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Games Entertainment

Everquesters Suing Sony Over Virtual Ownership 284

Thomas Charron writes: " A group of Everquest players that have had their accounts yanked, etc., is filing a class action law suit against Sony Interactive. They belive they have the right to sell 'virtual items' in real life, including the buying, selling, and trading of actual online accounts. They have set up a home page at Gravityspot. Kinda fringe, but as an EverQuest player myself, I humbly submit that they do have the rights they claim. You be the judge.."
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Everquesters Suing Sony Over Virtual Ownership

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    While I agree on the surface, there has to be a limit to this... As has been previously noted, if this becomes a way to make money, the few losers with no life will ruin it for the rest. If I have a level 2000 fighter (I haven't played EQ before ;)), I can just camp in a certain spot and get a million copies of the most powerful item, then sell my copies. Now, if I didn't stand to make money by doing this, maybe I would actually play the game for real. What this does then is actually make the game less fun for the people who are really playing the game.

    When I say there needs to be a limit, what I mean is, maybe Sony foresaw the situation above. They don't want powerful characters camping and ruining the game for the rest of the people, so they put the clause into the ToS on purpose. How can you claim any rights then over the virtual items? If sony knew they couldn't prevent this from happening then they never would have made everquest in the first place (lets just say). So, I guess the important distinction is whether they prevent the sale as an 'after the fact' squashing technique or if they foresaw this problem and were trying to preemptively handle it. At least to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I can't believe these players think they have that right. The "world" was conceved by whom ever it is that Sony bought. Yes, it would be nothing without the players, however that is not concidered "fair use". They are trying to make money off of someone elses work w/o permission. I've run a couple MUDs in the past and I would be pissed if they did to me what they are doing to sony. Normally I really never side with large corps, but this time I do. Besides, I would bet that it states in their Terms of Service that what they are doing is prohibited. If they don't like the terms than don't play the game. Personally, I think that Everquest is no better than a quake/ut mod. It is not an RPG. Hell, chess is in RPG...any game is an RPG.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    wrong, just look at the updated (as of 1/27/01) EULA here [slackersguild.com]
  • I've played UO, AC, and EQ. UO for about a year, EQ for about 2 months, and AC for 4. What exists now in AC and UO is pretty disgusting. My UO experience, was fun. I kept my account around, sold it after I stopped playing MMORPG's for about 450 bucks. One of my friends sells a CD with a .pdf doc on it for 250 every week. All it has on it is 80 pages on UO and the neat little tricks etc on it. I never once thought of selling my account, and until we stopped playing, we figured we may as well see what happens..and voila, lots of dumb people out there. EQ from what I remember was where I first heard of character selling. I believe the first sold was a level 38 ranger for ~2k. After that..Rubicite armor was the uber camp of all time, pieces going for plenty of money. Can't find that anymore, Verant took out the spawn. With the new EULA that they have, it's toned down alot, and has curbed alot of the problems that I see in the other games. As for AC..I think it's the worst of the bunch, great game, but the people spend way too much. 8000 recently for one character, many going for around 5000. A set of two pieces of armor goes for 1k. As of now..most of the serious gamers sold out, no longer play, and so the characters that were bought are out running around, pretty shitty at playing, but with godly characters. While playing AC I ran across people who duped items in UO, one person (who was in college) made about 30k off of it, then bought an AC character, and made more off of item camping. After realizing that there are now a large portion of players who play a game just to make money, instead of playing to have fun and an enjoyable experience, I had to quit. There's a reason I work, and there's a reason I play games. Sueing Verant/Sony isn't going to solve anything, and really, they click on "Agree" everytime they log into Everquest. When it changed, they should have stopped playing if they intended to sell characters and equipment. Whatever...some ppl are just dumb. -Pervis
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Except you're not really creating anything -- you're being loaned a bunch of virtual items to play with in a virtual space. In my opinion, you have no more right to sell EQ items than you do to sell the plastic balls at Chuck E. Cheese.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ya know, back on the muds, where you'd just pretend to be a chick and cyber with some level 50 dweeb to get equipment.

    Afterwards, you'd say "This is cool, sweety [*], but could you take me hunting to get some experience." And, of course, he'd say yes, and to impress you, would try to take on the hardest mobs in the game. Then, when he gets really worn down, and says "Heal me, now!", you beat him to death with the sword he just gave you.

    * the hardest part is supressing the gag-reflex at this point; actually, there's a virtual gag-reflex in there that you should simulate (if you have some artistic integrity), but you don't have to behave like a real woman to fool anyone who's got the time to put in to having a level 50 character on a mud.

    Hmm, now that I see the direction this took, I think I'll click that post anonymously button.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 27, 2001 @05:57PM (#476393)
    I have had the unpleasant experience of running into a bought character several times while playing Everquest now. Playing a character in the 40 and above levels, in my opinion, requires that you at least know how to play whatever class you happen to be. When a level 50 warrior, all decked out in his finest, asks you how to reply to a tell, you can bet someone is going to die soon due to this persons ignorance of gameplay. I have not had one good experience with anyone who has admitted to buying their character. They have either caused total party wipeout with their incompetence, have harrassed people with endless questions about gameplay (you figure they didnt want to spend the time leveling a character to begin with, why would they even try to read on how to play), and one person I had to eventually put on ignore because he wouldnt stop asking me to sell him something my character was wearing. When the auctioning started, I really didnt care at the time whether someone wanted to throw their money away on a bunch of pixels, but when it started affecting the fun of the game, thats when I realized it was a bad proposition and why Verant probably made the rule to begin with. So to all the people who feel they should get something monetary out of playing Everquest for so long, I say too bad you wasted all that precious life time on a game that didnt give them enough fun and entertainment. Hopefully the next sit in front of the computer for hours session will be more profitable. P.S. Pardon the lack of quotes and apostrophies, but they are not allowed in your java script.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 27, 2001 @05:57PM (#476394)
    If players expect that they can sell items for real money, Sony would have a liability issue on their hands. If their server crashed and someone lost some of their items, someone might try to sue for the value of the items based on what someone on ebay would have paid for it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 27, 2001 @05:57PM (#476395)
    As nice as it would be to just let people sell the stuff they have collected, both current game conditions and past game history demonstrate that it just isn't viable to allow it. First off, one of the biggest variable costs Verant has is CS. CS gets called when people's Windows-based computers start crashing, which even though it isn't always Verant's fault, is something that eats up a lot of time. There's also players going above and beyond the call of duty doing nasty things to each other that causes CS to get involved in-game. Biggest on this list is *fraud*. It doesn't take any time at all to establish what looks like a kosher vendor profile on EBay or Yahoo, and then start taking people's money and simply never delivering the items. Twisted as it may be, it happens a LOT. There are also side effects from allowing this to go on... When people are just being powergamers and trying their darnedest to get the "best" items and the biggest pile of loot, they can be pretty competetive. Normally they'll only go hunting things that are reasonable for their level and class this way, since very little worth having ever comes from monsters who are too low to give exp points. Let them *sell* stuff and suddenly the level 50 players have a reason to play dirty and chase level 35-40 players away from monsters and loot they'd normally have no competition from, all because the level 50 player can get the Fancy Brass Shield of Eyes (made-up object, don't ask me where to camp it!) to fall out of a monster's hands twice an hour, and sell it for $400 or more on Ebay. Not only have high-level players driven low-level players out of areas where they wanted items to sell, one entire GUILD became so organized at it that they pretty much ruined gameplay for most of the people on an entire server, because regardless of where a special item fell, if you wanted it, THEY were camping it, which meant you had to basically pay them REAL money to get it, or decide you didn't want it bad enough. While it would be nice if people could sell their stuff legitimately on auction sites, the fact of the matter is that it causes far more headaches for Verant than can be considered reasonable (especially when there's fraud involved with selling accounts, since the original account holders usually have no problems taking them BACK a few months later and the person who bought those accounts is now without the characters they bought as well as the money they spent), and it causes far more long-term problems for players that also isn't reasonable to allow.
  • I can think of two reasons't they'd mind:

    1) What if someone paid for a +50 sword of carousing on ebay, but when they got the item in the game, it was only a +1 sword of mastubating? They complain to sony, who doesn't want to get involved in that crap.

    2) Sony is not getting a % of the sell profit.
  • I was looking to see if I was the only person who read the EULA. I don't play the game (although it sounds fun), so I went to the site and poked around. It didn't take me long to find the clause in the Terms of Service restricting players from seeking financial gain by using the system.

    Thank you for boiling it down to this issue, but I have to disagree with you about EULAs. Many of "us Slashdotters" hate EULAs because of the way Microsoft (and IBM before them) has used them to choke computing freedom. The point that is missed there is that the GPL is a EULA, as is every Open Source license. GPL, APL, LGPL... the "L" is for License, folks.

    I think Americans, in particular, have lost sight of the benefits of living in a society that respects its own laws. Over the last decade or so, members of the Reagan administration were found to be subverting their own government, President Clinton was impeached and President Bush was elected in what can most politely described as a "seriously flawed" election. Yet, all we suffered was a lot of 24-hour-news coverage and Jay Leno monologues.

    I'm old enough to remember the Watergate scandal. There was a palpable sense of fear that Nixon, having gone as far as he did, would invoke his executive powers and US Army tanks would roll into Washington to enforce his presidental power. It didn't happen, and now people can't even seem to imagine it happening. I'm not complaining; I think it's great! Look at any country where the military is called up to prop up a failing regime and ask yourself if you'd want to live there.

    Now find countries where EULAs are not taken seriously. Look at their software industry. What software industry? Exactly. How can you be in business when there is no expectation that you will be paid for you work?

    Trust me, if Sony is robbed of its ability to impose a Terms of Service (and it ain't gonna happen anyway), they will cease to provide the service at all.

    • A minor point, but I would draw a wide line between the "free" licenses (GPL, BSD, etc ) and "corporate" EULAs. The free licenses grant you more rights than you would normally be granted via copyright law.
    I agree with what you're getting at. It's not a minor point, either, and the distinction you are making is really the reason why EULA is a "four letter word" in the Open Source community.

