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Old 05-30-2003, 03:28 PM   #1
the_logos
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Why is it that Medieiva is banned from this site, whereas Shadows of Isildur is actually permitted to advertise here? They're both run by thieves and it seems wholly unfair to punish one instance of IP theft and not another.

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Old 05-30-2003, 04:02 PM   #2
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I'm sure that the owner of SoI will more eloquently defend himself, but I'll just toss in some information in case you're unaware. This was posted on mudconnector by Traithe when the topic came up in the past:


How is the owner of SoI a "thief"?

He posted this, complete with links, on the mudconnector:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
Hephos,
Your avid concern for the welfare of the Tolkien estate's intellectual property is certainly appreciated. While I hadn't initially planned on devoting much time to addressing your concerns publicly, as I've a feeling they're more mean-spirited sniping than anything else, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and make the effort nonetheless.
Now, according to the Tolkien Enterprises website:
Anyone desiring to use one or more of the Tolkien fanciful names and/or characters in connection with merchandise, stage adaptations, or services offered to the public is requested to submit a written proposal to Laurie Battle, Director of Licensing, 2600 Tenth Street, Berkeley, California 94710.
I have, in fact, submitted a written proposal to Ms. Battle regarding Shadows of Isildur, via email. As of yet, I have not received a response, which leads me to believe a number of things that I shall address below. I will add, however, that when I'm in northern California in about a month I plan on visiting their offices in Berkeley personally.
Since I have not received a response regarding my proposal to Ms. Battle, I would assume that she (and by extension, Tolkien Enterprises) regards SoI as fair and benevolent use of Tolkien's intellectual property - use which, I might add, is quite limited in scope, as we in fact rely only on the setting, and not at all on the events and storylines contained in the Lord of the Rings (save where the history of Middle-earth is mentioned, as our setting is approximately 500 years before the War).
This hunch is further reinforced by the fact that there are numerous MUDs on the internet which use some element of Tolkien (42 in the listings here at TMC); one of which is quite old and well-established. Given some of the Estate's past decisions regarding the protection of its intellectual copyright - do you really think that they would allow such a large number of MUDs to operate under that setting for such a long period of time, when their attention has been called to the situation?
The actions of the Estate to this point are not indicative of an intellectual property holder who feels that a given application of a portion of said property is a breach of the Fair Use Clause of the U.S. Copyright Law and/or their license.
Should they in fact return my efforts at contact to inform me that the MUD is in violation of their license, I would be the first to ensure that it was shut down.
You are certainly welcome to contact them as well, which would not be unwelcome on my part, as perhaps you'll have better luck getting a response from them than I.
Until that point, however, I would appreciate it if you would allow me the courtesy of posting promotions for the project in peace.
Thank you.
-T.
I imagine he'll be happy to defend himself again here, though. Also, he doesn't profit from his game, unlike Medeivia.
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Old 05-30-2003, 05:57 PM   #3
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[quote=Riga,May 30 2003,162]I'm sure that the owner of SoI will more eloquently defend himself, but I'll just toss in some information in case you're unaware. This was posted on mudconnector by Traithe when the topic came up in the past:


How is the owner of SoI a "thief"?


Quote:
Originally Posted by
I imagine he'll be happy to defend himself again here, though. Also, he doesn't profit from his game, unlike Medeivia.
Quote:
Originally Posted by
I'm sure that the owner of SoI will more eloquently defend himself, but I'll just toss in some information in case you're unaware. This was posted on mudconnector by Traithe when the topic came up in the past:
<response snipped, but boiled down to the owner of SoL not getting permission, and assuming that in the absence of a 'no' the answer is 'yes.'
So if I send you a letter asking if I can steal your tv, and don't get a reply, I should just assume the answer is that you don't mind me doing it? It's also legally irrelevant whether a profit is being made, though I'd point out that the DIKU owners do not lose any money from Medievia's actions, while the Tolkien estate could possibly do so, as they are in the business of making money from their property.

