Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

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Re: Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

Postby Deh0lise on Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:40 am

Plague wrote:
Deh0lise wrote:The contract doesn't terminate if you take away your map from workshop either.

Submitting a map to the workshop implies a license contract with valve in which you give to them all rights non exclusively (you can commercialize your work as Valve -who'll give you nothing) royalty-free (You won't see a cent. You are only paid if it is sold separately, that is hats) for the eternity (your life + 70 years) of everything submitted (v.g logos, design, textures, models etc) and they'll be able to use it as they please (v.g new games, t-shirts, promos etc). You exchange rights for hosting.



By removing it from the workshop the contract is voided because it's no longer a workshop contribution.
And you don't "exchange" your rights, as you still retain all your rights pertaining to the work you created, including distributing, advertising and monetizing to whatever legal extent.

This is absurd.


It is a contribution once you accept the agreement and submit the content. There is no resolution clause at all and "You grant to Valve a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, assignable right and license to (a) use, copy, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, modify, and create derivative works from Your Contribution in any media, (b) identify You as the source of the Contribution, and (c) sublicense these rights, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.".

You are no longer the exclusive owner of the rights of your works (that is the non-exclusive). You can use your stuff but so does Valve, and as he pleases.

Hosting is the compensation for the rights of the contributions. Oh, and as you can see they can sublicense them (v.g resell), so it might be hard competing with them selling your stuff. They can even release it for free so anyone can use your textures/vmf/props.

Many companies use this abusive contracts which don't reflect reality (as many legislation limits that and I hope the applicable one does too) to ensure they'll get the maximum they can if something goes wrong because of them or the other party. It may not reflect what they intend but reflects what they can.
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Re: Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

Postby Major Banter on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:23 am

Strictly speaking, Valve use a generic closed contract that has nothing truly unusual about it. It's a legal shut-off, and little else.

Regarding the "use, copy, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, modify, and create derivative works"; this is a cover-all for any scenario. 'Derivative works' will include marketing, posters and so on, while the ability to 'modify' covers them at a later date if something dodgy is found within the material. None of that indicates any ability whatsoever to steal, sell or otherwise - you'll see exactly the same language in a Creative Commons license.

Again, regarding the "You grant to Valve a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, assignable right and license", that's legal coverage. Note the non-exclusive? The 'perpetual' could refer to server junk, or long-forgotten works and protects Valve from long-term lawsuits. The non-exclusive and perpetual work together legally in a rather elegant fashion. "Irrevocable" just exempts Valve from issues arising from speed of removal. "Royalty-free" is simple - you don't get paid any long-term contractual wage for your map immediately. No biggie; imagine if Valve were paying out for every map submitted! This doesn't exclude payment later down the line either.

Valve can't resell your material, end of story, because you're still the rights holder. That "applicable law" part that you casually ignored refers to your statutory and copyright based rights. And yes, of course they can distribute your stuff - in the exact same way uploading your map to ANYWHERE distributes your stuff.

Abusive contract? It's about as abusive as giving a child a cuddly toy. Everyone reads legal language like they're signing away their soul, when the law tears companies apart if they aren't careful. Why do you think 'the man' often wins legal fights? Because the man on the street didn't read the damn terms and conditions that covered that eventuality.
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Re: Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

Postby Deh0lise on Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:38 am

Major Banter wrote:Strictly speaking, Valve use a generic closed contract that has nothing truly unusual about it. It's a legal shut-off, and little else.

Regarding the "use, copy, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, modify, and create derivative works"; this is a cover-all for any scenario. 'Derivative works' will include marketing, posters and so on, while the ability to 'modify' covers them at a later date if something dodgy is found within the material. None of that indicates any ability whatsoever to steal, sell or otherwise - you'll see exactly the same language in a Creative Commons license.

Again, regarding the "You grant to Valve a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, assignable right and license", that's legal coverage. Note the non-exclusive? The 'perpetual' could refer to server junk, or long-forgotten works and protects Valve from long-term lawsuits. The non-exclusive and perpetual work together legally in a rather elegant fashion. "Irrevocable" just exempts Valve from issues arising from speed of removal. "Royalty-free" is simple - you don't get paid any long-term contractual wage for your map immediately. No biggie; imagine if Valve were paying out for every map submitted! This doesn't exclude payment later down the line either.

