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Sony Entertainment Games Your Rights Online

LittleBigPlanet Creations Raising Copyright Questions 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the darth-sackboy-the-hedgehog dept.
Joystiq's Law of the Game column uses the recently released LittleBigPlanet to address the question of intellectual property rights for user-created content within and for games. At this point, Sony's ToS claims a great deal of control over users' work, unlike Second Life's, which is much more permissive. GiantBomb has a related story pointing out creations within LittleBigPlanet that are copies of other games, and how they could lead to legal troubles for Sony if they aren't quick about taking them down.
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LittleBigPlanet Creations Raising Copyright Questions

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  • Sony (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @02:50AM (#25623111)

    Sony is one of the worst offenders with draconian EULA's. I am not surprised by this. They don't want to have people creating their own content to own their own content. They want to own our content.

    I learned a long time ago to just say no to Sony.

    • Re:Sony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @04:07AM (#25623401)

      You've pretty much hit the nail on the head there. The only thing really new in this whole thing is that Sony is claiming ownership of their users' creations - something that even Microsoft wouldn't attempt. If Sony hadn't claimed ownership, there would be no issue.

      I mean, really, PCs have had user-created content for ages. And by ages, I mean "since the start of the PC," since I recall using a level editor to create new content for a simple sidescroller 20 years ago on the PC. Level editors? Not new.

      PC game publishers have never had an issue with user-created content. If the user creates it and it infringes, that's their problem, not the publisher or developer or anyone involved in the original game.

      The only new thing that Sony brings to the table with LittleBigPlanet is their restrictive license where they claim ownership of your creations. Otherwise LittleBigPlanet is just a generic sidescroller with lousy jumping controls and the world's creepiest avatars.

      Sidescrollers with level editors have been done before. It's just that no one before Sony was stupid enough to claim ownership of content that users created, so this issue has never existed before.

      Sony's dumb license, Sony's dumb problem. End of story.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Also, I don't see how that game creation could violate copyrights, they're such cartoonish that could well fall under the fair use gambit, under parodies or limited usage.

        until one post the entire star wars saga, of course, as a single level
      • Re:Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @09:14AM (#25624725) Homepage

        Sidescrollers with level editors have been done before. It's just that no one before Sony was stupid enough to claim ownership of content that users created, so this issue has never existed before.

        As far as I know, nobody's ever had built-in distribution for end users' content before like LBP does. It's much simpler for Sony to do so if they are assigned the copyright; then they know they have the right to distribute it wherever they want to.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          As far as i remember, the same issues arrised with the first neverwinternight and its editor and atari's policy.
          There even was a slashdot article.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Admittedly, I don't know everything about LBP's distro system, but I'd like to point out that both Sims 2 and Spore had built-in distribution systems where content you created was uploaded to a Maxis server and made available to other users.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            I haven't played either of those, so I wasn't aware of that. On the other hand, reading Spore's EULA, EA is granted "an exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, fully transferable and sub-licensable worldwide right and license to use your contributions in any way and for any purpose in connection with the Software and related goods and services". That's even more restrictive than the Sony terms (as Sony doesn't get exclusive rights to user material).
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Chyeld (713439)

              Actually, that's standard verbage and would be far more acceptable than claiming ownership.

              EA's EULA simply says that you are giving them permission to use your work. Sony's is actually claiming your work is theirs.

              The difference is, with EA you still own your work and theoretically could do whatever else you wanted with it.

              • Re:Sony (Score:4, Funny)

                by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @11:53AM (#25627035) Homepage

                Did you read Sony's TOS [scei.co.jp] yourself? (The section in question is #10.) I see no claim of ownership there; in fact, they explicitly deny ownership.

                EA's license does not let you do whatever else you want with it; you grant them exclusive rights to it. Sony will still allow you to use your work non-commercially (and implies that commercial use can be negotiated, unlike the EA license.)

        • by Sique (173459)

          I wonder how this should work in countries which use the Berne Convention. Because there you are either the Author, or you aren't. You can't sign away Author's Right (not even as Work for Hire).
          All you could do is give a permission for distribution, but then the distributor has to give you compensation.

      • "It's just that no one before Sony was stupid enough to claim ownership of content that users created, so this issue has never existed before."

        - Actually you're overlooking most if not all MMORPGs. their eulas are as draconian as this, and I remember that city of heroes got into trouble because of marvel complaining about people creating their copyrighted superheroes.

        IMNSHO copyright issues should only get into play when the one copying is actually trying to sell the product without the copyrights permissi

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The modding toolkits that come with PC games usually contain clauses that say the PC game developer or publisher owns the rights to all content created with the mod toolkits. UnrealED is a great example of this.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Seriously, did anyone NOT see that coming from a mile away? Sony are notorious control freaks and DRM fanatics and always have been (a legacy of their conflict of interest between being a media producing company foremost and a hardware/software company second and third). If it weren't for it saving them money on content generation, they likely wouldn't allow user created content at all.

      Ironically, their cheapness and control-freak IP terms are now likely to come back and bite them on their asses with the

    • by Hellpop (451893)

      Sony -- "All your sackboy are belong to us!"

  • DMCA (Score:1, Interesting)

    by phyrz (669413)

    Sony should just pull a Youtube and say they are a carrier for this content, and will pull down content based on DMCA claims.

    The other thing is, how many real commercial games are simply copies of other games with slightly different graphics anyway?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by phyrz (669413)

      Although I think they would have to change their tune, and allow people copyright over their own designs. IANAL of course.

    • by famebait (450028)

      But unlike YouTube, Sony has a _lot_ of imaginary property they want to protect. It would not go down well with the rest of the corporation to be lax on copyright.
      Hell, if Sony sold crayons they would come with a draconian EULA.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Considering that Sony has been one of Youtube's biggest adversaries on this very issue, I would call that highly unlikely. I suspect they would just pull the entire user-generated content feature from the game before they did anything to advocate Youtube's defense.
  • sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thermian (1267986) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @03:09AM (#25623189)

    They could just say 'anything you do here is your own responsibility' and leave it at that.

    If they were stupid enough to allow claims of copyright or copyright infringement in their game it'll die like a jolly fast dying thing, of death.

    I mean seriously.. its a game...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      But I think thats the entire point. It is a game, and if you can make/play a recreation of another game in it, that might (in the eyes of executives or whathaveyou) to lessen your desire to actually buy that game. Instant lawsuit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thermian (1267986)

        But I think thats the entire point. It is a game, and if you can make/play a recreation of another game in it, that might (in the eyes of executives or whathaveyou) to lessen your desire to actually buy that game. Instant lawsuit.

        That argument falls on one point, the games industry have been using each others idea's for decades. That's where we get 'genre's' from.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mattbee (17533)

      They could just say 'anything you do here is your own responsibility' and leave it at that.

      Sony could say that if they weren't hosting the user-made content themselves, and distributing it to other players. If players keep it on their own consoles, it's nobody else's business.

    • Re:sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @09:38AM (#25624893) Journal

      You forget that here in the U.S., one can be sued for anything and thus Sony, who has deep pockets, can be sued if a map you created and shared damages little johnny's morals or psyche or happens to be an exact duplicate of the beginning level of Super Mario.

  • "Joystiq's Law of the Game column uses the recently released LittleBigPlanet to address the question of intellectual property rights for user-created content within and for games"

    Ummm. Hasn't a slashjudge already ruled that content, regardless of source belongs to the public (that includes Sony) as part of their "culture"?

  • It's practically guaranteed that someone using a game's level editor is going to recreate their favorite game. It happens all the time. I can't tell you how many Starcraft maps I have that are based on some other game.
    This is a simple case of people having fun.
    Legal troubles? Yeah, right.
  • Um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _Hellfire_ (170113) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @06:13AM (#25623897) Homepage

    So by Sony's logic, if I fire up Microsoft Word and write a document, then Microsoft owns the copyright to my creation?

    I fail to see the difference between this game and a word processor.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I fail to see the difference between this game and a word processor.

      Not the most ringing endorsement for the game. Of course, confusing a spreadsheet program with a flight sim [eeggs.com] is a little more understandable.

    • by zehaeva (1136559)
      A lot of physicists fail to see the difference between a sphere and a cow. Granted for a certain level of abstraction you're both correct. If you get caught up in all those details, well I could see a few people having some trouble with the association.
    • by Carch (695851)
      The difference is that the document you create in Word can be printed, saved as text, and used in all sorts of contexts that have nothing to do with Word.

      User creations in LittleBigPlanet require LittleBigPlanet. You can't own them any more than you can own your character in an MMO.

    • by jparker (105202)

      Levels in LittleBigPlanet consist of creative rearrangement of assets that Sony has already created (and retains the copyright for). Player's aren't creating all their own models, textures, animations, etc.

      In Word, MS doesn't own the letters in your language, so you're free to recombine them however you want, and that's not a derivative work. Levels you create in LBP are derivative of Sony's work in creating the base assets. They're more analogous to remixes or sampling, while the word doc is an original so

      • by vux984 (928602)

        In Word, MS doesn't own the letters in your language, so you're free to recombine them however you want, and that's not a derivative work.

        Ah, but in many cases, MS, Adobe, or another party DOES own the font glyphs used to represent those letters, and has merely licensed them to you.

        Levels you create in LBP are derivative of Sony's work in creating the base assets. They're more analogous to remixes or sampling, while the word doc is an original song.

        Unless you are actually using a public domain or 'open sou

  • Gradius copy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bryansj (89051) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @09:22AM (#25624783)
    This is a great example of what can be done with the level editor, but is anyone going to actually confuse it with the real thing? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg0ZBHdz7wM [youtube.com] This game has barely been released and we are getting stuff of pretty high quality. I can't wait to see what happens in the next few months.
  • Has everyone been paid for their creations? If not, is Sony violating minimum wage laws?

  • Seriously, suing LBP because people choose to create something replicating another game is asinine. Firstoff, if people want to play the *real* super mario brothers, they'll find a way to play the real thing (on NES, Wii, rom, whatever). If you need a fix that bad, you'll get the real thing. Secondly, LBP gives people a toolset to make things with. Just like a programming language. Or musical instruments. What people choose to do with them from that point on is up to them. Are you going to start suing art s
  • Man, I'm going to have to get another hard drive. This list is growing too fast!

  • Devil's Advocate (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Defending Sony? You're damn right I'm posting AC! Now as I understand it Sony is making two claims of relevance here:

    1. You may not sell your content without our permission.

    2. We may sell your content without paying you.

    Both of these provisions have pretty reasonable justifications in affording Sony legal protection in the event of two types of inevitable situations.

    1. You create something that violates copyright with their software, sell it on their network, and turn a profit. In doing so Sony is als

  • I tried to follow the instructions to cancel my PSN account (I will not accept that EULA), and it took two weeks just to get the email people to give me correct instructions -- which involve calling in.

  • Didn't anyone teach these people that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Its free publicity. "where did you get that nice design?" "oh its from _____, I like that show/movie/comic/etc so I made a tribute" I fail to see how this scenario or many others infringe on anyone's copyright.
  • So... Using Sony's hardware, software, I write a program. Sony Owns it. => I use Dell hardware, Microsoft software (Windows XP, Visual Studio), I write some code. Who do I give my money to? Dell or Microsoft because one of them MUST own it, if not both, using Sony's logic.......As usual, big business = ridiculous!

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