I got an honest question for you all: What is DRM for you?
The question remains now... What is DRM and what is DRM for you? If we can clear that up we can come to an common ground if GOG is infringing their core principles or if we just might not agree on some gamedev practices nowadays.
Sure, that is perfectly reasonable and furthermore I think it's a good idea. I believe I have a good understanding of the de facto definition of DRM as used by the industry (but I'm open to corrections), so here's my take on it.
I'll start with a TL;DR and then go ahead and reply to individual points in your post.
Here's a bunch of things I'd argue that DRM is NOT:
- A license or legal agreement
- The fact that a game wants an online connection
- A game launcher
- A storefront and/or downloader client
And here's what I'd argue that it IS:
DRM is the management
, i.e. policing, of digital rights, i.e. copyrights and other rights defined by EULA. Usually it refers to the technology used to implement/enforce restrictions.
It's the software that checks if your CDROM is an original copy from the manufacturer, or the page in the manual containing colored cells in combination with the code that asks you for a random one by row and column, or the software that goes online to report details about your individual copy in order to check that it's unique. That sort of thing.
EDIT: That said, Wikipedia seems to disagree with me, and lumps in license agreements with DRM as just another technology used to enforce digital rights.
As far as I understand DRM stands for D
Correct, from my understanding.
meaning you do not buy the actual product itself you buy an limited license
to acess that content.
If you mean to give a definition of DRM here (I can't tell whether this is the case), then it seems to me you're entirely skipping the "management" part. The license itself (the EULA) covers the "digital rights" part only.
EDIT: I might be wrong about this part. See comment about Wikipedia above.
So steam clearly states they do not sell you the product they kind of lend it to you: meaning if you loose access to your steam account it is gone - all of it."
If (very unlikly) steam goes out of business or decides to discontinue for any reason you loose your "limited right and lincense to install and use" has come to an end.
Based on the quoted license text alone, that's not necessarily true. A license to use a product can continue to apply even after a company has ceased to exist, and could contain provisions that prevent the company from revoking your rights.
It would all come down to the rest of the details outlined in the EULA.
The DRM form on steam is to ways as far as I understand (and I am no expert). First: Steam conects your games to your personl account and you only can access and start
your games via the steam client
. Second steam always verifies your game files.
I don't know the details of how Steam has chosen to implement DRM. But yes, this is one way that DRM could be implemented.
I should point out though, that a common misconception seems to be that requiring an online connection or an online account is itself DRM; this is not true. The same goes for game store clients, launchers and settings applications.
The Galaxy 2.0 client is first of all still optional. You don't need it to download any games from GOG at all. You can still download it all from their gog.com website (no problems).
Secondly and this is probably the most important thing, even if I downloaded it via the Galaxy client it is still not mandatory to launch the game with the galaxy client. I can go in the game files and launch the game from there. I do not need an internet access, I do not need an verification via the client. I could install and unistall the launcher every time I buy a new game and I would have the same game files on my PC as if I did it via the gog website. I can back the file up - no problems. So, the games are still DRM free even when I use the client.
None of the things you listed here seem to have anything to do with DRM, except possibly verification, depending on what is verified. For example, if the client was actually mandatory, that would still not constitute DRM.
The issue with Galaxy being pushed on consumers to an unreasonable extent is not a DRM issue.
In comparison to steams eula gog's EULA states e.g. "In the very unlikely situation that we have to stop running GOG we'll do our best to give you advance notice, so that you can download and safely store all your DRM-free content."
This is somewhat related to DRM, in that if the GOG site goes away and there is DRM that depends on the GOG site being available, then it would likely stop working and you would lose access even with a local backup.
If GOG sells a game with DRM that requires a connection to a different site (that they don't control) then there is no way for them to prevent a DRM breakdown if that site is permanently taken down, save for releasing an update, patch or reconfiguration of the game that no longer requires the site. If GOG is gone, too, then you might be out of luck.
So if DRM is the restriction of where and how you can launch your game and the restriction of personally backing up your game files - than GOG imo is DRM free. I can do that with every game I own.
Unless you literally mean "can" in the "I can do whatever I want unless I'm physically stopped or unable" kind of sense, that's not what DRM is. This restriction that you describe is a legal matter and is defined by the license you agreed to - the EULA.
EDIT: I might be wrong about this part. See comment about Wikipedia above.
Is DRM the restriction that you can't get some cosmetic (non game essential items) without multiplayer mode for example but otherwise can play the whole game just fine (and back it up and launch it in flight mode) - just not with this fancy virtual sword or hat or whatever? I dont think thats the case.
Not inherently, but DRM can be used to apply such a restriction. There is no restriction on what digital rights can be managed with DRM.
This is how it breaks down legally, according to my understanding, in simplified terms:
- Anyone who authors a creative work automatically owns the copyright by default (if you write a book, for example, it's automatically yours). This is one of many types of "intellectual property" (aka. IP). What it means is the author gets to say whether any specific copying and/or performance of the work is OK or not (with some exceptions and quirks such as fair use, derived works, co-authorship etc).
- A copyright owner can sign away their copyrights, so employees can transfer their copyrights to the company they work for. So when products being sold are also creative works (such as games), usually it's the company that produced it that owns the copyright (and/or another company such as a publisher).
- Contract law generally overrides copyright law. As a copyright owner you can enter agreements with other parties that limit your own right to suddenly go "Hey, I don't want you to use my work in that way, stop immediately or I'll sue you!" - usually you'd want something in return, like a big wad of money for example. These kinds of agreements are ultimately what "licenses" are.
- There are some laws that tend to complicate things, for example you can own a specific copy of something that you bought (e.g. your copy of a book), which still doesn't inherently allow you to copy it, but allows you to do a lot of other things. The "licensed, not sold" or "lending" part is a technical detail that minimizes the amount of rights the copyright owner might give away by default. It's basically saying you as a buyer don't even own the copy, it's their copy and you just paid for a license to use it. What you are actually allowed to do with the copy would be dictated by the license.
- Even though copying without permission is generally illegal, that doesn't always actually stop people finding ways to do it, or even to try and find legal loopholes. Hence companies often opt to implement some sort of measure that physically (or at least digitally) prevents you from doing that. Circumventing these measures tends to be illegal (with certain exceptions). DRM refers to the implementation
of those measures as well as the measures themselves.
EDIT: As commented above, Wikipedia also counts the EULA itself as DRM. This is not how I've come to understand the concept, but I'll concede that Wikipedia probably did a lot of fact-checking and my personal experience with it has been limited.