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Blizzard, Microsoft Codify Licenses for Machinima 63

Posted by Zonk
from the gotta-love-those dept.
Wired has up a piece looking at two recent licenses released by Microsoft and Blizzard clarifying their policies towards player use of their games to create Machinima. It's an interesting discussion, because while Blizzard's license grants rights for the first time since World of Warcraft was released (essentially deliberately opening holes in their EULA), Microsoft's new policy takes rights away from enthusiastic Halo players at a time when everyone has just been given the capability to create their own in-game videos. Despite some trepidations, both licenses seem to be well received: "Even digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation signed off on the rules ... Fred von Lohmann, an EFF senior staff attorney who examined both sets of rules, said the main difference between them lies in a user's base set of rights ... 'It's great news that both of these companies are taking machinima seriously enough that they have been willing to come out and authorize some kinds of machinima ... That's a huge improvement over where we were before, which was (that) no one wanted to give machinima guys any kind of guidance at all.'"
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Blizzard, Microsoft Codify Licenses for Machinima

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  • Well received? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by apdyck (1010443) <aaron...p...dyck@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @03:32PM (#20827451) Homepage Journal

    Despite some trepidations, both licenses seem to be well received
    How can one really say if a license is well received? Doesn't everybody just click "I accept"?
    • Re:Well received? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by toleraen (831634) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @03:54PM (#20827841)
      A while back the Everquest EULA was modified to read that SOE was able to dig through your processes to see if you're running any programs that were hooking into the client (back then it was mainly for ShowEQ). It was not well received (a whole lot of complaining on the forums, subscriptions canceled, etc), and that part of the license, as well as their process identifying program, got removed.

      People can and have stood up to overly infringing EULAs, but it doesn't happen too often.
      • by fractoid (1076465)
        Sounds suspiciously like the Warden client that Blizzard use. Apparently that does basically the same thing, except it sifts through window titles etc. as well, but on the flip side only downloads hashes of the strings it's looking for, and doesn't send any data except a pass/fail through to Blizz.

        People didn't receive Warden well either, there was a whole lot of complaining on the forums, many people were going to quit but then they realised they'd miss their raid on Thursday and STFU'd because they want
      • by Splab (574204)
        Valve did the same back in the days with Counter-strike, I think they removed it because it turned out spying on the users wasn't legal.
    • by moogle001 (563970)
      If the EFF is onboard, that's a good sign, is it not?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by EvanED (569694)
      Doesn't everybody just click "I accept"?

      I bet the people who did, say, RvB didn't just click "I accept." I bet they read it. Heck, they might have had a lawyer read it for them.
      • Re:Well received? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @04:32PM (#20828415)
        It does seem to make Rooster Teeth's sale of any new DVDs of Red vs. Blue in the future to be against the terms, unless they negotiate alternate terms. Everything they've made so far predates this license.
        • I'm pretty sure Rooster Teeth have nothing to worry about. They have been officially supported by MS and Bungie for years. Not to mention they were even cast in Halo 3. I'm sure they had some sort of business agreement long before this EULA required them to, if it does at all.
          • by HTH NE1 (675604)

            Not to mention [Rooster Teeth] were even cast in Halo 3.
            Hmm, someone should update the Halo 3 [imdb.com] page on the Internet Movie Database with the credit particulars.
          • by AndyCR (1091663)
            Which means that now, any competition to Rooster Teeth must go through Microsoft, a Rooster Teeth supporter, first... Don't you love how the current rules promote free-market competition?
  • Art (Score:2, Funny)

    by EMeta (860558)
    But is it Art?
  • Do they really expect some 16 year old kid to go out and get a license before he makes some 5min movie with his buddies in WoW ?!... They've gotta be joking if they think anybody will actually respect their wishes. You've paid for the game, and you record yourself playing the game a certain way.. licenses? No thanks!
    • I don't think this story means what you think it does.
    • by Malkin (133793) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @05:28PM (#20829391)
      You didn't actually read Blizzard's Fair Use Guide [worldofwarcraft.com] before posting that, did you?