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Old 05-30-2003, 06:11 PM   #4
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I'm at a loss to understand why Shadows of Isildur is being targeted specifically for the rather extreme allegation of "intellectual property theft." If the game isn't being run for profit, and if the Tolkien estate has not issued a proclamation against such games, I really don't see what business it is of ours whether SoI is allowed to advertise - at the expense of that game's operators, not the Tolkien estate - here or anywhere else.

I've seen Wheel of Time-themed games advertised here too. Shall we simply issue a moratorium on advertising by *any* game based on an established/trademarked theme?

Maybe I've missed something that makes SoI a special case that deserves banning more than any other game with an established theme as its inspiration, but the evidence certainly hasn't made it to this thread yet .
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Old 05-30-2003, 06:13 PM   #5
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Once again, Triathe would probably be better off defending his actions, as I don't really care one way or the other (other than to have a sort of visceral abreaction to the nastiness of your post toward a guy that seems well-meaning, talented, and good-intentioned).

My understanding was that Triathe was going to meet, in person, with the folks at some Tolkien office in California in order to obtain express permission.

I believe, at heart, the difference between Traithe and Vryce is that Traithe is actually attempting to work with the holders of the copyrights. Vryce repeatedly shows he has no desire to do so. I imagine that if Traithe is asked to take down SoI by the Tolkien estates, he will do so. Vryce, obviously, won't.
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Old 05-30-2003, 06:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Brody @ May 30 2003,18:11)
Maybe I've missed something that makes SoI a special case that deserves banning more than any other game with an established theme as its inspiration, but the evidence certainly hasn't made it to this thread yet .
Exactly. It makes me wonder if logos has a personal beef against Traithe?

It fairly boggles my mind, as Traithe has been an exemplary member of the RPI community at least. He actually advertises all the other main RPIs on his mud's website and basically just seems to be a genuinely nice guy. Note that I actually admin on another RPI and don't play SoI, so I don't really have much stake in this other than to wonder why the_logos is singling SoI out.
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Old 05-30-2003, 06:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Brody @ May 30 2003,18:11)
I'm at a loss to understand why Shadows of Isildur is being targeted specifically for the rather extreme allegation of "intellectual property theft." If the game isn't being run for profit, and if the Tolkien estate has not issued a proclamation against such games, I really don't see what business it is of ours whether SoI is allowed to advertise - at the expense of that game's operators, not the Tolkien estate - here or anywhere else.

I've seen Wheel of Time-themed games advertised here too. Shall we simply issue a moratorium on advertising by *any* game based on an established/trademarked theme?

Maybe I've missed something that makes SoI a special case that deserves banning more than any other game with an established theme as its inspiration, but the evidence certainly hasn't made it to this thread yet .
I didn't intend to make Shadows of Isildur a special case. I have an equal problem with all ripped off IP. I was just using them as an example as I 've seen the banners here recently.

--matt
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Old 05-30-2003, 06:54 PM   #8
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Still, I question how this counts as "ripped off intellectual property." He's not claiming to have created middle earth. He's not claiming to have invented the term "Hobbits." He's giving credit where it's due, and he's not charging people for the experience of sharing his affinity for Tolkien.

Show me the legal violation here. That's all I'm saying.
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Old 05-30-2003, 07:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
Exactly. It makes me wonder if logos has a personal beef against Traithe?
I don't even know who the guy is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
It fairly boggles my mind, as Traithe has been an exemplary member of the RPI community at least. He actually advertises all the other main RPIs on his mud's website and basically just seems to be a genuinely nice guy. Note that I actually admin on another RPI and don't play SoI, so I don't really have much stake in this other than to wonder why the_logos is singling SoI out.
Yeah...I'm not sure what being a nice guy has to do with it.

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Old 05-30-2003, 07:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Brody @ May 30 2003,18:54)
Still, I question how this counts as "ripped off intellectual property." He's not claiming to have created middle earth. He's not claiming to have invented the term "Hobbits." He's giving credit where it's due, and he's not charging people for the experience of sharing his affinity for Tolkien.

