Imagine something with me for a moment. Imagine that you are an amateur filmmaker, citizen journalist, something of that nature. The sort of creative individual, newly empowered by affordable technology, that makes politicians and old media types crap themselves in terror. You have a great idea for a new project, some fresh oeuvre sure to cause further soiling of three-pieces in boardrooms across America, and all that’s left to soort out is wardrobe.
Imagine yourself making a journey to your local place of garment commerce and buying a new pair of Levi’s. You may make your own selection of cut, button fly vs. zipper fly, none of these are vital to the story, so go nuts. Buy apricot-colored jeans if you like, I don’t care. Now take your jeans into the fitting room to try them on. But before you do, read the tag:
Jeans Usage Rules
We know that people like you love our jeans and sometimes want to use things like their color, cut, and general styling (“Garment Content”) to make things like musical performances, videos, and other cool things (your “Item” or “Items”). We’d like to make that easier for you. So long as you can respect these rules, you can use our Garment Content to make your Items.
What can I do?
Here are the magic words from our lawyers: on the condition that you follow the rules below (“Rules”), Levi’s grants you a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use and display Garment Content and to create derivative works based upon Garment Content, strictly for your noncommercial and personal use. This license is limited by the conditions and restrictions below, so please read them. We can revoke this limited-use license at any time and for any reason without liability to you.
What are the Rules?
In order to make sure we can continue making jeans we love to make and you love to wear, there are some Rules that apply to our license grant for your Items. It’s tough to predict everything people will do, but there are some things that you can’t do.
You can’t reverse engineer our jeans to access the assets or otherwise do things that the jeans don’t normally permit in order to create your Items.
You can’t use Garment Content to create pornographic or obscene Items, or anything that contains vulgar, racist, hateful, or otherwise objectionable content. Whether the content is “objectionable” is up to us. And like the old saying goes, you know it when you see it.
Except as described here, you can’t sell or otherwise earn any compensation from your Item, including through advertisements in the Item. This means you can’t charge money in exchange for your Item, post it on a site that requires subscription or other fees to view the Item, or post it on a page you use to sell other items or services(even if they have nothing to do with Garment Content or Levi’s). You also can’t use Garment Content in an app that you sell in an app store.
You may post your Item to a page or website that has advertising, but only if you do not earn any money from that advertising. For example, if you post your video on Youtube or Vimeo and there happens to be an advertisement next to it, then as long as you don’t get paid for that advertisement, the fact that there is an advertisement on the page doesn’t break these Rules. But enrolling in the Youtube partner program (or other similar programs), where you are entering into an agreement to get paid, is not allowed. On a similar note, if you create and distribute a free app, then you can’t earn any money from advertising in that app.
I don’t know about you, but it’d be a cold day in Hell before I bought another pair of Levi’s.
This is pretty much what Microsoft is doing to the machinima community. Machinima artists use video games as costumes or puppets, and now Microsoft has announced that they are delighted to let artists continue to do so, so long as Microsoft is the only one to make any money as a result.
You can’t tell me that the existence of machinima using Microsoft titles is somehow cutting into their bottom line. In fact, they’ve made pretty good use of the Red Vs Blue guys in the past to advertise the Halo. Further, machinima (or at least good machinima) is pretty clearly a derivative work, so I can’t see Microsoft winning any sort of lawsuit over intellectual property. So what gives? I’ve got a pretty vivid imagination, and I can’t come up with a single explanation for this behaviour that doesn’t involve an excess of lawyers and a complete lack of common sense.