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Thread: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

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    Στωικισμός Member Bijo's Avatar
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    Default Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Are there legal ways to install a Starforce game while bypassing Starforce itself? The game I wish to install is Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and I have found no patch or anything of the sort to deny Starforce entrance to my system.

    And it appears there is no re-released Chaos Theory game available for purchase without Starforce. In fact, even if there was I would not buy it, for it would be but dirty immoral theft from poor consumers' hands who bought the game already.
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    Insomniac and tired of it Senior Member Slyspy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    There are ways, though I don't know about the legalities or that particular game.

    Org policy probably forbids this kind of discussion.

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    Needs more flowers Moderator drone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    The legal way to remove/prevent Starforce from being installed with games is to not buy those games. If enough people do this, games will magically start appearing without Starforce.
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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    With Drone on this one, just don't buy Starforce'd games Bijo. Org policy forbids talk of piracy, but in some countries it is legal to do certain things to items you have purchased for personal use that would be illegal under the DMCA in America, for example.

    Starforce is hard to dislodge or bypass depending on how it's implemented. Just don't even bother, by not buying games (even old ones), you'll do your part in sending a message to the dev/publisher to stop using the machine crippling software. It worked with Ubi.

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    Στωικισμός Member Bijo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Well, as stated the reason for this thread is not illegal activity of any sort, nor to send a message to publishers, and so forth: I simply wish to play my old copy of Chaos Theory without worries about Starforce. Therefore, if you do know legal ways, please inform me

    (I had already lost a DVD reader and a DVD writer/reader.)

    I'll search around the net but I expect no positive results.
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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Before we continue, it might be wise to elicit a reading from Frogness on this discussion.

    This clearly isn't about piracy, but this is a grey area depending on where you live. Even though there are DMCA and DMCA-like provisions in the US and Britain, doesn't mean that there aren't a plethora of other nations that don't have such legislation and have better protection for end-user rights (of which I think cracking a game which you've bought because you don't want to swap out cd/dvd's is, clearly US law doesn't agree with that though).

    Will hold off until then. At worst we can take it to PM Bijo, but this might be something others are interested in.


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    Just your average Senior Member Warmaster Horus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Just, what's so bad about Starforce? I heard it can ruin drivers, or something.
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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Horus, the Starforce drivers install themselves in such a fashion that they force your hardware layer drivers into a certain mode of operation, that your optical drives were not designed to work in, and over time they will degrade.

    This is a bad analogy, but imagine you had a Ferrari. Now say you only drove this Ferrari in such a manner that you never took the engine over 2500 RPM, when it redlines at 10k and is designed for racing, not low speed city driving. Over the course of time, since you aren't operating the car as it's designed too, the engine starts to have lots of carbon buildup, the seals start to degrade, etc, all because you aren't driving it like a race car and forcing it to behave like a day to day driver.

    Sorry, I'm struggling for a good analogy, that was the best one I could come up with. Bijo's lost two drives, and my current burner doesn't burn anything but coasters anymore, and is barely hanging on as a reader.

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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    As long as the topic stays on legal ground then it will be allowed to stay. Some games do offer legal ways to remove Starforce via official patches. Others were re-released in SF-free form. Shame Bijo's game doesn't appear to have such an option.
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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Frogness, I think that's the catching point that we need your guidance on. It may certainly be legal to do what Bijo wants to do in the nation he lives in (I have no idea where he lives), but it's not going to be legal in say Britain. Does Britain arbitrarily win out in this case? After all, what he wants to do may indeed be perfectly legal, from his perspective.


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    Στωικισμός Member Bijo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Netherlands. I have found no information at all about legal/illegal issues, but I am searching.
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    Just your average Senior Member Warmaster Horus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    I see. Thanks Whacker.
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    If the game's publisher releases an official patch which removes Starforce then it's legal in all countries which the patch applies to, as it is the owner of the software which has made the decision. So far I haven't seen such a patch which leaves some SFed territories uncovered. An example of such a patch can be seen on the Beyond Divinity website in the support section. If there were such a patch for Bijo's game there would be no problem with linking to it or discussing it here. Sadly there doesn't appear to be one.

