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Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

feisty on Sep 15, 2013


Given the current dissatisfaction of many users about the redesign and the reveal (at least to me) of all the business stuff "behind" (GameFly, etc.) I wondered who actually owns the content, the data?

The games, the titles, the categorizations, the screenshots, the reviews, the votes, the younameit?

The ToS at http://www.mobygames.com/info/terms state: ".. You waive any and all moral rights that you may have in the Content." which sounds ... like those who contributed and who're not on some official payroll actually have "nothing" here and MobyGames/GameFly has everything.

Am I wrong?

I also stumbled over an open letter three years ago: http://mobygames.com/forums/dga,2/dgb,4/dgm,134749/ (thanks to a recent post here http://www.mobygames.com/forums/dga,2/dgb,4/dgm,180655/ ). It supposedly an open letter from one of the admins to the founders:

"... MobyGames should publish a social contract ... vow to make all the content available freely for someone else to continue the project in the case that the site under current leadership comes to a halt..."

and

"MobyGames needs copyright to protect its content, but the exclusive ownership of everything submitted is not fair to the group of contributors that build the site"

This is one of the reasons I've never actually contributed. It's not like the world waited for me to come forward :) but it actually prevented me from contributing. I don't know how many read the fine print, usually people don't and I consider myself one of the few who does.

A counter example, not sure how many developers are here: http://stackoverflow.com/ , a big Q&A site related to programming and stuff. They make money. With advertisements. But they don't own the content. Every contribution is under the creative commons ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ ) and the data is provided as a dump for download, how it works is outlined here: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/06/stack-overflow-creative-commons-data-dump/ . So someone could grab everything and create a competitor and let stackoverflow try to run out of the business. But they're good. They're working with and for the community so nobody really does it. There are clones but they don't see it as a war, it's more like competition is good and healthy.

It seems the redesign/relaunch of MobyGames kicked off something which was boiling already for some time. Misscommunication, lack of leadership and vision, no transparency and probably others.

Where does MobyGames stand and where does the Community? Is everyone still on the same side?

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Rola (8290) on Sep 15, 2013


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The funny part is that they don't even protect their property. I've PMed the staff quite a few times (not to mention signaling it on the forum) about websites copying MG content (descriptions, screenshots) verbatim, like gameclassification.com

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Daniel Saner (3241) on Sep 15, 2013


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Yes, it all belongs to GameFly. I wasn't aware of the exclusivity clause, but I'm also not sure if it would even hold up. Maybe it's valid according to US law? I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be under EU law.

Apart from the exclusivity clause the rules will be about the same for any other similra project, because they have to protect their right to keep storing and displaying the contributed data.

Anyway, the data belongs to GameFly and you're not allowed to copy and use it elsewhere.

Screenshots and scans are a special case legally, as the content really belongs to the copyright holder of the game or cover art. GameFly can't legally claim ownership of the pictures because they are essentially unlicensed copies of other people's copyrighted work, although the reproduction probably would fall under fair use. This is probably why MG and some other sites use watermarks: they try to discourage reuse this way, because they can't legally forbid it.

But you're pretty much spot-on with all of your assumptions. I think many people would be perfectly fine contributing to a database that belongs to someone else, even a commercial company, if there were sensible rules, a future-proof plan, and some communication. But nobody tells us anything, and those who would know we can't reach. Some higher-up members occasionally drop by the forums to, basically, say nothing.

I think the site kind of barely scraped by the last few years, after the GameFly takeover, because we knew a redesign was in the works and we kept up hope that it meant GameFly actually was invested (and investing) in the site, and that the changes would be for the better. Such as, implementing one or two suggestions that were brought up years ago, which were always met with "the redesign has priority now".

Now we have a redesign that seemingly was created by someone with zero experience in web design and development (over 3 years if I'm right? Should have been enough time to read a book or two on the topic) and who didn't listen to any bug reports or feedback. I think this has killed hope in the last of us, and it's time for The Archive Team to move in.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Karsa Orlong (144764) on Sep 15, 2013


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Everything on this site belongs to GameFly, but according to EU law (which do not apply here, as this is US-US transaction) the sale transaction was illegal without dealing with contributors/approvers rights. As contributors we have no rights to the materials we have contributed on mobygames, we can not ask to remove them or claim any other action. All were sold by mobygames founders in return for taking on the payroll. Therefore, I understand that some may feel cheated, because they have spent thousands of hours of their time to build this site as it was a few days ago. Social site, not a commercial one. Now the founders spit in their face and except positive feedback...

