Although RealNetworks downplayed any legal perils while announcing its DVD copying software last month, the major film studios have acted in the most obvious manner possible by suing the software company.
In the eye of the storm lies RealNetworks’ DVD copying tool called ReadDVD that allows users to make digital copies of their DVDs on their internal or external hard drives. However, the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) hasn’t taken a liking to the tool. The MPAA has dragged RealNetworks to court over RealDVD and is praying for a temporary restraining order against the sale of the software.
Greg Goeckner, executive vice president of MPAA, quipped that the software be called StealDVD instead of RealDVD. However, RealNetworks feels that the software can not be used for piracy as it encrypts the digital copies in such a manner that they can’t be shared.
That’s right, you didn’t misread the headline – Microsoft is looking to pay you to use their search engine (again). Not with real money mind you, but points that can be redeemed for prizes (read: Chuck E. Cheese).
The program, called SearchPerks, will give users of Microsoft’s LIVE Search a point each time they search, with the possibility of accumulating 25 per day. However, users will only be able to collect these points once they’ve agreed to download and install a small program that allows Microsoft to track their usage.
In the past, Microsoft hasn’t been successful in getting new users for their search engine, currently only holding 8.3 percent of the search engine market. With the Live Search Club, Microsoft saw an initial boost in their search engine usage of nearly 3 percent, but the results failed to hold. The success of the search engine appears to be directly tied with the incentive programs that Microsoft offers.
If you’re looking to get in on the point-spending goodness, be sure to sign up soon. Microsoft is only allowing people to sign up until the end of the year, or until they get their target of 250,000 participants.
I bet you never thought all those searches for Lindsay Lohan would one day be profitable, did you?
Anyone that plays World of Wacraft will know all about the woes of bots. They provide players with unfair advantages, and the ability to level their character when they’re not even at their computer. Blizzard has been aware of this as well, having recently won a lawsuit against the bot program MMOGlider’s creator, MDY Industries.
For those that don’t know, MMOGlider is a third party application that runs the many repetitive tasks involved in World of Warcraft. Whether it’s leveling your character up from 1 to 70 or grinding for leatherworking materials, the application can do it for you. And the best part about it? You don’t even have to be at your computer, you simply run a script that sends your character in a pre-determined route.
Blizzard’s lawsuit is based on MMOGlider’s automation of said repetitive tasks. Using this application to complete these tasks breaks the terms of service that players agree to when they play World of Warcraft. The software is said to have sold 100,000 copies for $25 a piece.
While admittedly $6 million is no small number (unless you’re Blizzard), the amount could have been higher if MDY hadn’t won some of the prior arguments about the claimed damages in court. But there’s still a possibility for more, should Blizzard decided to appeal the judgment in favor of going for their original claim, which was double or triple that number.
The remainder of the case is set to go to court in January 2009, where the last of the issues in the legal conflict are likely to be settled.
Economy got you down? No longer able to make those day-long trips to your local computer store of choice for all the latest and greatest software tools? Tired of paying top-dollar for programs that don't quite have the functionality you want? Well get ready. It's freeware and open-source week at Maximum PC. We're going to spend the next week showing you the best (and cheapest) software we've been able to find across different themes: graphics design, system optimization, games, and office/productivity.
Just because it doesn't come in a box doesn't mean that these titles are any less powerful than their retail counterparts. The graphics category exemplifies that fact, offering programs that are every bit as good as their hundred-dollar Adobe counterparts. But just for good measure, we threw in our favorite free Adobe graphics program too. Check out that, and the rest of our exclusive list, after the jump!
When an MMO begins to feel its bones a creakin', and decides it's time to curl up and die from natural causes (read: WoW), one of the first phenomena an outside observer will witness is the server merge. Generally a result of sudden population deflations from formerly-packed games, when servers collide, the game in question has probably seen better days. Age of Conan, sadly, is one such game.
"I can today confirm that we are actively working on an approach to merge servers, both in Europe and North America," announced AoC director Craig Morrison. "It's important for us to ensure the best gameplay experience for you all, and more healthy populations on each and every server will make sure we maintain healthy communities for the game in the future."
But AoC's troubles don't end there. Funcom, the loincloth-tacular MMO's publisher, may soon be dressing like its scantily clad (but undeniably manly) hero. As of now, Funcom's stock is sitting at a two-year low -- trading for a mere $5.
So, moral of the story? Never, ever prefix your game's title with "Age of..."
