Elder Scrolls Online issues an apology over the Elsweyr adventure plagiarism debacle

    
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Sir.

It was just supposed to be a fun little promo item to help spark excitement for The Elder Scrolls Online’s next expansion, but the free Elsweyr adventure has become something of a tempest in a teapot for the game’s staff, as we noted morning.

As of last night, the company issued a statement and apology on Twitter, stating that the intention was to have a new scenario created to play within the ruleset of a well-known and popular game. The staff is apparently “looking into” why this didn’t occur. Fans are also reassured that the scenario itself was not based on or informed by anything found within the expansion itself, so if you were worried that the actual expansion would contain anything of dubious origin, rest easy.

Last but not least, players who already have the adventure are asked to avoid distributing it, out of respect for the original author.

The adventure in question was put up on the game’s Facebook page earlier in the week, then quickly taken down as people noticed that it bore a sharp resemblance to a different adventure published by Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast in 2016.

Source: Twitter

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Ben Griggs
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Ben Griggs

Maybe I missed the apology part of that tweet?

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jay

@Bree “as we noted morning.” – “as we noted yesterday morning”
<3 ya- feel free to remove this once seen

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John Dorian

Where was their QA? It was a big mistake. I’m glad to see that everything ended. I hope they will be more attentive.

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Tandor

QA staff are testers, not game historians or lawyers.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Seriously, catching this kind of thing would be an insanely monumental task for a “QA staff.” It’s sheer luck.

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TheDonDude

There’s this idea out there that it’s easy to tell if something is plagiarized and reject it before it gets published, but unfortunately this is not the case. You can get the author to sign something saying that it’s their own work, but there’s little stopping them from lying.

As far as I’m concerned, Zenimax did fine in apologizing and removing it once it was discovered.

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Katriana

Good on them for taking it down right away and asking people not to share it. Plagiarism and piracy have become far too rampant, esp. Online. I am a bit bothered, however, by the way they seem to already be throwing the person or people they hired to do it for them (presumably freelancer(s)?) Under the bus over it before they’ve fully ascertained even for themselves what happened. I mean, probably whoever did it knew what they were doing if they did indeed knowingly and deliberately copy the other thing instead of making their own thing, but it’s still kind of uncool to be casting blame, even obliquely, before you’ve determined the facts of the case.

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NecroFox4

I don’t think they’re necessarily throwing them under the bus, so much as they are attempting to insulate themselves from culpability. By stating that they had specifically commissioned an original work to be created, they are implying that they are not the responsible party. And while this may certainly suggests that the blame lies with those they commissioned to do the work, they stop short of actually blaming “them”. Rather, they are “investigating” – which is the proper course of action, in my opinion.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

I really want to use this as a way to take another shot at Bethesda, upset about what they did with Fallout 76 recently I’d like to say Zenimax should have done this in house and left Bethesda out of it. It’s sort of a low blow, but I still am feeling the hurt of the Fallout 76 product I purchased.

And yet, not all is what it seems to be. Was it misplaced trust in a company they own or just an accident sharing something that never was meant to be shared with the world? We’re so quick to jump to judgment, we don’t really wait to find out.

Zenimax didn’t really do much wrong here either way. Maybe they made a mistake, or maybe they were duped by a company they own, but it was brief and immediately removed. It was never intended.

I guess we do know Zenimax isn’t who is to blame anyway, the blame is pretty much being aimed at the Bethesda branch where the module came from. Still I’d like to hear more about it before showing any outrage and shock in a YouTube video like some were quick to do.

They’re still investigating the story and there are different reports of what may have happened, including the one where it may have been something not meant to be shared outside of a small group. I’m not sure if I buy that one or not as they did say that they did want this created, though I’d like to wait to hear the details before saying too much more about it.

When they were looking for something like this to be made, did the person who altered the module just say “Hey I have something like that!” and it was shared before getting more details on it? I just want to hear the details of what happened before jumping to conclusions.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

They did do something wrong. They distributed a plagiarized version of copyright material for free that they do not own the rights to. They need to have QA on the promotions they distribute as there is no excuse for a company on the scale of Zenimax to be accomplices in distributing pirated and plagiarized material. It’s not fair to the author who put the time into making it and it’s not fair to the publisher of the material that was plagiarized who is currently selling it.

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NecroFox4

The important point here is that they had no INTENT to distribute a copyrighted work without prior authorization. They, like the consumers, were duped.

It happens all the time, and even the best QA cannot catch everything. What they’ve done since discovering the issue is what is most telling about their intent, here; they immediately ceased distribution, and went as far as to request that anyone who already has it to please refrain from distributing it, too.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Exactly what kind of QA are you expecting to happen here? 100 or more people could have QA’d this and not caught anything off about it.

It wasn’t a copy of the Bible or a major published work. It was a plagiarized work based on a D&D Adventurer’s League module. That’s not a major WotC published campaign; there are over 20 seasons of AL, and each season contains sometimes dozens (or hundreds) of individual modules.

On top of that, there are what.. literally thousands of published adventure modules for D&D, Pathfinder, OSR, and every other tabletop game system out there done over the years. The only reason this was caught is because it was released into the public where thousands more players (possibly including the original author) managed to spot something.

Pepperzine
Reader
Pepperzine

They keep using the word “alleged” as if it’s not extremely clear that it was plagiarized. I know this is a promotion that was distributed for free and the original content is from 2016, but keep in mind the material that was plagiarized and distributed for free is not free and still being sold by those who had their work plagiarized.

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Matt Redding

I suppose they’re trying to cover their asses because the material was plagiarized (“allegedly”) from another corporate source and one that DOES have a legal team they could deploy if they felt like it. It’s not even like some fan work was appropriated, it was an actual WOTC published module I believe. That’s just so … mind bogglingly stupid.

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zoward

Responsible journalism pretty much mandates that the word “alleged” appear before anything potentially defamatory absent an already-decided court case. Even if it seems like a slam-dunk case of plagiarism, keep in mind that if for some reason later on it turned out not to be, this would be a libel lawsuit waiting to happen without that extremely important adjective. If a court case has already been decided against the defendant, the press can replace the word “alleged” with “convicted”.

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Armsman

Yep, it’s always ‘alleged’ until (and if) a court of law (criminal or civil) hands down a Judgement/Ruling. Corporations and media companies can get into big legal trouble if they leave the word ‘alleged’ out of public statements until they have proof and they or some other legal agency goes to court and gets a judgement/ruling.