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Old 06-11-2003, 03:05 AM   #201
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this would be a case for a judge and a group of attorneys well-versed in the relevant law to decide.
Well, I'm willing to go with the interpretation of our lawyers, and they -are- well-versed in IP law. The lead has over 15 years experience and IP law is his specialty. Now, that's not to say he's right. A lawyer's opinion is still just an opinion, albeit in his case a highly educated one.

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2. The IP holder, Tolkien Enterprises, is clearly uninterested in pursuing action - even a written response or acknowledgement - to any fanfiction/derivative work authors/MUD administrators.
Yes, they're fairly clearly uninterested in pursuing action. But is that any indication that they disapprove? No. The DIKU people are also clearly uninterested in pursuing action against Medievia but that doesn't make what the Medievia idiots are doing right.


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Furthermore - as you yourself have stated that you don't burden yourself to follow the law simply because it is the law, I find it fairly ironic that you're on a witch-hunt because someone else may or may not be in violation of a civil statute.
I'm not on a witch hunt, and it's not just civil law. It's criminal law as well. Infringing on property worth more than $5000 (or maybe it's $2500. In this case, it's irrelevant since the value of the Tolkien IP is in the tens of millions.) can also be criminal.

Incidentally, were I on a witch hunt against you in particular I'd simply force Tolkien Enterprises hand. It'd be a reasonably simple matter to create a situation in which TE must either shut down all Tolkien-based muds or suffer devaluation of their IP because of it.

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believe you yourself stated that we are in no position to judge the financial results of our actions on the assets of an IP holder.  I'm certainly not going to make the assertion that my MUD will increase their profits - though I have a strong suspicion there's some validity to that statement - but neither can you make the assertion that it causes them direct financial damage. Since you can't make this statement, most of that copyright infringement law that has been brought up might not even apply - I'm no lawyer, but I believe it refers to ACTUAL damages, not POTENTIAL damages. Argued ethically: if your action has the potential to harm someone, but you have seen no evidence whatsoever that it actually does so and hence continue doing it - are you acting immorally and/or irresponsibly? That seems entirely unreasonable to me.
Well, first off, I have seen plenty of evidence that what you and other people like you are doing causes TE financial harm. We're in a position to buy IP and we would pay considerably less for the massively multiplayer text rights to the Tolkien IP because of the existence of muds like yours. Now, I'm not saying that the fact that muds like yours cause TE's IP to be worth less is necessarily not balanced out by extra indirect profits from people whom your mud convinced to buy more Tolkien products, but let's face it, fat chance. All your players are already Tolkien fans. People who play an RP-intensive Tolkien mud don't need convincing. Ii'm willing to simply concede this point though, as it's rather immaterial to my argument.

My point is simply this: You can't know, and so you're putting the Tolkien IP at risk. The only people that have the right to do that are the Tolkien people.




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In closing, as I don't think I'm going to allow myself the indulgence of getting involved in this debate yet again - my MUD will continue to operate up until the day I receive a letter, an email, a telephone call, or a smoke signal from Tolkien Enterprises or another associated group kindly asking me to shut it down. At that point, I will do so, and happily. Until then, however, you may feel free to hurl whatever baseless accusations and nomenclatures at me that you like - you aren't Tolkien Enterprises, nor are you a judge, and even your ethical arguments are entirely unconvincing.
What's so f-ing difficult about getting permission first, and if you cannot, simply not running the mud? I just find myself baffled at this feeling that a lack of reply somehow constitutes permission. If you can't get permission, don't f-cking do it. I get the sense that you and the others posting in your defence mainly don't give a #### about the ethics involved. You just love the IP (justifiably so too) and feel like you have some right to use it as you will. That's fine, you can feel that way. I, however, feel you're stealing it, and I have yet to hear any defence that convinces me otherwise. They all come across as shallow justifications for taking the easy way out (too difficult to actually obtain permission, just want to play in a tolkien mud, etc. All incredibly lame excuses.)

