It's Sad That It's Newsworthy When An Entertainment Industry Exec Decides Not To Sue Customers

from the sign-of-the-times dept

In noting that the Entertainment Software Association (the ESA) had hired the RIAA's VP in charge of its litigation strategy, we wondered if the ESA was going to ramp up lawsuits against customers. After all, over in the UK, there's been news about law firms suing hundreds for file sharing games. But, in the comments, someone pointed to an interview with the boss of EA Sports, Peter Moore, saying that he doesn't think it's a good idea to follow the RIAA's litigious path:
"I'm not a huge fan of trying to punish your consumer... I think there are better solutions than chasing people for money. I'm not sure what they are, other than to build game experiences that make it more difficult for there to be any value in pirating games."
Of course, he also does make some other comments that suggest he very much views it as an "us vs. them" sort of thing, rather than looking for potential win-win solutions:
"We absolutely should crack down on piracy. People put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their content and deserve to get paid for it. It's absolutely wrong, it is stealing."
That's a bit of a mixed message, but at least it sounds as though EA is not anxious to sue its customers -- and, of course, EA is a major member of ESA, so hopefully it can help keep ESA away from going down this path as well. The next step would be starting to figure out ways to set up better business models that use so-called "piracy" to the company's advantage. Those will come eventually. In the meantime, though, how sad is it when it's newsworthy that an entertainment industry exec says he doesn't think suing customers is a good idea?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    anon, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 7:23pm

    huh?

    so you say its sad that its newsworthy...

    yet you write about it anyway?

     

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  2.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 7:25pm

    Re: huh?

    so you say its sad that its newsworthy...

    yet you write about it anyway?


    Yes, it can be both newsworthy and sad that it's newsworthy at the same time.

    I shouldn't write about newsworthy stuff that's sad?

     

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  3.  
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    Spectere, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 8:25pm

    EA really surprises me sometimes

    Everyone always talks about how evil EA is, but out of all the large gaming companies that are out there they seem to be the ones who really "get it" in a lot of cases. This is a perfect example. Suing potential customers, even if they are infringing, can't possibly get companies a whole lot of money but it's certainly a PR nightmare.

    The one thing that they don't seem to "get," however, is how much people tend to despise DRM after they learn a thing or three about it (or get horribly burned by it). The whole SecuROM issue is just...nasty.

     

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  4.  
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    Greevar, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 9:22pm

    Sad, but true.

    You would think not suing would be a given, but living in a lawsuit happy America, this just isn't the case. There's an old saying, "The tighter you grip, the more it slips through your fingers." I think that statement speaks volumes about the entertainment and software industries. Instead of exploiting copyright law to prop up a dead business model, they should be finding one that people will actually spend their money on.

    I think Microsoft has part of a good idea in the Zune Marketplace. Users pay a monthly fee, download as much music as they want and they can share it freely with other Zune users. But they need to nix the DRM. Treating it as a content delivery system as opposed to a music store could be a huge win for all parties. Artists can promote themselves through the power of social networking and cut the middle man out (RIAA).

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 3:37am

    You say "It's Sad That It's Newsworthy..." but in fact this was reported as "...an interview with the boss of EA Sports.." which implies he was asked the question. Are you saying they should not report the parts of the intereview that techdirt decrees to be not new worthy ?!!
    (hint : you don't need to read or blog on stuff that you don't think is news).

    "That's a bit of a mixed message.." no it doesn't it just shows someone trying to understand the whole scheme of things rather than just adopting one fixed point of view and insisting you are expert, like some bloggers do.

     

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  6.  
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    Chris Charabaruk (profile), Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 5:46am

    Re: EA really surprises me sometimes

    EA isn't evil because of things like this. EA is evil because of its business practises when dealing with game developers, which are far more "dark ages" than almost every other game publisher out there. Plus, the way they bought and then gutted some of the best game studios out there (Maxis, Origin, Westwood) didn't help matters, either.

    I guess something could also be said about their tactics against other publishers of sports games, taken right out of the old-school Microsoft business handbook, but since I don't care for sports games anyway (I'd rather play the real thing), I usually let that slide. I still miss Sega Sports, though.

     

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  7.  
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    hegemon13, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 7:27am

    Good business strategies already exist

    Fortunately, the video game market seems to be the fastest to adopt new ideas and business models, and they are, in many ways, the most effective at fighting piracy. Some of the ways they make money in spite of piracy include
    - Create great online multiplayer experiences. Most standalone games can't connect to the multiplayer servers if they are pirated, and many online-only games require a monthly subscription to said servers (ongoing revenue).
    - Create physical peripherals that are integral to the gaming experience (Rock Band, Guitar Hero, that dancing game, etc)
    - Offer downloadable extras for an additional cost. Xbox Live seems to offer a plethora of pay add-ons.

    With enough of these types of innovations, it seems to me that many games could soon be given away free, or close to free, with the complimentary goods providing the revenue.

     

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  8.  
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    Sick of It, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 9:19am

    Are you kidding me? Moore doesn't think it's a good idea to sue actual infringers, but has no compunctions about destroying the experience of end users who BUY his company's products with defective and crippling DRM like Securom?!

    The saddest part is that Moore doesn't get it AT ALL: paying customers aren't even figured into his equation - and that's what makes it newsworthy.

     

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  9.  
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    BillDem, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 11:46am

    EA > RIAA for certain, but still not perfect

    EA is better than the RIAA for certain, simply because they haven't decided to frivolously litigate (a.k.a. blackmail) tens of thousands of individuals into settling multi-thousand dollar fines without ever actually providing proof those people committed a crime.

