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Downloaded Data Ownership

EvanderEvander Disappointed FatherRegistered User regular
edited February 2007 in Games and Technology
Here's a question for the great minds of the PA forums:

When you download a game, rather than buying it in a hard copy, what rights do you have to it?

I'll give the practical example, and then open this thread up for discussion at large.



So, on the practical level, I just upgraded to a Treo from my previous RAZR. I am happy with the Treo, and since I'm on a different service provider now, I was going to sell my RAZR on ebay. The thing is, in addition to the various ringtones that I made from personal mp3s (which I assume I would have to remove) I also downloaded a game on to the phone; DOOM RPG.

Sine I own the game only as data, and I cannot transfer it from the phone to my PC or my new phone, or even to the phone of my brother who still has a RAZR, I would assume that what I purchased, specifically, was the usage of that game on that particular phone. Does that mean that I am allowed to leave the game on the phone when I sell it? Furthermore, just as it is legal to sell a used game, does that mean that I can advertise that the game is on the phone, and hope to make a couple of extra bucks off of that?

Answers are appreciated.




Now, on a more academic level, with more and more games ceasing to exist in a physical form, what exactly is it that we own when we buy these games? With a service like Steam, or the Wii virtual console, it is clearer because one can download the same files multiple times, but whatabout programs that you can only download once? Are we actually buying that software, or are we just renting it? Is this a productive business model for the future of gaming, or is it just a way to make a quick buck at the expense of gamers? What do you guys think?

Evander on

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    DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I personally would never ever pay money for downloaded data if I couldn't redownload it as needed. Otherwise it just seems like I'm throwing money away, you know?

    Daedalus on
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    GertBeefGertBeef Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    You don't actually own any games you buy. You buy a license to use them.

    GertBeef on
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    FyreWulffFyreWulff YouRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2007
    I would say that unless you can permanently transfer the game / remove it from the phone in a way that it's impossible for the next owner to play it without buying it themselves, it'd be okay to sell the phone with the game on it.

    FyreWulff on
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    EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    GertBeef wrote:
    You don't actually own any games you buy. You buy a license to use them.

    Even that doesn't clarify things, though.

    I mean, what kind of license? Is it transferable?

    There have always been limits on what one could do with a game one bought. For instance, at one time it was okay to use the actual code of the game, then some companies started cracking down on modders (and seeminly quickly stopped).

    What exactly can and can't we do with data in this day and age?

    Evander on
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    MerovingiMerovingi regular
    edited February 2007
    Good question. From what I can tell, you basically paid for the transfer of the data and the license to use the software/intellectual property. That applys to music and movies as well as software.

    As far as transferring goes, correct me if wrong (anybody) but as long as you don't copy the i.p. and use it on another device (your new Treo) while keeping it on the RAZR you should be fine. The only point where it's not okay to transfer/sell/give away i.p is if you copy it and continue to use it as well. I think.

    Merovingi on
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    EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    FyreWulff wrote:
    I would say that unless you can permanently transfer the game / remove it from the phone in a way that it's impossible for the next owner to play it without buying it themselves, it'd be okay to sell the phone with the game on it.

    Well, I could delete the game outright.

    I guess the question is, what exactly do I own here? Can I sell my right to play this game to another person? Obviously I will be unable to play the game after I sell he phone, so it's not like sellin CD-Rs, it's like selling off your old CDs (if that makes any sense)

    Or, am I required to delete the game before selling the phone? That doesn' exactly sound like a legal requirement, not that I'm about to fight city hall over a couple of bucks. I guess I just want to know what I'm allowed to do, and curious about the larger ramifications.

    Evander on
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    FyreWulffFyreWulff YouRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2007
    I'm not sure legally in this case.

    ETHICALLY, if I sold the phone with the game on it I would buy a new copy for my new phone, since to me that would be selling them as a package "PHONE WITH GAME INCLUDED"

    If I could, even if they could possibly re-download it through some backdoor, I would delete the game off the phone, sell it as just the phone, and redownload the game for my new phone.

