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Are Warcraft 3 maps even Legal? Can they be monetized?

Discussion in 'Warcraft Town Hall' started by Iliya, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. Iliya

    Iliya

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    Hello Guys

    I had a question about legality of Mods in Warcraft 3? First of all would it be illegal for me to for example put a copy righted music into my mod? I have seen some maps do it and get away with it.

    Secondly is it okay for me to attempt to monetize a map i made? For example let's say for a map I made I can make it that if you donate on Pateron or steam or something. I will add a code to the game which checks your name and allows you to have a skin when you are playing my mod? Would that be legal and will Blizzard be fine with it?

    Also a final question, Do I get any copyright protection for the mods I make? Let's say for example could Blizzard technically just Takeover Icefrog's Dota and say mine now haha and Then Montezie the game mod and update it themselves? Since technically Warcraft 3 belongs to them so any maps made also belongs to them?


    Let me know what you think? I'm just interested to know.

    thanks
     
  2. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    Definitely not. Donations are a totally different thing.
    Read the EULA you accepted when installing the game... and most of your questions will be answered.
    Using copyrighted material in your maps is OK unless you don't sell your stuff with it and until the rightful owner of those resources asks you to take them down or sues you :)
    No. The only thing to do is to protect your maps which can anyway be unprotected. Blizzard takes all rights you'd own because you're using their product. Life's fair.
    They could potentially take your ideas and consider them their own unless you have a really good lawyer but honestly, Blizzard is such a huge company that it has its own think tanks so don't worry about you having too many better ideas they haven't thought about yet.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
  3. Iliya

    Iliya

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    oh I see. Thanks for the response. :)
     
  4. Trill

    Trill

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    Note that dude who made Dota managed retain rights to the title, but that wasn't easy, and he had financial/legal might of Valve behind him.
    Then again, your map must reach Dota's level of popularity for Blizzard to notice you, and at that point some big company might want to back you anyway.

    Although lately Blizzard has been nice to modders for some reason - see the guys who made that pirated Vanilla WoW server and were invited to work on Classic, and the guys working on Starcraft Universe.
     
  5. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    Any links on those? And the latter weren't breaking any rule "except" asking for donations so they'd continue the work.
     
  6. Trill

    Trill

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    Blizzard's Response on Nostalrius and Legacy Servers
    "One other note - we’ve recently been in contact with some of the folks who operated Nostalrius. They obviously care deeply about the game, and we look forward to more conversations with them in the coming weeks."
    Later it was either confirmed or heavily implied that those guys have a hand in WoW Classic development.

    As for the latter I think Blizzard offered them some support, no? I know they forced them to take the trailer down and then apologized to the community saying their only problem was with the trailer because blah-blah-blah muh copyright yadda-yadda, but they actually like the idea and support it. I'm not sure, I don't really care about Starcraft. Don't have a link for that.
     
  7. nedio95

    nedio95

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    As I am aware, the guys behind DotA Allstars (The latest, best, most beloved & played and still up-to-date DotA version) split halfway, half went out and made LoL and the other half was employed by Valve to work on DotA 2.
    The guys themselves never owned anything on DotA and nobody ever did.
    Valve has DotA 2.
    Blizzard initially planned to name HoTS as "Blizzard DotA" and Valve sued but that was settled out of court... and name changed for many reasons.

    Also, the "that dude who made dota" is lost in time (kinda) and almost never actually existed... It has been usually a team and the team who is famous with DotA is currently working in Riot Games and Valve.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong being nice to modders, Blizzard has ALWAYS been nice to them, ever since StarCraft (the original) :)
    The modding community is a very good place to stick your hand and take out an experienced programmer/artist/other.

    Valve & Blizzard both understand that and they have incorporated it very well.
    Most of Valve's latest(not that they release a lot lately, take that a bit broadly ) games were actually mods of other of their games, e.g. CS, TF
    I believe Steam was also external in original (not known as steam at the time obviously)

    Blizzard are also doing pretty damn good job incorporating mods & externals.
    Bnet was originally a 3rd party program back in War2 days (not known as Bnet at the time), Blizzard said "Hey, guys, want jobs?". They got jobs.

    regards
    -Ned
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
  8. Trill

    Trill

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    I'm not saying its wrong, I just find it suspicious when companies are nice to people without direct profit to be had - especially in modern age when gaming companies no longer care about quality for quality's sake and just seek to get more money.
     
  9. nedio95

    nedio95

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    It is called "Strategy"

    -Ned
     
  10. Chaosy

    Chaosy

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    WoW private servers use donations instead, which is how they make it legal to make money for content they do not own.
    I highly doubt someone would actually donate money for a warcraft 3 map however. There are a few exceptions, but chances are that yours are not one of them.
     
