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ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs

Ars Technica outlines some comments they got from Hal Halpin of the Entertainment Consumers Association about a couple of suggestions the consumer-affairs group has made about game packaging to the US Federal Trade Commission (thanks Mike Martinez). One is to standardize the End-User License Agreement (EULA) and the other is to offer disclosure of Digital Rights Management (DRM) on the outside of the game package. The conversation also covers the negative reaction game publishers have had to these suggestions, and discusses the licensing model for games that means your up to $60 purchase does not actually mean you own anything. Here's the outline of what they propose:

"We suggested a few things to the FTC, one of which was we'd like to see DRM disclosed," Halpin started. "So when people go to the store and buy the packaged good, the PC game, they'll see something on the front of the box saying there is DRM inside, and to what degree it will be invasive."

"The second thing that we recommended was that EULAs get standardized, so again, rather than have 30 or 40 types of agreements, there would be one standard one for all different types of computer games. People go into the store, buy the game, open it, and they can no longer return it... by standardizing the EULA, consumers will have the confidence to know what it is they're agreeing to before they buy the product."

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27 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
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27. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Apr 1, 2009, 14:53 DG
 
Just to amend GT's point slightly, confusing consumer agreements are a pretty good defence here in UK (the law is that confusing terms are to be taken at their everyday meaning and against those who rely on them [i.e. who inserted them]). So yes simplified contracts are more likely to be considered effective.

However I can't see how EULA can be valid since the EULA is introduced after contract is established. This leaves the consumer in a position where they can either accept the new terms (effectively agreeing to cancel the old contract and form a new one) or ignore them and the original contract remains valid. If the contract is completely standard however, the consumer can be argued to have an expectation of those terms at the time of forming contract and so they are valid.

That said, a standard, reasonable EULA that is valid is, IMHO, preferable to the current situation of having whatever crap they put in there and being theoretically able to go to court and challenge it for the sake of getting my 40 back (especially when in practice most stores actually DO give money back for pc games now).

No EULA would be nice and everything but there's what's nice and what's plausable.
 
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26. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Apr 1, 2009, 02:34 Z9000
 
You tell them GT. You are far more eloquent than I, and we are on the same wavelength. ECA smells very fishy at best. Especially with it's sister site Game Politics propping them up as legit.  
PS3 resurgance by GOW3 - Check! Mass Effect for PS3 - Check! Diablo 3 for consoles? I say "For sure"!
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25. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 23:37 GT
 
On the other hand, the realistic part of me knows that eliminating EULAs won't happen anytime soon. At the very least, standardizing them
While I agree that change won't happen overnight, standardization of the EULA is the first step to acceptance. Right now consumers can at least legitimately argue in court that EULA's are confusing, heavy-handed, and unconcionable which can invalidate them. Standardization and simplification of the EULA negates or mitigates that argument. Anything less than elimination of the EULA legitimizes it.

This comment was edited on Apr 1, 2009, 02:52.
 
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24. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 23:12 Jerykk
 
I have been reading this site for years, and this is the first time I have seen some nonsense aggravating enough to respond to.

...seriously?

Anyway, I'm torn. On the one hand, the idealistic part of me agrees with those who think EULAs should be eliminated entirely. The notion that we buy a license to play a game instead of the game itself is ridiculous and doesn't apply to any other entertainment medium. It doesn't even apply to consoles.

On the other hand, the realistic part of me knows that eliminating EULAs won't happen anytime soon. At the very least, standardizing them and posting DRM specs on the front of boxes helps inform the public and prevents publishers from getting away with too much bullshit.

Choices, choices.
 
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23. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 21:42 GT
 
Ever heard the term "baby steps"?
Ever heard of the term "ensconced"? Consumers don't need baby steps in the wrong direction. In order to standardize EULA's, they would first have to be recognized as acceptable and necessary by consumers. Ceding that would make eliminating EULA's later virtually impossible since they would be ensconced in the marketplace and consumer mindset. Once EULA's are standardized, they will be intractable because the consumer has found them to be acceptable through that standardization.

What is needed instead is an amendment to federal copyright law to outlaw or supercede EULA's on consumer software. That is what the ECA should be proposing to the FTC instead since the FTC is looking to make legislative recommendations to Congress on this matter.

This comment was edited on Mar 31, 2009, 22:17.
 
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22. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 21:42 MoreLuckThanSkill
 
Warskull, I know the internet is hardly the place to have a discussion without ad hominem attacks, but you might need to examine your own grasp of reality if you think a standardized EULA would be fair.

Most likely if publishers actually agreed to this, they would only agree to wording that would be very negative towards consumer rights, as they have shown in the past.

