Using Our Assets In Other Works
While this article might seem a little heavy in places, there is some good news as well. If you are considering making content which uses assets from our work this is definitely one to read.
As you are all aware, BVE is completely free to use and is kept alive by the community. Part of this is trusting people to conduct themselves fairly. Unfortunately there are some out there who feel that free means “help yourself”. Recently we have been made aware of a few individuals who have made unauthorised mods of our work. Another example has been a YouTuber who has taken to offering unauthorised copies of our content on their Google Drive without crediting us and going so far as to remove all of our logos and rename the route. As if that wasn’t enough, we have heard rumours of our content having unauthorised ports over to Hmmsim. Elements of our work have even made guest appearances in Minecraft – something we definitely did not give permission for.
Before we go into finer detail we’d just like to make it clear that BVE Western Region is not against the community wanting to make mods of our work. All we ask is that you seek permission first. In a moment, we shall go into the efforts we are making to encourage this. Before we can do that, we need to talk about a more serious matter.
We pay for the good stuff
It’s true that a lot of the textures you see in our routes and trains were photographed by us. However, as good as our cameras are, there are certain things we just can’t capture as well as others! This is where the various resource libraries come in.
Starting with the North London Line, upgraded content from BVE Western Region will often make use of one of the professional resource libraries which offer high quality images and textures to developers. The first example of this is the new experimental set of passengers currently seen on the North London Line which uses high quality images. Even some of the images on our website are licensed. These images are specifically licensed to us. While we are free to distribute them as part of our content, use of it by other authors is where it gets illegal.
In short, if you use or redistribute any of our content which uses specifically licensed assets, it won’t be us that gets in trouble, it’ll be you. If you remove our branding or use our assets without permission then you have removed the license which allows us to use this asset. It’s now considered a stolen asset and the original company who made it could easily come after you for copyright violation. This is not to say you can’t feature our work in YouTube videos (in fact we encourage this) as that is not considered you “using” our assets. You just can’t use them freely in your own work without permission, in fact we can’t give you permission to use them at all, you’ll need to buy your own license. We’ll cover that more in a moment.
You may have recently seen examples of some of the texture upgrades we have started looking into. A recent experiment was with more detailed skies. We are so excited about this particular aspect that we are even in touch with the developers of BVE itself as to how we can push this further. However, these skies are not our own images. While we can share them with you to enjoy absolutely free you wouldn’t be to use them in your own routes unless you buy your own license for each image you use.
Part of our ambitious plan to upgrade the visual look of our work will also include the landscape and plant life you see so often. We hope to share further details of this soon. Again, this will use high quality textures sourced from one of our resource libraries.
You may think that if you take our licensed textures or images and change them, that this now makes them ok to use. It does not. You will still need a license to modify or change any textures, sounds or other assets that we have bought. Again we can’t give you permission to use these assets, even for modification purposes.
License, we don't need no stinking license!
In the wonderful world of copyright there are lots of types of copyright licensing. Licenses tend to be set depending on what you want to do with the asset, what the asset is and how hard it was for the original author to create the asset. If someone has to stick their head in the inner workings of a very rare diesel engine with a sound recorder you can usually bet they aren’t going to let you use their stuff for free.
The most common types of license:
Creative Commons (CC)
There are four sub licenses under this, but generally creative commons means you can use it for your personal projects in any way you like. You may have to attribute the original author, you may not. Commercial use is generally not allowed unless specifically stated.
This type of license is generally free.
This is where the copyright owner has allowed a specific group of people the rights to use their work. They may add stipulations about attribution onto this.
The price on this kind of license can vary.
This is a commercial license bought by a user to allow them to use assets for a specific purpose or purposes. The purposes and stipulations will be laid out in the license itself. Generally attribution is not required for this license type. This is the kind we use.
This is generally cheaper than Exclusive Use but still a decent amount of money.
This is where you have the exclusive rights to use an asset. No one else can buy the rights to that asset. No attribution is required and you can use it for whatever you want.
This is the most expensive type of license.
Why don't we just attribute you?
There is a common misconception with copyright that if you just attribute someone’s work then it’s ok to use it. It is not. You can say that you got the assets from us but since we’re not the original copyright holder we can’t give you permission to use them. It’d be like telling a policeman that you’re not stealing a TV because you have a sticker on it saying it came from a specific store.
Attribution, or saying to the world where you got an asset from and acknowledging the original author, doesn’t fix everything. Some copyright licenses only ask for this. Others require that you buy your own license for every project you use it in. Some licenses allow a person to sub-license them to their clients. We have a variety of different licenses in place depending on where we got the original asset.
Does this mean we can't use any of your content in our own work?
This is where this gets interesting and this is where we’d like to change perceptions. The answer won’t necessarily be no. If the asset you’d like to use was one made entirely by us, we’d be happy to talk about its use in your work. In that case we are the original copyright holder and can license it ourselves. In fact, we are interested in talking to those who are considering making mods of our routes and trains. If the mod is something feasible that fits within the time frame of the route (such as a seat moquette or updated announcements) then we’d love to hear from you. We may even go so far as to offer to make it for you. After all, that is the whole point of a thriving community.
Authorised Mods gets mentioned
We’re looking to bring in a “certified mods” programme. Mods that we are impressed by, or just like will be featured on our website (with permission of course) and on the routes page. In short, good quality, authorised works will be mentioned on the route page to which it applies.
That’s all we have to say. Please feel free to contact us with any enquiries you have about using our work. All requests will be considered fairly and if the request is declined, a fair and honest reason will be given for this. Those who have spoken to us on Twitter will agree that we are a friendly bunch here at BVE Western Region.