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Controversial StarForce Copy Protection Creators Quizzed 952

Posted by simoniker
from the force-not-with-you? dept.
Thanks to FiringSquad for its interview with the creators of the StarForce copy protection scheme for PC videogames. The author explains: "In recent months there's been an increasing awareness and alarm over StarForce copy protection. It's actually a driver that installs itself with the [Windows] games that come shipped with it, and originally it didn't uninstall when the game was uninstalled." StarForce's Abbie Sommer argues the advantages of "driver-level copy protection", explaining: "The drivers are what prevents the use of kernel debugger utilities such as SoftICE, Cool Debugger, Soft Snoop etc. Also the drivers prevent emulators from spoofing a drive, and thwart burning tools such as Alcohol 120%." The author concludes by injecting a little personal opinion into the mix, arguing: "PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease."
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Controversial StarForce Copy Protection Creators Quizzed

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  • by Devar (312672) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:32AM (#10010209) Homepage Journal
    Thanks for nothing! If I want to use these tools then I shouldn't have to put up with this kind of crap from software companies. It's almost like them installing a virus. They wouldn't like it if I installed software on their machines that denied access to certain things, would they.

  • Useless... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Blue Eagle 26 (683113) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:35AM (#10010218)
    I wont buy anygame with this crap. And besides, the crack is already out there somewhere by now.
  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JamesKPolk (13313) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:36AM (#10010227) Homepage
    I hope the big publishers all get run off of the computer game industry, and all the people who like "gaming" instead of computer games go with them.

    Then those of us who prefer good games to good graphics will have computer games to ourselves again.

    Bring back the games on floppies in little plastic bags!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:36AM (#10010229)
    and you can be sure that I'll start to behave like one.
  • We're all sheep (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Dayze!Confused (717774) <slashdot@org.ohyonghao@com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:38AM (#10010238) Homepage Journal
    It's interesting that with all the crap that keeps happening with how our rights are taken away and companies like this are installing things onto our computers to prevent us from using tools that we should be able to use that so many people just take it. Too many people are not passionate enough about things like this that it allows these companies to continue to do these things.
  • missed something (Score:5, Insightful)

    by prockcore (543967) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:38AM (#10010239)
    The guy is missing something. They're trying so hard to beat softice.. but they forget that pros don't need to use breakpoints, thus they don't need to actually run the app to disassemble it.

    http://hte.sf.net would work just peachy.
  • Pointless (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:38AM (#10010240)
    1)Physical access to a machine, means the person has "root" access or will have it very shortly. Defeating a driver installed with a game shouldn't take too much effort.

    2)If a game is truely worth playing, then it is worth paying for. Like today's music, most of today's games aren't worth paying for.
  • Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:38AM (#10010241)
    "if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease."

    Yeah, I've been hearing that since my Amiga gaming days, back when I had to travel to the capital city just to find a place that sold legitimate game copies, back when piracy was as just a blank floppy away. Look how much the number and quality has shrunk in the gaming market since then...
  • Piracy, right.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NarrMaster (760073) <dfordyce@nOSpAm.mix.wvu.edu> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:38AM (#10010244)
    .... cause we all know how much damage piracy does to the music [com.com] industry. Ba-zing!
  • PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease.

    I see the piracy of games being the lesser threat to the game industry. Sure, it's an issue, but they should be more afraid of people waking up and realizing that they're getting crapped on by game companies.

    People won't be so computer-illiterate in about ten years when computers will be as common as any other appliance, and people know how to maintain their common appliances. (IE: Don't shove a fork in a toaster, proper oven cleaning protocol, etc), and they won't really like bullshit drivers installing themselves without much notice (People don't read EULAs.).

    Another though: What if the anti-virus companies decide that this is bullshit and we find that Norton Anti-Virus starts complaining about this crap. The game companies will sure as hell think twice before they restict people's computer useage without telling them.

  • The age-old rule (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:44AM (#10010275)
    The stronger you make the copy protection, the more you inconvenience your legitimate users, and the more attractive the "cracked" product becomes. Making the w4rz3d version a more useful product than your original is a bad marketing ploy.
  • by r6144 (544027) <r6k.sohu@com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:45AM (#10010281) Homepage Journal
    Regardless of the usefulness of copy protection, such behaviors of installing things without users' knowledge just cannot be allowed, especially if it is a driver that runs with much privilege. Just imagine if one disgruntled developer in the company put some time-bomb in the code... When ordinary user-level code is used, or when kernel-level stuff is used in something like anti-virus programs, at least a moderately clueful user can know what they are installing, so they can be more careful before installing such things and not blame Microsoft if things go wrong; but in this case, people are not expected to be as careful when installing a video game as when installing some anti-virus software, at least until such practice become even more widespread than it is now.

    In my opinion, such things should be categorized as malware, and should only be allowed if adequate warning is given to the user before installation.

    Anyway, even when installed as a driver, it can't be fully crack-proof --- the driver can be removed, and the game code can be changed to skip the accesses to the driver. If the game is popular enough, a crack will soon be produced (probably unusable for Internet games though), and even legit users may use them so that they can get rid of the driver that is possibly destabilizing the system.

  • by bishiraver (707931) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:45AM (#10010286) Homepage
    PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease.
    Not being able to play a game because my CD drive isn't on the "approved" list, and then being thwarted when I try to mount an ISO of the game... that drives me away from buying computer games. More and more people are turning to piracy because copy-protection schemes turn them off to buying a legitimate copy of the game.

    For gamers with CD-ROMs that are incompatible with SecuROM (and other copy protection measures), it is currently more convenient to download and crack pirated versions, than to buy a legitimate copy.

    This is a dangerous discrepancy, and is running the game industry into the ground.
  • by richy freeway (623503) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:51AM (#10010316)
    I used to bill my time at US$200/hour. I should send a bill to the gaming company for putting a virus on my system that just cost me a day's work.

    Yeah! Cos we all know how well that worked for stopping junk faxes/email/whatever!!
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Courtland (585609) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:52AM (#10010320)
    First off, you most can certainly debug driver modules. SoftICE runs Ring 0. Even if their driver runs Ring 0, you can still see it. It's also on your hard disk. Even if it somehow disables the machine if SoftICE is detected, you have the data. It will be disassembled and it will be cracked.

    And this brings up a point about copy protection. It really only fucks with the people who actually buy the CD. I bought The Sims after, admittedly, not paying for it for a while. But I did go out and buy it after about a month, and lo and behold my CD Key was already registered. Ah well, an email took care of that. But, next I buy Neverwinter Nights. Damn CD Protection goes so far as to not work in my DVD drive. This happens with a TON of protected games. Flight Simulator 2002 would continuously corrupt on install, SimCity 4, Baldurs Gates both 1 AND 2... Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the SecuROM/SafeDisc methods do *not* produce valid Redbook CDROM standard CD's. Doesn't happen on non-secured discs like Streets and Trips, Windows XP, etc... Either way, I paid for these games and they don't work. Yet I can steal them and they work, no hassle. Hmm, not too hard of a debate. I actually sometimes will buy the game then download the crack because I'm tired of dealing with shitty copy protection. /rant
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:55AM (#10010328) Homepage
    I agree. In fact, if you buy new wheels at Discount Tire, they have the right to use keyed lugnuts on them. That way, only THEY can remove the wheels thus forcing you to use their service.

    ok...so it's a shitty analogy. But I'm trying to convey the same level of frustration of someone making changes or modifications to your shit long after you purchase a product. I bought a game, I didn't buy an "unknown" and "undocumented" program that would fuck with my other applications!!!

  • by tod_miller (792541) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:56AM (#10010334) Journal
    Nobody wants DRM or Malware type software destroying their freedom to use PC's.

    No software company wants to invest 30 million into a (small?) project where sales are predicted by a declining history and diminishing market, or perhaps could disappear given the alarming ability to download gigs of data in a day.

    In a perfect world, they would produce X, you want X, you buy X.

    In a semi-perfect world. People Copy X, like it, Buy X

    In todays world, a bit more perfect: People who copy and don't buy X, wouldn't have bought it anyway. (so does this mean copying impacts software?)

    What does happen. People want games, if copying didnt exist, they would buy them, prices would drop. However, peope who say they wouldn't have bought the game anyway, shouldn't have needed to copy it.

