Recent developments have brought to the forefront the ongoing debate about what rights, if any, gamers should have or own in their online personas or in the contributions that they make to games through their gameplay contributions (i.e. is the participation by the player an act of “authorship”)?

On April 7, 2016, Mike Futter at Game Informer reported that Blizzard had sent cease and desist letters to the ISP of an unauthorized World of Warcraft server that allows users to “capture older game states.”  He concluded (probably soundly) that:

The Nostalrius petition essentially asks Blizzard to forego revenue related to its brand and products so that people can circumvent subscriptions. The document admits that there might be copyright issues while the group also claims it didn’t see itself as a threat to the publisher. I don’t expect Blizzard to budge on this, nor should it for the sake of protecting its brand.

In January of this year, Patrick Klepek at Kotaku noted that Nintendo had been deleting Mario Maker Stages that were created by players, without advising as to the reason.

In both cases, its likely that the dry, fun-hating intellectual property attorneys (*sarcasm*) representing the game developers adequately zipped up the situation in the terms of service or terms of use accompanying the games.  For example, it appears that the terms of service for World of Warcraft specifically precluded unauthorized servers, and it appears Nintendo effectively gave itself complete control over any courses uploaded by players.  But while Nintendo and Blizzard both likely have the law on their side in these instances, its reasonable to debate whether that should be the case.  As I’ve mentioned previously, video games and other media are moving beyond passive consumptions.  In many cases,  consumers or gamers are making real contributions to the popularity and value of the games.  As a video gaming community, should such people have rights to their contributions, notwithstanding the fact that the contribution was enabled by someone else?