Ownership of UGCish Creature Creations
Talk about harshing my buzz. Electronic Arts is going to let us design creatures with its long-awaited Spore game and stand-alone Creature Creator, but in using the game and creator, we agree to hand over all rights in our creations to the megalithic publisher, including the right to “further modify” the creations. So much for using Spore as a sketchpad for creature concepts.
In my legally-ignorant view, EA should have no IP rights in how I assemble the building blocks it supplies. That’s like LEGO claiming ownership over everything we build, or Adobe claiming ownership over images run through Photoshop. The way I see it, creature designers are creating new IP with a tool set they paid for–why should we give EA our work, except for the exclusive purpose of sharing with other creature creators in the way the game was designed?
It’s sad how expectant I am getting from these kinds of moves from big companies. And if anything – I apologize to everyone (including myself) for the scoff + shruggishness I am starting to exhibit.
It should never be a ‘no duh’ moment when you (the user) are made to feel empowerment because you built something, then were lead to believe you owned it (in whatever sense – people need to be clear more often), and only discover later on that because of the playground you were in… you have no real rights (you only own it when we say that you own it, you’re in our world now grandma. Step out of line and we crush-a you).
But alas, after weeks of reading TOS (terms of service) agreements from the various world experiences out there, I’ve become accustomed to such a thing (cue My Fair Lady and Rex Harrison singing “I’ve grown accustomed to… her… face…?”, Thanks Rexie poo).
My favorite of all is Disney’s TOS… at which point they do say (in a certain amount of legal jargon that rambles on to the point where you forgot what they were talking about to begin with…) that anything you ever did upon viewing/logging in/participating/breathing at their site/world/existence is their’s lock, stock, and barrel – from your name, to the way in which you may misspell the (teh), etc, etc, etc. I actually developed a goofy sense of humor about TOS agreements. Kinda that contrary-ish “look what they’re getting away with and no one knows, silly monkeys” chuckle.
Does that mean I have transcended into total geekness about this market? Oh, sigh, I hope so.
Anyway… this again is going to be another thumb tack on the giant target labeled “Who owns what virtually?” or “When is ‘you buy this’ not really ‘you purchase entirely’?” <- That argument of apples and grapples is coming soon (grapples = this new fangled fruit, a mix of grape + apple, but which does it get filed under?).
Adult VWs continue to mumble, complain, and take individuals to court for various “ownership” issues… but it hasn’t quite reached much of the tween/teen world as much. Spore, a tool that will rock for all ages, will be a unique adventure if people become disgruntled by EA’s manipulations to their creatures (should that ever happen).
Oh, UGC, this is where you get sticky, my dear. Safe guarding, appropriate content, ownership… such sticky wickets. Oh, how this year or two shall progress, and the knowledge we shall have from it all….
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