    OK, that bit over: If you purchase games, do you put up with measures that, in the end, are there for your benefit, as a games consumer (i.e., if they did stop copying)

    Perhaps the issue is not so clear cut as music (which has always been way overpriced and overcontrolled)

    Computer games used to be 1.99 casettes, 4.99 etc... not they are 49.99 at tops. Considering lower costs of marketting, vast market size, limitless and cheap distribution (electronically) and cheaper CD/DVD case distribution, the companies hsould be able to create games which sell for less, and meets a price that brings more consumers.

    Sometimes it is easier to copy a game than physically walk out and buy it. This is the mentality they are dealing with.

    At the end of the day - don't steal from people, no matter how rich they are.
  • by JamesKPolk (13313) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:57AM (#10010339) Homepage
    People so easily turned into criminals *should* be watched carefully.
  • by Rick the Red (307103) <Rick.The.Red@gmail. c o m> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:58AM (#10010346) Journal
    Do all copy-protected games have a warning on the box so you can easily avoid them? No? Then how can I "simply [not] buy their product"?I'll gladly not buy their product, if I can avoid it.
  • by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:59AM (#10010347) Homepage Journal
    If you don't agree with what they're doing simply don't buy their product.

    And then watch the game publishers claim their sales go down due to piracy, bringing about even more safeguards and laws to prevent it. If this rat race keeps up, pretty soon the costs for producing music, movies and games will be a tax that everyone has to pay because everyone has to keep consuming new stuff to make the system work...

    The "voting with your wallet" method is being circumvented by lobbying.

  • by 2TecTom (311314) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:02AM (#10010363) Homepage Journal
    "copy protection is a necessary part of the publishing process"

    Yah, and remember the dark ages, when only the church could copy? Well if corporations get their way, it'll be dark again soon. Thanks Abbie!

    "We have to live with it, and I don't think it is going away."

    No Abbie, I don't have to live with it because I never buy copy protected software. Period. Sorry, but it's a religious thing with me.

    "but let's face it, publishers aren't stupid"

    Yes, yes they are, and evil and greedy too. First off, they corrupt copyright so that it no longer does what the founding fathers intended. Then they use it to abuse the market in order to force consumers to pay excessive prices for poor quality games.

    In my humble opinion, piracy is a direct and inevitable outcome strictly due to the lack of fairness in the intellectual property issue.

    Corporations have perverted the process and most people are simply taking the most economical route to get what they want

    From where I sit, all of this is because companies will not produce products as inexpensively as possible. Indeed, these companies would earn more if they simply lowered the price to a point were far more people could easily afford to buy their products. As it is, most software is simply not affordable unless you are fairly affluent. So yes, they, the software publishers, are stupid, and what's worse, they're incompetent and abusive.
  • Re:Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oddly_Drac (625066) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:02AM (#10010365)
    "I've been hearing that since my Amiga gaming days,"

    I've been hearing it since my ZX Spectrum days, so that means ooohhhh twenty-four years?

    I wonder whether they pass this on in a gilt envelope marked with 'the piracy excuse'.

    One thing that I have noticed is that the PC Games Market is shrinking with relation to the console market. Do you think anyone's realised that you have a finite number of games that can be sold, and people rarely buy for more then one platform?

  • by S3D (745318) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:04AM (#10010375)
    if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy ... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease. Without a big market there can be no big budgets. No Doom 4, no Far Cry 2 and no Half-Life 3.


    Ironically, auther was not able to come up with even one example wich is not sequel. Indsutry really have problem with creativity, piracy notwithstanding.
  • by halowolf (692775) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:04AM (#10010379)
    The only problem that I have with copy protection schemes at the moment is that I have to put CD's into my DVD/CD drive to play the games that I purchase. I find it very annoying. Having 2 drives, one burner and one DVD/CD drive aleviates this problem somewhat, but still its annoying.

    I look after my disks so I don't need to make backups of them. Some of the people complaining about how this software disables their burning applications and such, should probably read the end of the article where it states that those types of applications are only disabled when the game is being played [firingsquad.com].

    Personally I buy all my games, whether I have the ability to copy them or not, because I want to reward those publishes that make good games. The reason because "we" the consumers are being treated as criminals, is because some of the "we" are acting like criminals, so the fact that I have to put up with these ridiculous methods is because of those that are pirating this software. As ineffective as it is, I cant find fault with PC games publishers wanting to do something to protect their investments.

    However publishers and consumers alike should both get off of their soap boxes and do something constructive about the problem instead of both sides making ridiculous arguments and counterclaims.

  • by MoralHazard (447833) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:06AM (#10010383)
    Oh, geez... You guys are just throwing analogies around, and that's about as productive as debating by producing contradicting scriptural quotes.

    The grandparent poster was correct: copyright law in the US (which brings contract law to bear) permits the copyright owner a hell of a lot of leeway in making demands on the user--there are limits, but they're waaaay out there. If Bill Gates wanted, he could include a clause in the Windows XP EULA that requires all users to twirl in a circle three times on the request of any MS employee. That's because it's a license agreement: as your end of a contract, you agree to accept MS's conditions, while they fulfill their end of the contract by allowing you to use their software.

    The lug net analogy is attractive, but it doesn't fly too far because you're talking about buying the car/tires/lug nets, not licensing them. They could, conceivably, license the car to you (instead of selling it) with a condition of the license being that you don't use any mechanics besides the dealer's.

    Holy shit... that actually happens! It's called a "lease", and millions of people in the US agree to them every year! We gotta warn those poor bastards!
  • by bo0ork (698470) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:07AM (#10010394)
    The fastest way to get hold of a new game is always to download the cracked copy. It'll usually be a week or more before the game can actually be bought in the shop. This should clue developers in that wasting money, goodwill and time on those commercial anti-piracy packages is good for nothing. If a game is good, it'll sell. If it's not, it won't.

    Either way, it'll be cracked and available for immediate download faster than they can get it to stores. The only protection worth having is online key checking for online play.

  • by eofpi (743493) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:13AM (#10010422) Homepage
    Their goal breaks down when someone with the skills of the pros posts an .iso somewhere.
  • by Marimus (5470) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:14AM (#10010426) Homepage
    Haha, like Joe Teenager and friends know how to use softice, let alone your average business user.

    No matter what their goal, the end result is that legit customers are inconvenienced and the product is still available in your favourite binaries group for download.
  • by BlackHawk-666 (560896) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:16AM (#10010436) Homepage
    I've seen some guys here complain about how they hate having to swap the copy protected CDs in and out for each game and that maybe they will go play on the console instead. Hasn't anyone noticed that consoles *always* require you to put the CD in the drive to play the game? How is this any better than the PC games?

    Games need copy protection so developers can get paid to write them. I'm no fan of copy protection, but I am a fan of developers earning enough to feed their family while working on the next big release. I hate disc protection as much as the next guy, but if it's really such hard work to put a disc in your CD drive then maybe you need to lose some weight and take some exercise because you are clearly a lazy bastard.

    As for a copy protection scheme I would be happy to use...I propose they lock the game to your PGP key and that to play you either require a PGP or GPG key. These are free to obtain and provide excellent security. An independant organisation tracks the keys and your licences. You are entitled to move the game from PC to PC as desired, but it needs your private key to play. A local keysafe utility can remember the key, so you punch it in once at the start of a night, like you do for your email and stuff. The keys can be revoked if they are obviously being shared so lamers can't just buy one copy and hand the key to everyone. This could be made no more onerous than iTunes.

    This model would enable online downloading of games too, possibly saving the distribution costs and lowering the cost of the game. Best of all, no more 20 character serial numbers to punch in as you install the game - you simply auhorise it over the internet. Non internet users could authorise via phone/letter if needed.

  • Re:Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VeryProfessional (805174) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:23AM (#10010463)

    Look how much the number and quality has shrunk in the gaming market since then...

    Well actually, the quality at least probably has shrunk since those days. I really do think it's more than just nostalgia that makes so many people prefer old games to the lastest cookie-cutter FPS/RTS/racing sim. I know this is going to make me sound old, but so many of those old games had an element of utter originality that is totally absent from the current crop of games.

    It's not piracy-induced poverty that has stifled originality of games, however; rather the opposite. As the maket has grown and game studio budgets have grown commensurately, the opportunity to take risks has been shrinking. Studios simply can't afford to release a total flop anymore. Thus, gaming has followed the track of Hollywood. Sequels sequels sequels.

