Study Coming for Player-Created Content and Copyright
Typically I will not write anything about the awarding of a grant or beginning of a project, but I am making this item an exception because I found it to be provocative. Researchers at Rutgers University are soon going to be starting a study into player-created game content and how it relates to copyright laws. Copyright and patent laws are tricky enough with professional software, but what happens with crowd-created content?
Several games, on console and PC, now feature some kind of game-changing function, such as Forge World in Halo: Reach and the Creation Kit for Skyrim. We also have games that are based on making the world your own, like Minecraft. Developers are quickly realizing that users like customizing the games with their own content or mods from other people, but at the same time developers enable that, they may also have to introduce some restrictions. If a game presents official tools that allow a user to recreate copyrighted content, how does liability play with that?
At the moment the researchers believe the majority of player-created content falls in a grey area of copyright law, where it is not clearly pirated nor novel. One of the study's ultimate goals is to actually develop a method by which one may determine the degree to which a mod complies with copyright law. As gamer-players come closer to game-creators, these questions become important to answer.