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Posted on Techdirt - 5 November 2011 @ 12:00pm

AJ's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

When I got the email asking if I would like to post my thoughts on this weeks stories, I was a bit hesitant. There’s big difference between taking pot shots at the AC’s, and hanging a giant bull’s-eye around your neck while running across the blog-o-sphere like a streaker at a baseball game. After some thought, I determined that compared to Righthaven’s situation, I’ve got it pretty easy and should probably relax and have some fun with this.

My name is Marcus. Most of you know me as AJ (when I remember to log in). I work in the Components industry designing the component systems that hold most of your houses together. I do a bit of “end user” IT on the side and consider myself somewhat of a semi-pro gamer. My Steam account has more entries than your average check book, and because of this, I have a serious interest in both IP, and the dreaded DRM. After reading this blog and the gaming forums comments, my concern is that the “cultural gap” between the media consumer and the media provider is growing. This “cultural gap” or disconnect, is producing a generation of consumers that consider the creators of big media the enemy. This is counterproductive, to say the least. I can think of no situation where either side could pull out a win from this, something needs to change.

Ding Dong: Another DRM Is Dead… And With It All The Files You Thought You Bought

This is a perfect example of a media-provider/media-consumer disconnect. This company has decided that it’s no longer profitable to continue to run the DRM servers supporting the media its customers legally purchased. Now, the consumer will have to purchase blank CDs, then go through the often highly technical process of “ripping” their legally purchased files into a usable format, all before the company “throws the switch” and renders these files useless. Think about it…. after going through this, would you be overly excited about purchasing legal DRM’d media from anyone else, or did they just create a pirate?

MPAA Helped Police Seize ‘Pirated’ DVDs That Were Actually Fully Authorized

Ok well, there should be a “what they hell where we thinking” dept at the Valencia, California police station. The police perform a raid, when they find some “suspicious” DVDs they consult an MPAA investigator. The investigator promptly declares the DVDs in question “pirated.” The police then seize the supposed contraband. This is where the real fail starts. Even after the police and the MPAA realize the DVDs are in fact authorized, the police continue to tell the press that the DVDs were ?pirated.” Well, the media did what they do? They took the police’s word as gospel and trashed the company. Now, Lets stop right here. The damage is done; this company’s reputation is wrecked. We could argue that this is a “teaching” moment, and were all going to learn from our mistakes… right! Well that’s not exactly what happened. A few weeks ago, the Governor of California decided to double down on dumb-ass by making it easier to perform these types of raids. Not only can they destroy companies on the say so of an MPAA “investigator,” they are no longer going to require a warrant to do so. Did anyone see that puff of smoke? I think that was our Fourth Amendment!

When you’re done mourning the destruction of our 4th Amendment, please take a moment to pay homage to the train wreck that is Righthaven. Here is a company, hired by “Big Media,” that is trying to make a living by extorting money from their client’s customers. That’s right, I said “customers,” not “pirates.”

Let’s look at this for a minute. An entire generation has built its own online culture around defeating content locks, and consuming content in the method that best suits them. Big media has decided that instead of changing its business models to adapt to current market conditions in a way that would allow it to service these customers, it would rather use the legal system as a weapon to force customers into submission. I don’t believe that this is best approach, but read the links below and decide for yourself.

Righthaven Asks Court To Speed Up Ruling Against It So It Doesn’t Have To Pay For A Trial

Righthaven Loses Track Of Its Many Cases; Discovers Four Days Late That It Missed Deadline In Appeal

US Marshal Service Told To Go After Righthaven’s Assets

If you are a gamer, and you read nothing else on Techdirt this week, read the last paragraph of Mr. Knight’s story on Crappy Games and Piracy:

Don’t Complain About Piracy When You Create Crappy Games

This story should be posted at every entry hall into every game company in existence. This is how the game industry creates pirates. Overboard you say? Let’s see…. (Warning! Major Rant Ahead!)

I pre-purchased Dead Island, paid in full, pre-loaded the game and ignored the pirated version that was available before launch. Game unlocks… it’s go time baby!….. OMG! They uploaded the wrong copy of the game on Steam! /dev!

The Steam forums light up immediately, as one would expect, it was not pretty. Not only did I have to delete the game and re-download, when I got the “correct” version of the game, it was riddled with bugs to the point of almost being unplayable.

One bad deployment doesn’t really show a pattern, perhaps it was all just a giant misunderstanding. So I went ahead and pre-purchased Rage, got it downloaded and ready for release. The release date comes to pass, and like before, the anticipation is killing me, so I’m ready to rock and roll as soon as the game unlocks. Like before, it’s a bug fest.

The game won’t launch, and when I fix that, the textures and FOV made the game unplayable. They got the game fixed up in short order to their credit. Meanwhile a couple of creative guys on the forums had come up with a few workarounds to get things moving. But yet again, the game doesn’t work out of the box.

Well, I’m concerned at this point. I’ve started working out ways to “try before you buy” as I’m already $100 in the red on bad game releases. But you know what, I’m going to give this one more try, the third time is a charm!

Now the real fun starts… intro Sword of the Stars 2.

As before, I pre-purchase, pre-load, and rapidly shorten my nails in anticipation of this epic release. These guys are legendary in the support of their games; this one is a sure win! Steam refreshes, the game unlocks……. and out pours the fail! AGAIN! The wrong file was uploaded to Steam, again nothing works right, and again the forums light up. The release is so bad that the CEO feels the need to publicly fall on his sword.

Now I’m starting to feel a bit foolish. Three times I paid, three times I failed. I think it’s time to find some alternatives. I’m out around $150, and I’ve had enough. If any of these companies feel the need to point the finger over piracy, I suggest they start with the guy in the mirror. I won’t be buying any more media until I’m sure it works.

Well, those were my favorites this week. I hope you enjoyed them. If you have time to post a remark, by all means do so…. Either way, I’ll see you in the comments next week!

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