    A lot of the problem is also brought on by consumer expectations and the distribution format. People pay a lot of money for games, and thus they want 20-50 hours of non-repetitive gameplay and the latest super-whizz-bang graphics or they complain. How can you fit a game like Tetris into a market like that? Better just make it another FPS...

    People can struggle with the copy-protection on their copy of Doom 14... or they can play Frozen-Bubble and Micro Machines 2 (my current favourites). Gaming companies better face up to the stiff competition they face from their own past and start treating consumers with some respect.

  • if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy ... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease. Without a big market there can be no big budgets. No Doom 4, no Far Cry 2 and no Half-Life 3.
    Ironically, auther was not able to come up with even one example wich is not sequel. Indsutry really have problem with creativity, piracy notwithstanding.
    Well, duh... you won't recongnize any of them games he mentions if they're not sequels and not almost released (insert DNF joke here). Imagine if he'd said,
    "Without a big market, there'd be no Binge, Future Sky, or Rungy"
    Two notes:
    1. Do you know how hard it is to come up with a few random names?
    2. Yes, I know someone will post a reply with links to all of these games that already exist. So don't bother.
  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:27AM (#10010479) Homepage
    Being unable to copy the games wouldn't be so bad if the publishers would provide a free media replacement service, So that anyone with a proof of purchase of the original game can get replacement media if the original becomes damaged...
    But no, they would rather try and force you to buy another copy
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:38AM (#10010530)
    I used to have Sim City on the Amiga, it was a great game which had its own form of copy protection. It was a dark red/brown peice of paper with a series of numbers (in black) in a chart. It was designed this way so you couldn't photocopy it and there were too many numbers on the chart to practically write them all down. (Thank god i'm not colour blind)

    My friend also had Sim City for the Amiga, but he got a copied/cracked version without the 'code check' process. Now I ended up getting a copy of his game since it didn't mean I had to deal with the annoying hard to read chart just to get into the game I had bought.

    Summary: Pirate user no problems, Paying customer annoyed.

    I reguraly crack the games I buy simply to save the CDs getting scratched, or even having to bother finding them, when I first heard of this type of copy protection I knew it was a vary bad thing.

    It was a Raven Sheild patch that introduced a CD emulation check and stopped the game loading if it found anything.

    Now imo that's very bad, software being designed pourposely to not work if other software is present. Imagine if MS added in a 'function' to stop Office working if you installed Mozilla for example, a lot of people would be pissed.

    Acidentaly incompatability is one thing, but when it's by design, it is wrong on so man levels.

    In the end people will be forced to pirate if they want to play a game regardless of their intentions to buy it or not.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:41AM (#10010537)
    Being unable to copy the games wouldn't be so bad if the publishers would provide a free media replacement service, So that anyone with a proof of purchase of the original game can get replacement media if the original becomes damaged...
    But no, they would rather try and force you to buy another copy


    A rule of backing up is to never trust others to do the job for you, if you don't pay them to do so of course.

    When the company goes bankrupt, this service would disappear anyways.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:42AM (#10010540)
    I'm going to use the term piracy for copyright infringment because it's easier to type and everybody knows what I mean. If you don't like it, or want to educate me on the proper use of the term, you can stop reading now.

    Piracy is unstoppable. Everybody with half a brain realizes that. Even exec types realize that, even though they have to maintain the facade that they are winning the war. The only exec who seems honest about it is Steve Jobs.

    I was a software pirate before I was 10. I copied hundreds of C64 games. I bought less than 5. Every C64 owner I knew from school was about the same. Most of the games we never even played, we just collected them for the sake of collecting. I had a Playstation with a mod chip. After a while, I got tired of collecting games that I rarely played anyway. IMO, most weren't even worth the media costs of a cdr. Last year I gave the whole collection away to my cousin. I could of course do the same with the PS2 or XBOX now, but I find I've really outgrown games, save for a quick round of tetris on my PC once in a while.

    The same with my PC, which is running XP volume license from suprnova + keygen + slipstreamed SP2. As I've said, I don't do games anymore. But I do have the pirated Office, Adobe suite, etc. Not that I really need or use them (I seem to use Wordpad more than Word...), but just because I can. If it ever becomes an issue, I can switch to Linux any time. I have used it extensively, it is often somewhat less convenient than Windows, but there are no killer features that really keep my tied to Windows.

    Piracy isn't even a software issue, it is as old as the hills. There were pirates as soon as as recorded media began, as soon as printing began. Heck, probably even earlier, I bet even cavemen copied each others paintings. It's just human nature. If the industries ever find a way to effectively stop piracy (which I doubt), I will respond not as a law-abiding target demographic, but as a true homo-economicus: I will cut down my consumption. At the current prices (media costs + some effort to find warez) I consume a lot (or rather, I collect a lot). If the price increases because of effective copy-prevention measures, I will drastically lower my consumption. Having stacks of games, music, movies, apps if very nice, but I can survive without.

    By the measurements of the RIAA and the MPAA and the BSA and maybe some other *A's I must have inflicted at leasts hundreds of thousands of dollars in "economic damage" and should probably be locked away for life. Will I ever regret what I've done? Probably only if I get arrested.

    A parting thought. Consumers are far more powerful than multi-billion dollar media corporation. You won't die without recorded entertainment, regardless of what their marketing departments want you to think. The corporations *will* die if you stop consuming. Too bad consumers as a group are too fractured to realize their power. Marketing have people enslaved to meaningless product, brands, sport/music/film "stars", consumption in general so much, it's frightening. Some people really seem to believe they cannot have a meaningful life without 40GB of songs in their pocket. These days when someone says "I can't live without product XXX" I often wonder if they might even believe that literally.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:47AM (#10010557)
    you already HAVE compromised them.

    That's in your humble opinion, maybe he disagrees and sees a distinction.

    Anyways, my point is that just because something is compromised, doesn't mean you can still stick with your values. It just means an adjustment in what you do, like, you know, constantly improving. Nobody's perfect, but we shouldn't be content with being like worms in dirt and mud..
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:48AM (#10010559)
    So, without having direct experience with this new copy-prevention mechanism (I don't even play games anymore, damn, I'm getting old) it seems to me that putting the copy-pevention in a driver could make it easier to hack. Why, well drivers are pretty isolated from user-space with only limited, well-defined entry-points (you know 'em, open, close, read, write, seek, etc).

    Seems like a good first pass at reverse-engineering this driver would be to do the windows equivalent of strace/truss/tusc on it and see how the game communicates with the driver and what the driver says back.

    I'm sure it wouldn't be as simple as that, they probably aren't "well-behaved" (which should me no WHQL for them). But if it were that simple, writing your own dummy driver that spoofs the game into thinking everything is hunky-dory would be trivial.
    open("/dev/starforce", O_RDWR, 0600) = 5
    write(5, "Hey Super Copy Prevention Driver, is this ramdisk properly secured?",56) = 56
    read(5, "Yes, yes it is.", 64) = 15
  • by yoshi_mon (172895) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:58AM (#10010587)
    People so easily turned into criminals *should* be watched carefully.

    Indeed, if it's so easy to become a criminal there must be something very wrong with the law.
  • by marcovje (205102) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:59AM (#10010594)

    Indeed. I hate this, and not even out of privacy/control grounds. The main problems are simple practicality.

    Such schemes means you can throw away your games when you move to a new (Major) windows version, are far more likely to cause problems in Windows etc etc.

    Forget about running your legitimately bought games running on an emulator in 10 years.

    It is the same problem I have with DRM and mangled CDs. The copyright enforcing stuff limits the time that it can be used (because of equipment being only in vogue for a few years) and practical use too much.

    Tying in media with the OS is a no-no.
  • by JamesKPolk (13313) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:02AM (#10010603) Homepage
    Burglary is a law enforcement issue, too, but I still have locks on my doors.
  • by jbltk (801038) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:09AM (#10010624)
    I'm sick and tired of the continued assault on the public's right to fair use. It started with requiring the CD to play the game, and has progressed into preventing someone who purchased the game from even making a back-up copy of the software they purchased a license for.

    What do we do when our CD's are scratched beyond repair, or worse yet, stolen? Go out and pay another $50?

    When will our politicians stop looking out for the greedy few over the rights of the masses?
  • by farnz (625056) <slashdot@NoSPAm.farnz.org.uk> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:13AM (#10010635) Homepage Journal
    The reason I'm happy to swap CDs/DVDs/cartridges/whatever in a console, and not happy to swap things on a PC is that on a console, I do not have to install many gigabytes of stuff just to play.

