Weekly News Roundup (14 April 2013)

A mixture of boredom, creativity and a desire to play SimCity (the game has been so cruel to me, I guess it must be some kind of Stockholm Syndrome), I decided to start writing fake SimCity news and publishing it on my own fake online newspaper. Introducing The Simsville Bugle, reporting the latest news as told from the perspective of citizens of my very real SimCity city, Simsville, home of the Fighting Llamas. What do Simsvillians think of the recycling center bug, or the poor traffic algorithm in the game, that once you have an University, you no longer need to have a grade school or high school, or the fact that you have to put a water pumping station to suck in the outflow from the sewerage processing facility to have enough water for a large city? Read all about it in The Simsville Bugle!

Yep you guessed it, a slow week.


Consumer rights took a blow this week as a New York federal court confirmed the notion that none of us owns the the digital content we buy. Or more precisely, what we buy in digital form is not the same as our purchases in physical form.

The case involved start-up ReDigi, who came up with the novel idea of allowing users to sell their iTunes collection. This did not go down well with record labels, and one of them, Capitol Records, sued ReDigi for copyright infringement. This week, the court sided with Capitol and basically confirmed what we have all suspected, that we don’t really own the stuff we buy, we merely license it.

Big DVD Collection

Buying a DVD or Blu-ray may not yield much resale value, but at least there is a resale value, unlike digital buys

To be fair, this has always been the case. Just because you purchased a Michael Jackson Thriller CD, it does not mean you actually own the music contained on it. You licensed it, but you did own the CD from a re-sale point of view, because of the first-sale doctrine that limits the rights of the copyright holder of the recording, Sony BMG in this case, from interfering with what you intended to do with the CD once you purchased it.

But first-sale has never applied to purely digital content, and so the court had to side with Capitol. Without the transfer an actual physical object, all you’re doing when you part with your hard earned 99 cents is buying the right to license the music for personal use, usually tied to the platform you purchased on or in the case of DRM, the actual digital copy of the file you purchased. You also normally get less rights in terms of returns and refunds, as many who “purchased” SimCity on Origin found out when they tried to get a refund (those who purchased via Amazon had better luck).

Which begs the question, if what I’m buying has no re-sale value, and usually cannot be returned for even a partial refund, then why do content holders continue to price digital content at the same or almost the same price point as physical purchases?

But I guess given the popularity of iTunes, Steam and other digital outlets, consumers don’t seem to mind too much. I’ve even read stories of people who sold their movie collection and converted it all to iTunes “purchases”. I guess the convenience of digital outweighs the reduced rights you would get as a consumer compared to physical buys. But we are getting less for our money, and so it only makes sense we should be parting with less of our money in the process. Much less!


Things did not go as planned for The Pirate Bay this week, as a switch to a new .gl domain name was halted and reversed by an uncooperative domain registrar, and for now, .se is still the home of TPB.

The switch came about due to fears of the .se domain names being seized, but a move to Greenland’s .gl was not happening either, as the company responsible for managing .gl domain names refused to get involved with the controversial company.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at this week’s events, since service providers have been scared to the point where they’re more than willing to do the dirty work of rights holders without much pressure.

The Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay ship trying to find a friendly port to dock their domain name, but it’s not easy

The Pirate Bay says they still have plenty of domain names available for use if the .se domain gets seized, although the original .org one does still work, despite earlier fears that it might get seized too (that was a year ago, and the reason behind the initial switch to the .se domain name). Not that changing domain names would really affect The Pirate Bay that much – they could use the domain name ItchyMonkeyNuts.info and they would still be popular, and easily found!

In sort of related news, Google has bowed to pressure from the likes of the RIAA and will allow unlimited DMCA takedown request submissions for “trusted” participants, according to a report by TorrentFreak.

The RIAA has been critical of Google in the past, accusing the search giant of limiting the number of DMCA takedown notices. Google said at the time that this was a technical limitation, and also in place  to avoid abuse, but they will now allow trusted groups like the RIAA, MPAA and the BPI to circumvent these limitations.

The relaxation of these limits should see the number of takedown notices soar from the current high of around 20 million per month. In just over a year, the number of notices sent per week has increased from about 300,000 to nearly 4.5 million.



Game publisher EA has been named The Worst Company in America, two years in a row. Coming after the whole ongoing SimCity fiasco, perhaps the title “worst company in America” might be a slight exaggeration, but the worst gaming company in the world might not be stretching things too much either.

The Simsville Bugle Logo

The Simsville Bugle has all the latest news from the SimCity city of Simsville

It’s not just SimCity though. Mass Effect 3’s rushed ending, selling FIFA 12 on the Wii as FIFA 13 with a few minor changes, the excessive use (or is that “abuse”) of DLCs, and the cynical milking of loyal gamer’s goodwill with mediocre sequels, have all added to EA’s bad reputation. This video┬átries to explain why EA’s actions are hurting the gaming industry as a whole, why we may be close to another gaming industry crash, and it’s worth a watch, despite its length.

Games are bigger and more expensive to make these days, and so this either means the risky move of taking more time to make a good game (like what Valve does), or the more cynical move to churn out as many games as possible in the shortest time possible and abuse a franchise to death, or incomplete and untested games that gets “fixed” via future DLCs. More and more companies are doing the latter and taking the gamer for granted, which is exactly what happened before the video game crashes of yesteryear.

And that’s it for the real news of the week, time for me to go away and write some fake news for The Bugle. See you next week.


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