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Piracy in Asset Store

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Kondor0, Jul 24, 2020.

  1. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    Hi

    Look at this publisher selling game assets ripped from a Ghost in the Shell game:

    HiTech Cyber Soldier
    In the Store: https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/3d/characters/humanoids/sci-fi/hitech-cyber-soldier-171313
    In Steam: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1084723165

    HiTech Soldier
    In the Store: https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/3d/characters/humanoids/sci-fi/hitech-soldier-148187
    Ingame screenshot: https://cdn.mmohuts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/GhostInTheShellBetaReview51.jpg

    Now I know what you will tell me: "this is nothing new", "just fill the DMCA form", whatever (thread will probably get locked too).
    This isn't about customers getting annoyed, this is about trying to warn UT that eventually they will piss off a gaming giant if they keep allowing this crap in the store. Do you really think your little EULA will protect you if a giant like Tencent or others decide to sue you?

    Now before you tell me this is unavoidable, let me tell you it would really help if you stop publishers from publishing if they don't have a proper website or another way to verify they are who they claim they are. There's also several ways to detect suspicious publishers: instead of proper website they have only a Unity Connect profile with barely any content and they have very high quality art (and a lot of it) but somehow are incompetent at making this model work out of the box in Unity (bad rigging and zero testing).

    That's it, I made this thread because I like Unity and I don't want your company to have troubles or get devoured by a chinese giant just because you were careless. Call it an exaggeration if you want but in 2020 any exageration has become a good policy.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
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  2. KokkuHub

    KokkuHub

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    They're ripping off assets from Marvel games too:

    upload_2020-7-23_21-24-20.png
     
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  3. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    I'm reporting these assets right now (because the DMCA form is for copyright owners) but I strongly think that a single strike should be enough to ban an entire publisher, it doesn't matter if the rest of the content is original (also I'm not reporting 6 pages of assets, it's not my job).
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
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  4. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Who are you reporting them to though? The actual owners or the store itself? Because the former will have a chance at the asset being removed while the latter will ignore you.
     
  5. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    I'm using the "report this asset" link in the bottom. It says it sends it to support so I figure after a few days it should remove the assets.
     
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  6. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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  7. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    And it's gonna get discussed until UT takes it seriously.
     
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  8. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Like we discussed in the thread posted by @angrypenguin Unity cannot take down assets based off of reports from people who are not the author due to legal reasons. If anything repeatedly reporting an asset has the potential to cause you trouble as they may start seeing it as a form of spam if you do it often enough.

    Report the asset to the actual owner. They have the authority necessary to have it taken down. You do not.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
  9. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    Nonsense, I reported a Mass Effect weapon collection some time ago and UT staff removed it. Is Angrypenguin a mod or staff? because I don't know why I should care about what he thinks.

    Also I want to give UT an opportunity to fix this before sending this to Nexon and whatever publisher made that Marvel game. I'm willing to wait.
     
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  10. KokkuHub

    KokkuHub

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    More reason to not shut down the discussion: people need to know they expose themselves to risk by purchasing assets, because the one more likely to be burned by this are whoever ends up mistakenly using these assets on their games.
     
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  11. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Great job rolling a one on English comprehension. I was very clearly indicating the thread that he linked in his post.

    I'm not suggesting we shut down the discussion. I'm suggesting that people be smart and report the issue to the authors which if they follow up on will lead to a guaranteed takedown rather than the slim chance it will be taken down based on their personal statement.

    Because @Kondor0's anecdotal evidence involving Mass Effect is exactly that. I have reported similarly obvious violations to the store only for the staff to respond that they aren't allowed to do anything based off of the reports of someone who isn't the author. Since then I always report it to the actual owner who often has a very easy interface for doing so.
     
  12. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    Why so defensive? I'm not attacking you, and yes I know of that thread because he linked it, I still don't see why I should care, this thread is clearly meant for the staff to get a proper response.

    If the UT staff position is that we should contact Nexon or any other owner before them then I'm more than open to do it. Until then I would prefer not to because I don't know how they would react, a simple indie dev could just fill a DMCA form and be done but what about a big publisher? would they be happy with that? I hope so but I don't want to create extra problems for UT before giving them a chance.
     
