iHZ Troubles: JeffP

Interviewee: BagMan (JeffP)
Interviewer: 007_Sniper
Time of Interview: September 2000
Reason/Significance: After the assorted troubles with vB and his refusal to sign the release forms, 007 interviewed JeffP to get his side of the story.

JeffP: hey

007_Sniper: Hiya JeffP

007_Sniper: Do you have an opening comment you would like to make?

JeffP: hmm, well, I just wanted to clear the air about what is happening to HZ is all.

007_Sniper: I see. Please continue.

JeffP: The logs of my conversations in other places have largely explained the story, but I thought I could clarify a few things

JeffP: Basically, Infantry is going through a bit of a transition that I can't elaborate on at this point

JeffP: The net result of this is that we need to ensure that we have ownership of all the content we have created

JeffP: We have been very trusting to date with everybody, letting others who wanted to help make zones and such do so on a limited basis

JeffP: I get dozens of requests a week for players wanting to voluntarily make zones.

JeffP: For some reason (perhaps those who bugged me the most) I let a few select players help out

JeffP: The understanding with these players has always been that they are simply volunteering, we always made it perfectly clear that we were in no position to pay them per se

JeffP: but have always maintained that they will get credit for their work

JeffP: Players willing to operate under those terms grow from trees as best as I can tell.

JeffP: Anyways, with the help of a lawyer, we have been advised that we need to obtain releases or assignment of rights for any content created by anybody other than paid employees

JeffP: including people that we have paid for external help

007_Sniper: Ah, I see your point.

JeffP: We have identified everybody who contributed to the design of zones and asked them to sign these releases

JeffP: Everybody has agreed to sign them except for Vector Boy

JeffP: who we are not even sure can legally sign it given his age

007_Sniper: How about the possibility of vB turning it all back on you (even if he does sign) and sue you? Is this an actual possibility?

JeffP: I seriously doubt it, but we would just assume be safe than sorry

JeffP: VB certainly doesn't have any rights to the idea of a hockey game....that would be like trying to copyright the concept of Rock-and-Roll when it comes to music

007_Sniper: But he does have the right to copyright his work, namely some of the graphics used in HZ.


JeffP: Anyways, I have forwarded VB the document we need him to sign, it's a very simply document assigning rights to harmless games for any content created

JeffP: interestingly enough, vb is way off base on his 'portfolio' argument...it's just the opposite in fact. I show off Subspace in my portfolio/resume all the time, even though VIE owns it (or did)

007_Sniper: That is interesting indeed.

JeffP: The contract we want him to sign doesn't say anything about him getting rid of stuff he has made off his machine....everybody who plays HZ downloads the stuff he made anyhow, so that doesn't really make any sense

007_Sniper: So the release forms say nothing about deleting his work from his PC?

JeffP: not that I can recall...it's not exactly a top secret document

JeffP: I could show you a copy of it if you wanted, though I probably would not want it posted on the web per se

007_Sniper: I can only show the public what you allow me to.

JeffP: ok, let me send it to you, DO NOT POST IT

007_Sniper: I understand.


JeffP: it's in lawyer speak since it was made by one, you know how it goes...

007_Sniper: Good thing i'm taking Law... :)

007_Sniper: How about the workarounds that vB proposed: give him back the access to edit and modify HZ as he pleases, and put a clause in the contract that states he can use HZ in his portfolio freely.

007_Sniper: vB also goes to state that the release form is non-negotiable, meaning it cannot be changed. Is this true?

JeffP: well, it's certainly negotiable I suppose, though I am not going to modify it to give him rights that he will have anyhow

JeffP: what is a portfolio anyways? I know Juan showed off all the ship-models in subspace when he was interviewing for a job with a company after he left VIE

JeffP: it's standard practice

JeffP: VB's best portfolio item quite frankly would be to be able to point to an operating hockey zone game that clearly credits him with it's creation

007_Sniper: So vB will have the ability to edit HZ later on?

