Valve Drops the Hammer On Infringing Dota 2 Mace

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Valve Drops the Hammer On Infringing Dota 2 Mace

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Valve has replaced nearly 25,000 "Timebreaker" maces in Dota 2 after discovering that it was a copy of "Marchutan's Blessed Mace" from Aion.

The Steam Workshop is a pretty sweet piece of kit, allowing gamers to create and share various sorts of game content like mods and models, and even make a few bucks in the process. But there are some inherent risks with such a system, too, foremost among them the possibility that people will submit copyrighted material and claim it as their own. To help combat such things, Valve requires all Workshop contributors to "promise that their contributions are original," and also allows members of the Steam community to report submissions that may violate its terms.

The system works well, according to Valve, and has resulted in more than 1400 takedowns so far, but things get a little more problematic when Steam Workshop items end up for sale on Steam or in a game, and are then discovered to be violating someone's copyright. It causes a lot of headaches for all involved and, as Valve explained in a recent announcement, also leads to the application of some serious smackdown.

"A user submitted a mace for Dota 2, and based on strong community ratings, the mace was made available in the game as 'Timebreaker' in Sithil's Summer Chest. 24,603 users spent money on keys to open the chest and ultimately receive the mace," it said. "Recently it came to our attention that this mace was in fact a copy of a mace from the game Aion. The copying has had negative consequences for everyone involved: users lost the mace and received an alternative weapon instead, the contributor has been banned and will lose out on any proceeds from the sale of the item, and it took a lot of time for us to investigate and remedy the situation."

I don't know how much money the guy made off the mace (and will thus lose) but the part that really stings is the ban from Steam, which means the loss of all the games in his library. I would never condone plagiarism, but that's an awfully harsh punishment and one that I don't think necessarily speaks well of Steam. Transgressions must be punished, but stripping someone of games he's rightfully paid for is a little too heavy-handed for my liking.

In any event, learn the lesson, kids, and learn it well: Don't steal other people's stuff and try to pass it off as your own!

Source: Steam

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Wait, Dota 2 isn't even officially out yet, at least not according to everything I'm hearing. How can 25,000 people have it if most people can't have it yet? I don't understand...

They should have just locked him out of any future contests and submissions.

Full on plagiarism and you think being locked out of steam is too heavy? If you were caught doing this at university you'd be banned from graduating. There are many cases in the real world where you get charged thousands of dollars for this sort of willful infringement. I think he got off lightly really.

Mr.Mattress:
Wait, Dota 2 isn't even officially out yet, at least not according to everything I'm hearing. How can 25,000 people have it if most people can't have it yet? I don't understand...

"Closed beta" in this case is code for "request to get in, wait a couple of months, and start playing."

OT: Yeah, the steam ban is a bit much for this. It's another example of why digital distribution really bothers me, because this can happen at any time. Even the DRM free services like GoG can take away your access to games you've paid for but don't currently have installed, because you're counting on their servers to store them for you until you want to play them again. It's just not good for consumers.

triorph:
Full on plagiarism and you think being locked out of steam is too heavy?

Considering the user just lost their entire gaming library, yes I think there's a case to be made for that position. I'm not sure I agree with it, but there's definitely some sound arguments to be made about it.

Andy Chalk:
I don't know how much money the guy made off the mace (and will thus lose) but the part that really stings is the ban from Steam, which means the loss of all the games in his library. I would never condone plagiarism, but that's an awfully harsh punishment and one that I don't think necessarily speaks well of Steam. Transgressions must be punished, but stripping someone of games he's rightfully paid for is a little too heavy-handed for my liking.

Um, how does it not speak well of Steam? It shows that Steam will ban you if you violate their Terms of Service and open them up to potential legal liability and/or lawsuits. That's an admirable trait, not one deserving of scorn.