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Fred VT (25923) on Sep 15, 2013


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Karsa Orlong Wrote:
Everything on this site belongs to GameFly, but according to EU law (which do not apply here, as this is US-US transaction) the sale transaction was illegal without dealing with contributors/approvers rights. As contributors we have no rights to the materials we have contributed on mobygames, we can not ask to remove them or claim any other action. All were sold by mobygames founders in return for taking on the payroll. Therefore, I understand that some may feel cheated, because they have spent thousands of hours of their time to build this site as it was a few days ago. Social site, not a commercial one. Now the founders spit in their face and except positive feedback...



Any admin could WIP back eveything any of us contributed so it isn't on this site anymore though...

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Unicorn Lynx (181564) on Sep 15, 2013


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Yeah, we were suckers to let this happen.

Needless to say, I don't give a rat's ass about their ownership: whatever I contributed is mine, and I will duplicate it on 500 websites if I so wish. They can sue me from now till the Messiah comes.

If they don't bring back everything that was lost after this universal fuckup I will definitely take down all my reviews and will post them everywhere else.

Not that they care, I just don't want to be associated with them any more.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

András Gregorik (65) on Sep 15, 2013


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"I will definitely take down all my reviews and will post them everywhere else."

I'm already posting my reviews on Amazon (of all sites). Some of my better reviews are up on Honestgamers, too -- another badly designed site, but one with a small, intimate community that seems to be chummy with the site owners. That site also has review commentability(!), a lovely feature that I always thought was missing badly from Mobygames.

Your 400+ reviews are a treasure vault, friend, don't let this compromised site bury them.

(Edited by András Gregorik (65), Sep 15, 2013)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

The Fabulous King (1335) on Sep 15, 2013


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Agreed. Oleg's reviews were what brought me here.

Honestgamers sounds promising, but alas I can already see that there is no PC platform.

Edit: I guess Gamefaqs is the most complete platform and game-wise place out there. Other than Moby.

(Edited by The Fabulous King (1335), Sep 15, 2013)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

András Gregorik (65) on Sep 15, 2013


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"Honestgamers sounds promising, but alas I can already see that there is no PC platform."

That would be funny, as I'm only interested in PC games, and I've been reading Honestgamers for years.

"Oleg's reviews were what brought me here."

I was actually here before he came to the site, but his reviews really started turning heads as early as late 2001, and he's made Moby his own. Classic stuff.

"I guess Gamefaqs is the most complete platform and game-wise place out there."

That would be Wikipedia, hands down.

I mean, just look at the content. Say, 1984 video games: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1984_video_games

(Edited by András Gregorik (65), Sep 15, 2013)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

The Fabulous King (1335) on Sep 15, 2013


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I searched Ultima 7 in Honestgamers and only the SNES version came up. How do you explain that?

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

András Gregorik (65) on Sep 15, 2013


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I don't. Look, that site has its own share of problems. It seems an almost amateurish place, but the user reviews are almost always highly sophisticated. For instance, look at this Silent Hill 3 review (with 17 comments): http://www.honestgamers.com/12021/playstation-2/silent-hill-3/review.html

Also, its currently quiet forums could be perhaps livened up by MG emigrants: http://www.honestgamers.com/forums/index.html

Anyway, here are the available PC reviews: http://www.honestgamers.com/13/miscellaneous/game-reviews.html

(Edited by András Gregorik (65), Sep 15, 2013)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

lilalurl (732) on Sep 15, 2013


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The issue with Wikipedia though is notability.

Not sure if it is an actual story, but apparently some people on TVTropes say that games by Phoenix Games would get deleted for lack of notability:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/SoBadItsGood/VideoGames (Open the Games folder and search for Phoenix)

http://www.mobygames.com/company/phoenix-games-bv

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Cantillon (30641) on Sep 15, 2013


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András Gregorik Wrote:
That would be Wikipedia, hands down.

I mean, just look at the content. Say, 1984 video games: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1984_video_games

There are less than 400 games there. MobyGames has 980 games released in 1984.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Unicorn Lynx (181564) on Sep 16, 2013


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To summarize (I think Patrick said that already), nothing comes close to MobyGames. Every other site out there is terribly lacking and incomplete. Don't even start looking for anything to replace it, you won't find it.

With this site ruined, so is, basically, my hobby of collecting game information.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Rola (8290) on Sep 16, 2013


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Wikipedia?

✘ basically no screenshots - as a rule, so don't hope for a change
✘ next to no credits (better go to IMDb)
✘ it's a wiki - if you complain about lack of advanced search options at MobyGames, Wikipedia is even worse at cross-searching, years will pass before Wikidata changes it
✘ draconian rules of what you can contribute

The best thing about it is that it can list cancelled games. Everything else (like missing platforms) we could already have if there was active admin tending to MG.

(Edited by Rola (8290), Sep 16, 2013)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Игги Друге (46366) on Sep 15, 2013


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MG/GF can't claim ownership to someone else's work. If it's in the database, they're free to use it, but they can't prevent you from uploading it elsewhere. Much of my contributions can also be found on other sites, and has been there before being uploaded to MobyGames. And, as has already been stated, screenshots and cover art belongs to the game publisher and not to MG.

As an amateur photographer, I used to frequent a site called Cameraperdia. One day, it was sold to Wikia, which promptly filled it with ads and pointless links to Star Trek and Pokémon wikis. Thankfully, the content was licensed under Creative Commons, so the project was forked into a new, non-commercial project called Camera-wiki, where I now contribute, and since the main contributors now work on Camera-wiki instead, the days of Camerapedia are now counted.

I wish it was as easy with MG, but unfortunately greed on the side of the founders makes it so much more difficult.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Indra was here (20900) on Sep 15, 2013


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To clarify, since everyone here likes to misinterpret intellectually property. In summary, yes. MG owns everything here that is submitted via that license agreement you agreed on that no one reads.

Since people have trouble understanding digital copyright, in laymen's terms, imagine you have 10 reviews and you give one review to MG. After you give that review to MG, you can't ask they take it down. You gave it to them. End story.

Can you upload your review (and basically everything else) to another site? Yes. Why? Because you have 9 other reviews left. Plus with copy paste technology, it's basically an uncountable noun. Except the watermarked screenshots.

So, please ignore Iggy's socialist misinterpretation of intellectual property. :p

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Игги Друге (46366) on Sep 16, 2013


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Actually, you only restated what I wrote.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Daniel Saner (3241) on Sep 16, 2013


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All we would need would be a dump of the database. Luckily all the contributor information is neatly stored along with the data, so all that would be needed for a license change and reboot would be to ask each of them whether a new project could continue using their contributions... I assume that around 90% of the information is contributed by the top 50 or top 100 contributors anyway, so the effort to get off to a good start again would not be incredibly high.

I'm sure GameFly would be happy to provide such a database dump for the purposes of a mass exodus and setting up of a competing project :P

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Karsa Orlong (144764) on Sep 16, 2013


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Since people have trouble understanding digital copyright, shortly:

- You can't demand from MG/GF to remove any of the data as it belongs to MG/GF from the moment You have contributed,
- You can't make a database backup without MG/GF permission as it belongs to them,


- Yes, You can upload all Your materials everyelse, but only the one from the hardrive, not from mobygames database,
- Yes, admin could WIP all the data back to contributors, but still - all the materials stays on mobygames server (not on the mobygames site), so they can be reuse.


The issue of intellectual property rights of certain materials, such as screens, covers, etc.. is more complicated. Basically - these belong to the companies/authors that created them, and they can request the MG / GF (and any other site) to remove them at any time.

(Edited by Karsa Orlong (144764), Sep 16, 2013)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Indra was here (20900) on Sep 16, 2013


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Karsa Orlong Wrote:
The issue of intellectual property rights of certain materials, such as screens, covers, etc.. is more complicated. Basically - these belong to the companies/authors that created them, and they can request the MG / GF (and any other site) to remove them at any time.

Not really. It's still theirs (i.e. original copyright holders) but if it qualifies as fair use (e.g. comment or research) it's not copyright infringement and they can't request squat.

Which is perhaps why having captions for screenshots is always a good idea or release info comments for cover art, etc, just in case.

Emphasis that MG owns the presentation of content and not necessarily the content itself (e.g. screenshoting your review from the MG site, would be infringement).