      No, they don't expect the 16-year-old kid to go out and get a license before he makes his movie. They only want you to get a "content use license" if your film ends up being used for a commercial purpose, or screened in public at a festival. That's not at all unreasonable, since you're making ample use of their artwork in your movie.
      • by ZDRuX (1010435)
        I must admit I didn't read the full story but I wasn't that far from the truth. It seemed a bit strange to me to be writing up a license when there was no Machinima ever used in a commercial setting where people made money off of it, at least none that I'm aware of.

        Pardon my jumping to conlusions.
        • Actually, there's a lot of machinima used in commercial settings. GameStop is running a series of machinima commercials right now, for example. Somebody got paid for those. Microsoft is also doing a series of machinima ads, online. MTV runs machinima eye-catches, and has a machinima music video show. "Make Love Not Warcraft" is a perfect example of using WoW machinima for commercial use.
        • South Park won an emmy for their episode that was done 90% inside of WoW, if that didn't make them money I don't know what would.
  • by freshmayka (1043432) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @04:35PM (#20828473)
    Machinima is storytelling. Now what if you could not only break into, but copy and distribute all the props and actors from a Hollywood back lot?

    So Steven Spielberg spends a couple dozen million dollars on models and props and sets and backdrops and... makes a movie and cashes in on it.

    Bungie designs a three-dimensional virtual world with models and props and sets and backdrops and... turns it into a gameworld and cashes in on it.

    If in EITHER of these cases, Random Joe comes in and uses any of these creative resources (the models, sets, props, actors) and makes an entertainment product and sells it... What do you call that?

    If it WAS a studio back-lot, it's probably grand theft for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in props.

    In a digital world, you're just manipulating and redistributing a data-stream. Sounds fair enough right? Well so long as nobody turns a profit from it...

    The artist could argue that all art steals from previous ideas and creations. However you can't actually make a replica of Michael Angelo's "David" and name it Joe Average's "Bob" and sell it or otherwise claim it as your creation... Make a video of the statue, or a photo, paint over it, add a soundtrack, and call it "Mixed-Media" and THEN you can put your name on it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Hausenwulf (956554)
      "If in EITHER of these cases, Random Joe comes in and uses any of these creative resources (the models, sets, props, actors) and makes an entertainment product and sells it... What do you call that?" I think it's called "fair use."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fullmetal55 (698310)
      Using your logic, it should be illegal to make a replica of Michelangelo's david and sell it for profit? even scale replicas?
      what about scale replicas of the statue of liberty? it should be illegal to copy Bartholdi's work on that too shouldn't it?

      What about fanfiction? is that illegal too? Also regarding the movie props and stuff, if they just used them it wouldn't be considered theft, trespassing yes (considered to be a lot less of a serious crime than theft), but not theft if they were simply used i
      • by sholden (12227)
        Using your logic, it should be illegal to make a replica of Michelangelo's david and sell it for profit? even scale replicas?
        what about scale replicas of the statue of liberty? it should be illegal to copy Bartholdi's work on that too shouldn't it?


        If the copyright on those artworks hadn't expired then doing that would be a violation of copyright and hence "illegal". But since they have you obviously can.

        You can't legally photograph all the pages of a novel and distribute a PDF of it. You can't legally film
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by steelcobra (1042808)
      The question is also: Does the original studio benefit from the dirivative work? Rooster Teeth (obviously the biggest example) made a killing and a phenomenon with Red Vs Blue that Bungie (and Microsoft by extension) saw as essentially free advertising for the games, and even actively promoted. Which gave the group license to do alternate projects for other games as well as a means of advertising, much like how a select few webcomics creators are commisioned to do special mini-books for promotional purpo
    • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv,vadiv&neverbox,com> on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @06:11PM (#20830027) Homepage

      Um, no, actually, if you snuck onto a movie lot and filmed a movie, you might be in trouble for trespassing, but it's no sort of copyright violation I can think of, and you could even sell said movie. It's not even theft to use props and whatnot, as long as you weren't actually attempting to make off with them, any more than it's theft to sit on a bench in someone's front yard. (And if it was theft, it still wouldn't be illegal to sell the movie.)

      In fact, there are actually 'illegally filmed' movies out there, including some big ones, where they thought they had permission to film somewhere and didn't ask the right people. They sometimes get charged with various things, like obstructing traffic, but none of them are 'copyright violation', because you can't copyright reality and it is explicitly legal to take pictures of whatever the hell you want in public.

