A weird loophole?

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by ggambett, Sep 3, 2005.

  1. princec

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    Pyabo,
    there is something that you have not taken into consideration, which is that an EULA has never been shown or proved to be enforceable, on account of many different discrepancies or illegal clauses in various territories etc. I myself take EULAs with a pinch of salt; if I've not signed a contract, I don't consider myself bound by any agreement.

    Cas :)
     
  2. luggage

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    So you're saying it's only illegal because of the "limited use" clause in an EULA?

    What about these points...

    1) As I said, the trial period doesn't expire. If their exe is never run then the trial period doesn't get affected presuming it's the usual 60 minute effort. Or are you saying you should self regulate it? If so then that opens up a whole can of worms like the following points...

    2) If you spend 60 minutes reading the readme (which would also be included under the EULA) then should you never even run the game?

    3) Once the trial period is up then uninstalling could be considered 'use' of the software?

    4) Most trial periods allow you to run the game once they've expired so you can go through the Buy process or play a little 2 minute snippet - have these broken their own EULA?

    5) Am I allowed to view any of the files once the trial period is up using notepad, IE, image viewers, etc?

    6) So you'd think this would be legal if the customer paid for their version of bejeweled and used non-trial versions?
     
  3. Anthony Flack

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    Remember, Pyabo, this is just a game, an intellectual exercise. We know it's wrong; we're asking is it illegal? And why, exactly?

    And then there was that real-world example with the music software...
     
  4. Pyabo

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    Guys, one thing I would like to avoid doing in this "thought experiment" is ruining the Shareware/demo model. If people actually started doing something like this, what would it do to PopCap and other Indie developers? It would certainly kill everyone's incentive to release demos.

    The EULA is not required to enforce copyright; I simply posted that to prove that PopCap's license explicitly prohibits Gabriel's original loophole.


    Here's where I think the basic misunderstanding is occuring, for those of you who still don't see that this is definitely illegal: All of your arguments only work under the assumption that ART and EXECUTABLE CODE are somehow protected by different copyright laws. This is absolutely NOT the case. You seem to think that just downloading the art in a demo game gives you the right to its use. This is not the case. Why would it be OK to use the art, but not the executable? This (incorrect) assumption is what leads to the idea that there is a loophole here.

    The original suggestion by Gabriel is legally the EXACT SAME THING as simply making a crack available for a game. People have certainly made arguments that game cracks are legal... maybe they were correct until the DMCA came along. But people using the crack to play a game without buying it are definitely doing something illegal, DMCA or not.


    OK, let's take things a step further now... Instead of Bejeweled, let's say I downloaded the demo for Exile: Escape from the Pit, Spiderweb Software's classic RPG. Every feature of the game is pulled from data files (maps, character dialog, monster stats, equipment info) that are included in the demo. Now, what if I made my own executable that read all these files and implemented the game mechanics in the same way as the original game... but didn't include the demo lockout. Is this legal? Well, it's the same situation isn't it? But NOW... what if, instead of seperate data files... I packed all the data into a resource bundled in the EXE. Now my new executable has to plunder the copyrighted EXE to get all that data out. Is this any more legal or illegal? But WAIT! If I'm going to plunder the EXE for game data... well hell, why not just go ahead and rip out the game code too? That way all I have to do modify the demo lockout bits and I can use all the original code! Voila! (ie, a game crack)

    Can we all agree that that last exmple (using original EXE code) is DEFINITELY illegal? If not, I don't think there's really any more to discuss. So, given that this is illegal, what is the difference between ripping out code and ripping out resources? I propose that there is no difference, and both are a violation of copyright. Now what if the resources are in seperate files? Are they suddenly vulnerable? No, they are still protected by copyright! There are not two different things here... both executable code and game resources are part of the software package and are protected. The fact that a company is allowing you to download a DEMO does not give you license to use their resources however you like.
     
  5. luggage

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    You mean like the perfectly legal ScummVM?
     
  6. princec

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    A couple of posts ago it was mentioned: what if I were to open any of the files in Notepad? The files are still on my harddrive. My hardrive belongs to me, and in fact, everything on the hardrive belongs to me, whether I paid for it or not. Similarly the contents of my house are all mine. If you want to take something back, you'll have to come round and ask (and I'll say no ;))

    The thing is: as a shareware developer you are giving some of your content away - the executable bit may not access all of it all of the time but once it's downloaded, it no longer belongs to the developer, it's data on someon else's system. You rely on good faith, not copyright, to make money. The way I see it is, if someone comes into possession of something, it's theirs, possession being 9/10ths of the law and all that. EULA be damned.