It's also actually pretty common policy. I know of at least one or two companies that have open suggestions submissions for their games....and they will ban you from their forums entirely (and sometimes from the game as well if the incident is bad enough) if you present suggestions for game content that infringe on the copyrights of others, whether art or otherwise. The obvious reason being that it opens the company up to a lawsuit. Most companies that employ an individual who violates another company's copyright will be quick to fire that employee to free themselves from liability. It's not unusual at all.

So no, I don't think it's heavy-handed in the slightest. If you're stupid enough to steal someone else's work, pose it as your own, and then attempt to make money off of it using Steam's marketplace, you deserve the strictest of penalties. You're breaking Steam's Terms of Service, and you deserve to be punished for that. You can whine about how it's heavy-handed all you like, but I'll bet you he learned his lesson and won't do it again.

Steam looks bad because we see our worst nightmare come into fruition. The Steam Ban-hammer is almighty, let all fear its devastating swing

Owyn_Merrilin:
Even the DRM free services like GoG can take away your access to games you've paid for but don't currently have installed, because you're counting on their servers to store them for you until you want to play them again. It's just not good for consumers.

...unless you have a little sense and save a copy of the installer somewhere as a precaution. There's no authentication or anything because they really do have no DRM (same with some other stuff, like the Humble Bundles), so just throw the installer on your backup drive or a DVD and you're good to go pretty much indefinitely. I do trust and hope they will keep the things I've purchased available for me, but just in case I have my own copy of them too.

I think a Steam Ban is reasonable if the person was actually making money off of a copyrighted weapon from a game in Beta. It'd be like if I was stealing games from a videogame store before it's grand opening, and re-selling them to another store like EBgames for a marked down value.
Now I KNOW someone is gonna complain about my comparison, but the basic idea is that stealing someone else's content and re-selling or publishing it is wrong. Especially if you're making a profit off of the content.

If I did what I said in my example, EBgames would ban me for life and I'd be sued for theft. So this guy getting banned from Steam is a SMALL punishment and is quite lucky when you consider that he could've been Sued by Steam and the makers of DOTA 2 for copyright infringement and making a profit off of the stolen content.

CriticKitten:

Andy Chalk:
I don't know how much money the guy made off the mace (and will thus lose) but the part that really stings is the ban from Steam, which means the loss of all the games in his library. I would never condone plagiarism, but that's an awfully harsh punishment and one that I don't think necessarily speaks well of Steam. Transgressions must be punished, but stripping someone of games he's rightfully paid for is a little too heavy-handed for my liking.

Um, how does it not speak well of Steam? It shows that Steam will ban you if you violate their Terms of Service and open them up to potential legal liability and/or lawsuits. That's an admirable trait, not one deserving of scorn.

It's also actually pretty common policy. I know of at least one or two companies that have open suggestions submissions for their games....and they will ban you from their forums entirely (and sometimes from the game as well if the incident is bad enough) if you present suggestions for game content that infringe on the copyrights of others, whether art or otherwise. The obvious reason being that it opens the company up to a lawsuit. Most companies that employ an individual who violates another company's copyright will be quick to fire that employee to free themselves from liability. It's not unusual at all.

So no, I don't think it's heavy-handed in the slightest. If you're stupid enough to steal someone else's work, pose it as your own, and then attempt to make money off of it using Steam's marketplace, you deserve the strictest of penalties. You're breaking Steam's Terms of Service, and you deserve to be punished for that. You can whine about how it's heavy-handed all you like, but I'll bet you he learned his lesson and won't do it again.

An eye for an eye makes the world blind. You infringe on someone's intellectual property, your property gets stolen. Makes perfect sense. And that's what "banning" someone from a single player game does. Software is a product, not a service. EULAs are nothing but shiny baubles for overpaid lawyers to dangle in front of aging judges.

Nalgas D. Lemur:

Owyn_Merrilin:
Even the DRM free services like GoG can take away your access to games you've paid for but don't currently have installed, because you're counting on their servers to store them for you until you want to play them again. It's just not good for consumers.

