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Old 05-25-2002, 03:00 PM   #21
Aequitas
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Alright i'll try to sum up my take on this with a simple analogy.
A builder, in most not all cases, is using the property of the mud owner to create the area file. Now i'm not sure about American laws regarding this issue, but Canadian laws are quite clear regarding both written and verbal contracts. If said builder agree's to abide by all "terms" placed before him by the owner of the mud, and one of those terms clearly state that all rights and ownership of the area become sole property of said mud and owner, then any area created by the builder does become sole property of the owner. Now of course there are many other "if's" that can affect the forstated. But in short, as a builder, if you do not like the rules placed before you by the owner of the mud. Then do not build there. (And now for the analogy) If I agree to let someone put a new set of spark plugs into my car. And we agree that these sparkplugs will become the property of myself, the person putting them into "my" car, in no way can say later that he wants them back for there was a verbal contract made stating that the sparkplugs would become my property.

But like so many other legal "issues" there is to many "if's" to make a realistic generalized statement. And since verbal contracts on the internet are almost impossible to hold up in court, everything I said could very well be dis-proved.

Well I think i've wasted enough of everyones time(hehe), just thought I'd add my two and a half cents.
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Old 05-25-2002, 07:38 PM   #22
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There is no "intrinsic relationship" formed in any legal sense.

As long as people are using analogies, I thought I would contribute one myself that might help people figure this out.

A is making a poetry book. B writes poetry. A says, if you want, you can write in my poetry book and it will get published and it becomes my property. B writes poetry in the book.

Unless A pays B in some manner, this is not a work for hire. A may have a right to use the work to be published, but does not own the copyright, regardless of what A said. An invalid contract does not overrule Federal Law. B still owns the copyright to the work, but A has a license to use it.
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Old 05-25-2002, 11:49 PM   #23
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I was somewhat panting after reading all these posts but I have to admit I enjoyed them. This is a hot topic for builders and every builder or owner has a vested interest in it.

To somewhat cut to the chase, I whole heartedly agree with Mason in almost every area especially his analogy of the poem. The points I wanted to bring up is until there IS a documented court case that establishes precedent all the bantering is somewhat moot except to establishing a MU* community moral stance on the issue.

Yes, a builder agreeing to build for an owner gives both the right to the product. The inherent fact in that is if the builder didn't agree they wouldn't build. The builder is the author and the owner is the publisher and either has a right to display within the license authority of the codebase. I make this point because an owner may have commissioned creation of an integral portion of their world to the builder and oops, that builder gets disgruntled and demands removal of their works. A competent owner just can't risk that. The authorship should remain intact and readily displayed unless the author requests it not to be.

I do think there is a moral imperative for the owner to give the builder a copy of their works if they leave too. It may be a pain to send the zone file, it may send a unique zone out into public domain, but the owner didn't write the thing! Let the builder have it!

Copywrite laws are generally a good thing but as I mentioned at the beginning of this with the absence of a case law basis established for MU* volunteer building, all we really have is a form of common morality WE establish. I certainly wouldn't build for Ack! under that concept Dulan brought up and the posts here certainly agree it's silly.

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Old 05-26-2002, 12:21 AM   #24
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Perhaps I should clarify the intrinsic relationship statement:

There exists an intrinsic relationship between builder and owner when the builder creates an area, or areas, on a MUD which has a unique theme or setting. The builder is using the medium of the owner and the owner's storyline or concept to create a zone, area, or room which fits within the theme.

The builder certainly created the work, but the work would not and could not exist without both the medium to create (the MUD itself) and the concept behind the area. Note that this is a specific situation wherein the two are dependent upon one another - the area and the theme of the MUD itself potentiate one another; although each is capable of existing independently, the sum of the whole is greater than any of the parts. Complements, if you will.

To illustrate via analogy: Robert Lynn Aspirin's Thieves World Series' are written by numerous authors. Each is an independent work of their respective author, yet cannot exist without the world as a whole. The author could not, for example, take the work published in a Thieves World Anthology and rerelease it as a seperate work without giving credit, and having permission from, Aspirin. By the same token, that author can not demand omission from future printings or anthologies, because he or she contributed the work with the understanding that it would become a part of the whole collection, unless it was stipulated in the original contract otherwise.
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Old 05-26-2002, 12:49 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
To somewhat cut to the chase, I whole heartedly agree with Mason in almost every area especially his analogy of the poem. The points I wanted to bring up is until there IS a documented court case that establishes precedent all the bantering is somewhat moot except to establishing a MU* community moral stance on the issue.
Provide the docket number of said court case, Iluvatar, or provide a case citation. Otherwise, your as full of it as the ACK! people with this statement.

