The “Legality” of Mods

In Video Games on January 24, 2011 at 11:35 am

Mark Methenitis over at Joystiq has written up a really good piece on the legal issues surrounding mods and mod culture. Given that I had just written about mods in my previous post, I found this particularly interesting. It’s doubly interesting given that it’s about what is probably the most “modded” game in history, and one close to my heart: Bethesda’s Morrowind. He articulates several of the key points in a recent debate about a “mod compilation” for Morrowind, and sums up the argument thusly:

Is there an overall lesson in this? First, I think the biggest concern, as we’ve mentioned in past LGJ pieces, is for modders (and other derivative creators) to realize that they are limited by the scope of the EULA, and their work is always going to be at least in part considered a derivative. If you really want to create a game and control and distribute that work, you should create a game and not a mod. For those who do function in the mod community and are perfectly fine living with that potential limitation, working on these compilation projects is as much a question of diplomacy as it is one of legal rights.

It will be interesting to see if this spills over into other Bethesda mod communities, like Oblivion’s or Fallout 3’s, or even further into some new legal ground.


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