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Author Topic: (Legal Action) - For those hackers that tend to ask money to release a hack.  (Read 11225 times)

ShadowOne333

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Hello community.

I have taken into my hands the errand of going through some little research regarding the legal countermeasures that could be applied when a person hacks an already published game and wants to charge money to release their hacks of said game.
I know so because I have stumbled upon some hackers that are not willing to release any hack unless they are paid a considerable amount of money in return.

I got in touch with an attorney that is deeply involved into legal acts around videogames.
I explain to him this certain situation and this is what I got in reply:

Quote
"Uses of the IP is governed by the EULA  (End User License Agreement) which should set out the scope of the license to the game.  Under the law, the developer retains rights to any modifications ( including hacks) as derivative works. Even for games that encourage mods, any commercial exploitation as you suggest would require written OK"
-Tom Buscaglia, Videogame Attorney

Explaining this:
The developer of the original game (Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, Square Enix, etc) holds any rights related to it AND any modification made to it. This includes music, models, ASM programming, sprites, etc. You get the idea.
If the modder (a.k.a. Hacker) desires to obtain a profit out of his hack, the Hacker requires a written approval by the developer studio to avoid any legal issues.


What do you think?
I know this might fall right into some people as direct hits, but it is not, this is simply an observation regarding some actions that must be looked upon so this community has a better quality and standard to it.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2014, 01:46:39 pm by ShadowOne333 »

Chunky_Kong

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Jeez, people would do anything for money nowadays. Thank God, I'm not one of those hackers that ask for money before releasing my hacks. I hack for fun, not for profit.

ShadowOne333

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Jeez, people would do anything for money nowadays. Thank God, I'm not one of those hackers that ask for money before releasing my hacks. I hack for fun, not for profit.

Yeah same for me, it is for fun and to be able to do stuff I couldn't not or play as a character I could not back in the days.
Even better, if the hack is an improvement over some flawed gameplay mechanic, I would want other people to experience too without the need of some heavy bucks in my pocket. :/

Grimoire LD

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What an interesting way that law works. So that means technically by hacking a game belonging to another company we are an unofficial "employee" in some respects and they may use our work as they see fit. It definitely sounds interesting in theory, in practice I don't think it's been very much applied.

ShadowOne333

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What an interesting way that law works. So that means technically by hacking a game belonging to another company we are an unofficial "employee" in some respects and they may use our work as they see fit. It definitely sounds interesting in theory, in practice I don't think it's been very much applied.

Like it or not, they hold the license rights and copyright for the game.

And unless some good hack creators should get in contact with the developer, that's the way it is.
If they did get in contact with them, they might get to an arrangement of some sort, and in the best case scenario, a release of the game with the hack content included and the hacker receiving an amount for his/her work.

STARWIN

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Not that that is very relevant around here, as we don't mod for money.. but I have to wonder, law of which country?

Isao Kronos

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i want to know exactly what made the OP think this was a problem in this community specifically

ShadowOne333

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i want to know exactly what made the OP think this was a problem in this community specifically
It's not a problem per-se, it's something that must be taken into consideration to avoid legal issues afterwards.
We never know exactly when the developers might strike in a surprising manner, and that might be counterproductive for the forum.

Gideon Zhi

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It's not a problem per-se, it's something that must be taken into consideration to avoid legal issues afterwards.
We never know exactly when the developers might strike in a surprising manner, and that might be counterproductive for the forum.

I'm in agreement with Isao Kronos here. The only instances I can think of hackers explicitly requesting money for product are Nightwolve, who's pretty much completely disavowed all association with this community, and Oasis and a few other similar Scandinavian MSX groups who are long since defunct. I fail to see your point.

Pennywise

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This thread should be locked and deleted. It's a new low to stupidity and attention whoring. WARNING - the OP is an idiot.
 
This is not a problem in the community and RHDN does not support for profit ROM hacks. End of story.

mz

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@OP: most of us know that. Some people still "legally" make money with hacks/translations by "asking for donations" and similar crap.
There has to be a better life.

Gideon Zhi

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Some people still "legally" make money with hacks/translations by "asking for donations" and similar crap.