Somebody else mentioned Steam being DRM. Of course it is. It also by its nature prevents resale. However the new Impulse stuff is looking promising, with resale possible even with digital downloads. *EDIT looking at my other post, it may appear I advocate using Steam to buy Mass Effect PC... I do not, and I have not. I am probably the last person pestering the developers(Bioware) to release a patch to remove the Limited Activations from the DVD version, but oh well. It's the principle. *EDIT*

Why would anyone be happy with any kind of DRM? It does NOTHING to prevent piracy. Pirates will have the game drm free, usually before it is released in stores. It only hampers legitimate users.

I am amazed people are arguing for accepting it at all.

Another poster, MMORPGHoD I believe, mentioned that clearly labeled DRM on game boxes would help the average user make choices about what to purchase. This is true, and I suppose a slight increase in knowledge is better than nothing. However it's treating the symptom of the disease, at least in my opinion.

Completely useless DRM should not be supported in any way, especially by groups claiming to support consumer rights. By the same token, further legitimizing EULAs goes against basic consumer rights that we've had in this country since 1908.

This comment was edited on Mar 31, 2009, 21:48.
 
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21. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 21:35 GT
 
He registered just to post this...smells like a troll attempt to me
What he wrote is sound. How few posts he has doesn't change that or have any effect on it at all. In contrast you have written thousands of posts in these forums, and the ones of yours I have been unfortunate enough to read are just fawning praise for your favorite toys or personal insults for those who dare to criticize them or disagree with you. If he is a troll, then this forum needs more trolls like him, and less of you.

This is from the ECA...which are on the CONSUMERS side to this.
Any organization which advocates EULA on games at all is not really on the side of consumers.

This is not some attempt to distract anyone from some other agenda.
If not, it is a poor attempt to protect consumers since it cedes the acceptability of EULA's as a starting point for negotiation.

Nowhere does it mention the resale of used games.
Which is still damning of the ECA because it is a sin of omission.

This comment was edited on Mar 31, 2009, 22:19.
 
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20. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 21:19 GT
 
One is to standardize the End-User License Agreement (EULA)
The EULA on consumer software should not be standardized. It should be eliminated. Copyright law alone should dictate the usage terms for consumer-targeted computer software just as it does for other forms of copyrighted material such as books, music, videos, and console video games. While license agreements may be needed for specialized computer software targeted for corporate or industrial use, it is totally unncessary for consumer software as that has no real difference in purpose or function from other entertainment media such as music, videos, and books.

the other is to offer disclosure of Digital Rights Management (DRM) on the outside of the game package.
Disclosure is a starting point, but what consumers really need is a money-back guarantee so that if the DRM doesn't work for them or they run out of activations, that don't end up wasting money on a product they can't actually use. Not that many years ago some games from some companies had such money-back guarantees (Links 2001 from Microsoft was one), and those policies need to return and be widespread.

This comment was edited on Mar 31, 2009, 21:25.
 
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19. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 20:47 Z9000
 
These ECA statements seem to be doing more harm than good. Acknowledging the license agreement as being anything above unacceptable gives merit to the validity of EULAs and action based contract agreements before knowing the terms. This apparently puts ECA actions directly in conflict with the best interest of consumers he claims to represent. Seems like the industry trying to represent gamers on the sly at worst, or an organization stepping up to negotiate very poorly on behalf of gamers at best.

This comment was edited on Mar 31, 2009, 20:48.
 
PS3 resurgance by GOW3 - Check! Mass Effect for PS3 - Check! Diablo 3 for consoles? I say "For sure"!
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18. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 20:38 Warskull
 
but I doubt MoreLuckThanSkill is going to be happy with any kind of DRM

He also has a poor grasp on reality. Clearly labeled DRM and standardized EULAs could go a long way. Especially if the standardized EULA was written to be more fair to consumers (which current EULAs most certainly aren't.)
 
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17. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 20:17 MMORPGHoD
 
It's not going to stop them from trying to find alternatives though.

That's what I meant. The boycotts might have had success against draconian DRM like starforce (personally IMO the small market starforce game titles themselves couldn't afford to lose any customers, which is why there was such an effect), but I doubt MoreLuckThanSkill is going to be happy with any kind of DRM. EA isn't about to drop DRM any time soon from their AAA titles. And of course, steam is form of DRM and I know you have no problem with purchasing games through it. DRM, in one form or another, is here to stay for the big titles at least.

This comment was edited on Mar 31, 2009, 20:19.
 
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16. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 20:03 Krovven
 
EULA vs First Sale Doctrine is the ONLY battle.

Actually it's not. But regardless, that will go on for YEARS, and may never end...in our lifetime.

In the meantime, legislation could be passed to require DRM to be fully disclosed on packaging and better EULA's. Which is a lot easier than trying to change Publishers minds about their EULA and DRM usage. This would get more people aware, adding more support of the EULA/DRM battle.

This comment was edited on Mar 31, 2009, 20:03.
 
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15. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 19:53 MoreLuckThanSkill
 
EULA vs First Sale Doctrine is the ONLY battle.

