Microsoft has detailed a number of new rules regarding the practice of using its gameplay video, audio and screens in the creation of fan-made content.
On the condition that users follow the company's Game Content Usage Rules, Microsoft grants them "a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use and display Game Content and to create derivative works based upon Game Content, strictly for your noncommercial and personal use".
This could potentially impact on YouTube channels which use advertising to generate revenue directly from the content.
The rules go on to state that a disclaimer must be included with all distributed content: "[Name of the Microsoft Game] © Microsoft Corporation. [The title of your Item] was created under Microsoft's "Game Content Usage Rules" using assets from [Name of the Microsoft Game]. It is not endorsed by Microsoft and does not reflect the views or opinions of Microsoft or anyone officially involved in producing or managing [Name of the Microsoft Game]. As such, it does not contribute to the official narrative of the fictional universe, if applicable."
The game's name cannot be used in the title of any user-created content, which Microsoft says is to avoid confusion. "For example, we don't object to "Red vs. Blue". We don't object to "Operation Chastity". But we do object to "Halo [insert the title of your Item here]". We want to make sure consumers don't get confused."
If a user creates something new in one of the platform holder's game universes, they grant "a royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide, license to Microsoft and any of Microsoft's partners or users to use, modify and distribute that Item (and derivatives of that Item), and use your name if we choose to, for any purpose and without obligation to pay you anything, obtain your approval, or give you credit".
"This means that if you add to the game universe or expand on the story told in the game with "lost chapters" or back story or anything like that, distribution of your story or idea may appear in a future game without any compensation to you. (Sorry, but our lawyers tell us we need to do this in order to avoid frivolous lawsuits getting in the way of making more great games.) It also means we can put your Item on a Microsoft site or property like Halo Waypoint if we want to."
First-party Halo studio 343 Industries, which works closely with the community on projects such as Red Vs. Blue, has issued a statement on the Halo Waypoint forums assuring fans that little has changed, and offering words of encouragement to content creators.
"We know you have questions about the updated Game Content Usage Rules," wrote community manager Jessica Shea. "The good news is that little to nothing actually changed. The rules are basically the same, with clarification added to address some frequently asked questions.
"While those rules govern several different titles, we would like to assure you that we not only love seeing, watching, and hearing your many different Halo-related creations, but we want you to be able to create to your heart's content.
"That is one of the primary reasons we forged a partnership with Machinima, for example, so in theory, just about anyone could sign up as part of a simple pre-approved partner program and actually earn money on YouTube and avoid even having to think about it or apply for a separate license.
"Both Rooster Teeth and Machinima have held our normal commercial licenses for years (and others can reach out to us for commercial licenses as well), so rest assured they will continue to exist as you know them. The majority of everything the community makes currently is fine, as long as they are not basically running a big Halo-based business or using Halo as if the IP was its own property."
The list of Microsoft games specifically mentioned in its new rules include Halo (all versions), Forza Motorsport (all versions), Fable (all versions), Kinectimals, Kinect Adventures, Kinect Joy Ride, Age of Empires (all versions), Flight Simulator (all versions), Kameo, Perfect Dark Zero, Project Gotham Racing (all versions), Shadowrun and Viva Piņata.