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Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 462

by Pinhedd (#48923401) Attached to: Ubisoft Revokes Digital Keys For Games Purchased Via Unauthorised Retailers

Ok. Agreed. Ubi shouldn't owe them a 'refund'. But they are the party that owes restitution here.

"fraudulent charge" is a pretty strong charge to make. The keys were sold legally in Eastern Europe by buyers who then exported them legally elsewhere.

There's no indication that legally made grey-market purchases were revoked, only those that were made using fraudulent credit card transactions. Ubisoft doesn't owe anyone anything for those. The original discussion was on what constitutes grey-marketeering.

My city is very economically diverse. Less than a mile away are people making a fraction of what is typical in my neighborhood. Yet we both pay the same price for milk, cars, and movie rentals.

I hear your argument, but I'm not sure what makes the line between germany and poland a magical line the free market dare not cross.

Milk and cars have very high marginal costs. In fact, many grocery stores sell milk below cost. I used to work as a retail manager in my late teens and the store that I worked at lost about $1.50 on every bag of milk that we sold.

The line between the various divisions of your city is at best distinguished by city bylaws and zoning policy so there's no real reason for there to be a massive price difference across the border given that there's no real barrier to import. A national border on the other hand is subject to customs when importing physical goods. It gets really murky when digital goods are involved. Now, there have been several unsuccessful attempts to block the import of discounted physical goods such as textbooks but these have been mostly unsuccessful.

Semantics. I *purchased* a license. I don't pretend I have any special exceptional copyright ownership of the underlying intellectual property any more than when I purchase a copy of a book... but I did *purchase* a license. The store had a "buy" button, I pressed it. A one time transaction was completed. I know own a license. Its listed as one of my games. And I can click a link to my "purchase history".

    There's a principle in law... if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then its a duck. (You see this principle applied in other areas too like when corporations dress up their employees as "independent contractors" and the law sees right through it.)

The comparison that you're looking for is the de-jure relationship versus the de-facto relationship. You're absolutely right about it being used to prevent employers from ducking their obligations under various employment laws. However, a shrinkwrap licence is still a licence. Courts are less likely to read deeply into it, but it's still enforceable to an extent. If the publisher claims in the licence that they have the right to refuse service if a product is used outside of its region then it's unlikely that a court will force them to provide that service. In the case of a physical copy, they're not going to come to your house and take that physical copy away; in the case of a digital copy, they usually won't erase it from your hard disk drive but they may refuse to authenticate your login credentials. Many modern video games are designed such that any tangible element is largely useless without a service element as well.

A lease agreement is a negotiated several page document that both parties sign multiple times over. Pretty sure that's not a better analogy for buying a video game.

Video games include a terms of service agreement that is dozens of pages in length, a bike rack does not. It may not be signed repeatedly, but it is still a contract and both parties are bound by it.

Yup. I agree they can do stuff like this. But you can take a region locked game console to North America and play games purchased in that region for it. They don't get to show up your house with a hammer and smash your console.

Correct. They can however make locally purchased games incompatible with it and even refuse service within that region. I'm not aware of any companies refusing to provide online connectivity for out-of-region consoles but I do know of companies that have redirected online connectivity for out-of-region products back into that region. Blocking it completely would be an extremely crude tactic and it would spark massive consumer backlash but I'm pretty sure that it would be legal.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 462

That's an incredibly naive view of business operations. Additional consumers are nice but if word gets around that a grey-market exists the vendor may end up seeing a decrease in net revenue even if they see an increase in customers. Any profit driven company will try to combat that. For example, the grey-market for post-secondary textbooks is huge and there have been some high profile lawsuits and challenges in recent years.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 462

No Ubisoft should refund me my money; and seek restitution from the unauthorized seller.

No. A refund is a return payment made from a merchant to a customer. Refunds are not made to third parties that were never part of the original business transaction. The customer should seek restitution from the middleman that made the fraudulent charge.

Suppose I buy a bike rack from amazon.com and use one of the services available to redirect the shipment to Canada. Because the same rack is nearly 50% more in Canada. ( Yakima Holdup MSRP $580 CAD); available for $520 CAD on Amazon.ca. $305 is the best price I can find on Amazon.com. That's $378 CAD.

