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Posting Links to "old" versions of mods: DON'T DO IT


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So, seems we need to talk about the etiquette around linking to files, specifically other people's files. Unfortunate that we need to start the new year this way, but here we are.

I get it, we've all been there, you want a mod and it's suddenly disappeared from the Internet, or the modder has updated their mod and the new version has something janky, or you just plain don't like it. Then you have an HDD crash, or just accidentally delete the mod and now you don't have a copy. It sucks.

You know what also sucks, though? Updating your mod and having everyone complain about the new version, then going and downloading the old version on Google Drive, or Mega, after you took it down because you don't want people to use that old, broken, version. The difference is, it's the modder who puts in the man-hours and it's the modder who holds the intellectual copyright, that's the right to decide what happens to their mod. Modders have the right to cease distributing their own mods, assuming they haven't granted someone else a licence, and they are entitled to exercise that right both morally, and legally. Some modders leave old versions of their mods up, but that is a courtesy, not an obligation.

Recently, a user on our site posted a link to r/drownedmods pointing to old (pre 1.6x) versions of two Skyrim SE mods. I like to think they believed they were being helpful, but I've been accused of being too charitable, but there's just so much wrong with this I feel the need to address it here, publicly.

r/drownedmods distributes pirated content.

Let's be clear, even if you want to argue that redistributing files against the express permission of mod authors isn't technically "piracy" because no money changes hands, it's still definitely breach of copyright, which is a breach of Civil Law. Further, the sub also redistributes Creation Club content and that definitely counts as software piracy. If that doesn't convince you, the moderators of that sub are also tolerant of pirated versions of games themselves. Oh, and the main moderator has the word "modpiracy" in his name and even references his previous account being banned.

If you want an old version of a mod the best thing to do is to politely ask the author for a version. I would hope they would politely reply, but regardless if the answer is "no" then that should be the end of it.

Failure to respect the copyright of modders, or anyone else, will result in your content being moderated and punishments doled out as appropriate. This is not complex guys - if the readme that came with a mod says "don't distribute previous versions of my files" don't do it. If a modder doesn't want to provide a previous version of a file, stop asking. You didn't pay for the mod, you didn't purchase a licence that entitles you to download it.

The only thing I dislike more than having to write posts like this is having to take action against users who don't recognise basic legal rights.

I sincerely hope everyone has a good new year and this issue can be put to bed.

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Exactly.  Don’t use old versions of their mod.  Just stop using that modders work, period, and download a similar mod from a different author who provides more flexibility.

Fortunately many of the tools which manage the game are open source with permissive licenses.  Perhaps one day we will see major foundational patches released under similar open licenses.

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what if you have saved all your mods just for a rainy day ... lets say you have mods that work today but are from 2015 for example and dont exist any more ...

is it OK to use them? ... what if you have downloaded over 100GB of textures and mods ext and I want to use them again but the mod dont exist or has been taken down ... can I still use them?

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41 minutes ago, Sah said:

what if you have saved all your mods just for a rainy day ... lets say you have mods that work today but are from 2015 for example and dont exist any more ...

is it OK to use them? ... what if you have downloaded over 100GB of textures and mods ext and I want to use them again but the mod dont exist or has been taken down ... can I still use them?

think its ok to use them but not to republish them to a public website for general public use. you should also be ok to share them with trusted friends as long as they also keep them private.

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2 hours ago, Uncus said:

think its ok to use them but not to republish them to a public website for general public use. you should also be ok to share them with trusted friends as long as they also keep them private.

Not true.  Once you share it with someone else you assume the role of distributor, and have violated copyright. 

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1 hour ago, Scythe Bearer said:

Not true.  Once you share it with someone else you assume the role of distributor, and have violated copyright. 

Actually, copyright covers public distribution, usually for profit or by listing availability publicly, not private sharing as between two friends or as a loan - provided there is no attempt to distribute.  So, if person A had a copy of a book, music album, or mod, and they made a copy to give to friend B - provided there was no attempt to distribute beyond that limited transaction, and provided that individual A did not make a public advertisement of availability with intent to distribute, there is no violation.

 

So, yes as to what Uncus said.

 

(As a writer, I am intimately familiar with copyright law - not to mention that this topic has come up more times than I could wish in the Steam forums - where people seem to think that because they want something, it is okay to violate copyright law by uploading abandoned or unavailable mods - and use the argument that if they cannot upload it to share, than people cannot privately share as between friends.  The intent to distribute is one of the determining factors in deciding violation of copyright, though it may not be the only one.)

 

And, of course, Sah, you can always use anything that you have previously downloaded.

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While there may be no legal violation when one shares a copy of a mod privately the question of whether it is an ethical violation has been hotly debated in Bethesda's forums, going all the way back to the early days of Morrowind modding.  The modding community has never,come to a consensus on this point.

Personally, I believe it is ethically wrong to privately share a mod that a modder has withdrawn and does not want re-uploaded.  The way I see it, sharing a mod via email or a temporary private link to an upload site is just as much a violation of the mod author's intentions as publicly re-uploading it to a new site. 

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14 minutes ago, Pseron Wyrd said:

While there may be no legal violation when one shares a copy of a mod privately the question of whether it is an ethical violation has been hotly debated in Bethesda's forums, going all the way back to the early days of Morrowind modding.  The modding community has never,come to a consensus on this point.

Personally, I believe it is ethically wrong to privately share a mod that a modder has withdrawn and does not want re-uploaded.  The way I see it, sharing a mod via email or a temporary private link to an upload site is just as much a violation of the mod author's intentions as publicly re-uploading it to a new site. 

Ah, well that is a personal view of the matter, and you are perfectly free to have it and abide by it (and people should not argue a person's personal standards, and should respect them - provided that the individual does not try to impose them on others).  But it is not the legal view - which is the only thing that should govern the issue - at least as far as actual legality is concerned.

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19 minutes ago, Sigurð Stormhand said:

Guys, if this devolves into another argument I'm going to delete all the replies and lock the thread.

No arguments - all opinions are respected (or should be), even if there is disagreement about things. I personally respect all those here, and their opinions on this.  As far as I am concerned, I've stated all that I intend to - just a matter of providing information, and respect Pseron Wyrd's view and all others' here, and see no need for myself to comment further.

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The law is as it is.  It has been legally decided by the US Court that peer-to peer sharing of copyright material violates the law.   It matters not whether one uses an application to store and download files or if the files are transferred directly between individuals. 

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32 minutes ago, Arthmoor said:

Copyright doesn't make a distinction between privately sharing files and uploading them to the internet for all to see. Distribution is an exclusive right of the copyright holder.


That's what I said. 

 

6 hours ago, Scythe Bearer said:

Not true.  Once you share it with someone else you assume the role of distributor, and have violated copyright. 

1 hour ago, Scythe Bearer said:

The law is as it is.  It has been legally decided by the US Court that peer-to peer sharing of copyright material violates the law.   It matters not whether one uses an application to store and download files or if the files are transferred directly between individuals. 

 

Thank you for the validation, Arthmoor. 

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Something to consider here, mix tapes and VHS TV recordings. When you recorded something off the TV onto VHS and leant it to a friend or family member you were technically breaching copyright. Ditto the mix tape you made for your girlfriend. Despite both of these being breaches of copyright various mixing decks, tape recorders and VHS recorders have been available for decades, sold expressly for the purpose of copying works and therefore theoretically breaching copyright.

It should be noted that in both these cases the infringement of copyright also implies financial loss for the injured party, which is why it is sometimes described as "copyright theft" or "piracy".

I'm personally against the use of these terms when it comes to modding because there's no financial injury. Copyright infringement is generally a Civil matter, not a criminal one, unless it is conducted on an industrial scale.

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VCRs (and DVRs now) don't exist for the express purpose of making copies to hand out to your friends. They exist so that you can record the broadcast for your own in-home use later. They do not represent a Napster-like issue, where the device's sole purpose is the facilitation of piracy.

And we do need to be clear that yes, it is piracy whether any money changes hands or not. That's the legal term for it. Financial injury is not necessary to be able to file a civil suit or to charge someone for criminal copyright violations.

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8 hours ago, Scythe Bearer said:

... the US Court ...

No US court over here, but yep, we have similar.

At the moment, if one elects to take a trip back in time to a previous version of Windows in a Virtual Box (yes, they offer old versions only for the brave), with the idea of running modded games from that era, copyright is still there. What terms of usage mod author includes in his publication holds for all real time, or consider this item for inclusion in mod author permissions:

Would you allow old versions of the mod to be distributed expressly for the purpose of use on certain superseded versions of Windows?

We all know the game version is inextricably linked to the OS version, and even If it ever got off the ground, it wouldn't have any effect right now, being impossible to ascertain whether a user is currently active on an older version of Windows, in a Box or otherwise. Who knows what the future holds for such time travel- perhaps a token or certificate validating user credentials for each download- or other methods of version checking, along with new warrens of VM validation. And for all those lovers of Internet Copyright, what journeys lie before them. :shrug:

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Britain and EU are the same.  In fact, EU is even more restrictive as they tightened their permissions for sharing data, to the point that Poland sued claiming that the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market was tantamount to censorship.

