday December 23, 2002 @09:23AM (#4943817) Homepage Journal
    The root cause of such difference in other products and electronic items is that the lawmakers tend to see the internet/electronics/software as a different domain altogether. We have not so much advanced in the digital age that it comes naturally to us. Think, the senaters read their snail mail, but email is left unread.

    The article talks compares this to auto makers authorizing repair only at specific places. Such a practice will be shot down immediately. But in case of the e-world, the big cartels have hyped this up as a specific domain where rules are different. And the law makers are also beginning to see this as such. Unless we break this mindset of the e-world as something different and obscure such practices will go unnoticed. This will keep happening until the common man, the silent majority does not start using infotech in daily life. For example if such a practice came in a budget automobile, there would be an outcry, because many many people use it, but in case of DVD, a small percentage of the users will ever go to Europe to Buy DVDs. We need to go a long way.. and going by the incresing restrictions on internet.. this will take a long time. No matter how hard the detracters try, this revolution will come and nobody can do anything about it :)

    • Of course you buy the hardware, but you also buy the software too. Since MOD chips give the ability to play copied gamees, it'll cut into their prime revenue. Why does everyone seem to forget that fact? If Lik-Sang wants to stay out of hot water, I think they should make a mod chip that only allows Linux and other program development only.
      • Re:The root cause (Score:2, Informative)

        by I am the blob (239590)
        I've lost two PS2 games, one to scratches and another to a burn (don't ask).

        Since Sony (or whatever 3rd party produced the game) isn't going to send me a new disc, why should I not be able to make a backup and play from those backups?
  • I'm in the market (Score:2, Interesting)

    by visualight (468005)
    for a mod chip for my xbox.

    I want to get a mod chip bought I'm still wary of buying things from online retailers. You'd think that if CompUSA sold them they'd sell one with every Xbox sold. If I had a store I'd do it. I don't see how MS could argue the premise "If I buy hardware I get to do whatever I want with it."

    I wish someone in the states would do it, just so they could subpeona Bill Gates in court. "Say Bill, is it okay if I lock my xbox in the closet and never take it out? Well what if I hit it a few times with a 3 lb. sledge? Can I put wheels on it and ride it on the sidewalk? Are you saying that it should be illegal to run Linux on an Xbox? What's that? Linux should be illegal?
    • "I wish someone in the states would do it, just so they could subpeona Bill Gates in court. "Say Bill, is it okay if I lock my xbox in the closet and never take it out? Well what if I hit it a few times with a 3 lb. sledge? Can I put wheels on it and ride it on the sidewalk? ..."

      This is interesting? At best, it's flamebait.

      " Are you saying that it should be illegal to run Linux on an Xbox? What's that? Linux should be illegal?"

      What, you been watching Crossfire lately? The issue isn't running Linux on the XBOX, the issue is cracking the XBOX to play warez. Can't have one without the other. As long as DVD-Rs are getting cheaper, they have a reason to be worried.

      Seeing as how MS, Nintendo, and Sony are forced to litigate or face losing their rights all together, I can't believe you're turning it into a "Linux is illegal?" ambush.

      Grow up. This isn't about Bill Gates trying to undermine Linux with the XBOX.
  • "The sage of Lik-Sang" I wonder if he's anything like the sage in Final Fantasy One that gave you the rod to go kill Lich?
  • The car analogy (Score:5, Informative)

    by shoppa (464619) on Monday December 23, 2002 @09:35AM (#4943863)
    The car analogy at the beginning of the story is more true than the writer knows. Car manufacturers did attempt to lock car buyers into extra-pricey dealer service, and the US Congress did react by passing the Magnusson-Moss act. Not only did this "unlock the hood", it also fixed things so that you wouldn't violate the warranty just by doing your own oil change.
  • I hate to break it to you, but on a social scale there is such a thing.

    There are two advantages for selling licensed, supervised mod-chips (in any computer, not just gaming systems); intellectual property holders can make some money off their use and profit in the long run.

    Secondly, the scope of mod-chips can be designed to preclude uses such as interference with transmission, eavesdropping, hacking, etc.

  • you have the right to convert the engine to a water powered (hydrogen) engine..

    It may skrew the gas company's over.. but you have that right.

    I don't believe XBOX (Microsoft) should have the right to prosecute those who pirate games..

