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  1. #1

    EA Attempting "Legal" Theft?

    Electronic Arts on User GeneratedContent
    Is their work actually your work?


    EA Games. Is anyone really surprised they won worst company in America? They beat out a bank that helped cripple Americas economy. Is anyone really surprised they won't let you sue them if you have agreed to their terms of service? Is anything that EA does really a surprise anymore? They most certainly have a PR problem, and I don't see it improving. EA wouldn't add to that with “legal” theft though, would they?


    Think again. In their November 28, 2011 terms of service they are trying to accomplish exactly that. Two sections set the stage perfectly for it, they even throw one in for handing out the ban candy as well.
    1. 2. Content

      "Content" on EA Services includes software, technology, text, forum posts, chat posts, profiles, widgets, messages, links, emails, music, sound, graphics, pictures, video, code, and all audio visual or other material appearing on or emanating to and/or from EA Services, as well as the design and appearance of our websites. All Content--with the exception of third party content discussed below in Section 6--is owned by EA or its affiliates, subsidiaries, licensors or suppliers. Content includes user-generated Content ("UGC"). UGC includes but is not limited to Account personas, forum posts, chat posts, profile content and any other Content contributed by users to EA Services. EA Content and UGC collectively shall be referred to as "Content." EA does not pre-screen all UGC and does not endorse, approve, or prescreen any UGC that you and other users may contribute to EA Services. You bear the entire risk of the completeness, accuracy or usefulness of Content found on EA Services.

      EA reserves the right (but has no obligation except as required by law) to remove, block, edit, move or disable UGC for any reason, including when EA determines that UGC violates these terms. The decision to remove UGC or other Content at any time is in EA's sole and final discretion. To the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, EA does not assume any responsibility or liability for UGC or for removal of, UGC or any failure to or delay in removing, UGC or other Content.

      You are solely responsible for your UGC and may be held liable for UGC that you post.
    The first thing EA does here is describe a definition of “Content” as owned by them. The second thing they do is establish a definition of “UGC” or “User Generated Content”. UGC is described as yourprofile, online persona, forum posts, chat posts and any other UGC contributed to EA Services.


    So any pictures, music, level designs, game design documents, absolutely anything you put forth to be displayed through an EA Service is UGC. Even that noodle art of your grandmother. Here's where EA puts out their hands:
    1. 7. Contributing UGC to EA Services; License Grant to EA and Others

      When you contribute UGC to an EA Service, you expressly grant to EA and its licensors a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, complete, sub-licensable and irrevocable right to quote, re-post, publish, use, adapt, translate, archive, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works from, syndicate, license, print, sublicense, distribute, transmit, broadcast, and otherwise communicate, and publicly display and perform the UGC, or any portion thereof, in any manner or form and in any medium or forum, whether now known or hereafter devised, without notice, payment or attribution of any kind to you or any third party. You grant EA and its licensors all licenses, consents and clearances to enable EA and its licensors to use such UGC for such purposes. You waive and agree not to assert any moral or similar rights you may have in such UGC.

      If the EA Service on which you contribute UGC permits other users to access and use that UGC as part of the EA Service, then you also grant all other users of the relevant EA Service the right to use, copy, modify, display, perform, create derivative works from, and otherwise communicate and distribute your UGC on or through the relevant EA Service without further notice, attribution or compensation to you.
    They declare all UGC to be free game upon arrival within the confines of any service they provide. If you agree to the Terms of Service you just gave EA the right to use that homemade song you posted on their forums and possibly profit from it. Just how Facebook owns all the rights to anything you post there. Oh, wait, was I not suppose to say that?


    Try this on for size. BF3 has been said to be getting mod tools. What are the majority of the mods going to be? Maps for multiplay. Wait, isn't multiplayer a service provided by EA through Origin? What about thosemaps containing custom models and textures. EA could if they wanted to, repackage those maps as DLC. Even use those assests in new games and sell peoples own work back to them. Without compensation. Without due credit and without notification.


