The blog of Sterling Franklin (DJ Sterf), servant of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Legality of the Used Games Market

Are used games illegal? Does it rob developers of potential profit? How can you possibly have a clear conscience and still buy used games? If used games are legal, then why aren't pirated copies legal?

For the reason that it's on my mind and that I'm moderately peeved, I want to cover this topic.

I've recently been accused of being an inconsistent and careless person for having morals against pirated games, yet being ok with buying Used and legitimate games. Likewise, could I be called the same for buying a used car three years ago? I mean, really, how dare I? Given a limited budget, jobless state, as well as active ordination, I wanted to buy a decent car without going into debt, and I wanted to do it legally. It's also nice to have the right to resell a bum product if it turns out to be useless or a lemon.

Yes, I'm very grateful for the Used market here in the US. It's gotten me through pinches, especially as I am one of the unemployed at the moment, though the Used market also has emptied my wallet from time-to-time via venues such as eBay and Craigslist. However, there are people who not only see the Used game market as theft to the developer, but also people who justify piracy since they deem it as 'no different' from selling Used games.


I will discuss my stance below:

I hold the view that government, as mentioned in Romans 13, is to be followed unless it demands a rejection of Jesus. For example, if government comes to the point of punishing you if you believe that Jesus was the Son of God and Savior of the world, I would choose punishment. Otherwise, it's our duty to strive to do things legally, though not for the purpose of legalism. Of course, I'm human and not perfect. However, it is my general view that we should honor God by obeying government.

That being said, both producers and consumers within the American market system are accountable to obey the law. So in 1908, there was a Supreme Court decision relating to the matter of the Used market, which sounds SO similar to what I hear especially regarding used video games.


First-Sale Doctrine
was put forth in the early 20th Century. This states that the Producer sells its rights to income after the first sale of its product. Places like GameStop and Game Crazy rejoice at this ruling nowadays since much of their income comes from sales of used games. These places are legal in their general Used sales and are still well in business.

So what about this Used business? When Volkswagen produces a car, they get money from car dealers from their first sale. The owner then holds the sales rights to the car and can sell it used if they decide to get rid of it. Yes, it is legal to buy Used cars. Likewise, developers of games get their cut of the money with their FIRST SALE, i.e. when they sell it to dealers such as Wal-Mart or GameStop, etc..

In my opinion, the First-Sale Doctrine of 1908 (and note that it was also reinstated with the Copyright Act of 1975) was a great decision -- it protected the rights of both producers and consumers, and it makes the economy more efficient. If a consumer buys a product and finds it useless, buys the wrong product, or even see someone else who needs the product more, they are legally allowed to sell it to someone else who could use it, and money continues to flow. However, in a great deal of cases, people keep their products and never resell (especially consumable goods).

Does the Used market boost the New market? This is the gamble. Usually, yes -- lower prices allow the consumer to see a producer's goods, which is direct advertising at its best. If they like the product, they could be persuaded to try another product from the same maker (direct increased demand). The Used prices also are usually a floor for New prices (there are definitely some exceptions), and the mark-up for New items is most often reasonable if the buyer wants something brand new and unused. Note that on resell, however, that the seller renounces rights to ownership. Thus, the reseller does not get royalties for providing the game to the re-buyer.

However, people who take advantage of the system could get together and circulate one item to save money. This is inconvenient, though, as people want to have what they want. Much of the American market depends on convenience, so it's unlikely that this will take much from the developer's original cut even though possible. Once items are sold by producers/developers to dealers, it is the dealers' responsibility to sell the items. That's how they stay in business.

Developers get their cut of the share from the sales of their original product run. The complaint from developers these days ignores the fact that they lose their sales rights after the first sale. Since developers want to be exempt from the First-Sale Doctrine, even though all other industries abide by this policy, there will be a push for a different digital policy in the future as well as a move toward charging royalties for used games. Even in relation to online I would rather honestly see a move made for challenging the Supreme Court decision if it is debated, though the Used and bartering markets in the USA is important to our economy.

So why are Used sales ok, while piracy is not? Well, piracy is making unauthorized copies of products, which robs sellers of the original sale profit. By pirating games, you would be stealing the money that the developer was originally entitled to. This has never been legal. The only legitimate copier and distributor of New media is the original maker. Used games are legal since the developer gets their rightful cut from the original production run and since the user has rights to the ownership and sale of the product in their possession after this first sale. One way the developer could increase income is to increase original production run (supply). However, producing too much would cause loss on their end, so it's wise to limit it reasonably.

Another way developers could legally improve their profit margin is to have an expiring product. When you buy a expiring product, such as a subscription to World of Warcraft, the buyers agree that they are purchasing a good for a limited time. In my opinion, this is genius marketing. Nintendo made a wise move with its virtual console -- you can legally support Nintendo and legally play emulated games on your console. However, these are non-transferable, which is, again, agreed upon at purchase.

Consumable goods are intelligent within this marketing system. You don't usually buy shampoo and then sell half a bottle once you're halfway done. They're packaged so you use them up, and then you can buy more once that's done. The same principle can be used legally by game developers.

However, all this boils down to whether or not one feels that developers should retain the rights to their product at all times. So much of the time, I see the view that the producer has all the rights and the consumer has none. The American market puts producer and consumer on the same bartering level -- money for goods.

So since both producer and consumer are accountable to the legal system here for the definition of, "What is legal," I am perfectly fine with buying Used games. The developer gets the cut from the first sale, and any rights to sale after that is transferred to the buyer. Our Judicial branch sets forth what is legal -- not developers.

If Used items became illegal, I would by conscience buy only New. However, I do believe that if the Used market were deemed illegal, the American economy would crash. There would be no Goodwill store, no used car dealerships, eBay would be broken, no returns on items anywhere, and the like. Even more, you would have a fully Marxist system if the consumer had no rights, Proletariat vs. Bourgeoisie.

If you don't agree, then your issue is probably with the system. Let me know what you think.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Things have their seasons, including this blog. It'll be back at some point, but it's done for now.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Momma's Boy...

Hey Sterling,

I am a Casting Producer for NBC. We are currently in North Carolina this week casting great looking guys looking for love to be on a new hit show produced by Ryan Seacrest. You are just the type we are looking for! If this is something you would be interested in please give me a call. You can also check us out at www. nbcdatingshow. com for more info! Hope to hear from you soon:)


N-- T--
NBC Casting


Are you kidding me?



I don't see it as wise to trust serious relationships to Hollywood.

Sorry, Ryan Seacrest.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

International Flavor

Site Stuff

Looking at visitor statistics this month, the top visitors this month are from:

1. China
2. China
3. France
4. Spain
5. China

...and for the first time, the most popular section is Movies (mostly DDR videos), and the second most popular section is Music (mostly mp3s of old stuff).

I'm wondering if one of my missionary friends to China told people about my site.


Yeah. Done with Trinity. I did finish with a 4.0 in my Master's concentration (Pastoral Care), and all the Counseling electives I took were As (10 courses if I count correctly). My cumulative GPA was a 3.7, which is a far cry from the 4.0 I got at NC State in both my degrees. I did resolve to do a few things before starting at Trinity (not to make grades an idol, not to risk sanity over perfectionism), but I still feel a little annoyed with myself in that I could have aimed higher. However, that's easy to say now that I'm not taking 18 or 19 a semester of grad credits while doing 40-50 or more hours of ministry per week. I tend to seek overachievement a little too much sometimes.

Things are a little too quiet for my liking. I feel idle when there's nothing to do, but I'm not sure that I can handle doing much of anything for at least another week or two. I feel better than I did last time I posted, but I still feel the trauma of the 7-year grind I just undertook. I finished 11 years of coursework in 7 years. I also feel the shock of the contrast between having everything to do and having everything not to do.

So I figured that I'd pick up a game and obliterate it. I asked Ken if I could borrow his Nintendo 64, and I started from scratch with Mario 64. I've taken about 15 stars a day, and I'm at 111 right now. I have 9 more to go, so I'll try to get some time this weekend to finish the game off. It's been pretty therapeutic...except for that Shifting Sands world. I can't STAND that world. I need to finish that world, though. I have one that I can't find on Rainbow Ride, but it should be pretty easy to get once I find the cannon. Don't give me any hints, either.

I also have about 99% of everything backed up from my old computers and on this new laptop. It already has some issues, so I might take it in at some point soon. The headphone jack doesn't work quite right, and the keyboard lags out quite a lot. I'll optimize the system when I feel up to it. It's nice to encode videos on this thing, though. It's much faster than the 2001 laptop that I was using for the last ...many years.

lol @ some of these pictures:

Here's an inverted image I did for 'Grand Slam Magazine' from a basketball party I had back in like 1995 or so. Wow, that's a long time ago. I'm going up to dunk it --

The next one is me hosting Teen Scene Jeopardy, which was back in 2000 or 2001. I should really know the date, but I don't. That's about it!

Anyway, I have tons more pictures, but I'll put them in picture albums if and when I feel like it. Yay!

The end.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


I didn't think that the adjustment would hit me so hard.

No ministry.
Nothing in sight.
No church to attend.
Very few friends left in the area, and none currently available.
No income.
No prospects for a date.

I'll refrain from posting anything else. I need silence and solitude so I can think life through right now.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Wow, um, I got bored after the evening service tonight, so I finished all the rest of my written work at Trinity.


I'm not fully done with everything while still here, so my list is still full, but taking care of the written stuff makes things much lighter.

School stuff:
- Exit Interview, Church Planting Class (I have no clue why, but he's doing that with everyone in the class)
- Exit Interview, Internship

Church tasks:
- Service planning on Thursday
- Sunday service, will find out my part tomorrow
- Spiritual Gifts assessment curriculum
- Finish surveys and evangelistic tracts

Other stuff:
- Fill out medical insurance forms
- Insurance phone interview
- Inner-city event, Friday 5/2

- Racine, Wisconsin
- Romeoville, Illinois(?)

Here's a link to the basic sermon outline, sans-introduction and other tangents:

I will see if I can get the audio from it. It was a powerful time. Lots of red eyes at the end from the time of response, so the Holy Spirit worked, and it was refreshing to see. :)

I also was blessed this week with an Evangelism Award, which came with a decent sum of cash. I had $7 in my wallet until then. Sweet! Anyway, I have to pray about how I'll use that. I used my Leadership Award money from last year to dedicate toward finding a wife (i.e. money for dates). Hopefully I can use that again soon!

Graduation on May 10!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

MPG Driving

Graduation comes once again on May 10.

MPG Driving

Well, since gas prices are insane, I've been working on getting as high a Miles-per-Gallon reading as possible. Here are a few obvious tips in conserving gas --

- Don't be heavy on the accelerator. If your car jerks when you take off, you're probably wasting gas.

- Know your most efficient MPH -- my minivan is most efficient around 60, and 55 is generally not far off.

- Use cruise control if there are flat stretches of land. I've had a lot lower MPG from hills in using cruise control, though. It seems to really push the gas to maintain the MPH on hills.

- Close the windows. More wind resistance = more energy required to keep the car going. It's much less aerodynamic to have your windows open.

- Turn off the A/C or Heat. This made about a 0.3 MPG difference on my minivan.

- Stay consistent with your speed if possible. At stoplights, try to glide into it so you don't have to jam on the breaks and then wail on the accelerator.

- Use the accelerator if you need to. Don't get into an accident because you're trying to increase fuel efficiency (obviously).

- You don't have to be an ascetic driver. I mean, why not enjoy the wind on a nice day?

The End!

lol that was lame.

Here's a link to a Bag AAA video. I also got Legend of Max AAAed today, praise the Lord. That gives me 511 AAAs on Single Expert/Challenge at the Arcade.

Sermon on Sunday. I have it done, text is Romans 8:1-11. Yesterday was sweet. I'm putting together a slide show to go with it tomorrow at the church office. I'll miss this church a lot.

The End!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

'Til May 10...

This is more of a logistics-based and planning-oriented post, but I'll throw in a Paranoia Survivor AAA video at the end just to balance it out.

