Author Topic: "no reason" and no rights  (Read 10810 times)

Sekoia

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"no reason" and no rights
« on: October 12, 2012, 02:55:22 PM »
I had noticed this phrase in the City of Heroes EULA a few weeks ago: "You have no fundamental right whatsoever to use the Game, and that You understand that NCsoft may in its sole and absolute discretion terminate Your ability to use of the Game for any reason or for no reason whatsoever". That's right, the EULA makes us agree that they can shut the game down for no reason whatsoever if they so wish. Today I got curious as to whether the other user agreements, past and present, have similar language. Given that they understandably seem to copy-and-paste their legalese, the answer is... yes.

Auto Assault User Agreement, section 10 (c)
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(c) NC Interactive has the right at any time for any reason or no reason to change and/or eliminate any aspect(s) of the Service as it sees fit in its sole discretion.

Tabula Rasa User Agreement, section 10 (c)
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(c) NC Interactive has the right at any time for any reason or no reason to change and/or eliminate any aspect(s) of the Service as it sees fit in its sole discretion.

Dungeon Runners User Agreement, section 10 (c)
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(c) NC Interactive has the right at any time for any reason or no reason to change and/or eliminate any aspect(s) of the Service as it sees fit in its sole discretion.

Exteel User Agreement, section 10 (c)
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(c) NC Interactive has the right at any time for any reason or no reason to change and/or eliminate any aspect(s) of the Service as it sees fit in its sole discretion.

City of Heroes User Agreement, section 11 (a) (i)
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(i)      You warrant and represent that You understand the Game sets forth a virtual world and not the real world, that You understand the distinction between a virtual world and the real world, that You understand that You have no fundamental right whatsoever to use the Game, and that You understand that NCsoft may in its sole and absolute discretion terminate Your ability to use of the Game for any reason or for no reason whatsoever;

Lineage 2 User Agreement, section 11 (a) (i)
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(i)   You warrant and represent that You understand the Game sets forth a virtual world and not the real world, that You understand the distinction between a virtual world and the real world, that You understand that You have no fundamental right whatsoever to use the Game, and that You understand that NCsoft may in its sole and absolute discretion terminate Your ability to use of the Game for any reason or for no reason whatsoever;

Aion User Agreement, section 11 (a) (i)
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(i) You warrant and represent that You understand the Game sets forth a virtual world and not the real world, that You understand the distinction between a virtual world and the real world, that You understand that You have no fundamental right whatsoever to use the Game, and that You understand that NCsoft may in its sole and absolute discretion terminate Your ability to access or use the Game for any reason or for no reason whatsoever;

Guild Wars User Agreement, section 10 (c)
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(c) NC Interactive has the right at any time for any reason or no reason to change and/or eliminate any aspect(s) of the Service as it sees fit in its sole discretion.

Guild Wars 2 User Agreement, section 11 (a) (i)
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(i) You warrant and represent that You understand the Game sets forth a virtual world and not the real world, that You understand the distinction between a virtual world and the real world, that You understand that You have no fundamental right whatsoever to use the Game, and that You understand that NCsoft may in its sole and absolute discretion terminate Your ability to access or use the Game for any reason or for no reason whatsoever;

I couldn't find a user agreement anywhere for Blade and Soul, but I expect it would match the above.

Now this isn't something specific to NCsoft. I found similar language in every other game I looked at:

World of Warcraft User Agreement, "Termination" section
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Blizzard may terminate this Agreement at any time for any reason or no reason. Upon termination for any reason, all licenses granted herein shall immediately terminate and you must immediately and permanently destroy all copies of the Game in your possession and control and remove the Game Client from your hard drive.

Star Wars: the Old Republic User Agreement, "Termination of Agreement" section
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We may also decide to terminate this EUALA in the event that we terminate the operation of the Game. [...] Promptly upon termination, you must cease all use of the Software and destroy all copies of the Software in your possession or control. You acknowledge and agree that the termination of this EUALA or permanent deletion of the Software may render your Account and any in-game attributes or Content unusable, for which you will not hold EA in any way responsible.

Everquest II User Agreement, section 6
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We may also terminate this Agreement if we decide, in our sole discretion, to discontinue offering the Game, in which case we may provide you with a prorated refund of any prepaid amounts.