    I would be quite happy to swap CDs/DVDs on a PC if the game could be played entirely from that disc. I am not happy about copying a couple of gigabytes of data to my hard disc, then inserting the CD every time I want to play.

    If you're a games developer, choose one: Either require the CD to be inserted, but don't put anything other than savegames and other personalised data on my hard disc, or install to the hard disc, but don't require the CD. Whichever you choose, I'll be happy.

  • by julesh (229690) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:14AM (#10010640)
    If the proper APIs are used the only time a Windows box really *needs* to be restarted is after youve downloaded a kernel security update.

    Its been a while since I looked at the relevant APIs, but surely you need to reboot if you've upgraded a DLL that was in use by an application at the time your install program ran... or have they fixed this problem?
  • by dave420 (699308) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:20AM (#10010654)
    A virus that upheld copyright law, and did nothing malicious, that you agreed to have on your PC?

    I'm all for pirating games. Don't get me wrong.

    The code is protecting copyright, and you agree to have it installed on your computer. If you read the license for the game, it mentions the StarForce installation. If you click "ok" (which you have to to play the game), you agree to it.

    Where's the problem with this? They didn't install it on your machine (contrary to your analogy), it denies access only to things the copyright holder (and intellectual property owner) doesn't want you to access (which is a legal right, by the way).

    Be fair. I know you all get riled up when someone "takes away your rights" or "rapes you over the hot coals of capitalism" or whatever, but just think it through for 2 seconds. It's not that big a deal. Don't like the copy protection? Don't install the game. sheesh.

  • by Pofy (471469) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:25AM (#10010676)
    >I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you
    >don't own the games you buy. You own a license
    >to use those games. Big difference.

    Lets see, I enter a store, pick up some product or merchendice, pay for it and leave the shop. Do I own what I just bought? Yup! Typically regulated through sale or consumer sale laws in most countries. Why you would think sale laws doesn't apply to computer games is beyoned me.
  • by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:36AM (#10010713)
    My attitude is very simple. If some moronic game company is going to install drivers on my PC without even asking, and then try to tell me that I can't use their game on my PC because I have unusual hardware or unusual software running, then they can go fsck themselves. I'm one of the people who do actually buy games, but I'm damned if I'm going to bend over for these morons.

    Seriously, almost every game I own I've ended up downloading a CD crack for because either it's far too much of a pain to have to find a particular CD just to play a game that's already on my hard drive, or their appallingly bad 'copy protection' crap doesn't work with my SCSI DVD drive. These people are fscking over their customers who actually pay for the games, and wondering why we stop buying them.

    No game should ever, ever, ever install a driver on a PC without asking and without making clear on the box that they will be doing so. Some of us use our PCs for real work as well as games, and the last thing I want is some stupid 'copy protection' driver screwing up my system.
  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:37AM (#10010714)
    They own the copyright to the software and can do to it what they wish, true, but in this case they're doing something to MY computer without my consent. I.e. you don't get told that unlike other copy protection mechanisms this one alters the way your PC works in general. The box only tells you "this software uses copy protection". Before you're infected it's impossible to tell whether the software contains viral copy protection or not.
    To use an analogy: Sure food producers are allowed to poison their food, as long as they put a big warning label "poisonous" on the packaging.
    After all, we got coffee cups that say "Warning! Hot!", why shouldn't we have software boxes that say "Warning! Contains copy-protection driver, may cause system malfunction!"?
  • by Xugumad (39311) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:40AM (#10010727)
    1. Any good suggestions on what you'd like to see done better? Do you actually buy games which focus on elements that interest you? These companies will make more games in the same style of whatever sells well. Magazine or website reviews are a very good way of finding out if you'll like a game, before you buy it...

    2. I hear this one a lot. I don't have any statistics on cost of making a game to hand, so I'll have to put my point another way. If you go out and buy a film on DVD, you'll watch it what, 3-4 times? Consider an average film at 90 minutes, that's 6 hours of entertainment for your $20 or so.

    A lot of people (on forums) said they could complete Doom 3 in about 15 hours. Amazon.com lists Doom 3 at $40.99. So, for about twice the cost, you have two and a half times the entertainment, assuming you're good enough to play through it that fast (I'm sure not), and don't replay it.

    Seems like good value to me. There have been simpler games which cost less (Serious Sam), but I don't think we're actually likely to see any serious price change any time soon.

    3. I can't remember a game that has come without a manual, except for budget re-releases. As to a poster - I dunno, tended to just lose these myself, but can't really argue for or against.

    4. Ah, like Valve are doing with Steam? I really don't see how that's better than making the disk uncopyable (I don't want to _have_ to be connected to the Internet to play multiplayer games across my LAN).

    5. Yup, good plan there. Much better CD-key generation algorithms would also be a good plan - Doom 3's was cracked before it was even officially out, for example.

    6. I used to see a lot of games that let you post in the old disks, and they'd send you new ones, but there was an admin charge of almost half the cost of the game. If they'd do it actually at cost (I mean, how much does it really cost to put a few CDs in the post), that would be much better.

    7. I dunno, PDF on the CD just makes it easier for the pirates to read the manual, IMHO...

    I'd like to mention before I continue, the next section is not specifically aimed at you, jonwil. I have no idea if you pirate games or not, and am not assuming either way.

    What we really need is to get over this culture of "it's more expensive than I'd like, so it's okay to copy it". I see a lot of people complain that if they didn't pirate games, they wouldn't have so many games - y'know, computer games are not a right!

    If companies see a game sell badly, but pirated a lot, they assume it's the pirates fault. If they see a game sell badly, but not pirated, they know it's something they've done, be it pricing or gameplay...

    Oh, one last rant. I've known people who thought it was legal to copy a game and give it to their friends, as long as they didn't charge for it. I don't have the time to dig up a reference to the copyright laws, but trust me, it's not legal to do that!
  • by SillyNickName4me (760022) <dotslash@bartsplace.net> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:41AM (#10010730) Homepage
    > LOL! It's not a virus.

    Strictly spoken you are right, its a trojan, not a virus. It poses to be a game, in fact it is a program that limits what you can use your computer for.

    > You bought it. What you charge people for is irrelevant. You bought a game. If you don't like it, don't play it. No-one's going to pay you anything.

    How you obtained it is completely irrelevant for it being a virus or a trojan or whatnot. That depends entirely on the purpose and functions of the program.

    When such a game installs this driver onto a machine without very clear and explicit warning about this effect of the copy protection, that game should be considered a trojan, nothign more and nothign less.
  • by Iffy Bonzoolie (1621) <<gro.elbrax> <ta> <yffi>> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @07:09AM (#10010858) Journal
    "LOL! It's not a virus. You bought it."

    Yeah, you're right, it's really more like a Trojan...

    -If
  • by Sancho (17056) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @07:24AM (#10010914) Homepage
    Boycotting it won't work. They'll just claim that the lost sales were due to piracy.

    Remember, real pirates will be able to pirate/distribute the game. Your casual user won't.
  • Shrinking... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Numen (244707) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @07:45AM (#10010997)
    Yeah because since the days of my Sinclair Spectrum when we copied software from audio tape to tape the computer games industry has really shrunk.

    FFS, How the hell do these people get away with nodding, looking thoughtful and saying these things in an erudite fashion?

    Back in the day, in the UK you sold ONE copy of a game per school, that's it (yeah we were all funding terrorism back then too). Since then no industries have shrunken as a result... not the aerospace industry, not the catering industry and sure as hell not the software industry.

    We could get all melodramatic and start considering papers by Gerring on propoganda and the manipulation of the masses... lets just consider one thing.

    The cornerstone of all propoganda is a kernel of fear. If X is allowed to continue Y will happen.

    If software piracy continues then the quality of computer games will suffer.... I'm 35 and I've been told that exact same line since I was 13. The exact same line. In 22 years I've come to the conclusion it's not true. It's propoganda, it's tapping into an unfounded fear in the audience.

    I was told the same about tape recorders and the music industry. I was told the same about video tape and the movie/cinema industry... all in over 2 decades, untrue. Propoganda.