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There exists an intrinsic relationship between builder and owner when the builder creates an area, or areas, on a MUD which has a unique theme or setting. The builder is using the medium of the owner and the owner's storyline or concept to create a zone, area, or room which fits within the theme.
Wrong. Terribly wrong. Keep out of this discussion unless you know what you speak of, Robbert. I could build an area on notepad, completely unconnected to the internet, that would work with a MUD. However, a MUD cannot operate without areas - an area is independent of the MUD, but a MUD is dependent on areas.

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The builder certainly created the work, but the work would not and could not exist without both the medium to create (the MUD itself) and the concept behind the area. Note that this is a specific situation wherein the two are dependent upon one another - the area and the theme of the MUD itself potentiate one another; although each is capable of existing independently, the sum of the whole is greater than any of the parts. Complements, if you will.
Wrong again. The work would and could exist without the MUD - it would not be playable unless installed in a different MUD, but it would exist. The concept behind the area could exist as well - regardless of what you may try to claim.

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To illustrate via analogy: Robert Lynn Aspirin's Thieves World Series' are written by numerous authors. Each is an independent work of their respective author, yet cannot exist without the world as a whole. The author could not, for example, take the work published in a Thieves World Anthology and rerelease it as a seperate work without giving credit, and having permission from, Aspirin. By the same token, that author can not demand omission from future printings or anthologies, because he or she contributed the work with the understanding that it would become a part of the whole collection, unless it was stipulated in the original contract otherwise.community moral stance on the issue.
This is irrelevant, and I fail to see how this applies to the MUD Community. However, a contradiction to this would be the Star Wars/Star Trek series of fanfiction that are published so widely.

Now, what I really must wonder is why Robbert is fighting so hard against this. Does he have something to gain from lessening builders rights to their area? What? Whenever someone brings in so much irrelevant and just -wrong- information in an attempt to derail or otherwise refute an argument....What's in it for you, Robbert? Why do you want to lessen, or even remove, builders rights to their areas?

-D
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Old 05-26-2002, 01:14 AM   #26
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Provide the docket number of said court case, Iluvatar, or provide a case citation. Otherwise, your as full of it as the ACK! people with this statement.
Read it again Dulan, I said in the absence of one, our only resort is common expectations of morality or mores in the general community which can be just as powerful as a case citation.

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Old 05-26-2002, 02:05 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by (Mason @ May 24 2002,11:42 pm)
I'm in law school and really do enjoy discussing this kind of stuff.

Simply creating a work for another is not necessarily a work for hire, per se.  

However, just because there is consideration does not necessarily mean the contract is valid.  A contract can not be forced upon someone.  The license is granted to the owner from the author.  If the owner wants to say "if you want to build you have to agree to these terms" that is fine.  However, without consideration such a deal would be invalid.  
Law school eh? Good luck. I graduated in 1998 from the University of Georgia School of Law. After a clerkship, I decided I did not want to be a lawyer. The degree and the knowledge are continually helpful in my business life.

I will address your main points quoted above:

1) Work for Hire: Nobody ever said all work created is a work for hire. But generally, if you are "hired on" somewhere (even in a volunteer capacity) contributions are going to be viewed by a court as work for hire. Furthermore, most muds (and certainly all well run ones) have terms that all new builders/imms/etc. agree to before they start contributing code. These generally make it very clear who will *OWN* the finished product. Since these terms are agreed to in advance and without coercion, they will almost definitely be enforceable.

2) I am not sure why you are so hung up on the consideration issue. You seem to be operating under a common law student falacy that consideration must have a real, monetary value in order to be valid. It does not. Providing the mud upon which to build stuff is in and of itself more than sufficient consideration. Further, most muds also provide some degree of training, lessons, etc. in coding or building. That training is also valid consideration.

Whether or not there is valid consideration is a VERY low standard in contract law.
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Old 05-26-2002, 02:17 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Dulan @ May 25 2002,12:09 am)
In order to claim something is 'work for hire', you have to pay them at least minimum wage for the work done, potential benefits, etc.

As for why I am hashing this over, I have been working on an ACK! derivitive for the past 4 or 5 years. I think that I can honestly say I have no small interest on this subject.
I mentioned this elsewhere already, but since you posted it specifically I felt I should directly respond.

You do *NOT* have to pay someone a single penny for something to be considered work for hire. Volunteer work in various capacities frequently results in work for hire. There is no money changing hands.

"Work for hire" (or more specifically, "work made for hire") is defined by the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C.A. $ 101) as:

====================
1) a work prepared by an employee within the score of his or her employment;

or

2) a work specially ordered or commissioned fore use as a contribution to a collective work, as part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compliation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.
====================

A mud admin/owner could easily invoke the 2nd definition (assuming written terms were agreed to in advance- and with new laws that make a digital signature equal to a written one, it is easier than ever to have a "written instrument"). A mud admin could very possibly invoke the 1st definition as well. It would not be a terribly difficult legal argument that a builder is an employee of the mud. Bear in mind that one does not have to be *paid* to be an employee.

