Reason for the ban
Dogtown1 was originally banned for using stolen and copyrighted assets from multiple different games in both his “Angel Park 2” file on New Vegas Nexus and his “Skyrim Monster Mod” file on Skyrim Nexus. Knowing how popular Dogtown’s work was on the sites, and having heard of no prior problems with him, I wanted to properly look into and review the case personally to ensure the right decision had been made, and if it had, ensure proper documentation and evidence was provided.
While I had been looking for a way to bring Dogtown back with a formal (and very last) warning, unfortunately my investigation finds that the ban was justified after multiple instances of not only copyrighted work being used from other games, but also of mod author theft. To compound the issue, the mod author that Dogtown used the assets from, without permission, was one of our moderators, Millenia, and Dogtown had been informed about the theft over a year ago and had done nothing to fix the issue in his Angel Park 2 file. In light of this information, it made by position of trying to bring him back with a warning untenable and the ban will be enforced.
On mod author asset theft
In June 2011, Dogtown made the following post on Millenia’s 12x7mm SMG retexture file:
hey millenia whats up,
I took a couple cut and paste pieces from your texture to use in a gun I threw together out of other gun parts, I can send you a copy of the dds if you want I was hoping you wouldnt mind, there is a screen in the user upload if you want to see it.
To which Millenia didn’t respond.
Later in October of 2011, when Millenia found that Dogtown had used this asset, among others, within Dogtown’s “Angel Park 2” file he confronted him and asked for the assets to be removed. Dogtown was very apologetic and agreed to remove the assets.
Dogtown responded in conversation exactly how he should have, and I don’t fault him there at all. However, unfortunately, Dogtown didn’t actually remove these assets, and when we locked down the file for moderator review on the 4th December 2012, these assets were still present within the Angel Park 2 file.
This is not acceptable. Using other user’s assets without permission is a bannable offense, no excuses. However, sometimes we can look past this issue for honest mistakes or in cases where we think people either unwittingly used the assets or were a bit naive of the process (at our own discretion). But when you are told you’ve stolen an asset, and told to remove it, and then don’t remove it...that’s inexcusable in my eyes. You should be removing that asset instantly No ifs, ands or buts.
Furthermore, this theft isn’t just localised to a single asset within Angel Park 2. The mod also contains Millenia’s 10mm SMG retexture (comparison picture) and Millenia’s Back to ‘Nam M-60 (comparison picture) once again used without any permission sought what-so-ever, the latter of which was taken from Millenia’s Game Banana page which specifically states “ALWAYS ASK ME BEFORE RERELEASING ANYWHERE OR EDITING” within the license section.
We take mod author asset theft extremely seriously. Mod authors expect us to respect their wishes and we work our hardest to ensure they can trust us when they upload their files here. In turn, we trust mod authors by allowing all files to be instantly available on the site without any sort of review process on the strict premise that what they upload to the sites is both legal and contains all the user’s own work, or work that they have permission to use. We cannot make information regarding this rule any clearer to uploaders on the site, there are multiple warnings during the upload process to tell authors they MUST use their own work or work they have full permission to use. In fact, since I know a lot of you aren’t mod authors and won’t have seen the file creation page, here’s exactly what’s written on the file pages. This one is in a coloured box to ensure the user sees it:
ALWAYS CREDIT WORK THAT ISN'T YOURS
If you have received permission to use someone elses assets in your files you should always credit them. If you don't credit assets you've used from other users you will be considered a thief and you're likely to be banned; so it's very important you credit the work of others that you have used.
Note: crediting other people's work does not entitle you to use their work. You must always get permission from the creator of the work first before you upload it to the site.
This one is accompanied by a check box that you have to agree to before the file will be added to the site:
I testify that all the content in the files I am going to upload are my own or are used with the express permission of the original creators of the files I have used and I have properly credited the original creators in my ReadMe, and in the mod description or in the "Credits" text area of the "Distribution permission" section of this page. I understand and accept that I will be banned from this site if I am found to be lieing about this.
It couldn’t be any clearer.
There’s too much evidence here to suggest that this was just an “honest mistake” and I can only conclude that Dogtown knew he was using these assets without permission but chose to put them in his mod anyway.
On using copyrighted work
Dogtown’s Skyrim Monster Mod was a popular file on Skyrim Nexus and, I believe, it was originally top of the “Animals, creatures, mounts & horses” category for endorsements and downloads. It uses lots of assets from game developers like CDProjekt (The Witcher series) and GSC Game World (S.T.A.L.K.E.R.) who, in their awesomeness, have allowed their assets to be used within free-to-download mods, such as Skyrim Monster Mod. Unfortunately, it also used assets from games and developers of AAA titles who haven’t given their permission for their assets to appear in free-to-download mods. An example of which is a Borderlands 1 rip of Bloodwing (comparison pic).
I understand and appreciate that when you’re working on a large project, such as Skyrim Monster Mod, that uses lots and lots of assets that aren’t made by you that keeping up with things like permissions and credits can be tough. However, that is the burden you accept when you decide to use assets that aren’t your own. No one is forcing you to add that asset, and no one is forcing you to not make the asset yourself. The responsibility still falls on you, the mod author, to ensure that everything you’re using is not only used with permission, but is actually legal to use as well.
We have a legal obligation to ensure we keep this site completely free of illegal rips and content and must enforce these rules. Yes, the mod was great and very popular, but it contained illegal content and anyone who’s anyone in this community knows we don’t allow any copyrighted work to be used here without permission. And we’re strict, very strict, on the matter. Why? Because we’ve only ever had one cease and desist letter (and a couple of friendly “requests” for content to be pulled) in the past 11 years of operation, but as we get bigger and more popular more legal eyes are being directed at us to ensure everything we do is above board. When the inevitable lawyer attack starts we’ll have literally hundreds and hundreds of cases we can reel off where we’ve actively moderated our own community for illegal content before anyone’s even had a whiff of any wrongdoing. We don’t wait for lawyers to contact us, we work hard ourselves to ensure we’re legal. And that’s important to me. I don’t want to run some file repository that skirts the edges and grey areas of what is and isn’t legal. Other sites are more than happy to do this, and frankly I’m thankful as a host that they’re there to take any pressure off of us to do it ourselves. Looking for mods using rips from other games? People know we don’t host them but there are other places that do, so your needs, if so required, are serviced by others in the community.
When I first saw Dogtown’s ban, and his subsequent unban request, I thought this might have just been an oversight on his part and something that could be rectified with a slap of the wrist and a request to go through his logs and remove anything that he didn’t have full permission to use. Unfortunately I wasn’t aware of the issues with Angel Park 2, and when you add using copyrighted work from AAA titles with stealing mod authors work without permission and then not removing that work when you are asked to do so, it makes it impossible for me to do anything other than ban Dogtown from the site inspite of his helpfulness within the community.