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Old 05-30-2003, 09:33 PM   #21
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Also, while you're on this warpath against intellectual property theft in MU*-land, you might as well load your cannons for bear against all fan clubs/sites that don't ask permission, as well as Yahoo newsgroups and any ISP that allows play-by-email games set in these established realms.
I have a problem with fan clubs and sites that don't ask permission as well, but I'm not involved in their world like I am in the mud world. As for ISPs, they're common carriers and bear no responsibility for what goes on over their network. On the other hand, Topmudsites has expressly decided to ban Medievia for IP violation. Why not all the other IP violators as well?

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My point: Be careful about that slippery slope. I understand concerns about people stealing intellectual property for personal profit - I'd be right there with you in that argument. Shadows of Isildur appears to be an homage - a celebration of the world Tolkien created. It's not a commercial enterprise like the MMORPGs are going to be. It's little more than a large, free-to-play tabletop game linked together by computers - and unless you plan to go running around like the cardinal in the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch, raiding tabletop games like some 'net savvy Eliot Ness, you're really taking on a crusade that won't be worth the time or energy you'd be better off devoting to your own games.
A private, at-home table-top game doesn't violate anyone's IP rights, so I can't imagine why I'd have a problem with that. A publically available game most certainly does, which is why I have a problem with it.

Anyway, if your moral standard depends on whether an action hurts the copyright holder financially, I assume you've also got no problem with Medievia as it's not hurting anyone financially. But similarly, neither of us are in a position to judge whether a free game takes money away from or indirectly contributes money to Tolkien Enterprises by slightly altering the overall public perception of the license. Taken to an extreme, imagine a popular free game in which Gandalf was a child molestor. Surely you can imagine why, in that particular circumstance, Tolkien Enterprises might want to shut such a game down? Now consider the reality, which is that a licenseholder has a MUCH easier time simply banning the use of their property than it does monitoring everything that goes on in, say, a mud based on that property.

There are certainly arguments for why a licenseholder wouldn't care. I've read, for instance, that Jim Rigney (pen name Robert Jordan) has posted that he doesn't mind people creating free muds based on WoT. I don't know if that's true, but assuming it is, I can understand the motivation behind him doing that. Why **** off your fans? On the other hand, he risks that material entering the public domain due to willful lack of enforcement regarding his copyrighted material (I believe so at least. I am not a lawyer.) Raymond Feist strictly enforces any violation of his copyright partially for that very reason, for instance.
--matt
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Old 05-30-2003, 09:36 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by (Brody @ May 30 2003,20:26)
I think you'd have to reach pretty far to call Shadows of Isildur a public performance, given the barriers to access: You need to *find it* to play it. You need directions to get there. You need appropriate software to log in. It's not that much different from a private tabletop gaming session. Public performance, in my opinion (I'm admittedly not a lawyer), would be on stage in a park, performing your own Tolkien works.
So...because I need directions to the opera house, need a ticket to access the opera, and need software to buy that ticket online, it's not a public performance? Of course it is.

In any case, while I'm not a lawyer, I deal with our lawyers regularly on these issues and I'm quite certain that if Tolkien Enterprises objects, there's not even a question about whether a mud like SoL is legally infringing on their property.

--matt
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Old 05-30-2003, 09:41 PM   #23
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Eh - some people might argue that your focusing on MU*-land is a conflict of interest: Your games are all set in original-theme worlds, right? Therefore you might be seeking to help yourself by trying to shut down all the "violators" and thus reduce the rather large volume of MUDs and improve your own position (which involves financial gain, if I'm not mistaken). I'm not saying that's what you're doing - you may very well have the most altruistic motives at heart. But it's what someone *could* think, if you selectively choose MU*-land as your venue of choice for combating intellectual property violations.

If you're going to champion intellectual property rights, do it across the board so as to eliminate *any* possible misconceptions about your motives.
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Old 05-30-2003, 09:53 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by (Brody @ May 30 2003,20:41)
Eh - some people might argue that your focusing on MU*-land is a conflict of interest: Your games are all set in original-theme worlds, right? Therefore you might be seeking to help yourself by trying to shut down all the "violators" and thus reduce the rather large volume of MUDs and improve your own position (which involves financial gain, if I'm not mistaken). I'm not saying that's what you're doing - you may very well have the most altruistic motives at heart. But it's what someone *could* think, if you selectively choose MU*-land as your venue of choice for combating intellectual property violations.

If you're going to champion intellectual property rights, do it across the board so as to eliminate *any* possible misconceptions about your motives.
Why would I even discuss other types of copyright violation on a website devoted to muds? I'm opposed to all forms of copyright infringement, of course, but none of them make sense to post on here.

