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Is it legit to create mod?

pastapestopastapesto Member Posts: 3
Is it permitted to create mods for any of Beamdog games? According to EULA, which is available at https://www.beamdog.com/about/EULA, the next is stated:

> "Software" includes the Beamdog Player and other software purchased in the store. "Software" further includes executable computer programs and any related printed, electronic and online documentation and any other files that may accompany the product.
> The Software may not be modified, reverse-engineered, or de-compiled in any manner through current or future available technologies.
> Failure to comply with any of the terms under the License section will be considered a material breach of this Agreement.

So therefore I can only make conclusion that it is forbidden by holder of copyright to do any modding activity. However, here we have big modding forum with lot of mods, including some exclusively for BG:EE. How can this be? What are really limitations of modding activity? Can I make mod and sell it as standalone product?

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Comments

  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,460
    edited July 2017
    Sue me :wink:

    More seriously: you might notice that nobody around here is selling content. I can say with some confidence, without reading any of the EULA or applicable laws and statutes, that if you sell content that includes resources created and/or owned by Beamdog, they will not like it and will come after you like a ton of bricks.

    (Don't think too hard about that metaphor. Move on.)

    Moreover, why would you want to sell a mod anyway?? The barriers have never been lower for people who want to make money making computer games. Go make a computer game! Or get hired by a company that is already making them. Why seek out the one method of doing it that is not okay?

    pastapestosemiticgod
  • AquadrizztAquadrizzt Member Posts: 958
    Oh boy this again... I tried to find the previous threads where the legality of modding was brought up, but I wasn't able to, so here's my attempt at an explanation.

    All Infinity Engine mods (with the distinct exception of ToBEx), do not actually make changes to the games source code or software. We merely place files in the override directory; it is the software that dictates how those files are then used. Furthermore, we do not benefit financially from the mods that we produce which avoids a host of legal issues regarding derivative works.

    May I ask why in particular this is of concern to you? Legal matter? Moral matter? Worried that Beamdog is going to stop offering support for games that have been modded?

    pastapesto
  • pastapestopastapesto Member Posts: 3
    edited July 2017
    Hi subtledoctor,

    Thanks for reply!

    > Go make a computer game!

    Good advice, probably will do some day :D

    ----

    Hi Aquadrizzt,

    Kindly thanks for your reply!

    > do not actually make changes to the games source code

    And we don't have source code of game, sadly :(

    > We merely place files in the override directory

    Software is not .exe file, it is full package of files that distributor provides to you.

    We modify dialog.tlk files as well, so we modify software this way. Very rare mod doesn't have any translation strings.

    Also the definition of software modification is quite complicated. Then you insert file in override folder you modify content of product and behavior of software, so therefore this can be considered modification in some sort.

    > Furthermore, we do not benefit financially from the mods that we produce which avoids a host of legal issues regarding derivative works.

    Not quite, mods are definitely derivative works, because we base on result of Black Isle/Beamdog development. As about non-commercial derivative work, I can recall some fanfics that have been hunted for years, bcz original author of writing didn't like how their characters are portrayed (e.g. Harry Potter).

    > May I ask why in particular this is of concern to you? Legal matter? Moral matter? Worried that Beamdog is going to stop offering support for games that have been modded?

    This is kinda complicated. I don't care much about Beamdog support for games that have been modded, and this was never the case. Perhaps, it is more legal matters, but not only about commercialization of some concrete mod. What I am more interested in is learning about general practice of legal limitations for modding (and not only in case of EE-remakes, but for other games as well).

  • KilivitzKilivitz Member Posts: 1,459
    AFAIK, making/distributing mods is technically a breach of EULA. However, no publisher in their right mind would try to stop modding as it's actually beneficial to them - modding communities keep players engaged and interested and it can actually boost sales.

    Of course, that's all provided you're not trying to make money out of mods. I'm pretty sure any one who tries to charge people for them is going to get a cease and desist letter within days (if not hours).

