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February 4, 2009
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Hammerfall RPG


<a href=” www.facebook.com/apps/applicat…>Hammerfall RPG is a Facebook game. You may have heard of it. You may have not, but by the end of this article I hope you won’t forget it. It boasts over 233,000 (that’s two-hundred-thirty-three-thousand, just to emphasize) monthly active players. With an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5, as rated by more than 4000 players, it’s got a fairly good name for itself.

The premise is simple. You create a fantasy character and play your way through various quests, meeting goals and leveling up your character as you go. You’re also supposed to build a “guild” out of your Facebook friends and the more people you convince to join, the bigger your guild, the farther you progress into the game. Since it’s the online equivalent of a pen and paper RPG there aren’t 3D graphics or anything. Just small pictures displayed with each quest or with characters and items that you encounter. Like this: www.insidesocialgames.com/wp-c…

And they are beautiful graphics. Beautifully stolen graphics.

Art Theft


deviantArt, meet Hammerfall RPG, the latest in a long series of small gaming applications and forums online that are out to make a quick buck off of our hard work—without our knowledge or permission. There are over a thousand images used on their site. I know. I’ve looked through most of them (and I’ll get to that in a moment). Of those thousand nearly half were pulled from deviantARTists. Some were probably googled, and I saw more than a few iStockphoto or other stock photos in there, but there were a large number that came from deviantART.

Unfortunately, because you have to play though the game to get to some of those images, it would be difficult to locate them the normal way.

Luckily for us, however, art thieves aren’t particularly known for their brilliance. Hammerfall hosts their images in a (public!) Photobucket account. We all remember Photobucket, right?

(If you don’t, no worries. Here’s a quick summary: Photobucket has one of the WORST copyright policies on the web. Images hosted in public Photobucket accounts are automatically available as prints, stickers, on coffee mugs and other products, without the artist’s permission, knowledge, and without any money going back to the artist—or the person who unknowingly posted the artist’s image in their Photobucket account. Here’s a quick video on how this works: www.plagiarismtoday.com/2008/0… few months back we tried to get Photobucket to change their practices, and they basically blew us off.

The bright side? Photobucket has a great DMCA policy. If you find your images hosted there without your permission, all you have to do is file a DMCA through email, and the image will be removed. More on this and how it applies in a minute.)


Since Hammerfall developers were too cheap to host the stolen images on their own servers, that actually makes it easier for us to get our work removed. Rather than having to try to get the developer to remove the images, we can nicely ask Photobucket to take them down. And they will.

deviantARTists Affected


With the help of several other deviantARTists and TinEye.com we’ve managed to track down many of the original images and the artists who did them.  This was a long and tedious process because not only were the images stolen and then hosted on Photobucket, each image was also resized into 8 to 10 different versions (ranging from very tiny to medium large). All of the artists affected will be noted, but if you want to know who was affected you can find them listed here: mercuralis.deviantart.com/jour…

Unfortunately there were a lot of images that we couldn’t recognize, and that TinEye didn’t turn up any matches for. Most of them were photographs. If you have the time, go through the albums and look to see if you can identify any of the images. Please double check it against the list of already identified images before noting someone, and post a link on the journal entry so we can update the list.

The account hosting the images is here: s652.photobucket.com/albums/uu…

There is a long list of album numbers on the left. Each of these albums is one image that has been resized several times. Clicking on one of the numbered albums will open a subfolder that lists the various sizes. You have to click on one of the subfolders to view the image. If you want to see how this works, click here: homepage.mac.com/mercuralis/Mi…

Like I said: tedious.

(and much thanks to LouisaGallie MeredithDillman and faerywitch for helping me go through all of those images)

Getting your images removed


If you are one of the affected artists, it’s a simple matter to get your work removed.  All you have to do is send an email to Photobucket’s abuse department. This email should read as follows (bolded text must be included word for word):


To: abuse@photobucket.com
Subject: DMCA notice of copyright infringement

The following images belong to me, and are being used here without permission:

Title of Image
Original image in my gallery:
[insert link to image in your dA gallery or website]
Infringing Image on Photobucket: [insert “direct” link to the image URL. This is listed in the drop down box under the image on PB]

I hereby state that I have a good faith belief that the disputed use of the copyrighted material is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law (e.g., as a fair use).

I hereby state that the information in this Notice is accurate and, under penalty of perjury, that I am the owner, or authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyright or of an exclusive right under the copyright that is allegedly infringed.

Your name
Your full mailing address
Your phone number
Your email address


Normally you would file one DMCA for all of the related images, however we want this account suspended for being a repeat offender. More than 280 infringed images OUGHT to count as a repeat offense. In order for us to make an impact with Photobucket, it would be better if a separate DMCA was filed for each infringed image. That means if they resized it ten times and have it posted ten times, file ten different DMCAs.

Our hope is that by filing so many against a single account, Photobucket will be forced to take action against that account.

What about the rest of us?


For those of you who are not directly affected, now isn’t the time to wipe your brow and say “whew… glad it wasn’t me” because the truth is, the next time it COULD be you.

As artists we face many social stigmas. That we don’t do “real” work. That art isn’t somehow a real career field, or valuable. We’re faced with ignorance and apathy at every turn. Especially when it comes to certain misconceptions about copyright.

We’ve all heard it, and many of us have said it—usually in a resigned, world-weary tone—that putting your work online is like asking for it to be stolen. But we also know that that’s not true. Putting your work online involves risks, yes, but we give up no rights by doing so, and the law remains firmly on our side when it comes to copyrights.

