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

By - Source: Steam | B 31 comments

Some of the risks of leaving the cogs of the Steam Workshop entirely up to the community are cropping up...

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.

 

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  • 23 Hide
    tului , August 13, 2012 8:59 AM
    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 Hide
    radon_antila , August 13, 2012 9:25 AM
    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
  • 14 Hide
    flips , August 13, 2012 7:40 AM
    what a joke...
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    flips , August 13, 2012 7:40 AM
    what a joke...
  • 13 Hide
    Pennanen , August 13, 2012 7:59 AM
    I think banning steam account for sucha small violation is unnecessary
  • 12 Hide
    zander1983 , August 13, 2012 8:15 AM
    "There do what ever you want...except that..and that and that and that..."
  • 23 Hide
    tului , August 13, 2012 8:59 AM
    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.
  • 6 Hide
    tului , August 13, 2012 8:59 AM
    killerclickWas it so hard to just mention what DotA 2 is? I had to waste precious seconds of my life just to find out it's nothing that interests me.

    You're not the only one, I've seen the name popping up on youtube and I finally decided to look it up. DotA always made me think of DatY which is nothing like a video game!
  • 23 Hide
    radon_antila , August 13, 2012 9:25 AM
    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
  • 8 Hide
    Hunter_Killers , August 13, 2012 10:22 AM
    Most of the companies out there don't mind the use of their assets as long as its never for profit.
  • 13 Hide
    Murissokah , August 13, 2012 10:27 AM
    Hey guys, let's forget about this mace, shall we? I'll introduce you to this great new weapon called the Banhammer...
  • 1 Hide
    demonhorde665 , August 13, 2012 12:32 PM
    PennanenI think banning steam account for sucha small violation is unnecessary

    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.


    this is NOT a small deal. Valve could have seriously gotten their a-- sued off by the developer and the publisher of Aion over this. just on the mace design alone. now i'm not clear on the facts but it could be worse if the player had actualy lifted the exact model from the other game and converted it to DOTA2 for use. So no this was not a small deal, it's quite big actually, the fact that some amature modders think it's quite ok to sell some one else's design and make money on it is quite disturbing , this is exactly why i stopped creating huge online displays of my student work in 3ds max.
  • 0 Hide
    demonhorde665 , August 13, 2012 12:41 PM
    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.


    wanted to add
    you seriously think you have a right to an artist's mace design ? how in the hell can you see that as fair use ? it's no different than if you design a completely new car and some one else jacks your design. it took an artist to design said mace , that is unique from any other game's maces your citing this as "another clue we need to rework copyright law" only shows your total lack of respect for other peoples creativity and property. IT"S A UNIQUE DESIGN!!!! it's not like every other mace on every other rpg. Think before you speak , according to your logic if you invent schematics for some miraculous millionair making gadget , i'd have a right to come and make a million dollars off your gadget. cos according to your logic .. that's fair use.
  • 7 Hide
    Pennanen , August 13, 2012 12:45 PM
    demonhorde665wanted to add you seriously think you have a right to an artist's mace design ? how in the hell can you see that as fair use ? it's no different than if you design a completely new car and some one else jacks your design. it took an artist to design said mace , that is unique from any other game's maces your citing this as "another clue we need to rework copyright law" only shows your total lack of respect for other peoples creativity and property. IT"S A UNIQUE DESIGN!!!! it's not like every other mace on every other rpg. Think before you speak , according to your logic if you invent schematics for some miraculous millionair making gadget , i'd have a right to come and make a million dollars off your gadget. cos according to your logic .. that's fair use.


    I designed a rock, it looks like all rocks but its unique. Going to sue everyone about it. Learned from the best: Apple.
  • 6 Hide
    Camikazi , August 13, 2012 12:47 PM
    john_4This kind of BS why I get all my mods for Oblivion, Fallout and Skyrim from the Nexus and none from STEAM

    It's not BS, selling another artists design is a big deal and something that could have landed Valve in court. The modder didn't do this without knowing, it was the same design meaning he took it from the game or copied it exactly and tried selling it, so he was basically selling something he did not make without paying the original artist at all. I am sure you would sue if you created something and found out some random person was selling your product without giving you any money or asking permission.
  • 8 Hide
    A Bad Day , August 13, 2012 1:28 PM
    PennanenI think banning steam account for sucha small violation is unnecessary


    Lawsuit or one lost customer. Pick your poison.
  • 3 Hide
    xerroz , August 13, 2012 1:34 PM
    Items in the dota 2 workshop are either copyrighted (seen my share, some more obvious than this mace) or complete crap. That this happened doesn't surprise. The person who submitted was pretty blatant on the plagiarism. In his submission he acted like it was actually creation and went as far as to say he had "recolored" it.
  • 4 Hide
    cookoy , August 13, 2012 2:38 PM
    thanks radon_antila for the backgrounder on wtf i'm reading about
  • 3 Hide
    nullifier , August 13, 2012 3:45 PM
    I understand the legalities involved and why Steam did what they did, but I still think copyright laws are over the top and rarely serve to protect the monetary assets of the copyright holder - record breaking ticket sales at the movie theaters despite leaked versions prove this fact in at least one facet of the entertainment industry.

    MPAA would rather you think that movie stars live in grasshuts because of the amount of earnings they've lost due to piracy.
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , August 13, 2012 4:25 PM
    you cant stop people from modding in weapons. that will never happen.

    however, that is also protected under fair use for the most part, so long as you aren't selling it.

    valve is protected under current laws so long as they don't knowingly sell things like that.
  • 3 Hide
    jl0329 , August 13, 2012 4:28 PM
    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.


    I am pretty sure the sword Ashbringer or the Portal gun are copy righted. They are not talking about generic weapon model.
  • -3 Hide
    Pherule , August 13, 2012 4:29 PM
    killerclickWas it so hard to just mention what DotA 2 is? I had to waste precious seconds of my life just to find out it's nothing that interests me.


    tuluiYou're not the only one, I've seen the name popping up on youtube and I finally decided to look it up. DotA always made me think of DatY which is nothing like a video game!


    Maybe you guys need to stop living under a rock. DotA has been hugely popular since 2005.
    You not knowing what DotA is, is akin to someone not knowing what World of Warcraft is.
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