Game Content Usage Rules - not an excuse for converting FSX aircraft

  • Under one recent upload here, there was a discussion about whether it is legit / not legit to convert old FSX models via MSFS Legacy Converter and publish them.

    Let's not discuss the quality of many of such converts and value added of the users uploading these files (very often usually just the external model "survives" the conversion with all the rest being seriously broken).

    Let's not discuss the fact that some (many? 8| ) users actually think that if something is offered for free, it does not have to respect 3rd party rights (like copyright / intellectual property rights).

    But let's discuss some principles governing re-use of 3rd party assets and their public free re-distribution - in this case conversion of FSX aircraft for MSFS.

    We have seen a number of converted FSX aircraft with an argument that such conversion is possible due to Microsoft's Game Content Usage Rules (which allows use of the assets under certain conditions like a clear attribution in form of a pre-defined text, sharing with others as freely accessible content, etc.). However, the Rules are also clear in what not to do. Actually, the very first bullet point under What are the Rules? chapter says: "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."

    And that is exactly what the MSFS Legacy Converter (or any other converting tool for that matter) does - it is dismantling and altering the original assets in order to make them re-usable in MSFS.

    From this standpoint, I am afraid it is not legit to publish freely assets converted from FSX.

    I am bringing this up not to tell people what to do and what not to do but I just want to shed some light on this rather controversial issue (the way I understand it).

    The above principle is of course applicable to a conversion of any other 3rd party asset. The bottom line is that such a conversion should be in line with the original asset author's agreement / copyright rules (and again, even if the asset - e.g. aircraft addon - is a freeware it does not mean that it can be converted without the author's consent) which, I believe, goes beyond the external model and should cover also the quality of the converted asset (e.g. the original author should be aware whether the cockpit does not work, the flight dynamics is completely off, etc.).

    A long post, I know but I have not seen it addressed here clearly and it seems to me that the converts are rather a hot topic sometimes.

    Happy to read your thoughts. Please, keep the emotions at bay and stay civil.


  • I appreciate your post and we have also heavily discussed this within the team. In the end, we decided to allow "vanilla" FSX imports (like the PMP A321), but disallow any other FSX import without explicit permission from the original author. The amount of vanilla FSX imports are very limited (since FSX did not have that many aircraft to begin with) and we will leave them up until Microsoft decides these do not fall under the Game Content Usage Rules.

    While the rules are not very clear themselves about what is and is not considered "reverse engineering", it remains vague whether these conversions are allowed under these rules. While I don't know how the models were accessed from FSX, in the case of MSFS, the models are "freely" available from your game folder without any "reverse engineering".

    As for the MSFS Legacy Converter, it is again unclear whether this falls under Microsoft's rules. Since I don't know how the converter works, I can't comment on whether it is actually altering the model or just making it compatible with MSFS (which could still be seen as altering). So it again remains unclear whether the second option counts as "altering" or not.

    We are averaging about 1 to 2 uploaded aircraft a day, most of which we decline because it is an FSX convert with no permission of the original author. We make sure to check every uploaded aircraft thoroughly before allowing it to be up on the website and as soon as we get a (legitimate) report or complaint about any upload, we'll take appropriate action. Just like everyone in the community, we aren't sure what is and is not allowed per Microsoft, so we tend to tread on the safe side and disallow most converted aircraft.