    This by their definition applies to the new SimCity due in 2013. So Maxis has said the game will be getting mod tools. Meaning “User Generated Content” is abound. This game is also suppose to be always connected to a server, meaning an EA Service. Therefore any UGC for that game is up for grabs as well. What about the content already up for The Sims3 on the exchange.


    Section six of the ToS is ironiclly talks about copy rights, trademarks, and copyright infringement within the UGC. So forget that skirmish in a Toys “R” Us cause EA can ban your account, meaning no more multiplay access. This also applies to the forums.


    So is EA trying to destroy the possiblity of long standing communities surrounding these games? Do they not want people to find a common interest in creating content without screwing them more then theyalready have.


    If done right this could benefit the gaming community as a whole. What budding teen modder wouldn't want a developer to approach them about using there assests in a game. Done right it could bring down thecost of games. Done right it could bring the community closer, it could bring developers, publishers and gamers together under one united interest just like Kickstarter is attempting. It's stuff like this that makes Kickstarter necessary.

  2. #2
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    You want me to read all that? And it's your first post? Have EA sacked you? Any affiliation here before I make a cuppa?

  3. #3
    Network Hub Duckee's Avatar
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    Who what why? Spambot?

  4. #4
    No, not a spambot. No Affiliations with EA. I just took a good look at their ToS in an effort not get a ban and found two things relating to what I consider an attempt at legal theft.

  5. #5
    Lesser Hivemind Node Kaira-'s Avatar
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    It's unfortunate, but nothing new in the world of user-generated content. Valve reserves the same rights, as did Facebook (but apparently not anymore) and Blizzard.

  6. #6
    Network Hub Duckee's Avatar
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    I see your concern, but are you sure that this is just EA? I mean even Facebook has clauses that sound similar to this, and I am sure several other companies do to.

  7. #7
    Lesser Hivemind Node Kaira-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duckee View Post
    I see your concern, but are you sure that this is just EA? I mean even Facebook has clauses that sound similar to this, and I am sure several other companies do to.
    What I just read the Facebook EULA, they actually state that you have the rights to all content you generate on Facebook (unless they state otherwise somewhere else). Blizzard and Valve however reserve rights to content generated by users, and I believe quite many other companies do. Whether it's a good thing or no is another subject altogether.

    [E] Actually, re-reading it Facebook still reserves right to all content. So, my bad.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    It seems like a lot of legalese put forward to prevent ridiculous things like someone saying trying to sue EA for 'unauthorised' use of a comment or piece of content.

    In the interests of keeping things unbiased and to support Kaira's comments: the Steam Workshop Agreement.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Agreement - Content
    LicenseYou grant to Valve the following rights, which Valve may exercise or not in its sole discretion:
    1. You grant to Valve a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, assignable right and license to (a) use, copy, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, modify, and create derivative works from Your Contribution in any media, (b) identify You as the source of the Contribution, and (c) sublicense these rights, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.
    Valve doesn't appear to extend these to the forum but I didn't check for any license agreement regarding the forum or anything at large in the Steam EULA.

    Point is if you're concerned about scary terms in EULAs and the like which suggests that Company A owns everything you make, you're late to the party and thus far nothing scary has happened. Evidence: Valve.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
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    Didn't Atari claim the same thing for modules created using NWN's toolset?
    The Medallion of the Imperial Psychopath, a Napoleon: Total War AAR
    For the Emperor!, a Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai AAR

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ieatrazorz View Post
    So is EA trying to destroy the possiblity of long standing communities surrounding these games?
    Yes. Next question.

    They're attempting to monetize a system that used to be free. We don't have any effective means to stop them. Hence.

    At this juncture, anything short of another industry crash a la 1983 will probably be fruitless. So if you want the industry to be molded in your image, hope to Beelzebub that you can survive not having games for a few years.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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    "His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy." - Woody Allen

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus squirrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    At this juncture, anything short of another industry crash a la 1983 will probably be fruitless. So if you want the industry to be molded in your image, hope to Beelzebub that you can survive not having games for a few years.
    What happened in 1983?

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirrel View Post
    What happened in 1983?
    This happened in 1983.

