Flightsim.to and 3rd Party Developers Dispute

Discussion and opinions regarding the current dispute between flightsim.to and 3rd party MSFS content developers over copyright issues.

I suspect that this topic will get taken down quite soon depending on the anticipated comments some people might make, so please be civil.

I have my own opinions about this, but I will keep them to myself for now and see how the conversation develops. Sadly it is ultimately the end users who are most likely to be inconvenienced by this dispute until it is resolved, if ever.

For info: flightsim.to initial response

Flightsim.to » Knowledge Base » Limited ability to delete your file

More feedback from flightsim.to:

• Discord | #:star:-terms-discussion | Flightsim.to • Microsoft Flight Simulator Mods, Add-Ons & Liveries

New flightsim.to TOS:

Flightsim.to » Terms of Service

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I would like to give my 2 cents on this topic …
But when I think about my latest experiences, I would better be quiet.
Maybe I find some time for a YT vid

1 Like

Is there a list of who has left?

I know Global AI Ship Traffic and Got Friends are two of the most popular.

Actually I think a list would be very helpful for users. Plus alternative download locations if known.

Here are some more:

Ethnicfs Buildings kit library

Emerald Object Library (Avaiable on MSFS Marketplace) See also Emerald Scenery Design

The desire by some publishers to withdraw freeware from circulation sure sounds anti-consumer to me, but I’ll let them speak for themselves.

3 Likes

I think the policy that caused the grievance largely comes down to -

Libraries being used far and wide.

Mods that have been heavily promoted by them, or simply grown, and drive plenty of clicks.

I get why those are going to be awkward to kill off.

That being the case create a separate bunch of terms and conditions just for them. And show some flexibility and reason.

For everything else let people delete what they want after a notice period without issues, unless there’s a pressing reason.

An insta-delete button encourages a load of rage quitting and returning which would get very tedious.

10 Likes

As I have been instrumental in starting the fire below some thoughts on what not just Flightsim.to but also other sites ought to have in their terms to avoid such fire storms.

The thoughts I originally shared today on fsdeveloper.com and they were written after Ian Stephens from Flyawaysimulation.com contacted me asking for inputs to their Terms of Conditions. These are thoughts behind principles - not an attempt at a legal text. I hope not just Flightsim.to but also other sites think about their terms. Most are poor copy pastes full of unnecessary elements or even contradicting. I have been contacted by many who would like to host Global AI Ship Traffic but it is also important that those think about their Terms of Service to protect themselves.

And before sharing the thoughts, a comment to some of those users who have tried to downplay this or ridiculize this discussion or the motives behind…I have both studied Business Law and worked with IP protection as part of my duties for 27 years for several multinationals, whose products all of you would be very familiar with. However,I am not a lawyer, but I do have sufficient professional experience in the area to conclude that the Terms of Service provided by Flightsim.to was and is extremely single sided and not respecting creators rights. Before I started the fire I did try a dialogue, but while they did try to clarify regards to the Creators Program, they did not want to respond regards to Terms of Service. And then I tried to pull my stuff which they first did not accept, and then did anyway, when the fire was on.

Then to what could be reasonable basic principles :

Creators must be able to remove permanently all or part of their content without having to present any specific reason - a back up can exist at the host for technical purposes, but the content should disappear from the air if the creator wish so

The host should be entitled to remove uploads if they do not live up to site guidelines, but the host should not be allowed to modify a file.

The host has no obligation to keep the file available forever, but similarly the creator only grants a right to host and share until this right is revoked

The host should be able to exclude a creator if guidelines are not respected

Creators should be able to cancel their account and with that all their uploads

Changes to Terms of Service should be communicated well in advance with an option for creators to remove content before a change take force in case the creator doesn’t agree to the new Terms of Service

The host should not take on the risk in case of copyright infringement; that should rest with the creator. In case of breach the host should be able to exclude content and creators with immediate effect.

The agreement should go for one specific site or a clearly defined group of sites

The below three points are my absolutely subjective opinion, but still reflects discussions with several friends in the community

it is fine that there is a Premium subscription for fast download and paying the service of organizing and running a download site

It is fine that there is a donation option

Having a Creators Program like Flightsim.to will introduce is okay, but as freeware creator I don’t need it; we don’t want to run businesses, and if a “creator program” is bringing the premium price up then it does not make much sense. Leave contributions to the developers to a donation button. Use excess income to broaden bandwith for the free download. We do freeware so it is available also for students or retired people or those who lost their income.

Henrik Nielsen

62 Likes

I’m curious – why this requirement? Coming from the open source world the idea that I could revoke the ability to distribute my freeware work is … well not something I’d even imagine wanting.

