Game Content Usage Rules

Last Updated: January 2015

We know that people like you – gamers, fans, individuals, and enthusiasts – 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(s)"). We'd like to make that easier to do for fans of our games. 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-sublicenseable, non-transferable, revocable, limited license for you to use and display Game Content and to create derivative works based upon Game Content, strictly for your personal, noncommercial (except as specifically provided below) use. This license is limited and clarified by the specific 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 (and if we think you are abusing this license or its intent, you may hear from us). We reserve the right to update this license and the Rules from time to time.

If you share your Items with others, then you must include the following notice (or a prior version) 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.

[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], and it is not endorsed by or affiliated with Microsoft.  

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.

What content is covered?

These Rules apply to all games and Game Content published and owned by Microsoft Studios and for which Microsoft owns the copyright, trademark or other intellectual property. The only exception is Minecraft, which has its own guidelines here. Note that we can't give you permission to use games from other publishers, or Game Content where Microsoft doesn't own the intellectual property. Sorry, but you'll have to contact the other publisher or intellectual property owner for that. This is important to keep in mind for some games (like Forza Motorsport or Xbox Fitness, for example) where use of individual vehicles, tracks, exercise videos, or other brands and logos in these games may require permission from their manufacturer or owner.

If you have a question about whether these Rules apply to a particular game published by Microsoft Studios, email us at gamevids@microsoft.com.

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 and 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 an Item that is pornographic, lewd, obscene, vulgar, discriminatory (on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.), illegal, hate speech, promoting violence, drug use or any illegal activity, promoting crimes against humanity, genocide or torture, or is otherwise objectionable. Whether an Item is "objectionable" is up to us, but you can expect us to be concerned if a significant number of people in the game’s community or the public at large report the content as offensive. If you see an Item or content that you consider objectionable, we recommend that you first report it to the online service where it is hosted, as it may violate that service’s policy too. But you can also report it to us here and we’ll see what we can do.
  • 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 make your Item available on Youtube or Twitch and participate in programs on those sites that allow you to earn revenue from ads displayed in connection with your Item.
  • If the Item you create and distribute is a free app, then you must distribute it for free (you can't charge for it), and you also 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.
  • If your Item is an app or website, it can’t include any malware, adware, spyware or lead to spam or phishing attempts.
  • 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. 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 or to 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.
  • 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 to give the impression that Microsoft is the source of the Item, or authorized or endorsed the Item. Items that make referential use of our titles are fine, for example, “Let’s Play Forza Motorsport 5” or “Tips and Strategies for Halo 5.” Using the Game title to tag your Item on social media is fine. We also don't object to "Red vs. Blue" or "Operation Chastity". But we may object to "Halo: Covenant Strike," for example, if it could be confused as something Microsoft produced or licensed, or if it could be mistaken as an official part of the Game. We just 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 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 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, except as permitted by these Rules.  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!