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Karsa Orlong (144764) on Sep 16, 2013


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Indra was here Wrote:
Not really. It's still theirs (i.e. original copyright holders) but if it qualifies as fair use (e.g. comment or research) it's not copyright infringement and they can't request squat.



Maybe in US or Indonesia. EU law is strict about this. You can not use any copyright protected stuff until the owner gives You permission (You have to ask for permission first). That's includes even reviews summary (exc. first 7 days after publishing, what is allowed). There are certain provisions of so called fair usage, but mobygames do not meet these requirements anymore as a commercial site of inappropriate business profile. Of course no company will fight it because it's shot in the foot (Personally I have seen such action once in one of the biggest EU games site, but mutual interests prevailed this stupidity action). But this is how it looks formally.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Indra was here (20900) on Sep 16, 2013


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Karsa Orlong Wrote:
Maybe in US or Indonesia. EU law is strict about this. You can not use any copyright protected stuff until the owner gives You permission (You have to ask for permission first). That's includes even reviews summary (exc. first 7 days after publishing, what is allowed). There are certain provisions of so called fair usage, but mobygames do not meet these requirements anymore as a commercial site of inappropriate business profile. Of course no company will fight it because it's shot in the foot (Personally I have seen such action once in one of the biggest EU games site, but mutual interests prevailed this stupidity action). But this is how it looks formally.

Exceptions to copyright for the European Union are regulated in Article 5 of the EU Copyright Directive Section 3 - exceptions both to the right of reproduction and to the right to communicate or make works available to the public; somewhat similar to fair use in the United States. Too lazy to analyze all of it right now.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Daniel Saner (3241) on Sep 16, 2013


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There's no "fair use" as in the U.S., but generally we have an exception for quotations. That also extends to image material, such as newspaper photographs, if it is within reason and pertinent to the story.

Of course it is very much a question that is decided on a case-by-case basis, whether it's a reasonable quotation or infringing of rights.

Review summaries are definitely allowed. They are just a small excerpt of the work for the purposes of information, and the source is correctly stated. 100% legal under EU law. Screenshots should too, because they show just a small part of the work for reasons of illustration. Playthrough videos most certainly wouldn't be. Cover scans are tricky. MG has relatively low resolution (to the point that small text gets hard/impossible to read sometimes), definitely not reproduction quality. Though Wikipedia is even more careful, they have tiny/crappy resolution of front covers only. Intent definitely plays a role -- I would say MobyGames would be fine under EU law, a covers site that is clearly targetted at people printing covers for unlicensed copies would not. The watermarks are tricky, you could argue they make the covers even less usable for reproduction, but it could also be considered "tagging" something as your own that isn't yours. Beside copyrights there are also artists' rights that come into play.

(Edited by Daniel Saner (3241), Sep 16, 2013)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Daniel Saner (3241) on Sep 16, 2013


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That's why I said GF would need to hand over the database, which I'm sure they'd be happy to do if it's for the purpose of destroying one of their business acquisitions!

My post wasn't about the problems of continuing with the data elsewhere per se, but if were made possible, that it would be in the realm of the possible to continue running it under a different (safer) license than it was so far.

(Edited by Daniel Saner (3241), Sep 16, 2013)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Fred VT (25923) on Sep 16, 2013


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Letting MG in our hands would be the best option, I just wonder if there's any way to do that. Even maybe buy it as a collective, how much is it worth anyway?

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Patrick Bregger (254483) on Sep 16, 2013


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Since the redesign probably around ten bucks.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

BrandeX (73) on Sep 16, 2013


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If no one wants Wikipedia, some "other" Wiki solution is probably still better. Maybe wikia even though they are a private company too.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

vileyn0id_8088 (21185) on Sep 16, 2013


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BrandeX Wrote:
If no one wants Wikipedia, some "other" Wiki solution is probably still better. Maybe wikia even though they are a private company too.