    The reality is that all licenses give you more rights than would normally be granted under copyright law. Even the word "license" itself means "a granted privilege to perform actions beyond the default privileges."

    The confusion arises because commercial licenses tend to be so restrictive that they don't even look like licenses to people used to GPL. It is desirable to foment change in the industry to open up these licenses, but removing the ability to offer commecial licenses, also screws up the protection of Open Souce Licenses, and then things would get really, really ugy. Truse me.

  • And I haven't seen anyone complaining about ISPs deleting accounts for spamming and stuff like that.

    I have friends working for largish ISPs, and they regularly get complaints about that, even threats about lawsuits (but no lawsuits yet, AFAIK).
  • I, and many others, have put in 100+ days since playing from release(proly close to 200 now). When im done with the game... i really dont just want to hit delete. Thats what keeps me from quitting all the way.

    I would love a valid option to sell and feel at least a small part vindicated for my time.

    Verant, instead of trying to skirt the issue, which has been causing fraud and scams, which is the reason they dont want them in the first place... should set up a system for character transfer internally. It would lessen customer service problems, and make a lot of people happy. As far as individual items.... some items have a real life day or more behind them... thats why they are worth money.

  • What the real question here is, IMO, boils down to a question: Do you own the in-game objects that your character has, or are you just using them?

    Does a football player own the ball he just received? Whether or not we are paying to play or being payed to play is irrelevant. Do you own the bowling ball that you use to bowl with down at the public lanes, even though you are paying to bowl? The obvious answer is no.

    I can see that Verant/Sony have a legitimate beef here. I know that people become very attached to their characters, but does the EULA say anything about who owns those characters (I don't know for sure)? I'd be willing to bet that Sony/Verant have retained ownership of the characters, for the simple reason of liablity (someone posted earlier about how Sony would be responsible fiscally if a character owned by a player were to be wiped out in a server crash).
  • Everquest is NOT a skill based game. Lets nip that sorry excuse in the bud. Everquest is about TIME, and how much of it you have to spend sitting around camping for junk (and probably watching TV at the same time to kill the boredom).

    Spare me.
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @11:06PM (#476426)
    > By selling imaginary items one acquires in the game, it makes it possible for someone with a lot of disposable income (and not much of a life) to gain an unfair advantage over other, possibly more skilled players.

    Kind of like real life, eh?

    --
  • I could see it happening exactly as you say.
    The real issue, though, is that there are not, and never have been, definitive laws saying what is allowed to have 'value' and what doesn't. Some people pay to get the shit beat out of them because it turns them on... to others, that would be almost criminal.

    When you sell something in an online game to someone else, you are not selling 'property' in any strict sense of the word, and we should quit pretending it is. You are simply agereing to transfer control of something, be it an item in a game, or a character, or account, or whatever, to them.

    In other words, it's all about selling control of data.

    I personally think, with online games ilke, this, (the ones where you have to pay by the month, as well as for the game in the first place), they should *have* to guarantee fairness and consistency in their game, because yuo are PAYING them for it. It would be different if online play was free, like diablo... if diablo loses a character, i'll have trouble suing them over it.
  • Just because it's in a contract and has a signatuer does *NOT* mean, in any way, it's absolute. Not even close.

    In your case, your heart-beating scenario wuold probably be illegal, as would a clause stating 'you must give us your firstborn child' or 'if you play for more than a year you must give us your house'. Neither is enforceable in any way whatsoever.

    Now.. if lawyers, notaries, and witnesses were invovled, and it could be irrefutable that everyone understood all the terms of the contract in great detail before signging, and it wasn't signed under duress... that might be different. But that isn't the case here.
  • While I personally think paying real-world money for virtual items is ridiculous, I do believe in the idea that people should be able to sell their accounts with their characters intact. Everquest, Civ II, and the software for my digital camera are the only reasons I have my Windows partition. I retired from EQ about eight months ago and then returned. My account was still on reserve (though my characters would have expired had I not deleted them by hand) because it was tied to the activation codes on my CDs. If I had sold the CDs without selling the account, the new owner would not have been able to play the game without contacting me first. Also note that the Everquest EULA was amended to ban the sale of characters and in-game items after it had become standard practice. They freely tweak the EULA and require every player to click the 'I accept' button every time they play the game (or restart after every client crash). This guarantees that people are agreeing to things they haven't read, because even periodically reading the EULA every couple weeks may mean missing a change in the licensing (and there is no copy or changelog on the client machine). And for the benefit of the person who posted the portion of the EULA above: Let's try continuing that happypuppy article [happypuppy.com] with the following: "You hereby grant us permission to download Game-related files to you. You also grant us permission to access, extract and upload (i) Game-related data as part of the patching process and (ii) data relating to any program that we, in our reasonable discretion, determine interferes with the proper operation of EverQuest." That's a piece of legal dung that no Open Source user or decent lawyer would accept, and it's one I missed being added in the time I was away. (It was also, according to The Register [theregister.co.uk], hastily scrapped after an obvious outcry by users.) It's also one more reason I'll be happy to chuck everquest off my hard drive if I get into the Anarchy Online [anarchy-online.com] beta next week. (Yes, I'm addicted, but I'm not willing to use the online equivalent of dirty needles. I've already told Sony to fsck themselves over their predatory banning of people who post stories based on their characters in forums Sony doesn't own (see The Register [theregister.co.uk] again, Oct 6, 2000), and their unwillingness to honor Windows refunds for Linux users. My next laptop will NOT be a Vaio.)
  • If Sony's contract says they have the right to terminate the service of anyone at any time, with a simple repayment, they're wrong.

    Contracts like that don't fly in any other industry and they wouldn't fly here. If a business wants to kick out one customer and let another stay they need a fairly good reason or they open themselves up to lawsuit.

    For example, I'm a young white male, and I carry a duffel bag with me everywhere. I went into a Wal Mart type store and was told I'd have to leave my bag in their little cubby holes *at my own risk* while I shopped. I said "Hell no" and pointed at a woman in her thirties who had just walked in with a large open purse. I told them that statistically she was more likely to shoplift, and that if they refused to let me in with a bag while letting her in, they'd hear about it. They called a manager and he agreed, he said that technically the greeter should be saying "We *ask* ..." because they didn't have any legal right. The exception would be if they knew me, from previous experience, to be a thief. Otherwise they opened themselves up to discrimination charges.

    Further, if Sony didn't discuss this contract *before* people bought the game, then it's not binding. Shrink-wrap licenses aren't binding because you didn't find out about them till after you buy the game. Here, even if this license is 'negotiated' at the time you sign up, it's not binding because it functions to limit your use of an already purchased product. It'd be like Adobe saying "we admit shrink-wrap licenses aren't binding. So, you own a non-functional program. To make it work, come to our website, sign a contract, and download the required file to make it work." Because Everquest is nothing without the online service, limitations on that service are limitation on the product you originally purchased. And they can't do that unless the box says that the are certain rules which govern the use of the service.

    On the subject of copyrights... Derivative work only applies if you modify an existing copyrighted work, or use too-large chunks of it. This varies. Using 'Captain Kirk' might be considered too large, in a space story, etc. But if you write something ABOUT Star Trek, you're fine.

    Using a copyrighted tool is no different that using a patented tool. The creator of the tool has no power over what you do with the tool once you buy it.

    Anyways, on the subject of the save-game. The file is made at your request, and represents your development of the character. Much like a graphic in photoshop; you don't color the pixel on the monitor, you direct the program to do it. The save-game could contain copyrighted data (like in PC games sometimes they save the whole level, with your character in it.) and you wouldn't own that, but by saving a game, they're giving you implicit permission to use any data they put in that file (for the purposes of save-game restoration).

  • But if you charged to let them in, you couldn't kick one out because he was in the same line of work as you and you didn't like competition.

    That'd be breach of contract and would allow him to sue for his enterance fee, damages (lost business), court costs, etc.

    Similarly, Sony says (In a "contract" similar to an EULA (ie, not binding)) that they reserve the right to kick anyone out if they refund the enterance fee. But they can't... They can't kick out one person for an offense and let another who did the same thing stay.

    Sure, Sony may get complaints from people who don't like the idea of someone buying a powerful character (I'd complain) but they don't have the right to forbid this. (As a similar example, the CueCat company would have liked to forbid a certain use of a product they made but they didn't have the right to because they didn't own them anymore.)

    If Sony wants to change this they need to figure out a way where this can't work.

    In Quake, it'd be simple, if you did get to buy accounts and come into games fully stocked, the test would be to pit you against a similarly armed bot of a certain skill. If you bought that rank you'd be killed and lose your stuff.

    Maybe EQ can do something skill-based, such that a good player will do much better than a new player even with a similar character. And then powerful characters can encounter these challenges. And maybe they could tax players a percentage of their income, so powerful characters would have to work to keep their status, you couldn't just sit around with this god-like character and never risk anything.

    That way someone could buy a character, but if they weren't any good, it wouldn't help them.

    But, if EQ isn't skill based and it's all about logging into the right account, then people will sell that password, and more power to them.
  • Correct. Good to see that more people understand this.

    They're also an attempt at extortion. You can't use a product you bought unless you "agree" to our illegal contract...
  • Troll.

    It's painfully obvious to anyone with ANY legal experience that EULAs are NOT valid contracts.

    And further, a real contract that contained a clause like that wouldn't make it in the courts. Judges have squashed contracts with unconscionable terms for a long time now.

    Sony can claim anything they want in the EULA but it's not binding. Meaning that people can click the "Agree" box and not be obligated to do anything.

    EULA's are based on post-sale disclosure of terms (which means they sell you something and then tell you what you can do with it) and extortion, where they limit your use of a product until you "agree" to what they want. It's much the same as a protection racket where a thug tells you that you need to pay him a $50 insurance fee, or your car might get badly damaged...

