What are the rights of modification developers & modification development teams in regards to the assets they create? What should a modification agreement and/or policy outline? What do you think mod developers should and shouldn't be able to do? Discuss!

Personally, money doesn’t come into the equation for me, if it applies for monetizing then it applies to free mods to.

If monetizing comes in then legal action is more likely to occor so there is a difference even if we don’t want there ot be a difference :wink:

That said I think part of modding (the little bit I have been part of) is expectation. If I expect my work to be stolen or just used without permission then I am much less likely to even bother. If a community is known to do things like this then my expectation is clear. If I expect people to ask permission and credit me then I am much, much more likely to get involved with that community. If there is a super mod (a situation not unique to HW) that is known for gobbling up smaller mods without permission and getting away with it then I will take my time elsewere. I love HW but there are many games I love.

Part of any modding discussion should be how to attract and keep modders. Having a safe and secure environment to develop mods is the starting point to that. I believe that is part of the reason why we are all so excited for HW:R because GBX will be so closely involved and there’s steam workshop integration. It’s not the wild west anymore where the robber barons can steal your stuff and laugh in your face.

And lets be honest here, complex, as great as that mod is and as much as it has done for HW, did put itself in the firing line by being the first mod in the steam workshop :wink: Stuff may or may not have happened, doesn’t matter, but we got to learn from it going forward regardless because it is definately a thing that happens in every modding community.


So, it’s been four days (and I didn’t see any rules about bumping in the forum’s rules; although I do have some content to post,) so I’d like to invite more members of the community to join in on the discussion!

I do have some proposals for Gearbox Software as to how they, directly or indirectly, can resolve this issue… Even if the Steam Subscriber Agreement covers a lot of bases in the first place…

Make an opt-out agreement for modification developers.

With permission for said developer or development team to create a modification being withdrawn if they opt-out; with developers consenting to be placed in an “opt-out” status if they violate said agreement.

“You are required to have full rights of ownership for, and or full permissions to use any and all, assets in your published modification. Publication referring to the act of distributing said modification to other individuals by any and all means.”

Make an opt-in agreement for modification developers.

Similarly to the opt-out agreement, modification developers will automatically agree to this agreement if they begin to create a modification and publish said modification, with a similar situation occurring to the above if a violation occurs.

Create a community team of volunteers to enforce the Steam Subscriber Agreement in the Steam Workshop.

This is the simple solution which would involve the least involvement from Gearbox Software as possible, once the initial set of moderators and administrator are granted the relevant permissions, of course.

This suggestion would, simply put, involve the creation of a community team which would moderate and administrate the Steam Community Workshop. (Did I just repeat the title? Ooops…)

Let me expand on this. Moderators in this team would have the relevant permissions to edit, remove, and archive content. Administrators, including the latter, would be able to also appoint new moderators and administrate the community team; as well as have the ability to take complaints about moderation and resolve any disputes in regards to the actions of moderators and other administrators.

But, of course, Gearbox Software would have the final say in any disputes created by the above suggestion.

What do you guys think?

Let everybody know below! What would you like the agreement to entail? What rights do you think modification develops should have as outlined by such an agreement? Do you think a community team would be sufficient and acceptable to resolve this issue? Discuss!

I think the ownership of mod assets question borders on the insane. It is very simple: do not claim to have created things you did not create, and track changes to what you modify, and give all credit where authorship is known. These are self-policing policies and good common sense.

I can only see that anything beyond that is utter lunacy.


the rampancy of credit theft has essentially been overblown. it’s created in several modding communities an atmosphere of tension and paranoia, and an aversion to sharing. everyone understands authorship and morality, the people who are out to steal and take credit are going to do so no matter what anyone does or says. there is no way you can fight it. if it’s not your assets being exploited, it’s someone else’s assets being ported over.

one thing you can do is make the environment as open as possible and take away the incentive to violate rules and hoard credit, where ownership becomes readily apparent, and acts of piracy are easily discriminated against.

1 Like

Actually no, if the community as a whole makes it clear that no theft of assets or credit will be tolerated you immediately create an environment that is safe. A safe environment automatically fosters content creation and sharing. Yes there will be people who do not want to share what they have made even despite an environment where that is encouraged and celebrated but there is no justification anyone can come up with that they have a right to someone else’s content. Anyone who does try and make that argument most likely wishes to foster that kind of opinion in the community and is someone that has in the past or will in the future steal other people’s work.

This is what will make or break modding for this game. Nearly every new game that comes out has modding support built and there is some really good engines out there. If a community can differentiate itself as being a safe and open community that respects authorship and credits properly you will attract talent and ideas and grow leaps and bounds. Then it doesn’t matter that someone wont share because the amount of people will make that irrelevant. That is something each and every modder should want.


Given the comments leveled at the HOD and related tools stuff (which I’ll posted about in the proper thread) - I’d suggest this (suggest, not require, and this isn’t Gearbox policy - just something to consider from somebody who has had much time to consider it)…

  • Gearbox is NOT ModDB or Steam (or any other host) - we made a product, reserved our rights to it, and put it up for sale. We are not (nor are likely to be) community police. That is almost entirely besides the point of how people should conduct themselves in this space. We are fish in a creative sea. There are whales called the DMCA and Safe Harbor Provisions.
  • ModDB and other hosting sites have to respect certain rules or they risk being taken down. C&Ds/DMCA requests are no joke. If somebody says ‘that’s mine and I don’t want it where it is’ - they have to act. It is really easy to file a DMCA.
  • Steam and similar hosts have this issue as well, and as hosting and sale of materials is their core business, they take this stuff very seriously - they really don’t have a choice.
  • ModDB will be a great place to host your mods. BUT - There is a future where the stuff up on Steam Workshop carries information that the game needs to operate (details of what’s in the Mod package, if it’s safe for MP or not, dependencies, install and format instructions, etc) - and at some level the bindings between Workshop and Launcher will make skipping the Launcher hard if not unworkable. At that point ModDB becomes a great place to talk about and develop your mod - even maybe host the ‘loose’ versions - but Steam is still where it goes to be seen and supported by the overall engine. None of this is set in stone - but if you think about how the scene will mature (and how MP mods will be known to be safe and not cheat/sync busting) - the mechanism for loading them will change. Loose files will always work, but probably only over LAN.
  • If you, as a Mod author/coordinator or artist work to create the most amazing mod ever, and it takes years and dozens of people - how would you feel if on day one it was pulled and considered poison by either host? All because somebody can point at a bit of content inside your Mod that they had first? Maybe even just a small script or FX texture?
  • As a Mod author you want to be safe and know that what you are using is in the clear. You need that validation. Just saying, as a group that it’s all free to use isn’t really enough - somebody can choose not to play by loose rules later and still take you down.
  • This is why things like Creative Commons exist - to allow creators to say ‘Hey, use my stuff!’ and still retain some rights (like credit given, a so-called CCA license).
  • So really, instead of claiming as a group (which can’t include members that don’t exist yet and may disagree) that it’s a free for all - prove it. Post your stuff with a CC or CCA designation. ONLY bash and borrow from stuff with a CC/CCA. You’ll enjoy freedom, and no fear that you’ll get knocked offline. If you post CC/CCA content - post your source materials - HOD files are no longer ‘edit these’ assets, and their format is not set in stone.
  • The alternative isn’t safe nor smart. Your opinion of the rights of others doesn’t change their rights.
  • ‘Credit of Authorship’ is NOT responsible borrowing. Saying ‘I used X’s car’ isn’t enough if they didn’t give you permission to do so. It is a key step to responsibly borrowing the car, yes - but it has to start with clear permission to do so. Please don’t spread this idea - it’s toxic and will get people in trouble.

Again, I haven’t said what you must do, I’ve stated an opinion about how modern hosting sites have to work, and people using them should work to enjoy the freedoms of distributing their work. I imagine our esteemed ModDB leaders (@Erayser, etc) and virtually anyone who’s ever had their stuff taken down due to a C&D or DMCA request will agree.

On a related note - if you’ve ever seen how Youtube works (people posting stuff with music they don’t own, etc) - you know that it is oddly often tolerated. BUT - That’s because they respect DMCA requests (so enjoy Safe Harbor coverage) - and because it actually makes them money (they identify the music, link to it for sale, get a kick back). At the same time they also allow content creators to sign up for this kick-back (or alternatively auto-kill anything that violates the licensing). So if you made a track, and a bunch of people used it - and you were under contract with Google - they find the songs, and cut the $ with you. What you may not know is that a recent change was attempted to basically tell authors ‘if you don’t sign up, we won’t police for your stuff anymore’ - forcing them to DMCA on their own. It was not exactly this (there are many sides to that story), but it highlights the idea that some large hosts change the rules because it benefits them. What is A-okay today can change very fast. Starting off in the clear ‘just because’ is not the same as being in the clear because you took the correct legal steps to be safe.


My take is that if you release a mod then you’re doing it in service to the game, not to build a showcase for your own ideas. Your content belongs to the people who made the game and the people who bought the game.

If your ideas are too original and ground-breaking to be constrained by that arrangement, then that’s great news for the rest of us! Go get a copy of Unity or Unreal (which is now free, BTW), and build that idea into your own game! Then you won’t have to share your content with anyone else and you won’t have to worry about your rights when you develop for someone else’s IP.

Brilliant. That’s a great response!
I would like to add specifically that, similarly to ModDB and the other sites, Steam/Valve will also act in a professional and quick manner in regards to content on the Steam Workshop as well. If you don’t want your content on the workshop in somebody else’s work, report it and claim to be the author, and Steam/Valve will resolve the matter.

1 Like

Exactly! And because of this, people should be really careful to consider how they want to work. If they want their own works to be shared and used - plainly put them in the Creative Commons - it’ll take you 5 minutes to google it and attach the logo/text. Then everyone can use your stuff (and give you credit if you so wish) - and people know it is ‘safe’. If you don’t want to share, don’t attach a license. And counter to what anyone says, that’s your call, period - making a Mod doesn’t subtract from your rights in general, even if posting it subjects you to ‘usage’ rights by Gearbox/Steam - I dunno for sure. Mods that borrow stuff cover their backs by watching for the right license (or hell, asking the author to add one when unclear) - and everyone works in a way that’s got zero drama.

1 Like

You folks at Gearbox need to know who you’re getting into bed with then, seeing as Complex mod is the biggest perpetrator of these immoral practices of ripping other mods’ work and not giving them clear credit, and making it look like the work is their own. They became infamous for it for crying out loud.

This is why the Complex mod was originally highlighted in the original heading of this thread.
The apologists and Complex fanboys will try and defend them, but there are those that see through them and know what they are really like.

I’m sure I’m not the only one very uncomfortable with anyone associated with the upper echelons of the Complex mod getting cosy with Gearbox and becoming ‘official’, as it feels like that makes Complex’s actions of the past ‘official’ and possibly the acceptable default behaviour going forward.

1 Like

I don’t think that members of Complex helping with the development of HW:RM is somehow given them any exceptions for good behavior on other venues (on Steam, ModDB, etc). They’re capable and talented people that did work - work HW:RM benefited from greatly. If they push a bunch of pirate content up on to Steam/ModDB, the same process that protects anyone else from theft can be used to deal with them - that’s got ZERO to do with Gearbox.

The points I was making about placing stuff in CC are more about the community at large actually understanding copyright law and working in a way that acknowledges it - something that provides protection for authors and consumers of that content (which can include other authors). You (collectively) will do what you want - and probably a sizable portion of You (collectively) will ignore the advice. Then, when/if the drama starts - instead of having protected yourselves, things will get pulled down, and people will be unhappy. None of that, at all, has anything to do with Gearbox - it has everything to do with the policies and requirements of being a content host, aka ModDB and Steam.


I noticed some code of mine from my Homeworld Classic Enhanced mod in the game. Especially, in “data\leveldata\multiplayer\lib\crates.lua”. Am I in the HWRM credits? That’s the only condition I placed on the code. :wink:



Yeah. So, when you chose to involve people from Complex did that decision include an assessment of their mod? Or, to put it another way, was the good job they did on Complex the major driver and point of reference for you to be sure that they would do a good job on HWR?

I am sorry BitVenom but your argument is very tenuous here. If Gearbox was unaware of the controversy then I can understand what I consider an error of judgement. Did you know about this controversy before the Complex team were involved in HWR?

Now, if Gearbox did know about the controversy then it is the height of contradiction and cynicism for a commercial publishing house to give a preference to a group of people that got to where they were, off the backs of others work [or even included ‘stolen’, plagiarized work in HWR].

You might retort, yet again, that what happened previously had nothing to do with Gearbox. However you would be wrong because your (Gearbox’s) actions are rewarding unethical behaviour. That unethical behaviour is not in the ‘past’ as those stolen assets are going to be used in the HWR version of complex.

[Given what I say in the edit below, it could just be that said stolen assets are actually in HWR already! If so the argument of “it was in the past and nothing to do with Gearbox” cannot be made. It would mean that I have bought something containing content plagiarized from others. Would this not mean that Steam would have to remove your game, Gearbox, from its listings if some of these legitimately disgruntled modders decide to force the issue?]

This scenario will only enter the definition of being in the past when an apology is issued by the lead dev for Complex and the fact disclosed over the extent to which Gearbox knew that the Complex team had stolen others’ work (and quite a bit of work too). If Gearbox did know then an apology is needed from them too. Choosing, BitVenom, to argue counter to these principles is a loosing battle for you.


I could not tell if the wink indicated sarcasm or not. If not then WOW! So, your code/content gets incorporated into Complex, Complex devs get asked to help with HWR and then your code/content gets incorporated into Gearbox’s commercial release?

Does that mean Gearbox released software with others uncredited (and stolen) work included in it?


I did notice that Complex also offers download mirrors for the mod from MODdb, and you don’t need to pay anything for that. Heck all you’d need to do is make a forum account on the complex forums and download it for free there.

I’m not grasping something:

There is this guy, I’ll name him Carl Toba, he has a cool game. I mean it’s his property, he owns it.
Suddenly I start to edit his stuff without his consent, with tools he didn’t allow or are aware of and then, after a year or two of hard work over night, another guy, let’s call him Biff, comes and take it from me, so I get pissed off.

Then I come here to debate, in Carl Toba’s own house, and demand what is his position about something that belongs to him (that I took it) and that is now in possetion of someone that works for him.

What is the name of the movie here: The Italian Job?
What else? Will we allege a 4,000 years treaty to burn down the house?
(Sorry, I couldn’t help myself)

The matter is important, I agree, but the thread is looking like a Union mobilization to go against a partner* without making sense of other things first. If the idea was to force Gearbox feel guilty and send us some air tickets, I didn’t get the memo, sorry. For some of us, the thread is smelling like envy and crawling like envy. If you wanna feel envy, Pouk is here among us - the ships he creates sucks, btw (**).

Next time, we should air some e-mails in backstage and adopt a spokesperson in place of a thread, that’s the only contribution I have for this thread.

(*) Gearbox
(**) read again, now with sarcasm


If the drama levels get any higher, this thread will be locked.

so I suggest that everyone turns it back down to ‘really calm’.

1 Like

Really we can kick this can around the forum all day long for another month and not get anywhere close to a perfect solution because honestly there isn’t going to be one; I know because I’ve seen it before about it over at Relicnews years ago and we had modding section for the Homeworld series, Company of Heroes and Dawn of War. You want to hear how restrictive Games Workshop can be with their IP when its comes to modding? They’d make this entire situation look miniscule.

