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  1. #1
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    Bundles and sharing the games therein - morals and all that stuff

    I kicked-off this discussion in the PC Bargains thread but it's cluttering that so I've brought it out here...

    Note: We're not talking 'legal' here, because that's complex and country-dependent. We're talking 'moral' - as-in what we as a peer-group think is acceptable.

    Summary:
    Some people believe that it's acceptable to give-away unwanted keys from bundles.

    Most bundles make it clear that a bundle is intended 'just for you' and that they should not be split-up like that.

    Some people believe that the bundle companies are being 'corporate assholes' in saying this.

    Some people even believe that getting a Key and a DRM-Free copy means they're getting 'multiple copies' and that they can pass-on the 'extra' copies to other people.

    There's an entire MARKET in this stuff through sites like TF2Outpost, Steamtrades, Steamgifts and even on this forum.

    So to bring that discussion out into the open forum - where do we stand on this then?

  2. #2
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    I should add that I said - in the other thread and to much indignation - that people passing-on keys from bundles is 'morally indistinguisable' from regular game piracy - and to clarify that, you're giving away something that the licence/terms says you cannot give away and so I don't see the difference (restricted to one copy of course).

    I even said that doing this could be worse than piracy - because someone getting a knocked-off copy just might buy the game at some point but someone getting a Steam/Desura Key probably won't (they'd have to buy a gift copy?)

    So morally speaking, I don't see the difference between giving your friend a 'spare' key and just copying the installer for them - in a nutshell.
    Last edited by trjp; 15-09-2013 at 04:28 PM.

  3. #3
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    Oh - and before anyone brings-it-up - yes, I've passed-on spare keys myself.

    My own morality is to only do it where the bundle is already over (so no killing sales of that) and to restrict it to games I think people might not try otherwise - and to people who are clearly keen/skint/deserving (tho I really have no way of telling that!) :)

  4. #4
    Activated Node Pengwertle's Avatar
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    It's different from piracy because it was paid for, not taken for free, and the nice person who gave it to his friend can't use it.

    EDIT: Keys, that is, not DRM-free copies.
    Last edited by Pengwertle; 15-09-2013 at 04:43 PM.
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  5. #5
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    From that thread, trjp attempts to justify his violation of the agreement he made to play GalCiv II.

    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    It's notable that we're talking 2006 here - I think people had no real grasp of the whole 'registering keys into online services' idea at that point (I believe I'd not even used Steam for anything other than Half Life 2 at that point).

    Also - EULAs are of dubious merit (legally and - in many cases, morally too) - remember that those were the days when you bought a game and then sold it again when you were done with it. That's how things worked in 2006 :)
    I absolutely agree that EULAs are 'dubious' and that your intuitions about what you should be able to do with GalCiv II - that is, resell it - are very reasonable (and widely held to the point of some places wanting to codify it into law where it isn't already).

    I think that the intuitions that people have about splitting bundles are reasonable. The intuitions about what the 'Steam key' and 'DRM-free version' represent are a bit less obvious to me, but I can see how they derive from the rather confused landscape of physical copies, keys, distribution services and so on that we've been through in a very short period of time.

    So morally speaking, I don't see the difference between giving your friend a 'spare' key and just copying the installer for them - in a nutshell.
    That's an interesting thing to say, because we're well past the point where copies of the installer tend have very much at all to do with a right to use the software.
    (And that's not a very novel development if we consider shareware and the like.)
    Last edited by Zetetic; 15-09-2013 at 04:45 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    I should add that I said .. that people passing-on keys from bundles is 'morally indistinguisable' from regular game piracy - and to clarify that, you're giving away something that the licence/terms says you cannot give away and so I don't see the difference
    Do you consider your resale of GalCiv II to be morally indistinguishable to piracy?