Show me the legal violation here. That's all I'm saying.
Um...how about just starting with the name itself, "Shadows of Isildur." Or the fact that he's got "Minas Morgul" in the game.

Whether he claimed to invent the material or not isn't relevant.

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Old 05-30-2003, 07:28 PM   #11
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Explain to me, in simple legal terms, how his paying to advertise for a free game inspired by the works of Tolkien, that in no way drains money from the Tolkien estate, is a rip-off of intellectual property?

Let's say I run a middle earth tabletop game in a coffee shop in town. I go down to Kinko's and make fliers to post on the gaming shop bulletin board. The flier says "Immerse yourself in Isengard!" And then proceeds to give basic information about the gaming sessions and the times when those sessions are held, plus directions to the coffee shop. Now, the gaming sessions are absolutely free - of course, you might want to go buy some Tolkien roleplaying materials or Tolkien's books to learn more about it (thus actually HELPING the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and the corporations that have licensing agreements to publish such materials). Would it then be a violation of intellectual property rights to have run these games, at my own expense, and advertised to get people to come play?

I am still unsure where your footing is for all of this.
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Old 05-30-2003, 07:33 PM   #12
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There exist hundreds of MUDs based off of exisiting material. To name the ones listed over at MudConnector:

Roger Zelazny's Amber series
Babylon 5
Diablo
Dragonball
William Gibson's Cyberpunk
DragonLance
Dungeons and Dragons
Final Fantasy/Phantasy Star
Forgotten Realms
Harry Potter
Magic: The Gathering
Pern
Pokemon
Shadowrun
Star Trek
Star Wars
Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series
Tolkien
Transformers
Ultima
Warhammer
Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series
World of Darkness
X-Files

By your definition, all of these MUDs are intellectual property thieves, and should all be banned.
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Old 05-30-2003, 07:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (HaiWolfe @ May 30 2003,19:33)
There exist hundreds of MUDs based off of exisiting material.  To name the ones listed over at MudConnector:

Roger Zelazny's Amber series
Babylon 5
Diablo
Dragonball
William Gibson's Cyberpunk
DragonLance
Dungeons and Dragons
Final Fantasy/Phantasy Star
Forgotten Realms
Harry Potter
Magic: The Gathering
Pern
Pokemon
Shadowrun
Star Trek
Star Wars
Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series
Tolkien
Transformers
Ultima
Warhammer
Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series
World of Darkness
X-Files

By your definition, all of these MUDs are intellectual property thieves, and should all be banned.
Heh, it's not my definition of intellectual property. It's the definition of the laws of most western countries.

And yes, all those should be banned if the owners of the IP haven't given permission. I use Tolkien as an example largely because they are famous for being extremely forceful about their IP rights. For instance, the lawsuit against the neighborhood kid's birthday party clown in Long Island who called himself "Gandalf."

--matt
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Old 05-30-2003, 07:58 PM   #14
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For instance, the lawsuit against the neighborhood kid's birthday party clown in Long Island who called himself "Gandalf."
Not sure about the status of that frivolous lawsuit so far, but Gandalf the Wizard Clown is still in business: http://www.magicforpets.com/

And HE makes money off it. Unlike the purveyor of Shadows of Isildur.
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Old 05-30-2003, 07:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Brody @ May 30 2003,19:28)
Explain to me, in simple legal terms, how his paying to advertise for a free game inspired by the works of Tolkien, that in no way drains money from the Tolkien estate, is a rip-off of intellectual property?

I am still unsure where your footing is for all of this.
His paying to advertise is only an extension of his already existing violations. I just personally would prefer it if leading mud sites didn't take money from license violators.

