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Of collectors, geeks and copy protections...

posted by Anonymous on - last edited - Viewed by 983 users

Note to readers: whatever you do, don't confuse copy protection with copyright. I've seen people mix them up far too often. It's not funny, as I happen to respect copyrights. :((

Anyway...

As I was practically raised by LucasArts when it comes to computer gaming, I have always strictly followed their advice (always printed in the user guide) of never using the original discs for anything other than making a backup for installation and day-to-day usage. This has enabled me to build an impressive collection of mint-condition discs that I am quite proud of. :x

Now, with the arrival of extremely hard-to-backup technical copy protections, I find myself between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, I want to support developers who make great games. On the other hand, I won't play or buy games that I cannot play from a backup, since reading the original disc only once is at the very core of my philosophies as a disc collector and caring retrogaming geek.

The one company I have always been able to trust not to add copy protections is LucasArts. They have raised me to be a careful and caring collector, and also educated me not only on consumer rights but also on how to properly take a working backup of their games (instructions are/were usually printed right alongside the advice to take a backup).

I would like some form of reassurance that TellTale will continue in this the very best of LucasArts' traditions: to produce fully compliant CD-ROMs (which means: taking a backup should not require special software/hardware other than a CDR/DVDR and a standard program like Nero or EasyCDCreator) and FAT-compliant floppies, and educate the user on how to properly take a backup to install and play from, and how to store the original safely for generations to come.

Some companies, like id Software, have taken the approach of protecting the original disc and then releasing an official patch that removes the CD-check routines. But this is an imperfect approach, as you can't slipstream the patches.
Other companies, like Codemasters, have released unprotected discs through thirdparty budget labels (Sold Out Software, most notably) but I don't like that approach since A) I don't get to support the developer as much as with a fullprice game (and when I do decide a developer is worthy of my fandom, I do want to contribute as much as possible), and B) some of my money goes towards the thirdparty distributor, which I might not really like.

One note of importance: at least in my country, the right to take a backup for day-to-day usage (in order to protect the original from harm) is one of several absolute exceptions to the copyright, and cannot be inhibited in any way by the copyright holder. If a digital media cannot be backed up, it is in direct violation of local copyright law. Of course it goes without saying that all backups taken of an original disc must be destroyed or handed over to the new owner when selling an original disc second hand.

20 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
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    Anonymous

    [quote]Now, with the arrival of extremely hard-to-backup technical copy protections, I find myself between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, I want to support developers who make great games. On the other hand, I won't play or buy games that I cannot play from a backup, since reading the original disc only once is at the very core of my philosophies as a disc collector and caring retrogaming geek.[/quote]

    Good philosophy you got there.
    I use Alcohol 120% for every kind of backup (MDF-images). It never let me down, so far... It also features the best virtual CD/DVD-drive, in my opinion.

    Nero, CloneCD, DaemonTools and others are quite crappy in this aspect. (In my opinion, again!)

    [quote]
    ... compliant CD-ROMs (...) and FAT-compliant floppies, and educate the user on how to properly take a backup to install and play from, and how to store the original safely for generations to come.[/quote]

    I guess nowadays you don't have to worry about games fitting on floppies anymore. :D

    It nearly brought tears in my eyes, reading your statement about 'storing games for generations to come'. Nowadays it all seems about the hype surrounding a game.
    I have no intent to play Halo 2, for instance, but it seems to be a good example of a game made just for the moment - next month it will be completely forgotten... when the next hyped product arrives.
    It obviously has a good reason we're all talking about MI, DOTT, S&M, GF etc...
    At the moment my 12 year old cousin plays MI1 on ScummVM, which I installed for him! - And he likes it more than Doom3, which he plays of course, because all of his school-buddies play it too. ;) (Never mind that it might not be suitable for his age...)

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    Anonymous

    I agree, Alcohol is good (not the drinking kind), take this for example: Microsoft placed a copy-protection on a game I bought, and I couldn't back it up.... sure enough, the CD dissapears, So I find a cheaper release a few years later of the game but supported by UbiSoft. Still the CD is copy-Protected and half a year later I find out the cd has a very large crack in it and so I can't use it any more. so this is a good reason why something like alcohol is good as We an get a backup and if either that or the original breaks than you can still play it!