    I think part of the problem is that there's a very real grey area about whether we'd normally expect to be able to split a 'bundle' up. Deferring to physical items - and why not, since that's what we've long been used to dealing in - if I'd bought a bunch of games taped together in a shop (you remember them?) then I'd have no compunction in passing on games that I already had copies of or didn't want to play.

    This isn't to suggest that Humble Bundle is wrong in wanting to sell an indivisible collection of games, but that it doesn't concord very well with our intuitions about buying and selling stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    My own morality is to only do it where the bundle is already over
    I think that's very sensible.

  8. #8
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    I'll redistribute games to friends if I already have a copy. I will not download the drm free or steam version, and give the desura version to another person. I used to buy bundles of physical games together, and give the cds of games I already had to my friends. I fail to see a difference.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zetetic View Post
    From that thread, trjp attempts to justify his violation of the agreement he made to play GalCiv II.
    Zetetic is missing the point (again) - we're talking 'moral' and 'personal views' here, they will vary.

    In 2006, the idea that you could not resell a game was highly novel - people wouldn't have even expected to see it - a 'game' was a disc in a box - selling that moved the game to a new (and in most people's eyes, legit) owner.

    Time moves on - that pretty much no-longer happens in PC gaming (tho it's still rife with console games - despite MS's attempts to subvert it).

    We're talking morals here - looking back in time is stupid.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zetetic View Post
    Do you consider your resale of GalCiv II to be morally indistinguishable to piracy?
    He's like a terrier with his teeth in the leg of your trousers this guy - he will argue semantics and miss the point of threads until the cos come home.

    In my case there was ONE copy of the game - I no longer own it. I only discovered that I could 'reown' it via Impulse about 5 years later so for all that time, no I didn't think it was piracy (anymore than the 100s of other games I sold-on).

    Now? God knows - as I said above, trying to apply the morals of 'now' to 'then' is pointless.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zetetic View Post
    I think that's very sensible.
    and yet it's really not any different to doing it beforehand - it's just my silly way of convincing myself I'm not breaking the rules...

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    I find it mildly dickish.

  13. #13
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    Let's clear this up a bit

    I think that when you buy a game, you buy the right to play that game yourself. If it's possible to pass-on a game in some way, then I think that's OK because I think you have a right to give-away or even sell your unwanted items.

    I see a Desura key/Steam key and DRM-free copy as 'just one game' tho - I don't think you have a right to split those between people and keys obviously cannot be reused so once you have it - it's yours forever.

    As for breaking bundles up - I think that's a grey-area. Certainly, doing it whilst the bundle is active seems a bit mean and so I don't do that (tho doing it later just devalues other sales and bundles of course).

    Yes, we've accepted some dodgy terms and rules when it comes to DD games but the world works like that and you have to either work with it or against it. Seems quite a lot of people here are against it.

    Example: There are many people here who think that buying 1 copy of a game entitles them to play multiplayer with their friends and family - with just 1 copy. Occasionally a developer will support that but mostly they don't and yet some people seem to think that should always be the case!?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    We're talking morals here - looking back in time is stupid.
    Bollocks. If only because it's useful in trying to explore how intuitions have changed, and whether - given those changes which we may not have entirely realised at the time - we think it's worth disagreeing with them.

    One might also hope that underneath your morals, you may even have principles with a degree of immutability about them.

    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    He's like a terrier with his teeth in the leg of your trousers this guy - he will argue semantics
    Which is important when we're trying to understand what 'ownership' and 'buy' and 'key' and 'copy' mean to different people.

    and miss the point of threads until the cos come home.
    You have said that two different actions are 'morally indistinguishable', and then "to clarify that" you've indicated that this is a matter of them both being "giving away something that the licence/terms says you cannot give away".

    The GalCiv II license says that you can't sell it on. You did so. It belongs in exactly the same category.

    However, I don't think that's an entirely useful category. As you've noted yourself, the value of EULAs - and specifically certain terms in them (like abrogating any right to resale) that strongly affect consideration and our intuitions about buying stuff - is debated.