And I don't have completely altruistic motives. Shutting down a bunch of copyright infringers isn't going to help our business to any significant degree, but the idea of someone infringing on my IP without my permission ticks me off. Same way a father who lost a son to cancer might choose to be more involved in the fight against one form of human suffering (cancer) than another form like hunger or AIDs.
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Old 05-30-2003, 09:57 PM   #25
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We'll just have to agree to disagree on this - as reasonable people can and sometimes must do.

In any event, good luck with your efforts.
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Old 05-30-2003, 10:25 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by (Brody @ May 30 2003,20:57)
We'll just have to agree to disagree on this - as reasonable people can and sometimes must do.

In any event, good luck with your efforts.
Well, I think there are two levels of disagreement.

1. Legal. On this, there's really no reasonable disagreement. It's illegal.

2. Moral. On this there is lots of valid potential disagreement. After all, IP law like all property law is entirely a legal invention. I object to a number of laws and violate them regularly with a clear conscience.

Anyway, you're right, probably no point in continuing this discussion. If I get in contact with the Tolkien folks, I'll post about it here.

--matt
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Old 05-31-2003, 01:10 AM   #27
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Oy vey - I'm a little late, aren't I? I didn't even realize this debate was raging until one of our players kindly directed a link to my attention, after I'd been away from the computer all day.

First - I wanted to say "thanks" for some of the kind words that I've seen said about me here. I'm honored to see others taking up my side of the case while I was absent, and appreciate it greatly.

Logos, I respect your position on the matter, and certainly admire your consistency. I do realize the somewhat precarious nature of my own arguments, from a strictly legal standpoint, as has been enumerated by yourself and numerous others in posts before.

I guess what strikes me the most about this thread and your argument is your distinction between the "legal" and the "moral". To wit:

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1. Legal. On this, there's really no reasonable disagreement. It's illegal.
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Originally Posted by
2. Moral. On this there is lots of valid potential disagreement. After all, IP law like all property law is entirely a legal invention. I object to a number of laws and violate them regularly with a clear conscience.
Regarding point number one: you are absolutely correct. Despite the efforts I have made at contacting the Estate and researching the issues (see the MudConnector post I believe someone referenced above), my assumption that it is permissible to use their IP because they have not responded negatively is, technically, erroneous - and the usage is, technically, therefore illegal. This brings me to the latter half of your second point: I object to a number of laws and violate them regularly with a clear conscience.

As long as we're clear that your decision to pursue this issue, and continually single out and attack my project on the public fora - is a result of a personal moral preference, since clearly you do not seem to maintain that the law deserves to be upheld simply because it is the law - I don't really have much else to say. Of course, I could point out that my own opinion on the matter stems from a similar source, and note that this entire debate therefore becomes a conflict of personal preference and moral values rather than consistent, by-the-letter legality.

In short, you're certainly entitled to repeatedly call me a "thief" on various public fora, but I hope you understand the difficulties of your own position.

Best of luck in your attempts to track down someone at T-Ent - with any amount of luck, one way or another, this entire issue (at least, as it pertains to SoI) will be resolved soon so that it may be left in peace.


-T.
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Old 05-31-2003, 01:30 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by (Traithe @ May 31 2003,00:10)
As long as we're clear that your decision to pursue this issue, and continually single out and attack my project on the public fora - is a result of a personal moral preference, since clearly you do not seem to maintain that the law deserves to be upheld simply because it is the law - I don't really have much else to say. Of course, I could point out that my own opinion on the matter stems from a similar source, and note that this entire debate therefore becomes a conflict of personal preference and moral values rather than consistent, by-the-letter legality.

In short, you're certainly entitled to repeatedly call me a "thief" on various public fora, but I hope you understand the difficulties of your own position.
Yes, I don't believe the law deserves to be respected merely because it is the law. Laws that "protect" me from myself (anti-drug laws, seatbelt laws, laws against suicide, etc) I feel no compunction to uphold. Laws that involve harming others, I generally do (though I have little problem with vigilantism, for instance).

I'm firmly on the side of believing that infringing on someone else's copyright is wrong. I don't care if it's a mud codebase, Tolkien, or music, software or movies via Kazaa. I even sent a check to Microsoft once due to the fact that 2 years previously I had ripped them off with an illegal copy of Word.

The fact is, it would make me a complete hypocrite to feel or do otherwise (and happily I have no inclination to forgive that kind of behavior, so no danger there). Our players have created quite a few fansites, of course, and occasionally I've granted some of them the right to duplicate some of our help files or whatnot. But man does it **** me off when I find someone stealing our stuff without having gotten permission first. I don't care if they're doing it in homage. Common courtesy demands you obtain permission first, if nothing else. If you can't, shrug, don't do it. You have no right to it.

--matt
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Old 05-31-2003, 02:18 AM   #29
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Sure you have the right to take whatever you want on the internet. No one can stop you...and if you think they can, just look at your own arguement and all the lists of muds that have "stolen" IP. No one cares really, mainly because they know deep down there is nothing you can do, short of coming to my house and having me arrested? Which you of course know where my house is? I live in Europe? Can western laws touch me here? Who knows, who cares, it's an empty battle, clearly lost from the beginning, but I agree with you, I hate how people steal and covet IP, but there is nothing you can do, I tell you this out of experience...

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Old 05-31-2003, 05:58 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by (Delerak @ May 31 2003,01:18)
Sure you have the right to take whatever you want on the internet.  No one can stop you...and if you think they can, just look at your own arguement and all the lists of muds that have "stolen" IP.  No one cares really, mainly because they know deep down there is nothing you can do, short of coming to my house and having me arrested? Which you of course know where my house is? I live in Europe? Can western laws touch me here?  Who knows, who cares, it's an empty battle, clearly lost from the beginning, but I agree with you, I hate how people steal and covet IP, but there is nothing you can do, I tell you this out of experience...

-Delerak
Well, I'm not willing to give the battle up. I've had some bad experiences working with law enforcement, but I've also had a positive experience where someone who stole our code was arrested by the F.B.I. It was a #### of a time getting them to do anything, but I tell you, that 18 year old kid apparently cried like a baby when the G-men showed up at his parents house (where he lived) and seized all the computer equipment in the house and arrested him. Little bastard.

I mean, I tend to agree that intellectual property has only about a 50/50 chance of surviving in its current form, but I just refuse to surrendur to side of entitlement and greed.

--matt
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Old 05-31-2003, 10:08 AM   #31
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Old 06-02-2003, 01:18 PM   #32
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I'd be curious to find out exactly what the circumstances were that the FBI stepped in and arrested someone for using your MUD's code? I believe this is an issue where others would be interested as well.

Although I admit I'm skeptical.

Darrik Vequir
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Old 06-02-2003, 01:56 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by (Darrik @ June 02 2003,12:18)
I'd be curious to find out exactly what the circumstances were that the FBI stepped in and arrested someone for using your MUD's code? I believe this is an issue where others would be interested as well.

Although I admit I'm skeptical.

Darrik Vequir
The exact circumstances aren't something I'm going to talk about but involved two aspects, the sum of which led to the involvement of the FBI:
1. The kid stole our code by hacking into a backup machine we were using for awhile at our ISP, Wolfpaw. This in and of itself isn't a big deal. If he can't run it, it's of little value.
2. The kid proceeded to try and run a copy of Achaea briefly.

The FBI won't touch this sort of case unless there's at least $50,000 in actual or potential damages involved. I had to actually show them revenue documentation and so on to prove that our codebase is worth well into the 6 figures. (Really, they weren't very friendly at all. They acted as if they were doing me a favor rather than doing their freaking jobs enforcing the law.) Just from the conversations I had with the agent I was dealing with, I also don't think they would have lifted a finger had not both #1 and #2 happened, though it's possible I"m being unfair to them.

--matt
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Old 06-02-2003, 05:56 PM   #34
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Any luck getting ahold of the T-Ent people today? I'm really curious to hear what they have to say.


-T.
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Old 06-02-2003, 06:50 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by (Traithe @ June 02 2003,16:56)
Any luck getting ahold of the T-Ent people today? I'm really curious to hear what they have to say.


-T.
Nope, not yet. I sent them an e-mail this morning and gave them a call but got voicemail.

There's actually a reasonable chance, I suppose, that they want to pretend products like yours don't exist. If they don't acknowledge your existence they may save themselves the trouble of shutting you down without risking their material entering the public domain.

I will certainly post here when or if I hear anything back from them.

--matt
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Old 06-02-2003, 06:55 PM   #36
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If they don't acknowledge your existence they may save themselves the trouble of shutting you down without risking their material entering the public domain.
Or they might, in fact, recognize the value of fan fiction/derivative works in generating interest in their IP.


-T.
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Old 06-02-2003, 08:46 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by (Traithe @ June 02 2003,17:55)
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If they don't acknowledge your existence they may save themselves the trouble of shutting you down without risking their material entering the public domain.
Or they might, in fact, recognize the value of fan fiction/derivative works in generating interest in their IP.


