Little Big Mess

Little Big Mess

Is it possible to open the floodgates of user-created content and not drown in a sea of conflict, chaos, and crap?

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With regard intellectual property ownership of user-created content...

http://sarcasticgamer.com/wp/index.php/2008/10/new-psn-tos-gives-sony-ownership-of-your-home.html

"To the extent permitted by law, You authorize and license SCEA a royalty free and perpetual right to use, distribute, copy, modify, display, and publish your User Material for any reason without any restrictions or payments to you or any third parties"

And...

"You further agree that SCEA may sublicense its rights to any third party, including its affiliates and subsidiaries. You hereby waive all claims, including any moral rights, against SCEA, its affiliates and subsidiaries for SCEA or any other third party's use of User Material to the extent permitted by applicable law."

To be fair, a "we own and can use for whatever we want" clause on user submitted content is pretty standard CYA language on such things, not really exclusive to Sony.

It's crazy that Sony didn't foresee this issue. They foresaw obscene levels, and put things in place to handle that. But anyone putting a bit of thought into it would realise what problems would occur, and put in the necessary features, to whit: 'removed' content remains visible to the author; removal includes notification to the creator as to the reason, creator can modify the content to fix the problem and resubmit. Owners of copyright materials use have the option to allow content to be used.

YouTube has this stuff worked out pretty well.

@cuddly_tomato: I think that's all fair enough. You create something for Sony's walled garden, you allow Sony to use it. Note you are not losing your own right to adapt it and use it elsewhere.

I'm sympathetic to this game because, like Sands, I recognize how cool and necessary something like this is for video games. We all owe a debt to the mod community, there would be no Half-Life multiplayer if it weren't for Counterstrike.

But honestly, no one has a clue what is legally acceptable with mods. It has never been tested in a court. The one time it came up was in a lawsuit over Duke Nukem map packs and the courts ruled that nobody owned them despite the fact that they were just rehashes of the original game's levels. Then you have to factor in the Game Genie exception that allows people to modify a game so long as the user must still purchase the original game to not impair value. Mods are, at this point, mostly seen as a way to make more cash off your product.

The nightmare, from Sony's perspective, is if they get accused of making a profit off a mod that uses someone else's IP. That's where the fair use line gets drawn in the sand and it's very easy to go one way or the other. I can't sell Escapist T-shirts out of my car at the flea market, but I can quote their articles and reference their logos. The legal issue is...which is the mod doing? Selling shirts or just quoting someone else?

Microsoft seems to have taken the more reliable route legally at this stage with their Popfly engine. Hand out the tools and let the authors cut a profit. If they infringe, wipe your hands clean of them.

Absolutely agree with both above posters (ukslim and Kross). The problem is with more and more online gaming going on the companies regulating this kind of thing are going to come under fire one way or the other. If some boobies get past them and wind up on someones PS3 who didn't ask for it they will have complaints, and likely the usual anti-gaming section of the media will dive on it too.

On the other hand, when we buy a game we want to be able to use it and share content, adult content with other people - if that's what the game entails. So basically what I am saying is that the whole debate about adult content in games, the kind of thing Jack Thompson has been going on about for years, will now spill over into user created content and online gaming as more of this kind of stuff comes out.

Sony have impaled themself on the horns of a dilemma here. Either take the flak of people saying their moderation is heavy handed or take the flak of people saying they don't care that our youth are being corrupted by visions of walking penises.

cuddly_tomato:
With regard intellectual property ownership of user-created content...

http://sarcasticgamer.com/wp/index.php/2008/10/new-psn-tos-gives-sony-ownership-of-your-home.html

"To the extent permitted by law, You authorize and license SCEA a royalty free and perpetual right to use, distribute, copy, modify, display, and publish your User Material for any reason without any restrictions or payments to you or any third parties"

I think this is it. You can't have your cake and eat it - have customers make content for fun and then lay claim it. It's very cynical, and 5 gets you 10 this is what lies at the core of the decision Sony has made. Since it ultimately owns all the created content, it can't claim that users are submitting content under "fair usage" because Sony has legally subcontracted level creation to its users while retaining rights to commercially exploit those levels.

It's a special kind of irony when your greed blows up in your face. Customers will complain when content isn't free, and the friction you see stems from precisely the distinction of who owns the content. Failure to be open (by Sony) has translated into a customer relations failure.

Before we keep talking about this take a look at how many levels are actually being censored. Here are some statistics from SCEA about the number of levels being removed.

"Despite the attention received to deletion practices only two weeks after LittleBigPlanet's worldwide release, the company notes that less than 0.5 percent of uploaded levels have required "moderation" due to complains from other users.

SCEE also took the opportunity to announce that players have uploaded some 84,000 levels and completed over 27 million level playthroughs."

That is 1/2% people. 420 levels out of 84,000. Is this really an issue? Also note that the levels that required "moderation" were due to complaints from other users. Not LBPs creators or Sony randomly hunting down offenders. Although I am sure they have a staff member or two at Media Molecule or Sony tasked with reviewing levels randomly so they won't get sued. Still it sounds like they rely on users to find levels that need to be "moderated".

cuddly_tomato:
With regard intellectual property ownership of user-created content...

http://sarcasticgamer.com/wp/index.php/2008/10/new-psn-tos-gives-sony-ownership-of-your-home.html

"To the extent permitted by law, You authorize and license SCEA a royalty free and perpetual right to use, distribute, copy, modify, display, and publish your User Material for any reason without any restrictions or payments to you or any third parties"

And...

"You further agree that SCEA may sublicense its rights to any third party, including its affiliates and subsidiaries. You hereby waive all claims, including any moral rights, against SCEA, its affiliates and subsidiaries for SCEA or any other third party's use of User Material to the extent permitted by applicable law."

Grrr, EULA's annoy me greatly! You can't read them before you open the box, and if you open the box, the stores will never take it back, so effectively they are saying give us £30 and if you agree to sell us all your rights, we'll let you play.

Online purchases are alright because you can normally read the EULA before you buy it.

cuddly_tomato:

Sony have impaled themself on the horns of a dilemma here. Either take the flak of people saying their moderation is heavy handed or take the flak of people saying they don't care that our youth are being corrupted by visions of walking penises.

The game says Online Usage may vary on the rating. The message itself is clearly given - the game is fine for kids of all ages (except maybe Stephen Fry's humour at times..."whenever you make something innapropriate with LittleBigPlanet, a Sackboy dies". The look on its face was priceless), its just that, like everything else on the internet, there is a lot of potential for NSFK online. That said, I think a level called Valley of the LittleBigPenises gives you fair warning, the kinds of people who make these levels don't tend to be subtle. Plus, if Spore didn't cop the same flak, I think Sony might be in the clear.

Come to think of it, was there ever an issue on Spore when people started making Mickey Mouse as their creature?

Indigo_Dingo:

Come to think of it, was there ever an issue on Spore when people started making Mickey Mouse as their creature?

There probably was, but people pretty much expect EA to be like that. And its abit harder to copy stuff in Spore, although I've seem some stuff that looks like copies.

I think, really, your right - "copyright"ed material shouldn't be pulled unless the copyright holder themselves complains.

Doug:

Indigo_Dingo:

Come to think of it, was there ever an issue on Spore when people started making Mickey Mouse as their creature?

There probably was, but people pretty much expect EA to be like that. And its abit harder to copy stuff in Spore, although I've seem some stuff that looks like copies.

I think, really, your right - "copyright"ed material shouldn't be pulled unless the copyright holder themselves complains.

Its a lot easier to stop the lawsuits when you have shown that you want to clear up the issue as much as the outraged copyright holder (here I'm thinking more of Disney, but insert Microsoft and you'll get the exact same results. And you just know Microsoft would be itching for an excuse to cripple a great game that happens to be possible only on their competitors system). The concept itself is a legal grey-area. After the first case, the precedent will be set, but in that first case its anyones guess as to what could happen.

True! But so long as they are clear they are happy to clear things up, and so long as they are clear that its 'Fair Use' of the material, Sony should be fine.

Doug:
True! But so long as they are clear they are happy to clear things up, and so long as they are clear that its 'Fair Use' of the material, Sony should be fine.

The problem is that the term Fair Use and its application to a User Generated Content game is virtually untouched - thus, any and all interpretations can be contested, and the actions taken from said interpretations deemed illegal and a breach of copyright. This isn't likely to happen again, because the precedent is being set up now. But Sony are the company that have to weather the precedent, and it could turn out extremely badly for them.

DarthKaos666:
Before we keep talking about this take a look at how many levels are actually being censored. Here are some statistics from SCEA about the number of levels being removed.

"Despite the attention received to deletion practices only two weeks after LittleBigPlanet's worldwide release, the company notes that less than 0.5 percent of uploaded levels have required "moderation" due to complains from other users.

SCEE also took the opportunity to announce that players have uploaded some 84,000 levels and completed over 27 million level playthroughs."

That is 1/2% people. 420 levels out of 84,000. Is this really an issue? Also note that the levels that required "moderation" were due to complaints from other users. Not LBPs creators or Sony randomly hunting down offenders. Although I am sure they have a staff member or two at Media Molecule or Sony tasked with reviewing levels randomly so they won't get sued. Still it sounds like they rely on users to find levels that need to be "moderated".

This, I mean so far I havn't really seen any "copyrighted" levels get deleted, especially the really popular ones with onver 100,000 play-throughs.

I think this whole "moderation" business might be a little overreacted with, just like everything Sony does actually (and vice versa for Sony, what with the Qua'arn an' all). People complained about the EULA crap when you sign that type of shit all the time, it's just worded more harshly.

Until my Shadow Moses Island level is deleted, however, I'll remain skeptical over what everyone's complaining about.

I don't think they have reached a decision with what the criteria for deleting levels should be. If they come to a particularly harsh verdict with very strict limitations I think we are going to see a TON of levels deleted all at once.

This isn't really news to me, at least not shocking news. With the popularity of DRM-type garbage and EA's war on secondhand game selling/buying, this is a very good time (it seems) for companies to continue to limit the ways gamers are "allowed" to enjoy their products. I realize they're trying to avoid lawsuits and such, but I kind of thought the whole POINT of LBP was that you could build your own levels and stuff. If you're not allowed to make levels from other games/IPs, where's the fun?

But really, this is Sony. Sony hates gamers.

http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=sony_bullshit

Let's see... They charged over half a grand for a game system, they didn't make nearly enough PS2's at launch to meet the demand, they tried to get gamers to buy a movie twice just so they could watch it on their PSP screens... Not to mention they're arrogant and get away with way too much.

They're not difficult rules to grasp. Though I believe in fair use it is an unclear area. Quite simply the rules are as follows:

Do not put any explicit material in your level

Do not copy anyone else's IP in your levels.

To be truly creative you don't need to copy other people's work.

I wonder if this moderation would be applied to Braid if it made it on to PSN.

well i played a huge amount of levals online as far as i can say is that people create stuff in LBP because theres a great community (hard to desribe) you see LBP has this strange unique feel that makes you want to forget about all that freedom of you making expicit levals and just make things that are fun (told you it's hard to descibe)

i should know i've played created and shared in a LBP on a huge scale

and to prove it how many of you LBP owners who have made and played user levels and see my point?

 

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