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UESPWiki:Community Portal/Copyright Issues

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Tamriel:Books, it's not legal?

I'm concerned about the legality of hosting every book from every Elder Scrolls game in the series. Oblivion and the other Elder Scrolls games are copyrighted with all rights reserved, and the only reason we are allowed to put copyrighted content on our site is because of Canada's fair dealing concept and because of the United States fair use doctrine. Both of these concepts have criteria that are evaluated when determining whether something falls under the concept:

  1. Purpose of the dealing - These books are for non-profit research and enjoyment purposes.
  2. Character of the dealing - These books are distributed to the general public.
  3. Amount of the dealing - All parts of the books have been or should have been copied.
  4. Alternatives to the dealing - No alternatives have been considered because the books were not uploaded for purposed of criticism.
  5. Nature of the dealing - These books were taken from a commercial game and published freely in a manner that does not benefit and may or may not bring harm to the owners of copyright.

Other than the fact that we're a non-profit fan site with the purpose of aiding customers of the Elder Scrolls series, the facts don't look good for us. I know that Bethesda is lax about enforcing their copyrights and that the chances of UESP being sued over this content is minimal. Nonetheless, out of respect to the writers of this lore and to the great people who have contributed to the Elder Scrolls series, I propose that every book on the site be deleted. --Aristeo | Talk 11:36, 23 November 2006 (EST)

There are several reasons why I'm not worried about hosting such content, and never have been:
  • I've been hosting such content for 11 years now and have been in contact with Bethesda over that period. While there is no official permission as such, there is definitely an unofficial understanding. I've been asked by Bethesda to remove certain copyrighted materials (ex: scans of maps, the explicit copy of Daggerfall). I've never been asked about books, screenshots, music, images, textures, or any of the other game data we use and distribute. This goes the same for many of the other ES sites serving similar content (ex: The Imperial Library). I know many other ES site operators and would have heard if Bethesda asked them to discontinue such content.
  • We're only hosting a small fraction of the actual game content. Oblivion is what, around 3 GB, so the few MB of books constitutes but a small fraction. I see it like quoting a paragraph or two from a real book (you know, those paper things). It falls under fair use to quote a portion of a copyrighted work. Since we're only 'quoting' a portion of Arena/Daggerfall/.../Oblivion I would say it is the same thing.
  • We always try to apply best practices when dealing with any sort of copyrighted material. All Bethesda originated content is (or should be) properly attributed and marked. It is not modified, used to create derivative works, or used for profit (one of the reason I don't want ads on the site). I not sure I understand (or agree) when you say "the facts don't look good for us". According to the four provisions of fair use I think it looks very good for us:
  1. Purpose and Character of Use: Non-profit educational/informative purposes (good)
  2. Nature of the Copyrighted Work: Small portions of a computer game (neutral)
  3. Amount and Substantiality of the Portion: A very small fraction (<1%) of the computer game data (good).
  4. Effect of the Use Upon the Potential Market: None, or may actually generate sales (good).
  • If Bethesda, for whatever reason, does decide to enforce its copyright and ask certain content to be taken down I know I can work with them to find a solution. As mentioned previously, the site has always been on good terms with Bethesda and if they have any issues they just have to contact me (as they have in the past). If you're really so worried about this I suggest you contact Bethesda and ask them about it. While I doubt you'll get any official statement regarding the use of said content, I'm sure it will help clear things up.
This is a rather longer explanation than I originally intended, but it is an important matter as it affects existence of the entire site. -- DaveH 12:03, 23 November 2006 (EST)
If you keep in contact with Bethesda and feel that we have unwritten permission to host the Tamriel:Books section, then that's good for me. Although the actions of other fan sites do not justify our own, I agree with your evaluation on how our content qualifies for fair use/dealings. I think the difference between my evaluation and yours was that I was incorrectly evaluating each individual book, while you were evaluating each game. The in-game books do not hold copyright by themselves, so I believe we're in the green on all accounts. Thank you for clearing that matter up. --Aristeo 14:16, 23 November 2006 (EST)
Add to that the fact that actually reading the books in-game gives me a throbbing migraine due to the poor screen refresh rate whenever a book is open, and I'm definitely glad there are sites like this and TIL which host the books in an out-of-game context, because I definitely would not like it if the only way to read them was in the game(s).--TheRealLurlock Talk 23:55, 23 November 2006 (EST)
You could always read them in the CS. ;) --Aristeo | Talk 12:45, 24 November 2006 (EST)

Moved from Community Portal --Wrye --Wrye 22:32, 19 December 2006 (EST)