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Old 06-05-2005, 11:41 PM   #81
Yui Unifex
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Question

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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ foo)
But then what you're saying is that all that's important is that a group of people is angry about something and that rather than expecting them to deal with dissenting opinions maturely, it's better to just chuck out the dissenter? If a group of people believed that all LPMUDs are somehow causing harm, you'd be willing to ban LPMUD operators based on the same logic?
Medievia's examples are all documented fact. Soleil does not represent a mere difference of opinion. The case is really crystal clear, and because of that it is the poster-boy example of copyright infringement in this community. A general analogy that does not include this essential information is simply not enough to generate the moral imperative in this case.

Please take note: Soleil was not banned because people were angry at her. Soleil was banned because people were angry with her, and there was no way we could ask them to forgive the ongoing infringement that was one of the reasons the forum was created in the first place.

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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ foo)
I mean, what your actions effectively do is either officially sanction mob rule or officially condemn Medievia.
As stated in my last post, Medievia is an exceptional case that warrants an exceptional response. Therefore I vote the later, for sufficiently ambiguous definitions of 'officially condemn'.

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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ foo)
That's fine if that's your forums' stance, of course, as it's your forum, but it also kind of casts some doubt on the "open discussion" claim.
The forum never was, strictly speaking, about "open discussion". It has had a specific purpose that restricted certain types of discussion from the start -- namely flames, spam, advertising and off-topic posts.

The forum is for high-signal discussion, and the moderation decisions should further that purpose. In this case, I feel they have.
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Old 06-05-2005, 11:49 PM   #82
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The thing is, just because you find something distasteful doesn't mean you have to constantly disrupt forums attacking people over it.
You know... that's almost exactly what I said.

I wonder if Scott McNealy would call Bill Gates the devil if he could get away with it. He's said a lot of really funny things about Microsoft in the past. Remember "Ballmer and Butt-head?"

Edit: Scott McNealy on MS
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Old 06-05-2005, 11:56 PM   #83
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Medievia's examples are all documented fact.
Documented fact on some random forum poster's websites?

The governor of Illinois abolished the death penalty in that state because too many deathrow convictions (which require a level proof that, shall we say, exceeds what has ever been presented against Medievia by quite a lot) were found out to be simply wrong. Is it so inconceivable that some forum posters might actually be wrong about something as complicated as intellectual property and licensing?


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Soleil was banned because people were angry with her, and there was no way we could ask them to forgive the ongoing infringement
I edited my last post and you may have been writing this one as I edited my last one, but see my point in my previous post about nobody asking them to forgive. Since when is there expected to be no barrier between thought and mouth? I don't walk down the street screaming insults at people whose cars bear pro-Bush stickers, and the issues there are so serious as to make Medievia's alleged crimes absolutely, completely inconsequential. What's so difficult about expecting restraint from a group of educated adults? I mean, from my point of view, Bush's actions are crimes against humanity. And yet, I'm able to restrain myself. Surely restraint on such a comparitively minor issue as Medievia should be -easy-.


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It has had a specific purpose that restricted certain types of discussion from the start -- namely flames, spam, advertising and off-topic posts.
Wouldn't the fair way to stop flames be to punish the people issuing the flames rather than punish the victim? (Since in the context of the forum, Soleil is the victim, if not in the context of the larger mud community were one to give in to the assumption of Medievia's guilt.)

--matt
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Old 06-06-2005, 12:09 AM   #84
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Documented fact on some random forum poster's websites?

The governor of Illinois abolished the death penalty in that state because too many deathrow convictions (which require a level proof that, shall we say, exceeds what has ever been presented against Medievia by quite a lot) were found out to be simply wrong. Is it so inconceivable that some forum posters might actually be wrong about something as complicated as intellectual property and licensing?
Okay, I've got to admit: I've seen the Medievia IV source code personally. I know for a fact that it is derived from Merc 1.0. I realize that it hasn't been 'proven', and perhaps not demonstrated to your satisfaction, but as far as I'm concerned it's indisputable. I am not a lawyer - and thus I don't know the legal details - but I am certainly qualified enough to know a diku mud when I see one. Whether or not there is currently a legal issue (which I believe there is, but again I'm not going to pretend to be an authority), I think it's clear that there is an ethical one.

And no it's not inconceivable that some forum posters might be wrong about intellectual property and licensing. As I said in an earlier post, I do know of an example where they were wrong - the claim that Grem's mud was a version of ROM translated to Blitz Basic.
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Old 06-06-2005, 12:42 AM   #85
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9-->
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Originally Posted by (eiz @ June 06 2005,01[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]9)]Okay, I've got to admit: I've seen the Medievia IV source code personally. I know for a fact that it is derived from Merc 1.0. I realize that it hasn't been 'proven', and perhaps not demonstrated to your satisfaction, but as far as I'm concerned it's indisputable. I am not a lawyer - and thus I don't know the legal details - but I am certainly qualified enough to know a diku mud when I see one. Whether or not there is currently a legal issue (which I believe there is, but again I'm not going to pretend to be an authority), I think it's clear that there is an ethical one.

And no it's not inconceivable that some forum posters might be wrong about intellectual property and licensing. As I said in an earlier post, I do know of an example where they were wrong - the claim that Grem's mud was a version of ROM translated to Blitz Basic.
Well, I mean, with all due respect, your saying that doesn't mean anything to me. I don't mean to imply that you're lying: Indeed, you seem like a reasonable person. On principle though, I find that kind of hearsay to be something I'm not willing to accept to condemn someone.

As regards the ethical issue, that just depends on your set of ethics. The existence of all property is considered immoral in and of itself by most anarchists, for instance (though not anarcho-capitalists), since it must ultimately be supported by the proactive use of physical force. I actually find myself unable to reconcile the fact that I am an entrepreneur with the fact that I fundamentally believe there is never a moral excuse for initiating violence or the credible threat of violence, which makes the very idea of property insupportable to me rationally. I mainly try to ignore this hypocrisy within myself though as it'd be pretty hard to function in the world elsewise. I digress, but my point is that there are valid ethical systems that greatly differ. It's not reasonable to expect that we all follow the same one. Intellectual property, in particular, is a pretty recent invention and not even really an ingrained part of the culture in much of the world (Indonesia, China, etc) so I think that it's tough to make a moral call about Medievia's actions. I'm unable to condemn them, for instance, without condemning the people running hobbyist Star Wars muds (as to me, whether it's commercial or not is no more ethically relevant than whether it has player governments or not), so I now choose to simply reserve judgement. I don't approve or disapprove of Medievia, but then, that's the case for a whole range of MUDs.

As regards the ethical issue, in any case, while my personal set of ethics would object to what Medievia is accused of as well as a range of MUDs using IP they don't have permission to use, I understand that these are my personal set of ethics, not necessarily shared by any particular proportion of the population.

I actually find, then, that from an administrative standpoint, the ethical question should be irrelevant in a 'fair' forum. To make an administrative decision based on any particular set of ethics is to endorse those set of ethics and to condemn those with opposing principles.

The legal question is, in my view, the important one, because the law is the only thing that really gives any tangible definition to the idea of property generally and intellectual property and the license thereof specifically. The law is, for better or worse, the rules by which we're playing. We can personally define our own ethical rules but we can't define our own legal systems. We can only choose to live under particular ones offered or attempt to alter (in futility probably) existing ones. They are, for better or worse, a lot more objective than ethics are when it comes to an administrative judgement. Granted, while this gets us part way, myriad interpretations of the law are possible and it's only in the court systems where 'objective' judgements can be obtained (in the sense that they are objective because the legal system itself says they are, not in some 'moral objectivity' sense).

Anyway, good luck with the forums!