    I do believe the game developpers have the right to presecute those who pirate games
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The boat analogy at the beginning of the story is more true than the writer knows. Boat manufacturers did attempt to lock boat buyers into extra-pricey dealer service, and the USSR Congress did react by passing the Magnusson-Moss act. Not only did this "lock the bridge", it also fixed things so that you wouldn't violate the warranty just by doing your own mast change.
  • by Cpt_Kirks (37296) on Monday December 23, 2002 @10:23AM (#4944074)
    Lik-Sang has more than mod chips, GBA dev kits and such. They also sell the afterburner internal light for the the GBA and the excellent Gamepark GP32 [lik-sang.com]. This little handheld game has a much bigger screen than the GBA, has a 113Mhz ARM 7 CPU and uses SMC cards instead of cartridges.

    Yes, a Linux port is under way. Anybody know of an existing Linux SMC driver?
    • Gamepark GP32

      It's not available at USA brick-and-mortar stores (Wal-Mart, Meijer, Toys "Ya" Us, Best Buy, Circuit City), and it's not advertised on USA national TV. Thus it won't have any brand recognition in the average American gamer's mind, not near what the name "Game Boy" evokes. Because it doesn't have the brand recognition, none of my neighbors will own one. And if none of my neighbors own one, I won't be able to play multiplayer games.

      And how good are its official titles?

      This little handheld game has a much bigger screen than the GBA

      But its video is a dumb frame buffer, which means you have to do 2D in software, unlike on the GBA where you get hardware acceleration for 2D and simplistic 3D graphics.

      And how long do eight AA cells power the GP32? Eight AA cells will power the GBA for 40 to 60 hours (4 x (2 x AA) = 4 x 10 to 15 hours), or even longer for "battery-friendly" GBA software such as Tetanus On Drugs [pineight.com] that loads itself mostly into the system's 288 KB of work RAM instead of taking the power-drain hit of constantly accessing the cartridge.

      • You forgot: "It only comes in one color" and "It cost $160".

        And how good are its official titles?

        Well, no Disney tie-ins (nyuck, nyuck!).

        Really, who cares? The SNES, GBC, C64 and some other emulators are running fine, along with Doom, Wolf3D, etc.

        A GBA emulator is in the works, but there probably isn't enough horsepower available (though 113Mhz will help with software 2D & 3D).

        The GP32 has some faults, but the fact plain SMC cards can be used pretty much trumps them.

        What I *REALLY* want is something like the Dell Axim converted to a game device. mmm, 400Mhz...
      • 2 AA cells will power a gamepark 32 for 12 hours, so 8 will get you a total of 48 hours of play time. This battery life is pretty consistent thanks to the GP32's 8mb of RAM.

        Those sprite tricks the GBA does are not terribly cpu-intensive to do in software. While the GBA's graphics display modes offset some load by making assumptions about the data in video memory, they can also cause headaches (I'm sorry, but mode7 results in unadulterated ugliness in practice). Though when you've only got 16mhz to play with, you take all the help you can get.

        This does mean that GP32 games will require a bit more cpu power because they must perform their own sprite-handling (if they're using sprites at all, anyway), but since the video is just a dumb framebuffer, that also means they have a lot more control over the display.

        On the topic of processor power, the GP32 is four times as powerful as the GBA when the cpu is running code from RAM (67mhz) and 8x as fast when running code from cache (130mhz). It's perfectly capable of performing some surprisingly sophisticated 3D. 2D performance is a non-issue.

        All that said, you'll probably be happier with a GBA if you don't understand Korean or aren't a coder. The official titles are all in Korean as can be expected since that's the only place the GP32 is marketed. Quite frankly, the games are mediocre for the most part. None of them even try to tap the GP32's capabilities.
        The most impressive displays of what the GP32 can do are all homebrew [fnt.hvu.nl].
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Monday December 23, 2002 @10:35AM (#4944136)
    The analogy given in the article of a car manufacturer dictating where the car may be repaired is fairly good, but maybe this analogy would be even better.

    The primary purpose of a DVD player or a DVD/CD-based games console is to play media. The primary purpose of a car is to transport passengers.

    Consider then the uproar that would be caused if a US car manufacturer only allowed US nationals to be transported in its cars, only Japanese nationals in Japanese-manufactured cars, and so on. That is the direct counterpart to DVD and game regionalization. It's wrong, regardless of the economic reasoning behind it.
    • I think the whole "region" thing is bogus. But they've been doing it with consoles ever since Nintendo 8-bit, I think. Back then it was more of a hardware thing... Japanese carts wouldn't fit in the USA NES unless you had an adapter. "Region" encoding for DVD movies is also a joke.
  • I always thought (Score:2, Insightful)

    by select * from (593191)
    I always thought of the way mod chips being presented as merely backup tools was akin to vibrators being advertised as muscle massagers. The more "wholesome" use is the one printed on the box.

