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Opening the Scrolls: Unpacking the Shady and Scandal-Plagued History of Bethesda / ZeniMax

For a long time, there has existed a strange anomaly in the gaming community: The unbalanced and blind perception of Bethesda / ZeniMax as being a 'good-person' developer and publisher. This perception has been held by many of the companies' fans despite all the while the company keeps doing things that contradict that perception. In many ways, Bethesda / ZeniMax have been games industry leaders in scummy, disrespectful, and exploitative lawsuit-happy practices, going back for more than a decade, showing them to be one of the most arrogant and uncontrollably greedy companies in gaming.   So, here is a sobering look at many of Bethesda / ZeniMax' unscrupulous practices and events going back to the companies' earlier years.     1. The company known today as Bethesda and ZeniMax was formed through some betrayal and back-stabbing.   Julian Le Fay, generally considered the creator of the Elder Scrolls series, directed the first three Elder Scrolls games, Arena, Daggerfall, and Battlespire, and expected to continue working on the series he created with the next game, TES: Morrowind. But, he was sidelined from the project and consequently left the company.   Bethesda's founder, Christopher Weaver, was forced out of his own company after he put up lots of his own money to save the company.   Watch 23:54 - 25:30 in this video for details about those departures:     2. $2.50 horse armour DLC for Oblivion: This is the historical origin of and precedence for all other nickle-and-diming exploitative DLC practices that have since screwed gamers over. Bethesda was the first pioneer of exploitative and greedy DLC practices. After Bethesda had then gotten public expectations for DLC, a then-new and non-established concept, set at their absolute rock-bottom, many other publishers followed and expanded upon Bethesda's lead with their own exploitative DLC practices.     3. Bethesda sued Mojang over the use of "Scrolls" as a game title, even after Mojang already volunteered to give up the Scrolls title, and then settled out of court because it became pretty clear that Bethesda was likely going to lose the case.   Notch Offered to Give Up "Scrolls" Trademark, Bethesda Sued Anyway Bethesda And Mojang Settle 'Scrolls' Lawsuit     4. Bethesda intentionally destroyed developer of 2012's Prey 2, Human Head, by starving the studio of resources to force it into a corner where Human Head would feel like they had to sell the studio to Bethesda for a far-below-value price in order to survive. Human Head did not give in to Bethesda, and as a result of having no income from Prey 2 after having spent its resources making Prey 2, couldn't afford to make another big-title game:     It has taken from then until now for Human Head to recover enough financially to be able to make a new big-title game. Human Head's first big-title game since 2006's Prey will be Rune: Ragnarok, and I'm guessing that it will release next year.     5. Bethesda reportedly did the same thing to Arkane Studios       6. Suing Facebook and Oculus for $4 billion, trying to get ownership over Oculus technology, while outright losing their original case. The jury awarded $500 million in damages to ZeniMax over breach of NDA, copyright infringement, and false-designation, but all of ZeniMax' original and core claims against Facebook and Oculus were found to be invalid by the court.   ZeniMax awarded $500 million judgment in Oculus lawsuit   Facebook and Oculus are appealing the $500 million verdict: Oculus Vows Appeal of $500 Million Verdict, ZeniMax Threatens Injunction   John Carmack has given a public defence of himself, while suggesting that ZeniMax are liars. He said that ‘The Internet Would Have Viciously Mocked The Analysis’ in the $500 million verdict.   On further appeal, the $500 million verdict was subsequently reduced to $250 million, and then Facebook and ZeniMax settled out of court.     7. Suing Samsung as an extension of their lawsuit against Facebook and Oculus.   ZeniMax sues Samsung over VR technology in Gear goggles     8. Suing developer of Kickstarter project "Prey for the Gods" over having the word Prey in their title. The developer opted to simply modify their game's name to "Praey for the Gods" rather than to deal with Bethesda's frivolous lawsuit.   Prey for the Gods changes name to avoid fight with Bethesda's Prey     9. Turning community mods into a capitalist venture with paid mods and opening their own Bethesda games digital distribution storefront to continue to pursue paid mods after Valve backtracked on having them sold through Steam following public backlash.     10. If you criticize Bethesda too much on their forums, expect to be banned. The Bethesda forums are like a daycare-centre for toddlers because of draconian moderation. Partial lobotomy and Bethesda fanboyism is required for entrance and staying there.     11. In a clear violation of the law, Bethesda tried to pretend that it was the law and could stop people from reselling their own game properties and dictate whether a person could list their own unopened games as "new" when reselling them.   Bethesda tried to pull this stunt despite the US Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the EU both having definitively ruled that people may resell their copyrighted goods without needing any permission from the copyright holder. Bethesda purporting to prohibit people from listing their unopened games a "new" condition would be an instance of the copyright-holder denying the game owner permission to resell that game-owner's own game, and would therefore be a violation of the US Supreme Court and the EU's Court of Justice rulings:

US Supreme Court Rules People May Resell Copyrighted Goods Without Copyright-Holder's Permission - US Software Association Has a Fit   EU Court Says, Yes, You Can Resell Your Software, Even If The Software Company Says You Can't       12. A whole lot about Fallout '76, which is a dated asset-flip game too buggy for some people to even play:   - The $200 USD Power Armour edition that screwed buyers of it over when Bethesda pulled a bait-and-switch with the advertised canvas bag that was replaced in the actual released product with what basically looks like a crumpled-up garbage bag with no resemblance to the advertised bag.   - The blunt brush-off from Bethesda support admitting that they did pull a bait-and-switch with the canvas bag, and further stated they simply aren't going to do anything about it. Bethesda later apologized for the curtness of the earlier Bethesda support's reply, yet didn't apologize for and didn't offer to fixe what the actual issue was, which is the bait-and-switch of the advertised canvas bag.   - The crap design of the game, which MSRP'd at $60 USD yet plays like a $20 early-access title at its release.   - Refusing to refund the game for people who couldn't play it because it was too broken.   - Completely ludicrous and offensive micro-transaction fees such as charging $18 USD for a single power armour skin just to add some blue-coloured paint to it. Coming from the inventor of nickle-and-diming exploitative and egregiously-priced DLC, though, perhaps nobody should be surprised by this - though they certainly ought to be outraged.   - Insulting upset Power Armour edition purchasers further by offering them a pathetic 500 Atoms ($5 USD) in-game currency for micro-transactions, when that can basically only buy one hairdo model, or two facial tattoos.   - Turning previously-free character customization content from Fallout 4 into nickle-and-diming paid content in Fallout '76     Because of all the scandals surrounding Fallout '76, Bethesda has come under investigation for bad business practices.     13. All-around really bad, just completely mindless game-design, met with low production quality values including what perhaps bugs me the most about Bethesda games: the pisspoor, unintentionally-cringy loopy writing, and the banal quest design - which, in some cases, is also combined with mishandling of lore such as for the Fallout series which Bethesda acquired from Interplay in 2007. And then there is the notorious dumbing-down of their games which I find has resulted in there being hardly anything meaningful left to do in them anymore.   I think it's a reasonable argument to make, to say that Bethesda Games Studios games have traditionally often displayed the lowest production quality values out of the whole AAA games business - in writing, animations, voice-acting, quest design, character models...     The Blistering Stupidity of Fallout 3 - a five-part analysis               Some final thoughts   There might some additional information about other ZeniMax / Bethesda lawsuits in this article: A brief history of Bethesda’s many legal tangles   So, when talking scummy and greedy publishers, I think both history and the present show that ZeniMax / Bethesda is not only ranked up there at the top along with all the worst of publishers in the history of the games industry (whether people think of EA, ActiVision, Ubisoft, Nintendo, or any other publisher), but that Bethesda has even done and is still doing a lot of stuff that's worse than stuff we think of other big publishers as evil for doing. People just haven't been tuning into it.   Bethesda is basically the software developer equivalent of a patent troll: They acquire big idea game IPs from non-Bethesda talent (including TES, since the series creator was separated from it and then left the compnay), and then milk them while progressively squeezing the life out of them as they're dumbed-down closer to oblivion with each successive release.   For all these reasons, I think it's important and very long overdue that people start practising serious cautiousness and discretion when thinking about what Bethesda represents. Through so many years of unbalanced and blind-eye-turning praise, Bethesda fans have enabled and encouraged Bethesda to think of themselves as a lot better and more entitled than they really are by letting everything all go to Bethesda's heads despite Bethesda not really having done things to deserve their historically-positive reputation. And now, Bethesda no longer even cares to simply try to appear be reasonable and decent for the sake of their own reputation.

