Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Don't get too attached

With EVE now ten years old, we're starting to see a number of corps celebrate their ten year anniversaries as well.  One of those is Seleene's corp Body Count Inc.  I've never met a man so enthusiastic about his in-game corp logo.  ;-)  At Fanfest he was showing me a resin cast of it attached to his Fanfest badge and this year, he had some coins cast to celebrate the corp's ten year anniversary...

It's almost as if he thinks he owns his corp name.  Only he doesn't.  CCP owns it.  Or more specifically, CCP's GMs own it.

For the longest time, the EULA has had this to say about in-game names...
No player may use the character name of another player to impersonate or falsely represent his or her identity. You may not obtain, attempt to obtain, use or attempt to use the login name or character name of anyone else.

You are encouraged to use a pseudonym, but you may not choose a name that violates anyone's trademarks, publicity rights or other rights. Acceptance of a pseudonym by the System does not mean that your chosen pseudonym does not violate anyone's rights. You are responsible for any liability incurred by yourself, CCP or anyone else due to the pseudonym you choose. CCP retains the right to reject any pseudonym it determines, in its sole discretion, is unlawful, indecent, obscene or otherwise violates standards of good taste.
This is a very straight-forward policy that is supposed to keep CCP out of legal trouble and keep you from impersonating other EVE players.  This comes up from time to time: EVE players will attempt to troll other EVE players by choosing a character portrait and name that is a very close approximation of a well-known player.  The Mitani, say.  Or Elsie Randolph.  Or darknessss.

You will gather this policy is unevenly applied.

There are advantages to holding such a character name, of course: if someone intends to send ISK to the real darknesss for a super-cap transfer and types one too many "s" characters into his keyboard and you own that imitation, profit for you!  And that's one reason CCP frowns on the practice and one reason you're expected to know not to do that.

But other than the EULA and the Terms of Service, there are actually a number of EVE Policies that you are responsible for reading and knowing.  One of the lesser-known ones is the EVE Online Naming Policy, which was recently updated.  One of the more interesting parts of this policy states that you may not have a name in EVE Online that might...
Reflect, glorify or emulate any real-world group or organization, terrorist society, criminal elements, discriminating organizations or their leaders and figureheads. This includes the use of names of real-world military, political or religious groups.
It also specifies that...
Age of the account or character is insignificant. Players who have knowingly and willingly given their characters inappropriate names and successfully avoided detection of this infraction against the rules will not be rewarded for their improprieties by escaping reprimand.
...meaning, in short, that just because you create a character called The Mitani, and even if it goes undiscovered for a year, you can still lose it at any time if the real The Mittani notices and/or takes offense.  But it also means that the name of your character, corp, alliance, or the name of any other item in-game that you can name can be taken away from you if it matches "any real-world group or organization"... like Intel, say.  Or Microsoft.  Or Coca-Cola.  Or IBM.  Or Adidas.  Or Bill Gates.  Or Steve Ballmer.  Or Steve Jobs.  (All of these exist in EVE.)  Or -- and this is my favorite -- Hilmar Veigar Petursson.

Or any other of literally tens of thousands -- perhaps hundreds of thousands -- of character, corporation, and alliance names.

If you are suddenly thinking to yourself, "Dear God, I could use this information to troll tens of thousands of EVE players and CCP's entire GM staff right into the ground... simultaneously!"... well,
  1. we'll get to that; and,
  2. someone's beaten you to it.
But I'll get to that story as soon as I can.  I'm sure some of you are thinking of who I am thinking of.  If things go for this corp the way they have been going, they don't get to celebrate their corp's ten year anniversary... at least, not without there being a big-ass asterisk in the middle of it.  I thought it would be fun from a journalistic perspective to interview everyone involved and use a bit of my communications training to do a real hard-core news piece.  And for the past ten days or so, that's what I've been doing.  But in the days since the story broke, I've been asked by the principals involved not to go public quite yet.  It's being kicked upstairs through CCP level by level and for now I'm going to respect the process.  In the meantime, I'm continuing to follow the story.

But that doesn't mean I can't play around the edges of the story a little bit too.  As a test case, a few days ago, I submitted the names of 15 corporations or alliances in EVE Online that are directly named after real-world terrorist organizations or business interests that have been known to be involved in illegal or shady dealings.  Needless to say, this was not a hard search to perform -- there are literally hundreds of such corps and alliances in EVE just within those two limited categories.  In the interests of science, my list included both 1- and 2-man private corps as well as larger PvE and PvP organizations with dozens of members, and one very large sov-holding alliance with hundreds of members.  All of them violate CCP's naming policy above.

