DRM and GFWL removal information
When I started this site, I always intended to host information about removing certain DRM restrictions. However, I received a fair amount of warning from well-wishers that we should not include this information because it could have legal repercussions. However, I don't see any harm in linking to files and information to removing DRM from games (for example Fallout 3 GFWL removal mod, as long as we are not hosting the actual files. I'm also going to eventually writeup more in-depth articles on specific DRM like GFWL which will include important information like how to remove it, which will likely have performance improvements in most games. Any thoughts?
Sounds fine - if someone makes threats we can always just take it down, and stuff like No CD cracks for games that were released ages ago - I can't see the publisher caring that much.
If I were you, I wouldn't risk.
But that's up to you.
You could always place some disclaimer, such as "We are not responsible for the content of sites we are linking to", but...
I would highly recommend to contact a lawyer first.
I agree with Dravic, I do not think it's worth the hassle. If we start such a rule then it only takes one publisher/developer/license holder to bring the whole site down. And I think it's a bit optimistic to hope for a simple "take it down and everything will be OK". There would most likely be a cease and desist at which point any other potential copyright infringement for that same license holder could be called into question.
Basically, I think we should allow the wider internet to deal with such issues and focus on what is legal and constructive within the gaming community - if we blur the line between legal/illegal then it'll snowball into something bigger.
To elaborate, I think whatever stance we take (especially if we take a 'no tolerance' policy on such a matter) then we need to state it clearly and in detail on the homepage, referring specifically to what kind of hacks/exploits are not allowed.
What if we were to have some sort of generic guide for removing DRM services, but never actually talk about specific games. We could link to other sites that provides resources and information on more specific things, but never actually mention specific games when talking about DRM removal on PCGW itself. That would hopefully avoid getting into legal issues with publishes since we wouldn't be saying "Here is how you remove the DRM from Game X".
What about games such as Re-Volt? Its publisher and developer have been defunct for years, and its classed as abandonware. The developer released a No CD patch ages ago, but other games in a similar situation may not have.
If a developer has officially released a patch, then that is fair game at the moment.
I'll take a few days to think on this and write up an official policy on DRM removal.
If its abandonware, it is fair game. Any restrictions have expired.
I realize that this is an old conversation, but after working on the DRM article I think I should add a few thoughts on the topic. First of all, DRM circumvention is in some areas against the law (I believe in the US the DMCA forbids reverse engineering or circumventing anti-piracy measures, for example). To post on this website information clearly intended to circumvent copy protection puts this site into a dark legal area, and could potentially cause the site to be considered a piracy site (particularly if the site contains links to programs or instructions that are illegal). The same issue goes with CD cracks...while in many cases, cracks actually can improve performance or fix a game, they are a legal gray area, as their primary purpose is to circumvent copy protection. But I am not saying we don't need to discuss removing DRM, but doing so in a internationally legal way.
My update to the DRM page includes rough instructions for the legal removal of DRM from a computer. I'm not sure this is quite what people want, but anything more is not worth it. I did not include any methods to play a DRM game without DRM.
In cases where the developer decides to remove DRM from a game, of course it is legal to discuss and even advertise this fact. I think it should be noted on each game's page when DRM has been removed or a DRM-Free version is available. Providing instructions to patch the game is in no way illegal, and if that patch also happens to remove DRM, no reason we can't mention it. And that should be the DRM removal policy...comply with the international laws and only provide legal means of DRM removal.
As for abandonware, I love the concept, but it is technically still piracy, even if the rights holders are not pursuing action. Old games are sometimes resold on Steam now, despite the age. For instance, Wolfenstein 3D was considered abandonware at one time, but is now sold on Steam. 10 years is not a good measure in any means, as games like StarCraft and Diablo II are much older than that, and still sold and supported.
The problem with the idea of "we can take it down later" is that wiki pages have a history. If the information is simply removed in editing, it can still be accessed, and the wiki can be held accountable for it. It would have to be completely deleted. A no piracy policy should be obvious and clearly stated up front, then when found, DRM removal or unauthorized cracks can be dealt with. Depending on the severity, there shouldn't be a problem so long as there is a disclaimer and offending material is removed when found.
So basically, a good DRM Removal policy is: Forbid illegal discussions, do not provide unauthorized DRM removal methods (unless the game is no longer installed), maintain basic DRM removal information on the DRM page that does not violate any laws, and use the game pages to promote legal DRM removal information. No cracks or abandonware links (public domain/officially released free software is an exception. Games like Beneath a Steel Sky are fair game).
I think, as this is a UK based site, we need to take a closer look at UK copyright law specifically. I believe Andy has a fair amount of experience with it, so I trust he'll make the right decision.
And I think given recent events involving New Zealand and European websites of note, that American laws should be considered. Not that American laws should have jurisdiction in other countries...simply that certain American interests have made it their business to go after non-American sites for violation of American law. I am not familiar with UK laws...I guess it's a good time to find out though. But the suggestions I made were intended as international suggestions...they would apply to the laws of most (not all) countries.