Copyright

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
mods, steam, video games

Companies:
sega, valve



Sega/Steam Took Down A Bunch Of Legitimate Steam Workshop Mods Over Copyright Concerns

from the sigh dept

We've talked often about how common it is for legitimate customers to get caught up in attempts to thwart piracy and copyright infringement. From DRM keeping legit purchasers from using what they paid for to Fair Use uses of content getting taken down by automatic systems on sites like YouTube, it's worth noting whenever this happens. After all, there is an expression in the legal system that goes something like: I'd rather set 100 guilty people free than imprison a single innocent. The stakes when it comes to copyright aren't as high as jail time, typically, but it's interesting how little this mantra penetrates with those who would enforce copyright via carpet-bomb rather than a scalpel.

Take the recent incident with Sega's Steam Workshop mod-space, for instance, where dozens and dozens of mods within the platform suddenly disappeared.

Earlier this year Sega opened a Steam Workshop section for their Sega Mega Drive & Genesis Classics Hub, allowing modders to tinker with emulated versions of games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage. On Tuesday, dozens of those mods were removed without explanation.

Modders asking why their creations were taken down have received a stock reply from Steam Support: “Due to reporting of content that violates the Steam Terms of Service, the content in question has been removed from the Steam Community.”

Now, some of the mods taken down did indeed violate Steam's ToS, including some that weren't so much mods as they were full uploads of classic Sega games. Those takedowns make perfect sense. But many other mods were exactly the type that Sega itself had allowed, if not encouraged, which certainly did not violate the ToS. These included game mods to make games easier, mods to mix Sega games with the original music from their PC counterparts, and even mods designed to help those with certain disabilities play classic Sega games. We've even noted recently that Sega has made it clear that it wants gamers to mod its games in this way, even poking at its competitors for issuing these kinds of takedowns. So what gives?

Well, in a later update, PC Gamer posts a response from Sega. It essentially acknowledges that a bunch of innocent mods were taken down by an automated system not intelligent enough to discern between what was allowed and not allowed.

"SEGA would like to reiterate how delighted it is with how the Mega Drive/Genesis Collection community has self-moderated content on Steam Workshop. We've seen some fantastic mods created and released on the platform and want to encourage the community's continued creativity by helping to curate a library of outstanding mods.

"However, due to some erratic user behaviour over the last few days, many mods which didn't breach Steam's terms of service were automatically removed from Steam Workshop. SEGA and Valve are working together with the affected modders to reinstate their work as soon as possible and have already reversed a number of removals.

"SEGA and Valve are not actively removing mods that do not violate the terms of service, only those that do. We appreciate the help of the community's self-moderation in removing illegal or offensive content to maintain the high standard of legal mods on the platform. If you feel your mod does not breach the Steam terms of service but was removed, please contact community@sega.co.uk and SEGA will investigate."

Which, fine, but why not just reverse the automated process, put everything back up, and use those same Sega investigators to only take down the infringing mods? Why does the human element always seem to be reserved for remedying the mistakes as opposed to preventing them? Why must innocent modders suffer, like a villager caught in a cluster bomb?


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    sciamiko (profile), 1 Nov 2016 @ 1:32am

    Approaches to injustice

    Compare:

    "... the law holds it better that ten guilty persons escape, than that
    one innocent party suffer..." - William Blackstone, Commentaries of the
    Laws of England (1765)

    "I'm more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am
    with a few that, in fact, were innocent." - Dick Cheney,
    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/12/dick-cheney-defends-the-torture-innocent s/383741/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 2:05am

    Stakes not as high as prison?

    I would dare question that assertation. Prison is bad of course, but expenses of a trial and the following monetary punishment is devastating in many years to come for any regular person. The extreme measures that are taken to actively ruin a persons life for copyright infringement is downright atrocious.
    I do not have children or any immidiate responsibilities, besides my job, so I think that in some cases, I would actually prefer a few months in prison compared to many years fighting to pay off one of those giant fines they so happily dole out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wyrm (profile), 1 Nov 2016 @ 1:19pm

      Re: Stakes not as high as prison?