What @BitVenom said is dead on correct. At the end of the day the simplest and best thing to do is keep the rules simple and respect the copyright of the content creators. No need to add on all these extra rules and conditional modifiers. If you do that, you create a complex set of rules for a really simple situation that could potentially create loopholes or undesired/unforeseen consequences that have worse ramifications than originally intended. You create a simple ruleset and guidelines for the community to be as specific as possible. Yes people will break it, but if the guidelines are simple, clear and easily understandable then the community will take care of itself and flush out those who decide otherwise. There’s really no need to overly complicate this.

I went ahead and rehash the guidelines that we have over at Relicnews. I think this fits well and should cover what people are looking for.

“it” refers to a model, a texture, an effect, or some other intellectual property that you want to put in your modification.

Did you make it?
YES: The property in question you have full ownership of to do whatever you wish with it. You may choose how the distribution and others may make use of your intellectual property.
NO. Proceed to step 2.

Do you know who made it?
YES. Proceed to step 3.
NO. You are unable to use the property. You do not know who is the owner of the creation, and do not know what restrictions they have placed on third party usage of their material. Using the property would put you in violation of their copyright ownership and in potential legal trouble.

Do you know how to contact the person who made it?
YES. Contact him/her or the organization and ask for permission to use the property and in the context that you will be using it, and then proceed to step 5.
NO. Do your research and look up the creators(s), organization, or others familiar with the property through reliable means to make contact, then proceed step 4.

Were you successful in contacting the person/organization to use their property?
YES. Proceed to Step 5.
NO. You cannot use the property. A lack of a response or failure to respond does not automatically give you permission to use their property. You must wait until they give their approval before using it.

Did they give you permission to use their property?
YES. Congratulations. You are able to use the property in your modification, however you do not have free reign or creative control over what you do with the property. You MUST follow the owner’s guidelines on what you can and cannot do with the property within the context of your modifcation. These restriction will not be universal and will vary between owners and it is your duty to determine what those are and follow them. Violation of those usage guidelines can potentially have your access to the material removed.
NO. If you have contacted the owner of the property, asked for permission to use it, explain in which the content you will be using it, and they say “No” then you cannot use the property in quesiton in any shape or form until the original owners change their position. Violation of this may result in legal action or violation of your local, state, or federal copyright laws.



I’m reading this thread right now.
I appreciate the time spent on this, especially the first post, is it constantly updated?

Anyway, you’re not forced to pay for downloading Complex, you can donate for having a direct link from the Complex site, but in alternative you can download the latest version of Complex from many free sites, for example ModDB.
This is clearly stated in the Complex site (under the download button) from 7 years at least.

Are you posting screenshots of my private discussions? I was thinking that in a thread like this where the fair play is the first rule these kind of things were forbidden.

Homeworld has a pretty active community that makes mods at first, no one of us is a structured company.
So the modding art is based on sharing, that’s the reason why we’ve a lot of mods that share ships, functions, ideas.
For example Complex lasted for more then 10 years and it’s full of external works from the community, and at the same time the community use works from Complex.
On my side, I have:
-Complex Simple;
-Complex Enhanced;
-Complex Rebalanced;
-Compkex Rebirth;
-M.I. Complex;
-and others mods.
Also a lot of mods are using code, models, textures, stuff and ideas from Complex.
Anyway, even here, I confirm, you can take and use everything you need from Complex, it’s always been our policy.
I’m agree with the last post “relicnews rules”’ all is just stated there.

I hope this polemic will stop, and, above all, Complex 10 is in development from scratch so no one will complain about copyrights.

Good work to all on modding.

Thank you, Beghins.

I feel that this thread can now be closed.
(And, more importantly, archived so that future situations can have this quoted!)

We’re not here to discuss Complex specifically,
likewise, we’re not here to discuss Gearbox’s legitimacy.
We’ve had the offical & final answer from @BitVenom
which I’m going to take as the formal response.

If you make it, you have the right to creative control,
and that more importantly means that you have
the right to report the SSA-violating mod and
have said content removed until they remove
your works that you created.

I do have one more question though, @BitVenom, what about
assets that are just “kit-bashes” or were created through just the
modification or existing code, textures, or models that were
developed by Gearbox Software? Those assets which are a 50/50
as to who originally created them and whether or not they’re
new content.

1 Like