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Official Guidance on the Use of Patreon and Similar Services by Creators

Started by Tarkus, November 04, 2021, 12:49:25 AM

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There has been a recent trend among some content creators in the SC4 community, who have taken to offering their game content exclusively through subscription services such as Patreon, either in perpetuity, or on a temporary "early access" basis--effectively creating their own personal equivalent of a Netflix or Adobe Creative Cloud for BATs.  While all such activity on this front thus far as occurred off SC4D, this is a community-wide issue, and thus, one where we feel that we need to take an official stand here at SC4 Devotion, before anything of this nature arises on-site.

Technically, the SimCity 4 Devotion Site Rules (Updated 12 September 2012) already make our stance clear, particularly Site Rules #3 and #11.

Rule #3 forbids the advertising of commercial services, and while it cites the case of spam as an example (since that has been the primary form violations of this rule have historically taken in SC4D's history), it is designed to cover a variety of potential cases.

3.  Advertising of commercial services, e.g. spam, is not permitted.

Rule #11 describes SC4D's stance with regards to the End User License Agreements (EULA) that Electronic Arts (EA) has placed into effect for SimCity 4 and the various first-party content creation tools, including the Lot Editor and the Building Architect Tool (BAT), which is needed in at least some form in order to create game-usable building assets.

11.  SC4 Devotion seeks to uphold the End User License Agreement (EULA) of EA Maxis, for SimCity 4 and any first-party tools or patches.  Discussion of any sort of modification or project that would use first or third-party SC4 content in a manner that is contraindicated by the EULA, and/or could potentially damage the salability of SimCity 4 and expose SimCity 4 Devotion and its staff to financial and legal liabilities, is prohibited.

With regards to the EULAs for the game and the official tools, here is the particularly pertinent bit from the EA Tools EULA, which can be read in its entirety here:

You may include materials created with the Tools & Materials on your personal noncommercial website for the noncommercial benefit of the fan community for EA's products, provided this is beneficial to the product(s) in EA's judgment, and provided that if you do so, you must also post the following notice on your site on the same web page(s) where those materials are located: "This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with Electronic Arts, or its licensors. Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Game content and materials copyright Electronic Arts Inc. and its licensors. All Rights Reserved." You will not represent that your site is endorsed or approved by or affiliated with EA or our licensors or that any other content on your site is endorsed or approved by or affiliated with EA or our licensors.

Seeking financial compensation for one's assets produced with the official tools, whether it be charging for items such as BATs outright, or making them exclusively available via a subscription service, such as Patreon, constitutes, in the opinion of SC4D, a commercial enterprise, and thus, is not in compliance with the EA Tools EULA, or the SC4 Devotion Site Rules.  It is a form of paywalling of SC4 custom content.  Note that third-party exporter utilities, such as the popular Bat4Max plugin suites in their various forms, still utilize the contents of the official BAT, and are effectively subject to the same terms.

To that end:

  • The promotion of SC4-related commercial custom content enterprises (CCCEs), either directly or exclusively as part of subscription services (i.e. Patreon) is not permitted at SC4 Devotion.  This is not a new policy, and has technically been in place under the SC4D Site Rules since at least the current revision from 2012.  The recent endeavors merely constitute a new use case other than simple piracy or spam.
  • Timed exclusives/"early access" of files via a subscription service, wherein the files will be offered free to the general public on a public exchange at a later date are a different case--the enterprise in such cases is about early access, not access in perpetuity, and does not technically constitute paywalling.  Note, however, that such timed exclusive/early access plans will be subject to close scrutiny, and failure to transition the early access content to free public access will be regarded as a violation.  Terms of when the early access period is to transition should be disclosed.
  • Promotion of a CCCE involving SC4 custom content is subject to enforcement.  The SC4D Rules do not prescribe a specific sanction in response to violations of Site Rules #3 or #11, but historically, these can range from warnings and removals of offending content, up to membership termination, depending on the severity.

    • A member simply linking to, or otherwise promoting a creator's SC4-related CCCE on a public forum thread, profile signature, LEX file description, or LEX comment would constitute a minor violation of these rules.  Such links or discussions are subject to removal, and a pattern of repeat offenses by the member may lead to further sanctions.
    • A member who is themselves operating a CCCE and uses site resources (including posts, signatures, user profiles, LEX file descriptions, and LEX comments) to promote said enterprise would constitute a major violation, and may be subject to indefinite membership suspension until/unless the CCCE has been ended.

SC4D Site Owner, on behalf of SC4D Staff