Here's what I have left to do this semester:
- At least 1 more meeting w/ my primary mentor & 1 more meeting w/ my secondary mentor
- Read the rest of the Missional Leader book (PT 7220), 4/24
- Read the Trull & Carter book (PT 7210), 4/29
- 4 more Internship Journal entries, finished 4/30
- Internship Paperwork, 4/30
- Research paper on a pastoral leadership topic (PT 7220), 5/1
- Internship Exit Interview (I need to schedule this, too), early May
- Take-Home Exam (PT 7210), due 5/8

[- No more midweek services to preach]
- Sunday School finished this Sunday (Malachi & Conclusion are left), 4/13
- GMO stuff as it comes up
- Start up Cross Allegiance for 'Season 2' (second burst of videos)
- Article for CF due 4/15
- Put together a curriculum for Spiritual Gift Assessment, 4/15-19
- Preaching Sun. morning at New Hope, 4/27
- Crossroads Baptist, 4/27?
- Inner-city Kids Home, 5/2?

I preach in GA at the conference 'Young Guns for the Lord 2008' on May 16-17. I still don't have a church opening after I leave here on the 11th/12th of May. I might check in with the Salvation Army back home to see if they want to do a Baptismal class & water baptisms with the inner-city kids. I might also need to take a side job, though I'm not sure on that one.

Here's a video of me AAAing Paranoia Survivor:

Friday, April 04, 2008

CF Articles: April

This font is Arial.

Here's the latest Sterf article as posted in the Christian Forums newspaper (starts at and continues on

Poignant Posture

Oftentimes in Scripture, one will find poignant images that stick to the memory bank like glue. In preparing a sermon this week, I was struck by a very short part of the passage at hand, which I hope and pray is an encouragement to the reader, as well. In 2 Chronicles chapters 5 through 7, the new Temple which Solomon built is being dedicated to the LORD for present and future service. The LORD shows His approval in several ways, including saturating the place with His Glory so much so that the priests could not even remain in the Temple to minister! This has consistently been a major point of awe in my own life – really, may we long for the sweet presence of the LORD to fill our own hearts so much so that we cannot help but worship Him! Just as the Temple was present in the Old Testament for worship, today we are built to be Temples fit for the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20)! Even so, may our lives be as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God (cf. Romans 12:1)!

But this week, I was struck by something else – something new to me. In 2 Chronicles 6:12-13, Solomon gets up on a platform in front of the Altar, a location where everyone can see him and participate in the prayer. As this was a celebration, he was no doubt dressed in his royal garb. Jesus noted the splendor of Solomon in the Gospels (cf. Matthew 6:29, Luke 12:27), and the nation of Israel was at a time of massive affluence. There was one Kingdom of Israel – no split had occurred. In this time of abundance and unity, Solomon arrayed in his extravagant garments was getting ready to pray to dedicate the Temple of the LORD.

What hit me powerfully was the posture that King Solomon took. Although he was up on a platform with royal garments and a crown, he kneeled down in a posture of obeisance (2 Chronicles 6:13). Even more, he spread out his hands before God, showing his dependence on the King of Kings who had granted him the privilege of being King of Israel. Solomon, though blessed with unbelievable wealth, realized his personal inadequacy as well as the true source of Power. This is true worship! I am reminded of Heaven, as we are promised a crown of righteousness for persevering in obedience to Jesus. We will have this crown, but we do not deserve worship. We have a Mighty King, regardless of our own status, and the proper posture is as Solomon’s – one of humility!

In our own lives, when God places us in a position of authority, will we lord it over others, or will we obey Jesus in Matthew 20 where He states that the greatest among you will be the servant of all? Will we be as Herod in Acts 12 and receive the praise of the people without giving God the glory? Or will we be as John the Baptist, who understood, “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30)? As we stand in service to the LORD before His Altar in everyday life, may we remember Solomon’s posture, and may we recognize the Lordship of our Savior Jesus Christ, by whom all things consist. May we have clean hands and pure hearts in approaching Him, knowing that it is only by Him that we can have boldness and confidence (cf. Hebrews 4:14-16). May we be humbled in the presence of Almighty God, who gave His own Son for us, that we might live through Him.

So let us seek Him if we have not yet found Him. Let us also serve Him wholeheartedly in all that we do. Finally, let us give worship to whom it is due – our wonderful Father in Heaven, the blessed Son and Savior, and the Holy Spirit our comforter!

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008


My ultimate Birthday request list to God circa 2008:

(1) A wife!
(2) A flock to shepherd
(3) Ordination
(4) Blessing and amazingly good fruit in ministry

Contingent on (1): A large family