Wanted to take some time out and discuss cloning objects, or rather perhaps not cloning them.

Recently in the SimWatch mailing list, a lot of discussion has centered around a particular object that was given away with Computer Gaming World’s 20th anniversary issue. This was a birthday cake that Maxis provided to CGW for the issue (I think the cake is also to be part of House Party but I’m not sure). There are two main threads of discussion about the object. The first is regarding non-North American readers not getting access to the object (CGW may or may not be available in your part of the world). The second thread is the one that I think needs addressing and something that has been lingering for ages.

According to Maxis, they say it is illegal to clone the birthday cake for creating your own objects. This is the first such move that I know of from them (correct me if I’m wrong here) and it’s a pretty bold statement if you think about it. I mean, they certainly can’t enforce such a statement because it would take a dedicated resource to scour the websites hunting for new objects that have a hint that they were cloned from the cake. Maxis hasn’t taken action against people selling custom CDs on eBay (including selling Maxis objects outright) so why would they take action with this? The statement itself reflects back to one of the founding concepts of the SIF file. To let it known to the world that it is not ok for you to clone my object etc. etc. However, in retrospec, who are we to say that? I mean, sure you spend the time and effort creating new bitmaps, editing attributes and generally tweaking your object so you should have the right to tell people what they can or can’t do with it right? Well, you cloned your object from one that Maxis created so it’s a derivative work. Maxis has said it’s ok for you to clone their work by providing Transmogrifier so it must be ok. It seems to enter a gray area now because other than knowing what object you can or cannot clone how do you know you can offer that in subsequent clones that you (or someone else) makes? Especially with House Party on the horizon which will introduce new objects (including perhaps the cake). Will this mean there will be a list of objects you can or cannot clone from the expansion pack to make new objects? It all seems very muddled to me but perhaps that’s just my view of the world. Perhaps the solution is to provide tools that don’t clone objects, but make you do the work of creating the object from scratch. Something I’m not sure about right now but it might work its way into blueprint if possible, I’m just exploring these options now. I think some intelligent discussion can take place on the subject and probably should, with some of the key players from Maxis involved however Peter Naughton, the owner of SimWatch has terminated the discussion regarding the cake and would not like it to continue (for sake of repetiveness). Does anyone see this as more than just a piece of cake? Feel free to express your opinions in the forums here, they seem pretty devoid of any activity lately.

Okay, this was really more of my soap box on cloning objects, protecting the artists rights and all that jazz but hey, my website, my voice. Take it as you will (or will not).