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Why is pack sharing/selling a bad thing? Un-official sites?

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This is not a discussion on where to find packs. Asking for packs WILL get you banned from this site.  Posting links to other sites where the content hasn't been uploaded/provided by the content creators themselves is also strongly prohibited.


Everyone knows that I'm a strong believer in Content Creators rights. Content Creators are the people that MAKE this hobby what it is.  These are the people that create the software that powers the digital pinball hobby.  If it weren't for the people that create the content we use; we wouldn't have a hobby to begin with.  There isn't anything I wouldn't do to help make content creators feel welcome on VPUniverse. Content Creators should always receive/deserve the highest commendations and respect in this hobby.


I completely understand that with the demise of VPinball.com it left a hole in the community.  A deep hole where people are now considering this content as abandoned and feel that they can openly share.  This really isn't the case... The content creators themselves are the only people that has the rights to re-distribute the content.  I talked to the owner of VPinball when the site went down and offered to take over the site/content.  His concerns was that the content creators uploaded to his site giving him the permission to host their files.  He felt that it was non-transferable due to that and I completely agree with his decision.  The content isn't "lost", it's all still there... The owner is supposed to be giving access to specific content creators so they can retrieve their data so that they can re-host it. The content will eventually make it back to the sites where the content creator chooses to re-host their creations.  Most content creators will not post their files on multiple sites due to having to keep multiple files/sites updated.  While this poses a problem when a site is lost; this is still the content creators prerogative and must be respected.

There are people that will try to argue that none of us has any rights to any of the content this hobby uses due to "no legal rights". These people feel that because of this, along with the files are feely available on the internet, that they have the rights to rip content from sites and re-host it on their site, include in packs, sell pre-configured drives, and or sell on pre-built cabinets.  Every content creator that I know is against this. We have lost many great content creators due to this... I understand that people just want the games, but supporting such tactics is a slap to the content creators and this hobby as a whole.

It is true many of the images used on re-creations are copywritten by the original manufactures/IP holders.  Our hobby has no legal rights to this content and the original IP owners could shut down the hobby at any given time.  After 25+ years in the digital pinball/virtual pinball scene; we have built a good rapport with many of the pinball manufactures. Most pinball manufactures consider us "not a threat" to the industry. During the 25+ years that I've been in this hobby there have been less than a handful of C&D orders handed out to have specific pieces of content removed from our sites.  This includes C&D's from Williams for Pinball 2000, Farsight, and the Gottlieb IP holder.  There has always been a standing agreement between the digital pinball community and manufactures that ROM's would never be included in table downloads and remain separate.  We have spoken to manufactures regarding this hobby are long standing and not really something anyone new to this hobby would understand or even know about.  While site owners may not get along with each other on a personal basis; we do respect the manufactures/IP holder wishes. 

Many people find out about digital pinball via console/arcade ROM collecting hobby or from purchasing commercial digital pinball products, such as the 1up games. A huge influx of people to the digital pinball hobby come from Pi based systems. These hobbies are run by and encourage pre-configured packs...  The digital pinball/virtual pinball hobby is NOT like any other ROM based hobbies... In those hobbies; you simply download and drop the ROM into a folder and you are able to play the game.  Digital Pinball is quite different in this aspect.  A single re-creation can take a person, or teams of people, several hundred hours to build. It takes talented people and many different skills to make a single pinball re-creation.  3d modeling, digital art skills, scripting, audio, etc.  One of the big upcoming releases as been in development for nearly 3 years and has taken a team of several very talented content creators to build.

What do content creators get out of releasing something for the public? 
Content Creators do what they do for the love of the game. A lot of re-creations are created using the original manufactures IP.  Legally the authors cannot charge for their work. Content creators upload their work to sites for the public to play.  Whatever site the authors upload their creations to have permission to host those files and re-distribute them. There is very little that a content creator receives in return... The least that anyone of us can do for the content creators is to respect what they do.  When you download a game, please leave a like/upvote/heart and review.  Comments and feedback go a LONG way.  Content Creators enjoy seeing how many times their files have been downloaded, liked, etc...