    The reason software companies are pushing the UCITA is that EULAs aren't binding and they know it. But if you live somewhere the UCITA isn't in force, the EULA is just a joke.
  • Troll. If you've read anything on Slashdot you'd know that companies are pushing the UCITA because EULAs aren't enforcable.

    If you buy something from me, I can't tell you (after the sale) that there are restrictions on how you use it. And I can't then withhold the item you bought until you say you agree to my terms.

    The first is post-sale disclose which is just invalid. And the second is outright illegal.

    This just hasn't been pushed in court by someone with enough cash to hurt Microsoft or any other big company.

    If you've been following EULAs, I pity you.
  • The big problem with Shrink-wrap EULAs isn't the EULA part, it's the shrink-wrap part.

    If I go to buy something and the clerk tells me that they don't sell, only rent, then I'm fine with that. I might choose to rent the item.

    But if I buy something and then when I look in the box is a note saying that I'm only renting, I'll be damned if I'll accept that.

    Thanksfully this shit is illegal and I know it. But many people just accept it, thinking that a big company wouldn't print something they knew to be wrong.

    So, if I can see the license, I may agree to it, before I purchase the product. Or, if I want to do something later, I may contact the company/writer and ask. Then we can negotiate. That's fine.

    The GPL and BSDL, etc, are all licenses that you see before you try to do something, and that grant more rights than you'd get if you ignored the license.

    EULAs (as a class) restrict rights, they even try to restrict rights that it's illegal to take away. (No freedom to publish reviews, etc.) It's all about disclosure.

    I signed an NDA when I went to work for my current company, that's fine. But if they tried to tell me I'd implicitly signed an NDA just be showing up for an interview, I'd have told them to take a hike.
  • That's because EQ sucks.

    It may be a neat concept, but if they can't come up with some plot device to prevent people from camping weak monsters, they're idiots.

    And if they can't come up with the idea of RANDOM spawn locations, they're likewise idiots.

    If there was an adequate supply of magical items and monsters, they wouldn't have these problems. People might still sell 50th level characters, but they wouldn't inhibit the ability of other players in doing so.

    There are many things they could do... Have monsters spawn in locations where nobody is watching, have more powerful monsters drawn to more powerful characters, and so on. There shouldn't be any one thing you can do to get powerful, or any one place to sit where the good items are spawned.

    Sony's just pissed that people are making money off of their game.

    I'm sure they let it get to the point of pissing people off (through lack of items, etc) to appear to be the good guys when they got all heavy-handed and shut it down.
  • Actually, you're wrong.

    When I buy a CD in the store, there isn't a license contract. The only thing I'm bound to is federal copyright law.

    There's a license in the box, but they didn't show it to me before I bought the game so I'm not bound to follow it.

    And when you "agree" to the license to play the game, that's not binding either. You can buy the game which entitles you to use it, and the only way to use it is their server, so they can't place any restrictions on that use without making it clear on the OUTSIDE of the box.

    Nobody can say they didn't see the EULA, but being as how it's not binding, they can say they laughed and clicked through.

    (How far would you get in the real world if you changed contract terms and didn't tell the other party?) Jail is my guess.
  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @09:52PM (#476440) Homepage
    About the purchasing thing... Many stores I've been in have prominent signs stating that they refuse to accept software returns for ANY reason if the BOX is opened. Nothing about secondary packaging or anything.

    And sure, if you wish to be pedantic, EULAs can't take away RIGHTS, they can only restrict your ability to practice those rights. But that doesn't mean much, if the EULA forbids you to do something, what does it matter the specific method with which it does this? They're still trying to prevent you from things that you want to do.

    The first amendment is unlikely to counter a contract to limit speech (an NDA) in any except the most extreme cases (whistle-blowing, etc). If shrink-wrap EULAs are ever found to have any validity, they'll definately hold up in preventing hostile reviews, etc. (The NDAs that review sites sign now to limit pre-release disclosure have held up in many court cases.)

    Your reading of the GPL misses the fact that if the source code was published without a license, copyright law would prevent you from using it in any way. (You could critique it, or use samples in a parody, but you couldn't base a program on it...) You certainly wouldn't be able to create derivative works.

    But if you agree to the terms in the GPL, you are granted the right to use the source code. Something you wouldn't be able to do at all without the GPL granting that right.

    It's not like the GPL code is released in the public domain, then restricted. It's released with full copyright rights reserved and then it explicitly grants an exception in certain conditions.

    And you're missing some things in the GPL...

    "...requires that the user abide by the license, even if directed to do otherwise by a court of law;"

    That means (and it says so in the license) that if you can't comply with the license and the court, then you can't use that as an excuse to not comply with the license, you have refrain from any use/publishing which the GPL would have granted.

    This means you can't sign a contract to sell exclusive rights to the code, then use GPLed code, and use the fact that the other party sues you as a reason to close the source. You'd have to comply to the court's order to provide closed-source code by writing your own code in place of the GPLed code you used.
  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @10:17PM (#476441) Homepage
    No, WalMart didn't have an absolute no-bag rule. That's the problem. If they treated everyone equally then I'd have made the choice about shopping there with that in mind. But the way they let one person do something and then immediately prevented me from doing the same was the problem. As to Sony... They should have the right to change the game, and thusly change the rules the world works in. If Sony forbids certain behaviour on their server then that's okay with me. If their AUP forbids impersonating a GM, fine. But if they try to regulate the behaviour of their players off of the servers, that's when I draw the line. It's only one stop from that to preventing players from publishing FAQs or walk-throughs of the quests. Where the line lies will eventually be determined by a judge. I think that line lies very close to Sony's servers, unless they provide people with a contract up-front, before sale. They should, IMHO, give the disks away and then make all the money on the service. Like AOL. That'd get them around most of this, because you wouldn't be buying the full game until you logged onto the net and read the AUP at the same time as you payed your money. Then they could send any fancy packaging and manuals to people once they subscribe. I really have no sympathy for a company that sells software and expect a shrink-wrap EULA to protect them. Especially when they do stupid stuff like say "Contract terms may change at any time and you are responsible for keeping track of any changes." That stuff just doesn't fly. It's like DC and the CueCat. They deserve anything that comes back to bite them. Let them write a real contract and get people to agree to it beforehand, and people can be responsible for signing their rights away, like in any other context.
  • The Ring Trilogy had it's own economy of magic and facism (Goblin'ism, IIRC) - physical ownership was kinda relegated because most characters of interest were independent or aristocracy or magical (or some combination thereof). It did not reflect the case of the general population. The economy of the Ring Trilogy did play a big part of the storyline, however - in particular many of the impoverished cities were sieged because of that state.

    A better memory serving me correctly, I could cite some names, but the gist is that the money of the individual did not need to play a big part of the Ring Trilogy, whereas the money of the state did. In the case of Everquest, it seems to be a reversed role, where there is no state to speak of!

  • by debrain ( 29228 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:03PM (#476443) Journal
    I believe this law hinges upon the EULA - oh the horror of that thing. Sony isn't sueing the users, it isn't taking anything from them that they didn't have before, it's simply saying that if you want to use it's service, you have to abide by the rules of that service.

    I'm not exactly siding with Sony here - although my opinion leans toward them because these people are putting good economic resources into virtual values like games and that strikes me as inefficient and unethical and part of a bubble world - ha! - on the other hand it's just free commerce of something of value.

    The point that makes the biggest difference is whether or not these people agree to, by paying for Sony's service, abide by a certain set of rules. I have to abide by an AUP: Acceptable Use Policy, by my ISP - it says I cannot portscan (and they even accused me of committing a crime when I *did* portscan), but my arguments, even with citation of the harmlessness of portscanning made precedent in the Georgia case, the point of interest is not whether it is legal, ethical, or moot to let me portscan - I am violating an implicit agreement between myself and the person I am receiving that service from.

    So I think it is within the right of the users of Sony's Everquest service to demand changes in Sony's policy, but I do believe that it is outside their rights to break their implicit agreement with Sony and solicit items from the Everquest games. The ethical consequences of this may be deep and far reaching - but that's beyond this conversation!

    One might cry "fundamental rights", or say that it's none of Sony's business. I think there's merit to this, and problems with implicit agreements, but I think Sony's in the right, and the users might have valid arguments in what they want but Sony has not done anything offensive to them (that I know of!) or essentially wrong within the constraints of the situation.

  • Don't be absurd. This is like me entering a chess tournament, then just when I have an advantage over an opponent offering to sell the 'time I spent getting to that stage in the game' to another player, who can take over and win.

    It doesn't work. It isn't even remotely plausible.

    That doesn't remove my right to enter into any contract I please. If I enter into a contract and can't provide the consideration I offer (e.g. a character in Everquest or a good position in a game of chess) then I am in default. My problem. No obligation is thus created on the part of the people running Everquest or the chess tournament.
  • Most of the comments I've read seem to miss this point:

    The only thing that is stopping the EQ players from selling 'virtual' goods for real money is the EULA. The EULA state this quite clearly that that is not allowed.

    Thus, the first step for the suit has to be for he EULa to be declared invalid. Whilst it may be feaable for only that clause to be struck down, I don't find that clause any more rediculus than most EULA clauses.

    If this goes to court, this will be the EULA test case that many have been waiting for. The only way (that I can see) for the gamers to win is to have the EULA declared invalid.

    Now, considering the vast number of reasons for getting EULA's struck down, I'm on the side of the gamers.

    Not because I think that what they do is right (personally, they're a bunch of whining kids), nor proper (it spoils the game, and removes immersion in the environment), but because this, if it goes to court, could be the downfall of EULAs.
    --

  • I have no obligation to you or Sony to maintain the playability of the game. I paid my $10/month, I can do whatever I want with my character. If you don't like it, band together and kill me. Or, move to a different server. Or host another server. Or have Sony put in NPC's that kill campers. Whatever the fsck you want to do, but don't whine that I'm ruining the "playability" of the game for you, and therefore should be stripped of my rights. That's ridiculous.
    BTW, I do not, have not, and never will play EverQuest or any Internet MP game because of campers and people who have just WAY too much time to play these games. That is my choice...I suggest you make the same.