    FyreWulff on
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    slurpeepoopslurpeepoop Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Geez, just sell the phone with the game still on there.

    You paid for the right to have that game on that phone, and they have no legal right to force you to delete it because the phone is changing ownership.

    The money you paid was for that game to be downloaded and played on that phone. You're not infringing on the IP in any way by leaving it on there and trying to make a couple extra bucks.

    slurpeepoop on
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    EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    FyreWulff wrote:
    I'm not sure legally in this case.

    ETHICALLY, if I sold the phone with the game on it I would buy a new copy for my new phone, since to me that would be selling them as a package "PHONE WITH GAME INCLUDED"

    If I could, even if they could possibly re-download it through some backdoor, I would delete the game off the phone, sell it as just the phone, and redownload the game for my new phone.

    I don't WANT to keep the game. If I misconstrued that, I'm sorry.

    Ethically, I see nothing at all wrong here. I bought the game, and so I see nothing wrong with my selling the game to the new owner of the phone as part of the package. I am not keeping the game in any way.

    What is confusing me is if I am allowed to sell the game like that, or if I am required to delete it off the phone, meaning that NO ONE has the game, not I, nor the new owner. Personally, that seems wrong to me, since I DID pay for the game, but before I go and advertise the phone as having the game on it, I wanted to see what you all thought. Unfortunately the law does not always sync up with ethics.



    Just to clarify again (before anyone takes any of this the wrong ay) I am NOT looking to scam anyone or anything. Whether I delte the game or not off of the old phone I WILL NOT be keeping a copy of the game. I am on a different service provider, so I couldn't even redownload it.

    Evander on
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    EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Geez, just sell the phone with the game still on there.

    You paid for the right to have that game on that phone, and they have no legal right to force you to delete it because the phone is changing ownership.

    The money you paid was for that game to be downloaded and played on that phone. You're not infringing on the IP in any way by leaving it on there and trying to make a couple extra bucks.

    Thanks, that's all I've been trying to figure out.

    I knwo it seems simple, but with the way that the RIAA and MPAA have been acting in recent years, these sorts of things make me nervous.

    Evander on
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    mspencermspencer PAX [ENFORCER] Council Bluffs, IARegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    If you're in the USA, 17 USC 117 has you covered for backup copies.
    TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > § 117
    § 117. Limitations on exclusive rights: Computer programs

    (a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy.— Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
    (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
    (2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.
    (b) Lease, Sale, or Other Transfer of Additional Copy or Adaptation.— Any exact copies prepared in accordance with the provisions of this section may be leased, sold, or otherwise transferred, along with the copy from which such copies were prepared, only as part of the lease, sale, or other transfer of all rights in the program. Adaptations so prepared may be transferred only with the authorization of the copyright owner.
    (c) Machine Maintenance or Repair.— Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner or lessee of a machine to make or authorize the making of a copy of a computer program if such copy is made solely by virtue of the activation of a machine that lawfully contains an authorized copy of the computer program, for purposes only of maintenance or repair of that machine, if—
    (1) such new copy is used in no other manner and is destroyed immediately after the maintenance or repair is completed; and
    (2) with respect to any computer program or part thereof that is not necessary for that machine to be activated, such program or part thereof is not accessed or used other than to make such new copy by virtue of the activation of the machine.
    (d) Definitions.— For purposes of this section—
    (1) the “maintenance” of a machine is the servicing of the machine in order to make it work in accordance with its original specifications and any changes to those specifications authorized for that machine; and
    (2) the “repair” of a machine is the restoring of the machine to the state of working in accordance with its original specifications and any changes to those specifications authorized for that machine.
    If you have a way to move the game from one phone to another -- and if the tech will let you -- then 17 USC 117 makes that explicitly legal.
    If you have accepted a license agreement that prohibits you from doing that, then you can't.
    Note also that 17 USC 117 implicitly says you can use software without needing a license, so you might not have actually accepted any licenses. It depends on if you clicked 'accept' or signed an agreement or something.

    mspencer on
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    CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    GertBeef wrote:
    You don't actually own any games you buy. You buy a license to use them.
    Just because companies say that, doesn't mean it is true.