The Secret World User Agreement, section 7
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Funcom may terminate this Agreement at any time, for any reason or no reason at all, without Your consent or any further notice to you. [...] In the event of a termination of this Agreement or Your rights and license granted hereunder, You must (i) cease to use the Software; (ii) immediately and permanently destroy all copies of the Game in Your possession or control; and (iii) permanently remove the Software from all of Your computers and game operating devices.

Perfect World's blanket EULA (covering all of its games including Champions Online), section 19
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PWE MAY SUSPEND, TERMINATE, MODIFY, BLOCK ACCESS TO OR DELETE THE SERVICE OR ANY ACCOUNT AT ANY TIME WITH OR WITHOUT REASON, WITH OR WITHOUT NOTICE. [...] In the event your Account is terminated or canceled for any reason, or for no reason, no refund will be granted, no online time or other credits (e.g., points in an online game) will be credited to you or converted to cash or other form of reimbursement, and you will have no further access to your Account.

DC Universe Online User Agreement, section 6
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We may also terminate this Agreement if we decide, in our sole discretion, to discontinue offering the Game, in which case we may provide you with a prorated refund of any prepaid amounts.

Rift User Agreement, section 18
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Trion reserves the right, at its sole and absolute discretion, to change, modify, add to, disable, supplement, suspend, remove or delete, at any time, any of the terms and conditions of this Agreement, any feature of the Site, Game(s) (including Game-related Virtual Items, if any), Game Client(s) and/or Service, hours of availability, content, data, feature, gameplay, item (including in a manner which makes virtual goods substantially more, or less, valuable, effective, functional, common or available), service, server software or equipment needed to access the Site, Game(s) (including Game-related Virtual Items, if any), Game Client(s) and/or the Service, effective with or without prior notice; provided, however, that material changes to this Terms of Use Agreement will not be applied retroactively.


This is clearly standard practice for EULAs. And in a way, I suppose it's understandable: thanks to the way our laws work, the companies have a fiduciary duty to maximize profit and to minimize losses; retaining the right to do whatever the heck they want ensures they will continue to have the ability to maximize profit and minimize losses no matter what the impact might be on the end user.

However, I would argue that such clauses are absolutely horrible from an ethical standpoint. These companies aren't just selling a game. They're fostering communities. And the communities they foster aren't just incidental and unintentional. They explicitly foster communities, because it's crucial for them making more money. Much of the value of an MMORPG comes not from the game itself but from the other players playing the game. If not for those other players, it would be a single-player game after all.

It is unconscionable that we are asked to invest ourselves so strongly in these games and their communities, and yet the only right we are allowed to retain is the right to leave.

NCsoft is establishing itself as a game killer, but they're not doing anything that every other company hasn't also reserved the right to do. It may be tempting to think that we're safer with other companies because they haven't established a reputation for this kind of thing, but that's a false sense of security. Any company could do this at any time, for any reason or for no reason whatsoever.

We don't even have the right to an explanation.

Segev

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 03:02:46 PM »
If they couldn't include such clauses, no company could afford to run an MMO. Ever. Because if they could be legally obligated to continue to run an unprofitable game based on some perceived duty to run it "for the sake of the community," they would be tying a noose around their necks and praying that nobody pushed them off the financial cliff.

And they need it to be "for any reason we choose," because our overly-litigious society would take any "under X circumstances" restrictions and SOMEBODY would sue to try and prove those circumstances weren't the case. Worse, if an unforeseen circumstance that made running the game a business disaster without it being one of the listed circumstances came up...well, kiss the whole company goodbye.

Sekoia

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2012, 03:18:26 PM »
If they couldn't include such clauses, no company could afford to run an MMO. Ever. Because if they could be legally obligated to continue to run an unprofitable game based on some perceived duty to run it "for the sake of the community," they would be tying a noose around their necks and praying that nobody pushed them off the financial cliff.

There's a huge difference between reserving the right to terminate a game because it's unprofitable and reserving the right to terminate a game for any reason or no reason at all.

Nonetheless, how much money does it really cost to keep a game alive in maintenance mode? Comparing it to a noose that might push them over a financial cliff is quite an exaggeration.