Delicieuxz

Delicieuxz

 

You legally own the software that you purchase, and any claims otherwise are urban myth or corporate propaganda

Most of the bottom half of this post is a paste of a message I sent to Steam support following the seemingly-bullying actions of a Steam Discussions moderator, who falsely claimed that Steam rents / leases games through their service and doesn't sell them, and who couldn't stand anybody telling them they're wrong and likes to lock any threads where people say otherwise.   To be clear, that Steam Discussions moderator's assertion is wrong, and top courts covering a sizeable amount of the world's population have ruled that they're wrong, and Valve themselves have also explicitly stated that they sell, not rent or lease, games to those people who purchase them through their Steam service (I've included that information in the second-half of this post). So, here is...     Software licenses, purchasing and owning software 101:   A license is a right to use a property or intellectual property that belongs to somebody else. When you read "this software is licensed, not sold" in a software EULA, whether it's for Windows 10 or a game or an application, "this software" refers to the software Intellectual Property and not the copy of that intellectual property that you've purchased via a software license. Software licenses and the instances of a software intellectual property that they represent are indeed and obviously sold. Both of the following phrases are simultaneously true: This software (IP) is licensed, not sold; This software (instance / license) is sold, not licensed or leased.   All the mass-produced items you've bought, including your clothing, your vehicles, your TV, your computer hardware, are licensed instances of the intellectual property (IP) for those things. When you purchase any of those things, you aren't purchasing the intellectual property (IP) and so you don't become entitled to mass-produce, to market, to receive profits from the first-sale of any of those things, and you don't gain any ownership of the patents for the patented technology in those things. But you are purchasing a one-off copy of the IP of those things, and upon the point of sale of the instances of those IPs there is a transfer of ownership over those instances and you become the sole owner of that instance of that IP. This is exactly the same with software as it is with physical goods - you own your instance and have full property rights over it.   There are perpetual software licenses and there are subscription software licenses. A perpetual license is non-exhaustive, meaning that the right it grants is eternal, forever-lasting, and never expires. A subscription license is a duration-limited right to access a software or service. All the most common software including games, OSes, and programs are perpetual licenses. Some games that are sold via perpetual licenses, like MMOs, require an additional service subscription to use the base software with a publisher's own servers, with the software not being functional on its own due to the servers handling the game world's AI, and other systems. Steam itself is a subscription service, but the games sold through Steam are perpetual licensed software.   A perpetual license is a product, and whenever a perpetual license is sold it undergoes transfer of ownership upon the point of sale. Whoever owns a perpetual license owns the instance of software it grants a right to use the intellectual property (IP) of. After the transfer of ownership of a perpetual licensed software, the seller of the license no longer holds any rightful say over anything regarding that non-reproduceable instance of software represented by its perpetual license. This legal fact is not always honoured by perpetual license software sellers (for example, Microsoft with Windows 10 automatic updates and data-harvesting) and it can take lawsuits to force software companies to comply with their legal and moral obligations and to respect the property of others and not violate that property, including software, system, and data property.   EULAs are not laws but are subject to laws. And corporations do not possess law-making powers. Many EULAs are not written by legal experts but by people who just see the formats of previous EULAs and make assumptions from seeing those about what the nature of an EULA is, and then just copy and paste the terms they like the sound of from other EULAs. And many EULAs even from large companies like Microsoft (for example, the Windows 10 EULA) contain made-up and non legally-enforceable stuff in them. EULAs are also used to psychologically ward off potential challenges and to provoke the type of customer behaviour a publisher wishes there to be, by claiming and suggesting publisher rights and powers beyond what actually exist.   EULAs are also used as a tool of manipulation to psychologically ward off potential challenges and to provoke the type of customer behaviour a publisher wishes there to be, by claiming, or, by phrasing things (without literally saying them) in a way that suggests publisher rights and powers beyond what actually exist. There are countless examples of this, but one very familiar one is "this software is licensed, not sold", which plays on the semantics of "software". Another example is anything that is followed by a phrase that says to the effect of of 'except where regional law permits otherwise'.   Ownership over a thing is what establishes one's decision-making authority over the thing. To sell something is to relinquish it as one's property and so to relinquish all of one's decision-making authority over that thing and to transfer decision-making authority over that thing to the person who bought the thing. Anything sold via a perpetual (meaning non-exhausting, eternal, lasting-forever) license is a product that becomes the sole possession of whoever purchases it, and upon its purchase all property rights including decision-making authority transfer from the seller to the purchaser. And then the seller no longer has any rightful say over anything regarding that non-reproduceable instance of software represented by its perpetual license.   The European Union's highest court, the Court of Justice, has ruled that software, whether sold via a license and whether physically or digitally-distributed, represents a good rather than a service, and that any purchaser of a perpetually-licensed software becomes the exclusive owner over that instance of the software, just as when they purchase any physical good.   