Saturday, December 17th 2011

The Witcher 2 Contains Secret Sauce To 'Catch 100% Of Pirates'

Yes, really - 100% of those pesky "pirates" will be brought to book! The game's studio, CD Projekt RED (CDP Red) isn't letting on how it's doing so, either, claiming it's a "trade secret" and not giving out the name of the external company that's implementing the anti-piracy technology, claiming that to do so would damage their business. Seriously. The problem with identifying a dodgy copy of something is that the main info they have to track them down, are the IP addresses of the suspect. This has been shown many times over now, not to be a reliable tracker of who's doing what. At the most, it will pinpoint the account holder that it relates to, in some cases. However, this outfit reckons they've nailed this dealbreaking problem once and for all - and without any evidence on how they go about it. Snake oil, perhaps? The Polish company have therefore been sending out legal notices to thousands of suspects in Germany, chosen because this country has some of the strictest copyright laws in Europe. Presumably, they must be leaning on the ISPs to hand over customers' physical street addresses, although this isn't made clear, but read on for how this might be accomplished. In an email to PC Gamer, CDP Red VP Michael Nowakowski made the following statement:

We're addressing only 100% confirmed piracy causes that are 100% possible to prove. We are not worried about tracking the wrong people. As this is the trade secret of the company working on this, I cannot share it. However, we investigated the subject before we decided on this move, and we aware of some past complications (the famous Davenport case). The method used here is targeting only 100% confirmed piracy cases. No innocent person was targeted with the letter so far. At least we have not received any information as of now which would indicate something like that.
Notice how the Davenport case is "famous" rather than "infamous" – they actually went down in flames over their extortion tactics. Also notice how they covered themselves by saying "At least we have not received any information as of now which would indicate something like that." So, they could be targeting the innocent after all, they just haven't heard about it. Nice.

So, there appears to be two options to how this tracking technology works:

1 There is no technology and this is just smoke and mirrors (with a dash of snake oil) designed to extort marks into coughing up money to make CD Projekt go away

2 They really do have some "tracking technology" in their games. Now, what could this be? Well, as they're not telling us, it's only right and proper to be highly suspicious of what it actually does and to put it in the same class as common criminal malware. This is because the only logical way that they can track the individual in any semi-reliable manner, is to lift personal information off their computer. Let's speculate on how this could be achieved. It would include stuff such as email logins, bank logins, Facebook logins, network traffic sniffing to read the contents of highly personal and confidential messages and any other login where personal information such as a name and address might be kept. You name it, they might be doing it. This kind of activity is of course highly illegal everywhere, so no wonder they'd want to keep quiet about it. It makes traditional draconian DRM schemes such as SecuROM and the like seem like a walk in the park by comparison, doesn't it?

So, do you really want to install software that does some or all of this on your computer, just to play a lousy video game? Obviously, that's a resounding NO!

Regardless of how they track down suspects, this exercise is extortion with a legal veneer, pure and simple. This is because there haven't been any independent studies showing that "piracy" reduces profits and makes companies go to the wall - they have all been big media industry sponsored. However, there are several independent studies that show it does nothing, or actually enhances sales by indirect means, such as reputation spread by word of mouth. Of course, the powerful media cartels based in America, are able to buy government reps all over the world to make them pass corrupt laws as if all this "piracy" really was hurting them – three strikes, PROTECT IP & SOPA are just three examples. Consider the blockbusting sales here and here of Modern Warfare 3 recently. This will be the most "pirated" game of all, yet it still outsold all of Hollywood put together...

There is of course, one sure fire and legal way to beat a company that tries such dirty tricks: the boycott. Don't buy their products and don't pirate them, then laugh as you watch them go under (all the while still blaming alleged "piracy", of course). I personally wholeheartedly recommend this course of action. Once again www.techdirt.com is recommended as the site to go to, as they expose abuses like this daily.Sources: TG Daily, PC Gamer (recommended reading)
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345 Comments on The Witcher 2 Contains Secret Sauce To 'Catch 100% Of Pirates'

#1
Drone
I don't condone piracy but I also hate dirty tricks with tracking and all that crap. I also hate when someone says "we're 100% sure" and all that bullcrap.
Posted on Reply
#2
erocker
Good editorial. Nope, that's a resounding YES for me. This is the way it should be implemented and face it, if it is just "smoke and mirrors" the courts will just throw this right out and it will die. Kudos to CD Projekt RED for doing it the right way. :toast:
Posted on Reply
#3
heky
by: erocker
Nope, that's a resounding YES for me. This is the way it should be implemented and face it, if it is just "smoke and mirrors" the courts will just throw this right out and it will die. Kudos to CD Projekt RED for doing it the right way. :toast:
Nope, that`s a resounding NO for me. This is NOT the way it should be done. Dont i have the right to try something, before i fork out my hard earned money for it? And where is my right of privacy, if you agree with the rights of copyright?
Posted on Reply
#4
erocker
by: heky
Dont i have the right to try something, before i fork out my hard earned money for it? And where is my right of privacy
No, you don't have the right to try something first unless it is given and you lose that small bit of privacy when you tick yes on the EULA.
Posted on Reply
#5
bogie
Surely what they are doing is spyware/malware and against the law in many countries?