And they need it to be "for any reason we choose," because our overly-litigious society would take any "under X circumstances" restrictions and SOMEBODY would sue to try and prove those circumstances weren't the case. Worse, if an unforeseen circumstance that made running the game a business disaster without it being one of the listed circumstances came up...well, kiss the whole company goodbye.

While there's certainly truth to what you said, the fact remains: Gamers have no rights. Gamers should have rights.

I do not accept that "the company keeps every single right possible and the gamers have none except to not play" is the only plausible solution.

Segev

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2012, 03:28:44 PM »
Unfortunately, that's the only way to protect the developers enough that risking all the money they put into it is worth the risk. If, for instance, NCSoft had been legally obligated to maintain the servers for Auto Assault, they would have had to pay a staff to maintain them, to make sure that any glitches that caused the game to crash were resolved, and to continue to police the game for profanity and other things that could get them in trouble for allowing on something they legally own.

If they were legally required to release a "free player" version, they would have all sorts of issues with effectively releasing a broken product.

Worse, they would have to spend money developing that "single player" or "free player" version. Money effectively being spent on a legal obligation to an already-large money-sink. So basically, more lost money and customers who STILL are not happy because they're not getting a polished game.

"For any reason" is rife for abuse, but as I said, it's the only way to make it a viable risk to even TRY to develop the game and put it out there. Even a legal REQUIREMENT that they allow private servers is bad, because it means they can't put the genie back in the bottle if they ever want to give it another go. Shutting down private servers when they're "young" is doable. Shutting them down after they've had time to mature becasue you want to make a profit on it again?

We're mad NOW because we're having a community torn up. Imagine the fury if several communities were suddenly told, "Stop being your own group and pay us money if you want to start over again because we decided to make money on this now."

Segev

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2012, 03:38:39 PM »
Geeze, your idea of maintenance mode is more costly than mine, and I still think mine is unreasonable to expect as a legal requirement for anybody who dares to make an MMO.

My conception is this: they keep paying for whatever it takes to keep the servers running (power, building space, whatever) and functional (HW and SW maintenance). They have a staff of one or two whose job it is to fix bugs that might make the game stop working (e.g. to fix it when you can't log in because the software that talks to the user accounts hit a glitch). This might just be some people who are on other projects with this as a side job. NO new content; that's not maintenance, that's development.

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2012, 03:49:45 PM »
Define Maintenance mode please. Each person has their own differing view of it.

For me, it would be closer to this:

* Publish beta to live servers.
* Either no further added content, or complete only the minor changes/additions that were already near completion - to be implemented by developers' moved to other projects in their spare time, off the clock.
* Possibly fixing any major functional bugs, but no plans of addressing any newly discovered exploits or tweaking for balance, etc.
* one community rep - part time
* a couple of part time moderators on the boards
possibly a consolidation of shards, though the way they have them set up, I'm fairly certain that they could actually reduce the hardware they're using without consolidating shards and we might not even notice if the overall population started to drop off.
* Either subscribers would continue to receive the monthly stipend of points for the store, or subscription fees would be reduced (perhaps $10/month). It would be up to players who feel that they no longer have a use for points to terminate their subscription.  The store still contains a lot of items that can be purchased over and over again (XP boosts, enhancements, unslotters, etc.) and not everyone has purchased all possible power sets and costume pieces.
* Keeping server transfers, character renames,  and character slots available for purchase.

I know I'd certainly stick around.  I haven't played every power set to 50 yet.  Some I still haven't played at all.  For instance, I've been playing for 8 years and only just created my first Illusion Control character a couple of weeks ago (and it's still level 1). I have at least a dozen builds planned out that I haven't started yet (I'd have to unlock more slots on Triumph), and haven't even begun looking at what I'd build using Water Blast or Nature Affinity.
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eabrace

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2012, 04:03:59 PM »
And then you have the middle ground  (still with the server consolidation though... need to keep some servers at a critical mass of player population), which is basically everything in between.
I don't think you'd ever see them spend the extra money to consolidate servers.  (Discussed further here.)
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Sekoia

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2012, 04:05:57 PM »
I view maintenance mode as being much as Segev described, as a minimal threshold. More is obviously better.

