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Valve Angry Over Counter-Strike Subway Ads 58

Posted by Zonk
from the eat-fresh-lead dept.
Gamepocalypse writes "I noticed over on GamePro that Valve is considering legal action over the Subway ads that Engage In-Game Advertising was pumping into Counter-Strike matches. Valve's Doug Lombardi: 'Advertising or any other commercial use of our games requires our written permission.'" I'm unclear on this: Were the ads actually in the game already, or was the company just saying they were going to put the ads in? If the ads were displayed in-game, how was that done without Valve's knowledge? If the ads weren't in the game ... why would you make a public claim like this without clearing it with Valve first? Odd all around.
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Valve Angry Over Counter-Strike Subway Ads

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  • ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abandonment (739466) <mike@wuetherick.gmail@com> on Friday January 13, 2006 @05:16PM (#14466990) Homepage
    This is ridiculous. There are hundreds of commercial server rental places that have in-game ads splattered all over CS servers and have for years.

    Just because it's a non-CS commercial company that's doing this is irrelevant.

    When we hosted CS servers a few years ago (pre 1.5 / steam), we were trying to figure out how to do the same thing. Considering how much money running game servers costs, bandwidth-wise, I don't see how Valve really has any say in the matter.

    They should be happy to have server-operators willing to host their games, and if the gamers themselves don't care about the in-game ads to help buffer server costs, then so be it.

    It's not like there isn't thousands of servers out there for CS anyways - if players don't like it, then market forces will react appropriately - ie players will go to a different server.
    • Re:ridiculous (Score:2, Informative)

      by blanktek (177640)
      The article specifically states this is a legal matter. How the law handles proper use of copyrighted material is what is important, although it does seem unfair. Using the engine may have different arrangements. You did read your EULA, didn't you?
    • Re:ridiculous (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jherico (39763) <bdavis AT saintandreas DOT org> on Friday January 13, 2006 @05:36PM (#14467198) Homepage
      It's not like there isn't thousands of servers out there for CS anyways - if players don't like it, then market forces will react appropriately - ie players will go to a different server.
      That's not the point from Valve's perspective. If I was providing downloads of a popular TV show and inserting my own commercials in it, the producer of that show would expect compensation. The point here is that someone is using Counter Strike as a vehicle for profit and the creators of the premium content, Counter Strike, are not being compensated. Whether players like it or not is irrelevant.
      • Re:ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Guppy06 (410832) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:13PM (#14467552)
        "That's not the point from Valve's perspective. If I was providing downloads of a popular TV show and inserting my own commercials in it, the producer of that show would expect compensation."

        No, the producer of the show would demand compensation regardless. Once an affiliate has bought and paid for the rights to distribute a show, it is out of the producer's hands whether or not there is any advertising included or how much of it there is.

        The only way the producer could control the way the content was distributed would be through a clause in the license. And unless the game's license says "you can distribute the maps you make with this software freely, so long as you don't put any advertising into it," I don't see how Valve can have a leg to stand on.
      • If I was providing downloads of a popular TV show and inserting my own commercials in it, the producer of that show would expect compensation.

        That's because you would, in effect, be selling the show. You may not charge anything, but you'd increase your ad revenues by promoting the fact that you provide downloads for the show on your site.

        This situation is different. Engage is using Counter-strike as a vehicle to sell something else. They're not actually trying to sell or promote Counter-strike itself
        • Re:ridiculous (Score:3, Insightful)

          by valintin (30311)
          Also as the hammer maker your not entitled to a profit from the use to which the hammer is put. You don't get a percentage of every house built by your hammer. Car manufactures are not compensated for adds and they don't get a percentage of taxi cabs profits.

          But, what about product placement in movies? Do you have to pay Ford to use their cars in movies? What about cars in comercials? Do movies use generic soda cans because they can't use Pepsi or do they use generic soda because it creates a market fo
          • But, what about product placement in movies? Do you have to pay Ford to use their cars in movies? What about cars in comercials? Do movies use generic soda cans because they can't use Pepsi or do they use generic soda because it creates a market for Pepsi to buy placement.

