Is possessing a legal copy of a game before release illegal?

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by Sterling, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. Sterling
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    Sterling GBAtemp's Silver Hero

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    Legal as in a physical game, purchased with your own money and played with a legal console.

    I mean, I've been seeing a lot of buzz about this area of legality, and I just don't see how this can be illegal. Just to note, I don't mean uploading it to the internet, I mean playing it, and perhaps showing off a little that you have a copy. Is there some toilet material I can read to get brushed up on this subject?
     
  2. Lilith Valentine

    Lilith Valentine GBATemp's Wolfdog™ ☠️Grunt☠️

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    I believe that is actually a grey area and more likely would result in the distributor getting fined over the actual customer, but with the recent Pokemon X & Y incident, I am not sure what the legal standing is. :unsure:
     
  3. DinohScene

    DinohScene Feed Dino to the Sharks

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    As far as I know it's perfectly legal.
    You're not owning illegal copied copyrighted material and you did pay for it.

    If you should blame someone for it then you'd better blame the retailer for selling it to early.
     
  4. Sterling
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    Sterling GBAtemp's Silver Hero

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    Even then, why is it illegal for the seller to distribute it early? Is there some law, or is it an extension of copyright law because they agreed not to sell it until release? If that's the case, then does that also make the copy an illegal copy, and by extension the consumer is also breaking the law? I'm mostly speaking of the US here, but if anyone could shed light on the European side, I'd much appreciate that too.
     
  5. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    Is not illegal in the sense that it breaks the law, but distributors usually sign contracts that forbid early release. So this is more of a civil dispute.
     
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  6. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    I am not sure about this actually. Indeed I am trying to figure out what areas of law it would fall under (obviously contract law with the distributor but that matters little to you in this debate), I am going with copyright (naturally this assumes the IP holders have a registered copyright) by way of the author having not "officially" sanctioned its sale though I would not be surprised to possibly see trademarks rear their heads. The trouble is this could be modified by quite a lot and somewhat ironically some types of spoilers/early reviews (assuming they are not bound by another contract) may be exempt by virtue of being reviews/criticism.

    I am even having a hard time thinking of examples, the only one in memory for me is probably when similar things happened with Harry Potter books, though here I am also comparing US and UK/EU IP law which is rarely a good start. As you do not really have to defend copyright and a bit of pre release buzz is often considered a good thing, to say nothing of the Streisand effect/barn doors when horses have bolted/general negative receptions, not so many companies try to lock it down either.

    If it came to court though I would bet heavily in favour of the IP holders. Of course the usual "try to avoid seeing the inside of a courtroom" concept is in effect.
     
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  7. Sterling
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    Sterling GBAtemp's Silver Hero

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    I see. At the same time, I'm seeing quite a few sites classifying it as illegal and a subject of discussion that is forbidden.

    EDIT: Thanks FAST, though I was hoping you might have a bit more on this one. Your posts in this area have always piqued my interest.
     
  8. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Actually I might have another example though it would not be a direct version of it like the Harry Potter stuff and more of a quirk; the Scientology people tried some interesting things when some of their more highly paid/inner circle stuff got leaked the other year.

    As for sites classifying it as illegal there is probably a contract with various games industry people, the desire to comply with them to an extent (you get cut off from pre release reviews and your site is not likely to make it much further), the desire to avoid having to speak to a lawyer (getting one in/actually doing something is not the cheapest after all) and similar such things, most of which are more easily dismissed when you make a blanket statement like "'tis illegal".
     
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  9. Sterling
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    Sterling GBAtemp's Silver Hero

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    Ah, I see. I'd like to hear the Scientology shit. That sounds like a laugh.
     
  10. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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  11. Taleweaver

    Taleweaver Storywriter

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    I think this hits the nail on its head.

    Think of it this way: say a friend and me break into a gamestore, I get behind the counter and "sell" him one of the games. This is obviously not legal. It's not legal either if I'm the one doing the breaking into and my friend (or anyone else, for that matter) just buys it. That makes them innocent, but it doesn't make the purchase legal.

    The thing that does make it legal is the contract. I can only sell that game if I work for that shop, and in order to do that, I have to sign a contract. And employees of such shops can probably back it up (or deny it), but it seems to me that there is at least a vague reference to not being allowed to sell a game before the actual launch date.
     
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  12. ShadowSoldier

    ShadowSoldier GBAtemp Guru

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    Definitely not illegal, just an agreement between the store and the publisher.

    It's like an embargo for a review. Developers/publishers give early copies to a review site, and they sign an agreement stating that they can't release the review until [insert date here]. If they do, than that site risks not getting any more early release games from publisher.
     
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  13. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    If you legally bought the game then you as a consumer have a green light - it's the distributor and the retailer who have to follow the release contract and schedule, not you. As a buyer, you participate in a transaction with the retailer, it's the retailer who deals with the publisher and those two transactions are separate and excusive. The only instance when it would be illegal to posses a copy of a game early is when it was a stolen copy in which case it has to return to its rightful owner.
     
  14. Pong20302000

    Pong20302000 making notes on everything

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    put isnt there also a issue of what your paying for?
    as certain shops have restrictions on Till sales (e.g. GAME & Gamestation)
    if you scan pokemon right now on the till it states "NOT FOR SALE UNTIL THE 12TH OCTOBER"

    so do you loose your legal standpoint by running it through as something else as your receipt would not state the Item ID for what you bought
     
  15. Pedeadstrian

    Pedeadstrian GBAtemp's Official frill-necked lizard.

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    America: where one person can get in trouble for playing a game they legitimately bought and another person can have hundreds of illegal copies of games and never see court or jail time.
     
  16. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    In such an instance, in the eyes of the law a legal purchase has not occured. A reciept is a fiscal proof of purchase - if the item does not figure on the reciept and hasn't gone through the system then the transaction and as such also the transfer of ownership did not take place and you were, intentionally or not, scammed by the cashier. Esentially the cashier "stole" the game from the store's stock and "sold" the stolen merchandise to you. In other words, your copy is illegal, but you yourself did not violate the law - you're a victim of a scam.
     
  17. Pong20302000

    Pong20302000 making notes on everything

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    indeed
    and normally as such the person who got scammed is to return the product to the person/s it was stolen from
    while the scammer is punished and normally forced to return your money (tho this doesnt always happen and the person that was scammed is left with nothing)
     
  18. Ritsuki

    Ritsuki ORAORAORAORA

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    Actually, buying or selling a game before the release date has no legal consequences. When you buy an item and it gets delivered, you got the right to do pretty much whatever you want with it. The only thing that can happen is that the editor won't restock the store after a moment, to "punish" him (Call of Duty case)
     
  19. ShadowSoldier

    ShadowSoldier GBAtemp Guru

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    That.. and.. you know, Microsoft will ban your account.
     
  20. Pedeadstrian

    Pedeadstrian GBAtemp's Official frill-necked lizard.

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    Having your account banned seems like a perfectly reasonable punishment for buying Call of Duty in my opinion.