--matt
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Old 06-06-2005, 12:54 AM   #86
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Well, I mean, with all due respect, your saying that doesn't mean anything to me. I don't mean to imply that you're lying: Indeed, you seem like a reasonable person. On principle though, I find that kind of hearsay to be something I'm not willing to accept to condemn someone.
Fair enough. I don't really want to argue about it anyway; just wanted to clarify my personal perspective.
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Old 06-06-2005, 03:16 AM   #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (eiz @ June 06 2005,01:54)
Quote:
Originally Posted by
Well, I mean, with all due respect, your saying that doesn't mean anything to me. I don't mean to imply that you're lying: Indeed, you seem like a reasonable person. On principle though, I find that kind of hearsay to be something I'm not willing to accept to condemn someone.
Fair enough. I don't really want to argue about it anyway; just wanted to clarify my personal perspective.
Sure, yours seems genuine and reasonable. I wish you luck with your forum endeavour.

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Old 06-06-2005, 03:32 AM   #88
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And on that note, let's allow this thread to die.
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Old 06-06-2005, 07:03 AM   #89
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ June 05 2005,23:44)
I mean, it seems like either you accept that minimal harm is being done in BOTH the cases of Medievia and Shadows of Isildur pre-arrangement-with-Tolkien-Enterprises (and the many other MUDs in similar situations) and thus morally it's pretty much a non-issue or you take a legal tact and decide they're both guilty of violating IP law.
What's your stance on plagiarism?

I suppose what I'm trying to get across is that you can debate quantifiable damages all day, which is well and good - but the ethical issues here (or much of the legal infringement issue, really) have very little to do with them.

I think you'll concede that anyone who engages in plagiarism is engaging in an immoral act and is demonstrating a distinct lack of personal integrity - yes?

Or, put another way: would you have hired me if you knew that I, for example, had taken Tolkien's world, changed around most of the names, used it as the basis for an "all-original gameworld" that I had personally "created," but was never (for whatever reason) taken to court over it by the Tolkien folks?

Taking someone else's work and claiming it as your own is morally wrong - there isn't a whole lot of room for discussion there, I don't think. The fact that they then took this even further and made profit from that wrongdoing exacerbates the offense, but it certainly shouldn't be a measure of its totality - that they did it at all is worthy of reprimand.

About all you can really do is question the degree of moral culpability given the context of the wrongdoing here (i.e. your economic damages argument), and we'll have to agree to disagree there, but I don't think you can debate its actual existence.

Pre-arrangement SoI (and other fanfiction sorts of MUDs for that matter) is quite distinguishable legally and morally on these facts, but as I recall you and I have had this discussion before. <g>
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Old 06-06-2005, 11:51 AM   #90
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Very nice post, Traithe.

In my field, you'd be fired immediately for putting your name on someone else's work.

I think the plagiarism is indisputable- Medievia clearly violates the letter and spirit of how derivative works are classified, and a number of smoking guns are available detailing how easy it is to tell they are a derivative. They go to the "But we changed stuff!" well.... but every DIKU derivative changed stuff, and they're still derivatives.

The fact that Medievia not only omits mention of the DIKU authors in their credits, but actively slanders their work (see the page linked above) and ignores the mountain of evidence to the contrary (*) is especially appalling. They submitted to an independent code audit, and got exposed for what they are. The bare minimum they could do would be to own up to this, restore the DIKU authors to proper authorship, and admit the MUD was built on a core that was handed to them.

Now, if they could do that harmlessly, I'd bet they would. The problem is that admitting that their MUD is a derivative of DIKU (especially in the face of blatant lies to the public previously on that front) weakens their already-tenuous stance on their license violation.

(*): Things like "Comments signed by the Merc authors still in the code." are pretty damning. How else would those show up in original code with Medievia authors?

http://www.arthmoor.com/med/ is a good resource on that.
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Old 06-06-2005, 01:11 PM   #91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traithe,June 06 2005,08[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]3]
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I think you'll concede that anyone who engages in plagiarism is engaging in an immoral act and is demonstrating a distinct lack of personal integrity - yes?
In my personal ethical system plagiarism is wrong. Of course, in my personal ethical system, what you were doing with SoI before your arrangement with them is also wrong. I don't claim my ethical system has any primacy over anyone else's or any more legitimacy than anyone else's though.  

Happily, the law tends to side with my personal view on intellectual property most of the time.

