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LittleBigPlanet Creations Raising Copyright Questions

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the darth-sackboy-the-hedgehog dept.

Sony 66

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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lolcats (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25623071)

I'm in your ps3s, breakin copyright porn.

Sony (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Sony (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25623815)

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 (4, Interesting)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25624725)

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:Sony (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25624759)

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:Sony (2, Informative)

Frigga's Ring (1044024) | more than 5 years ago | (#25625941)

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:Sony (2, Informative)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25626185)

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:Sony (2, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25626573)

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 (3, Funny)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25627035)

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.)

Re:Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25633509)

That's the PSN terms of service. LittleBigPlanet has its own EULA that users agree to, which as far as I can tell, isn't online.

However, based on the LittleBigPlanet Workshop [littlebigworkshop.com] Terms of Service (which is the official website, I guess), it seems likely that you're right that neither Sony nor Media Molecule claim ownership of user content.

I'm not about to spend $60 on a game I can't play to find out, though, and I'm certainly not paying the $600 or whatever it is to get a PS3.

Re:Sony (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25639001)

The PSN terms of service are what TFA linked to and discussed; I'd actually be surprised if the game had its own TOS. That's atypical for consoles.

Re:Sony (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 5 years ago | (#25663463)

Well Little Big Planet is a pretty atypical game for a console...

Re:Sony (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#25626439)

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.

Re:Sony (1)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25624741)

"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 permission. A online "sandbox" like a MMORPG isn't a copyrightable entity regarding player characters, the people who create the sandbox don't have copyrights to the characters people create. That's like telling Hideaki Anno that if he creates a copyrighted character of his in an online sandbox that now the sandbox owners own the copyright to his character, which just plain idiotic.

So yeah, sony should be able to weather this off, unless they screw up somehow (like they are wont to do?)

Re:Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25624983)

and the world's creepiest avatars.

Oh thank god, I thought I was the only one who found this game totally creepy looking.

Re:Sony (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628953)

Good grief, I just looked it up. I had read about it, but not actually seen an image before. What an ugly game! Does SONY not understand Cute?

Re:Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25625289)

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.

Did you read the original article and the TOS it points to?

10. USER MATERIAL

You may have the opportunity to post, stream or transmit pictures, photographs, game-related materials, music, home video content or other information through PSN to share with the PSN community (âoeUser Materialâ). We may provide you with content to use in the creation of User Material. User Material created by you will belong to you, although any content provided by us will still belong to us and/or our licensors as explained in Section 7 above.

You authorise us, our affiliated companies and other PSN users, to use, distribute, copy, modify, display, and publish your User Material throughout PSN and other associated services. You also authorise us and our affiliated companies, without payment to you, to license, sell and otherwise commercially exploit your User Material (for example, selling subscriptions to access User Material and/or receiving advertising revenue related to User Material), and to use your User Material in the promotion of PlayStation products and services. You must not commercially exploit User Material without our consent. You waive any moral rights you may have in your User Material. By posting, streaming or transmitting User Material you represent and warrant that you have all rights necessary to use, post, stream and transmit such User Material and to grant the rights set out in this paragraph.

You agree to cooperate with us and our affiliates and subsidiaries in resolving any dispute that may arise from your User Material through PSN. We reserve the right to refuse to upload and/or to remove any User Material at our discretion.

Inconsistent / illogical ToS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25625519)

So in effect it says "It belongs to you, but you can do nothing with it and you are not allowed to profit from it, but we are."

Anyone see a problem of logic there? A judge is going to tear that ToS apart.

Re:Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25625329)

Here is an interesting point for you to consider - You create Contacts in your address book (either on your cell phone, or in Outlook, or whatever), who "owns" that contact data?

You may or may not be surprised to realise that Microsoft, Yahoo! and other companies feel they own that Data.

A user's creation is a different level of intellectual property to a contact card in your address book, but surely the same point equally applies? Ownership should really be retained by the user of the device. Pretty much any publisher that creates a program that is responsible for the storage of your creation will have a sense of ownership over that data.

Re:Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25625599)

WIN!

So true. I have been gaming for over 20 years now. Amazing how you can fabricate an issue that has not existed before.

Ever read your EULAs? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25626595)

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.

Re:Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25628699)

Lode Runner FTW!

Re:Sony (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630851)

Nice!

Was Loderunner the first sidescroller with a level editor? I can't seem to recall any before 1984 ?

Re:Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25634477)

one word, fanboy

Re:Sony (0, Flamebait)

Dr.Boje (1064726) | more than 5 years ago | (#25624467)

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.

Agreed a million times over. In addition, it really boggles my mind how so many have raved about this game's originality when there really isn't anything new about it. It just goes to show how massive amounts of hype can trick idiots into believing something is worth their time and/or money.

Oh, and I'd also like to point out how hilarious I think it is that Sony can't seem to get anything right. First, they release a crappy overpriced console while trying to copy at the last minute things that XBox and Wii were doing / had done. Now, they have this super-hyped game with a level editor, A LEVEL EDITOR FOR GOD'S SAKE, WHOOPTY-FUCKING-DOO, and they want to claim ownership of everything any of their consumers create. I can't think of any other company in history that's released a level editor with their game and tried to do that... and if you can name one, I'll bet it didn't end well for them.

Re:Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25624937)

It's very likely that you haven't actually played the game in question as your above statement is full of "I don't understand how driving an R8 could be fun; it's a car. So many people have made cars in the past. pfftt, stupid Audi" fail.