    As far as scammers go, Sony should just flat-out refuse to take any part in it. Perhaps a link on the webpage/game server to existing contract/fraud laws for victims to pursue on their own time. Don't blame me for Son't inept handling of the situation.


    Here goes my karma, but since you've never played the game, you wouldn't know that everything you suggested here is impossible to do in EverQuest. Can't PK people unless you're on one of the 3 servers that allow it, can't change servers (due to people selling characters on eBay) and you can't set up your own server because the people who write the emulated servers haven't gotten good enough to actually put any NPC's in there. This isn't Neverwinter Nights or Diablo II - Sony runs all 35 servers currently operational.

    Sony does refuse to take part of it, but people have put pressure upon Sony to do something about the situation. So now they have.
  • by Blackwulf ( 34848 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @06:57PM (#476456) Homepage
    On this one, I'm with Sony. I've been an avid EQ player since about a month after it went public, and I've seen the trend that is going on here.

    What happens is that people who are level 35-40 in the game are camping areas that are for level 15-20 players in order to get the PH4T L3WT to sell on eBay. So, I can't play the game because someone else has quit his job to sit in an area where I'd like to be and is "stealing my kills" because he can make a buck.

    This happened to me once, he got the item, and he said "I'll sell it to ya for $50."

    And you can probably say "well why don't you move to another area?" I would, but there's an ebayer at every nice area of the game.

    What has happened is that it's not the fact that they're selling it, but the "eBay Farmers" have taken up all of the locations of these items so THE ONLY WAY TO GET THEM IS TO BUY THEM ON EBAY.

    You cannot quest for these items, you cannot kill the creature that has the item anymore, you MUST buy it from an eBay person. Is that really fair?

    Also what happens, is that people will get scammed. They'll send the money to the person on eBay, and then the person will give them an item that looks the same as the one they bought, but really wasn't. Then, they either petition the in-game customer service Guides or call Sony to say "this person scammed me, get me the item I rightfully paid for on eBay!" There are many times that the in-game CS would be so tied up with people being scammed from eBay that they weren't helping the people that truly needed it.

    So, the Slashdot crowd may say "It's their right to sell it! Down with The Man!" but it really makes it impossible to PLAY EverQuest, since you must BUY the items over eBay that you should have gotten playing since the people selling on eBay won't let you play the game it was intended to so they can make a quick buck.

    I'm open to critisisms on what I said, so if there's something I'm missing here, please reply. I'm sure the flames will come soon. :)
  • What exactly are they selling? It's not a physical item. It's not information.

    The closest I can come to figuring out what is actually taking place in a transaction over a virtual item is this:
    Party A agrees to carry out certain actions that will cause bits to change on EverQuest's server, resulting in a "transfer" of the "item" to party B.
    All well and good unless EverQuest doesn't want you to do it. The bits in question do reside on EverQuest's servers, after all.

    I have no clue why EverQuest cares if people sell virtual stuff (well, OK, maybe it's because it makes their gamers look pathetic to be spending real money on imaginary things :-) Nonetheless, it is probably their right to forbid the "sale".
  • So, you sign up for EQ, and build a character, and that character owns a sword. Now, the player tries to sell the character's sword. There's a confusion of levels here - that can't happen. I asked my GM in Shadowrun what would happen if I tried to sell my character's stuff to another player, and he said that I would be a. disallowed, and b. thrown out of the game.

    Likewise, characters cannot be owned. A character ought to have a personality and stuff, and while it's possible to give away a character to another player, it takes a lot of work to get the player used to how the character thinks and stuff. Now, I know that EQ characters are rarely RPed, but in principle, that's the major issue. Again, if I were a GM making rules for my players, I would require character transfers to maintain character.

    So, if you look at it all from that perspective, Sony's position makes sense - you don't own your character's stuff, and your character itself is almost impossible to transfer without lossage.

  • People, read the damn thing!

    The lawsuit doesn't concern the sale of items, which is against the EULA and therefore totally within Sony/Verant's right to ristrict. Instead, the lawsuit is about players selling their own time. Many eBay auctions for EverQuest items include a disclaimer like "the items named in this auction are the property of Verant and are not for sale. Rather, you are bidding on the time I spent in acquiring the item.". The Sony/Verant-directed removal of these particualr auctions basically means that Sony/Verant is preventing players from hiring other players to acquire items for them on a contractual basis. Since agreement to the EULA does not entail the agreement that Sony/Verant owns your time (which wouldn't go down too well, methinks), the removal of these time auctions might be illegal. It definitely needs the consideration of our judicial system.

    --
    SecretAsianMan (54.5% Slashdot pure)
  • Well, the impression I get from US law, being a US citizen, is this: given some action X, if X is not prohibited by law and I have not legally agreed not to do X, then I can do X without expecting any legal repercussions. It doesn't matter how absurd X sounds; it's still within my rights.

    --
    SecretAsianMan (54.5% Slashdot pure)
  • Sony can (without legal repercussions) make a rule that says "no selling characters/eq/your time involved in geting eq/whatever silly rationale you want to apply

    Quite true. But there currently is no such rule. The EULA states:

    "You may not sell or auction any EverQuest characters, items, coin or copyrighted material."
    Thus, EQ users have not agreed to not sell their time, and can expect to win their suit on that argument. Until the EULA is amended to prohibit the selling of time spent playing the game, stopping the auctioning of such time does legally infringe upon the sellers.

    --
    SecretAsianMan (54.5% Slashdot pure)
  • The rule is "You may not sell or auction any EverQuest characters, items, coin or copyrighted material.". Selling your time is not prohibited in the license agreement. There really isn't anything difficult to understand here.

    --
    SecretAsianMan (54.5% Slashdot pure)

  • The biggest reason in my mind not to allow people to sell their items on Ebay is this: It would be fully possible to start a company, employing people to 'camp' at sites where the rare items are.

    Real players would be locked out from ever having a chance of getting an item normally. Even if there was no organized Corp, as soon as people started finding out you could make money doing this, the game would be ruined.

    You don't own squat about your character. That's why I stopped playing months ago. Too much time invested in a lot of nothing.

    Later,
    ErikZ
  • This could end up being the first test case for the validity of ELUAs. Of course, if Verant wins on the grouds of their EULA, the ruling would set a nasty precedent with far greater implications than just online games.

    I agree, and I really don't want this to be the EULA test case. With a traditional EULA, you buy a piece of software, install it, and are then told that the software manufacturer, with whom you have never dealt directly, has decided that you don't own anything other than the physical media and you can't use the software in any way that they don't like. Unilaterally imposing additional terms after a sale is completed is such a preposterous concept that I can't believe they haven't been laughed out of court yet.

    On the other hand, with EverQuest Sony is providing an ongoing service rather than a one-time sale. Unless there is a contract that says otherwise, I don't see why they shouldn't be allowed to terminate that service for any reason at all. The closest analogy I can think of is an ISP with a no-commercial-use clause kicking you out if they find you selling stuff off the website you host with them. If this does go to court, Sony would have a good chance of winning and as you said, that would be an unfortunate precedent for EULAs even though this is a special case.

  • by Chasuk ( 62477 ) <chasuk@gmail.com> on Saturday January 27, 2001 @09:53PM (#476476)
    This is simply Verant and/or Sony feeling that they should be the ever powerful Gods ruling over an idealistic fantasy world...

    No, it isn't. It is about Verant trying to save themselves the frustration of losers who buy EQ items or accounts on eBay and then bitch and moan to Verant when the purchased wasn't as described. Further, it is about Verant's responsibilty to ALL players to maintain balance and fair gameplay, which is much harder to accomplish if they allow the lazy and self-indulgent to buy the power and status for which others have worked very hard.

    ...right down to the name you may give your character.

    Is Slashdot more or enjoyable or less because of the juvenile actions of a few who think that trolling is fun? Imagine the how the tone of an RPG would deteriorate if Verant allowed players to have names like Lars WangSniffer and Gonad JizzSpew? I know, people should have the liberty to be cretins, but the non-cretins should equally have the right to pay for havens from them. It is in the Terms Of Service; if people really don't like it, fuck 'em. They can go play games where the TOS doesn't have such restrictions, and the adults (and I am not speaking with a chronological bias here) can enjoy the company of their peers.

    And for those who will reply that I am elitist, or have a stick up my ass, fuck YOU.

    :-)
  • by Cuthalion ( 65550 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @04:50AM (#476479) Homepage
    Kind of like real life, eh?

    You say this as a joke, but it seems to me a very clear element of a fantasy game's draw is that it's not directly tied to your real life. But never even mind any discussion of escapism. A common trait of many games is that they test the players' skills in a limited and well-defined context (which may include or exclude strength, motor skills, persuasiveness, tactical thinking, or even luck). A game is "fair" if this context is the only context which is really relevant to game performance. Therefore, it's 'fair' for me to use force in wrestling, but not in chess (as in chess, physical prowess is beyond the scope of the game).

    I consider selling and buying characters and game-items "cheating" (in that United States Brand Dollars are unambiguously outside of the scope of an FRPG) and I consider it completely reasonable for Sony to eject players who are cheating.
  • I think that the most important issue here is balance of play. I support Sony, Verant, et al in opposing the sale of in-game items and characters for the simple reason that it offers an unfair advantage to specific players that is not an inherent part of the game. I play EQ because I enjoy playing the game (read 'cause I am addicted') NOT because I can make a buck doing so. My character is not that high level so far (10th level shaman), but I have already seen characters appearing in my area that come decked out with equipment that is far beyond my price range - which I have to assume they have either purchased elsewhere or given from one of their players to another of their players as handmedowns - giving them a tremendous advantage over me.

    I am distressed to hear from other /.ers that when I reach the 15-25 level range I might find all the good areas camped by higher level characters so they can make a buck on Ebay. I sincerely hope this is NOT the case. I am not a supporter of EULAs generally - I think that placing conditions on software or services AFTER I have purchased them ought to be declared illegal - so I am now in a real conundrum: I hope Sony and Verant win this case because I am opposed to online sale of items and characters that I feel has the potential to ruin a game I really enjoy, but I also dont want to see the concept of the EULA given any legal approval.

