Is Rockstar's removal of 18 songs from the Steam version of San Andreas legal?

Zontar

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Feb 18, 2013
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For the first time in years Grand Theft Auto San Andreas has had an update. Unfortunately for those of us who own it it was a downgrading of the game. For those not in the know, 18 songs have been removed from the game (and somehow that requires 400mb of downloading to do, because for some reason that's a thing that needs to be done and has nothing to do with the devs being lazy about the downgrade). Now the games hub is filled with people understandably complaining about this, including asking the very real question of weather or not this is even legal. Now I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure any licence would cover the copies sold while the licence was in effect. So is it?

Though weather it is or isn't legal, it sure paints a pessimistic image for me of gaming going digital if something like this can happen either way.
 

Fieldy409_v1legacy

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Ah, this is where that whole issue of ownership of digital games comes into play. If you actually own the game id think it illegal but I'm under the impression that with digital games you are actually buying a licence to play the game, so Rockstar has been forced to change the terms of the licence.

Also don't get too mad at Rockstar, they'd have no logical reason to do this but for the music rights owners being dicks.
 

Vendor-Lazarus

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That is a light reminder of the dangers inherent in giving distributor platforms such a stranglehold on our games.
Taking it to the extreme (but possible) end is that they can also remove our games whenever they so chose.

They wouldn't want to do that of course since the are out to sell games.
However..How long until we are only renting games per hour? really?
*Removed line by virtue of more knowledge*
I haven't used any of these things yet the way they move forward seems ominous to me at least.

Before I'm accused of being a raving conspiracy theorist, heh.
There are still bastions of games without strings attached.
I'm sorry, I just miss buying a game and playing it.
Occasionally going online to look for patches and reading what they changed beforehand.
 

DoPo

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Jan 30, 2012
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Vendor-Lazarus said:
However..How long until we are only renting games per hour? really?
I've seen them already implement something called season passes.
How are these two related in any way? A Season pass is preordering DLC in bulk. That's it.
 

Vendor-Lazarus

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DoPo said:
Vendor-Lazarus said:
However..How long until we are only renting games per hour? really?
I've seen them already implement something called season passes.
How are these two related in any way? A Season pass is preordering DLC in bulk. That's it.
Ah, really..ok, my apologies, I only went by hearsay and skim-reading..I took the word for what it says.
Wasn't really necessary for my post anyway, will retract.
Thanks for the info!
 

Hairless Mammoth

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Ah, the joys of licensed music. I'd say this is dirty and underhanded. The customers who bought the game before the update should not have had the content cut like that (or at all, really), and the store page and any related advertising should mention how the audio has been modified since the original release. One of the key factors bringing life to the GTA world is the music playing on the cars' radios. Losing that means losing some of the character of the game.
 

Knight Captain Kerr

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The apparent list of songs removed. Thanks to Steam's SourceTVFilms.
Here is a list of songs they removed for both 360 and pc

Playback FM
Ultramagnetic MC?s - Critical Beatdown

Radio Los Santos
2 Pac - I Don?t Give A f*ck
Compton?s Most Wanted - Hood Took Me Under
NWA - Express Yourself

Bounce FM
Fatback - Yum Yum
Roy Ayers - Running Away
The Gap Band - You Dropped A Bomb On Me

KDST
Tom Petty - Running Down A Dream
Joe Cocker - Woman to Woman

K-JAH West Radio
Black Harmony - Don?t Let It Go to Your Head
Blood Sisters - Ring My Bell

Radio:X
Ozzy Osbourne - Hellraiser
Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name

Master Sounds 98.3
Charles Wright - Express Yourself
The Blackbyrds - Rock Creek Park
James Brown - Funky President
Macer & The Macks - Soul Power ?74
James Brown - The Payback
The JB?s - Grunt

Damn, those are some good songs too. Radio X was always my favourite station. I'm pretty sure it's legal, scummy, but legal. Even more so seeing as they didn't tell people in advance. Ultimately you don't own any of your Steam games, you own a licence to play those games for an unspecified period of time. It's the ultimate dream, selling you something and still owning it after you sell it. There's nothing stopping publishers doing something like this not only to people getting the game in the future (which I could understand for legal reasons) but people who already own the game.

Anyway this is why Steam kind of worries me, you don't own any of your games, there's nothing to stop something like this from happening or even cutting off access to the game altogether.
 

Albino Boo

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Fieldy409 said:
Ah, this is where that whole issue of ownership of digital games comes into play. If you actually own the game id think it illegal but I'm under the impression that with digital games you are actually buying a licence to play the game, so Rockstar has been forced to change the terms of the licence.

