The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Privacy Activism recently introduced "Carabella," a game designed around Macromedia's Flash animation software. Players assume the role of the title character and guide her through a series of decisions as she tries to acquire new tunes by her favorite band.
Carabella has to decide between licensed online music services or peer-to-peer, normal or CDs, a regular Internet connection or a proxy service that conceals the user's identity. Players are scored based on how well they guard their privacy while obtaining the music they want without violating or giving up copyright protections.
Besides discussing general issues such as fair-use doctrine and online privacy, the game includes critiques of specific services, including file-swapping service Kazaa's use of "" and the limited selection available on subscription sites such as , which suggests singer Bobby Vinton as an appropriate alternative to Carabella's favorite indie rock band.
Deborah Pierce, executive director of Privacy Action, said her group developed the game to help make it easier for consumers to understand complex legal and technology-related concepts.
"We've been trying to make the issue of privacy and fair use accessible to the general population," Pierce said. "When we discuss it from a technology or legal point of view, a lot of the consumer issues get lost. We thought this was a more accessible way to get that message across."
Pierce said the idea isn't to scare anyone out of using a file-swapping service or other online resources.
"We don't want people to be fearful of the Internet," she said. "If you're going to be using something like Kazaa, we just want you to know up front the trade-offs you're making. We want people to make an informed choice."
Future episodes of the game will focus on other privacy and copyright issues, Pierce said, with the next installment tackling encryption.