-T.
Yeah. Tolkien stuff sure needs more interest.

The whole "It might benefit them." argument is a straw man anyway. Both the law and common-freaking-courtesy demand that you ask permission before using someone else's stuff, regardless of whether YOU think it might help them or not (you are not in any position to judge that).

--matt
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Old 06-02-2003, 09:27 PM   #38
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Both the law and common-freaking-courtesy demand that you ask permission before using someone else's stuff
My sincerest apologies if at any time I have been anything less than courteous to you, or any other.

At any rate, I wish you continued luck with your efforts to contact Tolkien Enterprises. Until then, as Brody so eloquently stated earlier: the windmills, I believe, are that way.

All 1.4 million of them.

Take care.


-T.
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Old 06-03-2003, 04:22 PM   #39
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Both the law and common-freaking-courtesy demand that you ask permission before using someone else's stuff, regardless of whether YOU think it might help them or not (you are not in any position to judge that).
The fact that Traithe sent a written proposal as requested shows that he did ask permission. The question is not of whether permission was asked, but of whether or not it was granted (according to legal and/or moral definitions).

Legally, a written proposal is an offer under contract law.  Traithe sent a written proposal, as was expressly requested by the offeree.  Therefore, I would guess that the best defense could be found under the contract law, specifically in relation to implied contracts.  The failure to expressly deny permission after Traithe sent a written proposal as requested might be interpreted legally as an implied acceptance.

Thus, Traithe's actions might be perfectly legal, both technically and in the spirit of the law.  Of course, in the case of contract law, there would be the question of whether or not value is being given in return, something required for a contract to be valid; but I suppose it might be said that, simply by creating a MUD for Tolkein fans to play in, Traithe may be giving value.  Of course, I'm no expert on contract law, so I may be wrong all the way around.

Even if Traithe's actions turn out to be illegal in a technical, strictly worded sense, whether or something is truly illegal is generally determined by whether or not a person made a reasonable effort to follow the spirit of the law. Traithe has certainly made a reasonable effort to make the right people knowledgeable of his intentions, and his intentions certainly seem to be in line with the norms of the Tolkein community, a community of which the Tolkein industry has ample indication of approval. (And why wouldn't they? The fan community is the main driving force of the industry.) Finally, he has not yet seemed to have broken his promise to remove the mud should permission ever be denied.

I think the difference between Traithe's actions and Vryce's actions should be obvious. Traithe has potential defenses on both the technical and moral side of the law. In the end, Vryce quite obviously had neither.
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Old 06-03-2003, 05:15 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by (Burr @ June 03 2003,15:22)
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Both the law and common-freaking-courtesy demand that you ask permission before using someone else's stuff, regardless of whether YOU think it might help them or not (you are not in any position to judge that).
The fact that Traithe sent a written proposal as requested shows that he did ask permission. The question is not of whether permission was asked, but of whether or not it was granted (according to legal and/or moral definitions).

Legally, a written proposal is an offer under contract law. Traithe sent a written proposal, as was expressly requested by the offeree. Therefore, I would guess that the best defense could be found under the contract law, specifically in relation to implied contracts. The failure to expressly deny permission after Traithe sent a written proposal as requested might be interpreted legally as an implied acceptance.

Thus, Traithe's actions might be perfectly legal, both technically and in the spirit of the law. Of course, in the case of contract law, there would be the question of whether or not value is being given in return, something required for a contract to be valid; but I suppose it might be said that, simply by creating a MUD for Tolkein fans to play in, Traithe may be giving value. Of course, I'm no expert on contract law, so I may be wrong all the way around.

Even if Traithe's actions turn out to be illegal in a technical, strictly worded sense, whether or something is truly illegal is generally determined by whether or not a person made a reasonable effort to follow the spirit of the law. Traithe has certainly made a reasonable effort to make the right people knowledgeable of his intentions, and his intentions certainly seem to be in line with the norms of the Tolkein community, a community of which the Tolkein industry has ample indication of approval. (And why wouldn't they? The fan community is the main driving force of the industry.) Finally, he has not yet seemed to have broken his promise to remove the mud should permission ever be denied.

I think the difference between Traithe's actions and Vryce's actions should be obvious. Traithe has potential defenses on both the technical and moral side of the law. In the end, Vryce quite obviously had neither.
Nonsense. Without express permission, it's illegal. The Tolkien people are certainly not required to formally deny him permission. He is required to fomally obtan permission. It's reprehensible.

--matt
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