In a 2016 Australian case regarding Valve's refund policy for Steam, Australia's High Court carefully examined whether computer games sold through Steam are goods (and therefore property and consumer rights apply to them) or services (and therefore no property rights or services apply to them), and concluded that they are fully goods, and that Valve doesn't merely sell a license to use the software, but in-fact sells the software itself, and that whoever buys a game from Steam becomes owner of the software that they purchased. Australia's High Court concluded: "Each of Valve’s challenges to the applicability of the Australian Consumer Law fails. The conflict of laws provisions in the Australian Consumer Law did not essentially carve out an exception for conduct by foreign corporations like Valve governed by a different contractual proper law. Valve supplied goods (which are defined as including computer software)."   In Canada, software distributed by all means is legally defined as a good and not a service. The government of Canada's Goods and Services Manual declares as Class 9 goods "all computer programs and software regardless of recording media or means of dissemination, that is, software recorded on magnetic media or downloaded from a remote computer network". As a good, software is therefore a private property that is sold and purchased, and which is owned by its purchasers.   In the USA, there have been some inconsistent lower court rulings on software licenses. But they have not all been in agreement with each other and lower court rulings and don't apply to all of the USA but only to the specific districts that the rulings were made in. A specific matter of software ownership has never gone to the USA's Supreme Court and it's likely that software publishers would prefer that it doesn't, because in all likeliness the verdict will be the same as it was in the EU and in Australia. Because this matter has never gone to the USA's Supreme Court and because regional court verdicts have conflicted with each other in their conclusions, it is baseless for anyone to claim that people in the USA don't own their purchased software.   However, on March 19, 2013, the USA's Supreme Court ruled that people in the USA and elsewhere are entitled to resell their copyrighted goods (which includes purchased software / software licenses) without the copyright-holder's permission, in accordance with the first-sale doctrine which states that a seller retains no decision-making authority over a product once they have sold it to someone else. Therefore, any claim in an EULA that a license is non-transferable between people is deemed invalid in the USA just as it is in Europe.       Here is some excepted content from my message to Steam support proving that games are sold through Steam and not rented or leased, and that Valve has officially accepted in court that they sell games and that the games they sell are the owned property of those who purchase them through Steam, with all property rights for games sold through Steam belonging to Valve's customers and not Valve.     -------------------- start of excerpt --------------------     https://www.kotaku.com.au/2018/07/valve-steam-australian-consumer-rights-notice-disappears-from-front-page-accc-investigates/   Here's the message that the Australian court has required Valve to display for 12 months following the loss of Valve's appeal of a ruling against the company concerning Valve's refund policy for Australians:       And here's that message still on the Steam website:   https://store.steampowered.com/consumer_rights_notice/   The message presented by Steam says “When you buy video games from Valve Corporation”, which clearly expresses that people buy games from Valve through Steam, and that they don’t rent or lease them.   Here's the full verdict from the Australian court:   http://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2016/2016fca0196#_Ref445465996   The verdict carefully examines whether games sold through Steam are goods and concludes that the games sold through Steam are goods and not services, and that property laws apply to the goods (games) sold through Steam, and that the property rights rest with the purchaser of the games who is not Valve but is whichever of Steam's service subscribers have bought games through Steam.
The European Union's top court has also ruled on the matter for over half a billion people that software licenses are property and goods that are sold and therefore bought, and that property rights over the instances of software that software licenses represent therefore belong to the purchasers of those licenses:   EU Court: When You Buy Software You Own It   The EU court also verified that EULAs are not laws, but are subject to laws. If what a publisher writes in an EULA is unreasonable, it risks invalidating the entire EULA.   EU highest court says software licence terms can be ignored
EU Court Says, Yes, You Can Resell Your Software, Even If The Software Company Says You Can't European Court confirms the right to resell used software licences Top EU court upholds right to resell downloaded software   A German court has also ruled that games bought through Steam are the properties of those who purchased them through Steam – but also ruled that Valve, being a private company, is not obligated to build into their service design any facilitation for people to transfer their games out of their Steam accounts and into other people’s accounts for the purpose of reselling them.       In the Australian case's verdict, Valve has explicitly accepted that games sold through Steam are goods, and that Steam customers who purchase games through Steam are the sole owners of those games:   “The second issue is whether there was a “supply of goods” by Valve. Valve accepted that if “goods” were provided by it to consumers then the goods had been “supplied” (ts 218).”   “The legal meaning of “goods” can be analogised to the strict definition of “property” which is “a description of a legal relationship with a thing”: Yanner v Eaton [1999] HCA 53; (1999) 201 CLR 351, 365-366 [17] (Gleeson CJ, Gaudron, Kirby, and Hayne JJ describing the word “property”).”   “137    Valve supplied consumers with a good.”     -------------------- end of excerpt --------------------       I hope that all software owners become aware of the fact that they personally own the software they've purchased licenses for and that claims they do not are baseless and urban myth at best, and at worst are deliberate malicious disinformation and corporate propaganda.   A lot of the abuses and software vandalism that software owners have experienced and are currently experiencing at the hands of publishers like Microsoft have only come about because software owners were ignorant and naive of the fact that they do own their software just like you own yours. So, if you want those publisher abuses to stop, then use this information to stamp out misguided disinformation claims of people not owning their software anywhere you see those claims appearing.       Related post:    

