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Escape From Machinima (Part 2)

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LEAVING MACHINIMA

 

Hey everyone, this is a post I wasn't sure if I was going to make, but I've decided to risk it as I still keep getting questions from viewers. They were dying down for a while, but recently I was informed that Machinima.com has been using some of the old Civil Protection footage in their official Xbox One App, and this testimony has stirred things up again, so that's sparked a lot more questions at me. So I want to clear up, hopefully once and for all, everything that went down between Machinima.com and myself last year.

 

 

 

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THE STORY SO FAR

 

I'm still not at liberty to reveal everything that's happened, but what I mentioned in my last Escape From Machinima post is only a portion of it. To do a quick recap on that, Machinima.com attempted to change their contract terms with me, stalled me for months after my pay dropped about 80%, until I eventually quit after seeing their new contract offer, which had terms in it I could never agree to. I thought that would be the end of the story when I wrote that post, but nope, it kept going.

 

 

 

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UNPLEASANT DISCOVERIES

 

After I left Machinima and planned to start distributing my videos on Blip.tv in addition to Youtube, I decided to check out of curiosity if anyone had put any duplicates up of my videos on there. It turns out someone HAD, Machinima.com's Blip.tv channel had been uploading copies of my videos there. While them publishing my videos elsewhere was allowed based on my contract terms, Machinima.com never informed me they were doing this, never gave me any statistics on views for blip.tv (and still haven't), and never paid me anything for views on Blip.tv, but they WERE collecting advertising revenue on them, for years. All in all, at least 15 of my videos were posted from periods ranging from early 2010 to late 2011 and were up on blip.tv's channel under Machinima's name and they were collecting income on it without paying me up through 2013. Without revealing anything that's in it, I can say that this activity was a clear, repeated violation of my contract with Machinima, and in the event something like this happened, most of the rights on many of my videos would return to me. To make matters worse, this was actually on top of violations I discovered earlier in the year where Machinima simply never paid me for two videos dating back from 2009 and 2010. At the time, I passed that off as an oversight, but since the blip.tv violations appeared much more deliberate, it made me start doubting that.

 

 

 

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STAY QUIET AND BURY EVIDENCE

 

After discovering all this, I contacted Machinima.com, informing them of what I discovered and expressed that since their actions repeatedly violated my contract, I was claiming the rights back on my videos. My message was relayed to their legal department, but I didn't get any answer for weeks from them, despite my messaging Machinima every few days trying to get some sort of update. During this time however, my videos on blip.tv, then later ALL of their videos on blip.tv were taken down (more on this later).

 

 

 

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MACHINIMA'S RESPONSE

 

In June, I was finally given a response from the legal department, which claimed Machinima.com owned all my videos under the US Copyright Act based on a contract from 2011. The problem with this response was I NEVER SIGNED a contract with them from 2011. In fact, I specifically rejected their new contract offer from 2011 because I felt it would take many of my rights away. My contract with them was from 2009 and had some rights protections written into it. I informed them of this, then after a few more emails, their legal department asserted that they did indeed own the rights to my videos based on my 2007 contract. They might have had a valid point, except my 2009 completely replaced my 2007 one. After some more emails, I confirmed that they had actually lost the signed 2009 contract entirely. By their request, I then sent them an unsigned copy of my 2009 contract that I had on hand. At which point, they still did not change their claims about owning all my videos, nor did they address my questions concerning their breach of my contract. They DID ask if I had a signed copy I could produce for them, even though they had (or used to have) the only one in existence.

 

 

 

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LEGAL WORDS

 

At this point, I was incredibly frustrated and discouraged with how the situation was being handled and I decided to get some legal assistance. I received a few replies and one fan in particular was able to provide an invaluable amount of pro bono assistance for me. I ended up sending a 15 page letter to Machinima detailing everything that had happened to me from them and stated that I would be pursuing legal action against them if my rights weren't restored. I am not at liberty to discuss what happened afterward, but I will say I can live with the outcome. I've more or less been avoiding any involvement with Machinima.com since.

