Game Content Usage Rules Revisited

I just got off a lengthy conference call with a whole bunch of people involved in the Game Content Usage Rules from Microsoft, which for newcomers to the blog are MS’s new rules essentially making a lot of Machinima less legally problematic.

It was a very, very positive call. Fred von Lohmann from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and myself were both on there to make the case for the Machinima community, and the MS guys were more than willing to hear from us - indeed, they’ve been reading and thinking about what everyone in the Machinima world has been saying already.

I’m going to put up a lengthy column tomorrow going through the Rules as they stand and clarifying them and what they mean with respect both to the law and this conversation.

(Wow, I’ve been talking to lawyers. Sorry. Shorter sentences.)

However, here are the edited highlights that I think most people will be interested in:

  • Expect an edited and improved version of these rules soon with a lot of the rough edges smoothed out.

  • The Rules ARE NOT meant to prohibit entering film festivals including the Machinima Film Festival and Machinima Europe, and MS won’t come after you for entering festivals.

  • These Rules don’t trump or replace any existing copyright law. Even if you don’t fall under the purview of the Rules, you still have all your existing Fair Use protections in place if you live somewhere that has those - in other words, they take nothing away from you.

  • The commercial licenses that they’re talking about sound very interesting, and you may well not need thousands of dollars to take advantage of them.

  • The sound effects situation is complicated, and I’ll write more about it tomorrow, but they are looking into it.

  • The fan-fiction provisions are MUCH narrower than they may appear. This is a bit complicated and I’ll cover it more tomorrow, but the short version is that they’re dismayed at how many people were scared by them, and that wasn’t their intention. Red vs Blue isn’t the kind of fanfic those rules are meant to prohibit, for example.

There’s loads more - I’ll cover that tomorrow. But, in short, these guys seem really interested in helping the Machinima community, and they deserve a big hand, from what I’ve seen, for what they’ve done.