Delicieuxz

Delicieuxz

 

Expanded details regarding Craig Murray alleging Facebook censorship

Here is the expanded-details OP text for the thread: Facebook is stealthily blocking / hiding posts and post-shares featuring verified information inconvenient to US / UK propaganda     Blocked By Facebook and the Vulnerability of New Media     The person this information comes from, Craig Murray, is a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is probably most known for whistle-blowing US, UK, and Uzbekistan partnership in torturing people in 2005, and also for delivering the leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 US federal election. Recently, Craig Murray exposed a series of lies the UK government made about a chemical attack that occurred in Salisbury, UK, which resulted in the UK government backtracking on many of its former claims, and denying having made some of them despite its video interviews and social media posts (which the UK government started deleting before that too was called out) proving otherwise.   For more detailed coverage of the Craig Murray's recent activity which has likely led to Facebook censoring his content, see my LTT blog post on the subject.   This information comes from Craig Murray, who is a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan. Craig has been in the news some recently because of his blasting apart many of the lies the UK government was pushing about the Salisbury, UK chemical attack. Craig Murray used to work in the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office, which communicates with the UK's Porton Down chemical weapons facility that analyzed samples of the Salisbury chemical agent and reported its findings to the UK government.   The UK government had tried to propagandize the public against Russia by claiming that its Porton Down chemical facility had verified the Salisbury chemical agent to have come from Russia. But because Craig Murray still has contacts within the FCO, and because he knew by first-hand experience from his time as a UK diplomat the type of manipulation and deception that goes on behind the scenes with government narratives that aim to bias public opinion towards or against an objective, he reached out to his FCO contacts about the Salisbury "Novichok" chemical agent, and heard that what the UK government was telling the public was a lie - the Porton Down facility had been completely unable to identify the source of the chemical used in the Salisbury attack.   It has also since been verified by many  sources that almost any country is capable of making "Novichok", a chemical whose recipe has been publicly available since the mid 1990s (using the Look Inside feature, it's on page 449) and which has been researched by many EU countries since 1999, and which is known to have been produced by Iran in 2016. And the UK and US have both made it, while the US even patented weaponized "Novichok" in 2015.   Many of these details were brought to light by Craig Murray, who is a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, where Novichok was developed and tested. Craig Murray had also visited the Uzbekistan facility during its dismantling, which was done by the USA in 1999, with the US becoming responsible for the facility's housed remaining stockpiles of chemical agents, to dispose or do otherwise with them.   As a result of Craig's reporting the truth, the UK government was cornered into admitting it had been lying to everybody when it said that any analysis had confirmed Russia to be responsible. The UK government was then caught lying about its earlier lying about the Salisbury agent, and was also caught deleting a Twitter post in which the UK government asserted that Porton Down had verified the Salisbury agent to have come from Russia.   https://www.rt.com/uk/423075-porton-down-skripal-proof/ https://www.rt.com/uk/423162-russia-poison-government-twitter/ https://www.rt.com/uk/424478-skripal-opcw-origin-poison/   Craig Murray also reported on the internal negotiations between the UK government and Porton Down, where the UK government had coerced Porton Down into signing-off use of the phrase 'of a type developed by Russia' when describing the Salisbury attack agent - which was designed to manipulate and connive the public into assuming that the Salisbury agent came from Russia, despite the only semi-accurate meaning of 'of a type developed by Russia' being that it could refer to the fact that the USSR originally developed the "Novichok" class of chemicals.   The UK government thought that so long as 'of a type developed by Russia' had almost a sliver of truth to it, that that would make it permissible to use to convince the public of a wholly different understanding: That it implied the Salisbury agent had any kind of association with Russia. Of course, the "Novichok" family of chemicals wasn't developed by Russia, either, but by the USSR - so the UK government and Porton Down's agreed 'of a type developed by Russia' phrase was a lie, no matter which way it's looked at.     Craig Murray has now just reported what he thinks is plausible Western responsibility for the poisoning of the Skripals:   Probable Western Responsibility for Skripal Poisoning
     

Delicieuxz

Delicieuxz

 

