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Vincent

ModDrop

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So here's the gist of it. ModDrop is a new mod service that that users can upload mods that they downloaded to and other people can download them in packs to be installed and things like that. So uploading our work without our permission and claiming no wrongdoing. They have a DMCA system that I hear isn't policed very well, and they state in their EULA that by using the service, you give up any legal right to sue them. This presents a problem because the only way to check to see if your mods are on there is to download the program and use it.

This video by GamerPoets explains it pretty well and briefly:

Spoiler

 

Then there's this video by Zaric Zhakaron that goes in to great detail and discusses legal issues involved with it:

Spoiler

 

It's also worth noting that the same people behind Gmod.com, another mod stealing service, are behind this.

So basically we have a service leeching off of various modding communities. I do not consent to my work being placed on it and will be putting restrictions on my listings disallowing uploading to moddrop. We make no monetary gain from our mods and some of us, myself included, use our work for portfolio purposes and exposure in order to seek employment. Moddrop going around us and directly offering our work skews our numbers in a way that is harmful to us while at the same time, profiting off something that doesn't belong to them. There is no way they could feasibly make their system work in a way that would be favorable to any non consenting mod author. Therefore they must take DMCA complaints seriously and implement a black list for mods that have been DMCA'd. If they do not do this then it is grounds for legal action, and I am not above litigation to protect my work. Their "you can't sue us if you use it" clause would never be enforceable since there's no other way to check if your mod is there.

Edited by Vincent

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Yes, they must obtain permission from the authors before distributing their work. Late better than never, else do stuff like lobby the major search engines to filter out/warn before they ever appear in search results.

And there's also, as you say, the risk of game corruption. One way for mod mangers to check is to detect whether the mod has been endorsed on the distributor sites (Anda: We want that here as well). A better way is for the manager to check users' download cookies from reputable sites. Of course cookies can be faked, but maybe more can be done on that later.

Edited by Schtearn

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I think it would be a good move to encourage mod authors to include a 'no re-hosting without explicit permission' clause. I only have a very few minor mods out there, but nonetheless (once I've got over Xmas) I will be making sure that's fixed - I've been bit sloppy about it. And I think I'll include the Stop Mod Drop logo for good measure.

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You realise you're just promoting ModDrop by doing that?

 

Elder Scrolls-wise, ModDrop is quite dead at the moment, there's only around 530 Oblivion mods uploaded, and around 500 of those were uploaded by the same person from his/her collection - that user hasn't logged into ModDrop since February 2016. Skyrim SE has 9 mods uploaded, Skyrim has 82 mods uploaded - all by the same "user" (actually called FilePlanet Archiver, they're just mods which were on FilePlanet when it shut down and so were put up onto ModDrop to save them - though some are also on Nexus). Morrowind has 192 mods uploaded.

In fact there were around 530 Oblivion mods when I checked a couple days ago - today there's exactly 157, so there's been some moderation in the last couple days and most have been removed (including an old version of a Unique Landscape, from before the UL Council denied permission to reupload, so it was allowed to be there).

So currently nobody in the Elder Scrolls community actually uses ModDrop - if you want people NOT to use it, then posting big signs up telling everyone not to use it will just tell people who have never heard of ModDrop that something interesting, new and flashy exists which some people are getting upset about so they'll give it a go and upload all their downloads there.

 

I've read some threads on ModDrop since first learning about it when Vincent posted his status update revealing it. Seems to me that there's no immediate reason to go all Morag Tong on ModDrop, the authors (who deny doing all the evil things they've been accused of 7 years ago, it was all a misunderstanding, and I don't know who is telling truth, but it was 7 years ago so maybe they're not doing evil things now even if they were then) have simply launched prematurely without a proper setup for author protection and moderation, which they claim is going to be implemented ASAP and admit should have been in place from launch (and may already now be in place seeing how many Oblivion mods have been removed over the last few days).

Don't just hate because you've been told to hate, treat ModDrop as you would any unknown new software - wait and see, and if you need to contact them for a take-down of your mods, given them a fair chance to do so.

 

 

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Thank you for those numbers, Vorians. I too have spent (far too much) time reading Moddrop threads, mostly on reddit, where people do get a tad worked up, and no-one had offered any proper stats the last time I looked.

Well, from what you say, the best thing may indeed be to stand down and adopt a watching brief. Their EULA is nonetheless extremely dodgy; they have been entirely negligent in their approach to the community; and I would advise people to be wary of non-open source apps, even from trusted sources - and this source is not exactly trusted. I'd also think it a good idea to ensure that mods carry a no rehosting clause anyway - but OK, there is no need to name names, agreed.

But, yeah, it doesn't sound quite as apocalyptic as might have been thought.

Edited by tegeusCromis

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The reason nobody offers up solid stats as to how much is available through the service is because you have to install their client and agree to a rather piece of shit EULA before you can access the downloading features. A couple of willing souls did exactly that once ESO (the Youtuber, not the game) began promoting the thing. Everything they've been accused of this time around is entirely true.

This also isn't the first time they've pulled something like this, or the second. Twice before, Skylar has tried to pull end runs around modders and their rights. The first time was a site called GMod (likely intentional to trick Garry's Mod users into visiting) where he uploaded hundreds of mods and then had the audacity to charge for access to them and demand that mod authors had to claim accounts on the service to then remove their work. Which they didn't even honor. The second time was under their corporate entity name of Olympus Games where this time they decided it would be cute to run an indexing service similar to Pirate Bay that also bypassed the download controls on Nexus so that the only traffic was file leeching. Needless to say in both cases they got brought to task hard by the community and by Nexus as well. So this is actually their 3rd attempt to set up a service that bypasses copyright and distributes mods illegally. I'm sure people can understand why nobody wants to trust them this time.

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The authors of ModDrop will appreciate the free publicity she has provided with her mod, more people will now start using ModDrop thanks to Elianora. I see she's deleting any comments which don't agree with her, making it an entirely biased and meaningless comments thread. Personally, the actions of modders who do things like this actually put me in favour of the side they're against, purely because of the high level of hatred displayed.

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So you'd willingly side with a mod thief just to spite a modder who points out the theft? That literally makes no sense whatsoever.

That said, I agree that it's probably somewhat counterproductive to make such mods, or even post lengthy videos about how you despise what they're doing, but in the end ignoring them won't make them go away either. History is filled with catastrophic examples of what happens when you try to turn a blind eye to things that are bad.

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All she’s doing is advertising for MD. I wouldn’t be surprised to find her mod up there now. Also if we keep spelling their name out in full, we’ll be helping them too, although I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much about showing up in the search results. ;)

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Yes, but at some point this kind of argument starts to sound like "we can't stop killers so we should have no laws against murder".

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10 hours ago, Arthmoor said:

So you'd willingly side with a mod thief just to spite a modder who points out the theft? That literally makes no sense whatsoever.

That said, I agree that it's probably somewhat counterproductive to make such mods, or even post lengthy videos about how you despise what they're doing, but in the end ignoring them won't make them go away either. History is filled with catastrophic examples of what happens when you try to turn a blind eye to things that are bad.

 

I haven't taken a side, I merely stated that when one person shows anger and makes accusations, and openly states that they are deleting any comments that don't match their view, and there are clearly no comments which don't match their view, that is too one-sided and biased - the accused isn't even there to defend themselves (and would have their comments deleted if they were), thus I naturally sympathise with the under-dog as this is bullying and I dislike bullies. Doesn't that remind you of Giskard, using his website and forums to post lies and accusations while not allowing the accused to even register, banning anyone who said things he didn't agree with, making threats etc.? To me, this could be the same situation aimed at the developers of ModDrop, I don't know.

 

I'm not aware that there has definitely been any mod theft. I have read that there were accusations of theft, and I have read that those accusations were false. I will not just accept the accusations because they have been made, and I will not just accept the denial because it was denied. I don't know one way or the other, but I do know that the accusation is from around seven years ago and was nothing to do with ModDrop itself which has only existed for about 6 months (and yet almost no one had even heard of it until haters started telling everyone not to use it), but rather to do with one of the people responsible for ModDrop, who may no longer do what he may or may not have done seven years ago. I also know that I have no desire to spend hours digging and investigating in hopes of tracking down the truth, I've read enough to know that I do not know one way or the other.

 

So I accept that he may have stolen mods, and I accept that ModDrop may be intended to enable mod theft, but I also accept that he may never have stolen mods, and I accept (regardless of whether or not the accused did steal mods) that ModDrop may be a genuine mod management tool which just happens to contain some features which appear to be for the purpose of mod theft, along with an EULA which protects the developers rather than the users and modders (which is standard in my experience), and poor staffing for content moderation. I also question (in admitted ignorance on license agreements) whether an EULA should be expected to offer protection for modders who are not users of the program, since if a modder doesn't use the program,  why should the EULA agreement protect them in any way - they haven't implied agreement through usage.

 

Have you contacted the developers to request a take-down? Have they responded if so? That's what matters to me, if modders have found their mods on ModDrop, actually made an attempt to resolve it with the developers, and what the end-result of that attempt was. Otherwise it's all just hate and accusation for the sake of hate. I do know that around 400 Oblivion mods have been removed since the first time I looked at ModDrop on around 21st/22nd Dec.

I don't recognise any of the available TES4/5 mods as being yours (Open Cities is available but it's an old version from before your took over the mod, so permissions are not yours) and UL Ancient Yews is there (I either missed it when I checked on 29th Dec or else it was restored having been taken down) but again permissions are not ours from UL Council, so is allowed to be there.

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I see what you're getting at, but no, this isn't a situation where Elianora is bullying anyone. She's removing comments that are legitimately trolling the issue because of the militant segment of the community that thinks mod authors have no rights. They ALWAYS inject themselves where they don't belong.

There has definitely been mod theft. A Youtuber under the alias ESO (yeah, about that, aliasing yourself after a game...) put up a modpack on the service with 130 or so mods in it. None of the authors had given permission for this to happen. Elianora simply brought this to light. Your proposed solution of ignoring it would have done nothing to correct the wrong. The fact that you aren't actively participating in the Skyrim community means you haven't seen the issue unfold and haven't seen the presented evidence. It isn't difficult to find and it goes back 6 years.

The client itself isn't at issue here. Nobody is asking him to remove it from circulation, nor to take down their website or anything like that. All we're asking is that they put a stop to the illegal redistribution of mods. Something which has been factually proven and Skylar himself has admitted took place. Again. For the 3rd time. He's out of excuses and cannot claim ignorance.

I have no idea if any Oblivion mods were included, but if so, my guess is the reason they're gone now is the same. Illegal redistribution. Nobody mentioned those though. All we knew about for certain was the modpack with 130 Skyrim mods in it. Had the Youtuber not taken the pack down himself then yes, I would have filed a copyright strike against his channel and sent a DMCA notice to Olympus Games (corporation running ModDrop). So no. This isn't just some random hate game and I don't understand why you're trying to cast it as such.

If they are distributing an original copy of OC 1.0 they're in violation of the original author's terms which did not allow such things to happen. So you are seeing firsthand what kind of service this company is offering.

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Posted (edited)

Seems like our feedback was heard.

Quote

Hey everyone. This is Skylar from ModDrop. I want to apologize to modders effected by the sharing of modpacks, and to the whole community for the stress this has caused. We disabled the sharing of modpacks a few days ago, but I wanted to personally apologize for this, so I put together this video:

youtu.be/21mzRFmydYI

I'm still away visiting family and only have my laptop. Sorry for the poor audio quality.

When I get back from the holidays I plan to publish a list of the publicly available mods to our website so everyone can review and flag content without needing to download the client.

ModPack sharing will also remain disabled until we've found a better approach that respects modder's rights.

Happy Holidays, Skylar Kreisher (ModDrop)

 

Interested in seeing where things go from here. If the guy sticks by his word this time, I'd be surprised.

Edited by Vincent

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21 hours ago, Arthmoor said:

I see what you're getting at, but no, this isn't a situation where Elianora is bullying anyone. She's removing comments that are legitimately trolling the issue because of the militant segment of the community that thinks mod authors have no rights. They ALWAYS inject themselves where they don't belong.

There has definitely been mod theft. A Youtuber under the alias ESO (yeah, about that, aliasing yourself after a game...) put up a modpack on the service with 130 or so mods in it. None of the authors had given permission for this to happen. Elianora simply brought this to light. Your proposed solution of ignoring it would have done nothing to correct the wrong. The fact that you aren't actively participating in the Skyrim community means you haven't seen the issue unfold and haven't seen the presented evidence. It isn't difficult to find and it goes back 6 years.

The client itself isn't at issue here. Nobody is asking him to remove it from circulation, nor to take down their website or anything like that. All we're asking is that they put a stop to the illegal redistribution of mods. Something which has been factually proven and Skylar himself has admitted took place. Again. For the 3rd time. He's out of excuses and cannot claim ignorance.

I have no idea if any Oblivion mods were included, but if so, my guess is the reason they're gone now is the same. Illegal redistribution. Nobody mentioned those though. All we knew about for certain was the modpack with 130 Skyrim mods in it. Had the Youtuber not taken the pack down himself then yes, I would have filed a copyright strike against his channel and sent a DMCA notice to Olympus Games (corporation running ModDrop). So no. This isn't just some random hate game and I don't understand why you're trying to cast it as such.

If they are distributing an original copy of OC 1.0 they're in violation of the original author's terms which did not allow such things to happen. So you are seeing firsthand what kind of service this company is offering.

You're putting words into my mouth, when did I propose ignoring the upload of this modpack, something which I am not even aware of, or of ignoring possible modtheft which I do not know the facts about? I said that I do not know who was right and who was wrong seven years ago, and that I am not going to search the internet for everything I can find on something that apparently happened seven years ago as it would be a waste of time - it's been seven years. The fact that I am not participating in the Skyrim community and so haven't seen issues unfold just proves my point, I don't know what's happened (or what accusations have been made) in the past so I should not make a decision based upon what I do not know.

 

I proposed that people who do not know what happened seven years ago should be allowed the chance to judge fairly based upon what happens now, rather than being encouraged or ordered to judge immediately. All I am seeing from one side is "ModDrop is evil, the creators are evil, down with ModDrop, stop using ModDrop" while from the other side I am seeing apologies from the developers for the actions of uploaders (remember, the uploaders are not the developers) and mods being removed upon request.

 

Open Cities could just as easily be uploaded onto Nexus; Nexus does not inspect every upload for approval before making available for download; Nexus responds to reports. It looks to me like ModDrop is doing exactly the same. Also, there are no stated terms in the original OC Complete 1.0 archive, and the mod page on Nexus is hidden by the author, so I'm sorry, but without those terms I am not seeing anything bad here. Additionally, the company is offering access to uploaded files, which again is exactly the same as Nexus does. Again, unless someone actually reports the upload, you cannot expect the company/developers to recognise an unauthorised upload.

 

Now, truly, your permissions for OCC/OCR do not apply to OC Complete v1.0, however I have just reported OC Complete v1.0 using ModDrop's Report function, stating that the current author denies permission to reupload, and linking to the OCC page on Nexus, and I wait now to see what happens. This however is not a perfect test since the developers of ModDrop could recognise like I have that your permissions do not apply to this file. If the original terms for OC Complete v1.0 were viewable online then a more solid report could be made.

I have also reported Unique Landscapes: Ancient Yews v1.2 as well, linking again to that mod's page on Nexus.

