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Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
No matter what, it's

No matter what, it's interesting times we're living in.

You gotta keep in mind that a lot of what we take for "natural" and "it's always been like that" regarding creative stuff is actually very, very recent as far as history goes. Stuff like copyright is just a tiny cub compared to how long people have been putting out music, creating games, art, etc.

Now we've gotten used to the idea of music, games, books, movies, and so on, as widgets. Artistic type designs the prototype, it goes into mass production, and everybody buys widgets. No other factory is allowed to copy the design of that widget. If they try, they get sued and shut down. However, if you buy one of those widgets, you can do whatever you like with it. It's YOURS.

Now we're in a situation that's totally different. Instead of making widgets, you're dealing with licensing. You make a game, you don't sell it--you license out the right to use it. The latest click-through license on WOW made that very, very clear. The first words: "YOU DO NOT OWN THIS GAME." You merely license it, and if you don't play by whatever rules THEY come up with, you're breaking the law.

That's wrong on many levels, but let's just go with that for a minute.

What do you do when a server goes up in Hong Kong, or some independent island somewhere? Or, worse, what's gonna happen when people work out ways to distribute this stuff, so there's not just one isolated server somewhere streaming illegal Wow, but thousands of little bits all over the place?

It's like whackamole. As long as you need a big factory to print the bootlegs, it's relatively easy to whack'em. But what if there's a million of them? You can "make an example" of a few of them, but if you really try to sue that many people, and a lot of them overseas, at that (international law is by all accounts about ten times as complicated as national law)--well, you get the picture.

If I were a big dinosaur at a software company, I'd be fighting this digital download stuff with everything I had. Keep the media physical, so you can put a divet on the disc or a chip in the cartridge, whatever. Contain the flood. Once you let that genie out of the bottle and go digital, you have about as much control over it as you do air.



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