    Arguing that both are violations of the end-user agreement and that therefore they're morally indistinguishable is shown to be somewhat poorly considered by raising the matter of resale - on which most (but not all) people tend to side with the view that we should have some right of resale and even those who don't can recognise it as being quite different to the matter of a right to distribute copies.

    I think that shows that we can distinguish, morally, different violations of end-user agreements. (You might think that I've degenerated into semantics again - that by looking at the meaning of what you've said, I've horribly missed the point of it.)
    Last edited by Zetetic; 15-09-2013 at 05:18 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    I see a Desura key/Steam key and DRM-free copy as 'just one game' tho - I don't think you have a right to split those between people and keys obviously cannot be reused so once you have it - it's yours forever.
    I think this is a slightly different issue - I think that's a genuine misunderstanding about what those things represented(BOO SEMANTICS BOO) (or intended to represent, perhaps).

    Unlike the issues of bundle-splitting and passing-on/resale, where there are different viewpoints about what we should expect from paying for a product.
    Last edited by Zetetic; 15-09-2013 at 05:21 PM.

  16. #16
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    If you have already some games redeemed on steam/desura and you buy bundle with games you own - you shouldn't feel bad with giving away a key. You paid for this game twice, you have spare copy so you can give it to your friend (selling it would be rather bad).

  17. #17
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    Well, if giving the Steam Keys to another person is an issue Valve has already the solution up their sleeves. Simply register a new Steam account, register the codes your friend wants on this and lend the library to him. "Problem" solved.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by GameCat View Post
    If you have already some games redeemed on steam/desura and you buy bundle with games you own - you shouldn't feel bad with giving away a key. You paid for this game twice, you have spare copy so you can give it to your friend (selling it would be rather bad).
    As trjp pointed out earlier, if you do follow that reasoning then you should ask yourself if you would have paid more for the bundle if you didn't already own that game.

    As it stands, I don't consider doing this very objectionable on its own, as long as you only start giving away duplicate games after the bundle is over. However, the Humble Bundle people ask us that we not do this, and treat the bundle as a single product. In their view, you didn't pay for the game twice: You paid once for the game on its own, and once for a bundle that it was included in. Obviously I can't speak for them, but the reason for this could be that it is out of respect for the developers, who are giving us the opportunity to buy these games for a very small amount of money, some of which goes to charity leaving even a smaller amount for them, with the largest benefit being that they can increase their audience. To then take one of those keys and pass it on as if it were bought full-price could be seen as taking advantage of them.

    I admit that this line of reasoning is taking the producer-consumer relationship to its complete extreme, but I can see how they, as the benefactors of the humble bundle, would think that way. I'm having a hard time convincing myself, though, so with regard to multiple purchases I'll just say that if you think it's justifiable to give away a game that you bought for five dollars the first time and twenty cents the second time, then go ahead.

    Taking the steam keys from the bundle that you have not bought previously and have no intention of playing, and giving those away, however, is something you should never do.

  19. #19
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    In general, I believe the main moral point of paying for games, is compensating the creators - at least a bit. If you have paid less than bandwidth costs/transaction fees, you could just as well pirated it.

    Frankly, I prefer honest straight piracy to all this wiggling along the edges of the system, paying little to nothing for games and claiming you are "alright" because your copy is technically legal. It's okay if you got a key from a friend. It's not okay if you created a complex system of juggling bundles in order to get dozens of titles for free.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mouton View Post
    In general, I believe the main moral point of paying for games, is compensating the creators
    Problem is that's a rather simplistic view - the world simply doesn't work like that at-all...

    When I buy fruit I'm not giving money to the man who planted or grew the fruit (mostly) - when I buy a computer, none of the money I spent goes to the inventory of digital circuitry or the man who mined the rare metals (or the person who made the thing, for that matter).

    Morally speaking, I think we have to be a bit cleverer than that (legally speaking - infinitely so)?

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