about the politics of piracy

Sylverant is a homebrew open source server for Phantasy Star Online. Dreamcast users still play PSO online with this server even today! This is the official forum for both the online game server as well as the open source project itself. Feel free to post and get a gathering started online! We can also show you how to get connected!

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about the politics of piracy

Post by TinaUk » Sat May 24, 2014 6:59 pm

have a question that comes from another forum but that catches my attention It's about not accept here the game to download if you deem the forbidden game download so how can support at the same game :?:
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by BlueCrab » Sat May 24, 2014 9:02 pm

I don't support pirated versions of the game. If they happen to work, so be it, but they are not directly supported by me. I'm a lazy programmer. I won't go out of my way to disallow pirated copies of the game, but I also won't go out of my way to support them. :wink:

Sylverant PSO Patcher shows that. That program refuses to boot any pirated versions of the game for the simple fact that I didn't feel like figuring out what changes each pirated release has and adapting my code to fit them. It was easier to just deal with the 7 official releases (NTE, JPv1, USv1, EUv1, JPv2, USv2, EUv2) than to deal with the pirated permutations of each of them as well.

Mind you, it has long been one of the unwritten rules of anyone doing Dreamcast homebrew to avoid anything related to piracy. The PSO Patcher also shows that unwritten rule in play. There are a few pieces of that code where I did go out of my way to ensure that it couldn't be used to dump games. Sure, dumping Dreamcast games is trivial, but the PSO Patcher's code won't show you how to do it, even though it (by virtue of being able to read GD-ROM discs directly) has all the means to do so.

You'll also notice that I don't directly provide binaries to connect the PC version of PSO to connect to Sylverant. Yes, they are widely available from other places, but I don't provide them myself.

Finally, it has long been a rule on this site itself (DCEmulation) that linking to pirated games is strictly prohibited. I've been around this site for over 12 years now (I lurked for a few months I signed up), and I don't ever remember a time where linking to pirated games was permitted. That rule still stands today on this site, and thus on this forum.

What it all boils down to (with me anyway) is that as a computer scientist, I would expect others to treat my intellectual property and copyrights with respect. I thus do my best to do that to others' intellectual property as well, even if it is over ten years old.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by legit nyck » Thu May 29, 2014 2:54 pm

Here's a question raised by me in my forum
in my point of view should provide sylverant the game to download
the vision of legality here is wrong anyway I'm not going to keep talking about it
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by BlueCrab » Thu May 29, 2014 6:48 pm

It may be your opinion that I should provide a download for the game, but it is my opinion that I shouldn't do so. To do so would quite obviously be illegal.

I don't see why you say the vision of legality is "wrong" around here. It is pretty clear that providing downloads for a commercial game that we do not hold the rights to redistribute would be illegal, no matter how you slice it.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by K_I_R_E_E_K » Fri May 30, 2014 9:25 am

Well for the most part everything seems fine and even if we ignore the hosting of a website that has the download for the game itself, there is something else.

The quests.

Do i care? not really and i believe others don't either.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by |darc| » Fri May 30, 2014 10:21 am

1. For one, piracy is illegal. Nothing about playing on Sylverant is illegal if you purchase the original game and play it using the PSO Patcher disc. This is how I play on Sylverant.

2. I pay to host this site out of my own pocket. I do not ask for money or donations, nor do I place advertisements on the site. I cannot afford to open myself up to litigation. We have been contacted by Sega's lawyers as well as Atari's in the past regarding content we have hosted.

3. To keep costs low, we are on a shared account with other websites that I manage. If my service provider is contacted regarding this site's content and they decide to pull the plug, all of my websites will go down. That cannot happen.

4. Many of us represent ourselves with this site. I'm sure BlueCrab has his hobbyist development work listed on his résumé, as that's exactly the kind of stuff that companies want to see. When I applied for colleges when I was a teenager, I used my experience maintaining this website for years as a reference. Aiding in software piracy is the last thing you want to put on your résumé when applying for a software development job...