    Removing SF by any means other than an official patch for your game is breaking the law. Some countries may be exceptions to this; the majority are not. Therefore it is a banned topic on these forums, same as no-CD cracks and making copies of game discs, things which can be legal in certain countries. It has to be banned for the org's protection - we can't be seen to be condoming piracy, or allowing information which may aid pirates to appear on our site. That could get us shut down.

    A re-release is the same as any game. Buy it and it's legal. Play it any other way and you are breaking the law, whether you own an original SFed copy of the game or not.
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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Very well, thus the guidance is spoken. I will just add for discussion's sake though:

    Quote Originally Posted by frogbeastegg
    Removing SF by any means other than an official patch for your game is breaking the law. Some countries may be exceptions to this; the majority are not.

    (...)

    Play it any other way and you are breaking the law, whether you own an original SFed copy of the game or not.
    I very much doubt this, I can think of quite a few nations off the top of my head where "cracking" an owned game for personal use is legal. Fair Use in terms of personal usage has taken a real beating in a number of western nations over the past few years. However,

    It has to be banned for the org's protection - we can't be seen to be condoming piracy, or allowing information which may aid pirates to appear on our site. That could get us shut down.
    Unfortunately most likely true, which is sad, but well said.

    So, given our direction here, I really can't say anything more than what's already been said. There are really 3 options.

    1. Some games have released patches that remove the Starforce, like X3 and (IIRC) HOMM5. These are few and far between though.

    2. On that boycott Starforce site, one can find links to determining if one's machine is infested with Starforce, and also find links to tools and methods for removing it. BE WARNED! If you have a game installed that uses Starforce and you remove the drivers, your game will cease to function.

    3. The last one involves 'cracking' one's game, which we cannot discuss further.

    Bijo, you can hop on IRC or PM me if you'd like to chat.


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    Bureaucratically Efficient Senior Member TinCow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    If the publishers require Starforce to play the game (i.e. Starforce is installed whether you like it or not during a normal installation) then anything you do to remove it, prevent it from being installed, or circumvent it once installed, is illegal. It is actually illegal on multiple levels. In the US, the DMCA specifically makes it a federal crime, punishable by up to $500,000 in fines and/or up to 5 years in prison for the first offense. Double both for repeated offenses. I do not know the specific non-US laws regarding circumvention, but most nations, especially European nations, have similar laws.

    Furthermore, you are almost certainly violating the Terms of Use Agreement. That's the long text box that you click past without reading when you are installing the game. By doing so, you are entering into a legal contract with the publisher/developer to use the software in the manner stated in the Agreement. I have not read the Agreement for any Starforce game, but I can guarantee you that it will have a clause in there about non-circumvention of Starforce. So, on top of the criminal charges, you will also be liable for civil penalties for breach of contract.

    Short answer: No. Circumventing Starforce is very, very illegal and carries heavy penalties if you are caught and prosecuted/sued.

    I will say that in the US, the DMCA does allow for some very narrow exceptions to the criminality of circumvention, but those almost certainly do not apply to this topic. In addition, even in such a situation you would not free yourself of the contractual requirement created by the Terms of Use Agreement.

    [edit] Read thread in more detail. I do not know the applicable laws in the Netherlands, but even if it is not a crime to circumvent copyright there, it still violates the contract created by the Terms of Use Agreement. Unless you can specifically get something in writing exempting you from this agreement, from an authorized agent of the Publisher/Developer, you will be breaching the contract and be liable for civil penalties. Since that seems highly unlikely to me, my professional opinion is that there is no legal way for you to do what you want to do.
    Last edited by TinCow; 07-17-2007 at 14:06.