      The only exception is sometimes you can't use photographs of people for profit without consent. Only people, not their stuff. And, of course, taking a photograph of a copyrighted image counts as copying it, so need to be careful there.

      Your example is even stupider than normal examples comparing copyrights to property rights. You've managed to come up with something that isn't illegal at all.

      • "And, of course, taking a photograph of a copyrighted image counts as copying it, so need to be careful there."

        Machinema is 'filmed' in a world entirely made up of textures, polygons, environments, and (usually) sounds made by the developers of a game. All of these are works of art to some degree, created by others.

        If Machinema people use sound effects from the game for ambiant sound or for the likes of explosions and gunfire, which they frequently do, how is that different from ripping off the sound track
        • by DavidTC (10147)

          Oh, I know. I'm sure it is some sort of copyright violation without a license.

          I has just taking issue with that idiotic analogy.

    • by vertinox (846076)
      No, your example would be like if Apple sued anyone for using Final Cut Pro to make a movie. The engine itself is not copyright able material in itself as long as you don't use any copyrighted art that came with the engine (textures, models, elsewise) as the product goes.

      Now if you took Master Chef and made a movie with him, Microsoft can sue for copyright violation. I'm sure Red Vs Blue had been either given the OK or talked with Microsoft when they started selling DVDs of their skits.

      • Ironicly if you replaced the content in WoW with your own IP, I'm pretty sure you'd be violating the EULA elsewhere. Never actually read it, but that just seems like a big hole for cheating that they'd want to cover.
    • have you seen the number of crappy imitation "Davids" out there ? they get sold as garden ornaments FFS. There isnt any question of originality or artistic merit.. IANAL, or an artist , but I consider Machinima to be more of a 'performance' art, as opposed to a 'creative' art, which falls more towards the game design and the ingame assets - props etc. With Machinima, there is the artistic pretensions - or even ability in rare cases, of the performers, but the setting is usually still recognisable as the wo
  • Barrier to Entry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hidannik (1085061)
    While it's nice to know what's kosher and what isn't, the Microsoft license forbids two common practices - one that is common for writers just getting their feet wet, and another that keeps the costs low enough for hobbyists and amateurs to dabble.

    The first practice I'm referring to is fan fiction; a writer makes "baby steps" by writing sequels or prequels or side-stories or alternate endings, etc. that use the existing fictional world as a base.

    The second is the use of sound and music from the original wor
  • Red vs Blue (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cryophallion (1129715)

    Well, it's a good thing Red vs Blue [roosterteeth.com] just ended, or else it would have to end now.

    From TFA:

    The creation of anything "pornographic or obscene ... or otherwise objectionable." The vagueness of this rule upset many creators.

    I'm sure some parents would call the language used in RvB "obscene" (and if parents don't, I know a lawyer who will...)

    The sale of any works that use Microsoft intellectual property. The company said it's OK to sell ads on sites that host machinima, but that's it.

    And that is the deat

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      Of course they could be making roosterteeth anti-comptetive like they are, by not allowing anyone to do what they did, so they have the monopoly :^) (no I don't think they'd ever do that)
      I think it was Disney that established that standing on the shoulders of giants is subject to a single-occupancy rule.
  • Software purchased for the purpose of rendering 3d images,in realtime,with filmmaking capabilities,hmmm.
    Software company included characters and add the ability to pipe output to a work by the purchaser.
    Their contract means squat and the best reply they are to recieve from the bench is"attractive nuisance".
    Machinima lives.
    If you don't want your video game characters used in films,don't include them in the package.
    Life's hard,don't make it harder on everyone by being corporate assholes.
  • 'It's great news that both of these companies are taking machinima seriously enough that they have been willing to come out and authorize some kinds of machinima ... That's a huge improvement over where we were before, which was (that) no one wanted to give machinima guys any kind of guidance at all.'

    Just FYI, Microsoft have taken a very personal interest in Red Vs. Blue, even going so far as to have exclusive Xbox live releases. Blizzard have been making their own machinima (L70ETC - I am murloc), and rum

For God's sake, stop researching for a while and begin to think!

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