  11. Trill

    Trill

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    Sadly strategy usually revolves around attracting people and then monetizing what they enjoy most (e.g. Skyrim and paid mods), rather than around forming a loyal playerbase that will keep supporting you. Blizzard used to do the latter, but IIRC, it was long before Activision acquired it. So can't be sure of anything these days.
     
  12. Iliya

    Iliya

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    Hey Guys

    I believe this is the EULA we are talking about?
    Blizzard Entertainment:Blizzard End User License Agreement

    I wonder how do you draw the line between with what's donation and what is a commercial sale?

    For example would really be illegal if I made a map and made a patreon page for players to support me if they like my map. Then also maybe add a perk for Patreon supports to get some customized cosmetics in my map?

    I don't see how Blizzard might not like this tho, Warcraft 3 has no in-game purchases so whoever has bought the game won't be spending more money on it. However tho I wonder how will the state of custom maps go with the Warcraft 3 Remake/Remaster? I don't think Blizzard will make the same mistake of not adding In game purchases to the game to ensure longevity while also not having ways to capitalize on run away success mods such as Dota or TDs.

    I have seen some websites for example give extra cosmetic perks to donors. It still goes under donation tho not a sale.

    As for Dota Allstars, It would be obviously be a PR disaster for Blizzard to takeover Dota for themselves without any credit to actual creators, also they most likely were not familiar enough nor had plans to continue making the map. I was just interested if they originally had the power to do so. However that was before merge with Activision. And now with EA leading the gaming industry, you can never be too cynical on how far companies might kill reputation for short-term profit.
     
  13. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    This is crossing the threshold.
    I hope they don't. I don't want to see stuff like that in my face everyday.
    Which ones? It would be good to investigate these "donations".
     
  14. Shar Dundred

    Shar Dundred

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    Even if it was legal, which it is not unless you have a contract with Blizzard, no one would pay for a WC3 map if you had to "buy" it.
    Examples for those contracts would be the two SC2 maps that are for sale - sold by Blizzard.
     
  15. MasterBlaster

    MasterBlaster

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    Nope, this is the one:
    Blizzard Entertainment: Custom Game Acceptable Use Policy

    And to answer your questions, some quotes:

    This means that whatever mod or custom content you create using Blizzard games is their property, not yours. Thus the answer to these questions:

    The answer is YES. They can "takeover" any mod that you make and do whatever they want with it, be it developing, editing, updating or monetizing said mod.
    From my understanding this is also valid in regards to any intellectual property tied to your mod, so for example - if your mod spawned a series of books, a standalone game or anything else, Blizzard would have rights to it as well.

    From a more practical point of view, such scenario is extremely unlikely - this point is pretty much a safety mechanism in case anything like DOTA ever happens again and let's face it, chances that your mods grow even remotely as big as DOTA are very slim. Thus, unless you are hell bent on trying to use Warcraft 3 to spawn a separate intellectual property (and you actually believe you can manage that), you probably shouldn't be worried as chances that Blizzard will snatch your work are pretty much next to none.

    This means that you cannot use any copyrighted material in custom maps, unless you can prove that the copyright owner granted you the rights to use his property.

    Now, you can easily find things like music or art that can be used for free in non-profit projects, so you can safely use those. I also believe that anything that people post on the Hive is automatically given such a permission (i.e. the author agrees to grant the right to use his work by other people in non-profit projects), so there's also that.

    Other stuff... Well, technically you can't use it without getting permission from the copyright holder first, but - let's face it, Warcraft 3 modding is a pretty niche and small thing, so chances are that even if you use something that you shouldn't, nobody will really notice or care about it do take legal action against you - you'd have to be shit out of luck to have someone not do more than ask you to stop using his content or provide more visible credits.

    This obviously doesn't apply to any monetization attempts, but as you will see in a moment, these are generally prohibited anyway.

    In short, you cannot make money off of custom games, i.e. you can't monetize your mod in any way. And now, while it's rather unlikely that Blizzard's legal team will come in contact with you due to copyright issues, it's actually quite possible that they might do that over any monetization attempt.

    Also, if you read the last sentence, you will notice that you mod cannot contain any features or content that can be unlocked by paying money, so obviously any kind of paid skins are considered illegal.

    Here you go - Blizzard gives you permission to receive donations for your work, but... There's some extra rules, such as this one:

    What it essentially means is that you cannot give anything for users who decide to donate to you, so once again - no special skins or other rewards, unless you want to risk getting a very "nice" e-mail from Blizzard's legal department.

