Modding Community Rules/Guidelines [Updated Feb 24 2015]

Discussion in 'Starbound Modding' started by mollygos, Dec 24, 2013.

  1. NerArth

    NerArth Pangalactic Porcupine

    What about art assets that were created from zero? I'm just curious as I haven't seen anything about this. Are they also considered derivative works?
    Black--snow likes this.
  2. Silent Strider

    Silent Strider Pangalactic Porcupine

    A Steam Workshop "collection" works very differently than a common mod, though. It's more like a list of links; the collection author is not republishing the mods in the collection, but instead using a quite clever system Steam created to let players pick all the mods of a list in an easy way. Since the collection author is not republishing the mods in any shape or way, he doesn't run afoul of the copyright of the author of the mods he references.

    I would recommend you to never republish another person's mod, entirely or in part, on the Steam workshop without the original author's authorization, even if you do credit the original author. Steam's whole business model requires respecting copyrights, so they take copyright violation very seriously and they can act very quickly when they get official notice that a mod has used copyrighted content without permission. In a few cases this has even been reported upon by the gaming press, and AFAIK can result in the guilty party being permanently blocked from posting mods to the workshop. In the cases I'm aware that was the result, though those cases were high profile ones where the mod "author" blatantly copied copyrighted content without giving credit.

    Flat out wrong. Chucklefish owns the copyright for whichever part of the game is included in the mod, though usually only partially given that such files are almost always modified by the mod author, such as a modified config file or sprite sheet. Everything else - in other words, every single file that was created from scratch, and files that copy so little from the game that they don't trigger a copyright infringement - is copyrighted to the mod author.

    (BTW, after the change that allows config files to be patched by mods, any mod that attempts to avoid mod conflicts will likely have even it's modified config files as original content fully owned by the mod author.)

    And the people at Chucklefish seem to understand this quite well; serious Linux users, and many developers, will often have at the very least taken a good look at the copyright license used by Linux and most free software, and many of the devs at Chuckefish seem to be both; plus, Mollygos suggesting mod authors to pick a license for their mods reinforces this belief.
    method1203 and NerArth like this.
  3. NerArth

    NerArth Pangalactic Porcupine

    Just the answer I was looking for c:
  4. Chalky

    Chalky Void-Bound Voyager

    Original art assets that aren't derived from existing artwork aren't derivative works, no. Nor would original text be, or original audio.

    If you alter assets created by chucklefish, on the other hand, then they have the primary rights to that content unless you're willing to go to court to argue that your work is sufficiently creatively unique.

    The vast majority of content in mods is derived from the original core game.

    Simple implementations of standards aren't covered by copyright though. That means things like json item definitions can't be copyrighted in the same way you can't copyright a CSS tag. A complex Lua script, perhaps, assuming that you've not taken any code snippets what so ever from existing Lua implementations in the core game - which would be unlikely, and a rather inefficient way to work.

    Mods don't contain a whole lot most of the time, and what they do contain is almost always either derived from the core game or a simple implementation of a standard.

    Chucklefish are the ones protecting your mods from abuse with the rules that they set out, you don't get the same intrinsic rights when you're modifying someone's game as you do when you're creating one from scratch.
    NerArth likes this.
  5. Skull Skeleton

    Skull Skeleton Void-Bound Voyager

    No, it is kowtowing to entitled babies that don't understand how copyright works at all.
  6. ohgoditburns

    ohgoditburns Void-Bound Voyager

    This is not a healthy attitude to take. The entire reason for copyright to exist in the first place is to encourage people to create by protecting their rights to their creations. Personally, I liked the idea someone mentioned earlier about the CC attribute sharealike style license. I think we'd get a healthier modding community if everything stored in the onsite database were by default able to be reused and altered WITH ATTRIBUTION.

