A Pay site is a fan website that charges subscription fees or donation fees for access to custom content. These charges are often intended to cover bandwidth costs, although some pay sites offer adult content, and require paid access as a means of limiting their content to adults only. Many pay sites have both paid-access only and freely available custom content. Most pay sites have requested that their content not be posted on The Exchange or on other websites, though this content is often uploaded elsewhere anyway.
The overwhelming popularity of some fan sites caused them problems. Popular fan sites were overcome with traffic, so many servers could not handle them, and most sites on free servers spent part of the day down. In order to handle the traffic, webmasters had to pay for more bandwidth. Some of the most popular sites were paying thousands of dollars a month from their own pocket to keep the site alive.
To solve the problem of webmasters paying large amounts of money for downloading, some sites, such as The Sims Resource, went pay. Subscriptions pay for the bandwidth and have allowed some sites to have their sites put on more reliable servers. Nervertheless, SimsHost closed because it "never reached break-even and the gulf between operating costs and revenues from subscriptions and downloads grew to the point that SimsHost was losing more money than [they] could possibly afford."
Instead of becoming a pay site, some fan sites have elected to take donations, some even offer a gift in return.
There is controversy over whether it is right to charge for custom content or fair to recoup costs of bandwidth. This controversy stems from certain clauses in the game's End-User License Agreement (EULA); people and websites that oppose the concept or practice of pay sites will often cite the EULA and challenge the legitimacy of pay sites.
However, Electronic Arts has taken no legal action against pay sites or their policies and released this statement:
"The Sims celebrates creativity, humor, and community. We strive to provide players with tools that enable them to customize and personalize their game experience. We are proud that so many of The Sims and The Sims 2 players create their own art for the games and share it with others. Sharing art online is a hobby that involves an investment of time, energy and money. Whether players choose to share their original artistic creations with the community is up to them: some custom content creators design work for a fee; some host their works on sites that organize, store and serve an enormous amount of content for subscribers; some artists request donations; and some artists allow all players to download their creations for free. These artists set their own terms for how they want to share their talents with the community at large. Those terms should be respected by other players."
Despite that and a few changes to the EULA, the creators of custom content do waive the rights to their content once it is shared. The following is an excerpt from The Sims 3 EULA, 2009:
"4. In exchange for the right to use content contributed by other users through the Software, when you contribute content through the Software, you expressly grant to other users of the Software the non-exclusive, perpetual, transferable, worldwide, irrevocable right to access and use, copy, modify, display, perform, and create and distribute derivative works from, your contributed content in connection with the Software, and to distribute and otherwise communicate your contributed content as a component of works that they create using the Software, for example, The Sims lots or The Sims videos, without further notice, attribution or compensation to you. You hereby waive any moral rights of paternity, publication, reputation, or attribution under applicable law with respect to EA.s and other players. use and enjoyment of such content contributions in connection with the Software."
- ↑ "EA owns all of the rights, title and interest in the Tools & Materials." The Sims 2 EULA 2003. Omitted from EULA's since August 2007 
- ↑ "...EA grants you a personal, non-exclusive license to install and use the Software for your personal, non-commercial use. ...Any commercial use is prohibited." The Sims 2 EULA 2007, The Sims 3 EULA 2009