...unless you have a little sense and save a copy of the installer somewhere as a precaution. There's no authentication or anything because they really do have no DRM (same with some other stuff, like the Humble Bundles), so just throw the installer on your backup drive or a DVD and you're good to go pretty much indefinitely. I do trust and hope they will keep the things I've purchased available for me, but just in case I have my own copy of them too.

This is true, but it defeats the purpose of cloud storage -- large game libraries take up a /lot/ of memory. I think it's a good idea to keep backups, but I also think that most people aren't going to bother, either due to lack of storage, or pure laziness. And then somewhere down the road, a lot of them are going to get bitten in the butt for trusting a company to do the right thing.

Wonderful, glad to know me not supporting steam anymore is valid. He does something as small as this and gets banned for it and loses access to all the games he paid for.

EDIT: 14 quotes lulz. More pl0x

This is my favorite part of the whole steam idea.

While it may be scary to some that Valve holds the right over everything you bought, but you know what? If your overlord is just and benevolent we can have a system where we dont need to make everything go through the courts to get fixed satisfactory.

Hold on, not only does DOTA2 have crates, they're already selling keys for them. And the game isn't even out yet. Damn it Valve just cut the nonsense and just ask for money.

I don't think a steam ban means a ban from your games, just the multiplayer portion of ones that use steam match making.

Stormz:
Wonderful, glad to know me not supporting steam anymore is valid. He does something as small as this and gets banned for it and loses access to all the games he paid for.

Small? He stole another person/company's Intellectual Property and passed it off as his own for SALE in a different game product. That's not small, that's HUGE! He deserved his ban.

Owyn_Merrilin:

CriticKitten:

Andy Chalk:
I don't know how much money the guy made off the mace (and will thus lose) but the part that really stings is the ban from Steam, which means the loss of all the games in his library. I would never condone plagiarism, but that's an awfully harsh punishment and one that I don't think necessarily speaks well of Steam. Transgressions must be punished, but stripping someone of games he's rightfully paid for is a little too heavy-handed for my liking.

Um, how does it not speak well of Steam? It shows that Steam will ban you if you violate their Terms of Service and open them up to potential legal liability and/or lawsuits. That's an admirable trait, not one deserving of scorn.

It's also actually pretty common policy. I know of at least one or two companies that have open suggestions submissions for their games....and they will ban you from their forums entirely (and sometimes from the game as well if the incident is bad enough) if you present suggestions for game content that infringe on the copyrights of others, whether art or otherwise. The obvious reason being that it opens the company up to a lawsuit. Most companies that employ an individual who violates another company's copyright will be quick to fire that employee to free themselves from liability. It's not unusual at all.

So no, I don't think it's heavy-handed in the slightest. If you're stupid enough to steal someone else's work, pose it as your own, and then attempt to make money off of it using Steam's marketplace, you deserve the strictest of penalties. You're breaking Steam's Terms of Service, and you deserve to be punished for that. You can whine about how it's heavy-handed all you like, but I'll bet you he learned his lesson and won't do it again.

An eye for an eye makes the world blind. You infringe on someone's intellectual property, your property gets stolen. Makes perfect sense. And that's what "banning" someone from a single player game does. Software is a product, not a service. EULAs are nothing but shiny baubles for overpaid lawyers to dangle in front of aging judges.

An eye for an eye may make the world go blind, but standing around letting guys stab you in the eye unpunished is a much stupider option. What else could valve have done? Sure they could have just taken the money back, but that doesn't punish anything, it just sets the things back to how he started. He deserves some actual punishment for doing this. Think about all the people who bought that axe because they thought it looked cool, now they're left with some random replacement, that's hardly fair.

As an aside, could news reporters on the escapist please keep their opinions out of news articles? I'm not saying you can't have them, just maybe leave them as a comment or something? I rather think news reporting should be done as bias free as possible, and shouldn't tell us what to think.

I'm seeing a lot of people who seem to think banning from steam is too extreme. I disagree.