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    Anonymous

    Although I agree with the use of the backup, it would make it a hell of alot easier for Piracy. Piracy can ruin small developers if they are not carefull.

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    Anonymous

    [quote]Good philosophy you got there.
    I use Alcohol 120% for every kind of backup (MDF-images). It never let me down, so far... It also features the best virtual CD/DVD-drive, in my opinion.

    Nero, CloneCD, DaemonTools and others are quite crappy in this aspect. (In my opinion, again!)[/quote]
    No denying A120% is a great tool for legitimate users, but it's outlawed in many parts of Europe (but luckily not in my country). Guess why ElBy (old Amiga wizards, did you know that?) had to sell off CloneCD...

    Anyway, tools like A120% should really NOT be needed, and IF they are needed, then the publishers who insist on using copy protections should provide licenses for A120% to legitimate buyers at no extra cost. Granted, A120% isn't expensive, but it's the principle of the thing.
    I'm going with Daemon, or even Microsoft's Virtual CD Control Panel (tool for beta testers, but publicly available on microsoft.com) which can only handle ISO but is free for everyone.

    [quote]I guess nowadays you don't have to worry about games fitting on floppies anymore. :D[/quote]
    True, but my point would be that LucasArts, in an era of plentiful copyprotections on floppies (on non-PC-formats anyway) insisted on producing fully standards-compliant disks (only using manual checks) even for those systems that could handle really devious technical copy protection schemes (can you say Amiga?).

    [quote]It nearly brought tears in my eyes, reading your statement about 'storing games for generations to come'.[/quote]
    What can I say - I'm an enthusiast and I believe that the cultural heritage of the early gaming industry is just as important to preserve as any other cultural treasure (even had a web project to this end going a few years ago, but the response from major developers wasn't there. Minor but well-known developers, on the other hand, were enthusiastic (and still are)). After all, we are seeing a major decrease in caringly designed timeless games these days, and we need to have the old games that stand the test of time still among us to look back on and be inspired. This means they still have to be playable and the source has to be available for study and porting to whatever the-next-big-really-new-operating-system is going to be.

    [quote]Although I agree with the use of the backup, it would make it a hell of alot easier for Piracy. Piracy can ruin small developers if they are not carefull.[/quote]
    You are right, but why should it make my life harder as a legitimate user who just wants to take proper care of my original discs... besides, in my country copy protections violate the most basic digital consumer right, a right that by law cannot be overridden by companies, but on the other hand they can't be punished for trying to override it, so the law is sort of toothless, much to the chagrin of consumers and collectors like myself.

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    Anonymous

    You seem to be from Germany^^
    Yeah, I think everyone is this thread is right, but the piracy-thing is a problem because I think noone of us wants TellTale to get serious problems because of this. But I really doubt that there will ever be a copy-protection that will make copiing imposible, since there are always some guys who only want to crack it because of the fun and the expirience. It's there enjoyment of new games, and in some cases, it's far more fun and challange to do that than playing the game. (Of course not in recentLucas Arts adventures, what is the reason for so many fans to buy them).
    In my opinion the CD-copy-protection is completely unnessesary, why not using the good old "Do you have the Original Manual"-one? Ok, keygens and pdfs are as easily to spread as cracks are, but as I said, AS easily. So why all that effort?
    MI1&2 wouldn't be the games they are if I wouldn't have to use the wheels everytime. I still love it^^ Be creative! Create a panual-protection that would take effort if you were using a keygen or whatever! I mean using Alt-TAB in a 3D-fullscreen-application is far more unpleasant than changing a disc with Daemon-Tools or Alcohol120!

    /edit: Ok, some things about this post is senseless talk, crap or bad argueing, but I still wanted to say it... :-s

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    Anonymous

    Do you realise that SCUMMVM has removed the need for the mix'n'mojo wheels... and other copy protection agents in most games.