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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Quote Originally Posted by TinCow
    It is actually illegal on multiple levels. In the US, the DMCA specifically makes it a federal crime, punishable by up to $500,000 in fines and/or up to 5 years in prison for the first offense.

    That's funny, you pay them fifty bucks to use their software and allow them to cripple your PC and in addition, when you want to prevent your PC from being crippled, they can ruin your life.

    Makes perfect sense. I'd tell them to go ahead, one less taxpayer.
    Last edited by Husar; 07-17-2007 at 15:35.


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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Quote Originally Posted by TinCow
    If the publishers require Starforce to play the game (i.e. Starforce is installed whether you like it or not during a normal installation) then anything you do to remove it, prevent it from being installed, or circumvent it once installed, is illegal. It is actually illegal on multiple levels.
    In the US and GB, definitely. In general I am agreeing with some of what you and Frogness are stating here. The problem I have is that some statements are being made which are generalized, sweeping "It's illegal period almost everywhere", and I don't believe that's true. Such as this:

    I do not know the specific non-US laws regarding circumvention, but most nations, especially European nations, have similar laws.
    You don't know that about "most nations". US, GB, and European law is similar but there are differences. I can think of several Pacific, Asian, eastern European, and Scandinavian nations that have Consumer Rights type laws which, as I read it, trump anything a publisher may try to put in their EULA.

    Furthermore, you are almost certainly violating the Terms of Use Agreement. That's the long text box that you click past without reading when you are installing the game. By doing so, you are entering into a legal contract with the publisher/developer to use the software in the manner stated in the Agreement. I have not read the Agreement for any Starforce game, but I can guarantee you that it will have a clause in there about non-circumvention of Starforce.
    Again see above statement. Some nations have laws that specifically prevent publishers from implementing such parts of agreements. Another example of something that's legal for personal use elsewhere is reverse engineering of software. Key words are "personal use".

    Short answer: No. Circumventing Starforce is very, very illegal and carries heavy penalties if you are caught and prosecuted/sued.
    In some nations yes, in others no. "In almost all/most nations" I highly doubt, and would like to see some evidence of this. IANAL definitely, but I *have* done some reading up on this in the past.

    I will say that in the US, the DMCA does allow for some very narrow exceptions to the criminality of circumvention, but those almost certainly do not apply to this topic. In addition, even in such a situation you would not free yourself of the contractual requirement created by the Terms of Use Agreement.
    There's almost nothing in the US that's been tested in court, like making personal backups and whatnaught, that's survived the DMCA litmus test. It's a real problem when we have corporations and companies that have more rights and power than individuals. Honestly, why should a publisher care if I crack a game that I bought for my own personal use? It's completely unnecessary legislation, if someone pirates the game and cracks it, you've already got them on copyright infringement, just like downloading of music, making the 'protection circumvention' totally redundant.

    There's a "Bill of Consumer Rights" in the US that's being proposed which is a good thing in my view, but it's also sad in another way. Part of how the US Constitution was written is that "not all rights shall be enumerated", sadly it's been the trend lately that the concept of fair/personal use is being bulldozed by corporate America and their congressional lackeys. Looks like we are now heading down the opposite path, in that we as consumers will have only the rights that our dear federal government chooses to give us.

    Let me put out one more example here real quick. I'm sure many of you have heard of the "no-compete" clause that employers in the US are frequently throwing into employment contracts nowadays. They do this all the want to, but the reality of it is that those clauses are not being upheld in courts of law when they are litigated, because they are trumped by the individual's right to employ themselves however. There was a case a year or so back where an MS employee went to work for Google and MS tried to invoke the clause, they initially won but on appeal lost.

    In short, they can stick the clause in the contract, but one can safely "ignore" it because it's technically illegal, hence void and invalid. Same basis as being presented above.
    Last edited by Whacker; 07-17-2007 at 15:56.

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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    I simply boycott Starforce games and encourage everyone else to do the same.

    No one game is worth installing Starforce, which in my view is malware, on one's computer.

    Buy a game without Starforce instead.

    Ubisoft apparently already dropped Starforce in future games, most likely due to bad/worse sales due to many consumers refusing to buy products infested with Starforce.

    It has also hurt the sales of smaller companies who chose to infest their games with Starforce too. I believe The Adventure Company even closed their official forums due to never-ending uproar about the customers upset about them putting Starforce in their games.

    Keep fighting the good fight. Oppose Starforce, never buy anything with Starforce in it. Tell everyone else to do the same. Then eventually Starforce will cease to exist in new games.

    I strongly disagree that circumventing Starforce is illegal - that's ridiculous. That would mean Publishers have a right to install malware on end user's machines, I don't think they do. I say that Publishers infesting the end user's machine with Starforce malware is an illegal act on the part of the Publisher and the makers of Starforce, and if court-challenged, it is likely to be held up in Court by a Judge as being illegal.
    Last edited by Navaros; 07-17-2007 at 16:22.

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    Dux Nova Scotia Member lars573's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Starforce themselfs made a removal tool if you really don't want it on your system, although the Starforce game probably won't run without it. I'd heard about it before. A little googlage later and I found it.

    http://www.onlinesecurity-on.com/protect.phtml?c=55
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    Bureaucratically Efficient Senior Member TinCow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Quote Originally Posted by Whacker
    You don't know that about "most nations". US, GB, and European law is similar but there are differences. I can think of several Pacific, Asian, eastern European, and Scandinavian nations that have Consumer Rights type laws which, as I read it, trump anything a publisher may try to put in their EULA.
    Dear god, you should be a lawyer. Very well, "most" was not the right word to use because "most" implies a majority. Wikipedia tells me that there are 245 countries, so that would mean that 123 would have to have anti-circumvention laws to make my statement true. Since I doubt that is right, I concede the point. Well done, sir.

    However, the sentiment behind my words was that these laws exist in a very large number of countries, particularly 'developed' nations as they are sometimes known. Again, I do not know the individual national laws of these nations, but at a bare minimum it applies to all WIPO signatories, which currently includes 64 countries, including the entire EU. That is certainly a significant number of nations, if not the requisite 51% of them.


    Again see above statement. Some nations have laws that specifically prevent publishers from implementing such parts of agreements. Another example of something that's legal for personal use elsewhere is reverse engineering of software. Key words are "personal use".
    If you're talking about unconscionable contract laws, well, pretty much every nation has those, including the US. However, court cases in the US have repeatedly stated that Terms of Use Agreements are perfectly valid if the user indicates that they agree to them by clicking or using other electronic signature methods. Paperless signatures have been upheld by the courts time and time again. If you clicked it, you agree that you have read it and that you agree to be bound by the terms. It is not the publisher's fault if you did not read it and later have an issue, and the courts agree.

    If you are aware of specific laws in non-US jurisdictions that prevent certain Terms of Use clauses from being upheld, I would like to see cites to them so that I can read them. I am personally very interested in this topic and wish to educate myself about nations that are exploring this route.

    In re: Reverse engineering - It is the most significant DMCA exception and the reason why I stated that the exceptions do not apply in this case. He is most certainly not reverse engineering the software.

    In some nations yes, in others no. "In almost all/most nations" I highly doubt, and would like to see some evidence of this. IANAL definitely, but I *have* done some reading up on this in the past.
    Incorrect, because breach of contract is still illegal and the contract is valid in all nations that I am aware of. See the above reply about needing cites to applicable unconscionable contract laws in non-US jurisdiction.

    In short, they can stick the clause in the contract, but one can safely "ignore" it because it's technically illegal, hence void and invalid. Same basis as being presented above.
    And you accuse me of being overbroad? They are most certainly not "technically illegal" in any nation that I am aware of, to specifically include the US and the entire EU. You are spreading false information here.