    I especially would like to see some rules that any mods on the site can be incorporated into the base game if the devs like the addition. I think this is a good CYA too, since if they are working on something that a modder also puts out, there could be some bad blood. Having a credits section shout-out to the modder would be a reasonable attribution IMO.
  7. Skull Skeleton

    Skull Skeleton Void-Bound Voyager

    That was me on the last page, lol. Intellectual property is theft anyway~
  8. Silent Strider

    Silent Strider Pangalactic Porcupine

    The same way that, last time a court took a look at it, the essential parts of a header file needed for compatibility couldn't be copyrighted. For Starbound mods it might be a bit more complex than that, though, given that certain parts of the config files might be considered worth of copyright protection. Delving into the specifics would be a fairly complex endeavor, and one for which I'm not really prepared, thus why I played safe by saying that files created from scratch are copyrighted to the mod author while modified files might have the ownership shared with the game's authors.

    Actually, mod authors get copyright protection just like anyone else creating new content.

    What might get in the way here is the scope of the mod; while there is no clear standard for how much original work is needed for something to be protected by copyright, it's clear that rather small mods - say, changing half a dozen numbers in a system file - aren't considered enough to be protected by copyright, the same way I can't just write a single sentence and expect it to be protected by copyright.

    For larger mods, though - say, adding a whole race, complete with new graphics, ships, items, etc - copyright protection clearly applies.

    Quite a bit wrong here. A derivative work has as much protection as an original work, the main difference being that, depending on how much of the original work is in the derivative one, the author of the original work might have part of the copyright - and, thus, the right to prevent the derivative work from being distributed if he so desires, regardless of the wishes of the author of the derivative work.

    This isn't always the case, BTW - a derivative work can in many cases be considered an independent work as far as copyright ownership goes, with the author of the original work having no degree of ownership whatsoever over the derivative work. This is often the case, for example, with unofficial reference guides; if written without blatantly copying more than small snippets of the original work, and the copied snippets aren't seen as enough to prevent a sale of the original work, a reference guide can usually be published even if the author of the original work explicitly opposes it.

    As for the author of the original work taking ownership of the derivative work, that is plain wrong. There is no such thing. You might be mixing up here the fact that ideas and concepts can't be copyrighted - as long as Chucklefish doesn't use any files from a mod they can freely incorporate it's ideas and concepts into the game without any legal issues, exactly because ideas and concepts can't be copyrighted.

    The same goes for mod authors, of course - if an author goes to the trouble of reimplementing a mod's concept from scratch, without using any files from the original mod, he is in the clear as far as the law is concerned (though modding communities can often see ripping ideas this way as unethical, specially if the original mod was reasonably complex and the new one feels like a rip-off).
    method1203 and NerArth like this.
  9. Chalky

    Chalky Void-Bound Voyager

    Yeah, anything that contains a substantial quantity of original work would have those portions covered by copyright - and obviously, if someone was to take a mod like that and remove all the original work and replace it with their own... there would be very little of the mod remaining.

    Mods like this are in the minority though with most mods being based heavily on existing elements or simple implementations. Usually, if you have someone up in arms about their mod being included in a mod pack, it's not the people who are front and centre getting huge credit for being one of the main sources of content for the mod - it's generally people who contribute more minor elements to the mod that are afraid of being overlooked or taken for granted. What I'm saying is that the people who have the most to fear from modpacks are the people who have the least protection under copyright and have to rely the most on the rules set out by the developers.
    NerArth likes this.
  10. slatwob

    slatwob Big Damn Hero

    My opinion on it is that you should be able to use any mod you like in any way you like, edit the code or include it in whatever pack you want.

    You should also leave credit when you use other people's mods, not because chucklefish should ban people for not doing this, just because it is the right thing to do.
    Kestenvarn and ohgoditburns like this.
  11. Mattybee

    Mattybee Aquatic Astronaut

    Literally nobody who is against modders' rights feels that original work shouldn't be credited and I assume anyone who says otherwise is a concern troll.
  12. Black--snow

    Black--snow Cosmic Narwhal

    I would prefer if people didn't add one tiny thing to my mod, republish it and take all the downloads... I like my credit where it's due, no more, no less. Is that soo much to ask?
    Of course, if someone asked for modification rights I would probably say yes... As long as it wasn't a ploy to say "Look at me, I added one item to your mod and already have twice the downloads you have!" (That was a joke, not a funny one albeit, but a joke none the less).

