The Steam Workshop has proved to be an effective tool for highlighting the best player made items for games like Dota 2, Portal 2, Team Fortress 2 and Skyrim, but there's little to stop someone from submitting a design nicked from another game. A post on the Steam Community asks that the community take care to flag these stolen items after a mace distributed to 24,603 Dota 2 players turned out to be identical to Marchutan's Blessed Mace from Aion. D'oh.
The mace was given away in chests during a summer giveaway. Players who bought keys to unlock the chest got the mace as a reward. It's since been removed from the game, and Valve say that alternative weapons have been sent out to those affected. "the contributor has been banned and will lose out on any proceeds from the sale of the item," they add.
Beyond the Steam Workshop Contribution agreement and a report flag, it's easy enough to submit a well-made model of a stolen design that secures a lot of support. If nobody spots the duplicate, it can end up in the game as a purchasable item, which is worrying from a buyer's perspective, as there's a chance that any item you buy in good faith could disappear if it turns out to be a sneaky copy. From Valve's perspective, there's a risk of legal action from IP protectors who won't take to kindly to other companies making money from their designs.
The risk is necessary to encourage a thriving community, Valve argue. "We have designed the Workshop to enable the free flow of ideas with as little friction as possible, without requiring Valve review and approval of every new contribution," they say. "We depend on the community to ensure originality."