An Open Window: Project Launch Day + 48
As I'm working through the first detail pass, I've made a bunch of prop models and retextured a few Half-life objects. Just showing these wouldn't be much of an article but luckily this is the ideal situation to discuss a topic I have been struggling with for a while. Today's article is all about copyright issues.
While I strive to create everything myself, sometimes it's outside my field of expertise or just too time consuming. In those cases I have to rely on third party content: models, textures or sequences someone else made. Many modders (especially mappers) will recognise this issue and, according to some threads and posts I've read recently in other mod communities, there are quite a bunch of different views on the subject.
A common courtesy in the MOD community is to credit the creator of the content you've used, by either putting his name in the ending credits or the readme file. Many developers will include a readme file of their own, stating their terms regarding the work they made. Sometimes it's fully royalty free, sometimes you must ask for permission and in some cases developers forbid you to use any of their content. This is mostly the case with commercial titles and rule of the thumb is not to use any content from other commercial games in your project. People have been sued over this and publishers will a solid case, since they are protected by copyright laws.
The MOD scene is a gray area when it comes to copyrights. Not everyone includes a readme file and sometimes you indirectly receive content through other mods, whose developer has been too lazy to properly credit the creators. Another difficult issue is altering content. Often you'll find models that have been ported from one mod to another and models of which it's base was used to create something new. At what point does this becomes "yours"?
Some people simply don't care and even use commercial content for their work, others reside in the gray area and a third group of developers strictly keeps to the rules set by the original creators. However, mostly the rules are laid out by the website or forum operators and they might turn a blind eye to some content. As you can read from this thread, ModDB is very strict on copyright issues. Before uploading anything, make sure you read the rules regarding copyright and always include a readme if you are sharing content.
Thus far I've been only talking about actual files. Copyright also applies to ideas and concepts. Some companies will shut down fan games or spin-offs and others will even sue you for creating something resembling a character from their commercial game. Some copyrights go as far as to protecting a story. After a thousand year of history, it is tough to claim you have a truly original idea but still these copyright laws apply. Before you start a project based on something, make sure if the original owner is protective of his idea.
Personally, I am a supporter of sharing content with the community and thus all the new props you see in this news post will be available for other modders once AnOpWi releases. Currently I have about 100 custom textures, 35 custom models and a bunch of reskinned HL2 models and more are to come! I also think modders should respect the rules set by the author and always give credit where it's due.
Thank you for reading and I hope the Question of the Day will make you drop a comment below. You can probably guess what the question is.
Question of the Day:
What is your stance on copyright issues?