ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

September 4, 2008 -

The political battle over who will handle video game rating chores in the U.K. continues.

In the latest development, Spong cites comments from ELSPA general manager Michael Rawlison concerning the relative merits of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) system.

GamePolitics readers may recall that the industry strongly favors PEGI, while Gordon Brown's government seems to be leaning toward the BBFC. Here's what Rawlinson had to say:

The PEGI people are available to go and talk to developers through the development process and look at things in pre-production. [By way of contrast] you can only get a ruling on a BBFC rating once you've finished the product.

 

If we listen to what the BBFC said in print around Dark Knight - 'We analysed this film and we felt that it was borderline around 12 and 15 but in the end we decided to give it a 12', now whether they gave it a 12 of their own free will and volition or whether it was through heavy arm-twisting and pressure, who knows? I certainly have no evidence one way or the other. However, clearly there is no way to pre-determine what the rating of that is going to be until you send them the product.


Comments

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

I'm all for freedom of ttnet vitamin speech and allowing rent a car game makers to put whatever they want in games, but there's one thing about this app that has me scratching my head.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but from araç kiralama the previous article araba kiralama on this I gathered that players can use Google maps in-game to find the other (real-life?) dealers in their area.  If this is the case, has travesti anyone considered what's stopping someone from using this app to actually move drugs between hands for reals?

But majority araba kiralama of their outrage araç kiralama stems from what it could DO TO children, not the content itself.  Talk to one of these people and you'll find they don't think any books kiralık araba should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about kiralık araç the redeeming value of using imagination to construct a story.  Reading, no matter what the content, is largely viewed as a consequenceless activity for people of any age.  The reason why I mention American Psycho is because of the content itself.  Gaming never has and likely never will have any scenes where someone has sex with a severed head.  Not gonna happen.  Yet despite this, they'll fight tooth and nail to protect their children from two boys kissing in Bully but whatever they read is harmless... yeah.

The entire arguement is kiralık oto based upon a social normality inflicted by luddites who can't figure out the controls for Halo so it's frightening and terrifying and obviously the cause of youth violence on the rise even though, in reality, it's in decline (which is actually a HUGE suprise given minibüs kiralama the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on oto kiralama any form to accomidate parental unwillingness to get involved with their child's life is the real problem to me.  Here I am, 32 years old, and being held up at a self-scan rent a car needing to show ID before I can buy a $10 M rated game all because Soccer Momthra can't be bothered to look at the crap Billy Genericallystupidson does in his free time.  It's too hard for her, so I have to suffer?

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

18R can only be sold in about 150 retail outlets out of 325,000 in the whole of the UK.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

...backs away from the thread...

To be honest, whilst I do favour the BBFC over PEGI, I'm agreeing more and more with Zippy. How cool would it be if, for example, the BBFC introduced a '21' age rating? That would clearly mark out those games/films/whatever that weren't suitable for youngsters *at all*, without relying on the 18R classification whose sole use is for pornography.

I think with a '21' age rating, we could finally get rid of the threat of classification refusal, without comprimising the BBFC's clearly superior ratings methodology. Btw, they rate the games precisisely becuase they like to "THINK FOR THEMSELVES" Erik, rather than blindly following the publishers' suggestions.

Sadly, this whole issue is about people *not* thinking for themselves. If everybody was as informed about games as the commentators here, then ratings would be wholly unneccessary. Unfortunately, games and electonic media in general is beyond the ken of pretty much everybody in their late forties upwards. This makes ratings especially useful for under-informed parents.

Not everybody is like you Erik, thank heavens.

-- teh moominz --

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

"Not everybody is like you Erik, thank heavens."

 

Yes, some people need some faceless organization to tell them what is legal or illegal for them to watch/play.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

I'm sure that the American system of classification would benefit from a rating that didn't have the stigma of AO, but in the UK I'm not sure what other provisions can be made.  Ultimately Manhunt 2 got released because the 18 rating covered it (the argument over how this came to be can wait for another thread) so we are still in "nothing has been banned" territory.  I don't think we need to rush to redo the system just yet, something almost backed up by the Byron Report.

