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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    I'd like to think that a ban would affect only their ability to trade/use the community and not their own account - because blocking people's access to their games (and money) is going to get you into court sooner or later.
    It's interesting as in terms of people's games, that's exactly what Valve do now. The Steam Wallet cash is a new niggle introduced with the existence of the Steam Wallet. There's no way to 'withdraw' from Steam Wallet (I think) so no mechanism in place to refund people, and if you're banning people from buying new games then that cash is going to be unspendable.

    The 'games in inventory' issue could be helped along by letting people redeem them on their own account, but won't help for games people already own that they picked up as gifts for people in the future...

  2. #42
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Valve needs to remove the trading feature if they are going to punish for its use. I have no idea what country half of my steam friends list comes from because it's a list of people who I play games with not a nationalist list of my countrymen.
    Valve could remove the feature entirely, except that they don't want to. They, for whatever reasons, want to provide a service that people like to use. So they try to allow for friendly trades and "looking the other way". Again, when a user has 30 items as gifts and that much steam cash, they don't strike me as someone who did "one or two trades"

    Quote Originally Posted by FFabian View Post
    Here in "socialist" Europe it's not "their rules". We already have rules in place - called laws, and unlike the US TOS violating consumer protection laws are not legally binding. The European Court of Justice made a recent ruling regarding digital content that indicates that certain steam "rules" are standing on very thin legal ground.
    And HERE you have why they have to do this. If we want to bitch at them to enforce some local laws, they kind of can't pick and choose (even though they totally are right now :p). You want your "right" to re-sell software, you also have the "right" to deal with tariffs and import/export law and the like

    Quote Originally Posted by Harlander View Post
    Isn't "use common sense" too wooly and vague for a legal agreement? Are you doing some of that figurative speaking so popular with the young folk nowadays?

    (I've always suspected that "common sense" is somewhat of a myth, myself..)
    Well, the legality of a TOS/TOU is pretty vague to begin with, and the most important aspect boils down to "Either party is allowed to terminate business and walk away at any time". For Valve, that means closing your account. For you, that means never logging into your account and never giving Valve another penny. The vast majority of the TOS/TOU is basically "Yo, we are obeying these laws" and "When we ban you, this is probably why".

    And actually, if memory serves, a lot of the REALLY REALLY obscene lawsuits do actually get thrown out on the legal phrasing of "use common sense". Stuff like "Well, the wording of the contract just says we have the right to use X, not we have the right to use the specific instance of X we purchased. So it is totally legal for us to buy one student copy of MS Office for all twelve branches of the company!".

    Stuff like this basically boils down to "you know that VAT and tariff crap? You cross the line, and these stop being gifts and start being sales, and you start being responsible for that"
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  3. #43
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tritagonist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    You want your "right" to re-sell software, you also have the "right" to deal with tariffs and import/export law and the like
    This is actually mentioned under the heading 'Trading and Sales of Subscriptions Between Subscribers' in the Steam Subscriber Agreement: "If you complete a trade, sale or purchase in a Subscription Marketplace, you acknowledge and agree that you are responsible for taxes, if any, which may be due with respect to your transactions, including sales or use taxes, and for compliance with applicable tax laws. Proceeds from sales you make in a Subscription Marketplace may be considered income to you for income tax purposes. You should consult with a tax specialist to determine your tax liability in connection with your activities in any Subscription Marketplace."
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  5. #45
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus LTK's Avatar
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    Combined with this, that is just a hilarious case of mixed signals.

  6. #46
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    "Valve could remove the feature entirely, except that they don't want to. They, for whatever reasons, want to provide a service that people like to use. So they try to allow for friendly trades and "looking the other way"."
    Wow. Interesting argument your presenting there... not sure it help either side taking part in the "looking the other way" or the "unclear rules" or the "exploiting region pricing". Not even for those who are doing occasional gifts and what then? False positives? Who does this system of ambiguous rules help?

  7. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by TechnicalBen View Post
    Wow. Interesting argument your presenting there... not sure it help either side taking part in the "looking the other way" or the "unclear rules" or the "exploiting region pricing". Not even for those who are doing occasional gifts and what then? False positives? Who does this system of ambiguous rules help?
    Good questions.