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  13. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    You may not have intended it but your wording felt aggressive.
     
  14. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    I'm not suggesting you don't discuss it. I'm pointing out there's an existing, relevant discussion you could be adding to rather than fragmenting it over multiple threads.

    If you want staff to pay attention then it's much easier for them to do so in one place at a time.
     
  15. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    I disagree. There was a thread in the publisher forum and it got locked and the one you point got buried without an official response so clearly it isn't enough. Also it's not your job to be armchair moderator.
     
  16. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Ok, fingers crossed this one does better. ;)
     
  17. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    No response would also be a response, I guess.
     
  18. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    You already have that answer. BTW, the forum is very wrong way to contact Unity. It is very rare that they respond here, especially personnel who works with these very specific things like copyright affairs.
    You may have an answer from @UnityMaru if he wishes to that they may or may not forward your question to the support/legal/whatever and they may contact you. Which may also happen if you go there for the first place.
    The forum is not official support place. It is a community forum.
    Also I don't see any new information about anything here. Same old issue with the same old stance. Therefore no additional value was presented. Unless the "go away, it's my thread"-feeling answers count.

    With that said, carry on.
     
  19. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    Oh great, another armchair moderator.
    I'm not in a hurry, I can wait until the thread gets buried before taking that as an answer. Thanks for the bump, I guess.
    Also I put it here to warn people that may still purchase these models while all this is solved.
     
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  20. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    I think you're misreading the intention there.
     
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  21. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Being combative really isn't helping anyone.
     
  22. Amon

    Amon

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    This is why I don't buy anything anymore from the asset store. The chance of getting scammed is too high.
     
  23. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    Other one. It's always the guys that live in this forum.

    Sadly I have to agree. Good thing I've been learning to make my own assets. Still I think you can detect them by their lack of websites and the high quality of art. It seems they are mostly ripped from dead south korean games too.
     
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  24. Amon

    Amon

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    Well, me not buying from the asset store anymore is also my own boycott due to their takedown policy. I tried reporting assets before, many times and met a dead end or wall of silence. So, my wallet is closed to the unity asset store.
     
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  25. UnityMaru

    UnityMaru

    Community Engagement Manager Unity Technologies

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    I agree. Please stop.

    The folks here have provided the right information. Getting heated towards them isn't going to get you anywhere. We need DMCA takedown requests from the copyright holders so if this is something you feel strongly about, I suggest you contact the copyright holders and let them know so they can contact us through the proper process so this can be taken down.
     
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  26. AcidArrow

    AcidArrow

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    You know, if Unity wants to be very upfront about this they need to have a disclaimer on top in their Asset Store, clarifying that they provide zero guarantee that what they sell is legal.

    Because otherwise getting a Korean publisher to bother with a DMCA is going to be kinda hard, so those assets are probably going to stay on there and Unity will profit from them.
     
  27. UnityMaru

    UnityMaru

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    Appreciate the feedback here. I've shared this thread with the team internally to make sure they record this feedback.
     
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  28. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Is this a legal requirement, or an internal policy, or something else?
     
  29. UnityMaru

    UnityMaru

    Community Engagement Manager Unity Technologies

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    Mainly a legal one - it's why when these issues come up that we ask users to go to the copyright holders to tell them. That way, the owner can rightfully take it down through the proper process.
     
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  30. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    For the United States it is a legal requirement that only the copyright holder or a person authorized to act on the behalf of the copyright holder may submit a DMCA takedown notice.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onlin...ty_Limitation_Act#Notice_from_copyright_owner
     
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  31. UnityMaru

    UnityMaru

    Community Engagement Manager Unity Technologies

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  32. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    I understand that only the copyright holder can submit a DMCA takedown, but surely a DMCA takedown isn't the only option here?

    It's your shop. I would expect that you could decide to remove things from sale at any time for any reason. I'm not suggesting you go YouTube style, of course. And I do respect that this is tricky to deal with.
     