I work at a small privately owned copy place (like a local kinkos)and i have to deal with people who have come to me to reproduce copy written material, or set up a document using obviously plagiarized text. If i were to do these things, first i would be fired, then every one else working at this copy shop would be let go when the government slapped the business with a massive fine, let alone being sued by the original owner of the content. Even something as small as a single image from an out of print calendar could be as much as 50,000 dollars in fines. After explaining these things to the would be customer, i usually get some passive agressive remark like "well maybe if i took my money to kinko's", but some times the person just gets belligerent.

I can only imagine the man hours that had to go into removing all the hammers, handling all the irate customer service calls, contacting the Aion lawyers...ect. The person who created and submitted that hammer directly broke the contract that he had with valve, and they have the right to deny him service. The steam user agreement expressly states that steam is a service, not a property, and that the games on your profile are leased, not owned. If anything this guy, who obviously knew where the mace was from, should be legally forced to pay the salaries of the valve team that cleaned up his mess with out the fines and lawsuits normally associated with this level of offense.

Deathfish15:

Stormz:
Wonderful, glad to know me not supporting steam anymore is valid. He does something as small as this and gets banned for it and loses access to all the games he paid for.

Small? He stole another person/company's Intellectual Property and passed it off as his own for SALE in a different game product. That's not small, that's HUGE! He deserved his ban.

Yeah and he spent who knows how much off games on Steam. Ban him from ever playing the game again and prevent him from making money off the item , but losing 1000s of dollars worth of games is not fair. I'm never replacing my discs if getting banned is this easy.

This was plain theft and i think punishment was fair. If you don't respect intellectual property, you don't deserve it.

As others have said, Plagiarism in real life contains MUCH harsher penalties.

Good grief people, this man abused the trust of Valve and 24,000+ other people.

Bobic:

Owyn_Merrilin:

CriticKitten:
Um, how does it not speak well of Steam? It shows that Steam will ban you if you violate their Terms of Service and open them up to potential legal liability and/or lawsuits. That's an admirable trait, not one deserving of scorn.

It's also actually pretty common policy. I know of at least one or two companies that have open suggestions submissions for their games....and they will ban you from their forums entirely (and sometimes from the game as well if the incident is bad enough) if you present suggestions for game content that infringe on the copyrights of others, whether art or otherwise. The obvious reason being that it opens the company up to a lawsuit. Most companies that employ an individual who violates another company's copyright will be quick to fire that employee to free themselves from liability. It's not unusual at all.

So no, I don't think it's heavy-handed in the slightest. If you're stupid enough to steal someone else's work, pose it as your own, and then attempt to make money off of it using Steam's marketplace, you deserve the strictest of penalties. You're breaking Steam's Terms of Service, and you deserve to be punished for that. You can whine about how it's heavy-handed all you like, but I'll bet you he learned his lesson and won't do it again.

An eye for an eye makes the world blind. You infringe on someone's intellectual property, your property gets stolen. Makes perfect sense. And that's what "banning" someone from a single player game does. Software is a product, not a service. EULAs are nothing but shiny baubles for overpaid lawyers to dangle in front of aging judges.

An eye for an eye may make the world go blind, but standing around letting guys stab you in the eye unpunished is a much stupider option. What else could valve have done? Sure they could have just taken the money back, but that doesn't punish anything, it just sets the things back to how he started. He deserves some actual punishment for doing this. Think about all the people who bought that axe because they thought it looked cool, now they're left with some random replacement, that's hardly fair.

As an aside, could news reporters on the escapist please keep their opinions out of news articles? I'm not saying you can't have them, just maybe leave them as a comment or something? I rather think news reporting should be done as bias free as possible, and shouldn't tell us what to think.

I don't think you're getting it. They could prevent him from ever buying new games from their store, and that would be fine. But taking away the games he had already bought and paid for? If we weren't dealing in digital land, where consumer law essentially does not exist, Valve would be the ones in hot water, not him. And they would deserve it, too.