I am a little baffled that some of you have such a difficult time understanding the concept of intellectual property. Whether you're providing something for free or charging for it is legally irrelevant. Whether you think the Tolkien estate might make money because of license violations is irrelevant. Of course, if the Tolkien estate (or perhaps Vivendi in this case, as given that Middle Earth Online is currently being developed by Turbine under contract with Vivendi, it's likely that all online massively multiplayer rights were sold or licensed to Vivendi) doesn't care, then I don't care, but as far as I can tell, they've never told the Shadows of isildur fellow that they don't mind.

However, if they do object there's no question that what Shadows of Isildur and all the other Tolkien muds are doing is simple and blatant IP theft. I'm going to give Tolkien Enterprises a call on Monday to see what they have to say. Then, I'll either shut up and apologize to anyone I've offended over this issue or do my best to point them to everyone who is abusing or stealing their IP.

--matt
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Old 05-30-2003, 08:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
However, if they do object there's no question that what Shadows of Isildur and all the other Tolkien muds are doing is simple and blatant IP theft. I'm going to give Tolkien Enterprises a call on Monday to see what they have to say. Then, I'll either shut up and apologize to anyone I've offended over this issue or do my best to point them to everyone who is abusing or stealing their IP.
You are certainly well within your rights to do that, but I think there's a line between homage and a rip-off of intellectual property - a line that, in my opinion, hasn't been crossed by Shadows of Isildur or any other free-to-the-public game based on any established theme. If you need a crusade, by all means, the windmills are that way. But it seems ill-conceived, no matter how well-intentioned.
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Old 05-30-2003, 08:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Brody @ May 30 2003,19:58)
Not sure about the status of that frivolous lawsuit so far, but Gandalf the Wizard Clown is still in business: http://www.magicforpets.com/

And HE makes money off it. Unlike the purveyor of Shadows of Isildur.
Gandalf the Wizard Clown is now using that name under license from Tolkien Enterprises. I have no idea what the terms of that license are, but the point is that he -actually got permission-. If muds like Shadows of Isildur can say the same thing, then obviously I have no issue with them. So far no one has shown me any evidence that any of them are doing anything but using the IP without license.

(And again, whether you charge money or not isn't legally relevant.)

--matt
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Old 05-30-2003, 08:18 PM   #18
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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.

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.
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Old 05-30-2003, 08:22 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Brody @ May 30 2003,20:05)
You are certainly well within your rights to do that, but I think there's a line between homage and a rip-off of intellectual property - a line that, in my opinion, hasn't been crossed by Shadows of Isildur or any other free-to-the-public game based on any established theme. If you need a crusade, by all means, the windmills are that way. But it seems ill-conceived, no matter how well-intentioned.
"Paying homage" doesn't fall under fair use. There's no line between "homage" and "theft". They're the same thing. Here's the law:

Owner's exclusive rights

Notice that the owner of copyrighted property has the -exclusive- right to produce derivative works, to perform the copyrighted material publically, etc. I don't know if muds are considered performance, but they are certainly considered derivatives. I brought up the public performance bit mainly because earlier you had asked if a private gaming group would violate the law (it wouldn't).

The law is straightforward: Unless your work falls under a fair use exemption (Satire, non-profit -educational- purposes, preservation of decaying works, etc), you're likely infringing. And actually, I don't even know if a non-profit mud set up expressly for educational purposes would work, as I don't think you can create a derivative work for that purpose.

Anyway, you're free to have your opinion, but your opinion doesn't count for much when the law says differently.

Really, the reason I started this thread was that I find it ironic that so many people moan about mud codebase violators and then happily embrace other types of IP theft. I think it's all bad form myself, though I have a bigger problem with, say, Tolkien IP theft, as it's possible to actually hurt Tolkien Enterprises financially by abusing their IP, whereas it's not possible to hurt the DIKU creators financially by abusing their IP. (Though I'd be just as happy to see Medievia shut down as most of you.)

And no, I don't need a crusade. I would just like to see some consistency from the mud crowd on these boards. You even mention Medievia and people throw fits and spend lots of time posting links copyright law, but you mention all the other violators out there and all you hear are the crickets.

--matt
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Old 05-30-2003, 08:26 PM   #20
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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.
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