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    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    My Position on People Stealing my Work

    I have received a lot of feedback regarding a comment I made in my last post about people illegally hosting my work.

    I made it known that Exmortis 2 currently has 215 hosts world wide - of which only 9 have been given permission. That means that 95.8% of websites hosting my game are doing so in an illegal fashion...

    I've had many people comment to me via email that I should do something about it and that I should take legal action etc. I do appreciate the sentiments... :) So I feel that I must address these concerns...

    I realise that stealing web-content is a big issue at the moment - especially considering the somewhat humerous banter going around about sites like ebaumsworld allegedly stealing content from other sites and profiting from the practise.

    The main problem with this being that these websites make money off the advertising revenue that is generated through the web traffic they receive as a result of the hosted stolen content. Essentially these websites are making big dollars on the artist's work - without the artist receiving any remunerative return or credit... This is considered stealing and such hosts can be brought to prosecution as a result.

    So what is my stand on this?

    I honestly don't like people stealing my work... who would? I think it is wrong to steal someone's work and benefit from it financially without the person who did all the hard work receiving anything in return... majority of these people haven't even credited me for the game!!

    That said however, everyone - and I mean everyone - who has asked me for permission to host the Exmortis games, I have given it to them. It is common courtesy to ask permission. I ask for nothing in return except a written credit.

    But on the other hand the way I look at it, I am making these games not to make money for myself... but to gain recognition for my name, my work and my design services. It is a hobby - pure and simple. The more people that host, the wider the worldwide distribution of my work. The more exposure it gets. And hence the more my needs and purposes are served.

    So this puts me in a hard position. Do I request that those sites illegally using my game to take my game down from their site? Or do I turn a blind eye because it means more people are seeing my work as a result?

    So far I have turned a blind eye. I haven't been able to identify any benefit that it would present to me to have my game effectively removed from 95.8% of it's internet circulation...

    And so once again the content thieves win, because the little guy like me can not afford to cut off his nose to spite his face...

    Opinions? Thoughts?


    Viva_Life said...

    i agree
    i think that even though people are stealing your work it means more people are playing the game
    and on a personal note
    i must say these games are the best *scary point and click* games i have ever played
    another thing
    y arent you making movies?
    seriously you have all the right stuff in ur games to make a truely horrifying movie
    and i havent seen one of those in a long time
    and thats about it
    cant wait for Exmortis 3!
    why are there so few people here?
    you would think w/ 1 mil people playing it there would be more people here

    Anonymous said...

    I think that your work is very time-consuming, and you are one of my favorite flash authors, especially with the Exmortis series. It is a shame that people don't even have the courtesy to take maybe 5 minutes to check out your site, and find your email address to request your approval, but they have time to post it and write some sort of description without any scruples. Personally, I don't know if lawsuits are in order, but perhaps you could ask that they give proper credit, or cut you in on advertisements, I have no idea. That is your choice, but I don't think there is any way to truly prevent this. People are just inconsiderate.


    Anonymous said...

    I would go ahead and send emails to all the site ripping your work and kindly ask them to remove it. There is certain legal action you can take for failure of them complying. Games as lustful as Exmortis really shouldn't be channeled around the internet with no credit given. I can only imagine the endless hours it took to make it. The biggest reward is seeing your work recognized, and that's virtually impossible if people steal it, as such.

    Go ahead and take action. :)

    Ben Leffler said...

    Thanks for the comments thus far, guys... Just to clarify - I won't be actually taking legal action against anyone (unless there really is no choice in the matter...)

    It's just too time consuming for me to consider considering how busy I am with life in general.

    That said, usually the threat of such legal action is enough to scare these dodgy hosts in to action... That's probably as far as I would consider going to be completely honest...

    Anyway, keep the comments coming though!

    Anonymous said...

    I see where ur coming from but in a diffrent view im a 17 year old guitar player (a BIG fan of ur work btw) and I have alittle band nothin big but some of my friends are showing alot of people and me and my band are getting alot of intension lately its all good but i rather them ask me befor showing the world it.i know this is far from what ur doing but i understand where ur coming from

    i would say just let them host it but when they get any income or say they made it,thats when u need to take legal action.

    Anywho Thanks for ur great work im goin nuts waiting for exmortis3 i dont think i can wait any longer. Man i give u alot of credit,i flash but lol personaly i suck KEEP UP THE AWSOME WORK MAN

    LA said...

    I have contributed an article to wikipedia on Exmortis:

    I would like to put up an image of exmortis for the article with your permission. If you could provide me with an image that you feel would be all right to be on the article, I would appreciate it.

    Anonymous said...

    well one way you could make sure that if they steal your work you still get credit is to put ur name right in the beggining, like created by "yada yada"

    Thanks for making these games I loved it

    Anonymous said...

    I believe you should ask them to give you a 5% of the money they get thanks to you and ask them to recognize you and your site.
    If so many people steal your work I think that this way you should get a lot of money + recognition.
    Sorry for my bad english. Keep up the good work!
    Pablo Krasno

    Anonymous said...

