Consumers like to think that we can use the items we’ve legally purchased however we see fit. If we want to cover our new backpack with rhinestones or use third-party ink cartridges in the printer that we bought, who is the manufacturer to stop us? Yet while backpacks might stay Bedazzled, you can’t always use whatever ink you want in your printer. [More]
Lots of things made our modern all-online, all-video era possible: Internet connections got faster, tech got cheaper, and so on. But the thing that made companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu willing and able to become household names in TV is a little invisible: it’s the ability to keep you paying for content.
By now, most of us are aware that videos come and go from Amazon’s streaming offerings; that a movie available on Prime this month may be gone the next. There are even caveats in the Amazon terms of service that videos you purchase from Amazon may vanish from your online library — and there’s nothing you can do about it. What you don’t expect is for half of a video you buy to suddenly disappear without explanation. [More]
Once upon a time, in the long-long ago bygone years of the 20th century, teenagers communicated their feelings through a medium known as the mix tape. Those of us who can remember tape cassettes can remember hitting “record” on a boom box at exactly the right moment when a favorite song started on the radio or, as the ’90s waned into the shadow of Y2K, recording tracks off a bunch of CDs into one themed tape to play in the car or slip into the hand of a not-so-secret crush. [More]
In the modern, digital economy, there are a whole lot of things you buy but still technically don’t own. Nearly all entertainment, for example: digital books, video games, music, and so on. Other software, too. But as basically everything continues to become some kind of computer in a specialized body, plenty of other goods are starting to be subject to licensing, copyright law, and non-ownership problems, too. Like tractors.
It’s pretty great that in the modern age, you can borrow digital books from libraries, to read at home on the computer or e-reader of your choice. It’s a lot less great that the piece of software most library books use is apparently spying and collecting data on every word you read.
First, Microsoft announced that the upcoming Xbox One gaming console would severely restrict a user’s ability to resell games or play previously owned titles. Then Sony announced that its competing PS4 wouldn’t have any new restrictions, and Microsoft was basically forced to give them up. But that hasn’t stopped some consumers from being justifiably concerned that, once Xbox One has garnered a substantial user base, Microsoft will pull an about-face and institute the harsh digital rights management programs it had intended. [More]
While SimCity got all of the publicity and helped publisher EA win a major award, it’s certainly not the only single-player game out there that requires you to be connected to the publisher’s server all the time. For example, there’s Darkspore, another EA/Maxis title released in 2011 that some gamers still enjoy. Sometimes. [More]
For the swarms of angry EA customers ticked off at the company for forcing players to play the new SimCity in an always online mode, the slow, problem-riddled servers have been a huge annoyance. Calls for EA (our Worst Company In America 2012) and Maxis to allow gamers to play in offline mode have been dismissed by the company as not possible, but lo and behold, one game modder is claiming it is quite possible. [More]
Comparisons of downloadable books and music to their ancient, tangible predecessors are an old, old meme, but sometimes the comparison applies. For example: if reader Synimatik had bought a paperback book a few months ago and picked it up to read now, the book’s pages wouldn’t magically glue shut just because the credit card she normally uses at the bookstore has expired. That’s how it works when you want to read a book downloaded from Barnes & Noble, though.
Compared to ebooks, physical books might have the disadvantage of being heavier and subject to wear and tear. But you know what’s nice about a printed book? Amazon can’t come to your house, take it off your shelf and tell you to go buy it somewhere else. [More]
One day in October, Kindle owner Ryan couldn’t log in to his Amazon account. He reset his password: no luck. According to Amazon representatives, the account is now “on hold,” but no one can tell him what that means. He was told that someone at Amazon would call him back within 24 hours. That was almost a month ago.
Reader Justin is steaming because he just found out that the promised “digital copy included” isn’t actually a normal file, but a license to watch the flick through the movie industry’s new “UltraViolet” system.
Apple enthusiast David was annoyed to discover his Blu-ray of the animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood won’t allow him to use the download voucher to get a digital copy of the film that will play on his Mac or iPod. He feels misled because he had no such trouble with previous digital copy transfers, even from other Batman movies.
Ubisoft has dropped its draconian DRM policy, which forces PC gamers to be online the entire time they want to play, from its upcoming game R.U.S.E. Instead the game will use the Steamworks DRM method used by Valve, which requires players to check in online before allowing them to continue their games offline.