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.
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.
- 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.
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:
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?
- 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.
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.