My fellow OpenTTD-players,
this week there has been an incident with a user on this forum with regards to communication about abuse of OpenTTD services. I write this thread to inform you what happened, what should have happened, hopefully avoiding this issue in the future.
First off, if you ever have any issue with services provided by openttd.org, please do contact us at email@example.com
. Do not try to estimate which developers would be best to contact and email them individually; individual developers might be on a holiday, not available for a time period, or just busy. info@ arrives at a wider group of developers, and you have more chance of your communication to be read and handled.
Although our Contact page does state this, history shows this is hard for people to understand. Although info@ is primarily intended for getting information, you can also email your complaints to that address.
As of today there is an alias for this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
. Hopefully this extra address catches the few cases where people got confused about the purpose of the address.
Of course, it goes without saying that OpenTTD client related bugs (such as crashes, ..) should be reported at our bug-tracker.
As System Operator of all OpenTTD services, I am in the end responsible for all actions flowing from our services. To my horror I found out that an individual user of this forum considered that we do not respond in a reasonable timeframe to claims about copyright infringement, and made some outrageous claims towards 3rd parties (the ones that help us distribute our binaries). I feel the need to explain here, as I had to talk to our 3rd parties explaining the same. To me, it is sad that one individual user can cause so much trouble as he felt wrong-done, that I had to offer a lot of my time solving the issues he created, where in reality there was no issue to start with.
To be a bit more concrete: when we receive a claim of copyright infringement, we take it seriously. We have done so in the past, and will continue do so in the future. But, two things are very important to remember:
- Even DMCA suggests a 72h timeframe to allow organizations to handle such claims; Less than 24h is FAR outside the 'fair' region, and in fact common sense would consider it rude.
- Emailing individual developers in the expectation that they read their email within any timeframe is stupid. Email info@ if you want attention, as someone will read your email, and act on it in cases like this, for sure within the DMCA set timeframe of 72h.
So, what should you do when you notice, for example, someone uploaded your NewGRF under the wrong license on BaNaNaS? Well, as stated, email info@ (or, as of today, when you feel the need, email abuse@. It is an alias, so it doesn't matter). Explain your claim, give links to proof your claim, and we will look into it. We have enough knowledge and feeling with our community to establish claims in a very short timeframe. As we did in this case. When we do establish the claim to be valid, we remove the file from our services, and synchronize our mirrors. This always has happened (to my knowledge, but for sure in this case) within 48h.
Luckily, we receive very few claims in a year. Very very few. In general, our community has enough common sense and respect for NewGRF authors to not upload grfs not belonging to them. We do not have a structural problem, but incidents do happen. But to just repeat it: it is against our Terms of Service (in fact: it is point 1) to upload any NewGRF (or any other content) of which you are not the original author. As of tomorrow BaNaNaS will hold an extra checkbox at which you have to confirm you are the original author of the content being uploaded. Sadly, new users are not always aware of this (and people rarely read Terms of Services), and so incidents happen.
Of course it is possible that you feel we do not reply fast enough to your claim. As it goes with these problems, the author feels he is wrong-done, and it has to be fixed an hour ago. This is a common feeling we all have when it happens. I would like to urge every one of you to suppress that feeling, as it is unfair. Ignoring the fact we do this work for free, you cannot expect us to fix your problem instantly; give us some time to handle it carefully and precisely.
But if you do feel we don't reply fast enough, just send another email. Copyright infringement is a top priority for us, both on our openttd.org services, and on this forum. It is a violation of our ToS, and illegal in most countries.
What I dislike is, if you send a DMCA Takedown (which you send when we talk about copyright infringements) to our 3rd parties. Although it is within your legal rights, it doesn't help anyone. It never has been a need for anyone to do so, as I take my job as SysOp serious, and it is also just a bad thing to do. We distribute these files, so you should contact us about your problems (and takedown notices). Not our 3rd parties.
What I think is just wrong to do, is suggest to those 3rd parties that this is a structural problem, that it happens a lot, and to terminate "subscribers or third parties who are repeat infringers", implying we are. Sending words like these to our 3rd parties carry heavy weight for them: you suggest this happens all the time and we never do anything about it. This is a false claim, and hurts us (and thus the community). It could in fact lead to our hosting being terminated. In my opinion, people who defame us like that should publicly apologize for said actions.
- if you notice a copyright infringement on any file uploaded to BaNaNaS (or any other service), contact email@example.com
and give us 72h to process your claim.
- this is not a new policy, and has been in place for as long as BaNaNaS is operational.
- in general, our community respects all NewGRF authors enough to not upload files they are not suppose/allowed to.
[Edit 2012-06-09 21:59 CEST - Added replied amend for completion ]