Also don't get too mad at Rockstar, they'd have no logical reason to do this but for the music rights owners being dicks.
You are factually incorrect, Rockstar could have bought a longer license but they didn't because it would have cost more money. This is the inevitable outcome of Rockstars decision. Rockstar had the choice and they decided not to buy a loner license cause/effect.
 

Zeh Don

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Fieldy409 said:
Ah, this is where that whole issue of ownership of digital games comes into play. If you actually own the game id think it illegal but I'm under the impression that with digital games you are actually buying a licence to play the game, so Rockstar has been forced to change the terms of the licence.

Also don't get too mad at Rockstar, they'd have no logical reason to do this but for the music rights owners being dicks.
Actually software sold on discs is licensed, which is why reverse engineering the game to retrieve its source code is still illegal.

The issue with the licenses actually comes from the difference between printed and digital software, in terms of their production. With printed software, like San Andreas on the PS2, the tracks are licensed for a period, during which the production print runs are completed. The length of the license coincides with the expected length of the printing of the game discs and a few years additional to play it safe, because after that period Rockstar no longer has the license to distribute the music. With printed software, Rockstar are no longer "distributing" the music once the production run is over, and so they don't need to re-license the music.
With digital software, like Steam games, the game never stops being distributed, and so the licenses need to remain in Rockstar's name to enable the game to be sold legally. Removing the songs from the currently-installed versions on people's machines is one of two things happening: Rockstar playing it safe in a legal grey area, or a limitation of Steam's auto-update system, wherein it cannot distinguish between two branches of the same software version - one purchased when Rockstar had the license, and one after Rockstar forfeited the license.
 

RoonMian

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Knight Captain Kerr said:
The apparent list of songs removed. Thanks to Steam's SourceTVFilms.
Here is a list of songs they removed for both 360 and pc

Playback FM
Ultramagnetic MC?s - Critical Beatdown

Radio Los Santos
2 Pac - I Don?t Give A f*ck
Compton?s Most Wanted - Hood Took Me Under
NWA - Express Yourself

Bounce FM
Fatback - Yum Yum
Roy Ayers - Running Away
The Gap Band - You Dropped A Bomb On Me

KDST
Tom Petty - Running Down A Dream
Joe Cocker - Woman to Woman

K-JAH West Radio
Black Harmony - Don?t Let It Go to Your Head
Blood Sisters - Ring My Bell

Radio:X
Ozzy Osbourne - Hellraiser
Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name

Master Sounds 98.3
Charles Wright - Express Yourself
The Blackbyrds - Rock Creek Park
James Brown - Funky President
Macer & The Macks - Soul Power ?74
James Brown - The Payback
The JB?s - Grunt

Damn, those are some good songs too. Radio X was always my favourite station. I'm pretty sure it's legal, scummy, but legal. Even more so seeing as they didn't tell people in advance. Ultimately you don't own any of your Steam games, you own a licence to play those games for an unspecified period of time. It's the ultimate dream, selling you something and still owning it after you sell it. There's nothing stopping publishers doing something like this not only to people getting the game in the future (which I could understand for legal reasons) but people who already own the game.

Anyway this is why Steam kind of worries me, you don't own any of your games, there's nothing to stop something like this from happening or even cutting off access to the game altogether.
Under EU law this is not as clear cut. EU courts have in the past thrown out the distinction between owning a copy of the software and only owning a license to use it. If anyone found it worthwhile to sue against this they might have a chance here.
 

Signa

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I'm sure it's legal, but I'm also sure that it shouldn't be.
 

ninja666

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That's what you get for agreeing to use Steam - a service that doesn't even give you ownership of the games you bought, but merely a privilege of letting you play them. It's perfectly legal on their side because you didn't even own the game in the first place.
 

Alma Mare

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ninja666 said:
That's what you get for agreeing to use Steam - a service that doesn't even give you ownership of the games you bought, but merely a privilege of letting you play them. It's perfectly legal on their side because you didn't even own the game in the first place.
Reality check: The issue of the software being licensed to you instead of giving you ownership has always existed, regardless of steam. Steam just makes it harder to circumvent that.
 

fix-the-spade

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Zontar said:
Though weather it is or isn't legal, it sure paints a pessimistic image for me of gaming going digital if something like this can happen either way.
It's legal, if you got it on Steam then you agreed to allow any publisher, developer or Valve to update, add or remove content from 'your' games at will and there's nothing you can do about it.

