The Copyright policy sets out information and rules for respecting Microsoft's copyrights and trademarks in its works. In order to reproduce any of Microsoft's content, including images, characters, storylines, or text, we must have Microsoft's clear permission to do so.
- Copyright is the legal ownership that automatically attaches to creative works. For example, if you were to write a novel in your spare time, you would own the copyright of that novel, and no one else could use its text without your permission. Copyright protects not only the actual text of a novel or code of a computer game, but the characters, plot points, and other creative expressions within. Copyright law is enforced internationally, based on a series of treaties.
- Fair use or fair dealing allows limited reproduction of copyrighted works for specific purposes, such as study or criticism. Fair use considerations of particular relevance to this site include:
- The source of the material must be acknowledged.
- The amount of the original copied. Generally speaking the less, the better. "Quote or closely paraphrase as little as possible to make your point: under 10% is best; above 20% is high risk...although in some cases 1% may not be fair use, and 100% can be fair use, it’s impossible to provide percentage guidelines that always work". A small paragraph or sentence paraphrased or quoted verbatim from a source is likely fine, quoting or paraphrasing an entire article/quest/event from a source is likely not. Use sound judgement.
- The purpose of the copying. If we reproduce some of Microsoft's ideas as a guide to their games and books, that is more likely to be considered a valid purpose than if we included content which could serve as alternatives to the games and books.
- Trademark is a registered name or logo used to sell goods or services. In the case of Microsoft, Microsoft, Ensemble Studios, Age of Empires, and the Microsoft, Ensemble Studios and Age of Empires logos, are all registered trademarks used to sell its games. No one else can use those logos in the marketplace. Trademark laws protect Microsoft' names and logos, while copyright laws protect its games and books.
- The term Copyleft is often used in the context of wikis, and is a form of licensing which allows free distribution, with the main limit that the person using the software must also distribute it freely. Naturally, in order to allow our content to be freely distributed, we must first ensure that we have permission to post it.
This policy covers all articles which describe or discuss the content of Microsoft's Age of Empires Series computer games and other works. While articles containing direct quotes and images are obviously included, all articles which describe Microsoft's storylines, characters, and other creative expressions are also covered by Microsoft's copyright, despite being written in our own words.
There are only two ways that we can use ideas, text, and images from Blizzard's works:
- With Microsoft's clear permission.
- According to the fair use exception.
All articles covered by this policy must fall into one or both of these categories.
Microsoft gives express permission to reproduce certain material on fansites. This includes:
- Material downloaded from their website.
- Screenshots of their games.
In order to be considered fair use of copyrighted material on the Age of Empires Series Wiki, all of the following must be met.
- The specific source of the material must be acknowledged.
- The tone of the article must be that of a guide to the Age of Empires Series, not that of a competing creative work.
- Quotes must be clearly marked as quotes, using quotation.
- Quotes must be used sparingly, and be as brief as possible.
- Quotes must be offered in support of a claim.
Because it involves issues which could incur legal liability for the Wiki, it is imperative that all editors read, follow, and help enforce this policy. Articles not in compliance with this policy should be brought into compliance with it promptly through the removal or editing of the contravening content.
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