Humphreys, Fitzgerald, Banks, Suzor (2008)
|Humphreys, Fitzgerald, Banks, Suzor (2005)|
|Title:||Fan-Based Production for Computer Games: User-Led Innovation, the ‘Drift of Value’ and Intellectual Property Rights|
|Author(s):||Sal Humphreys, Brian Fitzgerald, John Banks, Nic Suzor|
|Citation:||Humphreys, S., Fitzgerald, B., Banks, J. and Suzor, N., 2005. Fan-based production for computer games: User-led innovation, the ‘Drift of Value’and intellectual property rights. Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy, 114(1), pp.16-29.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||This study consists of data from a case study of a games developer and analysis of the contracts it forms with fan creators.|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
Fan based or third party content creation has assumed an integral place in the multimillion dollar computer games industry. The emerging production ecology that involves new kinds of distributed organisations and ad-hoc networks epitomises the ‘drift of value’ from producer to consumer and allows us to understand how user-led innovation influences the creative industries. But the ability to control intellectual property rights in content production is critical to the power structures and social dynamic that are being created in this space. Trainz, a train simulation game released by Brisbane developer Auran, which relies heavily on fan created content for its success is used as a case study. The licence agreements between Auran and the fan creators are analysed in order to understand how the balance between the commercial and non-commercial is achieved and how the tension between open networks of collaboration and closed structures of commercial competitive environments are negotiated. It explains the intellectual property issues involved and highlights how the interface between copyright and contract will have a critical impact on this example of user led innovation.
Main Results of the Study
The great challenge in this environment in the next few years will be over who controls the IP – a complex mosaic of rights in the digital estate – and how. Power here comes very much from an ability to leverage off an intellectual property base (such as copyright in code or visuals). The critical question will be the extent to which commercial entities can acknowledge fan based ownership as part of the ‘drift of value’ (Hartley, 2004) from producer to consumer. Auran provide an interesting approach which is responsive to the needs of the fan developers and in most respects provides a best practice model. That cannot be said for all platform owners. The immediate challenge is to conceptualise a commercial and legal framework that will best facilitate the new dimensions of distributed production networks in games and other emergent areas of the creative industries. The dilemma is: the more user led IP is regulated through contract, the greater the potential for stifling user led innovation; yet the less contractual restructuring the platform owner can demand, the more circumscribed and limited will be the development framework.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
From the userdevelopers’ perspective the only acceptable solution is one that embeds in law, not just practice, the fundamental rights of those at the forefront of user led innovation. The counter argument will be that fan based productivity would be significantly reduced if it were not for the investment of the platform owner. The sensible and effective resolution of these competing claims will not only act to provide balance to the games landscape but it will also be vital to facilitating the future of user based production more generally across creative industries.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Case study|
|Period of material under study:||2001 to 2003|