Beer Me!
Do you have a favorite content creator?  Want to show appreciation for that cool table you downloaded??  Take a second and buy that creator a Beer! VPUniverse is the only site that has an option to allow members of the community to make a direct donation, a $ tip, to the people that provide their files.  


When you download a file; feel free to buy a Beer for the author by clicking "Beer Me" to show your appreciation.  If your favorite creator doesn't have this on their files; please feel free to encourage them to setup their Beer Me.

What is an "un-official site"? 
When VPUniverse started off; we started with no content at all... All content uploaded to this site has been provided by the creators of the content.  Content on this site was not scraped or downloaded from other sites. VPUniverse has the permission of the file creators to publish and host their creations.  An "un-official" site to the digital pinball scene; is any site that hosts files that were not uploaded by the creators of that file.  These sites are a huge slap in the face to the Content Creators and those of us that try to propel this hobby.  


The following was taken from an "un-official" site.  This shows the mentality of some of the people in this hobby. This site was recently launched by a known packer/drive seller/cabinet seller and prides themselves on this statement.  This site owner is also known to impersonate good standing members of the community, including the amazing @TerryRed@NailBuster@Thalamus  Please, don't fall for this shit...  Keep in mind when downloading files from such sites where the original creators did not upload to puts you and your computer at high risk. 

"*redacted site* is a community site dedicated to the preservation of data of virtual pinball.
You may know vpinball shut without notice.
Here, you will find a huge selection of Visual Pinball
Virtual Pinball is free and open source software
None of the tables included on this website have any licenced products in them.
All creators take images and content from the original creators and do not have any permission to use the unlicensed content on any tables or Pup Packs
Table creators do not own any content in any pup packs or tables as all of the content is illegally obtained images videos and sounds
So dont come on this site saying you own any content, you have no legal rights"

I'm not against anyone wanting to start a site. If you want to start a site; go for it as nobody is stopping you... However, do it legit and earn the respect of the people providing content.

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Well said. For those that think they 'missed' their opportunity to get a particular table; you aren't seeing the forest through the trees. If you try to be a table completionist, you'll never find time to play any of them. There are still so many amazing tables readily available to the community that are just waiting to be discovered. Pick a few that are new to you, learn the rulesets, and be grateful to the content creators that made them possible in the first place.

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Posted (edited)

In my opinion ... I disagree! 


Sorry but the thin veil that is legal vs illegal is .... well thin! You say it's a hobby , but if it's something you wish to share , why discourage those who wish to pursue this hobby? Because someone shit on the "rules"? It was bound to happen, someone would see a way to make money off this "hobby". Ok so I can understand the idea of not selling the table makers table , that makes sense , but you think someone isn't going to build a virtual cabinet and sell said cabinet for a profit? I counted several ( to many to count btw ) websites via simple google search that sell pre constructed or do it yourself virtual pinball cabinets.  You honestly believe those cabinets aren't going to come with tables pre programmed onto them ? If someone pays for something they can get for free , they may see value in time not spent tying a do it yourself approach. And the pack sellers are going to sell that content regardless of your opinion.


This isn't licenced material by the way either, you put this content out for free , then you truly would have a strong argument if it was. Less people would be interested in something they were not going to spend money on in the first place, while others would pull the "here take my money approach" if it suited them . The people that will pay for content ... Will , the people that won't pay ... might still download it for free. Look at the renaissance of classic video gaming for systems like nintendo or neo geo or classic arcade games and consoles systems , then ask yourself how those 3rd party companies that sell raspberry pie enabled gaming systems or products with systems on a chip to the public and how they are getting away with it ... with licenced material no less . Virtual pinball is no different and if it becomes mainstream popular (arcade 1up , toyshock , at games for example ) or someone imports virtual pinball to a raspberry pie setup or android system , the pandoras box will be open on this hobby! It will be a business and sites like this one will get a cease and desist eventually because of the legal ramifications . This by the way hasn't even remotely touched on the rom distribution subject and /or issues , which by the way is licenced content. The pup packs are most certainly illegal in almost every way you could throw a lawyer at. 


