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Posts with tag fair-use

The Lawbringer: WoW in fiction and the GameStop debacle

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Greetings, Lawbringer readers. We've got two very interesting emails this week from readers that are about as diverse as they come. First, we'll be looking at using World of Warcraft in fiction and whether or not that's a good idea, despite its potential fair use classification. Second, a reader wants to know what happened with GameStop over the past few weeks concerning Deus Ex: Human Revolution and whether it could happen in relation to Blizzard.

Your emails are awesome, and you should send me more of them. "But how?" cries the inquisitive reader. Send your emails to with something Lawbringer in the title, and I will try my best to answer the question in the column. If you've got a question about the legal nature of the video game industry, MMOs, etc., ask away.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: The trouble with fan fiction

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Finally, I return home after a bit of bliss. Fun is over -- it's time to get serious by talking about fan fiction. Sort of. You see, fan fiction is one of those areas that people love to hate, hate to love and everything in between. What is it about fan fiction that gets people so upset and so defensive? Is it the personal nature of the craft, the accusatory piggy-backing on other people's characters, or just that so much of it is mind-numbingly terrible? Who knows? Today, we're going to explore a few of the concepts of fan fiction in a very no-nonsense, barely legal way, to give you aspiring authors something to consider while writing your own fan fiction or even original content.

With my post-vacation bliss now completely out of my system, thanks to reading so much terrible fan fiction in preparation, I am happy to share with all of you a story that I've been writing for the last minute and a half. Don't be cruel, now. It's pretty much going to become the greatest story ever told. Enjoy.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Scope of copyrights

Welcome to the Lawbringer,'s weekly look at the intersection of law and the World of Warcraft. I'm a newly minted J.D. acting as your crossing guard.

Greetings from the other side of graduation! The sun is shining, tons of Cataclysm spoilers await and now I don't have to arrange my WoW-ing and writing around my study schedule. Given that, it's time to get back into our examination of copyright law.

Two weeks ago, we looked at what can get a copyright, namely: literary works; musical works and accompanying words; dramatic works and accompanying music; pantomimes and choreography; pictorial, graphical and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works. But knowing what can be covered by a copyright doesn't explain what a copyright gives an author.

A copyright is actually a bundle of separate rights:
  1. right to make copies
  2. right to distribute copies
  3. right to create derivative works
  4. right to perform or display
  5. right to anticircumvention of the measures taken to prevent copying
  6. moral rights, including rights of attribution and the right to avoid mutilation

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Filed under: The Lawbringer

Myndflame publishes a guide to machinima law

Last month, Clint Hackleman over at Myndflame machinima attended and presented at Stanford Play Machinima Law conference. As you might expect, he came out of the conference with a heightened respect and understanding about how machinima law works. Building on the relationships he's formed, as well as lots of leg work, Hackleman has been publishing a machinmator's guide to Blizzard & Machinima Law.

So far, there are three parts of the guide available. Part 1 deals with some of the very basics, but probably the most important section is understanding "commercialization" and what Blizzard's rules about it. A super quick summary of commercialization is "using a product to make money," but you should take the time to check out Myndflame's guide. He's obviously a bit more thorough about the explanation.

Part 2 of the guide talks about Blizzard's Fair Use policy for machinima. I'd consider this guide a must-read for anyone who wants to create machinima. It deals with how Blizzard supports machinimators, but also warns about where you'll encounter the limits of that support. For example, machinima using Blizzard properties should be "T" rated movies -- they don't want Blizzard icons getting mixed up with unsavory subjects. Part 3 of the guide deals with music, which is a key component of any good movie. A good film has to have a great soundtrack, after all.

I think Myndflame's guide is a pretty interesting read for anyone, even if you don't plan to make your own WoW movies. It gives some perspective and analysis to how much Blizzard strives to work with their community, and definitely shows what a vital, thriving society WoW machinimators can be. I appreciate the insight, and the work is a pretty fun read over all.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Machinima, News items

Bornakk tries to clarify fair play in Arena PvP

Bornakk has laid down a "clarification" on what's fair in the Arenas over on the forums -- he says that there's been a lot of questions lately over what constitutes fair play in Arena PvP, especially in terms of win trading.

Unfortunately, his clarification isn't all that clear -- he reiterates that win trading (the act of exploiting the queue in some way to face a chosen opponent, or face the same team multiple times) is against the spirit of the game and against Blizzard's wishes (though his wording gets a little strange when he brings the Terms of Service into it -- we think that by "these actions all fall in line with our fair use clause," he actually means that they violate the clause). He does, however, go on to say that there are certain places in the system where facing an opponent multiple times will happen, and that that's obviously not the fault of players. So that, it seems, is the confusion: players were worried that because of the lack of population in the queue or other factors, that they would be accused of win trading, and Bornakk is saying that's not the case.

Not that Blizzard hasn't been cracking down on win trading as much as possible lately, but the fact is that if there's a way to exploit the system, players will find it and do it. Blizzard says they're working on squashing "agreements" between players, but even then, Arenas may never end up being completely fair.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cheats, Blizzard, PvP, Arena

Blizzard introduces WoW Machinima page

In order "to nurture the advancement and growth" of the Machinima community, Blizzard has launched a Machinima information page.

Currently they have a selection of movies to view, but the really interesting thing, to me at least, is the Guide for Fair Use video creation or the Letter to Machinimators of the world. This document describes the main rules for making WoW movies and not getting into trouble. Here are some highlights:
  • Your movie has to be non-commercial - so no selling it or charging fees to view it.
  • It has to have a T (Teen) rating, just like the game.
  • If you want to enter a non-Blizzard contest, festival or get your movie shown on TV, you have to get a Content Use License from Blizzard first.
  • You can have sponsors, but sponsor related content must be limited to 10 seconds and be clearly labeled.
  • They encourage the use of WoW movies for educational use.
Future additions to this page will include a forum specifically for WoW moviemakers where staff members will answer questions for movie noobs as well as established veterans. There will also be a FAQ, artist Q&A and more contests. Though they don't wish to compete with sites like YouTube, they will also be doing some hosting of videos eventually.

Blizzard has always been supportive to the Machinima community with their contests and displaying the winners to a large audience at BlizzCon. Obviously, they see the benefits of further encouraging the spreading of the Warcraft word via visual media.

Do you moviemakers out there consider this a step forward or an attempt to gain more control?

Filed under: Machinima, Blizzard, News items

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