Game Content Usage Rules

We know that people like you love our games and sometimes want to use things like gameplay footage, screenshots, music, and other elements of our games ("Game Content") to make things like machinima, videos, and other cool things (your "Item" or "Items"). We'd like to make that easier for you. So long as you can respect these rules, you can use our Game Content to make your Items.

What can I do?

Here are the magic words from our lawyers: on the condition that you follow the rules below ("Rules"), Microsoft grants you a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use and display Game Content and to create derivative works based upon Game Content, strictly for your noncommercial and personal use. This license is limited by the conditions and restrictions below, so please read them. We can revoke this limited-use license at any time and for any reason without liability to you.

If you share your Items with others, then you must include the following notice about the Game Content. You can put it in a README file, or on the web page from where it's downloaded, or anywhere else that makes sense so long as anyone who sees your Item will easily find this notice.

For videos that try to add to the fiction or canon of the franchise universe, please put it at the beginning of your video for at least five seconds.  For all other videos, please put it at the end of your video for at least five seconds.  Burying the notice, for example, deep in a web page in small print that is hard to find, does not comply.

[Name of the Microsoft Game] © Microsoft Corporation. [The title of your Item] was created under Microsoft's "Game Content Usage Rules" using assets from [Name of the Microsoft Game]. It is not endorsed by Microsoft and does not reflect the views or opinions of Microsoft or anyone officially involved in producing or managing [Name of the Microsoft Game].  As such, it does not contribute to the official narrative of the fictional universe, if applicable.

Wherever you put the notice, you also need to include a link to these Game Content Usage Rules, so people can find them.

So what does that mean?

We're encouraging you to create and redistribute your Items. You may post the Items on your own site or you may link to a third-party site containing your Items if you'd prefer to store them there, so long as the third-party site does not break any of these Rules.

And by the way, these Rules only cover games published by Microsoft Studios and where Microsoft owns the copyright. We can't give you permission to use games from other publishers or games where Microsoft doesn't own the intellectual property. Sorry, but you'll have to contact them for that. Where you see a link to these rules on a game's community website, then you're good to go. As you can see, this will give you access to some of the most popular titles on the PC and Xbox 360, including:

  • Halo (all versions)
  • Forza Motorsport (all versions)*
  • Fable (all versions)
  • Kinectimals
  • Kinect Adventures
  • Kinect Joy Ride
  • Age of Empires (all versions)
  • Flight Simulator (all versions)*
  • Kameo
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • Project Gotham Racing (all versions)*
  • Shadowrun
  • Viva Piñata

*Use of individual vehicles, tracks, or other brands and logos in these games may require permission from their manufacturer or owner.

For other Microsoft Studios games, you'll want to look on the games' community website to see if there's a link to these Rules. If there is, then these Rules apply.

What are the Rules?

In order to make sure we can continue making games we love to make and you love to play, there are some Rules that apply to our license grant for your Items. It's tough to predict everything people will do, but there are some things that you can't do.

  • You can't reverse engineer our games to access the assets or otherwise do things that the games don't normally permit in order to create your Items.
  • You can't use Game Content to create pornographic or obscene Items, or anything that contains vulgar, racist, hateful, or otherwise objectionable content. Whether the content is "objectionable" is up to us. And like the old saying goes, you know it when you see it.
  • Except as described here, you can't sell or otherwise earn any compensation from your Item, including through advertisements in the Item.  This means you  can't charge money in exchange for your Item, post it on a site that requires subscription or other fees to view the Item, or post it on a page you use to sell other items or services(even if they have nothing to do with Game Content or Microsoft). You also can't use Game Content in an app that you sell in an app store.
  • You may post your Item to a page or website that has advertising, but only if you do not earn any money from that advertising.  For example, if you post your video on Youtube or Vimeo and there happens to be an advertisement next to it, then as long as you don't get paid for that advertisement, the fact that there is an advertisement on the page doesn't break these Rules. But enrolling in the Youtube partner program (or other similar programs), where you are entering into an agreement to get paid, is not allowed. On a similar note, if you create and distribute a free app, then you can't earn any money from advertising in that app.
  • You may use the Item to enter a contest or sweepstakes as long as the contest organizers agree to follow these rules.
  • You may use the Item on a page where you ask for optional donation requests.
  • Once you've made and distributed your Item, anyone else using it also has to follow these rules.
  • You cannot enter into any agreement with someone else to exclusively distribute your Item even if they don't pay you.  We give you this license so that you can make cool Items and share them far and wide. Someone else holding your Item back from wide distribution means: (a) it's not going far and wide; and (b) it is very likely that person is trying to use the Game Content to promote their commercial venture. That's not what these rules are about.
  • Where someone is trying to use Game Content to promote their commercial venture (even just a commercial website), they need our permission to do this. For example, "promoting a commercial venture" includes someone else enrolling in the Youtube partner program and making money distributing your Items. That is not allowed today unless that person has a commercial license from us, and so far, we haven't given anyone permission to do this. We'll let you know if we do.
  • If you want to use the soundtracks or audio effects from the original game, we often license those from third parties and don't always have the rights to pass them on to you. If we do, we'll let you know.  For example, we might mention on the community website for a particular game whether you have these rights, so you'd do well to check. If we don't let you know, you need permission from a third party, especially for games with licensed music. But we'll confirm right here that the music from Halo 3 is available for your use in non-profit ventures thanks to an arrangement with O'Donnell/Salvatori, Inc., composers of this iconic theme.
  • You can't infringe anyone's IP rights in your Item, even if the IP rights being infringed don't belong to Microsoft.
  • You can't use any of Microsoft's trademarked logos or names except in the ways described in the pages linked from www.microsoft.com/trademarks.
  • In addition, your Items may not use the name of the Microsoft Game in their title.  For example, we don't object to "Red vs. Blue".  We don't object to "Operation Chastity".  But we do object to "Halo [insert the title of your Item here]".  We want to make sure consumers don't get confused.
  • Along those same lines, please don't use actual logos from the Microsoft Game as part of your Item's logos. 

If you do any of these things, we may tell you or others that your Item violates these Rules, that you have to stop distributing your Item right away, or that you need a commercial license. So there.

What if I create something new in your universe?

Distribution of your Item in any form constitutes a grant by you of a royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide, license to Microsoft and any of Microsoft's partners or users to use, modify and distribute that Item (and derivatives of that Item), and use your name if we choose to, for any purpose and without obligation to pay you anything, obtain your approval, or give you credit.  And this license to Microsoft survives any termination or expiration of these Usage Rules.  This means that if you add to the game universe or expand on the story told in the game with "lost chapters" or back story or anything like that, distribution of your story or idea may appear in a future game without any compensation to you. (Sorry, but our lawyers tell us we need to do this in order to avoid frivolous lawsuits getting in the way of making more great games.) It also means we can put your Item on a Microsoft site or property like Halo Waypoint if we want to.  

What if others work with me to create the items?

If anyone wants to use your item, including building on it, they have to comply with these Rules too. We don't mind if other people help you out, but you have to be clear with them that it's not you giving permission to use the Game Content, it's us. And like you, they can't earn money from their efforts.  That's how we make sure everyone plays by these same Rules.

There's still a way to do some of these things we've excluded, but you have to contact us for a commercial license. If you're interested in doing that, send a mail to gamevids*at*microsoft.com. And if you're running a real festival, we'd like to discuss with you because you'll probably want to do things like redistribute festival DVDs and the like, and we want to make sure that's done right.

Thanks, and have fun!