Call me old-fashioned, but I equate this with, say, EA sending a guy over to your house to take away all the games you legally paid for because it caught you making copies of one you didn't. I don't think any of us would stand for that, so why is it okay for Valve to take away legitimately-purchased Steam titles for an unrelated matter?

Andy Chalk:
Call me old-fashioned, but I equate this with, say, EA sending a guy over to your house to take away all the games you legally paid for because it caught you making copies of one you didn't. I don't think any of us would stand for that, so why is it okay for Valve to take away legitimately-purchased Steam titles for an unrelated matter?

If I was caught making money off a stolen idea from a large company, I'd be much happier loosing my games then possibly getting sued for thousands.

Broke terms of service, (possibly) knowingly committed copyright infringement, had it coming.

Now next week we will hear of this banned person coming out and saying that they have never heard of Aion and that they made the mace skin on thier own.

Fr]anc[is:
Hold on, not only does DOTA2 have crates, they're already selling keys for them. And the game isn't even out yet. Damn it Valve just cut the nonsense and just ask for money.

There needs to be nonsense for the right to ask money, thats how the games market has worked for a long time now.

Owyn_Merrilin:
An eye for an eye makes the world blind. You infringe on someone's intellectual property, your property gets stolen. Makes perfect sense. And that's what "banning" someone from a single player game does. Software is a product, not a service. EULAs are nothing but shiny baubles for overpaid lawyers to dangle in front of aging judges.

Andy Chalk:
Call me old-fashioned, but I equate this with, say, EA sending a guy over to your house to take away all the games you legally paid for because it caught you making copies of one you didn't. I don't think any of us would stand for that, so why is it okay for Valve to take away legitimately-purchased Steam titles for an unrelated matter?

He stole someone else's work and used it to make thousands of dollars of profit for himself. Losing access to his inventory of Steam games is a small price to pay compared to the charges that could easily have been filed against him for what amounts to an actual criminal act. He could easily have faced jailtime and a lawsuit directly from Aion's lawyers that would have drained him of many thousands of dollars. >_>

Steam is a service, not a product. Steam is a marketplace that allows you to BUY products, but Steam itself is most definitely a service (like any physical store). In addition to giving you a virtual marketplace, they're offering you free social networking with other gamers and making it very easy for you to locate like-minded groups of players and play with them, often running multi-player connections through their services. And they're storing the game data you use to play the game as well as your save data via Cloud networking on their servers.

Ergo, they are actually offering you many services, and all of them are entirely free. You're paying for the ability to play a game on their servers, and you're getting these other things as extras. They have every right to say that you no longer deserve access to those services (including access to their game servers) if you don't play by their rules. Don't like it? Don't use Steam. The rest of us are perfectly happy with getting games at far cheaper price tags in exchange for following a few very simple instructions like "don't steal other people's stuff".

Besides, if you want to keep claiming that software is a "product", then it should follow the same rules as any other product....including laws regarding theft. You can't have it both ways. So either it's a product (and therefore he should be punished as if he stole a product, including jailtime and the fees incurred from the legal proceedings) or it's a service (in which case it's well within Steam's right to decide the proper punishment for a violation of its Terms of Service and Use). They're in the right in both cases.

Andy Chalk:
Call me old-fashioned, but I equate this with, say, EA sending a guy over to your house to take away all the games you legally paid for because it caught you making copies of one you didn't. I don't think any of us would stand for that, so why is it okay for Valve to take away legitimately-purchased Steam titles for an unrelated matter?

Since you brought it up im pretty sure the UELA states that a breach of the UELA by the user will result in a ban where you will lose all your Steam purchases.

If you ask me thats a pretty big incentive to not break the UELA. Especially if youve been a long term Steam customer.

Stormz:
Wonderful, glad to know me not supporting steam anymore is valid. He does something as small as this and gets banned for it and loses access to all the games he paid for.