            Those are trademark issues (showing a Pepsi product on a table) and are related to the company "image".
            A sandwich ad inserted on the side of Valve's otherwise generic building isn't the same.

      • If I was providing downloads of a popular TV show and inserting my own commercials in it, the producer of that show would expect compensation.

        Online games are not TV shows. First off... Valve wrote the egine... (TV camera and the world), but they aren't the ones recording and trasnmitted the video (the game servers) nor are they writing the script and paying the actors (the players)

        The programs and artwork are copyrighted, but its like saying you can't buy a movie poster, take it home, and modify it to have
        • its like saying you can't buy a movie poster, take it home, and modify it to have an add and then get sued because your friends saw it.
          No, is more like if I make an 'Indiana Jones and The Temptation of the Meatball Sub' poster, put it up in my local gaming cafe, and get money from the Subway next door becasue I'm driving business there. I fully expect to get sued by Lucasfilm.
          • No, is more like if I make an 'Indiana Jones and The Temptation of the Meatball Sub' poster, put it up in my local gaming cafe, and get money from the Subway next door becasue I'm driving business there. I fully expect to get sued by Lucasfilm.

            No, that's not it. It's as if you get Subway to pay you for wearing a Subway t-shirt in Disneyland. Should Disney sue you because you're profiting from their theme park? You've paid to get in, and unless the conditions of the purchase of your admission pass state t
            • When you run a game server the server and map are *your* property, not Valve's.
              The physical server is your property. Not the map, if its a Valve created map. Even if its a custom map thats the same as a Valve map with custom ad textures. That map belongs to Valve. It's licensed for your use and it doesn't belong to you any more than an episode of 'Friends' is yours because you own the TV that received it.
              • Not the map, if its a Valve created map. Even if its a custom map thats the same as a Valve map with custom ad textures. That map belongs to Valve. It's licensed for your use...

                Right, of course it's Valve's map... what was I thinking. Not sure why I said it would be the server owner's.
                 
      • Assuming you got the source media legally, then your licence agreement would cover it. If you were going to onsell someone elses show, they woud charge for it.
  • Are they hosting CS servers and running ads that way, or do they just have a custom spray paint logo that they go into games and spray with?
  • I havent read the article... but I think people will be allowed to put any graphic into the maps on their servers for matches they want. If Valve allows me to mod the game, and I put a custom JPEG image in there, thats legal. What if I put my own picture into the spray marker? Am I trying to run for the mayor's seat? What if I put the peace sign? Will BMW be sued?

    Either they do not allow mods at all (another fishy point if you 'own' the game) or they let people do what they want with their purchased goods.
    • but say it requires the CS engine that the buyers of your game would have to buy from Valve?
    • Here's a similar issue - let's say you make a Half-Life mod, and distribute it for free on the Internet. Not only is this condoned, it makes Valve smile - this is what made HL the endlessly replayable hit it became, after all. Now, let's say that you start selling your mod, without permission from Valve. As a no-brainer, this is clearly verbotten.

      Really, that's all that's going on here - Engage has made a mod that fills the game with advertising, and is being paid for it (though by advertisers as oppo

      • That works fine in the physical world. If somebody designs an unoffical add-on to my car, it's OK. Unofficial mod-kits are legal too, so long as they meet safety specifications.

        The company is not selling Valve's material (the game). They are not giving Valve's material away for free. Valve still gets money for their product. The modification company gets money for theirs, probably in the form of advertisement bucks.

        What valve is pissed at is that they didn't think of it, or didn't implement it, first.
        • Or, you could look at the game like it was a movie. It becomes popular, and fan sites pop up all over the place filled with fanfics, and even a few videos put together by really industrious fans. This is all fine and good... but just because the studio tolerates, perhaps even condones, these guys, doesn't mean they have to roll over when some third party releases their own edition of the movie on DVD, where all the drinks in the cantina are digitally edited to bear the logos of certain companies paying th
          • From what I can tell, they aren't re-releasing the game, they make a modification which can be installed on already legitimized versions of the game.