 

 

 

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NPR!

 

After all this went down, I was also contacted by NPR as they were doing a piece on Machinima.com. I gave them a 20 minute interview about it, they used one isolated sentence from it, but that's the nature of modern media. Also their statement about my situation with Machinima.com isn't entirely accurate, but it's close enough for anyone who's not a lawyer. But hey, I got to be on the radio!

 

 

 

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QUESTIONABLE ACTIONS

 

Back to the Blip.tv thing, that's worth discussing a little further, because that didn't just affect me. Machinima.com uploaded thousands of videos to their blip.tv channel from around 2010-2011, maybe late 2009 and early 2012, I don't remember. I can't fact check any of the dates, since they took down all the videos they had on blip.tv after I brought it to their attention. I am assuming this is because I'm not the only one they did not pay for this. I still have no way of verifying how much money was due, as I was never given any statistics regarding the views on blip.tv. However, I was able to create a screenshot cache of the majority of videos they did have on their channel before they took it down which I am including below:

 

BLIP SCREENSHOT CACHE (15MB ZIP)

 

Many of these videos I know were published on different contract terms than mine, so every video on that list is not necessarily a violation of Machinima.com's contract with their creators. However, I've confirmed that a few directors have told me that some other videos listed above were a violation of their contract, similar to mine. I would not be surprised at all if Machinima.com performed hundreds of violations this way, withholding money from dozens of directors. These directors still may not have been paid, I have no way of knowing. If you or someone you know were a machinima director between 2010 and 2011 and submitted content to Machinima.com, I encourage you to look through the list of videos provided in that link. If your content is in there, Machinima.com may owe you some money. If you've already been paid for these videos, you have me to thank for that. If you haven't, it's worth asking about. Honestly, this particular item strikes me as potential lawsuit material, although I have no desire to get involved with that unless I have no other choice as those are time consuming and expensive. Even for the situation with my own videos, I always viewed a lawsuit as an absolute last resort. Not because I lacked evidence, but because of all the time, work, and money involved. I'm actually not a vindictive person by nature, but when my back is against the wall, I'll of course fight for my own survival and videos.

 

 

 

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PRESENT THOUGHTS

 

I've seen debates from people for and against Machinima.com as a business before and some misinformation spread around as well. I can not speak for how Machinima.com conducts business as a whole, since I'm not privy to that information, I can only attest to my personal experience with them; and in my experience with them over this past year, they have outright lied to me on occasion, they withheld a substantial amount of money from me, they violated my contract numerous times over a period of years, they made false claims of ownership over the rights to my videos, and they did not honor protections in my contract until after I stated I would take legal action against them if necessary. There are a few other things I'm not at liberty to discuss, but as a whole, I personally consider this all highly unethical. I don't see any way to defend those actions from an ethical perspective. In the last post I made on this topic, I said I wanted to see Machinima off as friends. After what happened since, I think that's no longer possible. I still will assert that there are a few good individual people who work at the company (one of whom has

by them), but none of them made the decisions that affected me in such negative ways this past year. I really just want the company out of my life permanently and hope I never have to deal with them again.

 

 

 

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TO OTHER DIRECTORS

 

My personal advice to anyone considering joining them is don't do it. Based on my experience with them this past year, it's hard for me to imagine any other network conducting business in a worse way than they did with me. I encourage people to send this post to anyone you see who tries to defend Machinima.com's way of business. I've seen the argument many times that creators "should have read the contract," well, my retort to that is it doesn't MATTER if you read the contract if the party who wrote it refuses to honor the terms listed in it. If you personally are having difficulty with the company, my advice to you is to seek some sort of legal aid. I feel in my case, my situation would never have been resolved satisfactorily without the legal assistance I received. I would NOT advise trying to reason with the company yourself if they are acting in a manner that seems unfair to you. It is difficult for me to imagine anything working in your favor that way.