    As for why it's a breach of EULA even when done as a hobby may have to do with support.

    AndreaColombo
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,460
    Kilivitz said:

    AFAIK, making/distributing mods is technically a breach of EULA.

    I'm not sure I agree, but again, it's not really worth my time to do proper research. What are they going to do, dig into my hard drive and take back the game? I bought it; I have it; I can pretty much do what I want with it as long as I don't distribute pirated copies of game resources - IP owned by the company.

    If I have performed certain operations on my game files - tweak this byte, overwrite that file - there's nothing wrong with telling others about how the result subjectively improves the gameplay experience. And distributing a mod is simply distributing instructions, by way of a script, to achieve the same result. Nothing is pirated, there is no violation of copyright. The mods require that users purchase the game, and by the voluntary nature of users installing them, will tend to increase engagement and enjoyment of the game, for which various intangible benefits will accrue to the developers. And not always intangible - Beamdog wouldn't exist and be making money and creating jobs right now, if the original games didn't have a vibrant modding scene.

    So for a single-player game, even if a company could stop people from modding it (and, they can't)... why would they?

    AndreaColombo
  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,294

    So therefore I can only make conclusion that it is forbidden by holder of copyright to do any modding activity.

    oh really? this is a very conflicted and subtle legal area where you really need to start from the ground up and you, @pastapesto appear to show a proclivity for simplistic thinking, i'm sorry to say. it's just a bad way to start this topic. you don't start a thread in a difficult expert area you know nothing about by making an idle presuposition and then trying to defend it.

    how about some googling first?

  • KilivitzKilivitz Member Posts: 1,459
    The OP asked whether people were allowed to make and sell mods and my answer was: yes, modding your game is okay, but you'll lose entitlement to support (which can be reversed by simply reinstalling the game) and you can't sell them (because *then* you'd be doing copyright infringement, selling a product based on an IP and technology to which you don't hold the rights to).

    What are they going to do, dig into my hard drive and take back the game?

    Of course not. But they (and by "they" I mean any publisher) may refuse to support or troubleshoot an installation that's had its files messed around with. That's all. It's no different from voiding the warranty of a physical product by breaking the seal. And it's not done because they're evil or overprotective of their design vision. It's because promising to support every single possible modification of a game's files is absolutely impractical.

    Nothing is pirated, there is no violation of copyright.

    EULA-breaking and copyright infringement are two completely different things.

    The mods require that users purchase the game, and by the voluntary nature of users installing them, will tend to increase engagement and enjoyment of the game, for which various intangible benefits will accrue to the developers. And not always intangible - Beamdog wouldn't exist and be making money and creating jobs right now, if the original games didn't have a vibrant modding scene.

    That's exactly what I've said on my previous post. I'm not sure why you're arguing with me.

  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,460
    edited July 2017
    Kilivitz said:


    But they (and by "they" I mean any publisher) may refuse to support or troubleshoot an installation that's had its files messed around with. That's all.

    Oh, yeah. I'm just cynical, I don't expect most companies to do much in the way of support and troubleshooting anyway. :tongue:
    Kilivitz said:

    EULA-breaking and copyright infringement are two completely different things.

    ...

    That's exactly what I've said on my previous post. I'm not sure why you're arguing with me.

    Not arguing, just used that as a springboard for further commentary. :wink: My only quibble (which is more or less inconsequential is with the easy assumption of "EULA-breaking.") If a provision in a EULA is unenforceable (and many are - EULAs are generally written for butt-covering more than for actually enforcing), then IMO that provision is a nullity and you have not "broken" anything.

    But again the distinction is close to meaningless, just me being pedantic.

    Kilivitz
  • RaduzielRaduziel Member Posts: 4,716

    Furthermore, we do not benefit financially from the mods that we produce

    Wait, what? Why am I learning how to build?