            Remaking scenes and reselling an original work would be piracy. Again, this still requires the original work and thus is not.
    • Am I trying to run for the mayor's seat?

      Aww man I can see it now, "Vote for St3v3, jailtime for wallhackers!".

    • I think that's the Mercedes logo you're thinking about, but it's not the peace sign either -- the vertical bar needs to go all the way to the bottom of the circle for "peace."

      The BMW logo, by the way, is a spinning propellor, a reference to their long history of airplane engine manufacture.

  • Now how are all the Jerrods living in their mothers' basements playing counter-strike going to get fit? It's not like they go outside much as it is.
  • It seems as if they were using advertising via sprites or via player sprays, which does seem to not be as legitimate as the company trying to do the advertising claim. If it is what I predicted, valve may have a hard time trying to get them in court but eventually they should go down. Don't play in other people's backyards, you will only get kicked out, especially thanks to Steam nowdays.
    • Don't play in other people's backyards, you will only get kicked out, especially thanks to Steam nowdays.

      If they owned the servers, then I think they should have the right to put ads in the servers. If they don't... Then this is to be handled by the server admins.

      Either way, we shouldn't be fighting in court over this.

      Its like I made a paintball game in a field in my backyard and put up a billboard on my own property and then the paint ball gun owners sued me just because we used their gear to play the game
      • It would be more like if TiVo started inserting their own ads while you watched tv. And I'm pretty sure the tv companies wouldn't be happy about that either.

        You're playing in a game they own, on a map they owned, defaced by ads. It's not something valve should just ignore.
        • It would be more like if TiVo started inserting their own ads while you watched tv. And I'm pretty sure the tv companies wouldn't be happy about that either.

          My local cable company does this... I often see them cut out commericals and replace them with local ads. However, they might have an agreement with the people they buy the tv from.

          Secondly, this isn't TV. The players aren't actors and you aren't generating live copyrighted material. If you record a match of a CS game is this copyright of valves? It's l
          • "but what you see on a gaming server is not directly copyrighted by valve. Their stuff in the engine is, but they can't say what you add on to it."

            They can specify how you use it, in the same way we specify how people use our code (GPL), or how musicians use your samples.

            If you record a demo of a counterstrike match, I don't think its copyrighted to valve, but its pretty useless without using valves content. Sure you could parse it in another engine (Would take Spike a few weeks and I bet he could get them
        • by Aeiri (713218)
          http://www.pvrblog.com/pvr/2004/11/tivo_to_add_ban .html [pvrblog.com]

          So, essentially, you are fast fowarding through ads on TV, and TiVO is showing their ads instead.
  • Valve is not the one who has the right to complain in this matter; the authors of the modified maps are. (However, if the modified maps were originally made by employees of Valve, then it is most definitely their right to complain.) Most custom maps for virtually all moddable games these days ship with a readme, and this readme has a short legal disclaimer that outlines most or all of the following the following rights:

    1. Others may not use the map as a base to build new maps. (But in practice, the autho
    • Fascinating.

      I cannot enter such a "license". Copyright would be the closest. There is a convention that says if copying is needed to make use of a program, that copy is permitted.

      For instance, a program must be copied from a disk into memory to execute it.

      A "map" is only of use with a "server", so a copy is normal if using the product.

      I am also allowed to rent, resell, and otherwise exploit works commercially. Again, this right is passed to me via Copyright.

      I can also modify a work and resell it. Really.

      I w
    • Where your post falls down is that the map file may not need to be altered to show adverts. Its been a long time but iirc server's could supply 'entity files' for Quake maps (ie, drop in an textured ad obj).
  • Meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:08PM (#14467501)
    "Valve's Doug Lombardi: 'Advertising or any other commercial use of our games requires our written permission.'"

    Translation: we want our cut!

