2

It seems that app mods, such as for games, are generally considered to be derivative works and thus illegal. Chrome extensions, though, don't have the same reputation, even for the well-known extensions that modify all sites by default. Is this modified user experience on copyrighted sites not a derivative work? Vimium, for example, modifies the navigation experience and is enabled for all by sites by default. Grammarly, as another example, modifies text fields when a user is typing into them. Grammarly also makes a lot of money, which it seems like would open it up further to litigation.

How is it that distributing a mod of a copyrighted desktop app seems to be generally illegal, whereas distributing a Chrome extension that modifies copyrighted sites is not generally discussed as illegal?

5
  • 3
    Does this answer your question? Legalities of Extensions that modify websites Dec 19, 2022 at 22:11
  • 1
  • 2
    This question doesn't seem to actually have anything to do with Google Chrome (aside from the fact that out of the many web browsers out there, Chrome is one of them), so I'm submitting an edit request to change "Chrome" to "web browser." Dec 20, 2022 at 17:10
  • For "app mods", I think you need to differentiate between modifying an application binary and then distributing that modified binary, and creating & distributing a "mod app" which dos not itself contain any part of the "target app", but when used will modify the user's local copy of the "target app". In the 1st case the thing you're distributing is clearly a derivative work, while in the 2nd case the thing you're distributing is (possibly) not a derivative work (depending on how it was created).
    – brhans
    Dec 20, 2022 at 22:34
  • I think the answer is already explained in the article you linked to. For a game mod, the original game (the copyrighted work) is required and may even be a part of the mod itself, so it's copyright infringement for that reason. For a Chrome extension that modifies web pages, the extension itself does not contain any part of the copyrighted works (the web pages), nor does any extension really require that you use it on a particular web page, so I couldn't see it as inherently derivative of a particular copyrighted work (copyrighted web page).
    – Brandin
    Jan 19, 2023 at 11:30

2 Answers 2

1

Because Google expressly allows it

Even if a Chrome extension were a derivative work (which I’m not convinced they necessarily are), the copyright owner has allowed them.

7
  • 3
    The question is why are they allowed if they modify the website you are viewing. Google doesnt own the entire internet.
    – Matt
    Dec 20, 2022 at 1:33
  • 2
    @Matt Chrome modifies the website. The page you are sent is just HTML - the way Chrome renders it is not part of the original creation.
    – Dale M
    Dec 20, 2022 at 3:55
  • 4
    I disagree with none of that but you still aren't answering the question. The question is not: why is it legal to modify chrome. It is: why is it legal to modify (create derivative works of) webpages using a chrome plugin.
    – Matt
    Dec 20, 2022 at 12:10
  • 1
    It's your computer and your software displaying a modified version of the website. It probably doesn't count as a derivative work until you put it into some fixed form.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 20, 2022 at 12:29
  • 1
    @Matt what derivative work? The entire webpage is all there, unmodified. The way it’s displayed is not part of the owner’s copyright.
    – Dale M
    Dec 20, 2022 at 19:24
-2

Both for apps and for Chrome the creator of the software owns the copyright and this includes the rights on derivate works which may include mods created for it. In the case of Chrome and also for some apps the creator allows anyone to create mods for their software and distribute them. For other apps the creator doesn't allow this.

1
  • 2
    The question is about modifying the webpage. The concern isn't creating an unlicensed derivative work of chrome. It is about creating an unlicensed derivative work of the webpage you are viewing.
    – Matt
    Dec 20, 2022 at 12:11

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .