EA rewrites the Code Wars rule book, participants get to keep their ideas

Posted on January 8, 2014 - 5:20pm by Ryan Conway

After facing a vast amount of public scrutiny, the folks at EA have had to rewrite the rule book for its upcoming Code Wars event. These new conditions make it as clear as possible the company has no intention or legal right to seize ownership of the game/app ideas created by the participants.  

This controversy began last month when the submission form for this 14-hour global game jam first went viral but not for the reason EA had hoped, as the following paragraph left potential participants felling rightfully suspicious of the publisher’s intentions:
"Consent to give Sponsor a royalty-free, irrevocable, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, create derivative works.”

This statement from the Rules/FAQ portion made it apparent EA had the legal right to not only seize ownership of any app/game idea created during the competition, but to do so without owing the original creators a dime in royalties or even guaranteeing them a job. 

Needless to say, game developers were outraged and gamers had yet another reason to dislike the publisher. 

EA tried to defuse the situation but given the fact this impressive bit of legalese remained in the fine print, no trust was regained. Which leads us to today. The company has since rewritten a significantly large chunk of Code Wars’ registration form, with the most important change being the removal of the offending quote. 

In its stead, applicants are given an answer as to whether or not EA plans on claiming ownership of any and all ideas created during the event without the permission of, or paying compensation to the creators.  
“No – what you create is all yours, you own it. We have no intention or desire to use your submission for our business and we are not even keeping copies of the submissions after the event. However, due to the nature of the business environment we operate in, we have to take measures to avoid potential future conflicts for any user generated content created at our events. To address this, we ask that participants grant us a nonexclusive license as a measure of protection.
“We know that there was some confusion and frustration around this policy when we first announced the event and we understand. We would assure everyone interested in participating that we have no intention to proactively use these measures or make money from your ideas. The measures are simply there for our protection.
“The purpose and goal of Code Wars is simple: to create a fun environment, foster new ideas, and meet new talent to potentially join the EA team.”

So EA just wants to give indie developers the opportunity to prove themselves worthy of a position at the company, in a “fun” environment, this is all well and good on its own but I’m not buying this innocence routine. If EA executives had no intention of laying indisputable claims on the games and apps made during the contest, than why would they give themselves the power to do so in the first pace? 

If you’re an indie developer thinking of signing up for Code Wars, I’d keep all of this information documented just to be on  the safe side because you never know, this rewrite could be rewritten.

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