    Please do not mistake me as a supporter of current Copyright laws in the US or anywhere else. I am a heavy critic, but since you chose to nitpick my words I have to respond in kind.
    Last edited by TinCow; 07-17-2007 at 16:43.


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    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Quote Originally Posted by TinCow
    Dear god, you should be a lawyer.
    I almost did attend law school. Went as far as taking the LSAT, but ... personal reasons intervened and closed off that path in life. Would have been interesting though.

    Again, I do not know the individual national laws of these nations, but at a bare minimum it applies to all WIPO signatories, which currently includes 64 countries, including the entire EU. That is certainly a significant number of nations, if not the requisite 51% of them.
    This is a really good point you make, about WIPO treaty nations. The two Scandanavian nations I could think of, Sweden and Finland, are both listed as "signature" but not "In Force" on the WIPO site. This could mean that as they progress toward full WIPO implementation, some of these issues we've discussed might be points of contention to these nation's implementation. Curious...

    If you're talking about unconscionable contract laws, well, pretty much every nation has those, including the US. However, court cases in the US have repeatedly stated that Terms of Use Agreements are perfectly valid if the user indicates that they agree to them by clicking or using other electronic signature methods.
    That's not true at all. I'm digging for an example to provide you beyond the "no-compete" clause issue, but there are certain rights that you as a consumer and/or individual (in the US at least) have that are unenforcable in a contract. Wikipedia isn't exactly the foremost source on this, but what's in this article here on non-compete is in line with what I have read. Also on the contrary, I found this link as well to a non-compete being upheld. Without digging further, I wonder if that 2nd case would have survived higher levels of court appeal.

    Paperless signatures have been upheld by the courts time and time again. If you clicked it, you agree that you have read it and that you agree to be bound by the terms.
    Paperless signatures yes, to a point. It can sometimes be difficult to 'prove' that someone signed something electronically. If I had full knowledge of you and your personal details, I could commit wire fraud and sign up for and buy stuff online appearing as you. There are certainly ways of narrowing it down based on technical means and research to all but verify that it wasn't you doing so, provided that adequate logging is done by the vendors and ISP, but it's still difficult, if not impossible, to demonstrate that it wasn't you sitting at my PC doing so. This isn't meant to be an absolute thing what I am saying, but I'm sure you get my meaning, right?

    If you are aware of specific laws in non-US jurisdictions that prevent certain Terms of Use clauses from being upheld, I would like to see cites to them so that I can read them. I am personally very interested in this topic and wish to educate myself about nations that are exploring this route.
    I'm curious too, now that we're having this discussion. Will dig around, work is slow today.

    Incorrect, because breach of contract is still illegal and the contract is valid in all nations that I am aware of. See the above reply about needing cites to applicable unconscionable contract laws in non-US jurisdiction.
    Breech of contract definitely, the fine point is is the clause in question enforceable? This is an extremely grey area, I'd have to dig out my old study books, but there are certainly civil contract grounds for unenforceability in terms of contractual stipulations depending on the circumstances.

    And you accuse me of being overbroad? They are most certainly not "technically illegal" in any nation that I am aware of, to specifically include the US and the entire EU. You are spreading false information here.
    Please see above info, specifically re: noncompete clauses.

    Please do not mistake me as a supporter of current Copyright laws in the US or anywhere else. I am a heavy critic, but since you chose to nitpick my words I have to respond in kind.
    Relax mate, no offense meant, I apologize if any was taken. This is a good discussion and nitpicking is going to be important in terms of understanding.

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  22. #22
    Bureaucratically Efficient Senior Member TinCow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Quote Originally Posted by Whacker
    I almost did attend law school. Went as far as taking the LSAT, but ... personal reasons intervened and closed off that path in life. Would have been interesting though.
    Don't sell yourself short. Law school teaches you absolutely nothing about being a lawyer, except perhaps how to be a ruthless ******* when you need to be. Similarly, the Bar is nothing more than professional hazing and has no relationship to the actual practice of law. I personally believe that a person could go straight from college to a law firm with nothing in between, as long as they had the proper traits for the job and were given some good training at the start, which all freshly barred attorneys get anyway.