    ---

    So yeah... Generally I feel like the notion of monetizing Warcraft 3 mods is rather stupid. Sorry to burst your bubble here, but let's face it - you're rather unlikely to get much (or even any) money from your mod and trying to do so will only put you at a risk of getting in legal trouble. Personally, I'd advise against it.

    ---

    It's not suspicious. It's called marketing - sure, there is no direct profit to be had, but there is an indirect one.

    I won't go into much detail here, but the general idea is that if your customer base is happy and well treated, you will eventually get more money out of it. If you're a dick to your customers, they will eventually move on to other products and you will get squat.

    Having a nice modding community that creates nice custom games in your product won't upset anyone, but it might make quite a lot of people happy.
    Giving modders a hard time won't really make anyone happy, but it might upset a lot of people who like custom content.

    A commercial sale is when you someone gives you money to get something in return.
    A donation is an act of giving someone money without getting anything in return (bar satisfaction and a "thank you").

    Thus, I'd argue that getting a special skin for money is actually a purchase (or very, very close to it), not a donation.

    You are allowed to have a Patreon page or provide some sort of a donation link, so that people can send you money if they feel like it.

    The difference between this and having a visual perk in-game is that the latter creates a situation where the gameplay experience is different for people who sent you money and for those who didn't. The thing is that some people might consider your mod to be more enjoyable with that skin, thus they might see their experience as inferior to the one of the people who donated. And in order to get that better experience (or unlock it faster), they are required to pay money.

    And, since some people would sent you money not to show appreciation for your hard work, but to get that better experience - thus they would pay to get something in return, i.e. they would be making an in-game purchase.

    Warcraft 3 is not the only Blizzard game and some of their other games have in-game purchases, so if someone spends like 5$ to get something in a Blizzard game's mod, that's a potential 5$ that he won't spend on Blizzard content. Thus your logic of "Blizzard won't get this money anyway, so why do they care" is false.

    However, that's not the primary reason why they are restricting in-game purchases.

    If you followed the development of Starcraft II, at some point there an idea to create in-game marketplace, where people would be able to sell maps or in-game custom content. This idea was scrapped due to... legal issues. Allowing third parties to trade for real money in a game creates a lot of legal hurdles, which Blizzard doesn't want to deal with.

    Before you say "but Diablo 3 had Real Money Auction House" - yes, it had. And if you followed it's development, you'd know that there were still a lot of legal problems with it, even despite the fact that people were selling in-game content that was generated by Blizzard, not custom made intellectual property with potential use of assets that break copyright laws or suffers from ownership and compensation issues.

    To be fair, I totally understand that Blizzard doesn't want to deal with that crap.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
  16. disruptive_

    disruptive_

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    I'm alcoholized a bit (apologizes for that, but i will also be more free to listen other opinions), but in regards to the CG use policy i have a not so authorized opinion;

    By clause 4 Blizzard only limits it exhorbitant license by 2 aspects; 1. property and other rights of non-contractors (third parties), 2. illicit use of the license by the contractor.
    Blizzard avoids most conflicts with third parties (such conflict will be ventilated between the contractor and the third party, while Blizzard washes his/her hands), and that is right, Blizzard license rights can't extend over the rights of third parties that didn't contract with them, some basic contractual principles (a general license limit in fact). The illicit use sub-clause is also a redundant one, and a basic principle in lease and license contracts (think of this, you are the lessor and you gave the use of a house you have, the lessee -hope the spelling is right- uses such house to make a bordello/prostitution house; who is the responsable here?). ??????

    But by clause 3 Blizzard extends it's license to basically anything the contractor does or makes, via an automatic/tacit assignation of any interests (because it extends to property rights, other usufruct/licenses/leases, and even, simple "interests") without limits, except for those prevented in the clause 4. My opinion is that clause 4 has no real content, and thus, limits at all.

    The custom game itself is always property of Blizzard, but in regards to the resources, those are also property (via automatic cession, or overcoming if the property was not already transfered) of Blizzard (unless clause 4).

    I present a case; you are an art developer and you made some custom icons for a W3 map. You finish your project and everything goes well.
    You then use those icons on another project you have, be it a W3 map or anything (ie. you are advertising those icons in a work page).
    Suddenly Blizzard calls you and says those icons are property of them, and that they didn't consent in the advertising or the particular use in which you are employing them. This is freaking bullshit, is like if a resources touches the editor, is bound to some instant or overcoming property restriction, and if it's not then you are good to go.