    If somebody tells you the sky is falling in, don't just take their word for it, look up yourself at the sky and ask yourself if it looks as if the sky is falling in.
  • by quacking duck (607555) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @07:50AM (#10011022)
    If they try to spin it as "sales lost due to piracy", it would mean Starforce's anti-piracy system isn't working.
  • by Penguin2212 (173380) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:07AM (#10011087)
    "PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease."

    Howabout, make good games and people will be less likely to copy them because they will actually want to support good games. I mean, you can't just throw in a few palm trees and call it "Battlefield Vietnam" as opposed to "1942". What next, paint everything beige and call it "Battlefield Desert Storm." Howabout "Battlefield: We'e running out of ideas." There are countless games like this, no new ideas no innovation. Just one recycled idea after another. The differences between Unreal 2K4 and Unreal 2K3 involved just making a bunch of new maps adding more trite phrases like, "Ownage!" Or howabout another Tom Clancy based Spy game. There's only so many ways you can make killing terrorists interesting. Oh, here's one last good idea. Let's take the most successful console FPS since Goldeneye, deley it's PC release for years. And, once everybody is sick of it, try to sell it on PC. My advice to game companies, get a fucking clue, people aren't buying your shit because it is shit. They'd rather play shit for free.

  • by illumin8 (148082) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:10AM (#10011104) Journal
    That is really a pain. I image all my game CD's and use daemon tools to mount them.

    Me too. Load times are much faster and there's no worrying about scratching your original CDs. Just copy them to the hard drive when you buy the game and put the original CDs back in the box. This article is written by some major shills for the game industry... Check out this quote:

    Now copy protection is disabling games if you have utilities that simply might help pirate a game - like Alcohol 120%, Nero or CloneCD... Of course, if we honestly ask ourselves how many purely legitimate users of those utilities there are, odds are probably that deep down inside we have to admit "not many".

    Wha????? Not many legitimate users of Nero? Nero is one of the best CD/DVD burning software out there. This article is clearly written by a BSA shill. Not every utility that can copy a CD is used for infringing purposes. In fact, most of us use these utilities for non-infringing fair-use purposes like backing up the games we purchased.
  • by ElDuderino44137 (660751) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:11AM (#10011108)
    "PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease."

    Hey All,

    It seems to me that there is this myth in every market around the world ... It goes something like this ... "If people couldn't setal our stuff, everyone would run out and pay cold hard cash; even if they had to sell their own plasma."

    I pay for everything I use/enjoy. And I don't have a problem w/ ppl trying to secure their assets. I just think it's a bit naive to think that markets will explode in size as a result. Cause, if the youth doesn't have the money ... they just don't have the money.

    Cheers,
    --The Dude
  • by Sancho (17056) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:12AM (#10011109) Homepage
    No, it would mean that they were claiming that the system didn't work, but it would help them lobby for more strict laws about DRM, copyrights, etc, which would be a bad thing (in my opinion).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:13AM (#10011116)
    Yeah, yeah.

    And if you have nothing to hide, you don't need privacy.

    And if you were going to donate the money anyway, you shouldn't complain that it's taken as compulsory taxes.

    And if you...

    Oh, well - nice troll there James. But you'd have to be an idiot to believe what you just wrote. And in my experience, it's the idiots that need watching most of all. Your type are just dangerous to everyone around you.
  • by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:19AM (#10011145)
    It just goes to show you - the only safe software to install is pirated software. If you care at all for the security of your machine, you should not install legitimate software - use the ISO you downloaded off Kazaa.

    Seriously, in the not-too-distant future, I imagine the first thing I do after I buy a new game is to go download the pirated version.
  • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsdNO@SPAMharrelsonfamily.org> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:27AM (#10011184) Homepage
    My favorite quote:

    Of course, if we honestly ask ourselves how many purely legitimate users of those utilities (Alcohol, etc.) there are, odds are probably that deep down inside we have to admit "not many"

    This is a complete load of bull. Here is my story:

    I have a "server" case with a LOCKED DOOR in front of the drive bays. I have two toddlers running around the house, so I HAVE to have my computer locked down from little hands. So it is a PAIN to swap discs. So I use Alcohol 120%. This also allows me to keep all discs locked away in the garage so that I do not have to have a stack of discs (or a disc case) sitting on my desk. It helps keep the clutter down.

    I also have my old computer set aside for running educational games. So, I use Alcohol 120% on that one so that my three-year-old son does not have to come to mommy asking to change a disc or (even worse) try to change the disc himself.

    Anot note that I am NOT into warez at all. If I want a game, I buy it. I still have not even played all of the games that came bundled with my sound and video cards (quite a lot of games, too).

    I would also like to throw out one more secnario: A traveler who wants to play games on the go. First, carrying discs means more weight, and second, spinning up a disc uses more battery power than reading an ISO off of a hard drive.

    I have absolutely NO problems with copy protection which checks the disc upon install, but why does it have to check EVERY TIME the game loads. As a legitimate user, I find it annoying that these companies are almost begging me to go to warez sites so that I can play the game that I PAID FOR the way that I want to.

    As for me, I will NEVER buy a StarForce game. Yup, that's right. I hope that the game producers are reading this. I am a professional engineer -- the type of guy with enough money to buy the games that tickle my fancy -- and I am incredibly honest. And in your quest to stop the people who probably would not buy your games in the first place, you are driving legitimate customers away. Smart business plan.

    Note that it is one thing to design a game that will not work with Alcohol. I can accept that. But to have your game cripple Alcohol even when your game is not even running is unacceptable. Have fun in the wellfare lines, boys...
  • by DarkLox (621089) <pos89mirage&yahoo,com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:29AM (#10011196)
    While in theory this is a good idea. To return a game that has copy protection on it that will install/change things on our system.

    Unfortunately, MOST video game stores (at least around here) will NOT accept returns on opened games. They will only do an exchange for the same exact product. They MIGHT accept it back as a used game, in which you lose money anyway.

    What the game companies also dont realize is...that the piracy groups that release these games....well they have ALREADY gotten around the copy protection. So the legitimate game installs the copy protection...yet the pirated game does not. (makes a lot of sense, doesnt it.....)
  • by Oddly_Drac (625066) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:33AM (#10011216)
    "people who have money and don't have time to be jerked around with nonsense."

    High five, low five, catch it on the rebound.

    This is one of the first times that someone 'in the industry' has hit the nail on the head with regards to my personal experience of gaming; it's not that I'm short of the cash, I just really don't want to prop up a copy protection industry that has slimed into place based on the fact that piracy is happening, but the protestations have hit fever pitch because they can be tracked. It's like the figures that get promoted that X activity costs X dollars per year in lost revenues. Figures like that are fictional guesstimates that are intended to cause round-eyed disbelief in people that don't normally deal with _really big numbers_, especially connected with the idea that a downloaded game is a lost sale. It's horribly arrogant to assume that downloaded copy will survive a quick review or that the person downloading it would have bought the game if the download wasn't possible.

    It's the PR spin that annoys me the most, both from the perspective of holding demos until after the release rush (early adopters get raped every which way, and it's mostly a peer issue), releasing buggy software to match a given release date, or buying advertising space and calling it 'reviews'.

    It's gratifying to see someone _actually_ mention these things in relation to their own business, and while I have little use for the object desktop, the sheer display of Mr Wardell's ethics is enough for me to consider supporting his company.

  • by Casualposter (572489) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:57AM (#10011382) Journal
    If you've got small children in the house, then it is absolutely necessary to make a copy of your software and keep the originals in a VERY safe place, otherwise you'll be at the store buying a replacement for those horribly scratched discs that the munchkins "played" with; left in the laundry basket, let the dog chew on, used to make sand castles in the back yard. So anyone that wants to disable me ability to make a "working" copy of software I purchases, is about to get a nasty letter and a return for refund. If they cost me money by deliberately imparing the functionality of my computer, I would send them a bill, and maybe, (depending upon just how mad I got) take 'em to small claims court for it.
  • by Erwos (553607) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @09:14AM (#10011508)
    Yes, because there's no way the crackers could have altered the ISO to contain a virus. Nope, no way.

