Freeware developers have started to call for a boycott of popular add-on platform flightsim.to. The calls for a boycott started after flightsim.to announced a Premium as well as a Creators Program for the website. The backlash from the developers concerns several different points, ranging from the Premium and Creators Programs themselves to the flightsim.to Terms of Service.
The feedback first started when flightsim.to announced their Premium Program. Many users saw this as the first sign that the sign will be putting features behind a paywall, or cease to exist in its current (free) form altogether. Developers in turn are worried that in the future their content might get locked behind a paywall despite their wanting it to be available for free. Furthermore, after users went digging into the Terms of Service of flightsim.to, many were surprised to find that the site requires developers to give them a license for the content created. This has led users and developers to believe that flightsim.to takes over the ownership of the content available through their website. It should be noted that this clause, as copied below, is a fairly standard way of legally ensuring that flightsim.to is able to distribute the content provided to them by creators.
(4.3) When you submit or post User Content to the Service, either directly or through a Third Party Service, you are granting this Site a worldwide, non-exclusive, assignable, unrestricted, sublicensable, perpetual, irrevocable, and royalty-free license to use the User Content. This license includes all consents or waivers necessary to distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, transmit, host, share, keep available, communicate to the public, and advertise, feature, or promote the User Content in connection with the service provided by the Website and across different media now known or developed in the future, (if applicable) only to the extent that such license grant is not limited or restricted by any third-party EULA of content that is included in your User Content. You are not authorized to grant us, and we do not claim, any intellectual property rights or copyrights of third parties. In either case, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, unrestricted, perpetual, irrevocable and royalty-free license to distribute, host, keep available and publicy display your User Content. These licenses do also allow us to advertise and promote your User Content without further notice or permission from you or any other person, and without compensation to you or any other person.
Developers have also expressed concern with flightsim.to’s control over the deletion policy regarding content uploaded to the website. Several users have reported that flightsim.to will not allow them to delete their content. Instead, content can only be delisted for a temporary period. Flightsim.to has confirmed that their website indeed was created with the spirit of keeping content available, and content deletions must be requested and manually approved. However, the team also stated that they have not refused any file deletion requests to date, despite some developers claiming otherwise.
This has led to a few developers withdrawing from flightsim.to until their Terms of Service have changed. ‘KL791‘, developer of the popular Global AI Ship Traffic add-on, has removed their add-on from the website and calling for other developers to do the same. Several developers, such as PuffinFlight from the popular We Love VFR add-on, have indicated to follow suit if flightsim.to does not make any changes to its ToS.
Flightsim.to meanwhile has responded through several statements made over on their Twitter, as well as a FAQ article related to their Terms of Service. They claim that through their own ToS they cannot take control over developer’s add-ons. The ToS does indeed seem to state that flightsim.to does not claim ownership of uploads, and full ownership remains with the developer. Nor do the Terms of Service allow for flightsim.to to start charging money for access to these freeware add-ons. As such, it is not entirely clear what specific changes developers would like to see to the flightsim.to Terms of Service, or if developers are expressing their general unhappiness with the Creators Program as a whole.
For now the developers that spoke out against flightsim.to have not yet responded to the websites clarifications. Several add-ons remain unavailable via the site at the time of writing, and it is not yet clear if more developers will follow suit as indicated, or if the clarifications provided by flightsim.to are sufficient to address their concerns.