(ps. Manhunt 2 got released in the UK at the end of last week to an almost audiable silence of people not giving a damn.  Maybe, just maybe, the whole thing can die down now)

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

To be honest, I do think that both movies and games would benefit from a '21' rating. Let's face it: all teenagers - 18 year olds included - are considered children by anybody over the age of 30. I simply don't think that putting '18' on the box is a string enough statement to remind parents that Manhunt 2 and select few other games may not be suitable for their little angels.


Bear in mind informed gamers and parents who take an participate actively in their children's media consumption will always get round age ratings anyway. What a '21' rationg would do would be to reinforce the notion that *some* entertainment is probably best viewed by grown-ups *only*. And nothings says "adult" more that '21'.

-- teh moominz --

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

I see no difference between the ages of 18 and 21 in terms of maturity.  At 18 you are allowed to drink, consider by law to be an adult and effectively that is the age where there is no child-like restrictions placed upon you.  I don't think it prudent to increase the age limit any further.  I'm aware that 21 is more the age in the US as it is when you can drink etc so maybe it would work there, but not here in the UK.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

You know if the industry had any testicles (and at this point its quite obvious that it does not) the only refusal of rating would be refusal by the gaming industry to have their games rated by the BBFC.  If that means no games can be old in the UK, oh well.  I am quite sick and tired of this limp wristed industry censoring itself out of fear of being censored.  I'm looking at you Sega and Rockstar.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Yes, and while you're at it why don't you remove 33% of your income and cut off your nose to spite your face.

Honestly, some of you ranting Americans need a good crash course in economics.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Rather, its like cutting off a gangerous extremity to save your life.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Yes, because controversial games such as GTA4 and various other 'mature games' have all been censored so much they lose any artistic integrity....oh wait.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Have you tried playing Manhunt 2?  Because of the Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds filter they put over all the action scenes the game has been rendered unplayable.  Hence Rockstar are sellouts to the BBFC and the ESRB.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Sadly, I fail to care about your need to see graphic violence.  I suggest you get help.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

And I fail to care about your desire for censorship Jack.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

My problem with the BBFC stems from two aspects about the organization:

1 - It's a government organization and I wouldn't want a government organization to ever be able to rate media.  Ever.  Period.  Do I want the government to make sure my food is safe to eat?  Sure.  Prevent the roads from falling into disrepair?  You bet.  Regulate/rate media, whether it be movies, books, or video games?  Hell no.  It's too close to government thought-control as far as I'm concerned.

2 - They can refuse classification, which is a "soft" ban.  As Zippy said, I'd rather they have an extreme mature rating that would make it up to the console manufactures whether or not to have the title be released on their respected systems than an organization saying "We don't like this, so no rating for you.  Oh, btw,  if there's no rating you can't sell it in our country."  Again, it's borderlining on all-out government thought-control.  And, may I add, if it's a government body which means the people in control of the body are members of the "older" generation, the later 40's and up crowd.  In my experience these people tend to be ignorant of technology at best and complete technophiles at the worst.

Ok, now to be fair I am a US gamer so this doesn't really apply to me.  Also not having been brought up in the UK there are many aspects of culture/life/politics etc. that I don't understand and probably never will.  My perspective on matters outside of my own country can only go so far, just as how someone born and raised in the UK could only understand America to a limited extent.  For all I know all of ya'll UK gamers are fine with this (as a couple have mentioned above.)  There, I laid out my disclaimer to try and avoid any unecessary culture flame wars. :)

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

I was going to correct you on the "not a government body" part but others are happilly doing the work for me.  Furthermore, the BBFC has been rating games for well over a decade now which makes them one of the oldest gaming ratings bodies in the world.  They deal with other media too so I hardly think "technophobe" applies.

Again as I said above, I know this is a culture shock to you, but we in the UK *LIKE* the BBFC and understand the ratings.  It isn't a big deal.  On these forums it is ONLY the American contingent that seems to make a fuss.  I'm glad that you have added a caveat that acknowledges this so thankyou.  It doesn't stop you from making a point but please stick to facts.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Hate to tell you amte...but not everyone in th UK likes the BBFC so stop talking like the regoin revoles around you.