Um...as small as this? The steam workshop is basically a place where steam customers are allowed to enter into a business partnership with Valve. It allows people to become part time developers and be published by Valve. This is not a small infringement, a key in DOTA 2 costs US$2.50. This mace is a matter of US$61,507.50, that's hardly small and as the developer behind the item he is entitled to a portion of the proceeds. This isn't a skin in minecraft, this is real business with real money behind it and that person straight up copied and pasted something that's not theirs to control. Firstly this person violated the terms of an agreement with Valve by using something that was not their property, secondly this person used somebody else's intellectual property for the purpose of earning money and dragged Valve into infringing on that property. How is this exactly a small matter?

Andy Chalk:
Call me old-fashioned, but I equate this with, say, EA sending a guy over to your house to take away all the games you legally paid for because it caught you making copies of one you didn't. I don't think any of us would stand for that, so why is it okay for Valve to take away legitimately-purchased Steam titles for an unrelated matter?

Steam is a service, not a retail product. Man violated the service rules he accepted beforehand and is banned from the service accordingly, losing the related licences in the process. He knew the danger and suffered the consequences.

Wish i knew how to fit an "unforeseen consequences" joke there

First off--If he's banned from Steam, he can still start it in "offline mode" and have access to his games. He can't redownload them, but he still HAS them. Hell, you can run the .exes directly from your Program Files if you know where to look. I know, because I bought Fallout 3 and NV from Steam, use the Fallout Mod Manager launcher to launch them, and they still launch fine, Steam or no Steam.

Valve didn't "take away" his games. They took away his ability to redownload them. That's completely different, and it's something most DRM does just for trying to install it more than three times. If DRM like THAT is legal, what Valve did is totally legit.

I'm not sure that banning him from Steam was the right call, but he's definitely getting off easy. If we see him in jail and STILL banned from Steam, then I'll start calling it harsh. I'm not a fan of the current intellectual property laws, but there's a big difference between lawyers screwing you over and directly stealing content from another game.

CriticKitten:

Besides, if you want to keep claiming that software is a "product", then it should follow the same rules as any other product....including laws regarding theft. You can't have it both ways. So either it's a product (and therefore he should be punished as if he stole a product, including jailtime and the fees incurred from the legal proceedings) or it's a service (in which case it's well within Steam's right to decide the proper punishment for a violation of its Terms of Service and Use). They're in the right in both cases.

I actually think that he should be both allowed to keep the games and charged with fraud.

Was this a VAC ban ? If so he hasn't lost access to his games, just the multiplayer aspect of games that use VAC.

I have no sympathy for him though, he blatantly ripped off another game and made money off it not only breaking the steam workshop TOS but the law as well.

Andy Chalk:
I would never condone plagiarism, but that's an awfully harsh punishment and one that I don't think necessarily speaks well of Steam. Transgressions must be punished, but stripping someone of games he's rightfully paid for is a little too heavy-handed for my liking.

The guy stole assets from another game and used it to make money. Thus, he should suffer a monetary penalty: the loss of his Steam games is a tidy way to do it without dragging in an army of lawyers and trying to sue him for money he likely doesn't have.

If someone like, say, a writer were to plagiarize work in real life, the penalty for that would be getting blacklisted by publishing houses for the rest of your life. Even the accusation of plagiarism can be enough to ruin many people's careers in the creative arena. And that's BEFORE the lawyers get involved.

By comparison, the loss of this dude's Steam games is a slap on the wrist.

Stormz:
Wonderful, glad to know me not supporting steam anymore is valid. He does something as small as this and gets banned for it and loses access to all the games he paid for.

The guy profits off other people's hard work, and makes Valve look like a fool for letting this stumble into the hands of 25,000 paying customers. He's been wasting Valve's time, and risked their reputation. Had Valve not taken any action, this could have gotten a lot more ugly once AION's lawyers get involved.

He's lucky he "only" got a ban.

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