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I don´t understand the discussion indeed. Terms and conditions are clear in their site and what you give permission to when submitting a file is to host, distribute and advertise the content. You are not giving your intellectual property to them (or at least that´s not declared on the terms and conditions).

But on the other hand hosting a server with such a big capacity is not free, so they need to make money out of something to pay it (because users are not charged for uploading or downloading) so they make it with adds as many other websites.

I have not seen any crazy conditions there but maybe the situation with third party content which is sold there is different.

Cheers

3 Likes

There could be a multitude of good reasons ranging from the owner of a trademark getting annoyed with a creators use of a logo on a livery and threat of legal action against the creator to eg a site keeping an outdated version causing the creator to get requests for support - as a freeware developer with more then 500.000 downloads since the times of FSX i can tell you the later can be very annoying. The change of Business Model from Flightsim.to without giving option to creators to bail out was one of the triggers of the current storm. If you take two minutes you can surely also find some. A site could claim that through promotion they give visibility to creators and that gives them some rights, but to be very honest I have said no to many sites and successfully fought those who illegally shared my files.

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I guess that all sounds like normal operation of the software world to me. :slight_smile: Good luck with your future hosting options.

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I don’t agree with the point that ‘this is how it is’ (…live with it). If one doesn’t contradict, yes, it is how it is (and it won’t change > get even worse). My personal main concern (not talking as or on behalf of FBW) is about the inability to delete your own content. If this stays that way, I’ll get my own stuff removed too.

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Amen to that. I’ve made quite a few scenery downloads available over on flightsim.to, and got a lot of positive feedback for them, but I’ve long since given up. Its just a total mine field of what free libraries you’re allowed to use and where.

Flighsim.to has been an absolute backbone of the MSFS experience right from the launch of the sim but its golden days are over I think, sadly. They should have kept it a freeware only site.

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I agree with Henriks statement. After a few days of thinking I see a great potential for foul play and I am losing trust. After all, possession is 90% of the law. And if you lose the abilitiy to control your work, it’s basically gone forever.

My mods certainly don’t create the same kind of traffic GAIST does. But all of them together have been downloaded over 110.000 times already, and if it helps to change the Terms and Conditions of flightsim.to, I will gladly help.

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I don’t know where all of this is going to end, but it’s certainly getting worse for fs.to hour by hour.

I saw on Discord that the WBSim/JPLogistics C152 Mod, one of the best and most popular, is now only offering updates on Discord.

The Headwind Team recently learned about the TOS updates and is evaluating what they are going to do. Their A330 mod has over 300,000 downloads, and might be the most popular mod on that site based on that number. They luckily have recently released a FBW-based updater so I don’t need to worry about fs.to reminders if they decide to drop them as well.

3 Likes

@hnielsen791 it‘s off topic… but your name rings a bell… did you do the DC9?

Nope… Only ships and Harriers and helicopters to put on them, but they wouldn’t fly a centimeter :smiley:

1 Like

Ah kay… then the name was at least similar :sweat_smile:

From what I can gather, FS.TO’s argument for not allowing uploads to be freely deleted by their creators is that doing so may cause multiple other mods that rely on that mod’s features to break without warning.

I’m not an IP lawyer or a mod creator, so I can only speak from the perspective of a user who this policy is supposedly supposed to protect. Sure, yeah, if a library was deleted and affected a bunch of other sceneries, that would suck. But not nearly as much as it’s going to suck having to go to multiple websites, discords, etc. to get files and then hoping that you find out if any updates have occurred.

Their solution for this just isn’t at all proportional to the supposed problem. All I want to do is go fly, not hunt everywhere for news about mod updates.

Edit to add: And would have been happy to pay the monthly fee to help support their site, but not if everything I want to download is now hosted somewhere else…

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if you lose the abilitiy to control your work, it’s basically gone forever

Precisely! While I would support flightsim.to in paying towards their hosting costs with a premium sub, I won’t, because of their horrible TOS.

Flightsim.to’s clause 4.7 reads:

(4.7) If you decide to end this Agreement with us, to close or delete your User account, or if we discontinue your access to the Website, Flightsim.to will either archive your User Content, or, in Flightsim.to’s sole discretion and based on its legitimate interest, transfer your User Content to an account set up by Flightsim.to if you decided to close or delete your User account. If your account is deleted, deactivated or suspended, this will not affect or terminate the licenses you have granted.

If you don’t understand why content creators rightly have a problem with this as a concept, then you don’t understand IP.

“But you should have read the terms and conditions before uploading…” and “other content hosting sites have similar TOS” are rubbish arguments. They should not be excuses for effectively ripping rights away from the creators of freely-made content.

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