    In the end I think the quality of the game experience is the most important thing to me - its why I play - if it gets turned into another place for pathetic, useless, and utterly dispicable individuals to try to exploit and make another buck from equally useless wretches who are unable to do something for themselves and instead feel they have to purchase any advantage they can get rather than gaining skills for themselves then I will have to vote with my feet (and great regret) and go find another game that is more reasonably contructed (or give up a hobby because the bastards have won out over the true players).

  • Sony should run the game. They should run the game as specified in the EULA. If they fail to run the game as specified in the EULA, they are failing in their responsibilities to the customers who do not want to play on a server where people buy and sell characters and items.

    Personally, I think that Sony might want to put a server that supports this, and maybe allow people to buy and sell through their auction site, but this isn't about stealing from the people who want to buy and sell. It's about keeping the game fun for those who don't.

    I'm not paying $10/month to play a game filled with people trying to gain artifacts to sell to people in the real world, or with people who are willing to sink a fortune into starting off as a level 50 character. I'm paying $10/month to play a game according to the rules that were presented to me when I signed up.
  • I think the whole point behind the law suit is to ensure that such conditions are declared illegal. Just because it's in an EULA doesn't mean anything. Sony could specify that after a year of playing EQ, you'd have to give up your first born child. Even if you agree to the EULA, it does not mean that Sony can take your child - that's still illegal!

    If the EQ players win the lawsuit, it means that Sony will have to remove that line from the EULA, because it will be considered illegal to restrict the sale of user accounts.

    Frankly, I don't understand why Sony cares. What difference does it make who plays a particular character? The new player will still have to pay the monthly fee and he'll still have to own the game.
    --

  • I don't see the wrong in it. It is a game, but it is also pay to play. When people invest time and money into the game, they place value on their characters and objects in the game.

    I've seen auctions where people pay out the nose for works of art I'd never place in my home. Baseball cards, comic books, any kind of collectibles. Junk to one, treasure to another.

    Regardless of the outcome of this, I'm fairly certain that the selling of characters, objects, or money cannot be suppressed outside the game anymore than you or I can be thwarted from freely swapping mp3's with each other. Sony may have the influence and bank necessary to convince Ebay and other auction places to remove the listings, but the trading cannot be stopped.
  • by nublord ( 88026 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @06:11PM (#476495)
    This issue goes beyond ownership. The main drawback to selling you account and character is the fact that anyone with enough money can pick up a high level character, join a group, then fail to play that character correctly, possibly resulting in the death of the entire group. This is turn damages the property of OTHER users. Their characters loses experience, gear, and they have to spend their time retrieving their corpse.

    Getting around that annoying problem requires that users be qualified to have the character they buy, like having a drivers license. That would just plain suck and take the fun out of the game.

    I don't think you should be able to sell anything you acquire in the game. The user didn't create anything - none of the graphics, none of the sounds, none of the quests, etc. Verant/989 made it all and can do with it as they please.

    For those who disagree then it would be proper to say that we own all the content on Slashdot. We are the ones posting the comments and submitting the stories. You should call your lawyer and get a percentage of the advertising revenue from this site.

  • by MattW ( 97290 ) <matt@ender.com> on Saturday January 27, 2001 @06:17PM (#476501) Homepage
    Some people enjoy 'roleplaying' game in the sense of Diablo II -- action, in which you play a character. But Diablo is no more a roleplaying game than is Tomb Raider, where you 'play' Lara Croft. A true RPG, where people assume an alternate persona, requires a certain consistency, an effort, at building up a set of mannerisms, a coherent scheme of mores for an alternate personality.

    If one person builds up a personality, and another just 'takes over', they will very likely be unable to play the character in the same manner. They know nothing of the characters history, their associations. They will compromise the integrity of the character, and therefore contribute to the compromise of the game.

    Viewed in perhaps another way, if you played D&D with a group of friends, who accepted your character as 'real' for the purposes of their gameplay, would you expect them to welcome another person playing that same character, who had no real idea about them, because they paid you for the privelege? Undoubtedly not.

    Having not played Everquest, I can't say whether this is a valid concern for them in particular, but having recognized the issue, and heard debate in general about whether people have a right to all their virtual property, I have considered the question. I don't believe they necessarily have the right, if it is made clear up front that it is not acceptable.

    The scarcity of items/characters in such a game is inevitable given larger demand than supply (almost a given, if people have something to try to do in a game), and a closed system. Diablo II is an excellent example. Too many players, not enough of certain items, closed system. But unlike an RPG, diablo 2 does not suffer a loss from the sale of items.

    I wonder how the players and sellers would feel if sony/verant simply said: "ok, they are your property, feel free to sell. And, by the way, we're now offering characters and items, for an additional charge, for you to use in the game." And they could simply sell for less than whatever anyone could fetch on ebay, with a swift descent to a value of 0.
  • I think the design of EQ is flawed. Since it is so easy and profitable for high -level characters to overcome these challenges meant for lower level characters, it's inevitable that they'll make an industry of it and try to monetize the fru its of their work. I think they could monetize it within the game, if they were forced to. What if the high level character (C1) gives the low-level character (C2) an item in exchange for a promise of five of that item when C2 reaches C1's level? That could be equally destructive to the game, but doesn't involve the outside economy.
    At some level, it seems these sword-and-sorcery worlds are naively imagined because they don't adequately include wealth and markets. In fact, looking back at the Ring Trilogy, I can't remember money ever playing a major role. Did anyone in the Ring Trilogy ever not have enough money?
  • They'd just have to change the way loot is dropped© Now, all those monsters are camped because everyone knows what they are going to drop© No wonder there's a bunch of ebayers camping around every monster which has a guaranteed 20$ drop©
    If the loot was dropped completely randomly ¥meaning that you can get the kickass 100$ sword from any monster with a 0©01% chance, and not just from a hardcoded single one the problem with the campers would completely disappear!

    --------------------------------------
  • by OmegaDan ( 101255 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @06:20PM (#476507) Homepage
    Lemme start off by saying I think that selling the things is just silly -- reminds me of alot of heated star trek debates I've overheard in the computer labs -- in the end, the answer dosen't matter because it was a stupid question to begin with. And it underlines the main problem with online gaming: Alot of people don't have a sense of fair play.

    But after that -- I'm going to assume that things you could purchase from other players in the game will give you an advantadge over other players -- Sony needs to prevent players getting unfair advantadges (yes, buying items is an unfair advantadge) because it will harm gameplay if players can advance unfairly -- if something hurts gameplay it hurts their subscription base, and that hurts the bottom line. Its the same deal as blizzard and id's war against cheaters: If the game isn't fun, no one will play it.

    On the other hand though -- people are willing to pay 10$ a month to play the game -- thats how Sony makes their $$ ... so its not really absurd to think that people would be willing to pay for items in the game -- I suspect sony is a bit "jealous" in the sense they don't want people profiting off their game.

  • IANAL but... You don't buy software. You license software, all you own is the media. Your rights are those that you agreeed to when you agreed to the license contract. In point of fact, EQ (ratehr annoyingly) shows you the EULA and makes you click to agree everythimre you play. So there really is no excuse for claiming they didnt know and agree to the rules. I don't think this will pass the laugh test in court.
  • Why, why, why, why, why are there so many high-rated comments containing this falsity? I think someone's been reading too many EULAs again.

    Yes, you DO own a copy of those games. Not just the discs they are written on. No, you cannot copy them. This is because copyright law says you can't, as you do not have the right to make a copy. Not being able to distribute a savegame file is an issue of the file being a derivative work, no that you don't own the file. However, I AM perfectly within my rights to sell a memory card or VMU to someone. After all, the data on the card is useless without the associated game. Otherwise, you start getting into the relm of intended use and the DMCA.

    The other question is: are those VMU files REALLY a derivative work? After all, they are arrangements of binary data created using a game, which are meaningless without an interpreter... Is every piece of fiction I create with WordPerfect a derivative work of WordPerfect?


    -RickHunter
  • Think about what I said. The GPL is not an End-User License Agreement. EULAs are outside the scope of what copyright law allows a copyright holder to do - they rely on the fiction that you didn't really purchase a copy of the software. Their nature makes them illegal - not anything contained within them. There have been several court cases that have ruled that EULAs do not apply, so I assume the American legal system agrees with me on this.

    The GPL, on the other hand, grants you rights you did not already have. It attatches a couple of limitations on those rights, but still doesn't restrict you more than you were before. You're still free to use a piece of GPLed software you've bought if you don't agree with the GPL, you just don't get any of those extra rights.


    -RickHunter
  • by RickHunter ( 103108 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @04:25AM (#476511)

    EULAs are illegal. Period. Its post-sale disclosure of terms. Its a rights-limiting contract that attempts to apply itself without a legal signature.Many of the terms are against various laws. Why do you think the software industry was/is pushing the UCITA so hard? They don't have a legal leg to stand on right now.


    -RickHunter
  • EULA's are such grey area in the software world today. The earlier post about Sony saying "after one month you have to give us your first born son" is obviously against your un-alienable rights as an American, however, that's a little off base from what Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) is actually saying. What they are saying is that buying and selling accounts is in fact against the rules. I, as an avid EQ addict know this is in fact cheating and knowing that some corperate putz who's never played a day in his life, could come and get in my high level group, and end up getting me killed, possibly losing my corpse and losing MONTHS of invested time. That's just BS to me. The only analogy I can think of would be, you RENT the data from SOE...you rent the calls to the items on their servers, which is the only place you can play the game. What selling an account would be is SURE, it is your account name and password, ect. But it doesn't make what's on the other side of it yours. Let's say someone you don't know rents a car, and puts his name on the agreement. Then he goes to Wal-Mart and makes a copy of the car keys, and auctions them on Ebay for a substantial price. You bid on it and win. Now you OWN that key...it's yours. What you cannot do is take that key, open the car and drive off with it....it's not yours. It's still owned by the car rental organization. Sony's case lies there. Now because the calls to the items stored on Sony's database are on your hard drive is another story all together, and I'm not quite sure how that will pan out.
  • In the EULA, Verant explicitly says that in order to be allowed to play their game, you MUST agree to NOT sell or transfer any in-game items for real-world money or services.