    But with that said, making backups is important. Especially with kids. Although I preach til I'm blue in the face to my kids on keeping care of their CD's, they never fail to get scratched a little. I've been lucky so far that they haven't completely ruined a CD yet, but I imagine it will happen sometime.

    • Agreed. Making backups would be really nice. It would probably be legal if there weren't those relatively few people that would completely abuse it. Now because of the out of control copying of music, future formats are going to be really limited. For example, DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD formats do not output digitally. You can only get analog sound out of them. No longer will you be able to create perfect copies for your own use.
  • by revery (456516) <charles@@@cac2...net> on Monday December 23, 2002 @11:01AM (#4944290) Homepage
    The sage of Lik-Sang has continued with Dan Gillmor's recent visit to the region.

    This has gone too far!! I have never before heard of the sage of Lik-Sang, but I am sure he is a member of a venerable monastic order. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo should stick to the world of electronics and leave the sage alone.

    Ooh, unless this is about the herb. Then I don't care what they do.
    *Sigh* I'm gonna have to read the article, aren't I....
  • be honest here. The primary use of a mod chip is to play copied games. It's not to install Linux on your console. Don't be a cheap ass... buy the games that are worth buying.
    • And it's because of people like you that our freedoms are slowly being eaten away.

      This year has been the biggest year ever in console game sales. I do not think these people are losing money to pirates.
    • by phorm (591458)
      As mentioned previously... aren't you going to be slightly pissed when your 6-8yr old kid scratches his one month old DVD slightly, but just in the right spot so that it doesn't play anymore? I keep all my PC games on backup. When I go somewhere with them (e.g. LAN parties, etc), I am ensured that
      a) My originals don't walk
      b) The don't get scratched/damaged/screwed

      It's bad enough to have to worry about the kids not breaking the $300 console, without worrying about a little scratch rendering a $60+ game worthless too. You can back up the games, stick them in a closet, and let the kiddies play on the copies. Trust me, it's a very legitimate use, and one that parents tend to greatly appreciate without being labelled immediately as pirates.
    • Don't be a cheap ass... buy the games that are worth buying.

      And what about the games that are worthless? Should I still have to pay for those? Or can I get my money back? Im not sure if you have ever paid $70 just to find out that you bought the shittiest game on Planet Earth, but if you do, you WILL know that you have been ripped off. And what can you do about it? Thank the major 3 for bending you over, and burying it deep in your behind.
      • Every console has a Magazine for it with these cute little things called Demo Discs. They come with demos of new and soon to be released games. Sure, subscriptions to the magazines cost about $29.00 (US) a year, but so what? You get to play demoes and find out if you like a game or not without shelling out $49.00 (US) for the game itself. My subscription to XBox Magazine has saved me a lot of money in games I didn't end up buying, and has turned me on to games I hadn't known about.
  • First post in /., long time lurker. :) Reading about this issue, it just hit me. Since we're so unhappy about how things are, how Microsoft / sony / whoever make up all the rules that we don't like, why don't we just make our own devices? I admit it's a very simplistic point of view... but it's not impossible. If we can come up with an OS that puts Windows to shame, why can't we come up with a gaming console that puts XBox / PS2 / etc to shame? And, give us the flexibility to tweak it as we choose, under a license similar to the GPL. :) Hell, make it so we can run it on any hardware config we want, even my beat-up lawnmower... And, make it able to read games for XBox, ps2, etc... Is that legal? If not, is there a way to make it legal or go around it?
    • If you wanted the console to play Xbox or ps2 games, you would need to either use the bios from both of those consoles, which would be copyright violation, or reverse engineer the bioses of those consoles. However, there would be no way to prove that you had't read the bios code. im not totally sure why you have to prove you never saw the bios code, but I think something similar was done by AMI, and award, and all the other bios companies when they reverse-engineered the original IBM PC bios. probably something to do with copyright again.
    • I think to be competitive we would need to manufacturer custom chipsets. With out mega bucks that's not going to happen.

      Some effort should be put into making games that run natively in Linux. My real concern in this area, however, is that Microsoft bought some of the rights to OpenGL. It may be an ace in the hole to kill future efforts.

    • I know it sounded like a PC... actually I was trying to go even "higher" than PC... not be bound by anything we have now. Reverse engineer was the idea I had also. However I guess there are rules against reverse engineering as well? If I built a gaming machine, I'd call it... "XTopia" :) It would be able to play any games from XBox, PS / 2, GameCube, etc... and, upgradable to play any future format. And it will be open source, of course, to prevent anyone from monopolising it, and for unlimited growth. And of course, it would be legal to do pretty much anything u want with it, except bang me on the head.
  • The saga of Lik-Sang has continued with Dan Gillmor's recent visit to the region. He and Alex Kampl met and talked for a while. The comparisons are good ones - and ones that are clearly enough drawn that everyone should see the loss of their rights.