    Either way, I would prefer it if any modifications to my mods in particular where added as addons (Using the dependency feature in .modinfo files (That's was probably part of the reason they were made... Maybe...)); that way everyone gets the credit they're due.
    NerArth likes this.
  13. Chalky

    Chalky Void-Bound Voyager

    Jesus christ when does it end.
    ohgoditburns likes this.
  14. Black--snow

    Black--snow Cosmic Narwhal

    I was referring to the downloads and reviews, not a line of text as big as an average claus that says "Black--Snow made most of the assets", that's just not good enough for me unless it's one of my close friends...
  15. Chalky

    Chalky Void-Bound Voyager

    I guess you probably shouldn't have said "no more" when talking about only wanting credit in that case...? I'll help you out a bit:

    "All I want is credit! And to force everyone to click the download link on a specific page that I set up even when it's way more convenient for them to download it as part of a modpack. Oh, and they have to review my mod on it's own on my specific page because god damn if anyone reviews my mod as well as someone else's mod at the same time it's just not fair. All I want is to place a bunch of restrictions on how people can use something that's based on someone else's work in the first place for no reason besides making me feel important! Is that too much to ask?"

    You're welcome.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
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  16. ohgoditburns

    ohgoditburns Void-Bound Voyager

    Noooooo my internet points.
    Kestenvarn and ImprobableLobster like this.
  17. Black--snow

    Black--snow Cosmic Narwhal

    I see I'm invoking a hostile response due to initial bad explanation...
    Yes, I admit I do enjoy the attention, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside that shows me I'm appreciated. I don't see a problem with wanting that attention for my works rather than having people re-distribute my works... It's perfectly feasible to package the added/modified content only into a 'addon pack' then have people install the addon by dragging it in the mod's folder or something.

    Your post was unnecessarily hostile and most of it was just because I didn't get the message through properly with my other posts... I apologize for that. Also, I don't wish to restrict the use, as long as people ask I will grant most of their requests, with some (Stated above) exceptions.
    Yuuma and NerArth like this.
  18. Edited the OP with some general modding community guidelines. :)
    Yuuma and Silent Strider like this.
  19. Chalky

    Chalky Void-Bound Voyager

    But you will get attention for your mod if it's a significant part of a pack. Everyone wants to know what the future of their favourite part of a modpack is, they'll watch your mod's threads and follow it closely. If the part of the modpack that you contribute is minor then the attention you receive will be relative to that. You might think you'll get more attention to your small mod by blocking its inclusion in modpacks, but actually you'll just shrink the audience that your mod has until someone comes up with a duplicate of it that does allow modpacks, then nobody will even bother looking.

    It's counter productive. Getting credited is cool, and asking people to ask before adding your mod to a pack just so you can keep track of where your mod is being used (not so you can refuse permission) is fine as well - but if you're refusing permission in order to increase the exposure that you and your modpack gets then you're doing it wrong. "I'm the guy who designed 10 new tree species in tekkit" is a lot more prestigious than "I'm the guy who wrote some tree mod that didn't get many downloads until someone else made a tree mod that got used in tekkit and nobody cared about my mod ever again".

    Anyway, sorry for any hostility, it feels like those of us who want more freedom with mods are forever being misrepresented in this thread as wanting to rip modders off and not give them the credit they deserve.

    Hey molly - would you consider adding a new modpacks rule that simply says "It's fine to include this in modpacks but please inform me before doing so"? There seem to be a lot of modders who choose the "always require permission" option but in reality they just want to know where their mod is being used, so they have to update their mod page to specifically tell the reader that there's not some arbitrary standard you have to meet in order to get permission.

    Nice work with the new modding rules. I'm off to make "Betty Whites Amazing Big Starbound Mod Pack" which replaces all the bosses with amazingly large Betty Whites.
  20. Black--snow

    Black--snow Cosmic Narwhal

    I see your meaning... I don't actually mind mod packs... I couldn't give a crap if my mod was used in a modpack since they're undeniably for the community rather than for greed.

    BUT... Using Snow Pirates (My mod, for example) as a dependency in an addon pack for it would be much more appreciated by me than re-distributing the base resources as well. It's in some ways similar to Mojang asking modders not to distribute any un-needed files in their mods, though less about profit in the form of money. ^_^

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