  8. #48
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Drake Sigar's Avatar
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    This is why I stay as far away from trading as possible. In fact I basically go one further and assume every game on my Steam list is money thrown to the winds, because right or wrong, they can take it away with a snap of their fingers. Time was if someone wanted to take my games, they at least had to break into my house first.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drake Sigar View Post
    This is why I stay as far away from trading as possible. In fact I basically go one further and assume every game on my Steam list is money thrown to the winds, because right or wrong, they can take it away with a snap of their fingers. Time was if someone wanted to take my games, they at least had to break into my house first.
    Though as this post demonstrates, they're not taking his games. Well not most of them - the un-redeemed gifts for sure, but the games in his library he can still play, re-download and update.

  10. #50
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    The tax stuff is bollocks. Digital importing is bollocks, too, but the income tax thing for market sales is worse. Treating the Steam Wallet as "income?" It's a fucking one-way money valve. Money goes in, but it can't come back out. If that's income, what can I do with it? Where can I spend it? Can I take that income and give it to the IRS when they ask for taxes on it? Can I do ANYTHING with it other than buy crap on steam?

    No, but if I go through 200 transactions I'm liable to maybe possibly pay some pennies in income tax on account of having spent a little money and earned glorified coupons in return. Fuck digital-only currency. If it is not even technically possible to turn it into liquid, it shouldn't be treated as income. Stocks aren't treated as proper income here in the US, and those CAN be sold for liquid unlike my god-damn Steam wallet.

    Argh. I'm endlessly pissed off at the way governments are handling the digital world. Maybe if they talked to people who weren't barely fresher than the transistor, Congress would actually make some sensible fucking digital legislation.
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  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    No, but if I go through 200 transactions I'm liable to maybe possibly pay some pennies in income tax on account of having spent a little money and earned glorified coupons in return. Fuck digital-only currency. If it is not even technically possible to turn it into liquid, it shouldn't be treated as income. Stocks aren't treated as proper income here in the US, and those CAN be sold for liquid unlike my god-damn Steam wallet.
    FWIW, the 200 transaction IRS reporting requirement seems more of a CYA on Valve's part. It's unclear whether the IRS would actually count Steam wallet as income. I also doubt anyone from the US would come near the amount required to actually test that theory.

    Also, can anyone quote the relevant part of the Steam SSA that would apply here? I went to read it and the only thing I could find was even tangentially related was:
    You agree that you will not use IP proxying or other methods to disguise the place of your residence, whether to circumvent geographical restrictions on game content, to purchase at pricing not applicable to your geography, or for any other purpose. If you do this, we may terminate your access to your Account.
    Unfortunately, that has bugger all to do with trading.

  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    to enforce some local laws
    Typical USian arrogance/ignorance. Everything not-US is some obscure backwater crap eh?

    The EU is not some local backwater - It has a potential consumer-base larger than the US, second only to China.

    Want to make business here? Then follow the law. Usians like to think US law is world law but you may be surprised to hear it's not. Following the law in other countries is not optional. MS learned that lesson the hard way.

  13. #53
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmh View Post
    FWIW, the 200 transaction IRS reporting requirement seems more of a CYA on Valve's part. It's unclear whether the IRS would actually count Steam wallet as income. I also doubt anyone from the US would come near the amount required to actually test that theory.
    Oh, for sure. But as we're already discussing in this thread, valve covering their ass by having you fill out some digital forms when you hit 200 transactions and asking nicely if the IRS wants your money is a good way to convince someone with an IRS desk job to ask politely using just the right loopholes to count it as income.

    The IRS is very fond of using loopholes where it can, because trying to collect taxes with a convoluted tax code is like herding cats. While all the good income sources are lithely dodging the clumsy bureaucracy of the IRS it sometimes stoops to pinching up pennies from beneath the strangest of couch cushions.

    I'm not actually worried about paying taxes on my Steam wallet. Mostly I'm just ranting. There's this weird middle ground I'm in between trusting my government and recognizing that when government employees and even the larger abstract government machinery itself gets pushed into a corner ... I'm liable to get screwed. Customers get caught in the crossfire between the government and corporations and between corporations and each other just as often as they get screwed directly by the greed of this or that entity. Companies like Valve and EMI make all kinds of little decisions that fuck over customers when all they really want is to protect their backsides in case someone (like the IRS, or customs officials or a market competitor) calls them out on a borderline issue. So ISPs shut down perfectly legal torrenting. Fair Use videos get kicked off of Youtube and whole channels get shut-down. And I can't make more than 200 transactions on the Steam market place without promising to Steam that the IRS can examine said transactions for tax purposes if they feel like it and agreeing that, yes, Steam warned me it could happen.

    That sounds perfectly reasonable for Valve to do that. But what about me? I'm being asked to put myself in a position where I was made aware of the possibility and agreed that it was cool. If something stupid and silly were to occur, I'm in a weaker position than if Steam hadn't ever asked. And Valve can afford the weaker position a lot better than I can. This is also why EULAs are so messed up. Sure they haven't had success in courts and they've actually lost legal ground here and there and so forth. But while even more solid contracts have failed in court, less solid contracts have succeeded. Simply by ASKING the customer, these sorts of systems put the customer into a legally uncomfortable position in a thousand small ways every year. All it takes is one of those EULAs or service contracts to pull through and one screw up to get called out by a company. It's not likely ... but I see these little agreements everywhere and I don't have the time or money to fight back if one of them ever turned into a fine because of something quasi-legal I did that I didn't even realize was quasi-legal.

    Or if my Steam account got banned becasue of IP address confusion or what-have-you.

    The US really needs better consumer protection legislation. We still have myths floating around like that "frivolous" McDonalds lawsuit which wasn't actually frivolous at all.

    Also, can anyone quote the relevant part of the Steam SSA that would apply here? I went to read it and the only thing I could find was even tangentially related was:
    I was also unable to find a relevant part of the SSA.
    Last edited by gwathdring; 29-07-2013 at 11:43 PM.
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  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    I was also unable to find a relevant part of the SSA.
    I failed to find anything in the SSA or on the Gifting page or on the Trading page. The only things that were forbidden were circumventing regional restrictions yourself, or selling gifts by a mechanism outside of Steam. Presumably if you're doing the latter then, unless they have records of Steam chat to prove their case, the extent to which they can get away with blocking your account on the grounds of "well we reckon you done it" will be determined by the country you live in and how much of an arse you feel like being about it.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    <wall of text>The US really needs better consumer protection legislation. We still have myths floating around like that "frivolous" McDonalds lawsuit which wasn't actually frivolous at all.
    I completely agree that the US needs stronger consumer protections (and with most of the rest of what you wrote).

    Quote Originally Posted by NathanH View Post
    I failed to find anything in the SSA or on the Gifting page or on the Trading page. The only things that were forbidden were circumventing regional restrictions yourself, or selling gifts by a mechanism outside of Steam. Presumably if you're doing the latter then, unless they have records of Steam chat to prove their case, the extent to which they can get away with blocking your account on the grounds of "well we reckon you done it" will be determined by the country you live in and how much of an arse you feel like being about it.
    Even in the "selling gifts outside of Steam" situation, it's not so much verboten as unsupported and ill-advised -- basically, Steam won't help you if you get screwed doing it.

  16. #56
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LTK View Post
    Combined with this, that is just a hilarious case of mixed signals.
    Not really - the classification board or whatever nonsense they call themselves now are a separate entity out to shit in everyone's coffee. The price investigation doesn't actually do anything except say that yes, we're getting screwed on pricing, and here are some suggestions on what to do. The government might or might not choose to do something about it (spoiler: they won't, because Microsoft already gave them a discount to the tune of $100mil on gov IT supplies so they're happy now). Nothing in that says it's cool to circumvent region blocks to get restricted content (though to my knowledge only one state has a law that prohibits importing RC materials).

    Quote Originally Posted by NathanH View Post
    I failed to find anything in the SSA or on the Gifting page or on the Trading page.
    Regarding not trading or gifting for money, this comes from the Trading Policy (emphasis mine)
    What should I not trade for?Do not trade for anything that cannot be added into the trade window within Steam. The most common examples of these scenarios are the following:

    • Trading items/gifts for money outside of the Steam Community market. You cannot add wallet credit or any form of money into the trade window. A common example of this is trading for items/gifts in return for money via PayPal. [snip]
    • Trading items/gifts for CD Keys. You cannot add a CD Key into the trade window. CD Keys that are offered can be for a different game, fake, used or region restricted. A common example of this trade is trading items/gifts in return for a promotional CD Key that is never given to you.


    Regarding selling gift "subscriptions" (from the Steam Gifts KBA, emphasis mine)
    May I sell gift subscriptions?
    Steam Gift Purchases can not be sold. Attempting to sell a gift subscription is a violation of the Steam Subscriber Agreement and may result in your account being permanently disabled. You can trade gifts using our new Steam Trading system and can read more about that here.
    Finally, in the "My Gift was Revoked" KBA, it explicitly states at the bottom not to trade gifts for money.