  • I think we need to understand the corporate POV as well (which is partly valid), and try to think of a solution that's sensible for all parties involved....

    I agree entirely that a hardware purchase (e.g., xbox) should be yours to do whatever you want with. Treat it like a car -- you can make whatever mods you want (as long as you don't break any of the *safety*-related laws, e.g., state car inspections).

    But you can't evenly compare *software* to physical merchandise, because the cost model is completely different. If I came up with a machine that would somehow create an exact clone of my car out of thin air, YES, I think auto-makers would have a right to be concerned, and I shouldn't be allowed to copy and sell pre-existing, patented cars. Once the product is purely digital, companies can't depend on the laws of conservation of matter to force people to play fair (and no, no matter what they're charging, software piracy is not a valid answer).

    So we come to licensing software instead of outright purchase. Since it's still purely digital, we start running into horrible privacy issues when companies try to prevent piracy by tracking what you do with the software.

    Here's the best answer I can think of (and I, um, don't see this happening any time soon)....

    Companies producing software would standardize their license formats, so that other, 3rd party companies (or even an open source application?) can perform a "personal software license audit" -- the "auditor" program would gather licenses from all software found on your home network, and query each company's license service to verify that each license is registered properly to you.

    The fact that you've recently performed a home audit would be publically available info, and if you don't ever run audits it could affect your credit rating, etc.

    Thoughts?
  • To make the analogy more apt, one would have to imagine if car manufactures made money not only from selling the car, but also (or even more similar in analogy, only from) selling the various roads on which the car is driven. If that were the case, car manufactures would have a much greater concern in regulating how, when, where you drive AND what you pay. As is, auto manufactures are little like console manufactures as this article's analogy attempts.

    The unfortunately legitimate concerns of copyright holders is that the backup devices sold by companies such as lik-sang allow people to steal other products as their primary function.

    Don't get me wrong, as long as there are some honest folks who will use the slim-jim or the console backup device for fair-use purposes, then those devices should be sold legally. No questions asked. This is freedom. Companies need to come up with other ways, reasonable pricing anyone, of preventing piracy.

    Isn't it funny that a business can flurish when selling a device that negates the need for consumers to purchase most of the other products that business sells? Tells you something, doesn't it?

    The problem here is not that people are thieves by nature, but that our current form of capitalism makes us want more and more while subsequently denying the vast majority (legal/moral) means to acquire the degree of wealth offered.

    Gotta love laws intended for no better purpose than to further cripple freedom. Especially when it's in the name of ungodly rich corporation(s) meeting their bloody shareholders expectations. Sad, sad. It's the worst parts of capitalism run amuck! : (
  • What we have here is a simple case of companies using technology to control the market, whereas normal theory states that economics should control technology.

    In this case company M sells product X, N sells GC, and S sells P2. Another company L-S comes up with enhancements (MC) to these products which allow competitors to use the products for their own purposes. Note that this is entirely reasonable; for example, consider someone from Stanley buying a screwdriver from Black & Decker and using it to open their mail. No harm there, but they're using the tool for something other than its intended purpose. This is the way Property Rights work: once you buy something, it's yours to do with as you wish.

    According to standard theory, company L-S would compete with all the other company 'L-S's for control over the MC market, until the supply and demand curves meet. That is, assuming there are enough company 'L-S's and enough demand, enough supply will be generated so that the marginal cost per unit for the MC market will equal the marginal price, and a free-market condition is reached.

    Unfortunately, this is not what's being allowed to happen. Companies M, N, and S are conspiring to use technological means to thwart competition. They see other people (like 'console hackers') who threaten to subvert their product into a tool of their competitors. Company M's suit, in particular, threatens to keep a rival group's product in another market, the 'OS' market, off their hardware. (Didn't we just go through a court case designed to stop this sort of behaviour?) They are attempting to use technology to control the market, instead of allowing the market to make its own decisions about the technology.

    I hereby proclaim and declare companies M, N, and S to be willfully anti-free-market and anti-competitive, and they should be penalized into oblivion for what they're doing.

    • "What we have here is a simple case of companies using technology to control the market, whereas normal theory states that economics should control technology."

      Close. What we really have is corporations controlling the laws that affects technology.
  • I am amazed that no-one's based a commercial distribution on Debian
    yet - it is by far the most solid UNIX-like OS I've ever installed,
    and I've played with HP/UX, Solaris, FreeBSD, BSDi, and SCO (not to
    mention OS/2, Novell, Win95/NT)
    -- Nathan E. Norman

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