    On the other hand, they both still use DRM to inconvenience their legitimate customers as much as possible while the true pirates get to enjoy DRM-free versions without the arbitrary limitations or crippling. They need to realize that even a minor irritant, if experienced long enough, will drive people crazy. As proof consider ancient Chinese authorities used water dripping slowly on the forehead of captives as a form of torture. It wasn't fast, but it was highly effective.

    The RIAA is finding out their customers hate being tortured (although they still can't grasp that THEY are the source of the problem). The game industry is experiencing the early symptoms of the same problem. From what I can see, it will only get worse for both industries.

     

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  10.  
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    Hoeppner, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 1:28pm

    What do you mean it's not newsworth because of what he said. It's news worthy because he's a major employee in the ESA and was willing to do press releases.

     

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    Lucretious, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 3:05pm

    I mailed this in 3 days ago

     

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  12.  
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    American, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 3:58pm

    Don't kid yourselves, EA is still evil.

    Check out their Rock Band pricing in Europe and Australia. Retailers refuse to even carry it in Australia because the price is ridiculous. Guitar Hero World Tour will cost less and have better quality instruments to boot! Many people agree that it won't have better gameplay than Rock Band, but considering the price difference, but that won't matter if no retailers sell it.

     

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  13.  
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    Zeather, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 8:23am

    Mike: I really like your work, but it nearly always focuses on the negative aspects of the story. This company is doing what you would like it to do, yet the angle of the story is about the sadness of its newsworthiness. Not every article has to "fight the power." How about focusing on the reasonableness of Peter Moore's attitude instead?

     

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  14.  
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    Lucretious, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 10:46am

    Re:

    gotta agree here.

     

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  15.  
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    they guy in the corner, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    "We absolutely should crack down on piracy. People put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their content and deserve to get paid for it. It's absolutely wrong, it is stealing."

    How the hell is this “a mixed message”? First off, I DO NOT condone or condemn file-sharing, piracy, or whatever you want to call it. But for you or anyone else to suggest a company (small or large) consider “better business models“ in order to take advantage of “so-called piracy” is one of the most absurd things I’ve heard of.

    What do you expect EA to do? If they sue, they’re greedy bastards. When they raise prices, they’re greed bastards. When they talk about ways to stop piracy, they’re greedy bastards. I don’t get it. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

     

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  16.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 24th, 2008 @ 3:36pm

    Re:

    Are you saying they should not report the parts of the intereview that techdirt decrees to be not new worthy ?!!

    No, not at all. It's got nothing to do with the fact that they reported it or that it was reported. It *IS* newsworthy. The comment on it being "sad" is a societal thing. It's sad that such things are so *rare* in society that it's newsworthy.

    no it doesn't it just shows someone trying to understand the whole scheme of things rather than just adopting one fixed point of view and insisting you are expert, like some bloggers do.

    It is very much a mixed message to say on one hand that they won't punish customers, but at the same time they want to "crack down" on what customers are doing.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 24th, 2008 @ 3:38pm

    Re:

    How the hell is this “a mixed message”?

    First he says that they won't attack their customers, and then he says they need to crack down on what the customers want to do. That's very much a mixed message.

    But for you or anyone else to suggest a company (small or large) consider “better business models“ in order to take advantage of “so-called piracy” is one of the most absurd things I’ve heard of.

    Why? If doing so enables them to be better off for it, why shouldn't they?

    What do you expect EA to do? If they sue, they’re greedy bastards. When they raise prices, they’re greed bastards. When they talk about ways to stop piracy, they’re greedy bastards. I don’t get it. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

    Has it occurred to you that there are other options? It's not damned if you do, damned if you don't. There are models they can adopt that don't put them at odds with their customers.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 5:08am

    Peter Moores job

    Peter Moore is an old school PR man and his job is to make EA cool again (after over a decade of squashing the most innovative devleopers in the business). He is smart enough to know that the RIAA is defiantely NOT COOL and therefor a nice easy target. I wouldnt expect much more then talk from EA on this, the SECUROM and other draconian, consumer hating garbage will continue as always.

     

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  19.  
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    Sean, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 5:47am

    I don't see it that way

    I don't see it as a mixed message. I see it as him trying to come up with a way to be able to pay the people that come up with and make the games and make it so that people will want the game at reasonable terms. He is trying to find a win-win situation.

     

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  20.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 25th, 2008 @ 5:53am

    Link Back

    I am surprised there was not a link in this article to the article a couple weeks back about the game maker who does understand what people want and actually is trying to make their games better.
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080814/0222171973.shtml

    EA needs to take a lesson from that guy.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 6:12am

    Re: Link Back

    "EA needs to take a lesson from that guy."

    Or stardock who as a long time application developer (newer game developer) have expressed surprised, confusion and even horror at the way customers are treated by EA and other "big time" ESA members. Stardock has a totally different take on this and as I recall in response to the measures taken by EA and others the Stardock CEO once said; "its like they dont realize they make software".

     

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  22.  
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    J. Phil, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 9:08am

    Logic Problem

    This is a fairly simple logical fallacy. Customers may sometimes be pirates of computer software, but software pirates are not necessarily customers.

    It sounds like Peter Moore is all for going after the pirates of their games that are NOT customers (for example pirates that make bulk black-market copies) but would like to see the line drawn at individuals that just want to play their games.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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