[MUD-Dev] User-created content ownership

Sean Kelly sean at hoth.ffwd.cx
Mon Apr 1 11:48:42 New Zealand Daylight Time 2002


On Sun, 31 Mar 2002, Christopher Allen wrote:
> "Richard A. Bartle" <richard at mud.co.uk>:
>> On 30th March, 2002, Christopher Allen wrote:

>>> You hereby grant Skotos a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive,
>>> sub-licensable, worldwide, royalty-free license to use,
>>> reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, distribute, publicly display
>>> and perform any and all of your Participatory Content in all
>>> media now known or later developed.

>> I'm not a lawyer (because if I were I'd be charging =A3400 an
>> hour to tell you this), but I seem to recall that in the UK you
>> can't ever sign away copyright, whether you want to or not.

> Ahh, but they do not 'sign away' copyright, instead they are
> giving us a non-exclusive license to use it that is very
> broad. They still own the copyright, we only have a broad right to
> use it.

> It is important in particular for Castle Marrach, where players
> suggest plots, perform plays, write poems, and create 'books' in
> game to give to other players, etc. for us to have those
> rights. We can't be in a position where we Out-Of-Character have
> to remove every copy of a book that someone added to the game
> because a player quit.

Perhaps it's neccessary legal-ese, but while I can understand your
need, the licensing statement above is too far-reaching.  If a
player creates in-game fiction, he is likely to at least want a
gurantee that he always be attributed for that work (his in-game
persona, anyway) and that=20 the content of that work will not be
significantly changed.  While I don't think you're setting out to
take work created in-game and steal or modify it for other uses, I
as a player would want some gurantee that this is the case.

What if a paper vendor attached the above license to all the paper
they produced?  IMO a person's rights shouldn't change just because
their creations only exist in a specific context which was developed
by someone else.  If made aware of this license in a game I was
interested in, I wouldn't play it.  Perhaps it's the American
mindset, but why should I spend my time on work which I recieve no
rewards for creating, which I have no rights to, and which
ultimately could be altered, delivered regardless of context, or
attributed to someone else?  Sounds like a good way to attract an
adolescent crowd with little understanding of what they're giving
away.

I think some further thought has to go into the terms "modify" and
"adapt" and exactly how they apply to player-created in-game
content.

Sean

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