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Half-Life 2 EULA Legal Issues?

Is the Half-Life 2 EULA illegal? on the Inquirer (thanks Ant) describes possible legal issues surrounding the End-User License Agreement for Half-Life 2 and the Steam service. Here are a couple of hefty excerpts:

...The German Consumer Association has recently found that the packaging on Half-Life 2 is misleading. In a report made following complaints from the public, they said that the mere listing of an internet connection under the 'other' category in system requirements did not accurately describe the true extent of the internet tie-in with the game, and ordered Vivendi to amend the packaging and untie Steam from HL2 or face a hefty fine. See this page. How far other consumer associations will agree with the Germans is yet to be seen, but it seems a no-brainer that Steam should be mentioned on the retail pack.

The return of software has traditionally been a bugbear for gamers. Most shops, at least in the UK, have a policy not to allow the return of opened software because of piracy risks. However, most consumers are not aware that, in some cases at least, this is in breach of their statutory legal rights, which cannot be infringed. This page at the UK's Office of Fair Trading conveniently notes an example of when goods can be returned as faulty:...

It is quite conceivable that any gamer not being able to connect to Half-Life 2 is entitled to a legal refund in the UK. The case would hinge around whether or not the inability to play the game without persistent net connection, or the previous hacking of the CD Key rendering it unplayable, makes the game unfit for the purpose described on the box. This could well be a winner.

The last issue is the most interesting and relates to a number of other cases that have come up over the last couple of years. According to US and UK law, under the principle known in the US as 'First Sale', a consumer buying a game takes absolute title to it; that is, they own it. ...

But, arguably, you can't transfer the CD Key without paying the $10 Steam charge, because otherwise it's still registered to you at Valve, meaning you haven't truly transferred ownership to the buyer.

However, here's something else. No mention of the Steam software is made in the EULA for Half-Life 2. This means that the terms of the Steam EULA that you agree to when installing that software are almost certainly not incorporated into the contract you agree to when installing Half-Life 2. Consequently, the $10 transfer fee would not be enforceable because it isn't in the HL2 contract, and Valve would be acting illegally in blocking any sale of the game from one person to another.

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171 Replies. 9 pages. Viewing page 1.
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171. Re: No subject Feb 11, 2005, 02:34 Yesukai
 
I tend to like the idea of getting rid of the publisher middleman, I've heard of so many games being slashed and released early because of publisher demands. I'd prefer to leave the process in the hands of the artists making the game.

As for Steam, I really don't appreciate having to have an Internet connection, with how often I move, its a major inconvenience just to play a game. And the "offline mode" is all good and nice, expect it (randomly) decides to drop the authentication, requiring me to once again haul my computer over to a friend with Internet. Its ridiculous.

Another thing too, is that Valve has recieved a lot of negative feedback from users regarding steam. It seems like valve just ignores them. "Tough crap, if you want to play our (great) games, you'lle live with it". Its a pity that a government agency has to get involved to make Valve, a company so rooted in its strong community ties, listen to its community.

 
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170. No subject Feb 10, 2005, 14:40 VoodooV
 
Valve MAY have had a good rep, but its all gone now.

give Gabe SOME slack though guys, he probably just had an Acid flashback from his MS days. cmon, working there has to have left some sort of residual world domination post-hypnotic commands behind.

 
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169. Re: Common Sense Award for Posting Feb 10, 2005, 11:14 Tigger
 
Yes I'm running using Windows, and no I'm not using IE ( I use Firefox and Thunderbird ) I'm also behind a hardware firewall. As far as I'm concerned steam is a back door to my machine and security risk.

Internet Explorer doesn't constitute all of security problems with Windows. Maybe you should have a read here:

http://www.microsoft.com/security/bulletins/200502_windows.mspx

The point that I'm trying to make is that you are complaining about running a program that you say is a 'security risk' on an operating system that IS a security risk.



--
Tigger
"It's not the years, it's the mileage" ~Indiana Jones
This comment was edited on Feb 10, 11:17.
 
Avatar 7252
 
--
Tigger
Vic Fontaine for President
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168. Re: Common Sense Award for Posting Feb 9, 2005, 23:41 Undead Scottsman
 
You missed my point. If I download CUSTOM maps or models or even valve bonus stuff. I should be able to remove those items and clean up stuff I don't want anymore when I run low on disk space. Steam's private filesystem doesn't give me ( the end used ) any control over where or how big or what is stored in those massive files.

Anything that isn't an official Valve thingy goes into your /model folder or /map folder just like it has since the original Quake. You can delete, install and backup that crap as much as you want. (Case in point, my custom HL2 maps are in the directory D:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\undeadscottsman\half-life 2\hl2\maps\)

Sincerely,
Jeremy Dunn
This comment was edited on Feb 9, 23:42.
 