JeffP: as far as VB editing hockey zone, he hasn't done anything with the zone for some time

JeffP: 4U has been in charge of the zone for months now, I see little reason to bring VB back into the picture

007_Sniper: Apparently vB is persuing a job in which 2 years of level designing is required, and he believes that if he signs this contract, 1 year of that experience will be handed over to HG.

JeffP: bizarre, that's like saying that I worked for VIE for 2 years, therefore I can't count that as experience when I interview for my next job

007_Sniper: Good point.

JeffP: Just the opposite is true. Being able to say that he worked on a project that was actually published would go a lot further than having a few models sitting around that aren't used anywhere

007_Sniper: Another good point.

JeffP: I guess I just don't understand where he is coming from

007_Sniper: He is only 16 years old.

JeffP: I know, that causes problems of it's own

JeffP: I haven't checked with our legal guy yet, but it seems to me that he legally couldn't release his rights anyways

JeffP: which leaves us in a bad position, we can't very sell the stuff he has created.

JeffP: without a release from him

JeffP: The idea is not protectable either, certainly since HZ is really just a variation on GravBall, which is just a variation on powerball. We will likely end up having 4U make a new map from scratch

JeffP: none of the other content was done by VB

007_Sniper: vB has said that since he resides in Canada and his work was done in Canada, the Canadian laws apply to his work. He goes on to say that in Canada, you can be legally paid for your work from the age of 13 and up.

007_Sniper: Any comments on that?

JeffP: That may be true, but the difference is somewhat moot as he won't sign over the rights

JeffP: and we are not willing to pay him for that zone, we don't have the money and there is principle involved here.

JeffP: He (like dozens of other players) beg me to let them create a zone. We agree to try it out and see how good of a job players can do with our engine

JeffP: we made it perfectly clear that we were not hiring him

JeffP: we didn't tell him what he could or could not make, we simply noted that if he made something we liked, we would consider hosting it

007_Sniper: vB stated that he was hired at IZone, which makes him an ex-staff member of HG, right?

JeffP: IZone is a website owned by our publisher, they hire whoever they wish to in order to support the product. They have nothing to do with the development of the product per se though

007_Sniper: I see.

JeffP: Quite frankly, we have always looked at letting players experiment with the zone editing tools as a priviledge

007_Sniper: I believe that the Infantry community has sufficent information to fully understand the situation. Thank you JeffP for your time.

007_Sniper: One last thing before you go, may I quote you on everything you have said up to this point?

JeffP: sure, np...I have no ill will toward Vector Boy, and I don't think we are just trying to be cheapskates by not paying him either.

007_Sniper: Well, it's hard to pay someone when you have no cash to pay him with.

JeffP: that's very true as well

JeffP: What I really feel bad about is all the time he has put into the other zone he has worked on

007_Sniper: Ah yes, Atlantis.

JeffP: I haven't seen it yet, though I know he has worked hard on it. I am hoping that post release, we will have a method by which players can submit content to be hosted

JeffP: Under that guise, I am hoping VB will submit his zones for hosting

007_Sniper: Could he not sign it, and after the retail release, submit HZ for hosting?

JeffP: Any content we host will likely have to be released to us however (very similar to the release we are asking for now)

007_Sniper: Ahhhh

JeffP: it depends

JeffP: if we have a means whereby players can upload or even host their own content (ala subspace), then it's a non-issue

007_Sniper: Thank you again JeffP for taking time out of your schedule. I hope to speak to you again some time soon to wrap up this HZ story.

JeffP: but it will be a while before we have mechanisms to support that type of player involvement in place

007_Sniper: More legal issues that I don't want to get into (this is a game after all...)

JeffP: Anyways, thanks for the chance to tell my side of the story. Hopefully HZ will return soon in some form.

007_Sniper: Now, for technical reasons, may I quote what you have said up to and including your response to his question?

JeffP: yes (except that file I sent you, which you can simply confirm that it is as I have described it)

007_Sniper: Of course. That file will never leave my hard drive.

007_Sniper: Thanks again Jeff. You were a pleasure to interview.

JeffP: np, anytime, hopefully we will have some news to announce in the next few weeks that will make the players happy

JeffP: later

007_Sniper: cya