If you go into the Dreamiverse and randomly start playing games, you will discover quite quickly that the platform is filled with copyright characters, creations that are remakes of AAA games, homages to movies and TV shows and reconstructions of popular memes. None of which are allowed under the EULA (which I cannot find online, however the Early Access version is available and is unlikely to be different). It says:
By creating, posting, streaming, transmitting or providing SIE any User Material, you represent and warrant that your User Material does not infringe on the intellectual property or other rights of any third party
The amount of copyright music on the platform is extraordinary, with most popular games having music files available totally against the rules of Dreams. Every time you record anything for Dreams it gives you the warning that it had better not be owned by someone else. Media Molecule even tried to stop people from doing this by reducing the recording time to 15 seconds. This does not appear to have made any difference to the use of copyright material (apart from perhaps encouraging shorter memes). Copyright on music is very strict, and even covers made entirely by yourself enfringe copyright if you do not have the performance rights on that piece (which no one ever bothers to get because not all music can be licensed this way, and the costs can be prohibitive).
Sony has received take-down requests from Nintendo over a Mario 64 clone and a Zelda clone. Also, a lot of Wario memes were removed, however it is unclear if this was copyright or because of the level of violence shown. At the moment it appears that only Nintendo are making any moves to protect their intellectual property, but they are unlikely to be the only ones going forward.
Media Molecule Thursday live streams do not normally show levels that have IP material, and yet their other marketing material likes to ignore this completely. In 2015-2016 they made a series of videos with guest game developers making their own characters in Dreams. Q Games made The Tomorrow Children, Fun Bits made The Fat Princess, the characters from Journey and What Remains of Edith Finch were also created in Dreams amongst numerous other studios and their IP creations. Now obviously the developers own their own IP’s and if they want to make them in Dreams presumably they can, but are Media Molecule giving off mixed messages here? They are demonstrating very clearly that you can make characters from other games in Dreams. And yet, you are not allowed to in the Ts&Cs.
Media Molecule helped out the marketing of the movie Jumanji 2 by making a game of the characters in a jungle obstacle course. This game however was not made available due to licensing (they don’t have a license to make Jumanji games). However, once we have seen Media Molecule making a character model of Dwayne Johnson its a bit more difficult to then say, we can, and show it on the internet, but you can’t.
Last Tuesday they invited Ratchet and Clank developer Josh Leman to make a Ratchet and Clank game in Dreams. Now not only did he do that, but used Dreamiverse made models and music scores to do it. Copyright music is not allowed in Dreams, yet someone put the Metropolis theme in Dreams, and Leman used it. This is very confusing for everyone. It seems to suggest that there is no problem making other people’s music in Dreams. Which means, this 15 second rule they implemented to stop copyright theft was just for show. They clearly do not care that people are making covers of other people’s music. Now possibly they did not know that Josh would put the music in his game, and it was too late in a live stream to stop him. But nothing was said during the stream to inform the audience that this was not acceptable for them to do. And don’t forget these assets were already in the Dreamiverse before Josh started. So by openly using them has he opened the gate for Ratchet and Clank material to be added to the Dreamiverse completely legitimately? I think it has. Any legal claim on the material is now mute because he condoned their use publicly on an official Media Molecule stream.
So now we are left with very muddled messages. On the one hand you have the rules you agreed to that say you will not make IP infringing content, and on the other you have official videos of people doing exactly that. Media Molecule introduce an unpopular restriction to kerb thieves, then promote the exact music they are trying to prevent. I don’t know about you, but this seems very confusing.
It may be a wonderful marketing tool for the smaller development companies to make their characters in Dreams as some sort of exclusive. We get the benefit of some professionally made characters and the developers get their characters seen which is good publicity for their game. As long as no one remakes their game scene for scene that is. However this has not yet been tackled in a good way. Instead we have these videos of people making these assets and keeping them private. Is that the message we are supposed to get? That you can make anything in Dreams as long as you don’t publish it? Possibly, but if it is that message is as clear as mud.