Following in the footsteps of Microsoft, Blizzard unveiled their own "Machinima Rules" late last week. The approach taken by these rules, however, is the complete opposite of Microsoft's approach in my opinion.
First and foremost, their primary concern (like Microsoft's) is that the use isn't commercial. Rather than going the strictly non-profit route, Blizzard essentially gives the stamp of approval to the method that Rooster Teeth made popular (even though Rooster Teeth has no Blizzard-derived machinima at this time). Specifically, there has to be a free version of the video available, even if there is a pay version with, say, better download speed or, I assume, in higher resolution. There's also no restriction on donations.
Second, there is no restrictions on elements of the game. You're either allowed to make your movie or not. So, the sound effects and background music appear to be fair game.
Third, Blizzard has placed a pretty harsh, but simple, content restriction that all movies keep within the "T (Teen)" or "PG-13" type content level. (Blizzard specifically cites "T," but it seems relatively safe to assume that that equates to a PG-13 rating.) While this is much stricter than Microsoft's restriction, it's also a fairly established bright line. According to the ESRB, "Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language."
Fourth, Blizzard explicitly allows the use of movies in various contests, but a license is required. However, it seems that as long as the content rules have been followed, a license should come with little resistance.
Fifth, educational use is specifically allowed. I find this comforting, but many people would argue that "fair use" would allow educational use regardless. "Fair use" can be read narrowly or broadly, and I think the clarification here does a lot of good in that regard.
Sixth, they place a 10 second restriction on sponsor inclusion. This seems to go toward the "no commercial use" ends more than anything, and I expect few will have a real problem with this restriction.
Finally, they make no mention of a commercial license per se, but do give a specific contact e-mail address for questions.
With Microsoft and Blizzard on board, I am left to wonder how long before other companies follow suit. I also wonder if Microsoft may follow some of Blizzard's leads in the revisions of their rules which are supposedly being drafted. In any case, this is generally good news for the various WoW machinimators out there.
[Via WOWInsider, Machinima for Dummies]