I'm also going to shamelessly ignore the rest of your post because you opened with a very ignorant statement.

Re:Sony (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25625793)

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 very tool that they and their RIAA/MPAA partners have used to harass youtube and other content provider sites (the DMCA, which they helped lobby for). They must now either start policing their game for IP violations or remove the user-created content feature altogether (effectively ruining the game).

Re:Sony (1)

Hellpop (451893) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630171)

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

DMCA (1, Interesting)

phyrz (669413) | more than 5 years ago | (#25623153)

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:DMCA (2, Informative)

phyrz (669413) | more than 5 years ago | (#25623163)

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

Re:DMCA (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25624037)

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.

Re:DMCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25624507)

It's funny when a corporation gets too big and too diversified all the siloed parts have different interests and in trying to please them all results in an evil company.

Re:DMCA (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25626399)

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 (3, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:sigh (2, Insightful)

Leonard Fedorov (1139357) | more than 5 years ago | (#25623327)

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:sigh (2, Interesting)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25624731)

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:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25624917)

Now get yourself appointed to the Supreme Court and we'll be getting somewhere.

Re:sigh (2, Interesting)

mattbee (17533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25623875)

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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25624327)

Youtube says that and they host lots of user-made content.

Re:sigh (3, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#25624893)

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.

Hear. ye, hear, ye. (0)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25623317)

"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"?

Players have been doing this for years (1)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 5 years ago | (#25623571)

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... (2, Insightful)

_Hellfire_ (170113) | more than 5 years ago | (#25623897)

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:Um... (2, Funny)

Freebirth Toad (1197193) | more than 5 years ago | (#25623999)

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.

Re:Um... (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 5 years ago | (#25624355)

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.

Re:Um... (2, Funny)

Forbman (794277) | more than 5 years ago | (#25629017)

topologically, a cow is more similar to a donut than a sphere.

Re:Um... (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632955)

oddly, i want to see the work on that. i'm not terribly well versed in topology, so please small words ^^.

Re:Um... (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25641885)

Great. Now I can never eat donut holes again, you insensitive clod!

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25626997)

Electronic Arts claimed exactly that when they released Deluxe Paint. It was later found to be total bullshit, of course.

What's witht the !SonySucks tag? Whoever tagged that must've been living on another planet for quite some time.

Re:Um... (1)

Carch (695851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628847)

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.

Re:Um... (1)

jparker (105202) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632047)

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 song.

Like a remix, the particular way that a player recombines the provided assets can demonstrate a high degree of creativity, and may well deserve to be thought of as an original creation. But saying there's no difference between LBP and Word vastly oversimplifies the issue.

Re:Um... (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634659)

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 source' font, you are simply arranging someone else's glyphs around on a canvas. Sounds a lot like LBP levels to me.

Gradius copy (2, Interesting)

bryansj (89051) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Gradius copy (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#25624953)

Did you not notice that this very video was embedded in TFA?

Re:Gradius copy (2, Funny)

bryansj (89051) | more than 5 years ago | (#25625207)

Am I actually supposed to read TFA before posting? You must be new here.

Rootkit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25625101)

What rootkit?

Minimum Wage Violation? (1)

BinBoy (164798) | more than 5 years ago | (#25625217)

Has everyone been paid for their creations? If not, is Sony violating minimum wage laws?

This makes no sense (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 5 years ago | (#25625731)

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 schools because they could potentially train art counterfitters? Or Gibson guitars because some teenager tries to cover a Metallica song with his garage band?

ANOTHER reason to avoid Sony! (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 5 years ago | (#25627117)

Man, I'm going to have to get another hard drive. This list is growing too fast!

Devil's Advocate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25627809)

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 also turning a profit from whatever cut they take of your income, exposing them to the legal consequences of your copyright violation. Their first provision allows them to prevent this without having to argue with you or waiting for a DMCA takedown. Furthermore it allows them to block you from distributing anything they find objectionable or subversive to the spirit of their community; which they have a right to do.

2. Suppose you create a wildly popular level and sell it. Then you quit the game, and sell your copy. Your content is still on the PSN store, still making money for Sony. The second assertion prevents you from coming back in 5 years after your abandoned mod has sold a million copies and trying to sue Sony for money due you, the creator. One could argue that they really do owe it to you, but from the standpoint of a large corporation trying to protect its shareholders from the million potential litigants it hopes to sell its software too; its not an unreasonable move.

On their face, neither of these stipulations indicates that Sony intends to prevent you specifically from selling anything, or intends to withhold your fair share of the market price. It just allows them to do so on a case by case basis if, for example, you're making a nuisance of yourself legally or otherwise.

Though it bears mentioning that thinking Sony is seriously considering allowing you to profit off your content in any real way, when they could just as easily pocket all the cash themselves, is pushing my powers of infernal advocacy to their breaking point.

Good luck cancelling (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25628885)

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.

Copyright Naysayers should be silent (1)

Veritas1980 (1008679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630045)

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.

Inherit my creations, inherit my liablity... (1)

Twisp (1122989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25630775)

Hrm... so if I create something in LittleBigPlanet which infringes on a third party, does that mean Sony is liable for that infringement?

Or are they only claiming responsibility for the positive things I do?

(I'm sure I already know the answer to this question, wherein if I create something infringing on a third party, Sony issues a DMCA takedown or something of that sort for whatever I created. None the less, it seems there must be some means of turning this restriction against them using their own terms...)

equate to visual studio and windows (1)

gearloos (816828) | more than 5 years ago | (#25634817)

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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