So if I decide to save $120+ by bringing it in from the states; its grey market product. Canadian authorized resellers hate this, but am I really supposed to pay 50% more, when I can legally purchase it for less? Corporations shift their expenses and profits around like crazy... but it's unethical if I play the same game?

Should Yakima really be allowed to show up at my house and take it away? And tell me to try to collect a refund from the seller in the USA? Or perhaps I should QQ to the shipment redirect/import service?

You're comparing the import of a good to a revocation of a service due breach of contract and/or fraud. Amazing. In other news, apples are still not oranges.

Why is it ok for Ubi?

In this case it seems to be fraud related. I'm not aware of any company outright disabling or revoking service for legal grey-market activities but if they really wanted to annoy grey market purchasers they could simply point to a clause in their terms of service allowing them to do so.

That bike rack that you mentioned above is purchased outright, whereas Ubisoft's games are licensed. A better analogy would be leasing a vehicle. Many leasing companies will not allow the lessee to take the vehicle out of the country without permission.

This is true. But the border between eastern europe and western europe is a line on a map. If your selling the same product on both sides of the line at radically different prices to maximize YOUR profits, how can you villainize the people on the two sides of the line from correcting what would anywhere else be an obvious market FAILURE.

Europe is very economically diverse. Germany has nearly 4x the per-capita GDP as Poland, which happens to be right next door. What's affordable to someone in Germany is not necessarily affordable to someone in Poland.
If a company wants to offer the same service in both countries at regionally appropriate price points they can attach conditions to the use of that service. Region locked game consoles are a good example of this. Outright revoking access to the service is crude, which is why many publishers are switching to language-locked editions. A high-priced English-French-German-Spanish-Italian edition on one side, and a cheap Polish edition on the other. This can negatively affected ex-pats that don't speak the native language, but that's a very small group.

I hear your point; and I don't object to Ubi ~trying~ to price discriminate; but if they can't then they have to deal with that, they can't just start revoking sales and taking things away from people who bought the product on the wrong side of their special line. *I* certainly didn't make any agreement with Ubisoft about where or from whom I would purchase X.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. Either you didn't agree to anything, and neither did Ubisoft which makes neither party beholden to the other and Ubisoft doesn't owe you shit in terms of either service or a refund; or you agreed to the ToS and accept the consequences of breaking them.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 462

Grey market activities do not harm lower income markets. Vendor reactions to grey market activities might but the grey market itself does not affect them.

That's splitting hairs. The grey market activities harm the vendor which prompts the vendor to react in order to protect their primary revenue. Low income markets usually constitute a rather small portion of a large manufacturer's revenue, so they can live with out it. On the other hand, the low income markets will lose access to the vendor's goods and services.

And just start revoking the product from anyone who bought it that they think shouldn't have. No refunds of course. I'm surprised if that's actually legal.

They didn't purchase the product from Ubisoft, so why should Ubisoft give them a refund? They should seek a refund from the unauthorized retailer.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 5, Informative) 462


The marginal cost of production is not the same as the total cost of production. The marginal cost of production is the cost to produce one more unit of a product. In the case of easily replicable digital products the marginal cost is negligible, especially when distributed digitally. The total cost of production includes other factors such as the massive amount of capital sunk into developing and marketing the product. Fixed costs need to be recouped for a project to break even and eventually turn a profit. If the price were depressed to the marginal cost of production the company would never recoup any of the fixed cost and hence never break even much less turn a profit.

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 1) 462

No. Usage of UPlay and other online distribution services is dependant upon an agreement between the licencor and licencee. If that agreement clearly states that licence cannot be transferred to another party without the consent of the service provider or that the licence must be purchased from an authorized retailer then any third party that purchases the licence runs the risk of the service provider refusing to provide service.

Anyone who purchases a game is free to sell the physical copy of the game (first sale doctrine), but the publisher is in no way required to provide service to the party that purchased it.

Comment: Re:"Fraudulent" (Score 1) 462

That's called grey-market operations. There's nothing fraudulent about it, but manufacturers are going to increasingly greater lengths to prevent grey market activities. Games that are sold in low price markets often have limited languages, region-locked multiplayer, sanitized art assets, etc...