And yes I am a american dim wit but I try and not claim godhood.. :P

I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
(in need of a bad overhaul)


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Really "mate"?  Care to find this significant populous within the UK who are shouting for a change to the rating system?

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Ignorance is bliss on both points. This comes up every damn time there's a BBFC story, so here we go again. The BBFC isn't a government organisation and can't control government decisions. The chain of command goes the other way. Analogy time!

In order to legally drive, I need to have passed a driving test. Part of the test involves a practical session with an examiner. This person is examining me on behalf of the government, but he himself doesn't work for the government.

Alternative analogy time!

A learner driver is not allowed to drive without a licence holder in the car. Without a licence holder, the learner can't drive. This is a decision made by the government. When a licence holder is in the car, the learner is allowed to drive. Is the licence holder in this case a government agent?

Neither analogy is perfect and they're both open to easy straw-mans but that's because it's hard to find a true analogue that would work in the US. The bare bones version is: The government says X must be done. The government grants Y the license to do X. Y does X. This does not mean that Y is part of the government, or under its control.

As for point 2, the BBFC is made up of a whole range of people, many of whom don't have moustaches and didn't fight in any wars.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

 I see 2 errors, firstly the BBFC is not a 'government' organisation, it is an independent ratings body, funded by the fees it charges the publishers for the ratings. The government have no say in the running of the organisation, only what powers it legally wields as a result of its ratings or in the ratings themselves. Likewise, any refusal of classification can (as in the Manhunt case) be swiftly dealt with through the courts JUST AS the system was designed to be. Hence why both the titles EVER refused classification are now unbanned and free for sale.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Oops.  Should be "technophobes", not "technophiles". 

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Oh jesus not this debate again?!

OF COURSE the industry favours PEGI, it's a tickboxing exercise carried out by the developers themselves and rubber stamped by the ratings board. It's not an independent ratings system, and it doesnt differentiate between European countries and their different acceptance levels of various criteria.

Like the majority of UK posters here I prefer the BBFC system. It's fair, it's balanced, it rates content the same in videogames as it rates it in films, and it's a familiar and uncomplicated system for consumers to understand. And they actually PLAY the damn game before rating it.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

There are actually merits to the PEGI tick box method.  One being you know exactly what type of content and in what combination will earn you what rating.  Helps developers tailor games to desired ratings and gives consumers a better grasp on why a game may have earned a particular rating.

As far as not differentiating between different country's acceptance levels, I think that level of consistency is actually a good thing.  Age ratings should be guidelines, not hard and fast rules.  Besides, I've always thought the content descriptors (or pictures in this case) are the most important part of the rating.  The age rating is a suggestion to give you an idea of what type of game you're looking at.  The content descriptors are where you get into specifics.

On that same note, I don't really care for the pictograms that PEGI uses.  I find them a bit vague and a few of them confusing.  On the other hand, you don't have to translate a picture into different languages.  Pros and cons...

Second to lastly, I've never seen much need for a ratings body to play the game.  Why should they?  To verify that the publisher wasn't lying about the game's content?  Has that ever been a problem?

Lastly, I don't agree that the BBFC rates game content the same way it rates film content.  Captivity gets an 18 but Manhunt 2 is refused classification?  Subjective sure but that just doesn't sit as consistent with me.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

I simply dont agree with your opinion on the tickbox system, due to the BBFC having guidelines that effectively show the same thing. Likewise your comment about country to country consistency can be a good thing but also a bad thing as well, for example imagine if PEGI covered Germany as well, any game with Nazis in would then pretty much have to accept a higher level of rating as a matter of course due to the German sensitively towards all things swastika. I am only using this as an example, but you see where Im coming from?

Also, interesting you dont see any merit in the game actually being played. After all, we accept it as a natural thing for a ratings board to watch a film before rating it, how is playing the game any different??

And in that case the BBFC was taken to court and admitted it had been wrong, and issued a rating identical to the film. Da Na, the system works! =)

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Fist of all, please stop bolding your entire post.  It's an enormous eyesore.

Anyway, pros and cons.  There are advantages to the tick box system and there are likewise good things to be said for looking at the game and making a subjective decision.  As for the country to country thing, yeah pros and cons.  Consistancy is good but you do loose the ability to taylor to each country.

Watching a film has nothing to do with playing a game, especially since PEGI doesn't rate films.  That said, I'd be fine with a tick box system for film.  In fact, I'd prefer that here in the US.  That would eliminate the subjective and political BS that comes from the MPAA on a regular basis.

Manhunt 2, came out months late and was still censored in order to obtain an 18.  Sorry, that's still unacceptable to me.  The BBFC should never, ever have refussed the title a classification.  There is absolutely never an instance where a ratings body should refuse to rate a film or game (or book or music or whatever) because of an objection to its contents.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

 Firstly, I like writing my posts in bold, the font is far nicer and it's my perogative to style my posts as I see fit. Secondly, Manhunt 2 was released, uncensored, with an 18 certificate in the UK. Check your facts before attacking the system please. Lastly, while you may prefer a tick-boxing system I and the other UK-based BBFC supporters are more comfortable with the idea that the content has actually been sampled and tested before the rating has taken place. It helps avoid situations such as the Hot Coffee scandal over here, which was barely mentioned in the press as the BBFC were able to release a simple statement to the effect that "Even including this content the game would still receive an 18 certificate". Wham Bam thank you M'am.

As has been found in all these BBFC vs. PEGI debates, there is a divide between what the majority of US posters believe as opposed to the opinions of the majority of UK posters. We are happy with the BBFC system. That is all.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

...I and the other UK-based BBFC supporters are more comfortable with the idea that the content has actually been sampled and tested before the rating has taken place. It helps avoid situations such as the Hot Coffee scandal over here...

 

Hot Coffee not making waves in the UK had nothing to do with the BBFC's method of rating games.  The ESRB does pretty much the same thing.  Neither organization found the content (and they couldn't have).

Furthermore, why do you not trust publishers to accurately fill out the tick box forms?  If there were an established issue with companies lying about game content to try to get a different rating I'd see your problem but as far as I know, that's never happened.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

If there were an established system and no need for a ratings body, why does America have the ESRB?

Personally I trust an independant person with experience rather than a corporate with an agenda to get the lowest rating possible.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Sorry, I don't understand your question.

If you mean "if it's so simple as filling out a form, why is there an ESRB?" then the answer is: because that's not the way it works here either.  The ESRB is very similar to the BBFC in rating methodology.

As to your last statement, publishers rarely try to get lower ratings.  Pretty much the only time they do is to avoid an AO (for obvious reasons).  That said, I agree that one would more easily trust an independent body then a company with an agenda but seeing as not one of them has lied to the ESRB to try and get a particular rating, I'm not worried about it happening.

It's not like they could get away with it anyway.

 

Andrew Eisen

 

 

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

It's not the "not getting away with it" that bothers me currently, it is the giving ignorant 50+ year olds more ammunition to lie about the merits and demerits of computer games as a medium. 

I have nothing against the BBFC and continue to back them up on these debates as one of the lone voices from the UK (you will note I'm very much less vocal where ESRB is concerned), but even if I WAS worried about censorship, I'd still be in favour of an independant body looking after things whilst the industry is under attack.  It is a useful shield against those who claim the industry can't govern itself.  Hope that makes sense.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Having just checked again, it seems I am incorrect on the censored issue, though Id point out the same modified copy is the one on sale in the US. My sincerist apologies.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

AND they are working hand in hand with Sega to ruin Madworld!  Its a lose-lose situation for everyone on both sides of the Atlantic!

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

This is news to me, what changes have been made?

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

None.  He's scaremongering.  The developers are working with the BBFC to ensure that they get an 18 rating so as to avoid controversy and such.  The game is still in development.

Ask yourself this... what is the difference between them doing this and film directors making sure that nudity/violence/profanity aren't above a high level in the US to make it to television?  it's just common sense, and very nice to see a games developer use it too.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

"The developers are working with the BBFC to ensure that they get an 18 rating so as to avoid controversy and such."

