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Recently I began removing illegal content from the networks. My purposes were twofold: to keep FileFront from being shut down, and to become wildly unpopular within the network community. Mission accomplished! That's right, don't be too hard on the network staff; they were just following orders. I'm the evil puppet master here, thank you very much! And now, I'll answer questions from the audience.

No one cares, why are you being such a bunch of jerks?

SILENCE PEON. Er, what I meant to say is that people do care. Trust me, I hear from them every day! And contrary to popular opinion, it's not always a faceless corporation siccing their lawyers on us; I receive dozens of messages every week from independent artists, writers, composers, and other creative types, asking me to respect their copyright by removing infringing files. For many of them this is their livelihood, and they really can't afford to have us bootlegging their work because it's “no big deal.â€

Those files have been here for weeks/months/years. Why did you wait so long to remove them?

Because I didn't know they were there. I assumed that the people running things before I showed up were monitoring the network for illegal content, but apparently this was not the case. But the law doesn't care how long something has been on our site - once it's discovered it has to go. So now that I know these files are here, I am obligated to remove them. It's not a matter of personal opinion, or whether I like or dislike the files I remove - it's the law!

You're all hypocrites because I found this one file with copyrighted content in it!

Actually we're all human. We can't be everywhere at once, and I guarantee there will always be files we miss. Why else would we have systems in place that allow users to report inappropriate content? What matters is that at the end of the day we can honestly say we did our best to play by the rules.

On that note, I'd like you all to take a look at this article about a recent lawsuit brought against Veoh, another content sharing site on the net:

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/28/what-the-veoh-decision-means-for-youtube-and-others/

Of particular import is the idea that while it's understood we won't have a site that's 100% free of infringing content, we do have to actively police what's on our servers.

So what constitutes a violation anyway? It's totally unclear!

Well, your first stop is the user agreement for FileFront: http://aup.legal.filefront.com/

Check the part titled 'Copyright Policy' at the end. There's also a file upload page that elaborates on some of those points here: http://uploadhosted.filefront.com/

Copyright can be tricky; I've been working with copyright issues for years now and I still don't know all the ins and outs. One thing I can say definitively though: it's up to the copyright holder. If someone slaps us with a cease-and-desist notice because somewhere there's a file with 5 seconds of their music in it, we'll remove the file. That's life unfortunately - if you want to use copyrighted content, even small clips, you have to be prepared for the possibility of the creator shutting you down.

That said, we have yet to receive a single takedown request for short clips, be they of music, tv shows, or even movies. Mods using sound effects from a movie/tv show/etc. are A-OK with us, as are fan-made music videos using clips from game cut scenes, shows, and the like. On the other hand, music copyright makes up the bulk of complaints we receive, so music mods which use copyrighted music are a big no-no. And let me just get this out of the way: don't be the smartass who uploads a bunch of music with the last 20 seconds cut off the end of each song. Don't be that guy. That guy sucks.

If after reading all this you're still not sure if the content you want to upload is ok, ask us! There's no guessing or worrying involved, just get in touch with the site you want to contribute to and tell them why you're uncertain. Remember, we're in this business because we want to make enormous piles of money. But in addition to the money (which I'm still waiting for... what's taking so long?), we also want to be a resource for the gaming community. And while I'm sorry that we can't accept every file submitted, without this oversight there wouldn't be a network in the first place. So please, do your part to keep our network clean!

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