 

 

 

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CONCLUSION?

 

Anyway, this post wasn't especially funny, sorry about that. It's hard for me to come up with wise-ass comments when there's a possible threat of legal action against me if my jokes are a little too good. So what I've written above isn't a joke, this all happened like I described it. In all honesty, it's probably a stupid idea for me to make this post since I have no way of knowing how or if Machinima.com will react to this, but what I've said here is the truth and remaining silent about it while I see their actions continue to affect other people has been like a weight I've been carrying around inside me for a while now. It's been downright cathartic being able to type this. Again, I hope this is where it ends and is the last post I end up making on the topic.

 

More videos without any legal drama coming soon!

 

 

 

- - -

 

 

 

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ADHD VERSION:

 

Machinima.com tried to claim all of Ross's videos based on a contract he never signed. They also lost his signed contract. They also withheld money from him, over a period of years. Machinima has withheld money from other directors, and maybe still is withholding. Machinima breached and did not honor parts of their contract with Ross. Ross was on NPR. Machinima.com is not Ross's favorite company in the world.

 

 

 

LINK TO FORUM COMMENTS

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Ross, Machinima.com are a bunch of sociopathic nut jobs who have extremely neurotic and cowardly ways to run their company, the only few people I know whom were working with them and were doing allright were Steve and Larson (10 FTW) and Lowbrow (Sonic For Hire and Morty Kombat) they were the only ones who I can tell who were doing allright during this issue, many directors like Jon CJG had a difficult time to get any contact with them for ages........I know I would rather get partnered up with That Guy With The Glasses and Blistered Thumbs if I was to do any type of machinima, while also sending it into Gorilla Gong (Your site is awesome Ross)

“Error 482: Somebody shot the server with a 12-gauge. Please contact your administrator”

“Caution Laser Caution Laser Caution Laser”

“I can now solve up to 800 problems a minute”

"I got my degree under the tutelage of Dr. Pepper."

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The one day I didn't listen to NPR on the way to work, I missed the Ross's segment. God speed Ross.

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Great news! I'd just bought a new pitchfork, and I was hoping for an opportunity to use it. Other interested parties should consult the Civil Protection Christmas Community Outreach, which offers helpful advice on making napalm and IEDs.

 

In all seriousness though, I think we're all glad you managed to get away from them. Machinima sounds more clingy than the Church of Scientology. Personally, I'm still skeptical they can claim rights to videos based on content owned by another company, but it was still an impressive level of douchery to attempt to do so.

 

And, as satisfying as it would have been to see you sue the shit out of them, I have to agree it's probably for the best that never happened. Lawsuits tend to get won by the side with the bigger war chest, and in this case, that's Machinima. Hopefully, your post here will make that war chest just a little bit smaller.

 

Still, here's hoping for a class action lawsuit against Machinima somewhere down the line.

"I aim for the stars, but sometimes I hit London." - Wernher von Braun

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Glad you could part with Machinima on terms that are more-or-less acceptable for you. Sounds like a large crock (I will never give them a single view ever again).

 

ONWARD!

The Official Accursed Farms Subtitles Compendium: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByFalrGSTXzuRFFVNVhnazZvbmM?resourcekey=0--tDNqqniJuZJ9FXsk5xJsQ&usp=sharing

--

Project Manager for Ross's Movie

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I can add that Machinima.com also ruined our Christmas Mood (In December 2012) . And influenced very negatively our personal lives for lingering months... (I know Ross doesn't approve putting up such info...) That's a HUGE CRIME. I'm serious here. I hate these bunch of hypocities and scumbags. I hope Machinima.com burns in hell. On flames produced by their shady and worthless contracts

Ross's girlfriend (IRL) Twitter: @AmazingMagda follow me! ^^to somewhere! ^^

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small suggestion- if you want to check dates, chances are that web archive got page stored. i know that few people have gotten proof with video rights (true, unrelated to machinima but other network/user) issues trough that even when people already removed the evidence.

here is the site, in case anyone wants to check out http://archive.org/web/

Jack O'Neill: "You know Teal'c, if we dont find a way out of this soon, im gonna lose it. Lose it... it means go crazy. nuts. insane. bonzo. no longer in possession of ones faculties. 3 fries short of a happy meal. WACKO!!!!!!!!"