Which ones will be renamed?  Or will CCP reconsider this part of their naming policy?  I personally think they should.

To all of you involved in my test case, I apologize, but I assure you this was strictly done in the name of science.  Because as you can see from what's above, the potential impact to this one part of the EVE Online Naming Policy is tens of thousands of EVE players right across New Eden, all of whom are using names they're not supposed to, all of whom are supposed to lose them as soon as they are pointed out to the GMs as being in violation of their naming policies.

Don't get too attached.  And stay tuned!  More to come on this subject.


  1. I don't think ratting people who'd been flying under the radar is cool.

  2. I can understand being really proud of the Body Count Inc. logo ... if you're a cast member on Sons of Anarchy.

  3. Does this mean Goonswarm celebrates the criminal element of thugish Goons and will be banned?

  4. Since CCP's rightful crackdown on disgusting names, the continued existence of the following ingame names just show that the GMs are supportive of them:


    It's sad to see CCP is supportive of people unironically using "Nigger" in their character name.

    1. Niggerr Lips
      NiggerHunter Faggazio
      Niggersq Ambramotte
      Niggerbastard Rasputan
      Nigger420 Audier

      Just did a simple search on EveWho, and it spit those out. Surely CCP can do some simple searches on their servers for string 'nigger' or other variants. It wouldn't be rocket science.

  5. You are putting CCP in a hard spot.

    They cannot change that policy officially. They'd expose themselves legally. No legal council would accept responsibility for that change. (unless they WANT their liability insurance premium to rise)

    Non enforcement it not pressed is the best you can hope for. Which is the status quo. You may not like what you get when you push.

  6. Never quite understand why people have a need to bring real life/earthly references into a roleplaying game set in another cluster, in a different time.

    Not at all troubled by the new naming policies.

  7. THere was a character called Zyklon_b in an MMO i worked for.

    7 years old.

    We renamed him.

    Just because it took a length of time to get around to it, doesnt mean you get immunity to it. In the case you are naming, its a real world company, and its also the name of a a licensed computer game. So thats 2 reasons the name had to change.

    This is a non issue. ANd its not worth anyones time on it. CCP cant change the policy on it as it leaves them open to lawsuit, and they cant make exceptions as it leaves them open to lawsuit.

    Adding duel to the fire will not aid the issue any.

    1. Zyklon_b? Are you serious? Out of curiosity, where would you draw the line? Please tick the name(s) that would, in your eyes, also be offensive:

      [ ] MustardGas
      [ ] AK-47
      [ ] Johnny Spear

  8. Hm, isn't Rote Kapelle problematic, too? I don't think the policy is limited to groups which still exists.

  9. The way the rule is written is confusing. Is it "any organization that is criminal, discriminatory etc," or "any organization". You get the impression the spirit of the rule only applies to "bad" groups, but that's not how it's written.


  10. Thank you so much for doing that. That's all.

    It's about time.

  11. So you did Blackwater USA in?

  12. "Or will CCP reconsider this part of their naming policy?"

    It is kinda obvious why this is part of the policy and why it isn't going to be removed, no matter what. Dealing with the in-game backlash is far lighter than the alternative.

  13. All CCP can really do is re-name the player, corporation or alliance. They no more own the names than than they own the usernames people use to log in with.

    Yes, they own most of the data associated with what people in game relate that name too, but I'd consider that a different matter.

    I can't see CCP enforcing anything unless it was a) cloning names or b) blatantly offensive. They don't want to be responsible for moderating hundreds of thousands of names.

  14. The RL company they're named after has changed its name four times now, right? Kinda ironic.

  15. What about naming items, such as station Outposts? Or even ships? Can I call my ship "The Mittani's Nyx" even though I'm not him? Does the naming of rename-able items in game also fall under CCP's policy?

  16. This appears to be trolling dressed up as a campaign. CCP aren't going to change their EULA which allows them to do whatever they want and I'm pretty sure you know that.

    All you are doing is potentially pissing on some other players gaming experience via. the petition system.

    You could have set up some alts with names and petitioned them, I'm sure you would have found enough people to help you.

  17. um why the story? As we all read weeks ago Black Water USA lost their name years after then formed. Sorry brother just don't see a story

  18. Blackwater USA did not comment by press time. ;-)

  19. Actually there's a real problem now that The Mittani is TheMittani.com

    He's got the makings of a real, sustainable business here. The viewership over there is pretty damn good.

    So, what happens now that CCP owns the trademark?

  20. Oh, look! A pile of poo! I'm a going to stir it with a stick and see what happens!

    Hey, What's that smell?