    Also saw this, which I did not know:
    Quote Originally Posted by SSA
    Within any twenty-four (24) hour period, the total amount stored in your Steam Wallet plus the total amount spent out of your Steam Wallet, in the aggregate, may not exceed $2,000 US or its equivalent in your applicable local currency -- attempted deposits into your Steam Wallet that exceed this threshold may not be credited to your Steam Wallet until your activity falls below this threshold.
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  17. #57
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechnicalBen View Post
    "Valve could remove the feature entirely, except that they don't want to. They, for whatever reasons, want to provide a service that people like to use. So they try to allow for friendly trades and "looking the other way"."
    Wow. Interesting argument your presenting there... not sure it help either side taking part in the "looking the other way" or the "unclear rules" or the "exploiting region pricing". Not even for those who are doing occasional gifts and what then? False positives? Who does this system of ambiguous rules help?
    I agree that the ambiguity is confusing, but it is also a good thing. If they wanted to make things concrete, it would only hurt us as they would basically have to stop all inter-region trading. As it stands, if I decide to smuggle a game for a friend in a different region, I can. No problems. I just have to keep in mind that the key is moderation.



    Quote Originally Posted by FFabian View Post
    Typical USian arrogance/ignorance. Everything not-US is some obscure backwater crap eh?
    Really? Really? Wow. It is "US arrogance" and ignorance to refer to laws local to the EU as being "local laws"?

    But fine: "Enforce some local laws and European laws because the entire world is part of Europe"
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  18. #58
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    That's not what is, allegedly, at work though. Supposedly the trades were never directly for outside cash. Rather it was "I scratch your back, you scratch mine," with all transactions occurring through the exchange of gifts that can be placed in the Steam trading window. References to the exchange of TF2 "keys" was probably referring to the kind that unlock chests. References by my and other non-ops to the trading of keys is sometimes just sloppy talk because ... effectively ... that's what the steam trading window is all about and again is more a philosophical issues than anything else--steam inventory games are tied to a key so it is, in a sense, trading keys.

    Anyway, point being--none of what you found seems to cover the "Don't trade games from cheaper regions to people outside those regions" thing that's allegedly a rule. None of it covers the "you can't trade a bunch of crap to friends from other parts of the world or else we'll ban your ass" part, either.

    It does, however, make it clear why an otherwise well meaning employee looking at the OP's account would have thought something was up.
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  19. #59
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    Really? Really? Wow. It is "US arrogance" and ignorance to refer to laws local to the EU as being "local laws"?

    But fine: "Enforce some local laws and European laws because the entire world is part of Europe"
    I believe the issue is that Steam need to either apply policies that work in all of it's regions, or apply different policies in each region that conform to local laws. It was silly for FFabian to get tetchy about the phrase "local laws." But I disagree that Steam shouldn't be beholden to them. If it does business in the EU, it's EU customers deserve their EU protections.
    I think of [the Internet] as a grisly raw steak laid out on a porcelain benchtop in the sun, covered in chocolate hazelnut sauce. In the background plays Stardustís Music Sounds Better With You. Thereís lots of fog. --tomeoftom

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  20. #60
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    I believe the issue is that Steam need to either apply policies that work in all of it's regions, or apply different policies in each region that conform to local laws. It was silly for FFabian to get tetchy about the phrase "local laws." But I disagree that Steam shouldn't be beholden to them. If it does business in the EU, it's EU customers deserve their EU protections.
    Well, mostly my complaint was against the moronic rant about the phrase "local laws".

    But really, this is a problem that digital distribution in general faces. Every time a new game is released, all of Europe gets angry that they get the game 2 days later (because of how store shipments work). When one region gets a better sale than another region, every other region gets angry (I know I do every time Origin has a good sale :p), but that likely has to do with the deals that can be negotiated with the different regional distributors. And all of Australia and Germany get pissed off whenever a game is censored.

    So I am not really sure if local laws should necessarily be enforced on a global scale (especially something that has the potential to impact the industry as much as the used games issue), but I am also not really certain what solution there can be (other than to further differentiate the different regional stores, like Origin and GfwL and the like), and I think this is something that is going to have to be handled in court.
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