While normally I’m not a very political person and I don’t always like to use my platforms to preach my political or personal stances, there’s a bill in the US Senate right now that could possibly change the way we use the internet – and not necessarily for the better.
SOPA was a bill that the House dropped just recently but was trying to push through. The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites.
PIPA is the Senates version of the bill – and there’s not really much difference between them. There are a lot of internet heavyweights against this bill – and with so much of our economy being “virtual goods”, things like websites, subscriptions, advertisements, etc – these internet heavyweights have a lot of pull. Google has come out against the bill, and so has Facebook, Wikipedia, Reddit, Microsoft, and a whole bunch of others. Godaddy recently supported the bill and it came back to bite them when they lost loads of business over it.
Tomorrow two of the heavyweights are going to have 12 hour blackouts to boycott the bill and raise awareness of the issue: Reddit and Wikipedia. Reddit gets somewhere around 35 million unique visitors and 2 billion pageviews a month while Wikipedia gets between 4 and 5 million visitors a day and almost 90 page edits per minute. There’s already a twitter following at hashtag #BlackoutSOPA.
I’m really only covering this issue for one reason – it could affect the way our site works. Some things like screenshots of games we cover are images belonging to video game companies – we couldn’t possibly write in a request to use each and every image. We occasionally link to Youtube videos, and in a recent precedent it turns out that you can be extradited to the US to stand trial for copyright infringement for simply linking to copyrighted material.
Blackout Day Update: Google has followed suit with a logo banner today and information about PIPA/SOPA. Over 7000 websites are participating in the blackout from Boingboing to Minecraft.net. We may only get 50 unique visitors a day here at JOB, but we’ve put up information about it as well. Razer gaming has a pretty funny frontpage today (NSFW, language).
To learn more about PIPA and SOPA, check out Reddit today and read the bills yourself.
We posted about the release of Anno 2070 back in November of last year and it’s faired pretty well. It seems now that Ubisoft literally can’t touch a game without dirtying it with grimy DRM (digital rights management) that is intended to curb piracy but ends up simply making life with the game difficult – even if you purchase it legitimately. Driver: San Fransisco, Assasin’s Creed 2, From Dust, Silent Hunter 5, locking out legitimate paying customers, being mocked by Minecraft creator Notch, and even being warned against their DRM by MMO giant Blizzard hasn’t changed a thing… despite all of this Ubisoft still feels like their DRM system is a success.
Unfortunately a good game like Anno 2070 isn’t immune to Ubisoft’s meatball fingers leaving greasy little DRM all over it after handling it according to Rock Paper Shotgun. Turns out, Guru3d – one of my favorite PC hardware sites out there – is having trouble testing the game out on some of their benchmark rigs. While testing the game, they knew the game had only three activations (a pretty controversial practice in itself), they kept it to a trio of boxes, and then switched cards. And the game stopped working. And refused to activate. They then contacted Ubisoft (this was four days ago) as instructed, but have had no reply. It appears that slight hardware changes like switching a video card will nullify an activation. This isn’t completely unheard of.. Windows will occasionally complain if you do something major like change your motherboard and/or CPU but those are large undertakings and generally don’t happen that often. Not as often as swapping out a video card to squeeze a little more life out of an aging PC or to upgrade for tri-screen gaming. Guru3d says it more than likely won’t ever test any more Ubisoft titles because of this.
Still think your DRM is a success, Ubisoft?
Update 1/25/12: Guru3d has been notified that Ubisoft has remove the graphics hardware from the hash used to identify the PC, meaning you can swap video cards as many times as you’d like. It’s a step in the right direction, but I’d like to see all hardware monitoring removed from the DRM.
Some of the changes made are:
- Bow Enchantments
- Golden Apple recipe
- New language translations.
- Slightly smoothed color transitions between biomes
- Reduced brewing time to 20 seconds
- Added spawn eggs to creative (the colors of the eggs even look like the mobs)
- Added world type options (currently only super-flat and default)
- Removed collision box from ladders
- Sheep eat grass and regain their wool
- Plus many bug fixes!
For more changes check out this Reddit thread. Also, the JOB Minecraft server will be updated this evening around 7pm Central Time (US).