If it does go to court they will have to reveal thier methods & legality of methods. :shadedshu

Look at what happened to Sony's rootkits on CD's. Big lawsuit and a lot of backtracking by Sony to wriggle out of all the negative publicity.

I'm not sure that this is a good idea by CD Projekt RED. :banghead:

If they sent me a letter I would laugh at it! :laugh:

btw, I have not pirated their crappy buggy game anyway. :D
Posted on Reply
#6
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
There is a way to know 100% of the time if a game is not a valid (purchased) copy.
Each valid copy of the game could "phone home" with a unique identifier and the IP address of where it is located and then stored in a database.
If this unique ID shows up more than once, you KNOW a copy has been made.

The thing I am wondering is how you can know, with 100% accuracy, which is the bootleg copy.
"First location to register the ID" would not give you 100% accuracy (although it would probably be pretty close as I think most people would buy, install, copy).

I don't care what CDP does, I want to know how (the coding details). :cry:
Posted on Reply
#7
LAN_deRf_HA
by: erocker
Good editorial. Nope, that's a resounding YES for me. This is the way it should be implemented and face it, if it is just "smoke and mirrors" the courts will just throw this right out and it will die. Kudos to CD Projekt RED for doing it the right way. :toast:
Then you haven't given this the proper thought. This isn't just IP tracking. Their verification is on their end, not the ISP's, meaning some sort of illegal data mining is involved. I wonder if they'll be required to reveal their method in court or if they just take the person's pc. That would have the proof but skirt the issue of how they got it before hand.
Posted on Reply
#8
W1zzard
if they access and submit any personal information it's illegal in most countries. could even be interpreted as hacking if you assume that the operating system's process separation and non-admin users are ways to protect sensitive data.

if you agreed to it in the TOS it may be legal, it's not clear whether it's possible to waive away a right to privacy.
Posted on Reply
#9
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: W1zzard
if you agreed to it in the TOS it may be legal, it's not clear whether it's possible to waive away a right to privacy.
Now there's a grey area. I'll bet this varies from country. It would come under the illegal or unreasonable contracts section of any country's laws.

EDIT: this is the obvious question to ask: it's one thing to lift lots of personal details if the user has "agreed" to it by blindly clicking yes to the agreement - which may or may not be legal to subject them to. However, our "pirate" has not agreed to this, making such dodgy techniques definitely illegal, regardless of whether the "pirate" is doing something illegal or not themselves. It's the sort of reason why vigilantes are frowned upon and people are expected to let the police and the law take care of the crimes. Which they often don't...
Posted on Reply
#10
garyinhere
by: erocker
Good editorial. Nope, that's a resounding YES for me. This is the way it should be implemented and face it, if it is just "smoke and mirrors" the courts will just throw this right out and it will die. Kudos to CD Projekt RED for doing it the right way. :toast:
I agree that qbit doesn't speak for all of us and this is more of an editorial... otherwise charges they planned to bring against someone would've been mentioned imo... No charges because nothing illegal is happening... torrenting is not stealing or illegal!
Posted on Reply
#11
Athlonite
I give it a week before it's hacked and rendered useless
Posted on Reply
#12
Zakin
Out of curiosity, I wonder if they plan to bring in the probably fifty percent of their actual sales that probably pirated the game because not being able to try the game before hand in this modern day is suicide with console ports and just badly coded games in general.
Posted on Reply
#13
Halk
Either they're accessing other data on the PC it's installed on to find information - in that case it's incredibly bad malware, illegal, immoral and beneath contempt...

Or they're just making it up.

