The next thing is more complicated. And that is you can't say that just because you've made a plugin with a certain feature, you have exclusive rights to that idea.
For example, if you've seen the pistons mod, we decided to contact Hippoplatimus who made the original piston mod and he helped us implementing it. And he has credits for that in the Minecraft end text. However, if you make a plugin with a feature like that and we may already have our own plans for a similar feature you may not claim exclusivity for that feature. And the same goes for other plugin makers.
So I'm sure we're going to have some Internet drama. So be nice to one another. That's the best tip I have.
There are so many developers that do mods now that it's very difficult to protect ideas. The copyright laws are still in place, obviously, so if you have drawn a texture or made a model or something like that, that belongs to you and you have the copyrights of that. So people may not just freely steal the work you have done.
(Jeb's statement starts at 11:24 in the linked video; any transcription errors are mine.)
The associated bullet point on the slide says "Minecraft Plugins are not exclusive." But the bullet points in Jeb's comment are really these:
- No features are exclusive to any plugin
- Plugin authors (and users) should act professionally
The first point, about disallowing exclusive features, echoes my statement on Minecraft mods copying features from each other. Controversy has continued since I published the statement, to the detriment of the modding community. Thus Mojang has finally been forced to speak out on the issue.
The second point might bewilder anyone who hasn't been closely following Minecraft's modding community. This is Jeb's "Internet drama" statement where he directs people to "be nice to one another." Although this statement is forward looking, anticipating future drama, the whole topic of copying and conduct is being addressed due to things that have already taken place.
In the past year there have been several instances when one modder attacked another in a manner reminiscent of bullying. These attacks have been egregiously unprofessional. You've never read about a blood feud between, for example, professional game developers such as Will Wright and Sid Meier. They've never raided each other's forum threads, IRC channels, or YouTube comments, or through their insults and disparagement of the other's reputation, incited their fan bases to attack the other on their behalf. These things have all taken place in the Minecraft modder community.
Despite working for competing companies, professional game developers get along because the gaming industry is not a zero-sum game. Gamers buy and play multiple games and take pride in owning huge libraries of titles. Accomplishments by one designer don't diminish the others. Game Developers conferences and other professional gatherings are happy times where developers get to meet their peers, reconnect with old friends, and make new ones.
Defenses based on claims that developing a plugin is merely a hobby and thus not subject to the bounds of professionalism are no excuse for bad behavior. It may be a hobby for the modder, but it's a business for Mojang. Minecraft's player demographics include a huge number of children and young teens who are readily influenced by the behavior of leading modders. Mojang wouldn't want a think of the children-type scandal to arise in the Minecraft community. The more prominent a modder is the more they can expect to have any bad behavior noticed.
[Updated Dec. 16, 2012, new text follows.]
[Updated Dec. 19, 2012, see Marc Watson's comment for why none of what I say below is likely to happen.]
[Updated Jan. 3, 2012 again as a result of Marc Watson's comment.]
Should Mojang decide to deal with bad behavior it might follow the current practice of other game companies. For example, Riot Games banned a professional League of Legends player and ArenaNet in August suspended many Guild Wars 2 players; you can read about both incidents at the link.
I don't know how Riot Games's rulings work; League of Legends players are named and shamed for every violation if all the rulings are public. In the case linked at the top of the article, the banned player is very publicly named and shamed (both real name and in-game handle) in the ruling since it is the second post in the thread.
Dealing with bad behavior is not the responsibility of a game developer, which might explain Jeb's apparent unease while addressing it. Bad behavior is typically handled by a game's community manager or a software company's developer relations person.
I don't know if Marc Watson's Customer Support position encompasses the community manager role, or whether Mojang would need to hire one. Mojang has waited far too long to address the bad behavior, which has been allowed to fester. Long running grudges and feuds are best prevented early with quick action.
(See also A statement on Minecraft mods copying features from each other.)