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On 1/6/2022 at 10:59 PM, Arthmoor said:

VCRs (and DVRs now) don't exist for the express purpose of making copies to hand out to your friends. They exist so that you can record the broadcast for your own in-home use later. They do not represent a Napster-like issue, where the device's sole purpose is the facilitation of piracy.

And we do need to be clear that yes, it is piracy whether any money changes hands or not. That's the legal term for it. Financial injury is not necessary to be able to file a civil suit or to charge someone for criminal copyright violations.

Well, we're talking about private file sharing now, not public distribution. It's still copyright infringement, which is the legal term, not "piracy". Piracy is a specific criminal offence involving violence and theft at sea. In most cases individual instances of copyright infringement are not criminal, with a notable exception being circumvention of DRM. However, the circumvention of DRM etc. is a separate, distinct, criminal offence from the distribution of cracked software.

This is like the old "trespasses will be prosecuted" sign - you can't prosecute trespassers because trespass is not (usually, and not at all prior to 1994) a crime in England, but you can sue them in Civil Court.

Similarly, in most cases copyright infringement will not be specifically criminal. However, some people seem to take this to mean it is not illegal, or immoral - which is not the same thing.

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lol, I'm pretty sure we all know nobody here is talking about actual sea faring pirates commandeering ships. Piracy is the established legal term for theft of copyrighted material. The FBI will even get itself involved if the offense is large scale enough, but any level of unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material is piracy and an be charged in a criminal capacity if law enforcement thinks it's warranted. Usually you just end up in civil court, but that in itself can be an expensive fine for the offender even if no money changed hands. Statutory damages exist for a reason.

As for trespassing, it may not be a crime anymore in England, but it's still very much a misdemeanor offense in the USA.

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  • 1 month later...

Although tangential, I thought I should clear up that in England trespass can still be an offence under a couple of caveats.  Firstly, trespass on Railway property and Crown property IS an offence in law.  This includes for example unauthorised entry to Ministry of Defence property and Buckingham Palace (The Queen’s residence).

Secondly…If the trespasser is informed of their trespass by the site owner or agent thereof and asked to leave, which they subsequently refuse to do…Then the police can be called and the matter is elevated to ‘Aggravated Trespass’ for which you can be arrested.  Note also…preventing a trespasser from leaving, UNLESS they have also committed an indictable offence such as theft or criminal damage on the site, is itself also illegal…So they can’t be restrained to await police as an embarrassment measure or insist they remain to be berated just for their incursion.

I gather in America…in some States, you can actually be shot and by implication, legally murdered, just for treading on someone else’s land.  :bat:Incredible!

Right! That’s enough sidetracking the  old mod/distribution/copyright/piracy/sharing topic…Which was in its self entertainingly interesting:popcorn:. Carry on :X

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4 hours ago, Adella said:

I gather in America…in some States, you can actually be shot and by implication, legally murdered, just for treading on someone else’s land.  :bat:Incredible!

This is an urban myth. There is no jurisdiction I know of where shooting someone for simply being on your land is legal.

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2 minutes ago, Arthmoor said:

This is an urban myth. There is no jurisdiction I know of where shooting someone for simply being on your land is legal.

The bottom line is the Federal statutes on the use of "deadly force".  Basically, citizens are allowed to use deadly force in self defense, or to stop or prevent a felony. 

The "trespassers will be shot" signs are serious business in certain jurisdictions to prevent the theft of livestock and crops, both felonies.  In these jurisdictions, it is generally assumed that if you are trespassing on land which is used to raise crops or livestock, that you are there to steal said crops or stock, and deadly force is allowed.  This rationale has recently been applied to timber, to give property owners some ability to stop the theft of harvestable trees from managed forests.   

And hunters, beware.  In most jurisdictions, entering onto private land while armed and without the owners permission is considered felony trespass.  Again, federal law allows the use of deadly force. 

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10 hours ago, Adella said:

I gather in America…in some States, you can actually be shot and by implication, legally murdered, just for treading on someone else’s land.  :bat:Incredible!

 

This is true in both the US and UK, theoretically. In the UK the sticking point is usually where you got your deadly force.

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Theoretically, yes, but in practice, no, not at all. Which comes as a surprise every now and then to cattle ranchers who think we're still in the old west after they shot someone on their land.

Anyway, I'd suggest we drop this particular subject at this point as it's going to veer into politics.

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