 

That is pretty much what I said.  Except I see it as a travesty and well, you are fine and dandy with the industry precastrating themselves before any other organization can do it.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Except that none of what you keep quoting actually says any changes have been made at all, considering all the stuff the BBFC do let through there's a very high chance they'll take a look and decide it's fine to be released as is as an 18.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

The point being is that Sega shouldn't be working with the BBFC at all.  And it sounds to me like they are ready to make changes if the BBFC deems it necessary.  Thus, a total lack of artistic integrity and completely ready to self censor.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Erik:

EVERYONE censors themselves.  This is how we grown-ups live in day to day life.

When you goto work, you are polite to your boss and your collegues even if you hate them.  When you are in front of your family you don't swear like a sailor.  If you go to church, I assume you would not use blasphemies and foul language either.  If you appear on TV or Radio you have to keep a level of decorum.

None of these things apply when you are at home with your friends.  Does this impact your credibility or integrity?  No, if anything it bolsters them.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Were I to appear on TV or radio I would speak my mind.  I would not insult myself to do otherwise.  What Sega is showing is a severe lack of artistic integrity.  Rather than following their own vision, they are following the BBFC's.  Furtheremore I've not heard of any US version of Madworld that will have the BBFC's influence removed.  Hence, I am more irritated than the usual BBFC crap that I can just laugh at from across the ocean.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Nothing meaningful to say then?  Didn't suspect so.  Now go wait on pins and needles waiting for the BBFC to tell you what you can and can't watch while the industry castrates itself.

Wanker.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

*pet*  There there little boy.  I'm sure mommy and daddy will buy you a violent game if you ask nicely.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

That really isn't an effevtive insult coming from someone who needs the BBFC's permission to buy such a game.  Your "mommy and daddy" are the BBFC

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Chuma, I want to have your e-babies. Sega wants MadWorld ro sell and they want it to be quite violent. By talking to the BBFC and finding out how far they can go before risking softbans and a media frenzy, they are looking for the optimum balance of shock and awe.

It's quite simple: The BBFC generally reflects the views of the mass-market potential in the UK. The BBFC is practically the focus group for MadWorld. If they make it so extreme that the BBFC hates it, it would likely be so extreme that the general gaming public would hate it too and that it wouldn't sell even after the appeal. Know your audience.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Ah blunderbuss... but away

Its simple folks the BBFC needs to not refuse classification, if they have to ad a new level for "porn" level games for gore and nudity then so be it, tis better than holding your nose high and say we don;t want your kind around here.

And unlike the ESRB they have the power to do that without much trouble.

I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
(in need of a bad overhaul)


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Its simple folks the BBFC needs to not refuse classification...

If the government instructs the BBFC in how to rate media then the BBFC becomes government-controlled. You can't tell the BBFC how to act and demand they operate independently at the same time.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

Actually you can.  These are constraints in which you have to work with in your operation.  The decision making itself is independant.

Independant businesses for instance are still required to conform to certain governmental constraints such as paying tax, not creating a monopoly, human rights, workers rights, etc.  The fact that these things are required by laws passed by government doesn't mean that the business is government run.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

As you have been told on multiple occasions but still not grasped, there is ALREADY a rating for Porn.

Violence <> Porn.

It is hard enough banging your head against a brick wall trying to explain that to Jack Thompson without trying to explain it to other people too.

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

*sigh* You're missing the point.... in order NOT TO BAN OR HEAVILY EDIT you need a rating level that dose not neuter media, the only answer to that is a restricted level that is treated "like" porn. Its that simple do try to understand that baning media or forcing something adult to be more immature is quite childish!

 

I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
(in need of a bad overhaul)


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: ELSPA Exec Bashes BBFC

This rating would be largely useless.  Why?  The gaming business is a multi-million pound industry right up there with the film industry.  Do you think a company would bother to invest and release a game/film that could only be sold in a very small number of exclusive places?  They would STILL fail to release them (costly) or most likely censor themselves in order to garner an 18 rating.  This is how the real world works, sorry.

 
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