News Item: Bethesda adds their games to list of "banned" documentation
(Category: News)
Posted by sleepy
Tuesday 01 May 2007 - 08:59:58

That's right, it came up in direct communication between myself and the Bethesda Softworks Community Manager. Although I think it's a terrible disservice to the community and especially fans of their classic games, it's their right to go to absurd lengths to protect their intellectual property.

In the past Bethesda had contacted me to remove our Morrowind docs on threat of legal action. At the time, Morrowind was a new release, and I could understand their concern. However, they didn't mention anything about the docs we had at the time from the older Elder Scrolls games. So I was under the assumption that they were only concerned with their newest properties that were still being sold. Fair enough.

Lots of people have come here looking for Oblivion docs. I had never posted any because of the Morrowind experience. But I always wondered if they would "release" the Morrowind docs now that Oblivion is their newest title. That seemed to be a reasonable way to approach protecting their currently profitable property while still maintaining interest in their older products. It works for id software apparently, since they have released older versions of their Quake games and engines as free open source downloads. Even Bethesda did something similar when they released the first Elder Scrolls game, Arena, as freeware in 2004.

But apparently Bethesda falls into a different camp regarding manuals. After discussion with their Community Manager, they now want all of their docs removed. And by "all" I don't mean current, I mean everything they have ever produced.

So effective immediately, replacementdocs will no longer be posting ANY docs for ANY of Bethesda Softworks' games.

The worst part is the fact that Arena is freeware, and guess what? They want documentation for Arena removed as well. Does that make any sense at all?! I mean, come on! You're giving away the game for free, but you're "protecting" your rights on the manual? How do you expect people to play the game that you're supposedly giving away for free?

I have always said that I will promptly comply with any requests that copyright holders make, but I never said I would like it or do so quietly without speaking my mind.

This marks the first time that any game publisher has requested that we remove documentation for games that are no longer being sold. As I said, it is well within their rights to demand this as owners of the property. However, I don't think they realize how it amounts to a slap in the face to their fan community.

I think the only hope at this point is to spread the news about this as much as possible and get enough of people angry about it that Bethesda retracts their restriction, at least for the out-of-print games.

This news item is from replacementdocs
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