    :p

  • lefreutlefreut Member Posts: 1,462
    edited November 2019
    ***

    Post edited by lefreut on
    KilivitzAndreaColombo
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,460
    edited July 2017
    Isn't GTA5 a multiplayer game? Might be why. Or, did that mod include and distribute privately-owned IP or assets, without permission? Maybe Rockstar was planning to sell a GTA4-in-GTA5-engine game, and the mod screwed their plans. I could see Bethesda wanting to shut down Skywind if they were planning a modern remaster of ES3, or something.

    Or maybe Rockstar are just jerks.

    Another consideration here is that these are Dungeons & Dragons games. And I'll put money on the fact that there are no PnP D&D sessions that are played with precisely the same rules. As such, I would argue that any D&D computer games that is totally inflexible and forces each player into the same "this-is-what-the-rulebook-says-end-of-discussion" ruleset, it is an abject failure. The ability to use "house rules" - at least to some degree - is part of what makes the IE games the most successful computer adaptation of D&D in history. In my opinion, "no modding" = "not really D&D."

  • ArunsunArunsun Member Posts: 1,581
    edited July 2017
    Beamdog's shown themselves as very positive towards mods, be it in comments (as from the thread whose link was posted a few comments ago) or in actions (they are doing things to expand the modding possibilities). Besides, I believe modding comes under the fair use terms, defined as follows:

    "In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

    the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    the nature of the copyrighted work;
    the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."


    A mod isn't of commercial nature, the modifications it implies are rather minor, and as we already said, modding keeps a community active, which is also good for the value of the copyrightrf work. And modability makes the game almost entirely tailor-made-able, which is something many like.

    Beamdog being a small studio, they need that community. Some of you might have heard of the theory of the 1,000 true fans (http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/), which more or less says that one individual doesn't need millions of fans, but only 1,000 true fans that will buy their products to live. Well Beamdog has more than that but also need more than that -they are not just one person -, but that's still the idea. A very loyal community that will buy all or most of your products is what allows small studios to survive.
    Besides, mods might cause compatibility issues between players that would want to play multiplayer with different mod installations, but it won't ruin the experience or give a huge advantage to a player over an other (even in Multiplayer, you play WITH the other player(s), not against them). So while an autoaim mod/bot would definitely ruin the multiplayer experience in an FPS, there could be no mod that would do that in BG.

    Post edited by Arunsun on
    Grammarsalad
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 19,716
    @pastapesto

    "Please mod our games." - Phillip Daigle, https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/788206/#Comment_788206

    "Mod away, install mods, have fun. Discuss great mods in the forums, suggest future mod ideas to the development community. Mods are awesome and we love to see how our community can improve this already awesome series of games." - Trent Oster
    https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/788208/#Comment_788208

    OlvynChurupastapestomlneveseArtona
  • KilivitzKilivitz Member Posts: 1,459
    The iTunes EULA was fun to read. By accepting their terms you actually agreed not to use their software to build nuclear weapons.

    And there's also the case of people who ended up selling their souls to a software company: https://www.geek.com/games/gamestation-eula-collects-7500-souls-from-unsuspecting-customers-1194091/

    pastapestomlneveseAndreaColombo
  • pastapestopastapesto Member Posts: 3
    edited July 2017
    > "Please mod our games."
    > "Mod away, install mods, have fun. Discuss great mods in the forums, suggest future mod ideas to the development community. Mods are awesome and we love to see how our community can improve this already awesome series of games."

    True, nobody says that Beamdog doesn't support mods development and doesn't invest their effort to improving modding stage. And this is exactly why it is pretty strange to see statement in Beamdog's EULA about disallowment of reverse-engineering/modifying the games.

    So, as I understood, this is pretty normal that company can use community mods in their products and receive money by selling them as part of their final product, but still hold the right to ban distribution of whatever mod they want, if it would ever be the case. Or use it as a lever to make pressure on mod developer. But hopefully this didn't happen, though EULA looks pretty badly for me as a customer.

    For GOG versions of games, EULA is even more strict and aggressive. Also there are plenty of games where I could find editor/game tools bundled in game, but no statements in Readme or EULA about fair use of their tools (e.g. Shadowrun Dragonfall/Shadowrun Hong Kong).