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    Anonymous

    If I was selling a game the only thing I would put a copy protection on it for would be to prevent piracy. That way the consumers have to buy copies from me. As soon as it's off the market I could release a copy protection disabling program or something like that. It would send piracy through the roof, but for a off the market game. That's what annoys me. You have a game that the developer will probably never make a scent from again, if you loose that copy, you can just about say goodbye to the game. I have used backups before,and when i haven't it has been easy to get pirated,(ARRRRR JIM LAD,) copies from the net. This is what's usefull about no copy protection.

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    Anonymous

    Something that anoy's me is when a game is no longer made, and you can't buy it anyware and yet the licensing for it is still valid and you can't get it anyware, including the net (coz it's still protected).

    I'm really narky at the old dos games that fit into this category too! some of the ones that my brother (he's older than me) would have played at some point in time!

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    Anonymous

    [quote]You seem to be from Germany^^[/quote]
    Care to explain why you think so? :-/ I can tell you that if I were from Germany I wouldn't be writing this, as IIRC they have recently implemented the EUCD (aka Super-DMCA) wholesale which effectively removes ALL semblance of digital user rights. I feel genuinely sorry for any serious collectors in Germany, as they can no longer maintain their collections properly because of this.

    No, I'm from a country which implemented the bare minimums of the EUCD, creating one of the best-balanced copyright laws I've ever seen. The user still has a number of rights over which the copyright holder has no say, and the useful rights of the copyright holder are well defined and protected. :x

    In summary, copy protections are legal in Germany and it's not legal to bypass them - and since I respect the law I wouldn't be arguing about it in the first place. However, in my country copy protections (of the technical kind like Safedisc & co) infringes on a number of digital consumer rights, and the legitimate user may therefore do anything needed to bypass or remove the protection, including demanding an unprotected copy from the publisher. Another digital consumer right which may not be bypassed is the right to modify a software to make it work with other/new platforms. Said modifications/ports may not be distributed though, without the consent of the copyright holder. So I'd say this strikes a fair balance between the rights required by copyright holders, and the rights needed by collectors to maintain their collections.

    [quote]In my opinion the CD-copy-protection is completely unnessesary, why not using the good old "Do you have the Original Manual"-one? Ok, keygens and pdfs are as easily to spread as cracks are, but as I said, AS easily. So why all that effort?[/quote]
    Couldn't have said it better. I wish the industry would return to the old ways of manual checks, like LucasArts used to have. For one thing, it wouldn't violate my country's laws, as opposed to the current breed of technical copy protections.

    [quote]Do you realise that SCUMMVM has removed the need for the mix'n'mojo wheels[/quote]
    No it hasn't. Try running the original Monkey Island or Monkey Island 2 (the floppy versions) in ScummVM. The copy protection still shows. It doesn't if you run the CD versions (Monkey Madness compilation, for example).

    [quote]If I was selling a game the only thing I would put a copy protection on it for would be to prevent piracy.[/quote]
    At least in my country, it is illegal (but not punishable) to prevent a legitimate user from taking a backup of a legally purchased digital media. Therefore technical copy protections are not an option. Not only does it violate the law, it also annoys collectors, whose core philosophy is based on LucasArts' sound advice: Never use an original disc for anything other than taking a backup; then always install and play from the backup.

    [quote]As soon as it's off the market I could release a copy protection disabling program or something like that.[/quote]
    Many companies have taken that approach, id Software, Raven and Codemasters among others. But as I've pointed out above, it is an imperfect solution as you can't slipstream the new binary into the original disc (unless you decide to release your game on un-finalized CD-R discs or something). From a collector's point of view, these premastering binaries are essentially useless unless the original media is unprotected (which would sort of remove the need for a premastering binary in the first hand, don't you think?).

  • User Avatar Image
    Anonymous

    [quote]

    [quote]Do you realise that SCUMMVM has removed the need for the mix'n'mojo wheels[/quote]
    No it hasn't. Try running the original Monkey Island or Monkey Island 2 (the floppy versions) in ScummVM. The copy protection still shows. It doesn't if you run the CD versions (Monkey Madness compilation, for example).
    [/quote]
    True it shows up, but you can enter in any answer and it still works... I think.

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