I'm going to assume that this is a dig at me. For whatever it's worth, except in cases like this where I feel the need to explain it (including the day it went up) I've never drawn deliberate attention to the donation button on agtp. It's there because I've had people ask for it, and I've done my best to make sure that it's as innocuous as possible. I never have nor ever will held a project for ransom, nor do I accept money in exchange for special attention given to anything currently in progress. It's a way for people to say "thank you" if they feel the need, nothing more, and the amount that comes in as a result of the button minimal.

NiO

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I was involved in something like this, it started as a "my boy and I love X character and I will like to make a hack for him" and become a... you should donate to get the game, you should donate to help us make the game, etc etc

in less words, was a business... I loved to contribute there, and also to get paid for my sprite edits (but tried not to ask for money myself)
but that wasn't my goal, I wasn't asking for a job, I was just helping someone with the same passion for videogames and hacks as I do

so... I'm leaving it slowly, I don't want to be involved in that kind of stuff, can be a legal problem and I don't want to be in that situation

ShadowOne333

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I'm going to assume that this is a dig at me. For whatever it's worth, except in cases like this where I feel the need to explain it (including the day it went up) I've never drawn deliberate attention to the donation button on agtp. It's there because I've had people ask for it, and I've done my best to make sure that it's as innocuous as possible. I never have nor ever will held a project for ransom, nor do I accept money in exchange for special attention given to anything currently in progress. It's a way for people to say "thank you" if they feel the need, nothing more, and the amount that comes in as a result of the button minimal.
That is fine.

Being open to donations is nowhere near as asking for money so the hack gets released.
Many people does so, they ask for donations and/or expect a certain amount of money to be filled and only then they release the hack. That's the wrong way to go.

NiO

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donations are not bad, someone could be really gratefull and in a way to say "thanks" donate some dollars to the editor...

but forcing people to donate to release a rom is kinda sad, not because some people will not enjoy your work, it's because it's just a business...

in my experience, I was involved in a project that started as a fan mod, nothing else... later we began to ask donations, at first I agreed and was like yeah, we should get money, make the carts, the labels, edit everything we can, etc etc etc

was like a nice idea... but then, it become something more like a job than a hobbie, having release dates, updates, etc etc and I'm not into that, I don't have the time and I don't want to

so again, free random donations are ok, that doesn't hurt anyone... forcing donations naah

southbird

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I think the flaw here is that this entire argument starts with the EULA. A lot of the old games that are modified in this community did not have explicit EULAs. Which would suggest that if someone were to charge for an old NES game hack for example, under the assumption that said hack was released in IPS form and did not contain any claimable IP in and of itself, you could probably slide by. I'm no lawyer of course, but I don't think the old software really had the forethought to even imagine the kinds of things we can do today.

ShadowOne333

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I think the flaw here is that this entire argument starts with the EULA. A lot of the old games that are modified in this community did not have explicit EULAs. Which would suggest that if someone were to charge for an old NES game hack for example, under the assumption that said hack was released in IPS form and did not contain any claimable IP in and of itself, you could probably slide by. I'm no lawyer of course, but I don't think the old software really had the forethought to even imagine the kinds of things we can do today.
Well, being it an old game or not, and even if the EULA didn't have such restrictions back then, they do now.
Besides, I think such law was implemented a LONG time ago.
Making some sort of derivated work out of someone else's copyrighted material results in lawsuits.
We can even go back to 1920, when one of the relatives to Bram Stoker didn't want a film made out of his Dracula book, resulting in the change of nae to Nosferatu, and EVEN SO I think it got a lawsuit back in the 20's.
As you see, a similar analogy can be taken into consideration here, the games are still copyrighted material and even if you work on something tiny inside it, you are still going against the EULA and can end up in a lawsuit.

henke37

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It is not an EULA, it's copyright law.

EULA stands for end user license agreement.

Rodimus Primal

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So in other words, hacking is legal unless it creates a profit? Didn't hackers eventually get hired by Namco to make Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga?

This is why I feel hacking should more be a labor of love for the games released for whatever reason.

Midna

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Not sure about Galaga, but Ms. Pac-Man originally started as a completely unrelated hacked game called Crazy Otto. It got picked up by Midway (not Namco, although she was eventually incorporated into the Pac-Man "canon" as it were) and retooled into what we all know today.