Does Dota 2's first paid custom game use stolen art?


Where have we seen this before?

Recently, Valve introduced paid-for passes for custom games in Dota 2, where for $1 players are given extra content or features to some of the most popular custom game-modes on official Valve servers. It’s very similar to Valve’s paid mod scheme, which fell apart last year after it was discovered that one of the first mods to be sold used content from other mod developers without permission.

Guess what? History's repeating itself, as the first paid custom game for Dota 2 has stolen content too!

Roshpit Champions is a popular custom game-mode, and the first to be included in Valve’s new scheme. However, eagle-eyed redditors have noticed art used for the mode may have been lifted from other items on Dota 2’s Steam Workshop page.

For example, the icon for the Adamantine Samurai Helmet item can be found on the FrozenYoroi Warrior set by EasRay, and the Admiral’s Boot’s icon is actually the Treads of the Resolute Seafarer by Sylei. All in all, 15 different things appear to have been nicked from other workshop contributions.

Best of all, there’s one other item: the Crusader Boots. This icon isn’t taken from another workshop entry, it’s taken from a low-res, colour-changed version of this World of Warcraft art. The boots belong to NPCs Darion and Alexandros Mograine.

ChalkyBrush took to reddit to defend themselves, claiming that as the original content was also made for Dota 2, it’s fair game to use. Their answer to the Crusader Boots can also be boiled down to ‘we didn’t think we’d be caught’:

Hi, I just saw this thread. I'll address each class of issues:

Workshop Art Anything submitted to the workshop is Valve's property and can therefore be used in Valve's game. Roshpit Champions is subject to the same rules, making the game also a property of Valve's. You can use any of the code or concepts of Roshpit Champions within the bubble of Dota 2 as well. If there were a way to add proper credits, maybe that would be a good way to show appreciation.

Crusader Boots OK, I didn't think a low-res screencap of a screencap would be an issue. The picture is awful anyway and probably needs a replacement. Does blizzard care though? In the end, Blizzard is the only one with the right to complain about this low quality image existing in this little sub-realm of Dota 2. If Blizzard or Valve informs me that this is an issue, I will replace this image…

… Everything here was put together in the name of making a fun game and there is no shady intent of screwing people out of what's theirs. Moving on, I will be careful in making sure that all assets can fairly be used.

This is where it gets complicated.

The Steam Workshop agreement says that Valve is granted a non-exclusive right to any content uploaded to the platform. Both the creator and Valve are free to give anyone else, even outside of the Workshop ecosystem, the right to use the work in any way.

This agreement doesn’t give ChalkyBrush, or any other Workshop creator, the right to other people’s creations just by virtue of being on the same platform. That right to must still be granted to them by either Valve or the original creator. So the question here is whether Valve gave ChalkyBrush permission to use the material, or did ChalkyBrush slip it past Valve unnoticed?

Legality aside, profiting off of other peoples’ work without giving them payment, or even simply credit, is a shitty thing to do. If a piece of work is good enough for you to use, it’s good enough for you to at least acknowledge the person who made it. Better yet: pay them!

We have contacted Valve for a comment on this, and will update should we hear back from them.

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Joe Parlock
Joe ParlockFormer Hardware Editor   gamer profile

Destructoid's former Hardware Editor. Has a, quite frankly, disturbingly large collection of Monsters Inc. merchandise that nobody ever seems to ask him about. Still, he's mostly harmless. --- ... more + disclosures



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