--matt
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Old 06-11-2003, 03:13 AM   #202
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The product it is producing does not impact upon the profits of the large organisation

Ah hah, that's exactly the point. You CANNOT know that. For instance, look at the infringing Tolkien muds. I can point out easily definable ways in which they blatantly reduce the value of the Tolkien IP. There are possible ways they may increase the value too. I believe that the people who have the right to decide which will do which are the IP holders and no one else.


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Then again perhaps we should take the high moral ground and exert pressure on the MUD sites to remove games that are not strictly original. Crack the whip over a trivial issue that isn’t really any concern of ours, being that it has no direct or indirect affect on the majority of us.
The Holocaust had no direct effect on the majority of Americans. Not worth stopping then, is that what you're saying? (Incidentally, for the logically-impaired, that's an -analogy- not a comparison. Obviously the Holocaust dwarfs any possible IP violation by several orders of magnitude.) Whether a codebase's license is violated also has absolutely no effect on the majority of us (in fact, Medievia's existence doesn't even have a harmful effect on the DIKU license holders. I was interested in helping to fund action against Medievia purely on principle.).

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Old 06-11-2003, 03:16 AM   #203
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ June 10 2003,12:43)
--matt, who frequently wonders if it's a lack of imagination or a lack of ethics that causes so many mud administrators to rip off other people's IP and who continue to do so after they are made aware of the dodginess of the practice.
I just wanted to apologize for this. It was over the top and prompted by my frustration with what I view as a self-righteous ethical nonchalance on the part of a few posters. Many mud administrators are highly imaginative people, as well as highly ethical. I didn't mean to give the impression that or even most mud owners are of the unethical, thieving variety. Having not looked at all or even most muds in existence, I wouldn't know.

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Old 06-11-2003, 08:05 AM   #204
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the_logos wrote:
Vyrce is worse because of his blatant and continuing disregard even though the DIKU authors have supposedly stated they wish him not to continue violating their IP's license.
Nothing "supposedly" about it - I have spoken to them.  If you don't believe me, email them yourself.

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On the other hand, while it's extremely grating to see Medievia getting away with it, it's not hurting the license holders in any way
Of course it is - by using the "free" diku codebase, Vryce is not only avoiding purchasing the DikuII license, but also discouraging other people from buying it as well.  It is/was possible to get a free copy of the Borland C compiler, as long as it's not used for commercial purposes - by the same reasoning, Borland wouldn't be losing money if you decided to use their free compiler for commercial products...

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I'm not interested in spurious arguments about how you fan fiction helps the author as that's not your determination to make. If the IP holder wanted help, he'd let you know.
Exactly - that's the very point I've been repeatedly making.  So why do you keep suggesting otherwise?
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Old 06-11-2003, 10:10 AM   #205
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I am actually reading posts about how having shire in your mud is illegal. It would be a pretty sad state of affairs to see every mud on the net forced to remove the shire. Though to be honest that area does suck. But anyway, I don't think they'll do much about Shadows of Isildur, because it isn't commercial is it? Hope you eventually get that permission confirmation you need, Traithe. If the worst happens, well, you can count me on the list of people who think that's unjust.. for what its worth.
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Old 06-11-2003, 11:50 AM   #206
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Speaking briefly as moderator: In a topic like this, there will obviously be differences of opinion, which will result in heated debates (and often flames).  That's fine - this isn't the Advanced Mud Concepts forum, and I'm far more relaxed about the conduct here.

However when your post adds absolutely nothing to a huge debate like this other than to try and stir up more flames, I will delete it.  I have had to do this twice now - one post which was a personal attack on the_logos earlier on, and another just now which attacked pretty much everyone.  If you want to dispute or attack points that people have made, then that's great - but please make sure that your post adds at least a little to the discussion, otherwise things just get out of hand.

[EDIT: Just to clarify, this point was NOT aimed at Davairus]

(Moderator mode off)
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Old 06-11-2003, 02:07 PM   #207
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Nothing "supposedly" about it - I have spoken to them.  If you don't believe me, email them yourself.
I did. I offered them money to help them shut down Medievia. I got no response.