Everything else is a symptom of the horrific mess that software licensing brings to the table.

If this comes down on the side of First Sale Doctrine, DRM automatically becomes illegal. EULAs officially become a joke, throughout the United States, instead of the current up in the air status.

Hal Halpin seems like a decent guy, and if he personally believes software resale should be legal, I argue that he should sway the rest of the ECA to his cause, not meekly follow along with them in the hopes that 10 years from now some publishers magically agree to First Sale after their EULAs have been supported by the US trade commission for the past decade.

This is hardly picking a fight... well maybe it's coming across as that, but it's me attempting to open peoples' eyes to what I see as the real problem here.

No consumer rights group should EVER support EULAs that in any way hamper pre-EXISTING rights. ECA should be fighting againt DRM and EULAs, not meekly going along with that useless and ineffective nonsense that only harms legal users.

 
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14. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 19:48 Krovven
 
They're also the reason why our boycotts of DRM games, while noble in principle, is ultimately futile.

Hardly. There has been many changes in the last few years (Starforce), even EA in the last few months regarding their use of DRM...is this due to the masses that don't care? No. It's from those that spoke up and said something.

It's not going to stop them from trying to find alternatives though.
 
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13. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 19:45 Krovven
 
They claim to at the very least, not challenge the notion of software licensing, where you pay to use the software and have no right to resale. Halpin claims he personally wishes that resale was allowed, but he will not challenge the group's stance, which is that it should NOT be allowed. This is a problem.

Ever heard the term "baby steps"? Getting little things like full disclosure of DRM on packaging and standard EULA's will never happen if they lump those into the battle over EULA's and DRM vs First Sale Doctrine.

This is a good thing for consumers, regardless of EULA's and First Sale Doctrine. Don't be a brown-eye and pick a fight where there isn't one.
 
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12. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 19:40 MMORPGHoD
 
MMORPGHoD - How could you not know what DRM is in any given game these days?

Sure, by spending time reading forums and doing some searches I can find out what DRM is. I'd prefer the disclosure be official and not hearsay. Some games, like those from EA, are going to be obvious. Other games in the past, like those with starforce, weren't so obvious even after reading the forums when the DRM was region specific.

Still, we here at BN are not representative of the PC game market. The majority of people likely don't do any research on the DRM. They just buy it or ask for it for Xmas. They're also the reason why our boycotts of DRM games, while noble in principle, is ultimately futile. The masses outnumber us greatly.

I believe any steps taken toward educating the masses on DRM content in games, no matter how trival, helps.
 
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11. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 19:11 MoreLuckThanSkill
 
MMORPGHoD - How could you not know what DRM is in any given game these days?

Most review sites, aside from the most biased, will at least list the type of DRM for any new game.

Even if you want to ignore all review sites, most publishers these days put the same DRM in the DEMO... if you get some aggravating DRM in the demo, avoid purchasing the game.

On top of that, most publishers/developers will disclose the DRM in their games these days... Prince of Persia PC version's major selling point according to some was the lack of DRM, for example. Mass Effect PC has Limited Activations on the boxed version, Steam does not. This was disclosed by Bioware. Etc. etc.

Full disclosure of the DRM on the box would be nice, but it's a trivial detail, that has the appearance of a distracting tidbit from the real issue here, attempts by a group that claims to be supporting consumer rights, that is willingly supporting License style EULAs in comments to the US Federal Trade Commission.

EULAs are not legally binding in most countries, or even most US states. Anything that supports them in ANY WAY is a mistake.

 
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10. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 19:02 MoreLuckThanSkill
 
Yes, Dagok, I did register just to post on this.

I have been reading this site for years, and this is the first time I have seen some nonsense aggravating enough to respond to.

Yes, The ECA is in theory a consumer side group, but maybe YOU should re-read the article. They claim to at the very least, not challenge the notion of software licensing, where you pay to use the software and have no right to resale. Halpin claims he personally wishes that resale was allowed, but he will not challenge the group's stance, which is that it should NOT be allowed. This is a problem.

It is almost glossed over by the 'major breakthrough' of them wanting DRM listed on the box and standardized EULAs.

News flash, EULAs are still questionably legal. It will NOT help consumers if groups who are supposedly on our side start supporting them, even if they clean up their language.

They even mention in the article how software licenses are an attempt to circumvent First Sale Doctrine... how is no one else outraged at this? It's not news, but the fact that ECA is just going to go along with this is insane.

 
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9. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 17:59 Kxmode
 
@Acleacius

Is your keyboard having problems?
 
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8. Re: ECA on DRM Disclosure & EULAs Mar 31, 2009, 16:44 Acleacius
 
I am disgusted, how dare you gahamer people impinge on the good name and intentions of publishers everywhere!

It's like you people think you have the phower to fight back are something, I laugh in your general direction!
 
The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.That is easy.All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.It works the same way in any country.
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