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Personally, I'm still skeptical they can claim rights to videos based on content owned by another company
Yeah you and me both. Especially since Valve made their policy official in 2013:

http://www.valvesoftware.com/videopolicy.html

 

I know I would rather get partnered up with That Guy With The Glasses
The cool thing with them is there IS no contract, just an informal agreement and guidelines to follow. If they went evil puppetmaster for some reason later on, I could always just leave.

 

small suggestion- if you want to check dates, chances are that web archive got page stored. i know that few people have gotten proof with video rights (true, unrelated to machinima but other network/user) issues trough that even when people already removed the evidence.
Maybe I just don't know what I'm doing, but almost every time in the past I've tried to use that for something I thought was gone, there would be errors and it wouldn't work. Regardless, people are welcome to fact check this stuff. The blip.tv takedown happened in mid-May after I informed them of it.

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Thank you Ross. I know this likely was hard to (carefully) put together. I think you have served the community well by trying to help others avoid the pitfalls that we're hearing more and more about.

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This was great. I love how even though this was apparently a somewhat emotional vent about personal issues you've gone through, you make it seem almost as if it's just another day at work posting silly pictures and captions to go along with it. I think if it wasn't before, it's officially confirmed now that the executives over at Machinima.com have definitely gone past the Assholes bar. I'm interested to know if you'd count them as 'evil', because it kind of seems like they are, but I don't know all the facts so this might be the extent of their dickishness.

http://steamcommunity.com/id/Kaweebo/

 

"There are no good reasons. Only legal ones."

 

VALVE: "Sometimes bugs take more than eighteen years to fix."

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It's things like this that make me angry. It sounds like it could have potentially gotten a lot worse too if you'd stuck with them. A lucky escape I guess.

Feel free to PM me about almost anything and I'll do my best to answer. :)

 

"Beware of what you ask for, for it may come to pass..."

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Jesus Christ these guys make EA look good. I watched Clash's entire video about his own experience and alone I may have been a little skeptical that a company/network would do all that and risk pissing off all its members, but supplementing it with everything you've described your experience with them was like, I can believe it's all true which genuinely scares me for their thousands of other people that may be suffering the same problems. It's a good thing you were able to escape when you did, and it's also good guys like you and Clash are able to warn potential victims of Machinima to avoid them like the plague.

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I can add that Machinima.com also ruined our Christmas Mood (In December 2012)

I suspect any type of legal drama like this would drive most people to a stressed or depressive mood. That's the bigger aspect

of this that sucks. I would certainly be put off of machinima making in general if I ever went through that company.

 

Thank you Ross. I know this likely was hard to (carefully) put together. I think you have served the community well by trying to help others avoid the pitfalls that we're hearing more and more about.

I agree very much. All this was kind of disturbing to read, but I'm very glad to know just that the information was released,

especially if it provides any kind of relieving comfort to Ross. I'm also glad to have that batch of screenshots from the blip.tv page,

plus the NPR interview I never heard about before. I'm very satisfied to know all of this and follow up the other articles in the posts.

Thank you very much, Ross.

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small suggestion- if you want to check dates, chances are that web archive got page stored. i know that few people have gotten proof with video rights (true, unrelated to machinima but other network/user) issues trough that even when people already removed the evidence.
Maybe I just don't know what I'm doing, but almost every time in the past I've tried to use that for something I thought was gone, there would be errors and it wouldn't work. Regardless, people are welcome to fact check this stuff. The blip.tv takedown happened in mid-May after I informed them of it.

well, its bit more complicated than using average website, that much is true. took me about 2 years until i figured it out (well, sort of, as i dont have a clue what i did, but it worked), so that i can see pictures and charts too.