  21. No comments yet?

    Then I'll start with:
    "Meh, I don't think you should have done that, bad Jester!"

  22. We recently had this problem in FA-a six year old corps called Sargate SG1 had their name taken away from them for the above mentioned reasons. They did in fact regain it, but not without a hell of a battle!

  23. there's over 100 Blackwaters; I think the USA is far more questionable - Usians thinking they matter, hah ! :)

  24. It looks like people are mostly focusing on the trademarked and/or terrorist or military organisations section of the policy change, but I can't help feel that the overall "any real-world group or organization" is the most worrying part. Purely as an example (and not one I'm going to try petitioning), as it's worded you could quite possibly force a namechange on Goonswarm Federation (not to mention Goonwaffe, for more obvious reasons) and possibly also The Mittani himself.

    In the case of Goonswarm, 'Goons' exist as a real-world organisation; this is evident to anyone who looks at the Something Awful forums, and there have been instances of things like Goon charity donation drives and goon-created projects like Lets Plays that exist beyond the scope of the SA Goons who are also in Goonswarm. On the EVE side, certainly Goonswarm as an alliance exists beyond simply being a home for SA Goons in EVE, as they have many member corps with no relation to the SA forums, so it's not accurate to say that they're simply an extension of the organisation into EVE. As such, Goonswarm Federation does at least "reflect" and debatably "glorify" a "real-world group or organization", even though said organisation isn't part of any of the other examples given. Whether or not CCP would follow the same logic if petitioned is of course debatable, but if they simply enforce the rules as written then presumably they would - there's no exception in there for a case like Goonswarm where the parent organisation doesn't mind the association.

    With regards to The Mittani's name, there are two reasons it could be changed. First, apparently the Mittani were a people living in Syria in 1500-1300 BC, so not only a real life organisation but also presumably a military one, even though no Mittani are likely to come forth and object. Secondly, as Mord Fiddle has noted, 'The Mittani' is now a brand and in particular is a gaming news site; it could certainly be argued that EVE's The Mittani character reflects that site seeing as it was named for him. There's nothing in the policy that would disqualify this situation, either where the real-life organisation took its name AFTER the player did or where it's named in reference to an EVE character, so ridiculous as it sounds that argument could, at least theoretically, work and demand a name change.

    As I said, I'm not petitioning these, but I would very much hope that in the event they were petitioned the GMs would see how ridiculous these arguments are and throw them out. However the important thing, which I cannot emphasise enough, is that there is NOTHING in the changed policy that would automatically disqualify these arguments - it really would come down to GM discretion, and that should concern us as players; at the very least I personally don't think the policy should be that open ended.

    1. I think if the person owns the trademark (i.e. The Mittani) and has it copyrighted, then there is little or nothing CCP can do without opening themselves up to a major lawsuit. Although I would personally find it hilarious.

  25. Not quite sure where this is going to be honest. Do you want CCP to cross reference and change all names in EvE when created to ensure that they do not infringe this part of the EULA (a truly impossible task)? Or do you want CCP to drop this aspect of the EULA and allow such names to continue?

    In my opinion, CCP have taken the correct approach. They rely on members of the EvE community to point out names that may infringe the EULA. This 'complaint based' approach is actually standard practice for many governmnet regulators across the globe who don't have the resources to systematically check compliance with regulations or law. So you have to consider that at some point someone you explode may complain to CCP about your name.

    If you don't have this in the EULA would you really be comfortable with corporations being named after terrorist organisations (or even mercenary contractors known for committing atrcities in Iraq). Can you imagine if you are a relative or friend of someone killed or injured by such organisations? Would you be comfortable if anyone in EvE now named their character 'Vile Rat'?

    If you are stupid enough to do this you deserve to get your character/corp or alliance renamed for however long you are in existence. As for consistency of application - that's just the way complaint based compliance works.

  26. One thing I think is fairly ironic is that another PL corp, Blackwater USA Inc., founded way back in 2008, got renamed a few weeks ago because as you say, it matched a "real world organization."

    Going further than just the CCP EULA, apparently the real-life Blackwater USA has rights to their name in video games as well presumably so CoD or Battlefield dont use their name without permission.

  27. I think it's worth pointing out that if people truely had an issue with a particular individual or group with a name they found offensive, that the game has the framework to allow players to take action into their own hands.

    Hell, why not start a corp, "Ministry of Morals" and make it their mission in life to police New Eden and punish those individuals and groups deemed offensive.

    Granted it is a game, so I suppose some standards must be upheld. GM discretion is so unfailingly objective and well reasoned after all.


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