    The issue of selling such items on auction sites (or otherwise) is valid, however. What constitutes property?

    Beyond that, though, Verant has every right to close accounts for people selling in-game items. It's in the EULA. They said they would do it, players agreed by playing the game that it was an acceptable rule, and thus, these people have no reason to be pissed that their accounts get closed.

  • by bartok ( 111886 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @06:50PM (#476520)
    The only way to make a MMORPG that doesn't compell people to buy accounts from other players is to make a game where there is no skill advancement. Unfortuanately (and paradixally), skill advancement is what keeps most players comming back for more.

    If you compare this with a game like Tribe which the only real skill advancement there is is your ability as a player to better control your character in whatever situations you come across. I for one would be very happy to play a MMORPG that doesn't have ant skill advancement technique.

    I think there would be a lot more roleplaying going on if every "naked" character would be technically equal because there would be much more incentive to cooperate with others to gain an advantage.

  • Here are my thought both for and against selling EQ Items/Characters.

    For
    The first and best arguement for selling items is an analogy. Take people selling magic cards, for example. These are people spending money, time and energy hunting for valuable game components and selling just those parts to other players.

    WOTC goes along with/encourages this because it encourages people to buy more cards. Cards get priced by how easily you can come by them.

    How does this compare? Well, these are people selling virtual game components to each other. Sony charges all players equally regardless of whether they get access to particular components.
    Against It's a question of fairness. EQ is intended to be a game, but by its nature it's also a community. Sony is being beaten on by players who don't feel that it's fair for mercenaries to build and sell characters because the new players of those characters haven't earned their place in the community and most people don't feel you should be able to buy your way into it.

    I think a fair compromise would be to allow the sale of anything but the characters. Kind of like reality. You can sell anything, except your kids or yourself (or even parts of yourself).

    I agree with one of the other posters that Sony should set themselves up as an impartial broker of these sales, taking a small cut, rather than trying to ban them. Maybe they can make the game cheaper by facilitating these transactions.


    --
  • Does anyone really care about who the hell is taking whoever to court. Tell me about new techie things.. Hell even bash MS, but I'm sick of all this law crap! Go watch CourtTV!
  • This EULA might not hold up, because it could be viewed as illegal restraint of trade. Sony is trying to contractually restrain other parties from commercial transactions which, to some extent, compete with Sony. In the US that's an antitrust violation.

    The enforceability of EULAs has been in question for years. The courts have decided both ways. The main case supporting the enforceability of EULAs is , which is a wierd case. [cll.com]

  • This whole thing shows how unimaginative the Verant/Sony people are. Instead of changing the game to punish the folks who camp out for items (and subsequently "ruin" it for others), they just try to sue. There are many things they could do to alleviate the "problem" but they are going for the most brutish, least creative way. For instance, a lot of MUDs don't have limited items specifically because some people don't like to play with "power gamers" ... Verant could create a bunch of hossed out vigilantes in the game to kick the asses of the campers but the penalty for death is too trivial in the game (and I don't think player killing is even allowed). In other words, Verant could create solutions within the game to, at the very least, prevent the people who do this "professionally" from runing the fun of the other customers. Instead they try to get their way through force of law (hint it just drives the practice underground but doesn't do anything to stop it)

    Burris

  • From looking at the link, it looks to me like the issue in question is more about having the auctions pulled, in which case the suit should be against eBay (who would probably win). If it's over the accounts getting pulled, I think the question would simply come down to whether or not Verant asked the players nicely to stop doing what they were doing. If so, then the players would be in violation of the TOS (the part saying that players need to obey the instructions of Verant personnel). If not, then I think the best they could do would be to sue for a month's worth of fees, which certainly wouldn't attract any lawyers.
  • I think it's great that players can sell items gained in a game in real life. The concept is one that I fully support. I also see someone with a character buying a virtual object, or even a whole account, as a cool thing. If they've got the cash, then go for it.

    The problem that I see is with Verant's game model (or most online persistant gaming system's for that matter). They give out a fixed item for every "X" monster spawns (X = a preset random time frame). So monster "BigGuy" always gives item "NeatWeapon" every 4-8 times it re-spawns. So players who want this "NeatWeapon" will sit in front of the spawn area and kill "BigGuy" until they get the item. Get a group of players playing the same high level character 24x7, and they have a virtual business.

    The problem is that average players like me can't get the good spawns, because those organized groups are camping the best spots 24x7 (for profit). *THAT* is what Sony is trying to avoid; it's a playability issue, not the fact that these players are making a few (or a lot of) bucks on the side.

    The best solution, in my eyes, is to change the gaming model, not going to court. Change the rules (and yes, this affects the gaming model and the story line) so that unique "cool stuff" is spawned randomly according to the difficulty of a particular monster. This would make camping one spot less fruitful, and would require more playing to get the good stuff, and less fixed-spot camping. In the current model, fixed-spot camping is FAR too profitable.

  • by jallen02 ( 124384 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @06:37PM (#476532) Homepage Journal
    You are missing something..

    You are buying the most valuable thing you can "buy" in life.

    Time..

    And hey it may not be worth it to you but something has value as long as someone else is willing to pay for it.. the fact that people buy these accounts says they have value.

    THis is all a bit much saying people are blowing money... *shrugs*

    It may be worth it to someone to not play for 800000 hours to make a character (time is not an actual time it would take I have no idea, just that it is a lot of they are worth this much money)

    Jeremy

  • by legLess ( 127550 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @05:51PM (#476534) Journal
    You're probably a troll, but here's something obvious that you've missed: ever bought a computer program and downloaded it? Mp3s? Porn? What are you getting? Nothing? Or a string of 1s and 0s that, in some configurations, is very useful?

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes
  • This is not true. Adobe CAN charge you for anything they feel like, but they choose not to. There IS such a thing called royalties. For example, some of the sound editing/composing programs do not allow you to redistribute your tracks without paying a royalty. Also, you probably heard of Unisys charging for creating GIFs, and Fraunhofer wanting to charge for MP3s. Legally, there is no difference. The whole big idea with suing sony/verant is ridiculous. They can delete your account if they feel like it - it's their own business. Your ISP could also delete your account if it found that you violate their TOS or even if they feel like it. And I haven't seen anyone complaining about ISPs deleting accounts for spamming and stuff like that. If Sony/verant doesn't like how you play the game, it's within their full rights to remove your account, provided that they return any money that you paid in advance.
  • by Rahoule ( 144525 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @02:39PM (#476546)

    I remember an interview with Hemos and CmdrTaco where they admitted to messing with someone's karma who was trying to sell their Slashdot account on eBay. Cmdr's opinion was (at the time of the interview that is) that karma doesn't matter, that it's not THAT important.

    I remember reading that... I believe it was a log of an IRC chat. Can you post a link to it? I don't remember where it was. I don't think it was an article on Slashdot.

    If I remember correctly, the owner of the account "FascDot Killed My Pr" was selling his account on eBay because he didn't want to post on Slashdot anymore, and given the account's high karma (above the karma cap) and low user number, he considered it marketable. He advertised it by continuing to post regularly, but with "Bid on me! (Serious offers only)" as his signature with a link to the auction page on eBay.

    Well, CmdrTaco found out, and, right at the exact minute the auction ended (and the winning bidder was chosen), he reset the account's karma to zero. When questioned about it in the IRC chat you mentioned, his justification for his action was, "Virtual property is stupid."

    I do remember Taco and co. talking about people trying to sell their EverQuest accounts on eBay last spring on Geeks In Space. I don't remember exactly what they were saying, but I think basically they were making fun of the idea.

    Anyway, it's quite clear that for better or for worse, karma has become a sort of pissing game that has affected a lot of people. Heck, I'm kind of annoyed that I only had about +35 karma when the karma cap was put in place. I think it would have been cool to have "excessive karma", even if only for a short time.

    I've been a Slashdot reader since early 1999, and I got my account in January 2000. I don't remember too well, but checking the archives suggests that CmdrTaco and co. used to regularly participate in the discussions and post news stories about various changes and amendments to the Slashdot rules. These days, of course, they don't. Today, Taco seems more like an enigmatic figure behind the curtain, secretly manipulating Slashdot (bitchslapping people, instituting karma caps, adding lameness filters, etc.) from behind the scenes. I think if he came out into the open again and had a regular dialogue with the readers, people would understand his actions and be a lot less critical of him. He could do all the things he's doing now, and people would understand. Perhaps Slashdot's huge userbase or Andover.Net's control prevents him from doing so.

    That said (just had to get it off my chest), some earlier posts in the discussion pointed out that Sony has a clause in the EverQuest enduser licence that forbids selling characters.

    As for more Slashdot accounts going on sale, I believe at least one other account was sold on eBay, but secretly. I'm not too sure about that. I also know Signal11's account was given to a troll to "burn off the karma". Basically, someone was using Signal11's high karma to flame and insult people with the score +1 bonus. It was great fun to read, just because of the extreme rudeness "Signal11" exhibited. Eventually, he trolled one of Michael's (jellicle's) stories and Michael changed the password, effectively banning "Signal11".

    Anyway, if Slashdot doesn't explicitly forbid the trade of user accounts, karma and all, they shouldn't object to it when people do it. But, to be safe, if you're going to auction or sell your Slashdot account, don't let Taco and co. know. Advertise it on Kuro5hin, or better yet, WonkoSlice [wonko.com] or Plastic [plastic.com].

    Thanks for mentioning this. I was hoping someone would.

  • You free marketers, come to these peoples' aid. Anything that is deemed as having value and does not damage an individual or the corporation should be salable.

    That doesn't make sense. Suppose I rent you a house. You now "own" an intangible asset: the right to live in my house. But, assuming we used a standard rental aggreement, that asset isn't something you can sell.

