Thanks for being forthright about it. Does this mean that both the hacker groups and publishers approve of this?
Why would you even ask if the hacker groups approve? They are not "relevant rights owners"; they do not own any rights to what they did, only Activision does. As long as Acti approved, that's all that matters, legally or morally.
Legally, yes. Morally, or ethically? A little more murky.
For example, if GOG was to bundle a game with a fan-made patch, without crediting the fans, and instead trumpeting their 'handsome programming team' (to quote the website!) that would be a little morally dubious, in my opinion, even if legally it was no problem. Now, the GOG team don't make any claims on their website that it is they themselves that remove the DRM, so maybe that covers them.
Now, this makes literally no difference to why I buy the game
, or for my support for GOG, or whatever .... However, I think it's worth pointing out that there may be some people who want to buy from GOG to reward them for their hard work in making these games run on modern machines. Those people may occasionally donate to DosBox too ( http://sourceforge.net/donate/index.php?group_id=52551
). In this case, they can now make a similar choice with regard to the warez "community" that has made playing Arcanum possible through a service like GOG. Or they may decide that the unauthorized cracking of the game represents a rights violation and thus is worthy of no support, or whatever other decision they may decide to come to. It's up to them really, with all the requisite information they have available. I'm pleased that GOG have made a clarification here, and although I'm a little disappointed by what it suggests, it certainly doesn't make me any less likely to keep supporting an excellent service that suits my needs (for legally authorised copies of older games that will run on my netbook) perfectly.