    P.S. The complete statement by Trent Oster was

    "We spent over a year putting together the agreements for the Enhanced Editions of the games. We have a multi-company agreement with all the stakeholders and we have the rights to distribute existing content and create derivative works for commercial release.
    As a modder, or player, of the game you can mod the game to increase your enjoyment of the game. You however cannot sell mods, as you do not have a commercial exploitation agreement with all the stakeholders.
    So, in summation, mod away, install mods, have fun. Discuss great mods in the forums, suggest future mod ideas to the development community. Mods are awesome and we love to see how our community can improve this already awesome series of games."

    @JuliusBorisov, thanks for providing the references.

    > Besides, I believe modding comes under the fair use terms

    It is. And also laws about derivative work apply. If someone has real world lawsuits examples for non MMO games, then it would be interesting to find.

    > Am I the only one that is impressed that somewhere in the universe there is at least one person that reads an EULA?

    lol, yeah, looks like I am the second person, bcz first one was writing it :D I always read EULAs since I care about legal limitations of what I am buying. I can't say that it is the main reason that saved me from sues somehow, but hopefully I had zero cases while having some activity in gray areas.

    Post edited by pastapesto on
    RaduzielJuliusBorisov
  • KilivitzKilivitz Member Posts: 1,459
    edited July 2017

    >So, as I understood, this is pretty normal that company can use community mods in their products and receive money by selling them as part of their final product, but still hold the right to ban distribution of whatever mod they want, if it would ever be the case. Or use it as a lever to make pressure on mod developer. But hopefully this didn't happen, though EULA looks pretty badly for me as a customer.

    I don't know whether they can just take a modder's work and incorporate it into the game unless it's explicitly stated in the EULA or in this forum's service terms that they automatically hold the rights to any modifications distributed through their platform.

    Beamdog has indeed used mod content for the EEs (Erephine's 1PP and some of DavidW's SCS scripts, for example), but as I understand they cleared that with the modders beforehand and most likely compensated them financially as well.

    subtledoctormlneveserorikon
  • mlnevesemlnevese Member, Moderator Posts: 9,695
    Kilivitz said:

    >So, as I understood, this is pretty normal that company can use community mods in their products and receive money by selling them as part of their final product, but still hold the right to ban distribution of whatever mod they want, if it would ever be the case. Or use it as a lever to make pressure on mod developer. But hopefully this didn't happen, though EULA looks pretty badly for me as a customer.

    I don't know whether they can just take a modder's work and incorporate it into the game unless it's explicitly stated in the EULA or in this forum's service terms that they automatically hold the rights to any modifications distributed through their platform.

    Beamdog has indeed used mod content for the EEs (Erephine's 1PP and some of DavidW's SCS scripts, for example), but as I understand they cleared that with the modders beforehand and most likely compensated them financially as well.
    They can't use mods without permission of the mod author. Those that were incorporated in the game had to be cleared with the mod's authors first. The exact details were never revealed.,

  • RaduzielRaduziel Member Posts: 4,716
    Please, Beamdog, hire me and/or buy my stuff. Things are pretty bad here in Brazil and I could use some dollars (even Canadians one). :D

  • mlnevesemlnevese Member, Moderator Posts: 9,695
    @Raduziel se eu soubesse que era brasileiro tinha pedido meu 1% sobre os lucros nababescos dos seus mods antes de colocar na lista :wink:

    Sorry people. I won't translate that. It wouldn't make sense unless you were Brazilian anyway :)

  • KilivitzKilivitz Member Posts: 1,459
    mlnevese said:

    @Raduziel se eu soubesse que era brasileiro tinha pedido meu 1% sobre os lucros nababescos dos seus mods antes de colocar na lista :wink:

    I got that. :wink: And I wouldn't underestimate the Canadian Dollar if I were @Raduziel, it's worth 2.5 BRL as of now!

