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Thursday, July 27, 2023

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Martin K.

> I am surprised obvious potential IP violations aren't flagged before a map is published.

Maps with obvious IP violations draw players to the platform, thus, Epic has a financial incentive not(!) to take action (as long as they aren't legally obliged to take action because of a notification by a copyright owner). The same issue plagues lots of metaverse platforms, including VRChat, Rec Room, etc.

> My guess is Epic's hands are somewhat tied by the "safe harbor" provision of the US copyright law, but IANAL.

AFAIK the DMCA's safe harbor provision allows(!) Epic to tolerate obvious copyright violations until the copyright owner notifies them. It doesn't prevent them from taking actions before that. (There are issues with a platform owner potentially violating creators' rights if the platform owner takes down potentially legitimate content because of potential copyright violations. However, platform owners can (and many do) just ask creators to provide documentation that they have the rights to use the IP that is in question. Not a perfect solution, but a first step.)

It might be worth mentioning that the DMCA's safe harbor provision only applies to copyright violations. It does not cover trademark violations.

Anyway, the issue won't go away until either the DMCA is changed or a platform becomes so big that copyright and trademark holders start to take action more frequently (e.g. YouTube, Steam, and more recently Roblox). Fortnite Creative, VRChat, Rec Room, etc. are just not big enough yet. And for these small platform, tolerating IP violations apparently is just too tempting an option.

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