    Your rights are important. But if you insist that your rights are absolute, than nobody except you has any rights, except where they don't conflict with yours. This is not a problem in an elitist society, where few have rights. But in a non-elitist society, people's rights are always conflicting with each other. You may think Sony (or your landlord) is interpreting their rights more strongly than they should, and not paying enough attention to yours. But once you have explictly promised to honor that interpretation, you have no say in the matter.

    __________________

  • By law if I rent your house, I own it for the time that I rent it, with all the rights that entails.

    Good lord, what have you been reading? That's about 180 degrees away from my experience as a tenant. Most landlords won't even let you have a cat. You're saying that all those "no pets" clauses are illegal? Or that I can sell off my landlord's appliances? Come to think of it, the frige he supplies is a real power waster....

    I'd be very interested to see you argue that in a municipal court. Or does that institution not figure in your legal theories either?

    __________________

  • By your logic if I use a editor to create a document (code, text, html) then the company that produced the software owns the document. So of course you should be able to sell any data created by use of that application. Tell me how this is different because it is a game. There is just no good legal reason why you should not be able to.
  • well, I don't think anyone ever lacked money, but money certainly played a major role in the hobbiton end of things. Bilbo was rich and so he could afford to throw his his eleventy-first birthday party. He was also able to be eccentric because he was rich. Money plays a much bigger role in Hobbit, but there it was more treasure than general currency. I think the main thing is that the setting is more in line with feudal economics. Money did not exist in the sense that we know it today. If you didn't have enough gold to pay, there might be other currencies, like telling a good story, for example.

    Actually, I rather agree with you. Just wanted to point out a few exceptions.While we're on the topic, though, another big thing in LOTR was that for the most part middle earth had no cities or even towns. They go from Bree and its surrounding towns of Chetwood and Archet (I think those were the names) all the way over to Minas Tirith without stopping at a single human town or city. So, yeah, everyday social and economic realities were left out of LOTR. On the other hand, I think it's perfect the way it is.

  • Goddamnit, read the contract! I thought that everybody learned this. Don't they? You never sign something legally binding without reading it, whether that involves writing your name in pen or clicking 'I Agree'. There is nothing to protect you if you get fucked over because you legally bound yourself to a bad contract. The best you can get is protection for some of your rights so that you can't be legally killed or so on. (companies can't break the law)
  • Isn't it obvious that virtual item is only valuable because of the time/skill you put into getting it? I can't feel any compassion for a person who pays good money for it, when he could instead give this money to a charity or something..

    It's simple: time == money. Let's say your character is almost ready to venture out into the land of nasty monsters that're challenging but fun. Now let's also say that, in order to do so and not wind up with your head on a pike, you need a sword of minor ass-kicking. Let's also say it'd take you a good 15-20 hours of game play in order to be able to afford it.

    Now let's also say that there's a high level player who could get the item in just an hour of play. However, this person could care less about you and really doesn't wanna take time away from their busy schedule in order to get you this sword. On the other hand, let's assume that this person'd be more than happy to spend this hour if the reward was $50 in cash.

    Now let's also say that our first person has a job in the Tech industry and makes $30/hour. So the first person can spend the time working (assuming, of course, that there's extra work to be done and also assuming that work isn't significantly less fun than the tedious 15-20 hours of gameplay -- I will admit that it's quite possible that neither of these assumptions is true in many cases), buy the sword for $50, and still come out ahead by at least $400. The second person winds up making $50/hour for a single hour of work. Everyone's happy.

    As for the alternative of donating money to charity, maybe the first person spends some of that $400 on charity. Maybe the first person only worked for 5 of those 15 hours and spent those other 10 hours at a soup kitchen. The whole "that's time/money better spent on charity" argument seems to be applied indiscriminately to any recreational expenditure. Given that you admitted to playing Subspace in your post, I'll have to call foul, unless you promise that you were only doing it as part of an effort to introduce inner-city youths to computers.

  • Again, that's like saying anything compiled with gcc is a derived work of gcc.

    However, it's work pointing out that the General GPL (as listed by doing 'info gcc' and selecting the 'Copying' link) specifically excludes the program output:

    The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program).

    That being said, it's worth pointing out that this whole line of reasoning is made somewhat moot by the issue that characters are stored exclusively on the EverQuest server and how they can be modified is governed by the EverQuest server code. If I suddenly have exclusive rights to my character, does that mean I can:

    • Force EverQuest to perform a roll-back on my character, restoring it to a previous state? (Suddenly, giving away money/items or dying becomes meaningless.)
    • Force EverQuest to change data on the character, outside the game mechanics? (Please set my "level" field to 500.)
    • Force EverQuest to remove data from the character? (I hearby revoke my license to allow you to store the "Poisoned" flag on my character.)

    Of course what'd be really funny would be if EverQuest agreed that users do have the rights to their character data file: Anyone wishing to exercise this right will receive a copy of the character via email and infringing data will be removed from the servers.

  • That item was added to the EQ EULA after the launch. I used to play EQ (major time suck I dont have time for right now) and when I moved from being a BetaTester to a full account the topic had NEVER been discussed. Now, they have changed the EULA - after i have invested time and money in the game - consider that I may have intended to sell my items/characters after having read my EULA... now Sony decides to alter their EULA. Suppose that I DONT want to agree to these new terms - it dosnt really leave me much choice does it? I have already bought the device under a FORMER EULA.

    As an example: I sell a you a computer, for $X dollars, with an EULA that states "You may not use this computer to kill people. Terms subject to change." You consider this reasonable. You and 123,123,123 other people find this a reasonable restriction and lay down your $X. NOW I decide to change the EULA to state: " yOu may not use this to play games, connect to a network, run Linux, calculate Pi or watch simpsons AVIs. Terms subject to change".

    Not very reasonable - can I get my money back now that I find the EULA to restrictive? Will Sony rebate my $60 for the EQ box???? Would those 123,123,123 people be allowed to return their computers?

  • actually IMO one of the better reasons for sony to prohibit sale of EQ stuff/chars is because they make their $ off of monthly subscriptions. if you buy a level 50 char you just saved yourself however much money it would have taken in subscription fees to build a character up. same goes for items.

    now, you may of course end up paying the same amount to someone for the char/stuff outside of the game, but the important thing from the game maker's perspective is not the overall amount of money that you're spending, but rather the fact that if you buy things outside of the game like a char over ebay, none of that $ is going to THEM.

    eudas
  • Am I the only one who believes this is just natural evolution of the game ? It's just becoming more and more like real life, with fraud, treachery, organized "crime" and retards with money running the world. Sure it's "unfair", but life never was fair. Getting rid of this hypocritical selling prohibition would simply open up new paths for expansion of the EverQuest collective conscience. For example, to combat the cheap campers we could come up with some sort of law-enforcement or military regiment. Since this one rule can have such a strong impact on the mindset of many players, there are many new developments that would be made possible.

    My other argument is that if someone's stupid enough to pay real money for an unreal item, well I'm not one to stop them. It's surely not as vile as Amway.
  • by cribcage ( 205308 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @05:49PM (#476578) Homepage Journal
    The briefs should certainly make for interesting reading. I would have to say that I'd come down on the other side, though: I think that Sony, etc. are probably within their rights.

    The question that you have to ask is: Legally speaking, what are these players selling? Their experiences in the game may have made for unique characters, but you have to decide whether those experiences can be separated from the intellectual property that *is* the game -- in other words, the programming that directed those experiences.

    It's one thing to sell your "experiences" -- in the sense of selling the rights to the story of your life, for instance. Here, though, it seems to me that the players are selling data; and I would guess that, legally, the company retains ownership of the data.

    Consider it another way: Could you, as a Dreamcast owner, legally sell a Visual Memory Unit containing game files to another Dreamcast user? You purchased the VMU, after all, and you played the games to generate those files. Yet you don't own the games; you simply own the discs on which those games are stored, and the right to use those discs. You don't have the right to use those discs to produce copies of the discs, so it's conceivable that neither do you have the right to use those discs to create VMU files to sell to other people.

    This sounds like a very interesting case. If it proceeds, I hope that Slashdot will follow it.

    crib
  • by Decado ( 207907 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @05:56PM (#476581)

    From the everquest EULA:

    "You may not sell or auction any EverQuest characters, items, coin or copyrighted material."

    HappyPuppy [happypuppy.com] has a good article [happypuppy.com] on this. You play the game you agree to abide by the rules, fail to do so and sony can yank your account. Seems pretty cut and dried to me.

  • by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @05:55PM (#476582)
    Normally, I'd be of the opinion that Sony shouldn't be allowed to shut down the auctions. I can't quite figure out a good way to articulate that right now, but anyway...

    In this one, I sort of think there should be a place for things to be *just a game*. Yes, you can still play with your limited resources just paying for the subscription, but my past experience is that this sort of thing causes problems for those who either can't or don't wish to spend so much money. (Disclaimer: I have not played EQ. Perhaps someone who has could share their views? Thanks). I really think there should be a place for online games that require a simple fee to play and where there isn't a way to spend more money on it -- I think it adds a lot to the feel of the game to know that people really worked on their own to get where they are in game status (or at least that most of them did). So, I think the decision is up to Sony, and my understanding of the EULA is that these people "agreed" not to sell items. I have all sorts of problems with EULAs, including this one, and I believe that these people basically are morally in the right. But isn't there some way that a game can be just a game, and not about spending money to get ahead? I used to play MMORPGS, but got out not long after this sort of thing became common.

    So, one question: is there a way for the proverbial "nice company" (as opposed to big bad profit-seeking corp) to build something that is "just a game" without this happening to it, and can people not attack them when it happens?

    Also, does Sony fit the bill in this case? They certainly have profit motives, but I think they're trying to keep the gamers that share my view in doing this. So i guess I really don't know where I stand on the lawsuit. I do know that I wish people wouldn't make the suit necessary in their minds and just play the game for once. I know, I'm being idealistic. I'll stop whining now.

