Intellectual Property Article
3D Action planet has a really good article online today - It's actually called "Your chocolate is in my peanut butter". Silly title aside, it's an article on intellectual property issues and how they're relevant to video games, mods, and using company's characters without their permission. This is a pretty contested issue with both gamers and game companies, and this article does a pretty good job of presenting the issue. Here's a few relevant points:
It happens every time a mod or other project gets foxed: the message boards light up with the collective rage of a community that feels it's been wronged, and the developers or publishers are accused of squashing the little guy in favor of more money. The mod community begins calling for the developers' heads on platters.
The most common accusation hurled is that the company is only doing it because of greed. While money is almost certainly tied into it, the predominant issue is one of intellectual property law.
Recently I had to tell a modeler that several models he'd done violated copyright law--he'd converted Quake III Arena models for use in Unreal Tournament. The issue was similar to the recent axing of the Duke It Out in Quake mod--both groups had taken one company's intellectual property from one game and ported it into another. This is the most common and obvious violation of copyright law in community development and it should be common sense not to violate it, but apparently it isn't when it's the biggest puddle the community steps in. But despite the ubiquitous outrage that inevitably follows with each fall of the axe, the companies can and must put a stop to it for a few reasons.
This is a very good, and well written article - you should go check it out now, and read all of it.