Above and beyond all the legal definitions, one should really keep in mind the practical realities of these situations. We are generally talking about muds that are pure hobbies. No money is involved, which generally results in things following the old maxim "possession is nine tenths of the law." Very few mud owners OR builders will ever be able to afford a lawyer for this type of conflict, and even if they could, the issues will be so muddled that the proceedings could be very unpredictible. Further, damages are so minimal that it would require someone willing to just blow their money on a lawyer on principle. That is not only rare, but usually unwise.
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Old 05-26-2002, 02:36 AM   #29
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Sorry for 3 posts in a row, but as I re-read some other posts there was one other thing I thought I should share- my opinion on how I think admins *SHOULD* do things.

IMHO, mud admins/owners (hereafter owners) should discuss the issue up front and in detail with any potentially new builder, imm, whatever (hereafter coders). Before anyone actually starts contributing content, I think a wise owner should write up a simple one page statement that details who will own the product of whatever the coder creates. They should email or fax this to the coder, who should then sign it and either fax it back, or scan it and email it back.

For the most part, when a coder chooses to leave a mud, one would hope that the terms of their departure are not so bad that they WANT to take their code. If the coder wishes to leave his/her work behind, everything is just peachy.

If a coder wishes to have his code removed, the owner should (in my opinion) make every effort to grant this request. I think this is especially true in the case of areas, since they are generally a lot easier to remove than major mudlib code.

If a coder wishes to use their code elsewhere, the owner should in almost every case agree to this as well. Opposite from the above, I think this should ALWAYS be honored for non-area code. I think if the coder agrees to let the mud use his/her area, however, the area should not be used elsewhere.

These are all my personal opinions. They are how I think things *should* work on a mud that operates in the standard "hobby" fashion. Basically, I believe that:

1) Areas should move with whoever created them. If the creator wishes to allow it to stay, great. If they want it removed, the owner should almost always remove it. If they want to use it somewhere else, the owner should almost always agree to this.

2) Internal code should be left in place. Removing this type of code is more disruptive (generally) than just removing an area(s). However, I think whoever created this internal code should be free to use it wherever they wish.
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Old 05-26-2002, 05:06 AM   #30
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I never said that money was required to equal consideration. What I did say was that merely providing one the opportunity to build on a codebase would not be consideration. This would be akin to saying that in the aforementioned analogy the owner provided the poet with pen and paper to write the the poem but kept the pen and paper once the poem was completed. This in no way would be considered consideration. As I mentioned before, if the mud gave the builder IMM privileges, this may be considered consideration if it were given for the work. Moreover, you know providing the statute means nothing without looking at the annotated code for proper interpretation.

Please don't try to dismiss me with some "common law student fallacy" statement. This summer I will be working at Mayer, Brown, Rowe, & Maw (as long as we are comparing resumes). No "common" student gets hired there.

As far as damages are concerned, you should know that copyright damages are statutory and would not be based on basic contract remedies. Therefore, to dismiss damages as minute at best is not a correct restatement of the law.

As far as "possession is nine-tenths of the law" crap. You should know that statement is full of crap and is one of the first things you learn is incorrect in your first year Property class. I can describe all sorts of situations in which that statment is incorrect, including lost or mislaid property, conversion of chattel, theft, and bailor-bailee relationships, You may intimidate others by pointing to your J.D., but that won't work with me.
.
You may have gone to law school, but you grossly misstate the law in some instances. I don't know if this is because you run a Mud and wish to convince people that you are right or if you are just mistaken. Nonetheless, you should aim for preciseness when it comes to discussing legal matters and not postulate your opinion.
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Old 05-26-2002, 12:26 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
Wrong. Terribly wrong. Keep out of this discussion unless you know what you speak of, Robbert. I could build an area on notepad, completely unconnected to the internet, that would work with a MUD. However, a MUD cannot operate without areas - an area is independent of the MUD, but a MUD is dependent on areas.
Reread my statement. I said the builder used the medium of the owner, not a third party system. I also fail to understand the animosity in your statement. I'll ignore it, since there's no point to it.

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Wrong again. The work would and could exist without the MUD - it would not be playable unless installed in a different MUD, but it would exist. The concept behind the area could exist as well - regardless of what you may try to claim.
Again, you're placing a narrow focus on a broad scope. Remove your rose colored glasses, Dulan, and look at the greater picture. Yes, you could easily claim that the two could be created independently of one another. It is entirely possible, for example, for JRR Tolkien and Fred Smith to both have created a Middle Earth, for example. However, since Mr Tolkien published his, he has the creative licensure rights to the idea.

