There’s various debates going on all over the place regarding subscription sites and the right to charge for downloads so I thought I’d toss my opinions in here FWIW. This was a post to the alt.games.the-sims ng but I think I tried to sum up most of the points people were making.
First off, you’re breaking any agreement you have with that subscription site. If you’re agreed to their terms (by sending in money, clicking an “I AGREE” button, whatever) then you have a contract with them and are bound by whatever rules they lay out. While it’s not the objects that a site is charging for (they can’t do this according to the Transmogrifier EULA and Maxis), they are charging for access to their site and the right for you to download their content. They’re selling a sevice to you. That service is “You have the right to come to our site, download our stuff, and use it on your computer for your personal use”. Maybe they don’t spell it out that way and perhaps they should, however the implication is there. If they took their objects and slapped them on a CD and sold it to you (for the cost of the CD and CD manufacturing) it doesn’t mean you can just walk up and take the CD off the shelf and walk out of the store without paying for it right? Same thing here.
It’s the same as me borrowing a CD (audio, software or otherwise) from you that you paid for. You’re the one that paid for it, not me and the CD manufacturer/distributor didn’t give you the right to redistribute this (physically or digitally). So you put up an MP3 for me to download and Sony will be barking at your door. Well, okay, they’re too large to go chasing
every Tom, Dick and Harry that re-distributes MP3s, but look at the issues around Napster and other file sharing systems.
Sending out objects from Maxis’ site falls in the same catagory. Maxis has arranged for these objects to be available to paid users of their software and it’s a service to those that paid for the software. Again, they don’t have the time or resources to track down anyone violiating this, but they certainly don’t agree. I’ve sent many emails to them regarding people
selling objects on eBay which they followed up and shut down, however that’s just a drop in the bucket.
You’re also paying for the artists work here, not the objects. I know that you can say they go hand in hand but sites like SimFreaks, 9DS, etc. create content which is copyrightable. Anything is copyrightable by the artist and they decide how the media is distributed and redistributed. You’re not paying for the objects there. SimFreaks isn’t standing on a corner with a floppy disk saying “wanna buy an object?”. What they are doing is saying, “Wanna buy the right to come into my house and take whatevers there”. Again, the selling of objects is a big of a muggy area and it would be best to have some lawyer speak about this. You’re paying for bandwidth. Just accessing the site isn’t much, but downloading files costs bandwidth and that’s generally what is the major cost in running such a site. Whoever runs a site, any site, does not own the objects in any way shape or form IMO. What they do own is the intellecutal property that they created. The copyrightable work.
Something similar that might help explain it is what most compiler manufacturers have. I have an agreement with them (every developer does) that I can distribute my software to anyone who care. I used their tools to create it but it’s my intellectual property. However, if I need to distribute part of their software (runtime libraries, etc.) then they grant me the right to do so. Think of a Sim object as this. Intellectual property that the site creators have made, distributing with the Maxis runtime (the IFF format). Maybe that might explain some things (or maybe not).
What can the site owners do? Chase you down and sue your ass over contract violations. This is a gray area though, depending on how you subscribe to their site and what terms you agreed to (if any) so your mileage may vary. You’ll also get a bad rap in the community, be black listed at various places and generally looked down upon in the Sims community. You’re also subverting the finaces from that site and possibly costing them sales, and down the road that may cause the site to be shutdown permanently. All for
what? You trying to look like Robin Hood pushing files on people?
Anyways, copyright area, object theft and subscription sites oh my is a big topic and perhaps where The Sims are concerned, only Maxis and EA legal have the final answer.