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Old 06-06-2005, 02:50 PM   #92
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They submitted to an independent code audit,
Uhm, I'm not sure this is true.  I don't  remember Vryce offering up our code for inspection, ever.  The code that is out there and that is being used in all the comparisions is, by my knowledge, code that was obtained illegally.  I don't remember if it was someone who hacked in to get it or if one of our gods gave it away, but it was not given by Vryce to someone to audit.  It was so long ago now...

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The problem is that admitting that their MUD is a derivative of DIKU (especially in the face of blatant lies to the public previously on that front) weakens their already-tenuous stance on their license violation.
Did you read the link I posted?  Here it is again in case you need to re-read it: How Medievia Got Started  Specifically read where it says that Medievia did start out as DIKU, Merc 1.00 and further down where Vryce explains his stance on DIKU.  I'm sure that you won't be happy with what it says, but there it is.  As I stated earlier, any questions on what's written on that page should be directed to Vryce as it's his writing and his stance.
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Old 06-06-2005, 03:08 PM   #93
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ June 06 2005,01:42)
Quote:
Originally Posted by (eiz @ June 06 2005,01<!--emo&[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img])]Okay, I've got to admit: I've seen the Medievia IV source code personally. I know for a fact that it is derived from Merc 1.0. I realize that it hasn't been 'proven', and perhaps not demonstrated to your satisfaction, but as far as I'm concerned it's indisputable. I am not a lawyer - and thus I don't know the legal details - but I am certainly qualified enough to know a diku mud when I see one. Whether or not there is currently a legal issue (which I believe there is, but again I'm not going to pretend to be an authority), I think it's clear that there is an ethical one.
Well, I mean, with all due respect, your saying that doesn't mean anything to me. I don't mean to imply that you're lying: Indeed, you seem like a reasonable person. On principle though, I find that kind of hearsay to be something I'm not willing to accept to condemn someone.
Matt, I can understand your principle of not blindly accepting hearsay, even firsthand experiences from seemingly reasonable people.

You should look at the source code firsthand.

My personal impressions from reading your posts is that you do not care if there is a copyright breach or not as it doesn't affect you. However, diku implementors are harmed by losing royalty income, and their community suffered stress. I do not think you would want this same thing happening to your ventures.

Personally, I support Medevia if they post credits and work out some kind of royalty payment. If anything, they should do it for the good of their business. Then again, perhaps I am wrong, it could be that bad publicity is publicity nonetheless.

Ethics is a luxury of non destructive conduct that people hold onto when they are strong. Justice comes in when ethics fails. Ethics seems to have failed here thus far. I don't see any board of justice set up in the mud community. I suspect it will be handled in the courts eventually if the money is worth it.

Xotl, 14 years experience in mudding communities, head admin and co-founder of Accursed Lands in operation for 9 years. Former victim of mudlib theft. Not big on bells and whistles and signatures and all kinds of fancy icons.
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Old 06-06-2005, 03:40 PM   #94
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xotl,June 06 2005,16[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]8]
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You should look at the source code firsthand.
Unless Vryce is willing to show it to me, I have no idea how I'd see the code that Medievia is currently running. Further, I have no idea if the license restrictions themselves even have any validity at this point. I'm not a lawyer and even if I was, I'm sure other lawyers would have differing opinions. That's what the court systems are for: Resolving those differences of opinion.

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However, diku implementors are harmed by losing royalty income
What? DIKU doesn't have royalty provisions, and if Medievia just put up the DIKU authors credits, nobody would really have any beef against them unless there's someone out there who has seen their financial statements and knows they're making a profit (and I don't believe any of their detractors can say they have.) The DIKU guys wouldn't get any royalties just because Medievia decided to put up the DIKU authors names.

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I do not think you would want this same thing happening to your ventures.
It wouldn't. Unlike the DIKU founders, I feel our work is worth enough to defend, aggressively. And unlike them, we could suffer real harm. People could lose their ability to pay for health insurance, mortgages, school for their kids, etc. Steal from us and I'd come after the thief in any way possible, legally or otherwise. In fact, I have previously shut down a commercial MUD for violating provisions of a license to use our old Vortex mud engine.

--matt
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Old 06-06-2005, 04:13 PM   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Ilkidarios @ June 06 2005,04:32)
And on that note, let's allow this thread to die.
Or not.  Not is always good. I think Matt's right, Diku doesn't get any royalties. As long as you mention their name you don't have to pay them anything.
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Old 06-06-2005, 05:36 PM   #96
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Can you people derail some more?
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Old 06-06-2005, 05:39 PM   #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ June 06 2005,16:40)
Quote:
Originally Posted by
However, diku implementors are harmed by losing royalty income
What? DIKU doesn't have royalty provisions, and if Medievia just put up the DIKU authors credits, nobody would really have any beef against them unless there's someone out there who has seen their financial statements and knows they're making a profit (and I don't believe any of their detractors can say they have.) The DIKU guys wouldn't get any royalties just because Medievia decided to put up the DIKU authors names.
True. What they had was a usage contract and a contract can be renegotiated by both parties to provide for royalties.

I'm not damning anyone. In fact, I find the stipulation to never allow commercial gain off a DIKU derivative to be limiting and harmful.

And yep, I agree with you that if Medevia just put up the DIKU authors credits I think the majority of people would not have any beef against them.

I'm sure most of the DIKU folk poured their blood, sweat and tears into making the lib and only wanted some appreciation in return. Vryce no doubt put in innumerable hours of work as well, and likely most of the code is now original. But even if DIKU was only used as a test harness to recode the majority of the mud, that's still a very significant contribution.

If I had written DIKU back then, I would be proud if one of the most successful muds started with my codebase and was thanking me. All I saw on Medevia's startup page were negative points about how bad DIKU was. Well, it was the one they picked over others, so to them it was the best choice that existed back then to go forward from.

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Old 06-06-2005, 06:38 PM   #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ foo)
Documented fact on some random forum poster's websites?
Documented fact on some website that just so happens to have a signed statement from Vryce vouching for its authenticity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ bar)
Is it so inconceivable that some forum posters might actually be wrong about something as complicated as intellectual property and licensing?
There is a fundamental difference between laws and ethics. I reckon the majority of those who have feelings on the subject (myself included) find moral fault with the actions of Medievia.

I have released a couple of codebases to the public domain. Is stripping out the credits and claiming them as your own legal? Yes. Is it ethical by most ethical standards? No.

Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ foo)
Since when is there expected to be no barrier between thought and mouth? I don't walk down the street screaming insults at people whose cars bear pro-Bush stickers, and the issues there are so serious as to make Medievia's alleged crimes absolutely, completely inconsequential.
The veracity of one crime does not diminish that of another. If you'd like to address specific insulting posters then feel free, but you're misunderstanding if you think I am defending the actions of either side. The flames were deleted at the same time Soleil was banned. Both sides have fault: One for breaking the general forum rules, the other for earning such an incredible level of disrespect in the community.

Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ foo)
Wouldn't the fair way to stop flames be to punish the people issuing the flames rather than punish the victim?
That would be a fair way to stop the flames, surely, but it would not stem the overall disrespect. This is an issue far larger than a mere flame war or two, and any punitive actions taken must keep this in mind.
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Old 06-06-2005, 06:43 PM   #99
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ June 06 2005,14:11)
In my personal ethical system plagiarism is wrong.
Sure - and a healthy dose of moral relativism is a good thing, as it's conducive to civilized discussion and peaceful resolution of conflicts in and between socities.

However, what plagiarism really breaks down to is two distinct acts: 1) theft (by depriving the creator of either the work or its concomitant benefits, and accruing them to yourself), and 2) misrepresentation (by intentionally presenting the work as yours when you know it isn't).

Assuming as a given the lack of any reliable moral objectivity, I still challenge you to find a single society or societal set of ethics (i.e. one not inherently opposed to society or the rule of law, such as anarchism) that does not treat these two sorts of acts as immoral ones.

Put another way, I really don't much care that 1% of the world's population or whatever is anarchist and doesn't treat these things as morally wrong. The only people I really care about are reasonable members of society, i.e. the overwhelming majority of the world's population, and in that case an equally overwhelming majority will assert that these two sorts of acts are ethical wrongdoings.

In fact, I suspect that if you ask Vryce and Soleil their stance on theft and misrepresentation, they'd assert in no uncertain terms that both acts are morally wrong. If Soleil's ambivalence and reluctance to answer my very simple and straightforward question earlier in this thread are any indication, I imagine that this sits very uneasily with them in light of their past (and continuing) acts.
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Old 06-07-2005, 05:25 AM   #100
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Traithe wrote:  June 06 2005,19:43    
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However, what plagiarism really breaks down to is two distinct acts: 1) theft (by depriving the creator of either the work or its concomitant benefits, and accruing them to yourself), and 2) misrepresentation (by intentionally presenting the work as yours when you know it isn't).
Well said, Traithe.

A large number of free muds are traditionally founded, partly or completely, on ‘fan fiction’. This has traditionally been accepted in the Mud community, whereas plagiarism, stealing of code and areas and removing of credits always have been shunned by the same community.

The difference should be obvious to anyone. ‘Fan fiction’ honours and reveres it roots. The reason the mud was started or the area created in the first place is that the creator was so taken with the book or movie that he wants to share his enthusiasm with a greater audience.

They use the original names and settings as a spin-off, and create new material inspired by it. They never try to hide the origin of their inspiration. On the contrary, they try very hard to advertise it, to get more supporters for their favourite author, and more readers for his or her books. The copyright holders are most likely aware of this fact, which could be one reason why they hardly ever respond to direct requests to use their material as theme for a mud. They don’t really mind the free advertising they get. But on the other hand they don’t want to sanction it officially, in case that would set an unwanted precedence, if they some time in the future wanted to allow some commercial game to be based on their work. (This is of course just a personal theory of mine, but a rather plausible one. Why else would they not say plain ‘NO, you are not allowed to do that, and if you do we will sue you for copyright infringement’ when asked directly by a Mud owner?)

A typical fan-fiction mud or area always gives credit to its roots, perhaps worded something like this:

‘This zone/area was inspired by the awesome Lord of the Rings Trilogy by Tolkien. If you are not yet familiar with these wonderful books, you should go and purchase them and read them now. Hopefully this game will inspire you to do so, and in this way give something back to the original that has inspired us to create this mud.’

A code stealer on the other hand does everything to hide the connections to the original that he stole. The first action is of course to remove the credits and copyrights statement, and replace them with his own name. The next task is to go through the code systematically, primarily to change as many of the openly displayed messages as possible, but also to remove all hidden references to the original code, in case someone got hold of their source code. This of course takes a lot of time and effort to do, at the expense of actually developing any new and original additional code. Since the code has so many lines, they sometimes slip up, and leave something incriminating in there by mistake. This is what happened with the amusing references to Tinymuds and its creators that KaVir and the other viewers found when going through the Medievia code.

But this was long ago. By now, over 10 years later, Vryce has had ample time to finish this work, and make sure that there are no lasting references to the code he stole. This is when he proudly announces that Medievia is now ‘totally rewritten’ and ‘100 % original’. Sure, he added a lot of new code too, but however much he adds that never changes the fact that the code still is and always will be a Diku derivative.

And here comes the ultimate insult. Not only does he remove the credits, he also insults the origin in the official history of Medievia, that Soleil so obligingly linked to. Here is how they show their reverence to the code they stole and based on:

‘Medievia is not a DIKU mud. We got our feet wet 12 years ago with a Merc beta release in 1991. That was 26,000 lines of programming, Medievia V is over 450,000 lines of programming. DIKU mud did not work when you used it as it was full of memory leaks, poor design and an architecture that would never scale up to what we needed. DIKU was basically ABER mud re-tooled. Merc then took DIKU code and re-tooled it again.’

... And then Vryce took Merc code and re-tooled it again ...

No wonder Soleil and Vryce will never get any respect on Mudlab, or for that matter from any decent mud developers.
It's like Tony Soprano buying a large house in an respectable neighbourhood and expecting to be regarded as an equal of his neighbours, who all know what his fortune was founded on.
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