Valve can't resell your material, end of story, because you're still the rights holder. That "applicable law" part that you casually ignored refers to your statutory and copyright based rights. And yes, of course they can distribute your stuff - in the exact same way uploading your map to ANYWHERE distributes your stuff.

Abusive contract? It's about as abusive as giving a child a cuddly toy. Everyone reads legal language like they're signing away their soul, when the law tears companies apart if they aren't careful. Why do you think 'the man' often wins legal fights? Because the man on the street didn't read the damn terms and conditions that covered that eventuality.


The whole point of a license contract is to give rights to the other party, and those are the ones described in the contract. This contract just takes it all but leaves you with non exclusivity (you can relicense). It doesn't describe the extend of the license which means it is everything. It grants sublicense which means transferin IP rights you transfered to Valve.

As it just takes everything and most legislations have limits to protect this abuses it is possible the one applicable (King County, Washington, USA) do have too. For example, in my country it is not possible to license for more than 5 years, don't have a compensation if the work is commercialized, and if it does there is an "equity action" in case the compensation was way too low, etc.So I haven't ignored the applicable law, they did. They just made reference to it.

It is not just Valve, but most companies do use this strategy, and it is common in adhesion contracts (all those made with consumers without negotiation). The whole contract may be filled with innumerable null and void clauses, but as you don't know the law you may think the contract is fully enforceable. It is a legal trick to gain an advantage over the consumer and win what is possible in the court. Also, it is cheaper.

If you pay attention you can see they already know it has limits in the "Governing Law" section, where it states " The terms of this section may not apply to European Union consumers." That is because of imperative norms to protect consumers in europe. Also, this way there is no need to make different contracts for the different territories of your consumers (consumers law in europe has a minimum protection + different protection in each country).

About being the right holder... IP is an exclusive right which has moral and economic rights. The first can't be licensed the second can. You don't have to license everything, you can license a concrete function (public communication, distribution or reproduction - and their concrete sub functions) for a period of time and concrete end (v.g a show, map hosting...), so there might be multiple people with the same economic rights or even the same as the copyright holder, or for different functions etc. A license implies that the receiving party will also hold the economic rights in the extend of the license.

A non exclusive license like the one in workshop agreement implies that both author and licensee (valve) stand in possession of the same economic rights (it is not in possession of one party exclusively) but not moral ones (which pertain to author and, once dead, to their heirs).

And that is not all. "You agree that Valve may amend the terms of this Agreement at any time in its sole discretion". The contract can change with just a notice in the website and you have to send a postal to terminate the contract within 30 days after the change has been made.

You can't describe what those words mean like ""Irrevocable" just exempts Valve from issues arising from speed of removal". It is possible they intend that, but it is not what it says. A contract is about what is written, and you can't add words describing it. In case of doubt the rule is to stand to literal or legal meaning (v.g perpetual = your life +70 years). Irrevocable means it can't be revoked.

I'm sure (or would like to be) Valve doesn't intend to take advantage of us, but the contract does give them that power.
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Re: Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

Postby Naticus on Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:56 pm

Deh0lise wrote:I'm sure (or would like to be) Valve doesn't intend to take advantage of us, but the contract does give them that power.


Let's hit home with a concrete example. Say that Sathor finishes de_investment and then submits it to the CS:GO workshop and it becomes immensely popular (as it will). Then, next year, Valve announces the next version of Counter-Strike that will utilize a new engine and will be released to consoles and PC. Then to Sathor's surprise, Valve includes de_investment as a stock map in the new Counter-Strike and heavily uses it in advertising to promote the game.

Can Valve do this without contacting Sathor or forming a new agreement with him? According to the workshop agreement they absolutely can. Why? Because Sathor assigned a perpetual and irrevocable license to Valve to use his map in any way they see fit including future sales. He already gave them permission to do this via the workshop agreement.