    Couscous on
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    EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    mspencer wrote:
    If you're in the USA, 17 USC 117 has you covered for backup copies.
    TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > § 117
    § 117. Limitations on exclusive rights: Computer programs

    (a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy.— Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
    (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
    (2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.
    (b) Lease, Sale, or Other Transfer of Additional Copy or Adaptation.— Any exact copies prepared in accordance with the provisions of this section may be leased, sold, or otherwise transferred, along with the copy from which such copies were prepared, only as part of the lease, sale, or other transfer of all rights in the program. Adaptations so prepared may be transferred only with the authorization of the copyright owner.
    (c) Machine Maintenance or Repair.— Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner or lessee of a machine to make or authorize the making of a copy of a computer program if such copy is made solely by virtue of the activation of a machine that lawfully contains an authorized copy of the computer program, for purposes only of maintenance or repair of that machine, if—
    (1) such new copy is used in no other manner and is destroyed immediately after the maintenance or repair is completed; and
    (2) with respect to any computer program or part thereof that is not necessary for that machine to be activated, such program or part thereof is not accessed or used other than to make such new copy by virtue of the activation of the machine.
    (d) Definitions.— For purposes of this section—
    (1) the “maintenance” of a machine is the servicing of the machine in order to make it work in accordance with its original specifications and any changes to those specifications authorized for that machine; and
    (2) the “repair” of a machine is the restoring of the machine to the state of working in accordance with its original specifications and any changes to those specifications authorized for that machine.
    If you have a way to move the game from one phone to another -- and if the tech will let you -- then 17 USC 117 makes that explicitly legal.
    If you have accepted a license agreement that prohibits you from doing that, then you can't.
    Note also that 17 USC 117 implicitly says you can use software without needing a license, so you might not have actually accepted any licenses. It depends on if you clicked 'accept' or signed an agreement or something.

    that's helpful, but my question has more to do with the transfer of ownership of the original copy.

    Evander on
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    XieflowXieflow Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    You own pretty much nothing. Most cell phone game sellers (I believe T-Mobiles specifically) have written in the license agreement that if you transfer phones / whatever, the game stays with the phone, and can't be transfered.

    Xieflow on
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    EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Xieflow wrote:
    You own pretty much nothing. Most cell phone game sellers (I believe T-Mobiles specifically) have written in the license agreement that if you transfer phones / whatever, the game stays with the phone, and can't be transfered.

    Huh, so the game stays in the phone, or I'm not allowed to leave it in the phone?

    I think that I may have confused you all in the OP. I DO NOT want to move the game off of the phone, or make any copies, or anything. I just want to know if I'm allowed to advertise the phone as having the game on it in order to go for a higher price.

    Evander on
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    XieflowXieflow Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Evander wrote:
    Xieflow wrote:
    You own pretty much nothing. Most cell phone game sellers (I believe T-Mobiles specifically) have written in the license agreement that if you transfer phones / whatever, the game stays with the phone, and can't be transfered.

    Huh, so the game stays in the phone, or I'm not allowed to leave it in the phone?

    I think that I may have confused you all in the OP. I DO NOT want to move the game off of the phone, or make any copies, or anything. I just want to know if I'm allowed to advertise the phone as having the game on it in order to go for a higher price.

    Read the license agreement for the game from wherever you purchased it. It really depends. And on the legality of license agreements... it pretty much just depends on if you can afford a lawyer to defend you in court. Most of them won't stand up in court, but most people can't afford / don't bother going to court over license agreement issues in software.

    Xieflow on
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    FyreWulffFyreWulff YouRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2007
    titmouse wrote:
    GertBeef wrote:
    You don't actually own any games you buy. You buy a license to use them.
    Just because companies say that, doesn't mean it is true.

    No. What that usually means that buying the game doesn't mean you own 'the game', as in characters, code, etc. It wouldn't make sense if buying Halo gave you the rights to Master Chief.

    FyreWulff on
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