Commentary on the Legality of Microsoft's Data-Harvesting in Windows 10

This is a perhaps a more eloquent and elaborated presentation of what I was wanting to speak in the thread 7-times Microsoft MVP finds Windows 10 Enterprise collects too much data at minimum, calls for legal action.   The relevant links from that thread are these:   Windows, Spying, and a Twitter Rant Screenshots showing high levels of contact with Microsoft servers after employing all efforts to stop data-transmission Additional screenshots of further Microsoft server activity, discovered later     I would like to give some personal commentary to the subject that those links are about.  
If a politician steals millions of taxpayer dollars, which is only a few cents from each person, they go to jail. So what about when Microsoft is continuously piggy-backing on everybody's PC systems to enrich themselves? Microsoft is using people's own hardware, software licenses, electricity, computing power, data, time, and private activity for non-sanctioned business use, and the profit of Microsoft's executives.   Microsoft's data-mining is no different than a virus that is distributed to people's PCs to min mines digital coins using their CPU and CPU power, with the earnings being deposited in the e-wallet of the virus' creator. You could also look at it like someone setting up a mining farm, but connecting all their systems to their neighbour's electricity supply - except that in the case of Microsoft's data-mining, they are not using their own hardware, software licenses, and everything else, but those of the people whose systems are sending data to Microsoft... and so the coin-mining virus is a more suitable analogy.  
Every aspect of Microsoft collecting data from people's PC systems and personally-owned Windows licenses is already established in law as being illegal. But some people are taking a bit of time to work through the understanding that leads to that recognition, because software-license owners are traditionally just not on the lookout for stuff like this and usually just focus on using their software, and not technical legal aspects or ethical implications behind its operation. Also, Microsoft being a well-known company whose products people have used for years throws a lot of people for a loop, I think, because they are used to just assuming that whatever they're doing must check out, somehow. Well, this doesn't. It's illegal from head to toe.   It's theft, but it's also Unjust Enrichment - which is the situation where one party is making profit for itself at the unjust expense of others. A current UE case involves ZeniMax targeting Samsung for Unjust Enrichment over VR technology that ZeniMax claims belongs to them but is profiting Samsung.   If you unilaterally utilize somebody property, or copyrights to make yourself money, who is legally entitled to the proceeds? Legal entitlement goes to whom the required property and rights that the profit is dependent upon belong to.   
A person who argues that by using Windows 10 a person agrees to send Microsoft their data would be wrong, because sending Microsoft data is not essential to making use of the software functionality that was paid for when buying a Windows license, and so conditioning usage of the paid-for functionality on unrelated and Microsoft-profiting access to personal and private data would not pass the Reasonable Person test.   Also, such an argument would be in ignorance that the data sent to Microsoft doesn't come from only the owned software license, but also a person's personally-owned  hardware, electricity, computational time, uniquely-generated data, and personal / private activity - things for which there can be no entitlement for Microsoft to use any more than a car salesperson can claim that if you buy a vehicle from them, then they have access to use your garage and everything in it, including the power source hooked up to it.
Additionally, the idea that Microsoft could exert any authority over an instance of the Windows OS after they've sold the license that represents the OS instance to somebody is a violation of the first-sale doctrine, which makes clear that such authorities and privileges pass to the owner of the property, in this case, the owner of the software license and the instance of the OS it represents, once it is sold. And the SCOTUS has just made a unanimous, 8 - 0 in favour, re-affirmation that decision-making rights leave from the seller to the buyer at the first-sale of an item.  
I fully believe that seven-times Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award recipient Mark Burnett is right when he says "What we need to do is fix this, even if that means getting lawmakers involved. It can only get worse from here". Though, I believe it is important for big reasons beyond simple control and security of the OS.   Microsoft is stealing digital property, computational power, and electrical resources from everybody, and is making non-licensed usage of people's hardware property, the housing of that hardware, and are exploiting people's personal behaviours while those people are staying within their personal and private spaces (non-online activities). And in the process of violating Windows license-owners' rights over their property, resources, time, and behaviour, Microsoft is unjustly enriching its company and executives.   If action is not taken against those who commit these violations, then all established societal and legal notions of what property is, who possesses decision-making rights over it, how much a person can use their position to unfairly exploit others against their natural desire... then all existing understanding of those things becomes argued against, and a precedent is established where a person's property is anyone's to use by unilateral decision, and a seller of goods can enslave and overrule aspects of people's own private lives and property as part of their conditions for their sale. Effectively, a sale becomes not a transaction of goods for money, but a mechanism for enslavement and subjugation, with the seller acting as if they held a commercial license over a plethora of the buyer's possessions and entitlements.
 
A person whose personal and private PC system environment (non-online spaces) is sending data to Microsoft through telemetry, data-collection, and analytics of their behaviour is an employee of Microsoft who does not get paid, or receive any company benefits.

