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?
I believe in sharing content throughout teh community. However, giving credit is absolutely necessary, as it prevents the creater of teh content from feeling unrecognized, which leads to being sued.
Sharing content opens up the modding community to much more options, and helps smaller project reach release.
Sharing content is great, it needs to be done for this community to thrive. Not crediting content and disregarding peoples request to do so, or even to not use their content, is not good, and will only create an atmosphere of mistrust in the community and put up barriers for interaction and collaboration between different mod teams and individual modders. Stealing content from commercial titles is stupid and you shouldn't do it unless you have solid permission to do so, in which case it isn't stealing, but good luck getting that permission.
That's pretty much my views in a nutshell.
Among the modding community perhaps, i think content is better off being shared, not everyone have a talent for modelling, texture making or even skinning!
In a way sharing would benefit most of the community.
rule of thumb is don't be a douche.
as you said there are no set rules regarding this, so when it comes to "borrowing" something one should always decide according to the situation. while this only indirectly has to do with your qotd, it is a common issue amongst modders or people calling themselves modders.
but yeah, share where you can! somebody ought to be thankful! :)
Is it bad that I "tl;dr" all these news posts?
I'm real glad someone's taking time out to talk about Copyright(tm) as it relates to the co-creation and sharing of Digital Art in an online world.
Instead of constantly re-making the same, tired old model-types from scratch, perhaps the emphasis should be Evolution re: story, characters, animation, colour, physics, cinematography etc.
My view on Copyright and Modding is to release everything directly into the Free (ie. 'Libre') Public Commons domain, under the following philosophical terms:
"No Copyright - No Licence - Maximum Fun!"
That is, rather than locking everything down, I think the oldskool spirit of 'Share and Enjoy' is a healthier way forward for our artistic community as a whole.
As for using Commercial models in mods - personally I think Youtube has the right idea eg. everything can and should be freely Mashed Up, Remixed and shared. It's all in the mix..