Fallout 4 modders in uproar over rampant theft

Bethesda has rolled out mod support for Fallout 4 on consoles -- but it isn't doing a great job at regulating stolen and unattributed creations.

One of Fallout 4's most popular mods, Caliente's Beautiful Bodies Enhancer (CBBE), will not be headed to consoles. That's not because CBBE supports nude character mods -- the author was more than willing to release a 'family-friendly' version to suit Bethesda's content guidelines -- but out of protest for Bethesda's failures to address intellectual property theft on its platform.

This may sound counter-intuitive, as Bethesda stated from the outset that copyright infringement was one of the things it would look for when approving mods for Fallout 4's console editions. However, that appears to only go so far as cracking down on obviously pirated or unlicensed materials, like Coca-Cola logos and Beach Boy songs. (I don't actually know if these in particular ever came up in Bethesda's moderation queue, but I guarantee you that they've seen an awful lot like them.) When it comes to moderating the works of other modders, Bethesda has been... less vigilant.

"There has been a rash of theft from, and general disrespect of, content authors on the Bethesda site," says Caliente, the modder behind CBBE, in explaining why the mod would not be retooled for console use anytime in the near future. Presently, modders who find their work uploaded without authorization are asked to submit a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request -- an outdated and easily-abused system which, among its many failings, can expose the claimant's name and address to the user they're complaining about. "This is an unacceptable burden to place on unpaid content creators who just want to share the things they’ve created without having it stolen," Caliente argues.

"The DMCA system in general on the internet does work... however, the hope is that when you’re running the official mod hosting platform for a series of games, that your moderation system is more advanced than 'send an email to this address,'" agrees Dark0ne, an administrator for Nexus Mods, currently the web's most popular resource for hosting and sharing game mods. As you might expect from a site with that reputation, Nexus Mods has a sizable moderation team -- and knows a thing or two about addressing theft on its platform. "Heck, even a template/form system built in to the Bethesda.net site for the DMCA process would have been helpful," says Dark0ne.

At the moment, Bethesda requires that those submitting mods to Fallout 4's console mod database do so with a linked Steam account, and this has reportedly cut down on the volume of stolen mods. But it's not hard to understand why Caliente and other authors behind some of Fallout 4's most popular PC mods would be unwilling to embrace the platform without something more of a guarantee from the publisher. After all, mods for Bethesda games are a huge part of the experience -- and that's why Bethesda's labored to bring mod support to its console editions in the first place.

Top image: Buzz Lightyear armor for Paladin Danse, by Sorenova

(h/t Kotaku.)