    I think anyone with a decently keen mind can understand the law and effectively argue their cases. The only thing they don't know is the procedure required, and that is where training comes in. The man who represents himself certainly has a fool for a client, but only because he won't know the proper filing date for discovery motions, not because he can't cross-examine a witness. Too bad they don't teach the actual useful procedure information in the classroom.

    Law school and the Bar Exam process are a scam to keep the legal industry elitist and removed from the general populous. Of course, since I had to go through all the hoops, it seems wrong to allow anyone else to live in a rational world...

    That's not true at all. I'm digging for an example to provide you beyond the "no-compete" clause issue, but there are certain rights that you as a consumer and/or individual (in the US at least) have that are unenforcable in a contract. Wikipedia isn't exactly the foremost source on this, but what's in this article here on non-compete is in line with what I have read. Also on the contrary, I found this link as well to a non-compete being upheld. Without digging further, I wonder if that 2nd case would have survived higher levels of court appeal.

    Breech of contract definitely, the fine point is is the clause in question enforceable? This is an extremely grey area, I'd have to dig out my old study books, but there are certainly civil contract grounds for unenforceability in terms of contractual stipulations depending on the circumstances.
    Ah, here's the problem. I interpreted your first statement as saying that the Terms of Use clauses that prevent you from altering your own software are invalid. What you were saying is that there are some clauses, such as non-competition, that are invalid, even if otherwise properly agreed to in a contract. This is entirely accurate, but I don't see the parallel with the clauses that would be at issue in the instant case.

    Just because some clauses are unenforceable does not mean that all are. Non-competition has no legal relationship with anti-circumvention clauses and the various other legal absurdities that are found in the typical Terms of Use. Again, my specific knowledge is pretty much limited to US law, but I am not aware of a single court case of any precedential value that has invalidated a software Terms of Use copyright-related clause.

    The basic problem is that copyright and contract law are very, very clear on the matter. Furthermore, there are numerous cases that have upheld the validity of these laws over the previous centuries. The problem is that software is an altogether different beast than anything else contracts and copyright have ever dealt with before. These areas of law are being jury rigged (Sorry, irresistible ) to apply to an area of commerce where they simply do not fit. Software requires new laws and new rights because it is a new medium entirely separate from the products that have preceded it. Unfortunately, without legislative direction, the legal industry must work on precedent, which in this case points only in one direction. Change has to come from Congress on this one, which means that the corporate interest groups have to want it. That means that the companies themselves have to desire a change to copyright law, which at the moment is rather unlikely IMO.


  23. #23
    Bureaucratically Efficient Senior Member TinCow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    A passing thought while considering the matter:

    If you were able to somehow install the software WITHOUT 'agreeing' to the terms of use, I see no legal way you could be bound by them. That would thereby avoid the possible breach of contract liability. So, if you lived in a jurisdication that allowed you to circumvent various protections and you were able to figure out some way to install without popping up the Terms of Use, you should be entirely legal. Of course, you might still have to prove it in court, which could be expensive...


  24. #24
    Amphibious Trebuchet Salesman Member Whacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Quote Originally Posted by TinCow
    I think anyone with a decently keen mind can understand the law and effectively argue their cases.
    Fully agree here. The thing I see that law school provides is that is teaches one not only the system and procedures, but how to argue correctly and successfully, and how to dig through and understand the myriad legal codes. And of course how to be a ruthless git.

    Ah, here's the problem. I interpreted your first statement as saying that the Terms of Use clauses that prevent you from altering your own software are invalid. What you were saying is that there are some clauses, such as non-competition, that are invalid, even if otherwise properly agreed to in a contract.
    Ah, the misunderstanding comes out. Sorry, that's my fault, I should have been more clear.