Comment: Re:grandmother reference (Score 4, Informative) 462

It's a marketing tactic called price discrimination.

The same product (usually a product with a very low marginal cost) is offered at different prices in different markets with the price tuned appropriately for each market.

A product may be offered at $60 in the North American market because that's what the market accepts as a fair value. On the other hand, $60 may be too high for a market such as eastern Europe, China, or South Asia where the per-capita income is much lower. Since the marginal cost of the product is very low, the product is sold at a lower price in regions with lower income. However, this opens up opportunities for grey-market activities where third parties purchase the product in the lower priced markets and resell them in the higher priced markets at a price below that of the original manufacturer. The third party then pockets the difference.

Grey market activities ultimately harm lower-income markets because these markets contribute substantially less to the manufacturer's bottom line. If revenue from the manufacturer's primary markets is threatened, they'll simply end price discrimination or cut off the weaker markets all together.

Comment: Re:Umm, no. (Score 1) 187

There are a couple of reasons.

1. The USA provided significant material support to Pakistan prior to and during the Indo-Pakistani wars which were to some extent seen as a cold war proxy conflict between the USA and USSR; this support and military cooperation continues in various forms, so India is naturally wary of American actions in the region. Although the cold war is for the most part over and the relationship between Russia and the USA has warmed substantially, India and Pakistan are still constantly at each other's throats; fatal border clashes are quite common.

2. India is a democracy but it is a country that is still plagued by a socially ingrained class system that just won't die. Corruption, strife, and malnutrition are rampant; while literacy is not. Deflecting blame onto distant, untouchable, and largely uncaring foreign entities is a tried and true method of bolstering domestic support.

3. India is poised to be a potential superpower in the near future, so they're naturally trying to shore up nationalism and a we-can-do-it-ourselves attitude. Conveniently rewriting history, or omitting important contextual information is in no way an Indian invention.

Comment: Re:In Canada it is legal to download and rip movie (Score 1) 172

The problem they have now is that you own a license to watch that performance of the movie. If you have a VHS copy of The Jungle Book, it is legal for you to download the 1080p version and watch it.

No it isn't. Canadian copyright law allows for one to create or obtain a backup of any multimedia product that one owns as this falls under fair dealing (aka fair use). However, this doctrine is dated and does not make any stipulation on the legality or the source of the backup, although the recent bill C-11 has clarified it a little bit which would seem to make acquiring copies from others impermissible. This aspect of Canadian copyright law has not been well tested in court, which is why many people have gotten the false impression that it gives them the right to download whatever they want as long as they have paid for something similar in the past.
It is extremely likely that a rightsholder would prevail in court by arguing that since a 1080p BluRay copy and a 480p DVD copy are marketed at different price points, they are different products and downloading the wrong one would not be covered under fair dealing even if that method of acquiring the product were itself permissible. In Canada, the burden to prove fair udealing lays with the defendant, so good luck arguing that.

Comment: Re:Functional as in C (Score 1) 303

by Pinhedd (#48728667) Attached to: Anthropomorphism and Object Oriented Programming

C is a procedural programming language (and a member of the imperative paradigm). The programmer writes statements and flow control that describe changes in state and the compiler translates this into equivalent machine code. Imperative languages do not care what the programmer wants the program or procedure to do, just what the programmer tells the program or procedure to do. Imperative programming is all about describing how to do something without describing what the desired result is. Classic example: C.

Functional programming languages (members of the declarative paradigm) are an entirely different beast. In functional languages, the programmer describes the program using some sort of logic without specifying implementation. Functional programming is all about describing what to do without describing how to do it. In functional programming, the compiler, interpreter, or parser evaluates the logic and figures out how to arrive at the what on its own. Classic example: SQL.

Some languages, especially those used for safety critical applications, support elements of both imperative and declarative programming. A programmer may write a program imperatively which describes how to do something, and then attach formal logic in the form of descriptors, preconditions, and postconditions that can be used by the compiler or interpreter to ensure that the program code does not only what it is written to do, but what it is formally intended to do. This kind of programming takes a very, very long time to do but it will be damn near bulletproof when done properly.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk