Satchell: Industry must wake up to giving gamers IP rights

Satchell: Industry must wake up to giving gamers IP rights
Michael French

By Michael French

September 14th 2007 at 2:18PM

XNA boss says Microsoft has shown leadership in letting players use game properties in free projects

Microsoft's Chris Satchell has conceded that the company's new fair use policy for game IP in free indie projects still has some way to go - but added that the entire industry must address the issue as user-generated content becomes more important to games development.

In the second part of our interview with the XNA group general manager, Satchell discusses the future of the XNA development platform, including plans to create a publicly-available YouTube-like games platform and the new Game Content Usage Rules that let consumers freely use Microsoft Game Studio IP for machinima, videos and other items.

Rebuffing the suggestion that the new rules are more restrictive than before they existed, Satchell insisted that Microsoft if breaking down barriers:

"I don’t think it is the case that it’s more restrictive than before, because I don’t think we’ve ever really granted this license before. So people may have taken this work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there was ever an IP license granted. There’s a difference between ignoring activity and actually licensing activity," he said.

"The key here, though, is that it’s going to take some time for us and the community to work through this and push the boundaries. It’s going to be a two-way conversation as people go: ‘I think this is included, but I want to push here – is this allowed?’ There’ll be some of that to work through."

Satchell added that it was important the whole industry pay attention to what Microsoft originally said was an "unprecedented" move because IP rights issues will become more and more relevant as developers encourage players to add their own user-generated content into games, and take material in those games to create their own content as well.

"I really encourage other IP holders in the industry to take these initial steps as well," he said. "It’d be great to see if we could evolve into some sort of fair use policy around assets we own and even the actual materials that we’ve built, to let people experience with the IP more easily.

"This isn’t just an issue for Microsoft. This is something the industry is going to have to wrestle with, this balance between enabling the community and controlling our intellectual property."

He added: "So there’s some really interesting decisions to make along the way, including some gut-checks from the rest of the industry regarding how we feel about that. Personally, I think it’s an important direction to investigate. I think the more you enable the community, the more you get back as an industry and a medium. The realities of it, though, is that there’ll be some difficulties along the way, but this is a great first step and obviously we’re going to keep looking at how we can push that further and how the fans out there in the community can do even more.

"I don’t think we have all the best ideas, but I think it’s good to show some leadership and say ‘We’re going to start investigating this and start experimenting’, and then invite other people who have equally good or better ideas to come on board and give their opinion."

To read the full interview, click here