As to the questions of how many people would stick around and would it be worth it? Some people still play games from the original Atari. A game doesn't need active development to continue to be fun. In City's case, I suspect we'd lose a lot of people, but I suspect we'd also keep a lot of people. No doubt the numbers would dwindle with time.

The original Everquest is still alive. In fact, it still even has development. This is despite being more than 13 years old and despite having one sequel with another planned. If Everquest wasn't profitable, I can't imagine they'd continue developing it. They'd put it in a real maintenance mode at the very least.

I can accept that perhaps games that never got off the ground might not be profitable. But once a game is well established and has a strong community, I strongly suspect that mild profitability would continue for a long, long time even with minimal or no development to the game. While most people might move on, many popular games develop a smaller dedicated following that just won't go away. Everquest is an example of this, but it's not alone. Every generation of gaming has games that are still played. There are even people still playing text-based adventure games.

Regarding the legalese, I don't really expect that to change for many of the reasons given. However, there are ways the overall situation could improve. Game companies could make non-binding statements that grant us some semblance of rights. These companies could promise us that they'll do their best to keep our games alive. And they could then follow through in ways that wouldn't cost them much, or that might even continue to make them profits.

Even a legal REQUIREMENT that they allow private servers is bad, because it means they can't put the genie back in the bottle if they ever want to give it another go. Shutting down private servers when they're "young" is doable. Shutting them down after they've had time to mature becasue you want to make a profit on it again?

I disagree. I see no reason why they shouldn't be required to surrender their rights to the IP if they decide to terminate the game. Why should they get to sit on the IP just in case they have a future opportunity to make money on it? They've already made their profit or taken their losses, move on. If they want to maintain their right to the IP, then keep the game alive even if it's in maintenance mode.

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2012, 04:22:02 PM »
Yeah, this is what I meant when I said it's time to renegotiate the contract.

To repeat myself, as a gamer I love playing classic games. I can dig up my old copies of Sid Meier's Civilization or Alpha Centauri, X-Com, Roller Coaster Tycoon or Master of Orion 2... heck, Microprose hasn't been in business for years (sad to say, because they made the best games of their era) but I can still enjoy them. Mods exist online that make 'em better than ever.

(A new X-Com is out, by the way! Yippee!)

I spent much more money on CoH than on all those games put together! Yet as soon as the game becomes somehow inconvenient for the source company, it vanishes forever. That's simply not equitable.

CoH was my first MMO, because I love superheroes and detest the sword-and-sorcery genre (or rather, I hate "Dungeons and Dragons." I love the source material, like Robert E. Howard.) CoH will be my last MMO until this unequitable system resolves itself, meaning until the customer base collectively wises up and says, "nope! Not buying it."

Really, the least they could do is release the program for some independent server to host. I did buy the original box back when it was like... fifty bucks. I feel that having the box in the game store alongside non-server based games is disingenuous and fraudulant. Heck, I can't even complain on their message boards! After five years total of supporting the game, the no-notice cutoff caught me un-subscribed.

But then, these are the same guys who forge letters, sell us updates days before a cutoff, throw their customers out like bouncers throw smelly old drunks out of bars, and sell Pedophilia, the MMO.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 04:34:15 PM by Colette »

Segev

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2012, 04:28:41 PM »
I see no reason why they shouldn't be required to surrender their rights to the IP if they decide to terminate the game. Why should they get to sit on the IP just in case they have a future opportunity to make money on it? They've already made their profit or taken their losses, move on. If they want to maintain their right to the IP, then keep the game alive even if it's in maintenance mode.
Why shouldn't you be forced to give away your old clothes when you clearly don't fit in them anymore? Why should you get to sit on those lovely pants just in case you ever fit them again and have future opportunity to wear them? You've already worn them a few times and gotten your money's worth, move on. If you want to maintain your right to keep those pants then find a way to wear them even if they don't fit.

After all, other people thought they looked great, too, and want to see them again, so what right do you have to not give them away to somebody who will wear them?

Segev

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2012, 04:32:32 PM »
I should note that I am not saying I think NCSoft is doing this correctly, is in the right, or is behaving well. All I am saying is that the clause mentioned in the OP is practically necessary for any company that is going to get into an endeavor like this, and expecting indefinite support and requiring by law that they give up rights is going to very, very bad places.

SHOULD they give up the IP? On many levels, absolutely. It seems only good business sense, from all I know (which admittedly is not nearly as much as, I would hope, Mr. Kim does...except that I'm not sure he's as in tune as a CEO needs to be). Should there be laws in place to FORCE them to? No. Absolutely not.

eabrace

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2012, 04:51:03 PM »
I disagree. I see no reason why they shouldn't be required to surrender their rights to the IP if they decide to terminate the game. Why should they get to sit on the IP just in case they have a future opportunity to make money on it? They've already made their profit or taken their losses, move on. If they want to maintain their right to the IP, then keep the game alive even if it's in maintenance mode.
You know, it would be nice if this worked similarly to how the film rights for X-men or Spider-Man work: if the studios with the rights don't actually do anything with them every few years, they lose them.  Along that line, if NCsoft kept the servers up and running (regardless of level of support they provided), they'd still retain the IP.  Closing the servers down permanently and then publishing a sequel to the game would allow them to retain the rights.  Closing down permanently and not doing anything with the IP would allow it to transfer to public domain or allow another developer to pick up the IP for development after a specified amount of time.  Sure, it'd be like starting over, but if we get to plan Z, that's pretty much what we're looking at anyway.
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Segev

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2012, 04:54:47 PM »
You know, it would be nice if this worked similarly to how the film rights for X-men or Spider-Man work: if the studios with the rights don't actually do anything with them every few years, they lose them.  Along that line, if NCsoft kept the servers up and running (regardless of level of support they provided), they'd still retain the IP.  Closing the servers down permanently and then publishing a sequel to the game would allow them to retain the rights.  Closing down permanently and not doing anything with the IP would allow it to transfer to public domain or allow another developer to pick up the IP for development after a specified amount of time.  Sure, it'd be like starting over, but if we get to plan Z, that's pretty much what we're looking at anyway.
The studios with those comic rights "lose" them because that's how the contracts were negotiated. Marvel and DC still OWN the IPs in question.

If Marvel decided to stop production of anything Spiderman-related tomorrow, nobody could force them to give up the IP. I think the copyrighted characters would become public domain in a few decades, but that's it.

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2012, 05:32:19 PM »
Why shouldn't you be forced to give away your old clothes when you clearly don't fit in them anymore? Why should you get to sit on those lovely pants just in case you ever fit them again and have future opportunity to wear them? You've already worn them a few times and gotten your money's worth, move on. If you want to maintain your right to keep those pants then find a way to wear them even if they don't fit.

After all, other people thought they looked great, too, and want to see them again, so what right do you have to not give them away to somebody who will wear them?

The company who owns an MMO actively fosters the direct involvement of third-parties to increase the value of the MMO. Those third-parties have invested both time and money, and that should give them some rights.

A person who owns clothes does not (usually) actively foster any substantial direct involvement from third parties. Third parties generally do not invest time or money in one's clothes.

I should note that I am not saying I think NCSoft is doing this correctly, is in the right, or is behaving well. All I am saying is that the clause mentioned in the OP is practically necessary for any company that is going to get into an endeavor like this, and expecting indefinite support and requiring by law that they give up rights is going to very, very bad places.

I'm not necessarily demanding a change in the laws (though I'm also not necessarily opposed to it). But I think something should be done, even if it's outside of the laws and EULAs.

Right now, the only recourse companies are generally giving us if we don't like something is "stop playing and go away". It would be nice if some companies stepped forward and committed to a higher standard, even if that commitment had no legal standing. And that, in turn, would hopefully increase pressure on other companies, such as NCsoft, to follow suit.

To be fair, development teams often do respond to players concerns. But are there any commitments to the players on a corporate level?

Segev

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2012, 06:03:57 PM »
Yes, I agree, it would be nice if companies would hold themselves to a higher standard.

We have some diseased memetics roaming around high eschelons of power these days. I can't say they weren't there before, but they HAVE changed.

Best we can do is be as ethical as we can and reward those whose ethics we admire while shunning (as best we can) those whose we do not. Because people are NOT sheep, despite what many on all sides think. They just are usually too busy running their own lives. As things encroach upon them, they start to notice, and...well. You get movements like this one and [redacted to prevent political firestorm].

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2012, 06:08:31 PM »
I understand that for a virtual world to exist, it has to exist in the real world, and is therefore real.

Cogito ergo sum.

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2012, 06:21:36 PM »
Thing is, we're all victims of an entirely new frontier of human experience here, right up there along with gene ethics. Bottom line is people are now experiencing things for which there is no precedent (legal or otherwise) and so for the moment, anything goes.

Like Sleepy just said, for a virtual world to exist, it presupposes the existence of a non-virtual world first, so by inference, the virtual world does have at least a degree of inherent existence...philosophically speaking.

And that's what it all boils down to - philosophy.

Whether it's debating if an embryo is more human than the sperm and egg that made it, or musing on the 'rights' denizens of a virtual world have to make a case against their digital 'landlord' if he tries to 'evict' them, it's all dealing with ways of thinking that are new and untested.

Sadly, at least for the time being, it's the suppliers/manufacturers/developers who are calling the shots rather than the consumers. There isn't a virtual citizen's equivalent of a Consumer Rights Act or the like.

Yet.

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2012, 06:35:53 PM »
The studios with those comic rights "lose" them because that's how the contracts were negotiated. Marvel and DC still OWN the IPs in question.

If Marvel decided to stop production of anything Spiderman-related tomorrow, nobody could force them to give up the IP. I think the copyrighted characters would become public domain in a few decades, but that's it.
I realize.  That's why I started with "it would be interesting if...".  :)
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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2012, 06:36:14 PM »
This kind of thing has been playing on my mind ever since SWG closed. I think we're playing on a new concept which needs to be developed and brought to the attention to the powers that be, in governments around the world. In lack of a better phrase, "Virtual Rights." The Digital Frontier Foundation for one example might be apt to aid us with this. It wouldn't be fast enough to save CoH, but it would help us work towards a better digital future.

The lines between what is or isn't a game and/or virtual world is beginning to blur, and has moved beyond the point at which it can be looked at as just a product. Just as citizens of a town can go to city hall and have a voice in things, so should it be in a virtual community. We are that community's citizens, and without us, that community does not exist.

The corporation is the governing body. The subscription is the tax. The gamers are the citizens.

Why shouldn't we have just as much say in what the town does as we do in the physical equivalent?

Why should the governing body be able to put unconstitutional laws into effect just because the community is virtual instead of physical?

Would you move into a town that seemed cool if, when you signed the lease on the house, you saw in the contract, that the town reserves the right to demolish it for any purpose, at any time, no questions asked? Granted, this has actually happened, or at least towns have tried. But at least in those cases, the people affected had the option to fight it.

Segev

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Re: "no reason" and no rights
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2012, 06:47:04 PM »
Generally speaking, there ARE no constitutions without the consent of the governed.

More precisely, in the case of these virtual worlds maintained through IP belonging to corporate bodies, they're not civilizations nor communities that fall under the rights-based jurisdiction of any one nation. Or, to hold to your analogy, they're dictatorships and oligarchies.

I understand the grief and anger and irritation and frustration of having your community meeting site destroyed. It's awful. But it's nothing that dictators - modern and historical - couldn't or didn't do in the real world. It's far less atrocious in our case with our virtual world and its associated community: no sentient beings are being slain nor having their real-world lives uprooted in highly destructive ways. It still sucks, it still hurts, but it's not the end of their RL world.

And we have an ultimate freedom: we can keep the community together in another format, another meetingplace, if we value it enough to but do so.

If one wishes to forge a virtual world with a constitutional rule of law wherein the "governing body" is answerable to the players in the way the US government is theoretically answerable to the people, one must establish that world under that premise. "revolution" to take over virtual worlds run by dictatorships won't work, and wouldn't be ethical. Convincing them to turn it over, to sell it, to change their policies is fine...if you can. It's what we're trying to do with NCSoft. But let's not empower any real-world governments more than they already are by trying to give the GOVERNMENT say in how our virtual worlds will run.

If needs be, we can and should build our own - or at least try. Then we can establish whatever governing rules we deem wise.