I operate a uniquely themed MUD. Were a builder to create an area which was based upon my theme, regardless of the medium used, it would be unusable elsewhere without my permission. Note that this is entirely independent of whether or not this area was built for me, or even with my knowledge. The builder could certainly change the names and use it, however.

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This is irrelevant, and I fail to see how this applies to the MUD Community. However, a contradiction to this would be the Star Wars/Star Trek series of fanfiction that are published so widely.
Wrong. Both Star Wars and Star Trek novels require permission from their respective copyright holders prior to publication. They are utilizing a theme without which their work cannot exist, and therefore are intimately dependent upon that relationship. The Star Wars multiverse requires approval of LucasArts prior to publication. Star Wars MUDs, were they known to LucasArts, would also require their sanctioning. I suggest you look on the web for the letter from Mr Raymond Feist regarding creation of MUDs based upon a copywritten theme before you put your other foot in your mouth.

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Now, what I really must wonder is why Robbert is fighting so hard against this. Does he have something to gain from lessening builders rights to their area? What? Whenever someone brings in so much irrelevant and just -wrong- information in an attempt to derail or otherwise refute an argument....What's in it for you, Robbert? Why do you want to lessen, or even remove, builders rights to their areas?
Again, why the vehemence? I'll ignore the personal attack, and give a general disclaimer. All areas used on th eMUD for which I work were written by myself, my wife, or one to two other people. Prior to using work from other persons, I obtain a very specific written agreement between them and us which clearly outlines our various rights on each end. In over three years of operation, I have never had a request/demand/otherwise to remove an area, and I never expect to have one. I treat builders with the utmost respect, and understand from having done it myself the depth of the work they perform.

I have not lessened, demeaned, or removed the rights a builder has to his or her areas. I have merely expounded the other half, the right the owner has to the work as well. Show me where I have said a builder does NOT have the right to something. I challenge you, Dulan, to show where I have at any time attacked the rights of the builder in any of my posts.
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Old 05-26-2002, 06:31 PM   #32
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Can people please remember that it is copyRIGHT - the RIGHT to make copies - and not copyWRITE!

Work for hire applies under two circumstances - either you're an employee, or you've SIGNED a written agreement in advance. A transfer of copyright or exclusive rights must also be signed and in writing. This means that, without signing an agreement in writing, the builder still owns the copyright to their work, unless they release it into the Public Domain (in which case nobody owns it), or unless they are an "employee".

An "employee" has a whole set of rights, including the right to minimum national wage (plus a HUGE number of other rights - these vary from country to country, but I'm sure everyone is aware of most of them). If the mud argues that it's builders are "employees", then those builders would have a good case for demanding back-pay (this was the same problem AOL had with some of it's "volunteers").

Now while I agree that many muds could argue implied licenses, and any wise mud owner should require explicit ones, these would generally only apply to NON-exclusive rights. The Ack license claims exclusive rights, and does so without requiring that the builders are even made aware of it, let alone sign away those rights.

The point I believe Robbert is trying to make is that if a builder creates an area based on an existing theme, that area would become a derivative work (similar to "fan fiction"). The builder would still own the copyright to their work, but they would only be able to use it under the conditions specified by the copyright holder of the original work, unless they removed all references to that work. For example if you created an area based upon the Pern theme, you'd still own the copyright, but you'd get into some serious problems if you tried to use it on your mud.

So in short, it's fairly easy to stop a builder demanding the removal of their area, but if you want to stop them using their area somewhere else, then you're going to need a signature (it's simply not realistic for a mud to make its builders "employees", unless it's a highly successful commercial mud). However if you have an original theme, you at least have the right to make sure they remove references to that theme before using the area elsewhere.

The clause in the Ack license is legally worthless, and provides mud owners with a false sense of security. I believe that well-drafted licenses should be put together so that ALL parties know EXACTLY where they stand. Each mud is going to have different requirements, and that's fine, but it's important that those requirements are protected by legally binding agreements, not by ignorance and the belief that "they can't afford to sue me anyway". The mud community has enough problems over the wording of certain licenses as it is, without adding some outright worthless licenses to the pile.
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Old 05-27-2002, 04:30 AM   #33
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Nothing significant to add, but I just thought I'd point out that the famous quote "possession is nine tenths of the law" is actually a misquote of "possession is nine points of the law".

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Old 05-27-2002, 04:55 AM   #34
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My thanks, KaVir, for clarifying my intention.

Also, for both the record and the dimwitted, let it be known that my position is not in favor of the strictures imposed by the ACK! license. Quite the contrary - I do not endorse, at any time, exclusive rights.

Also, KaVir - you mentioned a SIGNED statement of understanding or agreement. With the electronic signature law passed in the US, digital signatures are permissible as legal tender, from my understanding. I believe there is still some question as to what comprises a digital signature, however.

And, finally, let me extend my sympathies to those who have lost loved ones in conflict of any sort on this Memorial Day.
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