    The core statement I was trying to make earlier in my posts was, "Bijo may live in a nation where the laws are such that he can crack the game after he installs it, and it would be legal regardless of what the EULA says because his national law trumps the EULA." I still don't know if this is true or not for the Netherlands, but it's still a possibility. /shrug

    Just because some clauses are unenforceable does not mean that all are.
    Agree, my intent wasn't to state that it was an all or nothing deal. My point was that depending on the national laws of the end user, some of the individual EULA clauses such as protection bypassing and reverse engineering might not be enforceable. Just because some aren't, doesn't mean the whole thing isn't.

    Non-competition has no legal relationship with anti-circumvention clauses and the various other legal absurdities that are found in the typical Terms of Use.
    True, I think perhaps we were getting a bit too abstract in our discussion.

    Again, my specific knowledge is pretty much limited to US law, but I am not aware of a single court case of any precedent value that has invalidated a software Terms of Use copyright-related clause.
    Neither am I in the US. I don't have any direct knowledge of case law on this outside of the US either to be fair, and it's not like I'm any sort of legal expert.

    That means that the companies themselves have to desire a change to copyright law, which at the moment is rather unlikely IMO.
    Meh, I'd like to think there's still enough clout that we the humble citizenry have to elicit or force certain changes. Voting someone in or out is a powerful motivating tool, and there's only so much that lobbyist cash can do, but this is another line of discussion entirely. Suffice to say I do somewhat agree with your sentiments.

    If you were able to somehow install the software WITHOUT 'agreeing' to the terms of use, I see no legal way you could be bound by them. That would thereby avoid the possible breach of contract liability. So, if you lived in a jurisdication that allowed you to circumvent various protections and you were able to figure out some way to install without popping up the Terms of Use, you should be entirely legal. Of course, you might still have to prove it in court, which could be expensive...
    That'd be hilarious to see that tried in court. The best thing I can think of is that the software publisher would have to prove malicious intent on the part of the user by "bypassing" the install routines and schlepping the game on the drive directly. Of course most of the games these days come packaged up in those encrypted cab/install files, so my other guess would be that if they somehow figured out how to crack the encryption on those and pull the files out directly, that'd be a DMCA type violation. Bleh.



    Edit - I seem to be making up some words here.
    Last edited by Whacker; 07-17-2007 at 19:16.

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  25. #25
    Bureaucratically Efficient Senior Member TinCow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Quote Originally Posted by Whacker
    That'd be hilarious to see that tried in court. The best thing I can think of is that the software publisher would have to prove malicious intent on the part of the user by "bypassing" the install routines and schlepping the game on the drive directly. Of course most of the games these days come packaged up in those encrypted cab/install files, so my other guess would be that if they somehow figured out how to crack the encryption on those and pull the files out directly, that'd be a DMCA type violation. Bleh.
    On a whim, I did some digging and found a case that's exactly on point.

    Sprecht v. Netscape, Fed. Cir. upholding Fed. Dis. decision that users who did not read or assent to a terms of use agreement cannot be bound by it. [edit] FindLaw seems to require a login, so use these instead: Fed. Dis. decision; Fed. Cir. decision.

    Very interesting, but also it shows a flaw in my theory. Both the District and Circuit courts concentrated on the users' actual lack of knowledge about the Terms of Use Agreement. If you had to work really, really hard to circumvent the installation process and avoid the ToU, that would probably imply that you knew the gist of what was in the agreement. You would probably have to prove that it was easy to do and could occur by accident without having to make overt efforts at the process. Still, it's close enough that I would argue either side in the case, which means the users win in California and the publisher wins in New York.

    Quote Originally Posted by Whacker
    Edit - I seem to be making up some words here.
    You're halfway to being a lawyer already!
    Last edited by TinCow; 07-17-2007 at 20:08.