    Also lots of other stuff but I guess that's what we're talking about.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    Don't a lot of companies have this legal system so that they can remove user created content they deem inapropriate without violating any rights (freedom of speech perhaps)?

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    They're attempting to monetize a system that used to be free. We don't have any effective means to stop them.
    Like Valve's TF2 store? SecondLife's ability to sell your stuff for ridiculous prices?

    EA ain't done shit for once.


  15. #15
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    Yeah, my experience is that these sorts of clauses are fairly normal, and the companies responsible don't abuse them. Presumably one day somebody will abuse it, and then things get exciting.

    I wonder why they're necessarily so strong, though. I'd have expected they'd be able to cook up agreements that actually do what they want. But I suppose it is easier to claim huge powers and not use them than to claim only what you think you need and later on find out it isn't strong enough.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  16. #16
    Lesser Hivemind Node Feldspar's Avatar
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    You should check your employment contract, don't be surprised if you find clauses giving the company property of any money or material goods gained while on company time or of any ideas generated. Just because you envision EA as the big bad, doesn't mean they're any bigger and badder than the next guy.

    It may seem draconian but they put this stuff in to stop people becoming rich off their work and from creating any abuses that could damage their property or reputation (although I'm not convinced EA hold much of a reputation). It's all down to how and how often they are enforced.

  17. #17
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    The one thing here which makes me nervous - or rather, the combination of things - is their consideration of forum posts and player profiles as "User Generated Content" and their stance that they both own and have a right to "translate or adapt" UGC to fit, basically, their whims.

    Which means that not only do they "own" information on your user profile as well as your forum posts, but they reserve the right to "adapt" that information to fit their needs.

    Um..no, thanks. Will simply avoid EA for, well, the rest of my natural life. Especially since I am not completely certain this plays well with the right to free speech (ie, their ability to first offer a forum whereupon we can exercise that right and then to claim rights to "adapt" that speech.)

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus squirrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    This happened in 1983.

    Also lots of other stuff but I guess that's what we're talking about.
    Oops, that's how the Japanese ruled the game console world for 2 decades...

    Back to the topics, if you generate a piece of content based on someone's work, then the someone would be entitled to a share of commercial interest of your creation. It's that simple. I don't see how ethnically wrong EA be in this regard. In return, since it's your creation you hold part of the copyright to the part you create, which means EA still needs your permission to get its share of it.

    If you are concerning that it's not a fair game, it's because EA is a giant. But I think it really is not what this is about. Original author always has the priority to the commercial return, it's that simple.

    Unless, say, if you are a college student and your college claims absolute copyright to your academic work, that would be an issue. Over here colleges have right over their students' works, and I read a lot of news reports that students are resisting such arrangement. I dont know. It really seems to me that EA tries to claim such right regarding their term of services. Anyway, without the first court case there is too little information for us to really comment on.

    Takes UDK for instance, I think Epics makes it crystal clear that contents generated by UDK is essentially owned by author himself/herself, but any commercial distribution and Epics is entitled to a cut. And Epics maintains a black-and-white price list for that (or course, I think that when it comes to practice, it is highly negotiable).

    As to rather EA can remove a user-generated content, I doubt that would be realistic. Yes one official update and other players who are good kids will not have access to those, but to be honest I for one is naughty. If I buy a game which require online activation, I always download crack from web to ensure that I truly own the piece of software I bought.
    Last edited by squirrel; 21-04-2012 at 01:54 PM.

  19. #19
    Moderator QuantaCat's Avatar
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    Also, if you study/work at a university, chances are, that all you do are owned by said university, no matter how creative or such.
    - Tom De Roeck.

    monochrom & verse publications

    "Quantacat's name is still recognised even if he watches on with detached eyes like Peter Molyneux over a cube in 3D space, staring at it with tears in his eyes, softly whispering... Someday they'll get it."

  20. #20
    Network Hub mentor07825's Avatar
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    I have avoided the EA forums for the most part for quiet some time. Have no intention of giving or doing anything.
    Can be found on Steam, Evolve and Eve Online.

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