Tiberium, EA's second attempt at bolstering the frail, emaciated FPS genre with its popular Command & Conquer license, sucks. Or at least it did -- until EA gave it the old "It's not us; it's you" speech while pointing to a particularly splintery portion of the chopping block.
"The game had fundamental design challenges from the start," said EA LA's Mike Verdu. "We fought to correct the issues, but we were not successful; the game just isn't coming together well enough to meet our own quality expectations as well as those of our consumers."
"The quality bar has been raised," he added. "Now we need to step up our focus on great design and execution, catching any problems early and correcting them quickly."
Additionally, a portion of EA LA's elite team now finds itself jobless, but EA corporate "will make every effort to place affected individuals on projects within the studio – and where that isn't possible, to connect them with opportunities in other teams at EA."
As game development costs continue to surge upward, we can't help but fear we'll see more mid-development games unceremoniously dashed against the curb, with no chance for a reinvigorating adjustment or two.
Are there any other troubled games you think might soon be circling the drain?
"Here's the problem right now; the person who is savvy enough to want to have a good PC to upgrade their video card, is a person who is savvy enough to know Bittorrent to know all the elements so they can pirate software. Therefore, high-end videogames are suffering very much on the PC."
"Right now, it makes sense for us to focus on Xbox 360 for a number of reasons. Not least PCs with multiple configurations and piracy."
And finally, when questioned about a PC port for our jump-suit clad selves of the future:
But along with giving me one extra reason to cry myself to sleep at night -- as well as driving a nice, fat stake into GFW's termite-infested coffin -- Bleszinski's comments raise an interesting question: What's worse? Tearing open a game box only to find the sour scent of DRM sulking its way into your nostrils, or never being given the chance to purchase (or "rent," for the more bitter among you) a game at all?
There's a major disappointment resonating from Redmond, and really, you're the only one that can do anything about it. you see, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer doesn't like "not being No. 1," but that's exactly the position his company takes in the search arena. If that's to change - and Ballmer believes Microsoft may be the only company with a fighting chance - he says it will take several more years and lots of cash.
It's going to take us a while," Ballmer said during a speech at the Churchhill Club. "It's a five-year task. We've got a lot to do."
Ballmer went on to say that the Microsoft will have to figure out a way to fundamentally change both the experience and economics of the search industry, claiming his company has "taken some steps in that direction." Of course, we're sure Google would have a different outlook, but ultimately it's you, the web searcher, who decides the outcome. So if you refuse to use Live Search because it sucks compared to Google, at least consider switching so Ballmer can sleep more soundly at night at not having to be not No. 1.
As far as moral victories in the browser wars go, Apple's Safari web browser can now claim one of them. The Safari 4 beta scored a perfect 100/100 on the brutal Acid3 web standards test, becoming the first browser to pass all four conditions of the test (browser must use default settings, animation has to be smooth, score must end on 100/100, and must produce a pixel perfect copy of the reference rendering).
In theory, this would make Safari the dominant browser, with Opera 9.52 scoring 84 points, Firefox 3.0.3 at 71 points, and IE7 and IE8 posting rather dismal scores at 14 and 21 points respectively. Somewhat marring Safari's achievement is that whole market share thing, in which Microsoft's Internet Explorer, despite lagging way behind the competition in Acid3's testing, still dominates by a wide margin.
The question is, do you care about the Acid3 test?
NBC has lost many battles over the past few years, but it looks as though it might actually win the war over its copy protected media. Executives from the company claim to have found a “template” for protecting their videos from piracy, and it appears as though it’s actually working. You may have noticed lately that copy protected content from NBC and others have been slowly drying up from video swapping sites like YouTube, Dailymotion, Veoh and even Soapbox. And as a result, NBC has been very vocal about the fact that it is generally satisfied with the new systems these services have put in place. As proof NBC cites its recent successes in controlling content from the both the Olympic Games and select Saturday Night Live clips. Clearly NBC views YouTube and other similar services as the primary battleground in protecting their content and attributes a large percentage of online video piracy to being committed out of convenience. According to Rick Cotton NBC’s general council; "What has happened up to now is the ability to access and download infringing content has been trivially simple, and the lesson it teaches people is that if it's that easy it can't be wrong,". NBC however seems to recognize that it needs to find alternatives to these services or risk pushing users to harder forms of piracy such as Bit Torrent. Arguably its full length episodes at both nbc.com and hulu.com do just that. Only time will tell if NBC’s main beef was truly over controlling its content, or simply locking it down to traditional distribution models.
Does the end of copy protected media on sites like YouTube put the death nail in user submitted video? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.