I have to assume that whatever licensing deal Rockstar had just ran out and somebody threatened to sue them, because the RIAA are legendary arse holes.
 

ninja666

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Alma Mare said:
ninja666 said:
That's what you get for agreeing to use Steam - a service that doesn't even give you ownership of the games you bought, but merely a privilege of letting you play them. It's perfectly legal on their side because you didn't even own the game in the first place.
Reality check: The issue of the software being licensed to you instead of giving you ownership has always existed, regardless of steam. Steam just makes it harder to circumvent that.
True, but back in the day when you bought your copy of the game, you kinda owned it. You could reinstall it as many times as you wanted, on any PC, without logging in to any services. You could also lend the game to a friend or sell it if you were fed up with it. Steam has only recently offered to allow sharing your games with your "family" on Steam. Since then, you couldn't do anything with your game. You still can't do much, tbh.
 

Alma Mare

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ninja666 said:
Alma Mare said:
ninja666 said:
That's what you get for agreeing to use Steam - a service that doesn't even give you ownership of the games you bought, but merely a privilege of letting you play them. It's perfectly legal on their side because you didn't even own the game in the first place.
Reality check: The issue of the software being licensed to you instead of giving you ownership has always existed, regardless of steam. Steam just makes it harder to circumvent that.
True, but back in the day when you bought your copy of the game, you kinda owned it. You could reinstall it as many times as you wanted, on any PC, without logging in to any services. You could also lend the game to a friend or sell it if you were fed up with it. Steam has only recently offered to allow sharing your games with your "family" on Steam. Since then, you couldn't do anything with your game. You still can't do much, tbh.
"kinda" equates to "not at all". The standard legal gibberish has always been there. You never had the right to share it. It was just impossible for the license owner to enforce that bit.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for owning our software and not be hurdled by this bullshit, but the fact remains: all Steam (and other digital fronts like it) do is enforce a rule that has always been there. We should get angry at the rule, not at the software that for once works like it was meant to.
 

ninja666

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Alma Mare said:
The standard legal gibberish has always been there. You never had the right to share it. It was just impossible for the license owner to enforce that bit.
Ok, I believe you (I, honestly, never was the one to read the license during every game installation carefully), but imho Steam goes a little too far with "enforcing the rule". Stuff like this song removal wouldn't even happen if not for content control-freaks at Valve.
 

Doom972

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It's legal, but a real shitty thing to do nonetheless. I understood why they had to do it for the anniversary version, but not why they did it for the classic PC version. I'm glad I have a physical copy of it.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that there will probably be a fan-made patch that will add the songs back in.
 

Cryselle

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Nov 20, 2009
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ninja666 said:
Alma Mare said:
The standard legal gibberish has always been there. You never had the right to share it. It was just impossible for the license owner to enforce that bit.
Ok, I believe you (I, honestly, never was the one to read the license during every game installation carefully), but imho Steam goes a little too far with "enforcing the rule". Stuff like this song removal wouldn't even happen if not for content control-freaks at Valve.
No, stuff like this song removal wouldn't even happen if not for the content control freaks at the RIAA. Steam's only involvement in this is not being willing to put itself in the middle of a possible legal battle between the RIAA and Rockstar over it. If anything, Steam's biggest problem is that Valve takes far too much of a hands-off approach when it comes to things, rather than taking a stand on the integrity of products sold through it's marketplace.
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

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Sep 8, 2011
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Luckily I own old GTA games on disc. And now I don't feel comfortable purchasing GTA V on Steam at all. Fuck man, San Andreas was released 10 years ago. And those are some great songs there. I used to listen to K-DST, Radio X and Radio Los Santos the most. This isn't a small update. It would kill the game for me.

Here's some legal gibberish for you. If you payed for the version of the game that has those tracks, then you're entitled to that version. You fuckin' payed for it!

How many times do we have to go through this? We've all seen that people in the gaming industry are willing to go very far to screw us over if we don't fight back. Every time some morons come in and claim that it's a "slippery slope argument", and every time it turns out that it's not.

You can't just roll over and accept this shit as inevitable. I would like to encourage everyone who owns San Andreas on Steam to be really upset about this and demand either a refund or update that reverts those changes. If not, don't buy GTA V on Steam. Otherwise you're once again sending a message to the industry that you're weak willed, defenseless children that can't fight for their consumer rights. That the only thing you know how to do is throw money at someone who doesn't give a shit about you because you have no will power or self-respect.