Delicieuxz

Delicieuxz

 

My reaction to anti 3rd-party software key-reseller propaganda

While there are legitimately some things to take into consideration regarding purchasing games from 3rd-party key resellers, I think that there also is some false and exaggerated propaganda being pushed about them by some select neurotic develops who are upset that people aren't paying full dollar for their games.   Firstly, the G2A marketplace does not represent 3rd-party key-resellers - it represents a forum for individuals to sell their keys. Arguments made for or against G2A marketplace do not necessarily apply to businesses that are 3rd-party key-resellers, and arguments for or against 3rd-party key-resellers do not necessarily apply to the G2A marketplace.   Secondly, many of the individuals selling games on G2A got their keys legitimately, such as through Humblebundle, Bundlestars, in-store promos, during Steam, Origin, Uplay, etc sales, or as gifts, through trading, or from cheap eBay listings, and other situations. I have a lot of game keys I have not used, and I have lately been thinking about selling them on G2A. I think the idea that it would be better for developers or publishers if someone were to pirate a game than to buy a legitimate key from me that I gained through legitimate means is a great demonstration of a particular developer's stupidity. And, I expect that credit card fraud likely accounts for a small number of key-resale cases. That said, CC fraud tends to be a component of reseller and used markets, and if a person wants to boycott any potential for CC fraud, they should also be avoiding Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, Steam market, etc.   Thirdly, there are many sources for the keys that 3rd-party key resellers have to sell, and I'd bet that most of them are legally legitimate, even when they don't make publishers and developers the same amount of profit as they would like to be making from their sales. Credit card fraud is more likely to account for small numbers of keys here and there, and not the bulk key acquisitions that 3rd-party resellers make by buying games from one region where it's cheaper, and then selling the game in other regions, where it's normally more expensive.     Now, I think that the argument in this link: http://twinfinite.net/2016/06/dev-going-buy-g2a-please-pirate-game-instead/   ... is plainly nonsense, and the hyper-subjective and, IMO, their "True Cost of G2A" balancing of cost between spending money, convenience, personal moral... is astonishingly ludicrous, dumb, and False. It is a case of some hyper-ventilating developer presuming to assert how people think and feel about various acquisition methods, and in doing so is also attempting to impose a dictation upon people's perceptions of what various acquisition avenues represent - with the basis for their argument being subjective opinion and re-framing the subject through acknowledging only particular potential aspects of it. Whoever wrote that is probably very lacking in social and life experience.   Also, there is a great stupidity in saying 'I'd rather have you pirate than buy G2A', and such a comment is obviously about making a point through hyperbolic emotional display (again, a lack of social skills), while disregarding relevant consideration of the matter. When somebody pirates a game, they make use of that game for free, and no money goes to the developer or publisher. When somebody buys a game key through a 3rd-party reseller, that key, if it works to access the game, was paid for by somebody somewhere down the line, and there was a transaction between publisher or developer and whoever first acquired that key. Therefore, with a 3rd-party key resale, some money has been made for the publisher, developer, or both. But with pirating a game, no money has been made for the publisher and developer.   That "True Cost of G2A" graph is as over-the-top cartoonish hysteria and as much deranged False propaganda as the 1930's DEA propaganda film Refer Madness.

Delicieuxz

Delicieuxz

 