Wikis aren't a very good match for the sort of data structures needed here. Perhaps an extensible open-source CMS like Drupal, as long as it scales.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Rola (8290) on Sep 16, 2013


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There are alternative websites, if we wanted to move there, we'd already be there. No wiki allows for advanced searching as database does.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Daniel Saner (3241) on Sep 16, 2013


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It's also really no big deal to set up a good database structure and good search/filtering capabilities. Some stock database backend and vanilla PHP frontend code, very simple. Takes some planning if you want to get the schema done sensibly, but the execution is hardly so complicated that you would need to resort to an off-the-shelf software. It would take a very short time until modifying a stock Wiki/CMS software to meet changing needs would become a lot more complicated than just rolling your own.

Which is one reason why I don't know why so many (HUGE) sites these days have such crappy search and filtering facilities. I mean: Flickr, YouTube, Twitter... it's atrocious. Give me one week and I could improve it tenfold. There are good examples too, though. Looking for something on Discogs or IMDb is a joy.

(Edited by Daniel Saner (3241), Sep 16, 2013)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Fred VT (25923) on Sep 16, 2013


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If you start your own database, I'm in to contribute!

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Daniel Saner (3241) on Sep 16, 2013


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Cool! Now if I had actually spent some time on turning it into a stable, usable system instead of always redesigning and rebooting it, it might have actually been ready to take submissions at this point ;D

I even registered a random, uninspired domain name for it a while back — gamefolder.org

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Fred VT (25923) on Sep 16, 2013


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If you ever get ready, give me a sign XD

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Indra was here (20900) on Sep 16, 2013


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Patrick Bregger Wrote:
Since the redesign probably costs around ten bucks.

Internet win for today.

(Edited by Indra was here (20900), Sep 16, 2013)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Parf (7786) on Sep 16, 2013


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Fictional like button pressed!

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Barna on Sep 20, 2013


Sadly I myself have no contributions here, but the idea of an imdb for games is and has always been dear to me.

For a while now I thought to myself, someone should make sure to preserve the data and scrape the site to store it all. If one day the business/site here goes away, it would be neat to put it back up because even in its current state, it is a wonderful resource.

Now today reading around here I had an idea: What if that someone who scraped the data would put up an initially empty website, on which MobyGames users could authenticate and log-in and there was a button like:

[ I hereby re-license all of my contributions to mobygames.com under the creative commons license ]

And as soon as the user pressed and confirmed that, all of the users contributions would start to become visible on the site. IANAL but I'd love to confirm the legality of such an approach. It would be even more interesting to invite contributors of other sites to do so as well. Although merging multiple data sets would be quite a pain :-)

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Daniel Saner (3241) on Sep 20, 2013


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I think for it to be legal, the material would have to be actually resubmitted by the contributors, not scraped from MG and re-licensed. GameFly don't have exclusive rights to the contributed materials, but to the database they keep them in, and any form of automatic scraping is most definitely against the terms of use.

The Archive Team might be scraping the site, in which case something might or might not appear at one point on the Internet Archive. As far as I understand, as a sanctioned library they do have the right to archive that data, but theoretically not to re-publish it on their site (not that it's ever stopped them before).

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Fred VT (25923) on Sep 20, 2013


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Daniel Saner Wrote:
I think for it to be legal, the material would have to be actually resubmitted by the contributors, not scraped from MG and re-licensed. GameFly don't have exclusive rights to the contributed materials, but to the database they keep them in, and any form of automatic scraping is most definitely against the terms of use.

The Archive Team might be scraping the site, in which case something might or might not appear at one point on the Internet Archive. As far as I understand, as a sanctioned library they do have the right to archive that data, but theoretically not to re-publish it on their site (not that it's ever stopped them before).



Could this be used as a base for a Class Suit? Impdra?

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Indra was here (20900) on Sep 21, 2013


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Fred VT Wrote:
Could this be used as a base for a Class Suit? Impdra?

No. No one got cancer and no animals were injured during this process.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Fred VT (25923) on Sep 21, 2013


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So, it's not illegal enough XD

But I think that some of us might have gotten cancer for this. Sciere has still to be accounted for. He might have died of indignation before the redesign, or worse...

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Indra was here (20900) on Sep 21, 2013


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I told you, Sciere and Kabushi ran off together to la-la-land and created a new database based on the Sound of Music. Edelweiss flowers now grow whenever one of them approve something and kittens cry when they forget to login for a day.

Re: Who "owns" the content of MobyGames?

Rola (8290) on Sep 23, 2013


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Can't we sue them for inducing MobyDepression? All those well-paid doctors would love to point out terms like "psychological trauma" etc.