Ludicrous Software

What Is ‘Legal Content’?

(30 January: Update with response from Spil Games)

If you’ve ever posted a game to the Adobe Flash Lite Exchange, this article may be of interest to you: Spil Games boss: ‘Flash games will be bigger on mobile than on web’. It mentions that Spil runs a ‘dedicated Flash Lite mobile portal’, something I was not aware of. How does this tie into the Exchange? It looks like some of the games on Spil’s portal were pulled from the Exchange. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

In total, I counted over 15 games that I recognized from the Flash Lite Exchange on Spil’s portal. It’s possible that Spil obtained permission from the makers of some of those games. But if that’s true, then I wonder why they didn’t obtain permission from all of them. I know that in at least one case, Spil did not contact the company that made some of those games to seek their permission, and I’m reasonably confident that another company’s games are there without that company’s permission.

In another article, the CEO from Spil Games Asia says about the games on their sites: “It’s all legal content, which is important. There are a lot of companies in China especially that put everything on their platforms, including illegal content.” It’s been a long time since I posted anything to the Exchange, so I don’t remember the details of any license/agreement that I accepted when I did that, but I’m pretty sure that posting something to the Exchange does not automatically mean that the poster gives up any and all rights to their creation. My decision to make something freely available on site A does not give anybody else the right to make it available on site B. This is true for anybody, but seems especially true for a company that I assume intends to make some money off of these games at some point: the second article I linked to talks about in-game advertising; it’s not there on the Flash Lite games yet, but for how long will that be the case?

So is this ‘legal content’? I’d say no, but your opinion may differ. If any of your games are on Spil’s portal, and you’d rather they weren’t, you should try contacting Spil.

Update: Frank van Polanen from Spil Games contacted me about this article, and I’ve agreed to include a response from Spil:

I lead the development in the mobile sector for SPIL GAMES and would like to address your concerns directly. First of all, SPIL GAMES is a company which provides online casual game destinations, we have more than 50 localized online game portals all over the world. The games.mobi portal is our first mobile project and currently in beta development phase, we have not launched the portal and most importantly, are not monetizing and do not have advertising. In this part of the phase, we have included some of our own game content (we are also developers) and also reached out to numerous developers to request permission and licensing for their own Flash Lite games. We are still in the process of reaching out, some we have not heard back from, and others have difficult to find contact details. If you are the developer of a game currently on our development portal and have not heard from us, we would love to hear from you to discuss licensing and future partnership in the development of more games. Of course we will also remove your game if you would like. Rest assured that we would in no way launch and monetize on this portal without full licensing on all game content that is not developed in our own studio.

I asked Frank and he said he would be the contact person, so he’s the man at Spil to talk to if you have any questions about this matter.