Intellectual Property and the FS Franchise

cmdrbyron
Posts: 389
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:49 pm

Intellectual Property and the FS Franchise

Post by cmdrbyron » Wed Mar 06, 2019 2:05 pm

Greetings All!

Global Caveat I defer to any information offered by official representatives from GIANTS

TL;DR: Intellectual Property licensing is complex!

During my time on these forums, one of the issues that I see arise time and again is that of Intellectual Property (IP) and the role it plays in the design/development/employment of the Farming Simulator-series.

I would offer that this issue alone likely accounts for a significant amount of frustration within the community, as many do not understand the principles, let alone the application thereof, which is why there continue to be numerous "why isn't X in-game?" and "why isn't Y available to consoles?" threads/comments throughout the forums. This is understandable, given that pertinent details tend to be "closed" to the general public, available only to the parties engaged in the negotiations for use.

I would like to offer the following for consideration by the community, with the caveat that I do so as an individual who is not a lawyer, and am familiar with the general topic (I work with a fair bit of software and hardware-related IP in my profession), but not the specific details applicable to the Farming Simulator franchise. As I am not privy to explicit details, my language will be ambiguous at times:

Intellectual Property (Wikipedia)
"a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect"

In the case of Farming Simulator, several associated rights apply:
Copyrights:
- gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time. Copyright may apply to a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms, or "works"...does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed.

Industrial Design Rights:
- protects the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian...consists of the creation of a shape, configuration or composition of pattern or color, or combination of pattern and color in three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value...can be a two- or three-dimensional pattern used to produce a product, industrial commodity or handicraft.
- Example: the visual appearance of a tractor, truck, implement, etc...

Trademarks:
- a recognizable sign, design or expression which distinguishes products or services of a particular trader from the similar products or services of other traders.
- Example: Equipment Brand Logos and Colour Schema

So what does this all mean?

In short, as Giants develops a product for profit that leverages the IP of other entities (in the form of in-game representations), they must respect the aforementioned rights of the owners of said IP. This is typically accomplished through Licensing Agreements between Giants and the other entities, where the owner allows Giants to employ their IP, often with conditions.

Here's a few things I would recommend you consider when pondering the details of these licensing agreements and associated conditions:
Scope: As the scope of an agreement increases, so to does its complexity. In the case of FS, the "scope" of an agreement is likely the aspect that determines what elements of IP can be employed, in the form of branding and hardware-representations (such as types, models, configurations, etc...). It is often very explicit, and subject to a number of conditions.

Value: Proportional to Scope. In my experience, a great level of effort is typically invested to determine the local (each entity) and global (overall) value-proposition of the agreement, which will determine what (if any) the cost will be to the requestor (the one requesting permission to use another's IP) to employ the IP owned by another. Local value-proposition typically considers revenue generation on the requestor's part, and exposure on the holder's part. Exposure comprises two general aspects: positive and negative. Positive exposure tends to reduce the cost for the requestor, whereas negative exposure tends to increase the cost. Global value-proposition typically aggregates the lower-level and seeks to spell out the "overall" outcome of the agreement to both parties.

Now, given that we live in a world where "profit rules", it stands to reason that Giants does not receive any IP rights for "free". Yes, there is likely an element of positive exposure ("market advertising") that may be considered, but so to is it equally likely that there is an element of negative exposure (multiple brand IP in the same game). Both are likely offset by the size of the audience, which I suspect is small/insignificant from the IP owner's perspective (number of people who play FS and influencing the buying/running real equipment vs the number of people buying/running real equipment). And then there is an element of "how badly do you want it?" that likely comes into play, which is where Giants decides how much the inclusion of any given IP element will be worth to them.

Okay, now for the "touchy" subject - PC v Console mods
As Sony and Microsoft hold the exclusive rights to their respective consoles, they would be considered "sub-licensors" in that, they too stand to profit from the employment of IP, as they get a cut of the sales. The mechanism by which this is controlled is that only mods vetted/submitted by Giants are applicable to be uploaded to consoles, thereby attributing the liability upon Giants, which is easier to manage than individual, random users. Given that they (Sony and MS) alone control what content is accessible on their hardware, they influence the value-proposition for this segment of employment.

As PC is not subject to the same access restrictions (no one entity controls ALL access to the hardware/software), the situation is different. Why? Because of the open-nature of the software, and the ability of any individual to create content in a PC environment and employ it with the FS software framework. This useability extends to other users, as content is not "node-locked" (meaning it is not locked to a single install of the software). Another aspect is that, so long as the content creators are not generating a profit (unlike Giants, and by extension of delivering content to consoles, Sony and MS), and the use of the IP is favourable to the owner, it likely isn't worth the time/effort of the owner to enforce their IP rights. By extension, this could be considered "implicit permission", a relatively new concept where failing to enforce one's IP rights no longer automatically means you have forsaken your IP rights in entirety (under the pretenses of you didn't care enough to fight for them in the first place), given the speed and ease with which IP can be employed digitally.

I am avoiding the topic of modders "asking for donations" intentionally, and believe that is a separate discussion relevant to the EULA.

Hopefully this helps clarify a few things for those of you brave/bored enough to read the wall of text!

P.S. Given how often this seems to come up, any chance we could get something official (even if only generic) and pin it?

edit - grammatical clarification wrt reference of "node-locked"
Last edited by cmdrbyron on Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
dunnjob
Posts: 175
Joined: Mon May 08, 2017 6:42 pm
Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Re: Intellectual Property and the FS Franchise

Post by dunnjob » Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:34 pm

Very nicely done.
"We are all ignorant, we are all just ignorant about different things." - My Grandfather.
"Life is easier when you plow around the stumps" - Unknown
Virtual farming on Xbox 1 during the times when I can't make it back home and burn real diesel fuel on the farm.
Xbox Gamer Tag: Dunnjob77

howardhaymaker
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:33 am

Re: Intellectual Property and the FS Franchise

Post by howardhaymaker » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:08 pm

Very good and needed post. Hopefully, this will explain things to some people thinking that adding a tractor or a baler is just making a model and slapping a badge on it. Maybe now it will be clear how much legal work needs to be done in order to have as many brands in the game as FS currently holds.

Dribbly Midget
Posts: 340
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:09 pm

Re: Intellectual Property and the FS Franchise

Post by Dribbly Midget » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:08 pm

This is fantastic.

It's a must read for people who don't understand IP. Even though I studied IP law for 4 years, I still have to write things down to fully get my head around it on an individual scenario basis lol.
James G / Derplodactyl / Ye Olde Derp
PC & Xbox One
PC Specs:
-AMD Ryzen 5 2400G - Windows 10 Pro
-AMD Radeon RX 590 8GB
-16GB DDR4
-1TB/500GB Storage
-Samsung 55'' Q8D QLED 4K (HDR 1500) TV

User avatar
TaintedBlackCat
Posts: 200
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:02 pm
Location: Wagga Wagga NSW.

Re: Intellectual Property and the FS Franchise

Post by TaintedBlackCat » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:27 am

Really interesting and enjoyable post. Informative, engaging and relevant. Hopefully others will take the time to read your contribution Cmdrbyron, nice work😸
I'm not perfect..but I'm Australian, and that's pretty damn close!!🐈 Yes! My Avatar is one of my many black, tainted, pet cats. Ex Royal Australian Navy turned Dairy Farmer, 410 total milking herd. Wagga, NSW.

User avatar
Guil
Moderator
Posts: 5859
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2015 8:43 pm

Re: Intellectual Property and the FS Franchise

Post by Guil » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:30 am

TaintedBlackCat wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:27 am
Really interesting and enjoyable post. Informative, engaging and relevant. Hopefully others will take the time to read your contribution Cmdrbyron, nice work😸
Did you google that reply :lol:
not the usual response from a laid back aussie :confusednew: :hi:

User avatar
TaintedBlackCat
Posts: 200
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:02 pm
Location: Wagga Wagga NSW.

Re: Intellectual Property and the FS Franchise

Post by TaintedBlackCat » Sun Mar 10, 2019 12:27 am

Lol😹 Not my usual response to a post, but credit where credits due, Cmdrbyron knows his stuff. Plus this laid back Aussie has some respect for the English language and grammar, athough my posts don't always reflect this😸

Edit: Grammer..😹
I'm not perfect..but I'm Australian, and that's pretty damn close!!🐈 Yes! My Avatar is one of my many black, tainted, pet cats. Ex Royal Australian Navy turned Dairy Farmer, 410 total milking herd. Wagga, NSW.

Post Reply