Download Links for Great Free Games

Battlefield 2 / Battlefield 2142   When Gamespy shut down their servers in 2014, people weren't ready to stop playing many of the games that depended on them. So, in the case of Battlefield 2, two different groups of people each decided to set up their own master servers for the game, and provided a free download of the full game + expansions for anyone who wants it. This has been done with the blessing of EA.   Each of these downloads relies on a different master server list, and the client for the two projects is different.   (still active) Battlefield 2 Hub: https://www.bf2hub.com/home/index.php (no longer active) Battlefield 2 Revive: https://battlelog.co/       Command & Conquer, Red Alert, Tiberian Sun, Red Alert 2, Dune 2000   Some years ago, EA released the original Command & Conquer games as freeware, offering their downloads, but with no compatibility fixes for newer OSes. Some other people made the effort to repackage the games, either fixed for modern OSes, or in an entirely new custom engine.   Download original C&C, Red Alert, Tiberian Sun disc images, with no fixes: http://www.cncnz.com/features/freeware-classic-command-conquer-games/   Download C&C, Red Alert, Tiberian Sun, Red Alert 2, Dune 2000, all with modern OS support, and with the CnCNet Online Multiplayer platform: https://cncnet.org/download   Alternate update and repackage of C&C and Red Alert, made compatible with modern OSes, and patches for Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2: http://answers.ea.com/t5/C-C-The-Ultimate-Collection/red-aleart-1-is-not-running-well-on-my-windows-7-pc-please-help/m-p/5799411#U5799411   Download C&C, Red Alert, Tiberian Sun, Dune 2000, all ported to a newer custom game engine with enhanced features, like higher resolution: http://www.openra.net/       Command & Conquer Renegade X   Command & Conquer: Renegade was released in 2002 as a team-based multiplayer game along the lines of Battlefield, but in which people could play in first-person as one of the infantry-types from the Command & Conquer series. In the game, each team has bases with buildings that contribute abilities and technology to the team that they belong do. These buildings can be damaged, destroyed, or captured, and can also be repaired. Just like in the RTS C&C games, players can buy vehicles from certain buildings, and they can then drive or fly the vehicles that they purchase, in many classic C&C environments. The servers for the original game closed down a long time ago.   Renegade X is the remake of Renegade by one of the game's most passionate fans. It looks great, it plays great, and it has active online servers.   Download link: https://renegade-x.com/         King's Quest I - III, and Quest for Glory II - AGD Interactive's excellent remakes   AGD's remakes of these games are their best presentation, IMO, and offer updated graphics, and native compatibility with modern OSes.   Download links: http://www.agdinteractive.com/games/games.html       MechWarrior 4 Mercenaries    This is the freeware version of the game that was put together by developer MekTek, under license from Microsoft. It is the same as the normal full version of the game, but includes a lot of additional mechs, and a lot of fixes beyond the final patch made by FASA Studio.   I have 3 versions available for download: - The MTX files download is the original installer files and patches from MekTek, and there's included the MTX extractor to install them. - The EXE is an installer for MekPak 3.1, compiled by some release group. The startup logo is changed to the release group, but other than that, it appears to be just the regular MekPak 3.1. - The non-MTX RAR is an archive of the full MekPak 3.1 game folder, which is just extract and play.   The graphics configuration utility should be run first before playing any of these, or the game might not load properly.   Download link: https://mega.nz/#F!K9pHzDaJ!fNT7U1pGXGExccPRnmTBSA

Delicieuxz

Delicieuxz

 

Microsoft is now the world's #1 culprit and promoter of software piracy

This was originally a post I made in the Tech News forum, and concerns the data-collection of Windows 10.
Nobody has agreed to grant Microsoft rights to their personal data by purchasing or installing Windows - and all data that is personally generated by a person's hardware, their owned software-licenses, their time, and their electricity costs, is their personally-owned data, and represents work that a person's property created, through their owner's personal expense, and time. Further, I believe it would not be legally-defensible for Microsoft to imply anywhere in their EULA that they do have such rights to people's personal data - noting that EULAs are not laws, but are subject to laws, and noting that there are legal protections against unfair contract terms, which I believe any clause claiming a person's personally-owned data becomes Microsoft's would be a perfect example of (and without such a claim, Microsoft cannot legally claim a right to take people's data).
 
I would say that this applies to the taking of data at any level, but Windows 10 doesn't allow for complete shut-off of all data-stealing, so let's just go with the most basic level of data-taking for this point, which will also be the least-disputable:
When Microsoft unilaterally takes peoples data, it's stealing what doesn't belong to it, what was generated by someone else's work and property,  and what the person that data belongs to is not being compensated for. It's piracy, and it's the very same piracy as a gamer downloading games they didn't pay for, and deriving benefit from them, such as entertainment - or productivity and money, if it's a productivity application, or maybe an OS. It's the taking of data which a person does not own, for benefit.
 
How can Microsoft claim to be anti-piracy, when they are the biggest committers and condoners (by example) of piracy in the world?
 
And, if Microsoft unilaterally decides that it is entitled to pirate everyone's data form them, so that they can make profit off of that data, then why should everyone else not pirate Microsoft's software? What justification exists that would support a double-standard, where software developers base their business-model upon piracy, yet individuals should be expected to pay for software from people and companies who are stealing their personal data, and profiting off of it?
 
Something to think about, which I think the answer is obvious in being that Microsoft's data-collection is a major issue, and is criminal, and sets the example that it's OK for people to take whatever data they want, without paying for it, and without permission - which is software piracy. I don't think that should be the case, and I don't think that's what's right, but that's what Microsoft's conduct is saying is right, in their view, and is setting the example for other people to follow.
 
And the same also applies regarding the conduct of other companies that do the same thing, such as Nvidia.     Again, data that is created by a person's bought hardware and software licenses, which is produced by their system's processing power and resources, on the person's own time, and using the person's own paid-for electricity is theirs, and property rights apply to it. For Microsoft, Nvidia, or anyone to unilaterally take that data for their own purposes, and for them to profit off of it (which they do), is for them to commit data-theft, and to profit off of the proceeds of crime. Essentially, Microsoft and developers who behave similarly are criminal organizations.

Delicieuxz

Delicieuxz

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