Jack O'Neill: "You know Teal'c, if we dont find a way out of this soon, im gonna lose it. Lose it... it means go crazy. nuts. insane. bonzo. no longer in possession of ones faculties. 3 fries short of a happy meal. WACKO!!!!!!!!"

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Well, it seems like Machinima's business practices are getting worse and worse each year. The fact that they "lost" your signed contract is enough to make anyone cough in suspicion. I hope that whatever the future of actual machinima is, it will be lead by the creators of the machinima itself and not a fussy company that claims rights over your own work.

Nyao nyao~ 子猫は幸せです

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Oh man, I can't even begin to imagine the kind of burden stuff like this brings to those on the short end. Geez.

Well I'm happy that future looks clearer now with new fresh waters on the horizon to forge ahead.

 

On a side note, where do you find those art pieces you use on these posts? They remind me of drawings in those odd pamphlets bunch of new age groups like to spread around on occasion. That, but weirder...

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I can add that Machinima.com also ruined our Christmas Mood (In December 2012) . And influenced very negatively our personal lives for lingering months... (I know Ross doesn't approve putting up such info...) That's a HUGE CRIME. I'm serious here. I hate these bunch of hypocities and scumbags. I hope Machinima.com burns in hell. On flames produced by their shady and worthless contracts

 

I wouldn't mind if machinima is still up, it's a place where we remember all of our favorites and classics such as; arby n the chief, sonic for hire, freeman's mind, sanity not included, etc. I don't want them to burn in hell, I just want them to either fire the assholes who thought of this, or change business tactics so BOTH the machinimakers and machinima.com are all getting an equal amount of money, it's just the right way to go about it. Peace around machinima, as they say.

 

Oh, wait ALL of Machinima does this? than fuck them and let's start a mutiny where the machinimakers rule, let this be a machinima democracy instead of a dictatorship, Since we don't have the energy or resources to actually start a mutiny "legally" I say we should contact all machinimakers and tell them we've had enough of their shady shit. Let's sue them for all they got, let's boot their asses out and start running Machinima.com the old fashioned way. Where the publishers WERE'NT assholes. How about we stage a protest against Machinima.com and tell them we've had enough. It's also unfair to the viewers that want to see the videos when the machinimakers are too busy being bombarded by unfair and "near slavery" binding contracts. POWER TO THE PEOPLE MUTHAFU-

 

By the way this is not a joke nor am I trolling, it is unfair to the viewers and directors, let's start a protest and tell Machinima this is just too much. I don't want to make my own Machinima channel if it means binding me into legal slavery. Me and my friends had plans to make a gameplay channel supported by Machinima, but apparently it isn't happening with these outrageous contracts.

"The only real answer is to get drunk and set fire to things"

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This was great. I love how even though this was apparently a somewhat emotional vent about personal issues you've gone through, you make it seem almost as if it's just another day at work posting silly pictures and captions to go along with it.
They more accurately express the emotional states involved too. Mine most accurately reflects a combination of the top picture and the dwarf on the left towards the bottom.

 

I suspect any type of legal drama like this would drive most people to a stressed or depressive mood.
The time from December to late August was perhaps the most sustained stressful period of my entire life. I've had worse times, but not ones that lasted unabated for 8 months. After it was over Magda said my face even began to start looking better.

 

On a side note, where do you find those art pieces you use on these posts? They remind me of drawings in those odd pamphlets bunch of new age groups like to spread around on occasion. That, but weirder...
They're portrait art on cards from Magic The Gathering. I've always been amazed by the art quality on many of them, I tried to pick ones that fit the tone of the events.

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