    I might feel sympathy if their stance was "There will be no advertising in our games," but as it stands now I couldn't care less. Let the lawyers deal with it.
  • Examples (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chabo (880571) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:11PM (#14467531) Homepage Journal
    Here [imageshack.us] are some examples of advertising in-game. This is inside Valve-made maps, not custom maps.
    • Just some clarification and citing: I originally read this story here [halflife2.net].

      And this advertising is being implemented on multiplayer servers by server admins, not by users or Valve.
    • Ouch. A bright red billboard among the more subdued colors of the CS maps. The people who dropped that in there didn't even *try* to make it look like the rest of the game, which is what would annoy me the most. "Obtrusive" is the description I would use. Those ads severely interfere with what game artists call "the suspension of disbelief", which should be the top priority for designing any game.

      If the servers running the modified versions of those maps (and/or a mod that inserts the ads into the maps)

      • When you are running around dodging bullets while spraying your own lead about, those ads can be overlooked very easily. Valve would not be where they are today without the thousands of game hosting sites. If these ads help to lower the costs of hosting games, then I think it would be a good thing cause it should result in more games being hosted.

        • One of those ads was placed right in the CT spawn, and another in an area where there is relatively little action but in the direction players are normally looking as they pass through. Also, the seem very out of place to anybody who is familiar with the map. Players would notice them very quickly.

      • Those ads severely interfere with what game artists call "the suspension of disbelief"

        Right, because similar ads in the real world are carefully crafted to blend in with the environment, so as not to intrude upon the "feel" of the envirnment in which they're placed...

        If anything, I'd say it makes the maps look more real.

    • Those look like plain ole sprays to me, not part of the map.
      • Couple things about that:

        1) Sprays, at their maximum, take up less area than that. There is a pixel limit, so the largest a spray can be is about 3 in-game 'feet' wide. Those ads are about 7 or 8 in-game 'feet'.
        2) Read the article [halflife2.net] I linked to in my reply. The company that offers this service definitely exists.
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:14PM (#14468073)
    One of the fundamental reasons why I hate in-game advertising, beyond the fact that I already paid for the game, is that these ads are complete and utter garbage. First of all, no effort whatsoever is put into making them attractive or interesting, and secondly they just drop them in random places on the map.

    It's pathetic.

    It's like the crap that passes for advertising on the internet. At some point I had hoped that internet ad design would improve. It really hasn't, primarily because the barrier for entry into web design is so low. Any inept designer can slap together a web graphic and apparently thats sufficient for the web. These guys obviously don't put any effort at all. But I'm forced to stare at this garbage, advertising products I have no interest in whatsoever.

    The best part is stalking around in a terrorist hideout and finding that the interior designer of the group decided to adorn the walls with soft drink and fast food ads.
  • Eat Fresh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rapter09 (866502) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:40PM (#14468238)
    Nothing like stalking through the ancient Aztec's holy temples and waterworks trying to headshot some n00bs to find out they loved to "Eat Fresh."
  • howto (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joe094287523459087 (564414) <joe@j[ ]to ['oe.' in gap]> on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:59PM (#14468407) Homepage
    in case anyone was wondering, i was one of the first people to figure out how to do it and i wrote up a detailed howto on how to add these to maps (as well as add spawn points, convert map types, and other things)...

    here's the instructions
    http://www.joe.to/cstrike/ents/ [www.joe.to]
  • With every server and player required to connect Steam to play Counter-Strike, Valve can use this control to make extra money by inserting ads into their games and using the Steam system to make sure the ads are up-to-date since Nielsen Entertainment determined that ads [boston.com] in [yahoo.com] video [forbes.com] games [joystiq.com] apparently work.

    What Engage In-Game is doing is no more illegal than someone hosting a custom mod on their server. This particular mod just happens to show pictures of brand-name sandwiches with a price tag. Bandwidth and

  • I Dont blame Valve suing them. In the Steam EULA, it states in E-iii: "You are entitled to use the Steam Software for your own use, but you are not entitled to: . . . (iii) exploit the Steam Software or any of its parts for any commercial purpose." The advertsement is breaking the Steam EULA by the company is making money off products that Valve makes with out consent from them.

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