Within mere minutes of any mass-shooting, the media (and assorted interest groups) are keen to tell you why the shooter(s) did what they did. In the recent shooting at Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut, everyone was keen to explain in detail exactly why Adam Lanza murdered a bunch of people and then killed himself.
Of course, since (at the time) they didn’t even have the right name, the various motivations espoused for Lanza’s killing-spree were nothing more than purest fabrication. Fantasy and lies, basically. If anyone actually has gotten it right (and the truth will probably never be known) then it was only by accident – not by any great feats of journalism, investigation, facts, statistics, or deductive reasoning.
Violent video-games (in fact, just video-games generally) once again take pride-of-place as the culprit for this incident, and that’s demonstrably a load of hooey. I won’t try to tell you why Adam Lanza (or many of these other mass-shooters) did what he did, or what would have made things better – I don’t have authoritative information on that – but I can show you that video-games are not to blame.
Uniloc USA Inc, and Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. have today filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District Court of Texas against Minecraft maker Mojang, asserting patent infringement of US Patent 6857067.
The patent in question essentially appears to cover just about all forms of DRM and targets Minecraft on Android devices, as these devices call home to see if they’re authorised to run, and that’s a big no-no according to this patent.
So, here’s an interesting divide between USA law and EU law. In the USA, you almost never buy software or video games. No, the license says you’re only buying a license to use the software (which is conveniently being loaned to you free-of-charge on a disk or as a digital download or whatever) under limited circumstances as laid out by the license. Did you buy a copy of Windows or Call of Duty or whatever? No. The paperwork says you bought a right to use that software until the publisher says otherwise, and that the software remains the property of the publisher.
This arrangement has been upheld by US courts on a number of occasions, so no, you’re not buying those games. They’re just loaned to you under a limited set of circumstances. This holds doubly true for digital downloads, in the main.
What makes this a bit weird is that the USA’s Uniform Commercial Code (variations of which exist in most countries) has always maintained that once a purchase has been made, no further conditions can be imposed. That is, any license agreements and the like have to be agreed to before the purchase takes place and not (for example) once you open the box or start installing. US Court rulings on End-User-License-Agreements (EULAs) and shrink-wrap/click-through agreements say much the opposite, however, and it is what is ruled in court that matters.
And that brings us to the Court of Justice of the European Union, which has basically ruled that all those EULAs, and click-through license agreements are basically bunk as far as this is concerned and that you actually did buy the software itself.
The fact is that despite the movie and games industries bemoaning rampant and uncontrolled piracy of their products, both industries are burgeoning. The movie industry is “suffering” under record revenues, and the games industry revenues have grown more than 300% in the last decade (to more than double that of the movie industry).
And yes, rampant and uncontrolled piracy is happening – yet the industry is getting more money over the counter than ever before. It’s difficult, then, for the industries to show how much they’re being hurt. Would their record revenues be higher? By how much? Nobody knows the answer, but thanks to France, we can take a guess.
You see, back in 2010, France introduced stiff anti-piracy legislation that (after a bit of a rocky start in its early months) reduced online piracy by a whopping 66%. How, you might ask, did this affect sales?
It’s been a rather long and shameful road for Australia’s media classification system. The system itself requires that most forms of media sold, rented, displayed or traded within Australia be properly classified and labelled, but the system has been … well, uneven, at best.
While all other media had six classifications, computer and video games had just four, restricting the allowable content for games to that which was deemed suitable for a fifteen year old audience of minors.
The lack of an R18+ classification led to some games being restricted from sale, while others wound up getting grouped into an overstretched MA15+ classification, which seemed to contain an increasing amount of inappropriate content.
It has been announced today that the new classifications category has finally (after many years of wrangling and obstacles) finally passed the Australian Federal Parliament and Senate – to commence on 1 January 2013 – but that’s not the whole story.
I know, it seems like the various State Attorneys General coming to an “in-principle” agreement in favour of an R18+ rating for games would be a good thing for… well, actually for getting the rating passed.
However, it actually isn’t and it could delay this repair to the classifications system indefinitely. If the “in-principle” agreement hadn’t been announced, we’d likely have had an R18+ classification in the works by next week. As it is, it is actually looking increasingly doubtful that it will turn up any time soon.
California State Senator Leland Yee has just spent somewhere in the ballpark of a million Californian taxpayer dollars to have his bill on violent video games struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Again.
Yee says he’s going to do it again. In fact, that would make the third time he’s heaped all of that money into a pile and metaphorically set fire to it.
Today was to be the announcement of an Australian R18+ rating for games – or lack thereof. Today it is a lack, because unanimity is required, and one State Attorney General held back.
If we accept that a ratings system for films, television and suchlike are necessary to protect children, then it is likewise necessary to have parity by applying the same ratings categories to games. The average age of gamers is now 35 – the same average age as that of film-goers.
Every month a number games that would rightly earn an R18+ rating (if one were available) and be restricted from sale to minors are instead categorised as MA15+ and permitted to be sold to under-18s.