  26. #26
    Member Member ElectricEel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Personally I'm currently boycotting Starforce, though I haven't seen a lot of games recently that I would be interested in that had it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Whacker
    The two Scandanavian nations I could think of, Sweden and Finland, are both listed as "signature" but not "In Force" on the WIPO site.
    A law was passed in 2005 that made cimcurventing "effective" copy protection, even for personal use (expect when needed to make the product usable - e.g. if you have a music CD with copy protection that prevents the CD from working in Linux, cimcurventing copy protection so you can listen to it in Linux is not criminal) illegal in Finland. "Effective" is apparently further defined as "achieving the desired level of protection". Recently, a court ruled that a copy protection system wasn't "effective" because numerous cracks were easily obtainable off the Internet. So basically, here it is legal to circurvent copy protection (for personal use) only if it is easy to do so!

    Warning, rant follows.

    According to that law, cimcurventing copy protection, even for personal use, is a criminal act (with the expection mentioned above), while downloading, say, pirated music from the Internet is merely a misdemeanor (not sure if that is the proper translation, but should get the message across), and punished less severely. So if you crack a game you bought, you get punished worse (provided that you, somehow, manage to get caught) than if you had just pirated the game...

    That law also prohibits "organized discussion" about the subject of circumventing copy protection (this is probably unconstitutional, violating freedom of speech, and "organized discussion" isn't defined anywhere), and requires people who violate copyright to publish information about the crime in e.g. a newspaper if the prosecutor (I'm not 100% sure that's correct, couldn't find the finnish word in any of my dictionaries) so requests (though they aren't required to publish any information that could really affect them, so this is effectively just a fine - but then, why not just make it one?). The committee responsible for advising the Parliament in matters relating to the constitution was ignored when they said certain other parts of the law were unconstitutional (about which I won't go into detail here).

    The whole event was a disgrace; the proponents of the law lied their asses off (e.g. claiming to have precise, written instructions from the EU Commission on the requirements of the directive it was introduced in response to - Commission said they hadn't issued any instructions, and that their interpretation of the requirements was less strict than those of the proponents; forging signatures in an address supporting the law) while pushing it through, while simultaneusly showing their ignorance with idiotic comments (e.g. claiming the popular movement against the law was organized my malicious machinators). Sadly, the law was passed because of political nonsense.
    Last edited by ElectricEel; 07-19-2007 at 18:20. Reason: Edited to make the post clearer

  27. #27
    Honorary Argentinian Senior Member Gyroball Champion, Karts Champion Caius's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    We can talk with Andres, who I think its a lawyer.




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  28. #28
    Bureaucratically Efficient Senior Member TinCow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    I read an interesting article on Wired today that talked about two recent court cases that rejected abusive EULAs, even though they had been agreed to by the user. Check out the article here. While it gives some hope that companies will no longer be able to manipulate their licenses in malicious ways, I feel the need to point out that one case is a California court and the other is the 9th Circuit, so there's no guarantee this is going to hold water anywhere else. Also, while the article has a nice closing note about progress in NY, that was an out-of-court settlement, not a bench decision. I doubt the 9th and the 2nd Circuits will agree on this issue before the 33rd century.


  29. #29
    Robot Unicorn Member Kekvit Irae's Avatar
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Of the Starforce games listed, I legally own Call of Cthulu, Icewind Dale, Singles 2, UFO: Aftershock, and Sacred Plus (the UK version). Never had a problem with any of them.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Legal removal/prevention of Starforce from games

    Quote Originally Posted by Kekvit Irae
    Of the Starforce games listed, I legally own Call of Cthulu, Icewind Dale, Singles 2, UFO: Aftershock, and Sacred Plus (the UK version). Never had a problem with any of them.
    Loads of people will have one game with Starforce installed and never report any problems.
    I believe people report having Starforce installed, and not being able to burn CD's anymore. I play the game Trackmania Nations (well I used to, I uninstalled it), never had any problems.

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