  • I remember how people talked about virtual reality 8 years ago. Funny thing is, nobody seemed to realize that 3d games would be the platform for the development of virtual worlds.

    I hope they win the fight, because if they do, it will be a huge PR success for all online games.

    It might even make Doom look like Pong.

  • Uhh..

    software doesn't exist period.

    But that doesn't mean you can't sell it. Ask Bill Gates about this! He will tell you that people really are stupid enough to actually pay for bits and bytes!

  • Lots of folks raise the same arguement here, that it ruins the gameplay. Well, there is a solution: Organize! Hear me out. Get together a dozen or so hardcore, very high level players. Set up an 'anti item camper' guild. When you get reports that some 1337 h@X0r is camping items, send out a half dozen 50th level characters to reduce him to ashes. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. A variation here would be for Sony to do the same. This way, everyone could be happy. A fellow who played the game a lot, but is now tired of it, sells it, and his account info, to someone else. So long as he sells it lock stock and barrel, and is honest, that is a legit desire [hey, that way someone gets to benefit from the hours of gameplay]. But if a bunch of morons wants to try to make a business out of it, they get smacked down hard. [Maybe the Sony folks could create some sort of uber characters, 5,000,000 HP, regenerating, untouchable by all but 1,000th level characters, can do anything the game engine supports, that sort of thing.] Besides, wouldn't it be more satisfying to actively participate, or at least watch, as some cocky SOB who's been picking on low level characters gets his loin cloth handed to him? I mean, yeah, its a lot of work, but its better than involving the lawyers, and would earn brownie points for being creative.

    -={(Astynax)}=-
  • by AFCArchvile ( 221494 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @05:47PM (#476601)
    From the August 2000 issue of PC Gamer, in the Scoop! article on Anarchy Online, page 27:

    "Some of us have considered replacing EverQuest in our lives with a debilitating heroin habit; not because we advocate illegal drug use, but we think heroin is less addictive and we don't have to see our habit reflected on every month's credit card statement."

  • many hardcore gamers of EQ don't want some newbie kicking their ass just because his parents are rich.
    sony maybe afraid that they might lose the support of many hardcore gamers.
    as far as sony is concerned, they aren't gaining anything if account ownership tranfers from one individual to another...and if this happens at the cost of other players' accounts going belly up, you can bet sony is against it.

    - golgotha
  • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @09:02PM (#476623) Homepage Journal
    By selling imaginary items one acquires in the game, it makes it possible for someone with a lot of disposable income (and not much of a life) to gain an unfair advantage over other, possibly more skilled players. It's Sony's online game community. If they feel that such transactions are cheating, they have a right to stop them. Suppose that ping-flooding the server would give a player an advantage. Would Sony have a right to try to petition the players' ISPs to stop the ping flooding?

    I'd like to see Sony countersue and claim that the people buying and selling the imaginary items have reduced the value of Sony's property by creating unfair advantages that reduce the enjoyment of the game for many players, thus cutting back on sales and online participation.

    If I thought that any of the people involved in this idiotic lawsuit had any chance of getting laid, I'd be calling for them to be sterilized now before they could breed. Fortunately, that is a non-issue.

    P.S. Yes, I know that Verant and "others" were to be named in the suit, but I just mentioned Sony in the interest of brevity.

  • Here's the way I am thinking about it. Should Sony / Verant have the right to prevent you from playing the game using your friend's character and building it up? I don't think so.

    Suppose your friend wants to pay you for going to that trouble? Is that something they should legally be allowed to prevent? Again, I very strongly feel that they should not -- someone is paying for the time in the game, and they have no legal grounds (or rather, imo they _should_ have no legal grounds) to even know who is pushing the buttons for that person.

    So can someone explain how selling a character you have powered up or items you have collected is materially different from game-playing for hire?

    Now, some of you seem to be arguing that the game balance is upset by these sales. While I can see how that could be the case (I don't know because I have never played, I have played MUDs quite a bit so I can imagine the impact, though), I think you need a stronger argument than that for allowing a corporation the legal power to step in and prevent a private business agreement between two individuals that happens to involve a service provided by that corporation. It doesn't seem clear to me that the law needs to provide remedy for someone's game being played in ways they don't like.

    However, I guess no one has the right to be allowed to play. If Sony wants to kill your character and stop letting you pay them to play, that is their prerogative and you should have no recourse. But I don't believe they should really have any power beyond revoking the accounts of violators.

    It is a more complicated issue than I first thought, however. I'd particularly be interested in comments re: my 4th paragraph -- I guess I am not quite sure where the law belongs in terms of protecting games that a company is making money from. There may be some arguments that they deserve damages from someone who acts to make the game less enjoyable and therefore profitable, but that's a really murky area in my mind.

    Oh, and I don't think your VMU analogy is a strong one. Sega has no rights whatsoever to the works that you create by using their hardware and software. The save-game files are *your* bits and you have not signed any contracts agreeing "Any bits generated through the use of this console and software are the sole property of Sega." Just like Adobe doesn't own the rights to that artwork you just put together in Photoshop, Sega has no rights to anything you create by using their hardware or software. So you are free to sell your VMU, copy the data onto blank VMUs and sell those, etc. (Actually, if you're not, let me know and I'm moving to a small desert island and starting my own civilization.) This situation is different from the VMU case in that your gameplay behavior substantially impacts the experience of their other customers since it is a shared universe. If you are violating their rules in such a way as to cause them financial damages, they *may* have the right to sue you for that.


  • You free marketers, come to these peoples' aid. Anything that is deemed as having value and does not damage an individual or the corporation should be salable.

    Furthermore, these sales should increase the value of Everquest, because more people will play and play more often if it seems lucrative. They should contract out to brokers of these goods!

  • They have lawyers who wrote a EULA which goes against common sense, this is a news flash! Lawyers make EULAs and patents and things that are utterly absurd all the time.

    When something in the black market becomes widespread, it goes into the grey market. When something in the grey market becoms widepread, a smart corporation will license and control this something in order to regulate and reap profit from a previously revenue-draining service.

    Sony should verify character sales and have its own market for them, instead of putting it on E-Bay and letting E-Bay get all the profit that could come from such sales.

    By the way does anyone have an approx. aggregate cash value of sales of Everquest characters on E-Bay?

  • One of the things that makes rare items valuable is the time it takes to collect them. People could aruge that they are being paid for rendering an Everquest-related consulting service for which they are being paid for their time, then transferring the item itself for free? ; -)

    What if someone paid not just to have the item, but instead to have someone show them where they could find it in the game? Of course it's a sorry person who needs cash motivation for the fun of helping others in a game, but would the EULA prohibit that as sale of an Everquest-related service? Would it be illegal to teach a class on Everquest for money? I know the demand is high for Everquest Seminars and Motivational Speakers! ; -) Maybe Verant would change their tune if they were bribed- by receiving a certain cut of all sales of Everquest items.

    I personally avoid such corporate-control dilemmas by not playing EverCrack ; -) Ahhhh.
  • Scenario:

    Sony loses the suit. It is now perfectly OK to camp and sell items/characters/etc on eBay or wherever.
    I camp and get a level 3000 player (never played the game), with an eBay market value of say $2000.
    Sony has a server crash and my character somehow gets lost. Since this character now had a value on the open market, my most logical recourse would be to sue Sony (here in America anyway, land of litigation).

    I think that we can all extrapolate where this goes. If Sony (or any of these game makers) has to be put under the additional burden of protecting a bunch damn video game character files b/c of possible lawsuits, Sony might be a little less interested in continuing Everquest, or making sequels, etc. At what point does the potential financial burden caused by additonal legal burdens convince Sony to shut EverQuest down?

    It is at that point that the insistence on defending the "players rights" of a group of greedy individuals (those selling items/characters/etc) will remove all "rights" from all other players.

    Anyway, its only a game, how can anyone take it this seriously...[mumbling "must play more Quake"]

  • by Primer 55 ( 263965 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:01PM (#476646)
    Software is a tool no different than any other. Whatever you create with it (be it a spice rack or a character) is your own to dispense with. The tool is capital investment, and whatever you gain with it is your own. Adobe can't stop you from selling the works you created with Photoshop, and Microsoft doesn't charge for every application you develop.

    This is simply Verant and/or Sony feeling that they should be the ever powerful Gods ruling over an idealistic fantasy world, right down to the name you may give your character [sony.com]. 13 rules for a game in general would be off putting enough for me, much less just for what you can call yourself.

  • The EULA specifically states that users who sell or try to make money off their game playing may be suspended.
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    I'm a karma whore, mod me up damn you!
  • Wow.. you're wrong.

    There are many rights you cannot sign away. You cannot sign to become a slave for life. You cannot sign away sex with underage people. Similarly, companies are not protected through whatever rules they have printed - they are not above the law, for example: valid ID in many banks is said to be certain forms of ID when the national/state law is almost always many more forms; the government/state law overrides it and the bank cannot legally refuse certain ID.

    Now, this isn't even a contract, it's a fucking EULA - known for it's 'one size fits all' 'give the consumers no rights' mentality. Courts take this into account and these type of one-sided "contracts" rarely stand up. That's why people can sue power-companies for blackouts too - even when they've signed away the right.

    Terminating someone's game account because a EULA or Terms of Use hasn't gone to court in most counties - certainly not in the US - and IMO these people stand a good chance of winning.

    -- Eat your greens or I'll hit you!

  • Sony just sees things different than OSI. OSI sees the fact that in-game objects sell for real life money as proof of how popular/spiffy/etc. UO is. It clearly states that the account and everythig in the game is the property of OSI/EA, however they have no problems with anybody selling.

    Ask a GM in game if it's alright to use something not available in the game/to other players to gain an advantage in the game, and they'll say no.

    Substitute the word 'money' for 'something' and you have ebay.

    The real life money situation in UO caused many many many MANY problems for players (and many left) when housing was opened up in Trammel, as many players were beat to housing spots by people who's sole goal was to place a house to sell on ebay.

An egghead is one who stands firmly on both feet, in mid-air, on both sides of an issue. -- Homer Ferguson

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