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  33. mgear

    mgear

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    if the case is so clear, then surely asset store admins should act, even without actual dmca..?

    i mean how can any developer buy 3d models from asset store if the attitude is like this? (for such obvious cases).

    and review process has failed here too,
    in other websites, like stock photos, you definitely couldnt get pass the review queue if its clearly not permitted image.. (which is good, you can trust the site to buy your images and use them)
     
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  34. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    The Asset Store EULA provides space for Unity to remove under their discretion, but they are quite hesitant to exercise that freedom.

    https://unity3d.com/legal/as_terms
    So really while the DMCA notice from an author is the sure-fire path to get something removed on legal grounds it is really only getting action taken against it in the bare minimum sense. Unity has absolute discretion to remove anything they want for any reason they want.

    It doesn't seem often that they actually do it, though. Even when it's pretty clear what's going on.

    There's also no reason for them to publicly state "there may be illegal content on here we cant be sure" because the EULA - which people are too lazy to read - clearly states this.
     
  35. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    Photos are way easier to pre-filter. Rebuilt assets with new advertising imagery pose a much more significant processing effort to be identified accurately. Not that this cannot be done, but the effort to automate this is non-trivial.
     
  36. KokkuHub

    KokkuHub

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    While this is an appropriate approach for a service that is at the end-point of the distribution like a game store, a video website, or a streaming service, the fact is assets bought from the Asset Store are usually going to be used in commercial products made by Unity customers, and those are the ones that will take the first hit if the copyright holders become aware of it.

    Of course the review process won't catch everything, but it already seems to weed out obvious stuff otherwise the Asset Store would be full of things like model rips from popular games. The asset author in question even took the effort to slightly change some of the assets to make them less obvious (removing Black Bolt's forehead tuning fork and wings) as well as avoiding submitting more easily identifiable characters (like Batou and Motoko from Ghost In The Shell), which shows they are aware of the review process (and probably got assets rejected before).

    But considering the potential damage to customers who purchase these assets, reports of alleged copyright infringement should be acted on more proactively even if they don't come from the IP owner via a DMCA takedown request.
     
  37. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    My guess is it is a CYA maneuver on Unity's part, and a way to keep their workload investigating copyright issues to a minimum. Sending an email to support to report a copyright infringement puts it on Unity to investigate who's story is actually true, and is a rather low bar open for potential abuse. You see abuse of such systems on sites like YouTube all the time. Sending an official DMCA takedown though probably fewer people would be inclined to abuse, and it provides a rather straight forward process Unity will follow. A process which if it results in the wrong content taken down, Unity has a good excuse they can point to as to why they took the actions they did.

    There's lots of anecdotal reports on the forum that the Asset Store support team is overwhelmed with their requests as it is, so doing it this way also helps to not further increase their workload with investigations. So to me it makes a lot of sense the stance Unity appears to be taking.

    Good solution? Probably not, but real life generally consists of deciding between bad and less bad, not between bad and good.
     
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  38. Martin_H

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    Why? Is there really no clause in the assetstore seller agreement that allows you to just suspend store items at will - just like newly uploaded items can and have been rejected based on subjective criteria? If there was none, it should clearly be added for cases like this.

    It would seem reasonable to me in such cases where it's very obvious something was stolen to suspend an asset and ask for proof of authorship from the assetstore seller (which they won't be able to provide). If it's something that isn't obviously stolen, you could ask for proof of authorship before suspending the asset 10 work days later or so. I'm an artist, I can't imagine making any asset without leaving a trail of work in progress steps that would serve as a clear proof of authorship that no one else can provide, even if they had the finished asset.

    If UT doesn't take this a lot more serious, it's like saying "Don't buy art assets here, they're totally a legal liability because we don't take any responsibility for what people sell on here."
    Pointing to the DMCA as "sorry, our hands are legally tied" is absolutely ridiculous in my humble opinion. That's like the opposite of what it was intended for.
     
  39. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    To me it's not even a matter of copyright enforcement. I agree with Unity that enforcement of other peoples' copyright isn't their responsibility, and nor should it be.

    To me it's more about safeguarding the level of trust people have in the store. If they're willfully selling stuff that could get me in trouble with Marvel that's not exactly inspiring confidence, to put it incredibly mildly. I don't expect every Asset Store reviewer to recognise every IP on the planet, but they do have a report button on the store, and I'd expect them to be proactive about protecting their customers in cases like that.

    Along with a couple of other checks, such as the publishing date of each work in question, that sounds reasonable to me in principle.

    A potential complication is stuff like a recent case where it was decided that Call of Duty did not need a license to have Humvees in their game. So there are cases where it makes sense that a digital representation of someone else's IP could be used legitimately by customers. Thinking aloud here, perhaps having a separate license (or obvious disclaimer) for content like that would be useful? Eg: "This is a model of a real world object. Depending on your use of this model you may be required to obtain a 3rd party license before using it in your work."
     
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  40. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    A little update on this: I asked for a refund because I bought one of those assets (before I knew it was piracy) but since the scammer deprecated the asset (most likely because he was found out) my refund request was rejected.
    Amazing, so a scammer can protect himself from negative reviews and refunds just by deprecating.
     
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  41. Glader

    Glader

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    Unity Technologies official statement is that they will let someone sell anything, including unlicensed and completely stolen intellectual property, to unsuspecting users of the asset store. They will not do anything but the legal bare minimum and all users of the asset store are liable to be sued by the rights holders.

    Great store service!
     
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  42. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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    I believe that when you initially request a refund, it is approved or not by the seller. If this is what happend, your request was rejected by the seller, contact Unity next. They should be able to help you.
     
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  43. Kondor0

    Kondor0

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    It was rejected by Unity support.
     
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  44. jackmememe

    jackmememe

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    I mean, Unity Store is looking better and better to make ilegal money. Perhaps I can start a online tutorial for it.
     
  45. KokkuHub

    KokkuHub

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    BTW, only the asset @Kondor0 requested a refund for was deprecated, everything else is still there, waiting for suckers to purchase.
    Original:
    upload_2020-7-28_11-57-56.png

    Dirty pirate:
    upload_2020-7-28_11-58-24.png

    Original:
    upload_2020-7-28_12-4-9.png

    Scurvy dog:
    upload_2020-7-28_12-4-52.png

    The entire "HiTech" series is made from models ripped from Ghost In The Shell First Assault.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
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  46. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    Oof. Maybe you should write to their legal team directly? I could imagine them to be a little more motivated because I don't think this is perfectly legal what UT is doing here.

    Or maybe you'd get your money back faster if you convince Jim Sterling to make a video about this...
     
  47. Amon

    Amon

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    I love the pics above because of the wording under the "License:Single Entity" part.

    "Refunds, We've got you covered"

    Lol. It should say:

    "Refunds?, You've been had".
     
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  48. Ryiah

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    I just finished submitting a report to Nexon (the owners of the game in question). That said I feel it's important to point out that just because Nexon used them in their game doesn't mean they necessarily owned the assets. The publisher page on the Asset Store mentions the company is an outsourcing firm. If the Nexon assets had a non-indefinite expiration date then it's possible they can legally sell the assets now that it's been two and a half years since Ghost in the Shell was shutdown.

    Remember the only info we have to work off of whether an asset is illegally sold is the fact that we can see it on the store but that's only a very small amount of info compared to what happens behind the scenes. Just because you saw it doesn't mean it's illegal. Report it to the company. If it is illegal they will take action.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
  49. KokkuHub

    KokkuHub

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    Those aren't generic characters made up for a dead online game: they are actual Ghost In The Shell characters, present in manga, anime and film, an IP owned by Masamune Shirow and Kodansha. Same deal with Black Bolt, a Marvel character.

    The likelihood of a random outsourcing firm which has only their Unity Connect page listed as website having the rights to sell IP characters on a store that sells models to be used on other games is so close to zero it defies quantum physics.

    I'm familiar with being devil's advocate, but this is pushing it way, way too far.
     
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  50. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Only if you focus solely on that one company. My point isn't that we shouldn't do anything after all.
     
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