 

I expect one of the following:

  • To be completely ignored
  • For the files to be removed from ModDrop
  • For a response (via email, as stated on the Report screen in ModDrop that this may happen) asking for more information or stating why the files will not be removed

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The absence of terms means there is no permission. That's the legal footing for how copyright works. So if they are truly a company serious about obeying copyright law (and they better be, being a US company) then they'll remove the mod from their service unless it was the original authors who put it there to begin with, which is unlikely.

This isn't just about 7 years ago, or 3 years ago when they attempted a second run at a website filled with stolen mods, it's about what they're doing right now which has been very well documented. If I didn't link it before, this is the current thread on the issue at Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/skyrimmods/comments/7lkmmb/moddrop_and_you/

When someone has a repeating pattern of bad behavior, it isn't logical to ignore that just because it was some arbitrary length of time before now. Trust is earned, not given.

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Reddit is hardly a source to be trusted. Vorians says he hasn’t experienced this stuff personally and he wants to see it firsthand before he forms an opinion. I haven’t either and I’m waiting to hear how they respond.

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Posted (edited)

I don't think just because it's on reddit, that the information is automatically untrustworthy. Look at the people who are involved in the discussion, rather than the platform they're doing it on.

Looking at moddrop discussions I've seen there, I immediately see Thallassa , Dark0ne, and Arthmoor just to name a few. Three people whose input I trust when it comes to this community.

Edited by Vincent

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I linked the Reddit thread for the exact reason Vincent mentioned. It's a convenient place to look which has links to all of the relevant discussion on the issue so one does not have to spend time hunting it down in order to know just what's going on.

Waiting for yourself to become a victim of mod theft before you believe they're mod thieves defies all reasonable logic. One does not need to have their house robbed to accept the fact that burglars exist and should be stopped.

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But there’s nothing we can do about it except to report it if we care victimized. Same with burglars. I’m not going to go running around attempting to arrest burglars. Similarly I can’t report mods as stolen if they aren’t my mods. As you know, even in the case where I do have something to do with the mod, I get ignored anyway. When we had someone upload a variation of All Natural on Nexus, I reported it and nothing happened. I am the current custodian of AN, but the Nexus staff ignored me. I told them I was the current custodian but it didn’t matter. I had to ask you to report it and only then did they remove the mod.

Downloading a protest mod accomplishes nothing but advertise for MD. In show business, all publicity is good publicity. I never even heard of MD until Vincent posted here. I bet there are tons of people on Nexus who had never heard of them either, but now they are no doubt checking it out to see what all the fuss is about. I bet a lot of them think it’s a great idea and are now using it. The owners of MD should endorse that mod.

If that doesn’t convince you, look at how popular certain controversial modders are. They don’t even have their mods on Nexus, but they have a large following.

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So by your logic we should stop bringing awareness to nefarious activities of any sort. Let the burglars run wild, let the copyright thieves go crazy, let the killers run free. Yeah, that's a great way to run things.

Regardless of how naive that viewpoint is, the end result was positive assuming the ModDrop people aren't lying through their teeth about having disabled the illegal mod sharing option.

And hey, if you're willing to risk a malware infection installing their client to see what's available, have at it. I'm sure their ad providers will be happy to have you on board.

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I'm of two minds about this...on one hand, I think whenever possible a person should be contacted if a site like ModDrop wants to host (or index links to) their mod, I personally find it really silly when a modder hasn't been active for years and no one's able to touch there stuff because they never left any permission notes. Nexus defaults to "you need to contact me" for mods released before the current Permissions section went live, so if the modder is no longer around to update their permissions or be contacted...it's just making this unnecessarily difficult, I feel. I know I have a few mods I can't release on Nexus because it uses resources from old, old mods where the author left the community. Mods currently still in development or ones where the permissions have clearly been known should be off-limits on this weird site, though.

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Nexus defaults the way they do because that's simply how copyright law works. If no terms are specified, then legally you do not have permission to do anything with the mod. You certainly don't have permission to redistribute it on another platform the author was not aware even existed.

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