[MUD-Dev] User-created content ownership

Richard A. Bartle richard at mud.co.uk
Mon Apr 1 12:46:43 New Zealand Daylight Time 2002


On 1st April, 2002, Christopher Allen wrote:

> Ahh, but they do not 'sign away' copyright, instead they are
> giving us a non-exclusive license to use it that is very broad.

Nevertheless, they are giving you a license to do things that, under
UK law at least, they can't agree to give you whether you both want
it or not. The rights to "modify" and "adapt" in particular are ones
(if I'm right about this, which I may well not be!) that the creator
of a work of art retains no matter what agreements they may have
made. They only give them up when they die.

> They still own the copyright, we only have a broad right to use
> it.

Changing it would be a copyright violation.

> 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.

Oh, I know it's important!

> 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.

I agree, but under your current licence it's at least theoretically
possible that this could happen were you to put a server in the UK.

A solution would be to declare joint copyright. They may own the
work, but by using your software to insert it into your world, you
are making a sufficient artistic contribution (by way of context) to
entitle you to a piece of the work. If they don't want you to have
joint copyright, they can't insert it in your game. Again, not being
a lawyer, I could be missing something obvious here, but joint
copyright enables you to do whatever you like to the work because
you've just as much right to do it as the "original" author. Whether
they could claim rights to change the work too (ie. claim access to
the game code) is perhaps an issue, though.

		Richard
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