I strongly recommend that those individuals like Sathor who have highly prized content to not submit their maps through the workshop. Host it somewhere else where you don't release all your rights. The map will still be popular hosted elsewhere but you reserve leverage in case you are ever approached with a real offer to use your content in a way that could get you paid.
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Re: Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

Postby Deh0lise on Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:33 pm

Unfortunately I have to agree with you Naticus, within a legal point of view and considering Valve increased their income with mods in the past and in the present living out of third party games (steam) it could be their strategy.

But it is worse than it looks. Workshop will make people more lazy and those sites that where frequently used to search for maps will see their traffic decreased, server administrators will also search just inside workshop and users will demand maps to be inside workshop because it eases their life (they don't have to install manually, can search automatically games with that map etc).

May look weir for some people, but look what happened with steam and drm free games. Nowadays people demand steam games (with drm) over drm-free games. Years back that was nonsense.

Though everything above is an hypothesis and it may evolve differently, legally and economically there are reasons to take care about what we do when submitting a map to workshop.
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Re: Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

Postby Black_Stormy on Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:10 pm

I don't have the patience right now to write out paragraphs in reply, but I think you're being a bit paranoid. If you don't want to use the service, don't. You're not going to get money for releasing your maps on any of the platforms currently available anyway so why are you so bothered that workshop won't be giving you cash either. It's merely another portal for you to get your work out there. The only reason I would be worried about submitting is that valve might come after you for re-using some of the content in your product, which is nullified by the use of non-exclusive.
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Re: Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

Postby Deh0lise on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:55 pm

Black_Stormy this is not about cash but rights.
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Re: Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

Postby Naticus on Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:03 pm

Black_Stormy wrote:I don't have the patience right now to write out paragraphs in reply, but I think you're being a bit paranoid. If you don't want to use the service, don't. You're not going to get money for releasing your maps on any of the platforms currently available anyway so why are you so bothered that workshop won't be giving you cash either. It's merely another portal for you to get your work out there. The only reason I would be worried about submitting is that valve might come after you for re-using some of the content in your product, which is nullified by the use of non-exclusive.

I think you missed the point of the argument. Since you are one that actively tries to sell your work, you should understand the value of intellectual property and why someone should care about protecting their own work. This is not about trying to make cash off the workshop and I wish the workshop agreement was written so that it was just "another portal to get your work out there".

The irritation is that Valve put together an agreement that extends well beyond just hosting your content. It is granting Valve a permanent license to use everything contained in your submission including Models and Textures that are 100% custom and were not created with any of Valve's tools. I think that DehOlise and I are being so vocal about this issue because people need to be aware of the rights they are giving up. It is not paranoia. We are just trying to promote an awareness of your rights and bring to light the agreement that could be so easily overlooked when submitting something to the workshop. It is ultimately up to the individual whether or not they want to submit their content but they should at least be forewarned.
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Re: Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

Postby Black_Stormy on Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:39 am

So your point is that people should be wary that valve might re-use their work and not give them credit? One of the models I made way back in the day made its way into the L4D mod I hate mountains without me knowing. When someone pointed this out to me, I was ecstatic. I was never asked and likely they didn't even realise that it was a poached model, but it was nothing but a positive. I guess this is where personal preference comes down to it. If I was to give something to valve and they saw fit to effectively poach it, it would be nothing but an ego boost and a deeply tipped hat. I don't see in their agreement anywhere that says they take your rights, to me it says that they share them. So you are free to use your work as much as they are. In fact, and do correct me if I'm wrong as I have hardly even skimmed the agreement, you could put your submitted content into a commercial game of your own and valve don't have rights to stop you.

I guess if your circumstances require that you be careful of who has what rights to your work then yes, be wary. But I highly doubt that anyone is going to submit something to the workshop that they would otherwise gain some sort of rights boner over. You can still use all your shit how you want, and so can valve.
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Re: Steam Workshop: The death of Desura

Postby Smurftyours on Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:19 am

If you're so bothered by the "irritation" of the agreement, then obviously the workshop isn't for you. If you don't like it, don't submit your work to it. I don't understand why you two would complain about a voluntary service that is available to those who don't have a problem with selling their models and associated rights to valve. Let people make their own choices. Not everyone is fucking paranoid about the big man going and taking their rights away. Some people would jump at the opportunity to sell their work and rights for quick cash.
jangalomph wrote:Wise words from a wise man. ^
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