    -Erwos
  • by danila (69889) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @09:22AM (#10011589) Homepage
    Hasn't anyone noticed that consoles *always* require you to put the CD in the drive to play the game?
    When you play on a console, you need to lift your sorry ass from your computer chair, go to the living room, turn on the TV, dig the controllers from under the table, etc. Inserting a disc into the console does not complicate things much more. With PC games all I need to do is move the mouse 2 cm and click. If I need to get up, open the drawer, find the box, open the box, find the CD, remove the music, backup or some other CD from the drive, find a box for it, insert the game CD, (I skip the troubles of unloading/uninstalling virtual CD software here and other crap) wait for the protection to load (as much as a minute), and only then I can play. You see now?

    Games need copy protection so developers can get paid to write them.
    That's bullshit. Even if copy-protection is outlawed tomorrow, the industry is not going away. Many people will pay for the games they like even if they can easily pirate them. I am more than happy to pay for great products, even though a pirated copy is easy to obtain. Copy protection may help SOME of the games sell more copies, but it is far from being necessary.

    As for a copy protection scheme I would be happy to use...I propose they lock the game to your PGP key
    Whatever. Personally I am not happy to use any copy protection. Especially not the DRM crap you are so happy to push on everyone.
  • by SigNick (670060) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @09:23AM (#10011599)
    ..just check your windows\system32\drivers for secdrv.sys, set to auto-load and -execute on bootup.

    Does any one know if the new SecuROM also uses kernelmode drivers?
  • by Feanturi (99866) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @09:24AM (#10011607)
    Not many legitimate users of Nero?

    I use Nero on a regular basis. The last time I used it to illegally copy a game was.. Umm.. Did I?
  • by Viewsonic (584922) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @09:27AM (#10011635)
    The message boards were filled with people complaining that Doom wouldnt load, or it always hung, some people were seeing video problems. The solution? Download the cracked version that removes the copy protection that was ruining peoples configurations. Many of these people claimed to not have Nero, Alcohol, or any other sort of burning utilities installed. Not only does this force people to run unsupported pirated copies, it also pisses off your fans. Carmack should be personally ashamed that his publishers put any sort of protection on his games. There are Doom fans all over the world who wont buy any future id projects. Hows that for future business? Bleagh.
  • by sa1lnr (669048) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @09:34AM (#10011715)
    "PERMITTED USES

    1. If the Software is configured for loading on a hard drive, you may
    install and use the Software on a single
    computer.
    2. You may make and maintain one copy of the Software for backup and
    archival purposes, provided that the
    original and copy of the Software are kept in your possession.
    3. You may permanently transfer all your rights under this EULA, provided
    you retain no copies, you transfer
    all of the Software (including all component parts, the media and printed
    materials and any upgrades) and the
    recipient reads and accepts this EULA."

    #2 maybe difficult
  • Re:DEMOS? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by admdrew (782761) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @09:46AM (#10011801) Homepage
    It is completely unacceptable that a demo could install this dubious software, when it's distribution does not constitute piracy in anyone's terms.

    The interview mentioned that demos include this copy protection because the demo exes end up being very similiar to the final version's exes, meaning a potential cracker would have interest in the demo's executable files.

    I hope these games give users a warning about what they are going to install.

    Unfortunately, the person interviewed said that agreeing the the EULA gives them permission to install their software without telling you. Legally they're right... but it's a bit of BS; I want to know what is installed on my machine, and I shouldn't have to wade through a thick license agreement to know precisely what's going on.

  • by superultra (670002) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @09:48AM (#10011820) Homepage
    Try that in 10 years, or when Blizzard has passed through 5 different companies (it could happen). Or, if you want the fun and excitement now, try to get a replacement copy of Pirates! or, if you lost the code wheel, Starflight. It won't happen, even if you paid for the copy legit.
  • by FauxReal (653820) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @09:50AM (#10011830) Homepage
    Wha????? Not many legitimate users of Nero? Nero is one of the best CD/DVD burning software out there. This article is clearly written by a BSA shill. Not every utility that can copy a CD is used for infringing purposes. In fact, most of us use these utilities for non-infringing fair-use purposes like backing up the games we purchased.

    Or to transport the latest graphics layout I put together for print. When they're 8 1/2" x 11" @ 300ppi each they're not gonna fit on a floppy disk, disposable CDs are the best thing. There's no way I'm mailing out USB key drives and I doubt many print houses accept them. Oh yeah, and then there's the home music production. I can't afford to have seperate boxes for this stuff and games (yet).
  • by EvilIdler (21087) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:06AM (#10011987)
    There's no way the crackers could get away with it - nobody would
    spread it.
  • by nazsco (695026) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:12AM (#10012049) Journal
    if the aim is to stop the shrinking of the market... and the market is 60%+ made of programers... how exactly instaling a driver that keeps them from running debuggers on they very own machine will make they more likely to buy the crap game?
  • by SphereOfDestiny (737325) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:12AM (#10012058) Homepage
    It sounds wierd that their changing the OS could be a problem with the OS, but the problem is that windows, while it has multiple users, it dosn't really seem to use them, and everything gets installed as root (with permission to everything).

    When windows 2000 came out I was like "thank god, now it's multi user". So I went to install everything as guest, so as to not hose the main machine. Needless to say it didn't work, as most things wouldn't install as guest, assuming that you'd install them as root.

    When something is being installed little popup boxes should come up like "This application is trying to install something into the kernel, this is needed when installing hardware, as it needs to install a driver for the hardware, but if you are installing something other then the CD that came with a piece of hardware, then whatever this is that your installing has easy access to screwing up your machine.

    Would you like to install it? "

    The same goes for write acccess to all the differnt areas that they could be playing with libraries or whatever. Areas including who gets to write to the network! (say goodbye to addware).

    Of course, this only works to notifiy people what they bought after they bought it. How do we people from buying stuff they refuse to use? Well if the copy protections working, these things should allow returns.

  • by Teknogeek (542311) <technogeek&gmail,com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:21AM (#10012145) Journal
    Any company that installs software designed to harm the functionality of your computer hardly qualifies as "honest".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:22AM (#10012158)
    I have two toddlers and their destructive powers can be devasting. Shiny objects that are easily scratched are some of thier favorite targets. Before they could even walk they had scratched up their first Raffi CD. Now they can climb (I swear they are part monkey) and nothing is safe - I make dupes of everything.

    Until the entertainment industry provides consumers with durable media, toddlers will continue their reign of terror.
  • by Pofy (471469) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:35AM (#10012269)
    >Yes, you just bought a box with some media in
    >it.. you own the box and the media. You do not
    >own what is on the media but luckily the box
    >comes with a license for usign it.

    No, when you buy something you get it all. Why would you not? In this case, you buy (apart from the box and so on) one copy (the material object onto whoch a work is fixated). That copy is yours, you own it. Don't confuise this with holding the copyright to the work, you don't, but you DO own one copy of the content.
  • by TYC (689542) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:37AM (#10012302)
    "Certainly if there is some flaw in the media then the publisher owes you a new disk. But it is more the normal perils of life that I think the average backup would be intended to protect."

    If you're licensing the content, then how the damage occurs doesn't matter. You still own license to the content, and they should make good by replacing the media for a duplication fee. This is how driver's and vendor's licenses are handled in my state: once you've paid for the license, the card is just proof of license. You can have the card replaced for far less than the original cost of licensing. This is how software should be handled if we're truly licensing it rather than buying it. And any expiration should be disclosed before purchase.

  • by stalky14 (574130) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:57AM (#10012584)
    > I hate to be the one to break it to you, but
    > you don't own the games you buy. You own a
    > license to use those games. Big difference.

    In which case the media it runs from and the
    number of copies thereof that I maintain for my
    personal use (so long as I only use one at a
    time) become irrelevant. Which do I own: the
    physical product or the license? They seem to
    want to have it both ways. If I only own a
    license, then then the amount of physical
    copies shouldn't matter. If I only own
    the media, then it should be warrented as
    a physical product.

    ...Sean.

  • by WarSpiteX (98591) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:58AM (#10012591) Homepage
    Hi, I'm the author. Please calm yourself and read this post with a clear mind.

    First, to clear up some confusion regarding the interview:

    I simply provided StarForce with an opportunity to voice their own opinions. I don't take their side, I do ask them tougher questions about how legitimate PC gamers feel it's unfair to not only to have to pay for the copy protection indirectly by purchasing the game, but to put up with the hassles. They gave their answers, that's all.

    Then I look at this thread and I realize to my disappointment that most of you just don't you get it. It's all the same panicked, self-entitled, I'm-my-own-little-god-don't-step-in-my-universe whining. God forbid a publisher protect his investment on your PC. How dare he?