    License is fundamentally a lease (if remunerated) or commodate (don't know the real concept in english, think of it as a free loan), extended to intellectual or inmaterial goods.
    The licensor must "give" the use. It must deattach from it, be it a free license or not. In the Blizzard CG license, everything you do (of course we are talking about using something) is or will be property of Blizzard. Is like we are actually working for them, if we use the license, then is in fact Blizzard patrimony that is affected, not ours.
    The contract interpretator (ie. judge, and Blizzard legal team also) must be especially careful in regards of the clause 3 and especially in determining what can / and what can't be assigned to Blizzard by such clause. Why? Because we are talking about a freaking License, and in any License (the title of the Contract, and thus, a manifestation of Blizzard will itself for naming it like that, otherwise, why not put "Working Contract"/"Working Conditions"/"Just another Warcraft III contract") the licensor deattaches from the use, as if the "use" (just the use) is radicated on the licensee. The licensor can limitate and overall condition the use, ie. non-commercial use, but can't distort it altogether.
    I'm confident that Blizzard legal team will not sue anybody not worth some big money (basically only if the risk of losing compensate the posibility of winning some substantial property right of a developer), precisely because there is room for this contractual interpretation in clause 3.

    TL/DR; Is it a license contract anyway?
     
  17. Iliya

    Iliya

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    Oh thanks a lot man for the informative response. This clears everything up!


    Nah man I'm not a map maker or have plans developing anything. I was just interested to know since I always wondered in my childhood and thought of custom maps as something impervious beings to copy right which made me wonder. But then again back then taking IP seriously was not a thing and I used to think in my country I bought Legit Warcraft 3 for 1$ and was playing legally on Garena until later I grew up and realized what happened. Things have improved a lot now tho. Obviously Warcraft 3 is not big anymore.

    My interest tho was ignited in Warcraft once again after hearing possible rumors of Remake, wondering how will they handle custom maps since most other games, specially new ones don't even allow them legally anymore.

    Tho I think it would be cool I agree Blizzard won't want to deal with the legal issues. For that Blizzard has to act out as a platform for Modders kinda like Youtube is for videos. However there will be hurdles as Blizzard will have to take some responsibility for Modders Copyright offending or doing other stupid stuff and Blizzard won't want to deal with it, specially if Warcraft is not a huge thing.

    I don't think the financial part is a problem but can also be beneficial for Blizzard if they charge a cut to compensate. Still Blizzard is a developer not a platform so I don't it's worth the risk for them. Plus I don't think the editor will attract as much attention anymore as it did before either.
     
  18. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    Not if you publish them beforehand somewhere.
     
  19. disruptive_

    disruptive_

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    Because of how the clause 3 is redactated, one must distinct the Custom Game itself -the map as an inmaterial thing/idea-, and every other different interests, ie. singular resources used.
    In clause 3 you would say that there are "automatic transfers" (those that are assigned right of the bat, by the merit of operating the license) and "overcoming transfers" (those assigned at arbitrary recquest of Blizzard). Determining which map asset belongs to which one is something subject to interpretation, but in the end the terms are not very promising for the end user, ie. you my friend Ilya.

    The first ones refers -atleast- to the Custom Game itself. Nothing to object here. Based on this, it happens that every map here on the Hive are actually theirs, as extension of their license.
    If you apply this to it's absurd extremes then Blizzard also owns all map genres, by virtue of extension (since the "genre" is made by the maps, and the maps are owned by Blizzard boys and girls).
    This is the "Blizzard" owns your map idea approach, that in intellectual property isn't even endorsed at all and that is clearly excessively ambitious. Such ambition still happens from time time (PUBG v/s Fortinite, the first threatened to sue the second for "trying to emulate the same experience the first one is known for" or something like that), so don't be fooled by the absurdity.
    So the license extension kinds of limitates to the map not as the idea, but as the digital map itself, ie. W3Dota6.11.w3x; MaulWarsTD.w3x; LOAP.w3x, etc. But not all is said here, because the automatic assign catches, regarding the digital map we delimitated as the object; it's rights, titles and interests.

    The second ones i suppose refer to every correlated (with the first one) right, including of course my little friends aka interests. I would include here, by mere guessing, the singular resources used on the map (except those of property of non-contractors).