May as well let the masses enjoy your content before that happens. But , wait it already has , I can already play medieval madness and attack from mars on my cell phone these days. vpinball.com shutting down was sad , and for all of the wrong reasons in my opinion.  But this is just one opinion by the way.  Personally I think the community has cracked Pandora's box and some of the stuff is spilling out already even if the seal is still on it. Time will tell! All I know is that I at this moment want a way to play virtual pinball in all its glory and download all the popular content that I want to try out but I currently cannot do that because vpinball shut down and a few table makers also said no to what they call their works being redistributed. 


And I am on your side by the way , so just call me the Devil's advocate in this scenario. I'm just stating what I understand. I praise the content creators ... but the devil is in the details. 

Edited by Hawkus1
typos and editing!
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What happened with VPinball was a wake up call for me.


We should be more concerned that one individual could destroy hundreds of people's content than we are about people who are trying to preserve and share content, so long as they are sharing it for free.


And the easier tables are to get and the more available they are, the less market there will be for sellers.


I say this as someone who has built a table or 2, pup packs, backglasses, and posted detailed build threads for myself and to hopefully benefit others.


When I posted content to VPinball, I entrusted it to the site owner with the expectation that it would be preserved and shared. I shared my creations with the community in the hope that others would download them, play them, share them, maybe even build on them so that the tables and contributions I made might still be around even if I left the hobby.


If I didn't want my creations shared, I'd have kept them to myself. 


But not all content creators share that view. And the wishes of content creators should be respected. 


We need something like a Creative Commons system. Something where creators can say how they want their content distributed and shared.

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I'll say one more thing before stepping off my soapbox.


RandR's assumption that people who uploaded content to his site didn't want him to share it is preposterous. We uploaded it so he could share it. That's exactly what we wanted. 


The internet is not a place to put things you don't want shared. Sharing is built into its DNA.

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  • 3 months later...

Unfortunately, you're always going to have two different types of people.  Those who enjoy tinkering and building something to make it their own, and those who just want to buy something and play with it for whatever flaws it may have.


I bought my cabinet used and in a partially (in my opinion) completed state.  It was fully up and running with over 600 tables on it, but lacking in the fun toys (LED's, etc), and most of the tables were either ones I would never play or outdated versions.  After a week of just playing with it, I ripped out the old computer and replaced it, did a clean installation of Windows 10, installed and configured all of the software and today I am adding LED strips to the sides in order to compliment the matrix on the backboard.  I have only about 20 tables on the new build, but I'm adding only the ones I will actually play and I'm only adding tables I download myself; I'm in the tinkerer category.  For me, about 50% of the fun is in the actual building and tweaking, the other 50% is in the playing.  For me, the commercially available options from At-Games or Arcade 1UP were never an option, but there is a market for them, it's just not for me.


That being said, there is obviously a fairly large market for 'middle class' commercial tables like At-Games and Arcade 1UP as well as higher end offerings from private builders.  Don't be surprised if the pinball manufacturers start to take more notice in what may become a new IP licensing cash-cow for them.  As the pinball manufacturers catch on to the fact that they can increase their revenue streams through IP licensing with commercial vendors, I foresee a time in the future where DMCA notices will start rolling in to sites like this, effectively destroying a community hobby.  It's an unfortunate thought, but I think the large commercial vendors are the bigger enemy, not mom and pop high end cabinet builders including game packs on their systems.  I have no idea how many higher end cabinets are sold, but I would venture to guess that it is a drop in the bucket compared to the big-boys like AT-Games and Arcade 1UP.  Not as many people have 6-9K to drop on a new toy, but when you get to $600-$700 your target market opens up quite a bit.


I am very grateful to all of the content creators and the hard work that goes into producing the content I love.  Although I am not a content creator myself, I am of the belief that the ONLY way to keep the hobby going is to release and share the content as much as possible and through as many outlets as possible.  If it is hosted on one site and that site gets taken down, it may be gone forever, or at the very least be pushed to the underground and out of reach to all but the most technically savvy people.  HInt: The pack sellers are included in the 'technically savvy' category.

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