Valve Forced to Pull Player-Created DotA 2 Mace for Copyright

In any instance where user-generated content is encouraged, there'll always be a risk that whatever is submitted may be copyrighted material. YouTube is one of the most prominent examples of being a hub where plenty of plagiarized content is submitted simply because users are given free reign over their submissions.

Valve's recently run into this problem with the Steam Workshop, which is a place where the community can submit new content for games that support the Workshop, such as DotA 2 and Portal 2. The community then visits the Workshop, discovers the user-created content, and decides to give its approval (or disapproval.) Generally, this approval/disapproval process manages to flag down materials that violate the Workshop's plagiarism rule.

Unfortunately, the Steam Workshop's strength in the community process is also its flaw. The approval process broke down when a Steam user submitted a mace for DotA 2 from a fantasy MMO called Aion. Rather than flagging the mace down for copyright violation, users overwhelmingly approved it. The item was so popular that it slipped through Valve's filters and became available in the game as a cosmetic item.

Valve caught the problem too late. Plenty of users already had the mace as a part of DotA 2's Sithil Summer Stash. The user who submitted the mace was banned for violating the Workshop's rules and Valve was forced to replace the mace with a different weapon. The developer then put out a blog post pleading for users to abide by the Workshop's rules.

It's a testament of the Steam community that this is really the first issue with copyright on the Workshop since its launch a few months ago. Such is the risk of leaving the entire Workshop process to the community, and it's likely that future incidents will continue to crop up unless Valve changes a few policies.

 

Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback

Create a new thread in the US News comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
31 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • tului
    You can copyright a mace? In a game? Seriously? Adding the graphic for one mace to another game isn't considered fair use? Maybe if it is the ultra ueber mace that Aion uses in all it's commericals, and even then I'd think it should be fair use. A fscking mace.
    If this isn't another clue we need to rework copyright law, I don't know what is.
    23
  • radon_antila
    tuluiYou can copyright a mace? In a game? Seriously? Adding the graphic for one mace to another game isn't considered fair use? Maybe if it is the ultra ueber mace that Aion uses in all it's commericals, and even then I'd think it should be fair use. A fscking mace. If this isn't another clue we need to rework copyright law, I don't know what is.


    1) Distinctive art assets are considered intellectual property and thus, copyright.

    For example, the fireman's axe is NOT distinct, so any game developer can use the art of a fireman's axe in any game. But start with a fireman's axe then, for example, color it black, add a few more spikey bits and draw glowing runic symbols all over it and call it the "Sacred Axe of Malice" and it becomes distinctive enough to warrant copyright.

    In this case, that item happened to be Aion's "Marchutan's Blessed Mace".

    2) The article fails to mention that "Sithil's Summer Stash", the way to get this mace, was sold on Steam, and the banned modder would have been granted a cut of these sales. In short, Valve unwittingly sold the art asset another company owned because their community approved an art asset they shouldn't have.

    Btw, the above info was taken from the more detailed post on The Escapist.
    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/119006-Valve-Drops-the-Hammer-On-Infringing-Dota-2-Mace
    23
  • flips
    what a joke...
    14
  • Other Comments
  • flips
    what a joke...
    14
  • Pennanen
    I think banning steam account for sucha small violation is unnecessary
    13
  • zander1983
    "There do what ever you want...except that..and that and that and that..."
    12