5. It's not like any of this stuff is particularly hard to find elsewhere anyway. Is there any real reason we have to host it or link to it here?
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by legit nyck » Fri May 30, 2014 12:42 pm

What I'm trying to say is that we can't hide his face when we kill our own mother
In short it is pure folly of not BlueCrab accept a download link of the pso game here if he even supports game server
unless of course there is some way to block pirates connections as:
Iso pso and EMu pso ...
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by |darc| » Fri May 30, 2014 12:58 pm

legit nyck wrote:What I'm trying to say is that we can't hide his face when we kill our own mother
In short it is pure folly of not BlueCrab accept a download link of the pso game here if he even supports game server
unless of course there is some way to block pirates connections as:
Iso pso and EMu pso ...
BlueCrab isn't the police and it isn't illegal for his server to accept connections from pirated copies.

He has no responsibility to anyone legally or morally to block connections to his server from pirated clients. He has chosen to not wilfully help anyone who uses a pirated client and his obligations end there.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by BlueCrab » Fri May 30, 2014 2:14 pm

|darc| wrote:
legit nyck wrote:What I'm trying to say is that we can't hide his face when we kill our own mother
In short it is pure folly of not BlueCrab accept a download link of the pso game here if he even supports game server
unless of course there is some way to block pirates connections as:
Iso pso and EMu pso ...
BlueCrab isn't the police and it isn't illegal for his server to accept connections from pirated copies.

He has no responsibility to anyone legally or morally to block connections to his server from pirated clients. He has chosen to not wilfully help anyone who uses a pirated client and his obligations end there.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks (for both this one and the earlier post).

I mean, yes, there are ways of detecting pirated copies of the game. There's no doubting that. I don't necessarily feel the need to do so because I tend to implicitly trust people to do the right thing. Is that naïve? To a certain extent, yes. There will always be people that feel that the world is obligated to give them what they want for free. If people feel that it is so morally important for me to do so, then perhaps I should spend my time working on preventing pirated copies of the game from functioning properly on the server. I however do not think there are many that would agree that this is the most important thing for me to focus my (already small amount of) time on.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by BlueCrab » Fri May 30, 2014 2:24 pm

K_I_R_E_E_K wrote:The quests.
There is also a difference between hosting the game and hosting the quests. The quests were distributed by Sega for free. No version of the game that Sylverant completely supports ever was.

To put it in perspective... If Sylverant supported Blue Burst completely, I wouldn't necessarily have any problems with hosting the (unmodified) installer for that game. That was always available as a free download from Sega, and has been mirrored by many people throughout the years.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by Aleron Ives » Fri May 30, 2014 4:26 pm

We may also provide links to the trial copies of PSO PC, as Sega distributed the demos for free, too. There just isn't any point in hosting them right now, as Sylverant doesn't support the PC Network Trial Edition yet.

There isn't any way to detect pirated copies of PSO PC, as all copies of the game the same. The only way to deter people from using a downloaded copy would be to remove the ability to generate PC serials on the website, but doing that also harms legal users. The PC installation discs allow you to install the game on multiple computers, but the game case only contains one serial number and access key. In order to install multiple copies that can play on the same server simultaneously, a serial generator is necessary to validate multiple legal copies of the game. BlueCrab is already taking the only sensible legal option available by neither helping people to pirate the game nor taking extreme measure to deter piracy that would simultaneously and unfairly penalise legal users.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by K_I_R_E_E_K » Fri May 30, 2014 6:44 pm

You might be mistaken blue, quests were done by sega and i'm not really sure about the "free", but even so, they never gave permission and that is not the same as "we can obviously use them".

You can't use stuff and then defend yourself saying "you didn't say if it was allowed or not, so i assumed it was allowed"

Don't get me wrong, i don't care and there is a reason for that, i support many kinds of projects because i try to help players with all there is to know, the patch disk is one, autoconnects is also something i explain to users because it was made to help users (despite beeing some ppl who tought it was an attept of russians of destroying all PSO chars in existance so they could dominate ragol and enslave all rappies.), obviously one is legal and the other not so much.