They're making it up.
Posted on Reply
#14
garyinhere
Wtf is this thread so dead, I thought i'd be entertained for at least a few hours or till bann but no, nobody wants to post for some fking reason... Pirating is cool, it does nothing but make the market and big business legit. Look at the music industry now... No napster would've meant no itunes. FKING POST
Posted on Reply
#15
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
My problem with this is the hipocracy from CD Projekt. They run Good Old Games which is a DRM free service. The very first patch for Witcher 2 also removes the DRM (theoretically, apparently). And now they're saying they deployed a decietful DRM in the Witcher 2 and are taking people to court with whatever information they gained from it. The hipocracy, lies, and deceit pisses me off to no end. I'm not buying anything from CD Projekt ever again (including GoG). I don't care if it was only on the German SKU, you don't treat your customers like criminals and you don't lie to them, period. Even EA doesn't stoop that low.
Posted on Reply
#16
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: FordGT90Concept
My problem with this is the hipocracy from CD Projekt. They run Good Old Games which is a DRM free service. The very first patch for Witcher 2 also removes the DRM (theoretically, apparently). And now they're saying they deployed a decietful DRM in the Witcher 2 and are taking people to court with whatever information they gained from it. The hipocracy, lies, and deceit pisses me off to no end. I'm not buying anything from CD Projekt ever again (including GoG). I don't care if it was only on the German SKU, you don't treat your customers like criminals and you don't lie to them, period. Even EA doesn't stoop that low.
Damn straight! This hypocrisy is disgusting. Unfortunately, I spotted the PC Gamer article a little too late to start making significant changes to my article, but it's a really important point. Thanks for bringing it up. :toast:
Posted on Reply
#17
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
Interesting post Ford.
It seems that there is a semantical difference between what people view as DRM.
One could say that DRM prevents you from playing a game when you do not meet the requirements of what the publisher views as a valid copy (CD/DVD check, constant internet connection, etc.)
If the software allows you to use what you have, but just reports that it's illegal it is not infringing upon you ability to use the software (although there may be consequences for doing so).

It's kind of like speed limits in the US. There is nothing to prevent you from going 100mph (DRM), but if you get caught you get fined. Perhaps a poor analogy, but you know what I mean.
Posted on Reply
#18
Batou1986
Here's my issue with the whole piracy thing, if you don't release a demo so I can see if your $60 pile of crap actually works and is playable im not buying.

With that said three people I know bought the Witcher 2 after watching me play it, I only actually bought it last week.
The way i see it that -1 +3 +1 roughly $200 in sales from a pirated copy $150 of which they would have never got without that copy.
The whole piracy is killing the industry is a crock.
Posted on Reply
#19
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
hahahaah! stupid pirates! throw them all in jail!
Posted on Reply
#20
garyinhere
by: Easy Rhino
hahahaah! stupid pirates! throw them all in jail!
You jelly
Posted on Reply
#21
Damn_Smooth
I contain a secret sauce that causes 100% of hookers to take my money.
Posted on Reply
#22
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: Damn_Smooth
I contain a secret sauce that causes 100% of hookers to take my money.
:roll:
Posted on Reply
#23
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
by: Batou1986
Here's my issue with the whole piracy thing, if you don't release a demo so I can see if your $60 pile of crap actually works and is playable im not buying.

With that said three people I know bought the Witcher 2 after watching me play it, I only actually bought it last week.
The way i see it that -1 +3 +1 roughly $200 in sales from a pirated copy $150 of which they would have never got without that copy.
The whole piracy is killing the industry is a crock.
I agree with you in general Batou, but for some games it's not easy to just create some kind of "crippled" demo. You still need to supply all the code, art assets, audio and everything that makes the game play, and then inject code to cripple it (time played, locations etc.).
For certain games it's not so bad as you release the demo with limited maps, or levels, but with open world RPGs it's not that simple, and just easy for someone who know what they are doing to hack out the restirictions and get the full game as it is to crack the DRM.
Posted on Reply
#24
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
by: Kreij
Interesting post Ford.
It seems that there is a semantical difference between what people view as DRM.
One could say that DRM prevents you from playing a game when you do not meet the requirements of what the publisher views as a valid copy (CD/DVD check, constant internet connection, etc.)
If the software allows you to use what you have, but just reports that it's illegal it is not infringing upon you ability to use the software (although there may be consequences for doing so).

It's kind of like speed limits in the US. There is nothing to prevent you from going 100mph (DRM), but if you get caught you get fined. Perhaps a poor analogy, but you know what I mean.
The end goal is the same: sue someone for copyright infringement. Just because their DRM is reactive instead of proactive doesn't exclude it from being DRM. If you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig.
Posted on Reply
#25
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
by: FordGT90Concept
The end goal is the same: sue someone for copyright infringement. Just because their DRM is reactive instead of proactive doesn't exclude it from being DRM. If you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig.
But copyright infringement is illegal. What other course of action would you recommend they take to protect their product and their intellectual property?
Posted on Reply
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