    I'm sure most of you are conveniently forgetting the number of times you've pirated games - whether it's downloading warez, copying from a friend or copying FOR a friend.

    Any arguments I've seen "for" the right to crack/warez games fall apart. Simple fact: you benefited from the hard work of the developer and publisher without due compensation. Price too high? Game sucked? Misleading system requirements? Too bad: caveat emptor.

    How hypocritical Slashdotters are. When stories are posted of stupid lawsuits because someone was careless in purchasing or using a product and did themselves/their family harm, you jump all over them. High and mighty. Superior, intelligent, all-knowing.

    Where are those attitudes when it comes to bragging to your friends about how you pirated a game because it was too expensive for what you'd get, or because it was buggy and you don't "feel" like paying for it. Then you complain when copy protection gets more intrusive and controlling. You made your bed, you sleep in it.

    Fact is, we have this copy protection because we don't stop ourselves from pirating. Pure and simple. The culture of the PC gamer is disgustingly self-indulgent. Worse, it's spreading to console games.

    Piracy has been accepted on the PC much longer because it's been around much longer. The first games weren't even commercial, they were sent across networks and transferred with disks. This acceptance of piracy has persisted through the years, every new gamer learning from the ones before him. "Oh everyone else does it." Well it's WRONG.

    It's not like publishers are making billions off you by overcharing - and if they were, you could simply say "no, I'm not going to buy this." Yes, you want it, but that doesn't mean you deserve it for free.

    I've gotten some of the most ridiculous pro-piracy arguments ever in email over the last day.

    "Sometimes cracking copy protection is the only way to get it to run on Windows emulators on Linux"... er... just where did the publisher state that they support Linux? And how does this give you the right to steal their game?

    "Game companies run out of CDs, so if you break/lose yours, you can't get new ones. Plus, you have to pay for shipping!" Right, and if I lose my car or smash it around the tree, the car manufacturer owes me one for free. No, I get it through insurance, which usually costs me more over the lifetime of the car than the car did itself.

    "Game companies *GO OUT OF BUSINESS* sometimes. Try getting your original System Shock 2 CD's replaced." Right, this sucks. Part of the reason game companies go out of business is piracy. But moreover, I still fail to see how this entitles you to a new copy of System Shock 2 if YOU lost or broke your own. It's your property, be responsible for it. Your kid lost it or dog chewed it? I can't quite understand how this is the publisher's fault.

    "When games get really old, usually one is forced to turn to emulation. However, *COPY PROTECTION MAKES EMULATION DIFFICULT*. This can lead to games being lost forever; this is happening to arcade machine games already." This is called obsolescence. Things become so old it's not worth supporting them. You don't see IBM supporting
  • by thracky (601756) <thracky.gmail@com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @11:03AM (#10012652) Journal

    Ok so one thing stuck out at me the second I read it.

    ""Games are crap so often I don't want to get ripped off" - try reading reviews and playing demos. Besides, good luck getting a car dealership to refund you your money after you so much as signed the contract, never mind drove the car. Not all that many goods can be used and returned for your money back."

    Actually I do believe Saturn, at least here in Canada, offers a no questions asked 30 day period where you can return the car. I remember a commercial where a lady had lost her job and could no longer afford the car so she returned it to the dealership, but in the end wound up buying a Saturn again because of their great customer service.

    Anyways, that's beside the point. Frankly, reviews and demos aren't always the best indicator of how "buy-worthy" a game is. There's several factors you cannot determine from a demo. You cannot tell the length of the game for example, or if it would have any replay value whatsoever. You also can't really tell, through a short demo, whether the game is overly repetitive for the entire length of the game or not. Reviews also are not a great indicator. There have been games entirely trashed by the industry for having less than stellar graphics and poor sound, but even though the gameplay was absolutely stellar, it still got a crappy review. It's very hard to find a review(er) that will exactly match your personal tastes.

    I'm not condoning piracy, or stealing money from the developers, but frankly, the prices of games are too ridiculously high for a casual gamer, which is a vast majority of the market. Maybe publishers need to take a back seat to the developers and let the developers actually have a good chunk of the profit earned from game sales. After all, it is their work, and maybe if the publishers weren't so damn greedy, they'd earn a bit more money from it.

  • by delus10n0 (524126) <delusion_NO@SPAMpdsys.org> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @11:03AM (#10012656) Homepage
    I have about 20 games that I'm always swapping between and playing (don't ask), stuff like C&C Red Alert 2, C&C Generals, Max Payne2, Doom3, etc.. and I use Alcohol 120% to handle it all. And to this day I have never had a CD complain about Alcohol 120% being installed. I know some others haven't been as lucky. I have not played any games with this new StarForce protection (I was considering buying Prince of Persia, but forget it now) so I don't know what it will do exactly in regards to Alcohol 120% -- but if it does cause problems, you can be sure the usual channels (gamecopyworld.com, etc.) will be right there with no CD patches, and people will use them, even on their legit copies. Because game companies don't get it.

    I won't even get into how SafeDisc/etc. slows down game performance, that's semi common knowledge by now.
  • by Retired Replicant (668463) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @11:20AM (#10012897)
    Beyond Divinity Desert Rats vs. Afrika Corps XIII Dead to Rights Prince of Persia Sands of Time These were all games I might have bought out of the bargain bin at some point, but I won't touch them now. One piece of software has no right to prevent other software with legitimate uses from operating correctly on my computer. I don't even use Alcohol 120%, but when I had a notebook, I did use virtual CD software so I didn't have to carry a bunch of game CDs around with me wherever I went.
  • by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatter@gm a i l . com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @11:21AM (#10012907) Homepage
    You are a consumer robot if you must resort to stealing to get the same thing everyone else is getting.

    You think you are outside the loop, but you are more of the problem with sheep than others -- instead of actually paying money for shit, you think you need it enough to steal for it.

    Not only do you have to consume the filth the masses are giving to you, you have to lose your morality in the process.

    Don't like that? Make your own games. Make your own music. Support indepentend developers and otherwise. Can't be bothered with that, then you are the same mindless fuck of an idiot I discribed above.
  • by Yosho (135835) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @11:26AM (#10012978) Homepage
    You appear to have missed the point; it's not that he doesn't want to play with the CD in, but that the game won't run with Daemon Tools active. I doubt that a No-CD crack also removes the part of the executable that checks to see if Daemon Tools is running.
  • Nero??? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @11:43AM (#10013234)
    I'm a DoD Contractor, and every machine on this reserve base has a cd burner and Nero. We are also running SMS to ensure that ther are no gmaes on the PCs, not even solitaire or Minesweeper.
    Nero has legitimate Realworld uses, it is a shame that the entertainment industry is so greedy that they are blind to any use but "piracy".
  • by (54)T-Dub (642521) <tpaine&gmail,com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @11:45AM (#10013256) Journal
    To me this smacks of the "Activation" BS that some PC software makers are taking up these days. Personally it makes me want to get a cracked copy of the software just so I don't have to deal with the hassel that is their DRM. I mean their point is to make it so difficult to pirate software than it is no longer worth it and people simply purchase it. To me it seems all this crap is simply doing the reverse and entrenching piraters even more.

    Don't even get me started on the black market that their price fixing has created. There are economic reasons for piracy and simple economic solutions that do not involve enforcement.
  • Re:DEMOS? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceswiedler (165311) * <chris@swiedler.org> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @12:15PM (#10013662)
    Legally they're right only if EULAs are enforceable, which is certainly debateable.

    BTW, by reading this comment you have agreed to give me your first-born son.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @12:23PM (#10013745)
    Look, what do they gain from that? Ok, they might get a few more laws that will make more people annoyed, which in return will make more people join the boycott. The companies won't sell as many games and will lose incomes. So you see, voting with your wallet does actually work, since companies are concerned with making a lot of profit.
  • Re:DEMOS? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Minna Kirai (624281) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @12:44PM (#10014022)
    It is completely unacceptable that a demo could install this dubious software

    A game demo is supposed to allow a potential customer to learn how well the software will run on her computer. If the game includes obstructive copy-protection, the demo should too; otherwise it's false advertising!

    By using the weird driver in the demo, at least buyers get a warning before PAYING for the thing.
  • by Minna Kirai (624281) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @12:55PM (#10014148)
    I thought the whole point of a demo was to get wide distribution and a positive impression of your product.