    You will be perfectly entitled under copyright laws to prevent someone redistributing this data. That's how copyright works. EULAs are a fiction invented in recent years - if there's nothing signed, there's no contract, and there's no weight in law. Well, here in the UK, at least. Oz might have some problems but they've got some funny ideas about IP down under.

    Cas :)
     
  7. luggage

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    Just out of interest Cas, and it's kinda going off topic, but have you read the stuff about Blizzard and the bdnet business? Blizzard won the case and it was found that the EULA was enforceable.
     
  8. ggambett

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    That's reverse engineering, which makes for a much stronger case of being illegal. That's why I specifically said "the assets are plain files sitting on a folder".
     
  9. Ricardo C

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    I doubt ScummVM would be legal if it was promoted as a means of circumventing copyright restrictions. They explicitly state that you need the full versions of the games it supports, and discourage piracy.
     
  10. luggage

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    You only need a version you're licensed to use - even the demos will play with it.

    Besides, isn't that still the point. You're not circumventing any copy protection by generating your own exe. Maybe the new exe is an altogether different game to Bejeweled? It just uses the same resources from a legally available version.
     
  11. Ricardo C

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    I didn't say copy protection, I said copyright.
     
  12. Pyabo

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    No luggage, that totally IS the point. ScummVM does not allow you to play LucasArts games without buying them. Doing so is a violation of copyright. This ENTIRE discussion is all about circumventing COPYRIGHT, not copy protection.

    I don't agree with this at all... By this logic, if I downloaded the latest Coldplay album, and it's now on my harddrive... it belongs to me!?! This makes no sense.

    Let's look at this... What does EULA really mean? It's an END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT. It's an agreement between you and the maker of the software. Boiled down to it's very basics, it says this: "If you agree to these terms, we'll let you try out our copyrighted material free!" You're right Cas, there's absolutely nothing binding you to that agreement... but if you don't agree to it, then you have NO RIGHT to install their demo in the first place! These companies are NOT giving things away free, and this is spelled out in explicit detail in the license!

    As for the reverse engineering argument. Let's say I don't use standard image files... I encrypt them somehow. Or maybe I just XOR them with my favorite number. Are they now protected?
     
  13. princec

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    Yes indeed... I think that they could probably easily appeal that with a competent lawyer but when it's just for fun, who wants to bother?

    Cas :)
     
  14. Omega

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    If I put this inside my html file

    <img src='http://www.bigfishgames.com/images/top10downloads.gif'>

    then it is legal because I am not actually hosting that file. Right? :rolleyes:
     
  15. Anthony Flack

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    Nah, it wouldn't. It's a pretty silly idea really, and even if this discussion "proves it legal", I can't see it catching on in a big way. Or even at all.

    Besides, releasing demos is a great way to make money. If everybody stopped releasing demos, then that's just more money for the rest of us, because I'm certainly not going to.

    And I'm afraid I don't see the distinction as far as ScummVM goes. It's legal, but if it was potentially harmful (like, say, a GBA emulator?) it wouldn't be?
     
  16. luggage

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    As I said - you can play demos with it so you don't have to buy anything to play. You just need a legally (or illegally) licensed set of data. And you can do this by using the demos. I personally don't see the difference.


    Maybe we should just agree that we don't know if it's legal or not? Nobody has yet to quote a law which would definately rule it illegal (even though there's enough posts saying "it's illegal obviously" and all we have is a snippet of a specific EULA.

    I played the Age Of Empires III demo yesterday - nowhere in the EULA for that does it say you're restricted in using the trial for a fixed time or amount of uses. Does that mean it's ok? I'd have a license to use that software so surely it's up to me how I choose to use it so long as I don't break that license?
     
  17. luggage

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    Wasn't there a game a while back that used assets from your hard drive to generate levels? Something about a virus or something?

    I presume that was legal yet it didn't seperate what data it 'used' - just whatever was on your drive.
     
  18. Ricardo C

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    But it wasn't a program designed to circumvent the restrictions set by a demo of another program, which is what the original argument proposed.
     
  19. luggage

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    "circumventing restrictions" or "writing a different game".

    If I add a few different game modes and pickups to the Bejewelled forumla would that be ok? What if it was an entirely different type of match-3 game? Where's the line?
     
  20. Ricardo C

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    Define ''an entirely different type of match-3 game''.

    I believe any game that allowed users to import the demo's media content and allowed unlimited play would be guilty of copyright violation, since the demo's content was released with the intent of it being limited until the full game was purchased.
     

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