Video Game Company Sues Fans Who Make Skins

from the how-clueless-can-you-be? dept

It’s getting really depressing seeing just how clueless some companies are these days. The latest ridiculously bad decision by a company is video game shop Tecmo for suing everyone involved in an online forum that made skins for Tecmo games. This was, basically, a group of big fans of Tecmo’s games who bought the games and then figured out ways to modify the thing they had bought to change the appearance within their own game for their own enjoyment. They weren’t profiting off of this. They weren’t getting the game for free. They were still buying it, and they were such big fans that they wanted to do more with the game. Those are the people you encourage, because they make your game even more valuable to others as well. Tecmo seems to think this is illegal, though they don’t have much of a legal argument, relying on the favorite last ditch effort “it’s illegal because we don’t like it” defense. The thing is, while there’s very little legal leg to stand on, that shouldn’t matter that much. The real issue is that they just turned off a huge group of fans from ever spending any money on any Tecmo games again. Maybe they think their “intellectual property” will buy their games, but these fans certainly won’t any more.

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Comments on “Video Game Company Sues Fans Who Make Skins”

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Simon says:

No Subject Given

The linked article indicates that the platform these people were modifying was xbox – my understanding is that typically this would require circumnavigating Microsoft’s copy protection. If this is accurate, then they could find themselves in a tricky position – whatever the moral position on modifying games that you own.
Interestingly, many other manufacturers seem to embrace the enthusiast communities as they add value to the product being sold. Take a look at EA Sports ever increasing monopoly of official sports licensing; history shows that gamers prefer to play sport games with teams and player rosters taken from their real-life counterparts. Now compare EA’s FIFA 2005 with Konami’s Winning Eleven / Pro-Evolution soccer series – the majority of soccer gamers consider Konami’s offering to be superior in terms of gameplay, but Konami, for the most part, are unable to offer real teams and players. Step-in the modder community, who provide updated graphics and statistics to the game. Maintained by an army of fans who do it only for their own enjoyment, this unofficial content blows away EA’s ability to keep up with the real world changes – often being updated on a weekly basis.

Chris Wuestefeld says:

Re: No Subject Given

This is pretty much correct. In the absence of a “mod chip”, an xbox is pretty well locked down. If you want to patch new skins in, you’ve got to use the mod chip to (a) install hacking tools, (b) run the hacking tools, and (c) run the patched game off the hard drive rather than DVD.
I’m pretty sure that if nothing else, using the mod chip to make a copy of the game’s DVD onto the hard disk violates the DMCA.

Freed says:

No Subject Given

The other thing that the article mentions is that they were modifying the games so that they included nudity. Personally, I think it’s kinda funny. But I’m sure that there’s some high-level suit at Tecmo deathly afraid that by someone changing nearly nude characters playing beach volleyball into completely nude ones, they would somehow become associated with being an accessory to creating digital pornography, or something equally paranoid. Tecmo probably thinks its better to sue some hackers than incur the wrath of some jingoistically conservative letter-writing activists.

– Freed

The Mod says:

Whats Next

Are Ford or GM or any other car maker going to start suing people for modding their cars? Probally not, and I dont see what the difference is if people mod their software or hardware. You bought it, mod away, and if they resell it modded how different is that from reselling a car you modified using the original brand name. Next thing we know pc case makers will start suing people for modding pc cases.

Im ranting now.

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