    Uh, no. Demos ideally shouldn't be trying for a "positive impression". First you should have a good product, and then a demo to give an accurate impression of the product- including how hard it is to get installed right on a PC.

    By including the copy protection in the demos, the game publisher is upholding honesty; potential customers who dislike intrusive copy-protection are warned off from buying by their demo experience.

    (Other motivations to include this kind of code in demos includes the abililty to turn off the demo after a year or so. If the demo is so much fun that people play it and don't even bother paying for the game, a publisher might want that ability)
  • Star FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Coward Anonymous (110649) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:21PM (#10014529)
    Folks, it is only a matter of time before StarForce disappear off the face of the planet.
    Right off from the first question they start spewing garbage from a technical persepctive.
    Drivers cannot stop SoftICE from working, at best they can try to be aware of it and try to malfunction when they detect its presence.
    Drivers can be uninstalled (the easiest method being to simply delete the file). Furthermore any activity of their driver can be spoofed by a replacement driver that just says everything is ok.
    Their driver is a simple Windows IFS driver that filters filesystem calls (so called IRPs), probably based on hardware/process name. The reason they mess up people's USB drives is because they mis-detect them.

    On the surface, it appears it would take only a couple hours for an experienced IFS driver writer to completely bypass their driver (probably along the lines of letting the driver run but ensuring it never gets to see any of the file system calls).

    I'm willing to bet the only reason none of the games shipped with their product have been cracked has to do more with the lack of popularity of the games then with the copy protection.
  • by SpecBear (769433) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:43PM (#10014823)
    Not-too-distant-future? It happened years ago for me.

    I used to play Diablo II with a bunch of friends. Each and every one of us had gone out and purchased the game. And within days of purchase, each and every one of us had downloaded the No-CD crack for it.

    This is bad for the software developers on multiple levels:
    • They're annoying the people who are buying the software
    • They're failing to annoy people who are pirating it
    • These annoyed customers are establishing a case for "significant non-infringing uses."
    • Software crackers are granted legitimacy because they provide a valuable service free of charge to people who have purchased the software.

      • Yeah, this DRM stuff is a great idea.
  • by Jeff Reed (209535) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:19PM (#10015208)
    Interesting side note about KOTOR: The License Agreement in the back of manual states, and I quote, "You may not: (1) copy (other than once for backup purposes), distribute, rent, lease [...]"

    So, I'm allowed to make a backup copy of the game both by law and by the license agreement, and yet I'd have to have something like the ever-useful Alcohol 120% to do it because of the copy protection. Huh? That doesn't make sense.
  • by Kaa (21510) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:42PM (#10015482) Homepage
    Yeah, invasive copy protection sucks royal ass but the only reason it's there is because of you.

    You seem to forget one little bit. The game companies are in business to sell games, not to be high-moral-ground cops/prison wardens to all.

    You put invasive copy protection on your game -- I won't buy it. You want to make absolutely positively sure no one ever will be able to pirate your game? Sure, your right, be my guest. But then don't wonder why this game sells so badly.

    See, the problem of how to run a successful business in spite of piracy is the company's problem. I don't really care about it. If you want to make it MY problem -- e.g. by demanding that I uninstall Nero from my hard drive just to install your game -- well, thankyouverymuch, I am not interested. I'd just walk away. I have enough problems of my own and I am not interested in adding your problems to them.

    You've made zero sales and you've pissed of a potential customer.

    Didn't the business-software industry go through all of this at the end of the 80s? There were the same cries about piracy and all kinds of asinine copy-protection schemes... The very clear outcome of all this was that it's much better to have some piracy and a lot of happy customers rather than very little piracy and a few unhappy customers.

    Hell, look at Photoshop. This is probably the most pirated program in the world (other than Windows). What, Adobe is going bankrupt?
  • by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:19PM (#10015860)
    Why would a piracy protection company want to make it more illegal to pirate? That would just be shrinking their potential market.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:19PM (#10016555)
    "They won't buy the $50 game, but they will buy the $200 console and the $50 game?"

    Welcome to 2004, when consoles are $130, and high-end graphics cards are $400.

    Oh, and that nice shiny new PC that you spent $2,500 so you can play that $50 game? That $50 game will shit all over it to make sure that you don't pirate it.

    hey, when you pay $50 to a whore, at least you understand the transaction. I pay $50 to a game company, it gives my PC the digital equivalent of the clap, and I don't even get satisfaction.
  • by ultranova (717540) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:28PM (#10016647)

    Mobile phone store is covered in my answer to another poster. The contract and the phone ARE very much related in the vast majority of cases. (Depending on what country you are in. Most countries they are. You appear to be in Finland, and so this applies to you too).

    I'm copying that answer below, for the benefit of anyone reading this.

    Depending on where you are in the world, and how much you paid, it's highly unlikely that you walked out of the mobile phone without a contract. That contract binds you to use a particular service provider for a year. On top of that you'll probably find that the phone you have is locked to the one particular network that you signed a contract with.

    No, as a matter of fact I've never signed any such contract (and wouldn't sign such a contract, in any case).

    As for vendor locking... Here in Finland we use SIM cards. They are small flat devices, about a fingernail in size. When you make a contract with a phone provider, they give you a SIM card. You put the card into the phone (the slot is typically under the battery) and it connects to the network of the service provider. You want to switch providers, simply remove the old card and put in the new one.

    The only disadvantage of this system is that your phonebook and SMS message archive are stored on the SIM card, so if you switch cards you lose them. But if memory serves, mobile phone stores can transfer the data for you. And it makes it very easy to switch phones.

    I'm not sure if selling vendor-locked phones would even be legal in Finland, since it's so obviously anticompetitive; there was an investigation about leasing a computer with Internet connection some time ago.

    You do not own the data on the CD. PERIOD. If you owned it, you would have copyright, and would be able to copy it and prevent others from copying it.

    I already stated that ownership of a copy and possession of copyright are not connected. This is neccessary, because the concept of ownership always refers to a specific object(s). You can lay claim to this book or these books, but you can't lay claim to all books (but the group of these books can, of course, be composed of all the books currently in existence - but any newly-produced books won't yours automatically ). The author cannot claim ownership to all books, so he needs something else to stop the owners of the books from distributing more copies. Copyright law does this buy giving the author exclusive right to distribute copies of the book (and to govern the copyright itself - to license it to someone else, or to transfer it or give it up) - it is needed because the property laws cannot do this.

    Therefore, because the copyright law does something which the property law cannot, and applies to abstract concepts which cannot be owned, it cannot be part of property law itself, and because it isn't part of property law, it cannot deal with ownership - if it did, it would be part of property law, which it cannot be, as stated above.

    Copyright laws, patent laws, trademark laws - none of these deal with ownership. All they do is give you a monopoly on something. Calling them "intellectual property laws", as is fashinable today, is a hoax. Don't fall for it - they have nothing to do with property or ownership.

    And do you think that stating "PERIOD" in all caps somehow makes your words truer ?

    You try to deny that with the example of a book, but it's exactly the same, you own the physical parts of a book, the paper, the glue, the ink. But you don't own the text. That remains in the ownership of the copyright owner.

    Since text isn't a physical object (proof: if I remove the paper, glue and ink, text should be left if it's a physical object - so where is it ?), it cannot be owned (because it doesn't exist in the material world). The

  • by maxpublic (450413) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @07:13PM (#10018146) Homepage
    Plus the sad fact that I trust the integrity of crackers more than I do the integrity of a publishing house.

    Unfortunately I have to agree with this. Crackers do what they do for reputation, and bundling a cracked game with a virus or trojan will destroy their reputation in no time flat. Not only that, it'll invite reprisals from other crackers who don't want the stain of that bad decision to spread to their own efforts.

    If game companies make the move to deliberately installing malware on my computer along with the game then I, too, might download the cracked version of that game and put the purchased CD away, untouched. Although I'm more likely just to not purchase the game at all - after all, I'm older, and unlike the kiddies I don't think I just HAVE to have the latest and greatest game to be uber-leet.

    Game companies should take note: the vast majority of computer game dollars come from the over-25 crowd. If most of these gamers have the same view I do (i.e., screw the game, I'll spend my money elsewhere) then this is a perfect way to fuck yourself into the bankruptcy hole. They can bitch, whine and moan about 'piracy' all they like, but in the end it'll be their own bad decisions which run the company into the ground.

    Max

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