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Mojang’s Massive Fan-Base Take-down

I started this blog today in response to a thread I stumbled onto on Reddit. Apparently, Mojang has been involved in a massive take-down of all fan-made and handmade minecraft related items.

The Reddit thread was originally in reference to a blog post by the owner of Goodsmiths who recieved a Copyright Infringement Notification because of user items that were put up for sale on the Goodsmiths website.

The subject of the email was “Copyright Infringement Notification”, and the body consisted of your standard “You are violating our copyright that we’ve worked very hard to build, yada yada yada… We have been instructed to pursue this matter vigorously.” Standard stuff really. Then a follow up email with roughly 50 some items that, all I can do is assume, an intern at Jinx found on Goodsmiths while doing a search for “Minecraft”.

Upon further inspection of the Reddit thread, it seems that popular opinion is that the items in question were fairly flagged as being an infringement of Mojang’s IP (intellectual property.)

Among some of the comments were statements such as these:

there is a difference between creating fan-made work and re-selling it, like the stuff on Thinkgeek, and literally taking assets directly from the game and slapping it on a shirt to re-sell. … You can’t just take assets from the game, slap it on a t-shirt and call it yours.

The Goodsmith blog post runs with the line “Mojang, Don’t Kill Handmade Goods” (can you say hyperbole?) like the products are something made by a hobbyist in their kitchen.

This doesn’t really fit that image to me. It certainly looks professionally made to me and they’ve slapped a watermark on it to stop people ripping it off themselves. That’s kinda ironic.

I’m disgusted that this guy is calling these “handmade goods”.

Looking at the items in question, the views of these commenters are well founded, since none of those items were actively or creatively “handmade” but look more like factory or professionally created items.

Goodsmiths response about the legal issue however, was clear and quite similar to Mojang’s response to their own past legal quandaries. He here challenges Mojang to a tournament game to settle the issue peacefully and unconventionally.

I challenge Mojang to a game of vanilla Unreal Tournament 2004. Five of our best against five of your best. We pick a standard level, you pick a standard level, we randomize the map order and play best 3 out of 5 CTF 15 minute matches.

Notch’s response to this challenge was not enthusiastic.

Many commentators on Reddit expressed the same views that Notch himself stated above.

Things like the handsewn cubes and paintings etc are things that Notch and Mojang seem to want to allow. The problem is most of the things people are trying to sell are very clearly not in an effort to show creativity and passion for the game, but to make money.

The products Mojang wanted taken down were all sold by one seller. They were not attacking the whole site, but just one person. This was because that one seller was taking textures, pictures, and fonts directly out of the Minecraft files and putting them directly onto t-shirts, mouse pads, etc. the products were also professionally made, not handmade, and mass produced. It was all infringing Mojang’s copyright, and I think what they did is fine.

This on the other hand obviously is a small scale thing. It’s the only Minecraft thing in their store and it’s just a creeper head - there are no logos or trademarks or anything like that. They’re even careful to call it “Minecraft inspired”. If I were notch or Jinx, I’d have no problem with that.

I was going to argue with ‘blatently’ but after seeing what is on the site I have to agree on that point. They are effectively using assets from the game and I guess thats where I draw one line. The stuff on etsy at least has a more hand-made/crafted or artistic feel instead of what might as well be in game screenshots printed on stickers and tshirts.

Sadly, what seems to be a very justified case of legal action against copyright infringement has revealed a new side to Mojang, Notch and it’s affiliates.

In the last month Mojang has taken down thousands of fan-made items on Etsy and other seller based websites. According to an Etsy forum post, Mojang managed to take down over 3 thousand Minecraft related handmade Etsy items in less than 24 hours.

Browsing the website now reveals less than 30 minecraft related items available for purchase. Similar results can be found when searching Google “shopping” which turns up few results, many of which when clicked no longer exist. The majority of them being only official merch.

It appears that Mojang has completely wiped the internet clear of 95% of all fan-based and handmade items. Quite a surprise when considering Notch’s tolerant responses to Levi Rosol’s, the owner of Goodsmiths, tweet.

Is there a bit of good cop, bad cop going here? Or do Notch and Mojang believe their fan-base to be ignorant?

According to the Redditor’s quoted above, popular opinion is that Minecraft has no squabble with hand-made and fan-made items. Notch’s stance is outspokenly the same, but the company’s recent actions speak volumes.

Redditors have this to say about Mojang’s recent mass-take down.

This case excluded, with fan-made content/products, I don’t see this as any different than Lets Plays on YouTube. They are both derivative works being sold/monetized by fans for profit. Nintendo and Sega claim copyright on Lets Plays on YouTube while Mojang actively approves and endorses it. So there is an obvious split in reaction and interpretation to that form of use. In this case, its a physical object instead of an entertainment/commentary/educational product.

 

So what about every listing not licensed by shop owners on Etsy, should those get taken down as well? I bet you more than half of the shop owners have not contacted the copyright holders about the items they produce, about their games or other entertainment products.

 

Funny, Mojang just took down over 3k Minecraft related Etsy listings which were just that: people hand-making their own items. So whats the reason for taking those down? Notch clearly said he doesn’t mind hobbyist items and some infringing that isn’t on a big scale. Most, not all, of those shops were small scale individual creations. I don’t know guys. Something doesn’t add up here.

But, how is this different from any Youtuber who, not only takes the games assets and paste them together, but also rips off the game itself to make money?

As far as I’m concerned You Tube is a special case, since Mojang has given explicit permit to the community to Monetize Minecraft videos, with the pretext of “Hey!, free marketing”.

How is this fan-made, tho physical, item different from that?

Oh how interesting the fact that he hasn’t sued people whom have made complete copy’s of Minecraft and were selling them on live before Minecraft was ported but now he’s unhappy with this? Oh, Look Hypercritical Notch! Peoples true colors come out. I guess now we know what Mojang stands for.. Just another money hungry company that sells out its own beliefs.

 

Jinx has been on a take-down spree on behalf of Minecraft for a few months now at least, and still going strong today. I’ve seen the number of results for “Minecraft” on Etsy go from 75 to 50 to 30 in the past few days alone. I got a take-down over a vial necklace this morning from an “Antipiracy Agent at J!NX” on behalf of Mojang.

 

Jinx (rather, an “Antipiracy Agent” at Jinx) is the one instigating the infringement notices, “on behalf of Mojang AB and Notch Development AB.” I received one this morning for a Glowstone Dust necklaces I had on Etsy. Ah, well.

 

Notch himself has acknowledged that “For some reason we allowed [J!NX] to shut down counterfeit stuff for us.” and that he “sent an incredibly angry email to jinx.”

Still thousands of minecraft fans on Etsy have received no email notification of a reversal or an apology or even a statement, despite Notch’s apparent “anger” over the issue.

In light of current events, we have decided to name this Tumblr “Minecraft451.” The name is inspired by the popular book and movie Fahrenheit 451 in which the government burns books in order to keep control over the people. It’s a great read, if you haven’t.

This blog will continue to be updated whenever new information or details are revealed.