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167. Re: No subject Feb 9, 2005, 19:16 Riley Pizt
 
In response about a developer having total control over the use, distribution and price of its game i have this to say: So what? Publishers have that total control over games, their prices and the distribution of games at the moment.
I knew someone was going to say that. Publishers do not have total control right now over the use of their products or even total control over price and distribution. The fact that the price of a particular game varies so widely amongst retailers is proof of lack of control over price. Major chain stores and online retailers regularly run sales and specials on certain games even at the game's initial release which can be substantially lower than the suggested retail price set by the publisher. I have picked up some games as much as $20 off the regular $49.99 price at release. Those types of sales are NOT sponsored or underwritten by the publishers. They are usually "loss leaders" for retailers to get customers in the store. In addition, the "bargain bin" is exclusively a retailer driven phenomenon where retailers radically discount old inventory to get rid of it even if they paid two or three times their current asking price for the product. With single-source distribution systems like Steam wants to be, such sales and discounts will not occur because there is no competition for sale of the product.

If publishers were cut out from the equation the chances are that prices of games would be reduced, simply because there would be no "middle man" charge.
That is a specious argument because it would only be true IF developers were willing to not take all of the increased profits from each sale (and what business would do that) and IF consumers were not limited to a single source to purchase the product (which an exclusive distribution system like Steam does not allow).

Doom 3 maybe bashed, but that doesnt mean that id dont still have the respect and reputation they deserve. They've had 1 hiccough in their long line of releases and that is not bad. Valve had have 2 releases and cocked up one majorly. Thats bad.
I don't disagree that id is respected, or that id does not deserve respect. My point was that your assumption that id is beyond criticism amongst the majority of gamers (especially those on this forum where you are posting) is not true.

This comment was edited on Feb 10, 04:57.
 
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166. Re: No subject Feb 9, 2005, 14:36 Malakai
 
Your web browser must filter out all of the many posts which bash Doom 3 on this forum.

Blues News isn't the whole gaming community. It is not the one and only place for opinions on games. I don't know what word to use, but it feels it's almost ignorant to go by a single forum as the status-quo on gaming. Ignorant is too strong a word, but it's like that.

In response about a developer having total control over the use, distribution and price of its game i have this to say: So what? Publishers have that total control over games, their prices and the distribution of games at the moment. Is it bad for the consumer? Doesn't seem to be. People are still willing to spend 35 for a PC game and 40 for a console game.

If publishers were cut out from the equation the chances are that prices of games would be reduced, simply because there would be no "middle man" charge.

Edit: Doom 3 maybe bashed, but that doesnt mean that id dont still have the respect and reputation they deserve. They've had 1 hiccough in their long line of releases and that is not bad. Valve had have 2 releases and cocked up one majorly. Thats bad.

This comment was edited on Feb 9, 14:38.
 
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165. Re: Common Sense Award for Posting Feb 9, 2005, 04:40 Dante_uk
 
Where do I get to choose what files, maps and models I have? -dante_uk

You don't. And that's the point.

If I wanted to make all my models bright pink so they would easier for me to see everyone else while I'm playing or make all the textures see-through so I would know where everyone was, it wouldn't be very fair for everyone else playing online, now would it?
- Tigger

You missed my point. If I download CUSTOM maps or models or even valve bonus stuff. I should be able to remove those items and clean up stuff I don't want anymore when I run low on disk space. Steam's private filesystem doesn't give me ( the end used ) any control over where or how big or what is stored in those massive files.
If I download a custom map for CoD and deside it's crap I just delete the .pk3 file, simple.

Yes I'm running using Windows, and no I'm not using IE ( I use Firefox and Thunderbird ) I'm also behind a hardware firewall. As far as I'm concerned steam is a back door to my machine and security risk. When all is said and done HL2 is a computer game, it's suppose to be fun, install, play, enjoy, uninstall(or not). Steam sucked all the enjoyment out of installing and playing HL2.
One part of me just wants to forget about steam and get on with my life. The other part of me wants to make sure that every game publisher out there knows that steam seriously pisses people off, because otherwise we could end up with more steam like programs being used. Wasting bandwidth, memory, processor time and just as importantly wasting my time.

If I want to spend an hour or so playing a computer game then I don't want to spend 15-20 mins beating steam into submission first(offline mode or waiting on the latest fixes to download).

If valve release HL3 and it requires steam I won't buy it.
If valve release HL3 with no steam requirement I'll buy it.
If anyone releases any game with a steam (or steam clone) requirement I will not buy it.

If steam ( and steam clones ) become the norm, then I'll give up on PC gaming and buy a console.

 
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164. green squares Feb 8, 2005, 23:09 nipsyr
 
Soylent Green..... is p e o p l e.

 
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163. No subject Feb 8, 2005, 21:27 manic half
 
i still say the combine were just modelled off valve and there 'fist in your anus' opinion of there game buying public :p

---------------------------------------------------
"im not supposed to be here, im not supposed to be"
 
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162. Re: No subject Feb 8, 2005, 21:03 Riley Pizt
 
id do have an almost god-like reputation respect within the gaming community to do almost anything without too much bitching coming from end-users purely because of their almost invention of modern FPS games.
Your web browser must filter out all of the many posts which bash Doom 3 on this forum.

if Valve had spent another year or so
Steam is a bad idea even when it works 100%. Steam is about a developer having total control over the use, distribution, and price of its games. And, that's definitely not good for consumers.

 
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161. Re: First Sale Applies to Software Feb 8, 2005, 20:49 Riley Pizt
 
if it was a federal court and someone mistakenly thought it was a state court, they were wrong, but that's not a "ridiculous" statement. It's just a mistake.
It's more than just a mistake because the post is about a federal law not some state law. If he was going to try to pick apart my post on that federal law and court ruling, he should at least have had a basic understanding of what a federal court is.

Anyway, it's time to stop beating this horse and bury it.

This comment was edited on Feb 8, 21:06.
 
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160. Re: No subject Feb 8, 2005, 19:08 Malakai
 
As PC Gamer said: If Valve DIDN'T have the expectation and rep they have

Does anyone else find this funny, or is it just me? Valve doesn't, and shouldn't have a good rep. They released 1 game, Half-Life, that was good. In fact Half-Life was the only game they released. They lied to the public about a release date. Instead of saying "Sorry guys, it's gonna be delayed" when they knew they wouldn't reach the release date, they lied. Not good.

Although one question i have to ask is, if id created a Steam-esque program, would people still bitch about it? id do have an almost god-like reputation respect within the gaming community to do almost anything without too much bitching coming from end-users purely because of their almost invention of modern FPS games.

Getting back to the Steam thing i'd say that if Valve had spent another year or so before introducing the concept and program, a year spent doing testing, market research and getting feedback on it i reckon they could have created something wonderful. However they didn't, and Steam is problematic and no matter how many times we say "if" and "why" over things we can't change them, lets just hope no-one follows directly in Valve's footsteps.

 
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159. Re: No subject Feb 8, 2005, 18:53 Ventry
 
Mr. Beamer.
You are NOT a very realistic person are you?
If you stop "sucking" Valve off for 5 mins and read up in the gaming media you will see that there are THOUSANDS of Very Pissed off people who have purchaced HL2 and cannot play said game. Their mails have been swamping magazines the likes of PC Gamer UK & US, PC Zone & PC PowerPlay Australia.
The people who are affected by this WILL speak and WILL have their day and Valve WILL pay a price for this.
As PC Gamer said: If Valve DIDN'T have the expectation and rep they have they would never tried Steam(ing plie of shit) as it would have been buisness suicided.
I expect Valve and Vivendi will be spending a great deal of time in the comming years in court.
Oh yes indeed.
Half-life 2 : great
Steam : total crap

 
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158. Re: First Sale Applies to Software Feb 8, 2005, 18:16 JediLuke
 
Sorry, it's just the immediate reaction I have whenever I read some ridiculous reply to something I posted

There's ridiculous, and there's incorrect. I haven't looked into the case, but if it was a federal court and someone mistakenly thought it was a state court, they were wrong, but that's not a "ridiculous" statement. It's just a mistake.

and I like to let the person know that I thought of it that way.

Right, you like to be obnoxious.

~Steve

My music: http://mywebpages.comcast.net/imjediluke/
 
http://stevegoldbergmusic.com
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157. Re: I'm glad Feb 8, 2005, 18:14 Malakai
 
Interesting question Tango. Since it has an EULA (think i've spotted them in the front of gaming manuals or at the very end) and loads of copyright stuff i'd guess you'd just be leasing it. Might do some research on that.

 
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156. Re: Common Sense Award for Posting Feb 8, 2005, 18:06 The dude
 
My exact sentiments. Thanks for being a voice of reason amongst a forest of blind mice.

 
-The Dude-

Vic B.
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155. Re: I'm glad Feb 8, 2005, 18:03 Tango
 
Out of interest, when you buy a console game (say it's on cartridge so it's impossible to alter) are you still only leasing it? Always wondered.

 
Avatar 18712
 
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154. Re: First Sale Applies to Software Feb 8, 2005, 17:28 Riley Pizt
 
This is just a guess, but I think people would be more willing to take you seriously if you didn't say "LOL!" in every other post
Sorry, it's just the immediate reaction I have whenever I read some ridiculous reply to something I posted, and I like to let the person know that I thought of it that way. I'll cut back on it if the people I am laughing at do the same.

 
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153. Re: First Sale Applies to Software Feb 8, 2005, 14:33 JediLuke
 
LOL! It's a federal court not a state court.

This is just a guess, but I think people would be more willing to take you seriously if you didn't say "LOL!" in every other post.

~Steve


My music: http://mywebpages.comcast.net/imjediluke/
This comment was edited on Feb 8, 14:33.
 
http://stevegoldbergmusic.com
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152. Re: First Sale Applies to Software Feb 8, 2005, 14:01 Riley Pizt
 
The court case of Softman v Adobe only applies to the Central District of California.
LOL! It's a federal court not a state court. It's just located in California. The ruling applies everywhere in the U.S.

As for the BNETD case you cited, that case does not deal directly with the principle of first sale. It is more of a DMCA infringement case. I have also read the ruling in that case, and I believe the judge erred. The case is on appeal, and we will see what the court of appeals rules on it.

This comment was edited on Feb 8, 14:18.
 
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171 Replies. 9 pages. Viewing page 1.
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