The guy who wrote Minecraft’s ending says Microsoft doesn’t own the copyright
I knew that Minecraft had an ending, but I didn’t know that the ending consists of an inexplicable 9 minute poem. I also didn’t know that last month the author of that poem, Julian Gough, put it in the public domain, which he says he’s legally entitled to do because no one at Mojang or Microsoft ever successfully got him to sign a contract .
He now says Microsoft is blocking any attempts to contact them about whether or not they own the copyright, and that this silence killed an article he wrote for an unnamed “global news organization” because they didn’t want to take any chances to cause anger. of Microsoft’s 1,700-strong team of lawyers. That piece was actually an edited version of Gough’s blog post from last month, where he explained the situation and submitted the poem to the public domain — making references to many about the poetry being written by the universe, and also how taking psychedelics leads him to conclude that not allowing himself to be compensated would be a “blockage to the flow of love”. It’s a journey.
Gough’s post is an interesting, if long, read. He talks about how showing Notch a short story led to his choice to write the ending, and then how he wrote that ending while simultaneously discussing payment with Mojang’s CEO at the time, Carl Manneh. Notch liked the words, but Manneh apparently got fed up with Gough’s self-described “disruption” about “trying to find what was right” and told Gough that if he didn’t accept his initial offer of £20,000 then they would receive. someone else to do it. Gough agreed and was sent the money without signing anything.
Mojang ended up sending him a contract a month after Minecraft came out, which Gough didn’t watch because “just looking at it evoked such negative emotions.” Three years later, in 2014 when Microsoft was in the midst of acquiring Mojang, Manneh sent him the contract again. Gough didn’t sign because he handed them total power to do whatever they liked with the ending, along with a non-disclosure agreement. There is a photo of the contract on Gough’s blog.
Eventually, Manneh gave up trying to get Gough to sign and told him they didn’t need him anyway. Gough sat on it for eight years, but then took some mushrooms to Holland and concluded that by remaining silent he “refused to allow” any of the people who had been touched by his work to give him “anything in exchange”. “. Hence the blog post where he appeals for donations.
Which brings us to yesterday, when Gough tweeted about how that unnamed outlet apparently decided not to run an edited version of the blog because they were nervous about what Microsoft might have up their sleeves. Gough says the paper asked lawyers to check everything he had written and gave him the all-clear before reaching out to Microsoft for comment as a final step.
Gough addresses this very much in high-brow terms, claiming that he’s mostly disappointed because he thought Notch was his friend. There’s a lot of internal strife where Gough tries to reconcile his worldview with his anger at only getting £20,000 while everyone else made millions. It’s a fascinating read.
It ends with a plea for us to shelter the art and work we love from the savagery of capitalism, which is a sentiment I’m definitely on board with, despite the way Gough so sums up that sentiment in the scrapheap of the era of cloud. It reminds me of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy, where the political conflict involving an increasingly terraformed Mars leads to an underground “gift economy” that ends up paralleling a system where every workplace becomes a collective that contracts out their management. I think Gough might like it too.
I’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment.