|Title:||The Player-Authors Project|
|Citation:||Lastowka, G. (2013) The Player-Authors Project (November 30, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2361758 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2361758|
|Key Related Studies:|
|Linked by:||Van Roessel and Katzenbach (2018)|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Data were obtained from two separate components of the study:|
• Firstly, the study analyses snapshots of UGC production obtained from thirty content populations over sixteen distinct platforms, including photo-sharing sites, a 3-D printing site, sites for sharing visual artwork, and a variety of game-related UGC sites. These snapshots were thereafter coded based on whether the works were referential, similar to other copyrighted works, or transformative (alongside any other non-copyright related IP implications).
|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:||
"The Player-Authors Project was a yearlong research project funded by the National Science Foundation. The project used empirical methods to investigate how contemporary user-generated content (“UGC”) platforms and practices related to United States copyright law. The motivation for the project was the relative absence of data about the copyright status of most UGC and competing claims about UGC’s predominant nature.
The Player-Authors Project provides two forms of data:
1. The research team employed random sampling to obtain snapshots of UGC production on a range of UGC platforms, including photo-sharing sites, a 3-D printing site, sites for sharing visual artwork, and a variety of game-related UGC sites. The team sampled the outputs of thirty content populations on sixteen distinct platforms. The collected samples were then described along several dimensions, including an analysis of the potential copyright implications of each item sampled.
2. The research team conducted two online surveys. One survey was taken of a population of 411 video game players. Another survey was taken of 46 video game industry professionals, including game developers. Both surveys sought information about the nature of participant UGC practices, opinions about UGC, and motivations for creating UGC.
This Summary Report provides an overview of our research findings.
Highlights of Research Findings
• The copyright implications of UGC populations vary from platform to platform. While almost all UGC practices raise some copyright issues, referential practices on popular platforms vary widely, even within specific genres of UGC.
• The majority of UGC on most platforms we surveyed appeared to be wholly original and non-infringing. Very little “piracy” (copying of original works wholesale) was noted. If the populations we surveyed are representative of UGC generally, UGC practices should be understood as primarily generative of original works of authorship rather than primarily a form piracy or the creation of derivative works.
• In populations where we examined recent UGC production, referential practices did not generally correlate with increased popularity of the items sampled. However, our samples of UGC with the highest levels of popularity tended to exhibit significantly higher levels of referential practice. In other words, the works that were the most popular were more likely to be fan (derivative) works.
• A surprisingly small fraction of the UGC surveyed constituted “remix” creativity of the sort that criticized or parodied a referenced work. Scholarship on UGC often celebrates parodies, but the majority of fan works did not criticize the referenced original.
•Simple and less flexible UGC tool sets seem to correlate with a decrease in copyright issues. Conversely, more flexible tools and “denser” forms of authorial production correlated with higher levels of copyright issues.
• With respect to the surveys, professionals in the video game industry believe that UGC is a growing trend, but they have very diverse views regarding the copyright implications of UGC. On average, most professionals believe that players are less interested in UGC than the players actually report."
Main Results of the Study
• Most UGC is wholly original and non-infringing. Only 25% of the works surveyed were categorised as “derivative” or “referential” of existing works. However, derivative and referential works tended to be more popular within UGC communities. Emphatically, the study suggests that UGC sites should not be considered synonymous with piracy.
• Critical and parodic UGC are rare, despite being emphasised in copyright.
• 70% of players surveyed created UGC, spending on average 5 hours a week doing so. Most players were motivated by the desire to be creative (73%), however, less than half of these players shared this work online.
• Nearly half of game professionals were enthusiastic about people creatively modifying their works (49%). However, only 21% agreed that UGC should constitute a form of fair use, with others delineating types of fair use within UGC (e.g. non-commercial, satire/parody reuses).
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
[[Has intervention-response::The study does not provide any explicit policy implications, instead concluding that the outcome has “provide[d] a clearer picture of the contemporary landscape. It also provides a more solid basis for future debates about the relationship between UGC and copyright.”.]]
Coverage of Study