    The question is what interests i transfered to Blizzard, apart from the map itself?. I can't transfer the map idea, let alone the genre (think of somebody that wants to attribute itself the sci-fi book genre), because intellectual property in a map genre doesn't exist, for now, unless you are a major bullshitter, but what you can do, and what some companies had DONE is to create a silly (some not that silly actually) catalog of inmaterial concepts that kind or could worth money (in case of doubt, you bet what they do right?), ie. X company doesn't have the intellectual property of the battle royale/moba genre, but it has an intellectual interest in it or a reputation/moral dignity relating to it, or that Y company has incurred on unfair competition by emulating our company and that we need to repair the damage, etc.
    This rampant monetization of everything is coming to stay and to progress, and while today companies assign value (voluntarily, as a comercial practice) to things like, clientele, reputation, know-hows, etc, you have to remember that those "goods" were not actually a thing back in the days, we are actually creating them from nowhere (not from nowhere, but the the actual value of such goods is always a guess work).

    But there MUST be some rights or interests that are not transfered right of the bat, because otherwise, why Blizzard has the faculty for you to "agree to execute future assignments promptly upon receiving such a request from Blizzard". This is still key and should be noted that you are bound to do the transfer (as real or fictional deliver of the asset), but it's not said that the transfer is preceded or not by an actual sale (pay me first Blizz) or donation.

    In the end the word interest is extremely vague, that in comercial practice extends to all that can be avaluable in money (something that is changeable and with a natural tendency to increase it's catalog) , and can extend the license of Blizzard a little too much, and at it's complete will:
    1. The expectative that Blizzard has in that you transfer a determinated asset is an interest.
    2. The map idea itself or it's genre/concepts is an interest related to the digital map asset.
    I'm talking about new genres/ideas of course. I'm pretty sure the Hero system was perfected by Blizzard. Or not?.
    In extreme and obviously stupid cases, Blizzard could (should they decide) extend the license to ideas and concepts that are actually protected by intellectual property rights, ie. Monopoly.w3x. If it's in the editor it is mine. And what is mine? The map and all it's "interests". This potential reductio ad absurdum is what makes it neccesary to interpret "interest" very strictly, and even restrictly. Altough this is nothing new and even plain common sense (sorry if you get mad about the Monopoly analogy), we still have some precedents in the game industry of some magnanimous people and companies that want to reinvent the concept of property/ideas/inspiration/etc to suit their needs. I'm pretty sure Blizzard is not one of those.

    About the publishing problem, you made a good point. About that i can say the following;
    1. If you are the owner of the published assets then nothing should be said here.
    But by the faculty of Blizzard in clause 3, you can potentially lose the property of the published asset.
    Blizzard will just ignore the contract you made with the publisher, unless, somehow obliged to respect it (don't know a real hypothesis here, except for some lease of goods principles). Your relation with the publisher will be terminated, as you are no longer the owner of the asset, as my guess is that publisher terms are similar to those of a lease of services. There is a chance that you are also violating some terms with the publisher, by transfering the property of the asset.
    2. If you are not the owner, especially if Blizzard already executed the faculty of clause 3, or if Blizzard arguments that such resource was transfered automatically upon using the license (it was an "interest" in the map you transfered to us) then you are up for some trouble.

    TL/DR; Blizzard owns the digital map you created, they can even own some assets relating to the map should they decide to do so (most likely no, because they are a huge company, that are known for polishing and perfecting existing resources and ideas, chances are that they will just recreate what you did even better; on a sidenote i see Blizzard as tinkerers and perfectors, rather than pioneers or "seekers").
    They can't own your map ideas. In fact you also can't, unless a precedent is set in this area, something that is not that ridiculous.

    EDIT: this post was a real mess, i edited it some more.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  20. Dr Super Good

    Dr Super Good

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    Not if you have a licence to do so with the music. Otherwise yes it would be illegal.
    Getting away with a crime does not make it legal.
    Yes in the form of donator support or Patreon. Yes in the form of premium maps in StarCraft II. No in the form of paid Warcraft III maps.
    Yes that is allowed.
    Technically not allowed. People still get away with it in StarCraft II but practically everyone hates it. You can of course add donators names to a list and such.

    In StarCraft II it violates discriminating against players in the ToU, however generally it gets overlooked for trivial skins and cosmetics. In Warcraft III the platform does not support monetization in the form of selling content to players.
    Yes the intellectual property contained in your map or mod is protected by the rules of your country as with all unique creations. No your map or mod is not protected because you do not own it, Blizzard does.
    Yes they could do that however it is extremely unlikely they ever will as that sort of moves will not make them much money due to how common DotA players pirate Warcraft III and it will anger a lot of people.
    StarCraft II fully supports monetization. So far there are about 3 premium maps developed by third parties that Blizzard endorses sales of. Obviously one needs to be very serious to create such a map, they will never be some trash like LoaP or Maul Wars.