    Honestly, I think the fact that they host it without your permission is rather disrespectful to how much work you placed into this (hobby or not, it's still alot). At the very least you should demand they pay homage to the dedication you have to this awesome game (played it once and was instantly hooked; <3 scary games). On a side topic, should look into making this a movie :o

    Anonymous said...

    i think as long as no one claims your work to be theirs, things should be fine. otherwise if they take to credit legal action should be in order.

    Jasper said...

    I experience the same thing! Almost a year ago, I made two horror point-and-click games ("Factory of Fear" and "Ghost Story"), which lie in the same line as "exmortis", and if I typen in "Factory of Fear" in google, I find idonno how many sites that just stole the game from Newgrounds (?), without my permission (and I was so smart to put it into my copyright notice that you can't without my permission). I actually gave one French site permission to post it, and that's all...

    I'm don't really bother, and nobody says it's their game when it isn't so... I'll just wait what my new game (posted yesterday!:-) does and in how much time it spreads around the Net.

    Anyway, your games were a real example for me, I love exmortis as much as my mommy, and I'm very much looking forward to playing exmortis part 3. And whatever you're planning to do with the whole stealing problem: I wish you all the luck there is!

    Jasper M. of the Bat Company (you can find us @ Newgrounds)

    Max said...
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    Max said...

    I have a website, I was going to ask you if I could have your permission to host exmortis 1 and 2, I
    dont intend to steal anybodys work like the 200+ sites you mentioned that are stealing yours.

    My email is
    sorry for deleting my last comment I couldnt find an edit button.

    zoro said...

    Having your flashwork ripped from reputible sites such as newgrounds is practically unavoidable.
    I hate to see it happen because I know sites such as ebaums are going to generate revenue and give nothing back to the creators. But on the other hand, its cool that so many people get to experience your work and be entertained, which in my eyes is what its all about.

    Theft aside I can't wait to play and unravel the 3rd installment. The teaser looks amazing.

    Although I'm saddened this will end in a trilogy, thinking about it it seems the right thing to do.

    But I think it would be really cool if you made a couple of games based around the resistance group mentioned in Exmortis 2, the games would unravel more about the rise ofexmortis the holocaust and destruction of earth, perhaps leading up to the events in game 2 puzzle and new locales galore.

    Keep up the good work.

    VMerken said...

    I know the feeling all too well, mr. Leffler, so this is an exhilirating subject for me. I experience the same trouble with the videogame FAQs I've written - more than half of the sites they appear on aren't doing so with my permission. I guess simple courtesy is not widely practised by the world's website creator population.

    In my opinion, if a creation is released without commercial intent, then the extra exposure gained from unintentional hosting is acceptable - given that the hosted image has not been touched. If the last condition isn't fulfilled - for example, author names are replaced with other names and such - then steps MUST be taken as that's blatant plagiarism. If one group is allowed to get away with it, a precedent is created.

    Of course, and that's the big problem: with so many sites on the web, you can't expect to trace all hosted images, leave alone sites which link to hosts but pretend they're hosting it (i.e. sites which show a screenshot of the creation - perhaps with a funky watermark of their site -, accompanying text and a link, but this link guides you to a site which actually hosts the creation. Such sites don't even NEED permission, although it's probably not okay to display watermarked screenshots). So you would have to play an ever-vigilant watchdog to prevent any precedent from occuring. Unfortunately, this takes copious amounts of time, so it's very difficult for an individual to control this - a fact encouraging my main motivation to keep a blind eye to any unapproved exposure.

    And what to think of automated request forms? You know, the kind which scan larger websites for new [work] from [person], an [e-mail address] and then automatically send an e-mail to [e-mail address] like this:

    "Hello [person],

    My searchbot/I has/have seen your [work] and [insert ego-tickling comment here]! I would love to host it on my website, which is why I'd like to ask for your permission! I won't change your content, don't worry! Bye,


    Is this a form of courtesy? It looks so on the outside (after all, one does get a polite email with the request) but... can one be happy from being spotted and contacted by a bot/script of some type? How much different is this from unpermitted hosting, value-wise? It's almost a philosophical question.

    Either way, practises such as these require some form of legislation under international law, and as such it's out of our hands and more a matter of - shudder - global politics. Which raises the question whether or not politicians would find something like this important in the first place. The fact that a place like lives on might point to the answer to this question.

    That's my viewpoint on the situation. I wish I could offer an easy solution to the matter, but I can't. Maybe in time, aproper legislation is established but until that day, I'll just have fun sharing (some of) my creations with the world. I hope you will, too.

    job1866 said...

    Would you mind if I sent the games to Dario Argento or George Romero? I'd like to see you make a movie on Exmortis and perhaps they can help in some way.

    Anonymous said...

    Your quite right. I'm happy your not turning a blind eye for selfish reasons, we all deserve recognition for our work, although.

    It confounds me that atleast you don't make them put a credit on the game, if thats all you require!

    It's idiocy.

    Momo said...

    Although I understand your annoyance at people hosting your game without permission I feel I should point out that I most likely found the game through one of those illegal places and because you included your name in the introduction I was able to find more of your work. The site may not credit you but the game does that perfectly well.

    As far as I'm concerned you're getting free advertising ^_^ But that's my view. I can't wait to see more of your work! The quality is astounding!