Are the sponsored key sites even legal?

UltraSUPRA

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I remember a year or two ago that there was some controversy over discount key sites, with some indie developers saying that it's better to pirate the game than to buy it off of those types of sites. Now they're being sponsored on the front page by TempBot?
 

FAST6191

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Various courts in various places have ruled that reselling software you own is legal (generally speaking it is an asset -- the tax man will count it as one, businesses get sold with it in, divorce cases care about it... and blocking resale is not allowed even if the EULA wants to).
That would in turn imply a service that provides a resale platform is legal. Companies making the software likely hate it as it loses them control and sees them actually having competitors but they can cry their eyes out all they like there really - tis how the world works.

If however you can show that the reseller is being complicit in selling stolen keys (bad credit cards used to generate, stolen by malware from individual systems, demo keys being stolen, keys being reused... all options to make such things), that they are not providing a service (take the money and run sort of thing), or something like criminally/actionably negligent in weeding such things out (that might just mean software/rightful key owner has an option to email them and they in turn respond in a "reasonable" amount of time, though many go far further than that) then that is one thing and it would influence things.

"Where do keys come from?"
Don't know about the ones up there now or in the past but in general.
Software vendors will sell tens of thousands of keys at once for a fraction of what Johnny off the street will be able to walk in and buy one instance for (they get a massive straight injection of cash, and being software you can literally copy and paste then profits are way high still). This can also include companies that build computers for others (far nicer to grab a key like you might grab a hard drive from the parts bin).
Disused machines/machines sent for recycling can have keys reclaimed, gets slightly tricky with OEM versions but nothing that can't be handled if you know what you are doing.
Companies going bankrupt will have many keys (see previous bit about assets) and thus can have their keys purchased in some means. Companies in general may also have extra keys they don't need (fines for non compliance in business are huge and what you are allowed to do... full time job just ensuring compliance in most companies) so they might buy extra just to be safe, to account for new employees (if you essentially need a key for every employee and expect to get 1000 more employees that year then it makes sense to stock up) or no longer need thanks to going down a different path (as painful as it is to change a workflow in a company they do still do it).
Keys, possibly more than one, are often given away at trade shows (if IT movers and shakers are likely to be attending then you may get a foot in the door at a company).
Some countries have far lower prices as they are poorer and the software maker still wants to get something from them. Get someone with a credit card and address there. Send keys back out by email or whatever. Depending upon import and export regulations this might even be actively supported by governments (the EU tending to be a good example here -- places that still bear the scars of the USSR might still be in the EU and thus be free to trade with any other EU state by design).

Back on the illegitimate keys. How much recourse you have in such an event is hard to determine (generally if you buy a stolen product then you can not do much, you would likely have a good faith argument in a court though if someone tried to ping you). How many is on any one site is also hard to say. Generally speaking there is more money to be made going legit, and ensuring some legitimacy on your site, but at the same time someone could do a chancer with stolen keys (can't be bothered to look up prices but 50% off retail - site's cut for effectively nothing is more than nothing, especially if you are in a poor country).


As far as game devs. Are these the same ones that tried to tell me second hand games was as good as piracy?

Now do I have any clue why such sites purchase ad space here? No, not really (impressions wise it is not great, I imagine click through is worse and purchase totals likely none at all, that leaves either corporate charity (advertisers will often buy ad space on sites/channels/businesses/clubs they like to keep them active) or some kind of search engine optimisation or name recognition ploy). Would I use such a service? Probably not but that is mostly because I have better means still and can't be bothered to deal with the hassle of signing up somewhere new. Would I encourage others that maybe are not so IT boy as myself to utilise such a thing to get a deal vs paying full listing on Amazon or something? Do the research on your chosen one and I will not say "no way, no how". Are there companies that would be cooler to do business with? Most certainly.
 

duwen

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For some reason TempBot is always pushing stuff that no one in their right mind would act on (Windows10 licenses, where it's still easy to obtain legitimate free Win10 upgrade licenses... keysites selling shady keys that may or may not have come from people sellling on codes made available for review purposes or at worst obtained through fraudulent means... etc).
As much as I see the necessity of sponsored links, and as much as I want to support the site, the partnerships chosen so far will never get me to part with any money.
 

Tom Bombadildo

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Sites like g2a and such that were apart of those conspiracies are not the same as the sites that sponsor us, the main difference being that sites like G2A and such that were the center of the issues devs had were marketplaces, where anyone could go and sell off keys for whatever they like (criminals included). The sites we sponsor are not marketplaces, all keys are being supplied by one single company on this one site, and are technically legitimate keys.

To tl;dr what FAST said above, the sites that are sponsoring us are key resellers, the way they function is they buy "leftover" volume licensing keys from things like businesses or retailers, usually ones that are going defunct and are looking to make quick cash, for cheapo. They can then supply these keys to users at a heavy discount vs normal price. The keys themselves are, technically speaking, "legitimate" and legal.

However, there are a couple of caveats with this practice. For one, it's against MS's ToS to resell these keys, so in theory MS could sue and shut down any of these sites and revoke any keys they provided to buyers. But it is not an "illegal" practice in that they could go to jail for doing this, much like any other ToS violation. However, Microsoft actually doesn't really give a shit about these practices, mostly because they want everyone to be using Windows 10 (to the point where you can still get it basically for free anyways, despite them ending their "free upgrade" offer years ago), so you'll basically never have any of the things you buy from these sites revoked (except maybe Office keys).

For another, the keys that are supplied are, in 99% of cases, OEM keys, so they cannot be activated on different hardware. If, for example, you activated the key on your gaming PC and a couple years later decided to upgrade the motherboard and CPU, the key may result in being unusable and you'd have to buy another to activate your copy of Windows.


So should you buy these kinds of keys? IMO, probably not, simply because there are legitimate "free" ways to get Windows 10 already (for example, you can literally reuse your own OEM keys from basically any old laptop or desktop from like Windows 7+, if it hasn't already been used to upgrade), and there are good, free alternatives to using MS Office (like LibreOffice or Google Docs) where, IMO, I wouldn't bother buying a copy of it at this point.
 

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