      You forgot to consider that just doing prison time also messes up your life long-term. Looking for a home? for employment? Good luck with that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Nov 2016 @ 2:14am

    "due to some erratic user behaviour over the last few days"

    Nothing like blaming the community you were praising seconds ago.

    One is starting to think that perhaps someone should file to take down all of Sega's offerings from a platform. Then just chalk it up to an ooopsie & try to blame Sega for it happening. Perhaps if Sega was on the otherside of the situation perhaps they could start to understand what shitty takedowns cause for the innocents swept up by their laziness.

    Content holders have no idea the damage bad takedowns cause for people, so they are tone deaf about the 'few' who had to pay the price because someone might use a hedgehog and not pay them.

    Imagine the screaming outrage from Sega and a passive aggressive 'apology' blaming Sega for the issue. Perhaps then they could understand the real harm they are causing by nuking it all and letting Steam sort it out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 2:26am

    Why must innocent modders suffer, like a villager caught in a cluster bomb?

    Because lawyers.
    Leaving mods up is something that can be done in ignorance. It's out of the publisher's control.
    Having taken them down though, putting them back up is an act of publishing, and they'd be crucified in court for doing it.
    You know this as well as I do, Tim. Putting in such obtuse rhetoric is stupid and disingenuous.
    Yes, they should have investigated properly first and they're paying the price for that now, but pretending you don't understand what's going on is annoying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 5:28am

      Re: Why must innocent modders suffer, like a villager caught in a cluster bomb?

      No court would find against them for reverting an automated process automatically when they found it was flawed. That is a clearly content-neutral approach where they could argue that they only looked at a handful of items and didn't need to look any further to see that the automated tool failed. Also, they're protected by multiple layers anyways.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 Nov 2016 @ 7:08am

        Re: Re: Why must innocent modders suffer, like a villager caught in a cluster bomb?

        No *reasonable* court, you mean.

        But as we've all seen over the years, when it comes to copyright, all reason goes straight out the window.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Talitha, 1 Nov 2016 @ 6:41am

      Re: Why must innocent modders suffer, like a villager caught in a cluster bomb?

      > Because lawyers.

      Because copyright.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 1 Nov 2016 @ 9:47am

        Re: Re: Why must innocent modders suffer, like a villager caught in a cluster bomb?

        Because copyright lawyers. :D

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 6:43pm

        Re: Re: Why must innocent modders suffer, like a villager caught in a cluster bomb?

        >> Because lawyers.
        > Because copyright.

        Because lawyers need to justify their earnings somehow.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 2:28am

    "Why does the human element always seem to be reserved for remedying the mistakes as opposed to preventing them?"

    Indeed, Reminds me of the film Robocop when he go a kill spree by killing innocent people but once someone is dead even from a mistake you cannot bring that person back alive and in this example the copyright cult will be happy for innocent people to be mistakenly killed because you know copyright must be protected and served at all times!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 2:57am

    As long as people continue supporting these dirt bags they had better continue to keep some lubricant on hand. I imagine it is Sony, and we all know how they turn. Now get some popcorn and wait to see what shows up in their creations without compensating the creator, These bastards are the worst kind, and shame on anyone who associates with them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    any moose cow word, 1 Nov 2016 @ 9:06am

    Copyright law requires all takedown notices to be issued "in good faith", yet issuing blanket takedowns from these automated systems without any proper human review never met that requirement and never will. These schemes ought to be challenged in court and human review be mandated. However, copyright holders prefer the current situation because it allows them to claim blind ignorance if no one bothers to verify the lists. That's odd considering that they insist it's the service providers who are claiming willfully blind ignorance for not inspecting the data they store or transmit for copyright infringement. The hubris, of course, is the fact that the copyright holders are the only ones in the position to properly make that determination, and yet they continue to claim that even they are unable to do it.

    My apologies if this rant is somewhat beyond the bounds of the Steam case here, but it's nonetheless part of the bigger issue of the entire automated takedown schemes that are currently employed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 10:29am

    Steam loves DRM.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 10:58am

    Unfortunately, the "it's better to ask forgiveness than permission" mentality makes people think they can stab each other in the back and get away with it by "apologizing" afterward.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2016 @ 1:59pm

    I guess mania will be a steam sale purchase now. And they were doing so well vs nintendo's 500 takedowns.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.