New on the market, I'm scared of being sued? Calling ▓▒░ Gmod Server Owners ░▒▓

Was going to post in developer discussion, but this is not a discussion on development,
Was also going to put in fast thread, but this is Gmod specific so here we are.

Scenario:
To my understanding, any Playermodel or Material i have on my Gmod Server that was designed from another game is Illegal.
Example:
If I have Pikachu, Potential copyright breach from Nintendo
If I have Master Chief, Potential copyright breach from Bungiee

I did some 'digging within the Facepunch forums. I found that in 2011 Eve Online sued a Mcbuilds server for using Replicas of their In-game materials
Not sure how the suite ended up, But will this happen to me?

Discussion:
Lets say your over 18, Have a registered Business number and Paypal business account. You are also earning under the $10,000 Paypal tax threshold on the account from “donations”

**1)**Do I have to state all donations go towards the server?/Business
Can I Hire myself and pay myself a wage and consider my Employment as a Business Expense for Server management?

2) Can i use player models from Half Life?

3) Can I host a server that you can pay a Donation of $5 and in return receive = 10,000 points as a thank you reward?-- Thats gotta be Illegal surely

**4)**What if I don’t give them the point reward and everything on my server is free but the choice to donate is their?
Does this now become legal? is this a “Non-Profit”??

**5) **Can I simply change the wording to “server Contribution” and give Point rewards? or should i avoid giving a Reward as that is interpreted as a Consumer Buying something, Which could cause Legal issues since its not a contribution if you get something in return’? Is the previous statement even true?

6) Is it even likely a big company like Nintendo or the Halo Franchise would come after some Gmod server earning under $10,000?

**
Extra notes:**
I plan on taking my Server from a 18 slot server
to 3 duplicate Servers but now across different Continents with 36 slots per Server
A total of 108 players across 3 servers

I need to know what I’m doing is not illegal, if i need to delete all player models from others games i will, As I want to avoid anything Illegal at all costs, please give me your advice!

Oh you think I’m not ready for your boxes?

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                   ▼*Please Recycle*

If your flag tag is working properly, my legal advice means nothing because I’ve got no experience with Australian law. But if you’re planning to run this like a business you have to be prepared to run this like a business. That means being as explicit and transparent as possible with where your funds move. Donations is fine but be careful when offering perks for donations as some legal entities see this as profit for some reason. Make sure you are giving in-game promotions only if you choose that route. No products that can be considered material. Arbitration over funds varies by country so again, you need to do some research on Australian copyright law.

For the models from Nintendo etc., I would avoid them altogether. I’m sure you’ve seen what Nintendo does with infringement cases. They’re ruthless and paranoid to keep their innocence like Disney.

As for them coming after you, it’s a mixed bag really. I’ve seen companies go after little people for no reason with all their force. But with logic, it would follow that they’d avoid arbitration with such small potatoes because it’s a waste of money.

For the Half-Life models, the entire game your hosting this on is a modification of that engine and its assets. You can’t avoid using them.

If something feels like infringement, it would be advisable to just find a workaround that doesn’t involve you getting sued.

I’m definitely not a lawyer and I guess other users here are not Australian lawyers too. So I only describe a personal opinion here, not an advice.

This is definitely allowed when the models came with garrysmod (by the source sdk normally) or are mounted by the user (so the user owns the game). However it is not allowed that you upload content of other Source Games to the workshop or to your fastdl and distribute it to your users. For more information see here: https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Talk:Mod_Content_Usage

Also I would definitely remove content of Nintendo and co (That’s btw also the way Tower Unite went when they went commercial, but this may be another league).

Regarding the question about donations:
In Germany when you want to make profit in the future (even when you currently don’t), you have to register a company. Donations only count as donations when you don’t make profit with them AND don’t plan to make profit with them. E.g. when your server costs 50€, you use this server only for the purpose of gmod, and you only accept donations until 50€, then it would count as donation. But when you use the server also for other purposes, then it get’s complicated.
In Australia this could be completely different, but I also guess that you can only take them as “donations” when you don’t make profit.

Fellow Australian here. I’ll try to help as best I can, but ultimately you want to go speak to a person who has studied Australian law, especially the parts that concern intellectual property and copyright acts.

  1. From my understanding, if you intend to run this like a registered business, you need to be prepared to prove where your money goes. Paying yourself a salary is fine, just look at every other CEO ever, just understand that the money that goes to your company belongs to your company, and thus should be used to benefit your company.

  2. Valve has always been very open about the use of their intellectual property. While this specific document states it applies to videos, it stands to reason that it can also apply to a game server. This means that if you are using standard Valve content such as models, you cannot deny them from non-paying players.

  3. That is 100% legal. While it is questionable that you are rewarding players for donating, you must make it clear that the fact they are donating doesn’t guarantee them the 10,000 points, and that their reward can be revoked at any time. Whether it does get revoked or not is another story, but as long as you make it clear that their money didn’t buy this, the fact that you are thankful they donated DID, you should be fine.

  4. This is also acceptable, and a lot less questionable. However you will probably find most people won’t donate as a result, only those who truly enjoy your content, which means you will have to go the extra mile to earn those donations.

  5. This is a bit of a gray area for me, but from my understanding its best to call it a donation and remind the user that although you give them a reward for donating, that reward is out of the goodness of your heart, and not earned with their money.

  6. As Adelle Zhu mentioned, companies like Nintendo tend to be extremely over zealous about attacking little guys for use of their intellectual property, no matter how innocent. However, add a little perspective and you’ll notice that you are the least likely person to be targeted as a result of use of their content. Before targeting you, they will more likely target a higher ranking server (according to gametracker), or the content author on the workshop, or steam. For their crap to rain down on you, you’d have to be pretty popular and worth the time it takes to take out one user of their content.

Take WoW for example. Blizzard hates people hosting private servers. They sue the shit out of anyone caught doing it, C&D, etc etc etc. However they usually refrain from bothering to attack any server that has less than 10,000 players. Why? Because it’s a waste of time. If they removed only 100 players from a private server, and lets say 60% of those players then decided to play the official version hosted by blizzard, blizzard would only be getting 60 players or $1200 a month, which is a drop in the ocean compared to a 10,000 player server, and it wouldn’t even cover the legal costs.

Ultimately as I said, you should consult someone better qualified, such as Legal Aid (in australia) or a lawyer for whatever country you choose to host in.

Great info, Thanks **Redfiend **
Your post helped me a lot :slight_smile:

:privilege::zing::chem101:


[editline]28th February 2017[/editline]

@ Sapd

This was a great reference source. It was worth the read! :eng101: