"If you're down for an intelligent discussion of it, I am also quite down."
Nice to hear that! Thanks for writing back with some good questions.
"Having access removed is a shady, weird middle ground. You can lose access to anything. Bought discs and discs get destroyed? Screwed. Buy games from Humble and you lose your link (Old Humble) or they remove your page (New Humble)? Screwed."
I agree. Very bad.
"The concepts of ownership and access get a little meta when it comes to something as simple as 1s and 0s."
Not really. The issue here is quite clear. The law states what you own and don't. Companies will screw you as much as they can get away with. When there is something which is not clear, it's not until it gets to court that a decision is made. Until then the companies rely on people not being wealthy enough to take them to court and the wealthy ones not giving a flying.
"It's weird to talk about what you believe when it comes to something so technical, but I believe that, through Steam, you own the game without ALL of the rights generally assumed with "owning" something. Like not owning the rights to redistribute the game. They could be like old iTunes and even CyberLink (with my copy of PowerDVD that I just bought) and say you get ONE download."
It's not really an 'I believe' issue. The law states whether you own something. Your agreement in these instances are the agreements of someone who leases or rents. The company is the lessor. You have limited rights but no ownership. Think of it as leasing office space or a car. You don't 'partly' own either. You have responsibilities and limited rights.
Regarding iTunes. It's one of the reasons I never bought any iTunes anything. I couldn't play the content on the devices I wanted to so I didn't buy from them. Still haven't. Being old school I've bought CDs cough
. For those out there who are wondering what those are, please check out wikipedia. I'm sure they have a section for 'old tech' ;))
"In your opinion, do you have to be able to sell something in order to own it?"
Pretty much so. The law seems to think the same too. If I can't sell it, I don't own it.
"Is that the sole defining factor?"
Pretty close to it.
"Aside from that, what disadvantages are there from buying through a service like Steam that can't be argued the same way with traditional disc-based media?"
Dunno. Good question really.
I'm not saying people "should not" use Steam etc. I suppose I'm really saying we should stop talking about 'buying' the game and say "I'm leasing/renting" the game. "I'm buying access to the game" maybe?
Now, in summary, I'm not a lawyer, but I studied insurance law, criminal law and other areas of law (all job related).BUT none of this makes me a lawyer :))
Thanks for the questions.
I'm not totally opposed to Steam etc, just very wary as I think we all should be. History is a good teacher (life long interest) of what happens when you give away or have rights taken bit by bit.
Hope I've answered your questions clearly enough.