The EULA is finished

DISCLAIMER: You should consult a lawyer if at all possible, and not rely on a legally binding document that you have written yourself…unless you have no other choice. Something is better than literally nothing.

After spending several days going over EULAs from other companies big and small, we have assembled ours. Legal documents use a lot of ‘boiler plate’ language to assemble a contract or other legal document. As programmers, we are very familiar with the concept of ‘boiler plate’ as a lot of programming reuses code in many situations. So, we took advantage of our understanding of using ‘boiler plate’ to assemble our EULA. We looked at all of the conditions that other companies use in their EULA and found many similarities (as you would expect). We read all of these EULAs thoroughly, paying close attention to the structure of sentences as well as the words chosen. One misplaced comma can make all the difference in the world when it comes to interpreting the meaning, in a legal sense, of a sentence and it’s effect on the contract.

One thing that we noticed, and didn’t like, was the fact that game developers that offer games with editors for maps, models, or mods always seem to claim sole ownership of that user generated content. If you spend your time creating a really cool mod for a game, you shouldn’t lose control of that mod just because the developer decides they want to use it’s features in the core game, for promotional purposes, or for some other reasons. You created it. It’s yours.

But, it does make sense that the developer needs some assurances that these great mods will remain available to the developer and the community as a whole. So there are clauses in contracts to allow the developer to use all likenesses, assets, etc. from a mod or other creating in perpetuity, and without compensation. That way, the developer knows that they can always depend on that mod being available for their game, and not having to worry that it will be pay-walled or that the mod creator will issue a copyright infringement suit against the developer.

There are many issues to the creation of a EULA, and we are not just paying lip service when we say that you should contact a lawyer for this, if at all possible. We are just two guys trying to make cool little video games. We don’t have the money for a lawyer to write a contract for us, so we opted to do it ourselves. It was either that or go out into the wild with no protection at all. As I wrote at the beginning in the disclaimer, any protection is better than nothing at all.

Future EULA

Well, it was inevitable. Even for a free game like Odin’s Eye, an End User Licensing Agreement (EULA for short) is almost mandatory. It is difficult to find a generic EULA to fit any need, legally speaking, but for video games it is even more difficult. There are many ‘public’ licensing agreements, like the GPL (GNU General Public License), but these are not always a good fit…and can’t be used with UE4 at all.

This is currently holding up the release of Odin’s Eye. Even though it is going to be given away for free, we need to protect ourselves and at the same time inform the end user of their legal rights.

Finding a way to implement a EULA is going to be challenging. There will always be someone out there that will try to take advantage of others generosity by exploiting a loop hole in a licensing agreement. But, any legal protection is better than none at all. We can’t afford to hire a lawyer to right an EULA for us, so we will have to write one ourselves. Using pre-existing EULAs as templates should get us in the right ballpark.

Image by jessica45 from Pixabay