I understand nyck, we all know we do some things that might not be legal, from having players play quests we didn't do to closing our eyes to the obvious players who use burned copies (let's be honest, it's possible to detect some of them), but that is also sega's fault, i mean PSO is rare because of that, how many games nowadays allow you to play online for free by using a downloaded or burned copy? The game itself isn't perfect and that protects users, bluecrab may indeed not feel the need to block that kind of activities because the game is flawed by default.
I am happy that we can play pso after all this time and not have to deal with copyrights or monthly fees.

Yes, burned copies are around and while it may not be the best practice, it's something we accept, atleast i do.
Obviously it doesn't mean we can link to them, but given the limitations of the game itself, accepting some of them is more or less inevitable. Bluecrab can't really make something about it, i mean he could but again it wouldn't be fullproof, i would detail the method, it's fairly simple but it won't be accepted and the discussion around it would possibly upset bluecrab again and make some players complain.

I know nyck hasn't tought of it, but it fits into his opinion perfectly, yes, you can do something to prevent burned copies (some of them) but the backlash from the community would be undesirable and while i can't say what bluecrab would do (because he hasn't done anything) it is very, very likely that he will prefer to accept burned copies than to actually do something to prevent them.

Knowing an illegal matter and then ignoring to do something, is it punishable? i'm not sure, i know it's sometimes used on courts, google also allows the search for illegal content with the search engine, but they must take steps to remove, filter or block them otherwise companies fall on them saying "you didn't do anything"
Pirate bay had some issues and that matter was used against them, valid or not i can't say, i'm not a lawyer.
Last edited by K_I_R_E_E_K on Fri May 30, 2014 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by Aleron Ives » Fri May 30, 2014 8:35 pm

Many laws related to streamed content haven't been written yet, so it creates a legal grey area. Sega's quests were transmitted freely from playing the game, and once the data reaches the user's home network, the user becomes able to do with it as he pleases, such as choosing to save a copy of it. The only way to prevent people from using saved copies is to employ encryption, which Sega chose not to do. You can also save copies of videos from YouTube the same way. YouTube may not want you to do it, and YouTube may have the legal right to block you from using YouTube if they find out you've done it, but that doesn't mean that saving videos from YouTube is illegal (at least until Google actually sues somebody for doing it and a judge rules in Google's favour).

That being said, BlueCrab avoids most legal ramifications from the quests by not including them with Sylverant. There are no quests in the Sylverant source code, nor does BlueCrab provide them for download anywhere on the site. Users who wish to compile and run the Sylverant software are responsible for obtaining the quests themselves. BlueCrab hosts Sega's quests himself on the Sylverant demonstration ship (Iselia), but that's not something people can download with the Sylverant code itself, and if Sega wanted to, they could ask him to take the quests down. Thankfully they don't seem to mind.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by BlueCrab » Fri May 30, 2014 8:45 pm

Yes, there are plenty of ways that I could go out of my way to prevent pirated copies. I could, for instance, require the PSO Patcher for the Dreamcast version and find plenty of ways to make sure that only versions that are patched by it can actually connect to the server in any way -- then find ways to prevent the patcher itself from being modified (which would be fairly easy, in all actuality). That said, I would be going way out of my way to do that, which would benefit nobody. I already have precious little time to work on Sylverant, and I really don't think anyone wants me to go out of my way to prevent pirated copies from using the server.

Believe me, I could find PLENTY of ways around any sort of workarounds people could find in my code. I'm pretty clever when I have to be. Hell, I could hide such things in the code while maintaining it's open-source status with enough work. That said, I really don't think anyone wants me to do such a thing. :wink:

The same could be done with the PC version of the game. I already have a launcher/auto-patcher that I have written for that game (and have not released thus far). I could use that to prevent anyone from using any sort of pirated versions of the game (with some magic involving the discs of the game, of course). Of course, any such measures would only harm those using the game legitimately on Linux and OS X, since they would likely be inoperable using Wine.

Once again, I don't think anyone would suggest that such a thing is a good idea to be doing. It only distracts from the time that I have to put into the server to actually better the server itself.

On the subject of the quests... All of the quests that are on Iselia were available at one point or another from Sega's server on a copy of the game that you did not have to pay to use. All of them were distributed by Sega for free at one point or another. While you are indeed correct that they did not come with explicit permission to redistribute them, I do not see any moral problems in redistributing them. If Sega wishes for me to remove them, I will, of course, do so. I think, however, that that would be an exceptionally unfortunate event if that were to occur. That all said, I believe that the distribution of the quests themselves falls under fair-use in Copyright law. I am not a lawyer, but compared to the size of the copyrighted work as a whole, the quests are an extremely small part. I do not profit from the quests or the server in any way (remember, I don't take donations of any real value at all, and any Dogecoin donations will be reinvested in the server through events aimed at rewarding the users if enough interest is ever drummed up for such a thing).

Distributing the game itself, however, obviously does not fall under fair use (distributing the entire copyrighted work is obviously not distribution of only a small part).
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by |darc| » Fri May 30, 2014 9:26 pm

I think the fair use argument could possibly hold water.

But regardless, in the past we as a staff have had a policy of locking anything that remotely gets into a grey area. And I think that harms us as a community. I don't run Sylverant, but as far as content on DCEmu goes, the basic test for me is 1) is it a moral thing to do? and 2) will the company give a shit?

In the case of PSO quests, that easily passes both requirements. It's a tiny amount of content that Sega made for the game, that can only be used with that game, that is intended to be a part of that game, but Sega can't bother to keep online. There's no moral question here. And Sega doesn't care, that's pretty obvious.

As far as hosting the actual game goes... well... I don't think Sega would care about that either. I mean, it's pretty easy to find on the net and Sega doesn't bother to do anything about it. But regardless, I think it's not a moral thing to just redistribute entire copyrighted games. And it tarnishes our reputation. For example, we've been covered and linked to in print magazines for years. All the other sites over the years that also have piracy downloads... they don't.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by Aleron Ives » Fri May 30, 2014 10:43 pm

BlueCrab wrote:On the subject of the quests... All of the quests that are on Iselia were available at one point or another from Sega's server on a copy of the game that you did not have to pay to use. All of them were distributed by Sega for free at one point or another.
All regions of the Gamecube version technically required the Hunter's License fee, did they not? The PAL version didn't get off for free the way it did on the Dreamcast. I still don't see Sega breaking down any doors to get the Gamecube quests removed, though. ;)
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by BlueCrab » Sat May 31, 2014 1:02 am

Aleron Ives wrote:
BlueCrab wrote:On the subject of the quests... All of the quests that are on Iselia were available at one point or another from Sega's server on a copy of the game that you did not have to pay to use. All of them were distributed by Sega for free at one point or another.
All regions of the Gamecube version technically required the Hunter's License fee, did they not? The PAL version didn't get off for free the way it did on the Dreamcast. I still don't see Sega breaking down any doors to get the Gamecube quests removed, though. ;)
The first month was free for all new hunter's licenses. :mrgreen:
(If you want to look at the link, open it in a new tab or new window... It doesn't seem to like being clicked on directly.)
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by Aleron Ives » Sat May 31, 2014 1:06 am

Ahahaha. It even says so right on the box, but I somehow ignored it. :mrgreen:
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by shadowrod » Sat May 31, 2014 5:38 pm

I don´t feel confortable using pirates cd on my dc, however the original gd´s are not good to dc lens, grinding a lot. In other hand Ives pso cd´s are better to dreamcast lens so I´d rather use them.
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Re: about the politics of piracy

Post by |darc| » Sun Jun 01, 2014 12:52 am

shadowrod wrote:I don´t feel confortable using pirates cd on my dc, however the original gd´s are not good to dc lens, grinding a lot. In other hand Ives pso cd´s are better to dreamcast lens so I´d rather use them.

The "grinding" sound that many people complain about is just the head moving back and forth. That's not the lens reading, and it shouldn't hurt anything.
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