    mlnevese
  • RaduzielRaduziel Member Posts: 4,716
    @Kilivitz in my current situation I wouldn't underestimate even yens. :smiley:

    mlneveseKilivitz
  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 1,995
    mlnevese said:

    @Raduziel se eu soubesse que era brasileiro tinha pedido meu 1% sobre os lucros nababescos dos seus mods antes de colocar na lista :wink:

    Sorry people. I won't translate that. It wouldn't make sense unless you were Brazilian anyway :)

    Hm, but my favorite drivers are Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, so maybe I would.

    mlnevese
  • ArctodusArctodus Member Posts: 996
    edited July 2017
    mlnevese said:

    @Raduziel se eu soubesse que era brasileiro tinha pedido meu 1% sobre os lucros nababescos dos seus mods antes de colocar na lista :wink:

    Sorry people. I won't translate that. It wouldn't make sense unless you were Brazilian anyway :)

    Ha ! Brazilian ! I knew he was not a real alien ! Busted !

    mlnevese
  • mlnevesemlnevese Member, Moderator Posts: 9,695
    Arctodus said:

    mlnevese said:

    @Raduziel se eu soubesse que era brasileiro tinha pedido meu 1% sobre os lucros nababescos dos seus mods antes de colocar na lista :wink:

    Sorry people. I won't translate that. It wouldn't make sense unless you were Brazilian anyway :)

    Ha ! Brazilian ! I knew he was not a real alien ! Busted !
    Nope I'm a Martian pretending to be a Human who pretends to be a Martian in a computer game forum. And that human had to be from somewhere far away and exotic or it would be easy to verify... Hmmm... Did I just say too much?

    ArctodusArdanis
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,074
    Funny thing is, Improved Anvil has been for sale at least at one point, so the mod creator was profiting financially from it. But I've never heard of anyone giving him any legal trouble for it.

    That being said, I wouldn't try to put a mod up for sale anyhow, in case anyone is considering it. Free downloading of mods has become so standard that trying to charge money for a mod would just come off as a crass money grab.

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    Its funny, but I think if you bought a car, massively retooled/suped it up and resold it you'd have no obligations to the original manufacturer, and in all likelihood the original manufacturer would not be legally responsible for the car anymore, as in you'd void any warranties. I expect car manufacturers are very rigorous with their defense of IP, but you would be adding new material/labour. I'm not certain games, books, movies, etc are that different, but I'm not a lawyer.

    Somehow charging for mods does seem crass, maybe because we do not value computer related labour as we do physical?

    semiticgodtbone1
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,074
    Personally, I think modders should be paid for their excellent work. I just don't want to pay for mods. Can't somebody else do it?

    DreadKhan
  • ArdanisArdanis Member Posts: 1,691
    edited July 2017
    mlnevese said:

    Arctodus said:

    mlnevese said:

    @Raduziel se eu soubesse que era brasileiro tinha pedido meu 1% sobre os lucros nababescos dos seus mods antes de colocar na lista :wink:

    Sorry people. I won't translate that. It wouldn't make sense unless you were Brazilian anyway :)

    Ha ! Brazilian ! I knew he was not a real alien ! Busted !
    Nope I'm a Martian pretending to be a Human who pretends to be a Martian in a computer game forum. And that human had to be from somewhere far away and exotic or it would be easy to verify... Hmmm... Did I just say too much?
    Yo, green braza!

    Funny thing is, Improved Anvil has been for sale at least at one point, so the mod creator was profiting financially from it. But I've never heard of anyone giving him any legal trouble for it.

    To be fair, by that point the mod and its author have already succeeded in alienating the vast majority of modding community, so it's not like anyone cared anymore beside several hardcore fans who didn't mind helping with server costs. It was more like donation than sale, really, coupled with idiocy and/or trolling.
    And I say that as an individual proud to have been banned on that forum.

    PPS Saying that as a former modder, not a Beamdog representative.

    Post edited by Ardanis on
    mlnevesesemiticgod
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