Analog Rights Management
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For the last few years, publishers of movies, music, video games, and various forms of media have suffered from piracy. Fortunately, these industries have found the perfect solution to piracy: Digital Rights Management (DRM). Simply by inconveniencing legitimate purchasers, media companies have been able to stamp out digital piracy completely.

Board game publishers have had no such luck, however. Since it is no longer possible to pirate digital media, many people have turned to analog forms of piracy. Many people have the audacity to make their own versions of long out of print games, depriving companies like SSI and Avalon Hill of valuable revenue. Even more troubling is the common practice of "board sharing": many gamers, rather than making their friends purchase their own copies, let multiple people use a single copy of a game, in clear violation of the End User License Agreement (found in most games on the back of promotional cards, catalogs, inserts, or counter sheets. You have been reading the EULA, right?).

Clearly, there is nothing more dangerous to the gaming industry than gamers. Unless companies are able to prevent this sort of flagrant abuse, the hobby will inevitably be destroyed by these copyright-flaunting scoundrels. Something must be done!

Fortunately, there is hope. I have been hard at work developing a number of Analog Rights Management (ARM) systems to protect the rights of content providers. Admittedly, some of these systems may make games more expensive or difficult to play, but I believe that these ideas will eventually destroy analog piracy, just as DRM has completely destroyed digital piracy.
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1. Board Game: Spy [Average Rating:6.25 Unranked]
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The best way to prevent infringement is to deprive people of the tools to commit it.

The Spybox system mounts a small camera on the exterior of the box. Whenever a potential infringer attempts to open the game box, the Spybox camera looks around the room for evidence of copyright crime. If the camera detects any copyright-breaking devices (e.g., foamcore, a printer, a pair of scissors), the box cannot be opened. Once all offending items are taken out of the room, the thwarted infringer can enjoy the game.
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2. Board Game: Monopoly: Electronic Banking [Average Rating:5.03 Overall Rank:15191]
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Studies have shown that many infringers allow multiple people to play the same copy of a game. For a 5-player game, that means four of those people are getting a free ride!

To prevent this sort of criminal behavior, all games should come with a unique keycard. Each keycard will allow one person to play the game. An affordably priced card reader peripheral will allow players to swipe the card that came with their copy of the game, thus unlocking the section of the insert devoted to pieces for the second player, third player, and so on. Of course, the keycard cannot be replaced if lost, but look on the bright side: that means more copies sold!
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3. Board Game: Turning the Tables [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:7834]
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Even more disturbingly, many hardcore criminals attempt to run games on multiple tables, even though the game only has a single-table license. Some infringers even bring games to "game groups" or "conventions," where untold people can watch or even participate in the proceedings without paying a cent.

To solve this critical issue, each game should be registered to a single table, although users will have to buy a new table with a serial number. If the game detects that it is being used on an un-authorized table, all dice rolls will come up as a "2," and all useful cards will be removed from the deck.

Should players move, or get a new table, they will simply have to de-authorize the old table and authorize the new one. This will take about half an hour on the phone, but people won't have to do it too often, since there is a strict 3-table limit for the life of the game.
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4. Board Game: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial [Average Rating:3.64 Overall Rank:15030]
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To ensure that gamers are not using an illegal copy of a game, they will be required to call the game company whenever they play to unlock the rulebook. While they will have to stay on the phone during the whole session, they will not have to actively converse with the person on the other end of the line, who is just there to make sure nothing untoward is happening, such as unauthorized rule modification or component substitution (both punishable under the Analog Millenium Copyright Act).

Alternatively, for companies who are really serious about protecting their intellectual property, there is the option to have a company representative hold the game's pieces. When called, these folks can travel to the location where the game is taking place, and within a few hours, the gamers will have the pieces they need to play. Even better, since the company representative has to stick around and collect the pieces afterwards, gamers get an additional player, if they want it (although they will have to pay a separate licensing fee in such a situation).
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5. Board Game: Scoop: The Newspaper Game! [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
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PC game publishers have been very successful with a subscription-based approach to gaming, but thus far, this form of revenue has evaded board game publishers.

Fortunately, we have developed a simple solution. By including a small modem in the box, and tiny amounts of gunpowder in the ink used to print the board, companies can ensure that players keep paying month after month. If the company doesn't get the monthly payment, they can activate the modem, which will activate the gunpowder, which will in turn transform the deadbeat's game into a pile of cardboard bits and ash. There may be a small risk of collateral damage to other games in the collection, but hey, more copies sold.
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6. Board Game: House Rules [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
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One of the biggest dangers to the publisher is rampant right here on BGG: rules scans. Some argue that making the rules freely available helps sell games, but I argue that those people are pirates and are not to be trusted.

The solution to this is simple and cost-effective: invisible ink. Our invisible ink is only visible when wet, and even the most dedicated copy-criminal would be reticent to put something wet into a scanner.
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7. Board Game: Law & Order Game [Average Rating:2.35 Overall Rank:15102]
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The most important weapon in the arsenal of the content producer is also the lowest-tech: suing the pants off consumers. Most ARM devices terrify and confuse those who have no technical knowledge, which is very important. People like your grandmother have proven time and again that they are willing to steal intellectual property without reservation; she uses recipes without paying a dime to their creators, and she photocopies stories from Reader's Digest without seeking permission. This kind of casual pirate can be thwarted with simple ARM devices.

But then there are the hardcore criminals: the do-it-yourselfers, the house rule creators, the print & players. These people will not be stopped by technological means. The only way to ensure that these mutants enjoy games in a safe and approved manner is by suing them for so much money that they can never afford to buy a game again.

Unless publishers actively work against their customers, the threat of analog piracy will always loom over the industry. Worse yet, people will continue engaging in unprofitable activities, like playing the same game over and over again. If gamers will not give publishers their money, the publishers will simply have to take it forcibly.
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