YOU, and only you (unless you sell your rights to an image) have the right to:
  • post your work wherever you like
  • choose who else can post it
  • make money from it
  • resize it, recolor it, add glitter to it, or change it in any way


Now I know we’d all love it if someone could invent a way to make it impossible for images to be stolen. Heck, I’d be thrilled as hell if I woke up tomorrow morning and there was a note in my dA news saying that the deviantART developers had come up with a foolproof way of protecting our work. Sadly, I know that art thieves are some of the biggest fools and it’s impossible to stop them from stealing images so long as things like screenshots are around.

Not all of the images stolen by Hammerfall were popular images—so just because you don’t think it’s worth stealing doesn’t mean someone else will think the same. Please, artists, put your full names clearly on your images. Put copyright notices on them. Watermark them if you want… but don’t devalue your work by refusing to at least TRY to protect it.

Striking Back


We need to let companies like Hammerfall know that they cannot use online galleries like deviantART as their own personal free supply of clipart. We need to let Facebook know that we are serious about dealing with art thieves and we want them to take some responsibility when it comes to banning game developers that use stolen art.

We are not going to sit down and shut up and keep taking kicks from people who don’t respect our rights or us.

In a day or two, the DMCA notices will hopefully start hitting Photobucket, which is going to result in a LOT of broken links in Hammerfall’s game. It’s going to make a lot of their players very upset when they realize that the professional game that they’ve become used to playing is really just anther slimy developer trying to make a quick buck off of other people’s work.

If you are a Facebook member, consider leaving Hammerfall RPG a review, letting them know your feelings on this situation. If their reviews drop, it’s going to affect them in a real way.  

With the help of Jonathan Bailey at <a href=”www.plagiarismtoday.com/”>PlagarismToday.com we’re also going to be drafting a letter to Facebook, letting them know about this situation and how we feel about it. Hopefully they’ll step up and take some action against unscrupulous game developers. If not, we can at least give them some bad press to worry about. We’re also planning on filing a report against the game, showing a list of all the artists whose work was taken, and citing them for breach of Developer TOS Section 5.

Admittedly it’s not much, but it’s a step toward getting some respect from the online community. And as a bonus we get to make some art thieves VERY unhappy.

That makes my day just a little bit brighter. How about yours?

Important Links:


Hammerfall RPG on Facebook: www.facebook.com/apps/applicat…

Screenshots of Images in Hammerfall:
www.insidesocialgames.com/wp-c…
homepage.mac.com/mercuralis/Mi…
homepage.mac.com/mercuralis/Mi…

List of affected artists: mercuralis.deviantart.com/jour…

Photobucket Abuse: photobucket.com/copyright/

A collection featuring dA work we've found on Hammerfall (updated as more original artists are located): mercuralis.deviantart.com/favo…
Add a Comment:
 
:iconskyrifter:
SkyRifter Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
strange, butz* , ...
Reply
:iconlikalaruku:
LikaLaruku Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009
Hammerfall sounds like a rip-off of Daggerfall, which I just played last month.
Reply
:iconmoniquesmiling:
MoniqueSmiling Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I've left a message to the developers and I tried to make a review. But it seems I might get banned for this. Since they found my message offensive... even though I did not use any swear words or anything. Wow, facebook sure knows how to make the little man feel stepped upon.

I hope we'll make this!
Reply
:iconmasquekawon:
maSqueKawon Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2009
I was just asked to be active member of facebook..
I'll think about that one more time...
and I juset send them notice..as an upset member of facebook..
they should ban that game..I bet more than half of images are stolen so without asking...ban it!...dumb thieves...
Reply
:iconangelicscreams:
AngelicScreams Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2009  Student General Artist
I was having one hell of a time playing Hammerfall. It was great!

And then my best friend's work popped up as a quest reward.

I've never been so angry in all my life!

I'm glad this was caught and the artists are getting their chance to fight back. I would be devastated if I foud out someone was stealing my work for a stupid game. A FREE game, no less.
How hard is it to ask? Seriously?

- Deidre -
Reply
:iconthedarkcloak:
thedarkcloak Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2009  Professional General Artist
Well, what makes it worse is that it's not even 100% 'free', if you count the fact that you can buy 'honor points', as well as the advertising scheme...

toss in the numbers of over a 200,000 playerbase, and suddenly it's starting to sound like a pretty sweet deal, even if only half of them buy 'honor points' or buy guildmates, etc...

Can you imagine? $1 each or something sounds minimal... but when you think of the possibility of multiplying that times 200,000...

Suddenly, Dennis doesn't seem to be smelling too much like the roses, as he has come off so far there.

I'd buy THAT for a dollar... :shakefist:
Reply
:iconvinraven:
VinRaven Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2009
The images seem to be gone, the notice in game is:


The Situation

You may notice images on the game coming and going, the reason for this is as follows:

Apparently one of the websites we paid good money to get our images from was a fake and did not have permission to sell some of the images we purchased, so we are unsure which images that we paid for actually had the rights to be selling them. So while we sort through our records, we have taken down any of the images that might be in question. The game can still be played without any issues without images.

We are also asking the community to upload new images/art that they feel would be good for the various characters in the game and the community can vote on which images they like best.

This can be:

* Your own personal art
* Images under an open license (such as creative commons)
* An image you find on a stock photography site (which we will purchase if it wins)
* Photos that you have taken that fit the game

Images can be any size, but try to keep them 16:9 so everything is uniform.

You can upload images by clicking on the "Vote on Image" link under each image

If an image is chosen and kept on the game, we will give the person who uploaded (and has rights to it) 100 honor points.
Reply
:iconheyjude4:
hEyJude4 Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2009  Student General Artist
Yes but people can still put up copyrighted works as Images for the game
Reply
:icondrakovic:
Drakovic Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2009
The images are being removed
Reply
:iconhopperartz:
HopperARTZ Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Some people, No morals at all. I don't care how popular that game is I hope it goes down like a rock.
Reply
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