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Of course it is - by using the "free" diku codebase, Vryce is not only avoiding purchasing the DikuII license, but also discouraging other people from buying it as well.  It is/was possible to get a free copy of the Borland C compiler, as long as it's not used for commercial purposes - by the same reasoning, Borland wouldn't be losing money if you decided to use their free compiler for commercial products...
Ah hah! I was not aware that there's a commercial version of DIKU available. It's owned by the same license holders as DIKU I?

If this is in fact the case then I will definitely concede that Vyrce's trespasses exceed Traithe's in my eyes at least.

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Exactly - that's the very point I've been repeatedly making.  So why do you keep suggesting otherwise?
To my knowledge, Tolkien Enterprises has not requested that Traithe or any other mud admin assist them in increasing the value of their IP.

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Old 06-11-2003, 07:29 PM   #208
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Ah hah! I was not aware that there's a commercial version of DIKU available. It's owned by the same license holders as DIKU I?
Yes. DikuII, aka Valhalla, has been around for some time and has a commercial license available for use.

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To my knowledge, Tolkien Enterprises has not requested that Traithe or any other mud admin assist them in increasing the value of their IP.
"...that's not your determination to make. If the IP holder wanted help, he'd let you know."

Joke of the day: I just received a TMS PM which stated "...I take it Achaea pays quite a bit in advertising since you seem to keep defending the person who runs the game"
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Old 06-11-2003, 08:10 PM   #209
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ June 11 2003,18:29)
Joke of the day:  I just received a TMS PM which stated "...I take it Achaea pays quite a bit in advertising since you seem to keep defending the person who runs the game"
How odd, considering no advertising dollars would go to you anyway. Lot of idiots floating around I suppose. *shrug* (We've not yet paid to advertise here either.)

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Old 06-11-2003, 08:52 PM   #210
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my god people! How much longer must we endure this debate? People are either going to side with Logos or with Traithe. They are not going to change their minds on the topic so why in #### are we still arguing over it?

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Old 06-11-2003, 09:26 PM   #211
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Originally Posted by (stryph @ June 11 2003,19:52)
my god people! How much longer must we endure this debate? People are either going to side with Logos or with Traithe. They are not going to change their minds on the topic so why in #### are we still arguing over it?
I'd hope people are siding with the issues, not the people, but that may be too optimistic of me. Whether you like Traithe or me is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

I might suggest that if you find the debate tiresome, you don't read it. Simple solution.
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Old 06-12-2003, 05:17 AM   #212
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my god people! How much longer must we endure this debate? People are either going to side with Logos or with Traithe.
What makes you think this is about Traithe? As far as I see it, this is about Logos attacking the position of those who actively defend mud licenses, such as myself. Traithe just had the misfortune of having his mud cited as an example, but it could just have easily have been someone else - this isn't the first time Logos has raised this very issue, and last time there was no mention of Traithe or his mud. Now, like then, it is my own position that I am defending.
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Old 06-12-2003, 05:49 AM   #213
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my god people! How much longer must we endure this debate? People are either going to side with Logos or with Traithe. They are not going to change their minds on the topic so why in #### are we still arguing over it?
Do you mind? While long winded, I'm finding this discussion quite fascinating. Shhh.
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Old 06-12-2003, 12:40 PM   #214
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my god people! How much longer must we endure this debate? People are either going to side with Logos or with Traithe.
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Originally Posted by
I'd hope people are siding with the issues, not the people, but that may be too optimistic of me. Whether you like Traithe or me is irrelevant to the issue at hand.
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Do you mind? While long winded, I'm finding this discussion quite fascinating. Shhh.
Perhaps it would be enlightening, if some of us, who have been running muds for a long time, stated our own position and general views on this subject.

I will start with myself:
I run a strictly non-commercial mud, which has been on line for over 6 years. The theme is Time Travel, so there is a wide variety of zone themes in it.
We have a rather large world, over 140 zones. All of these are ‘original’ in the sense that you cannot find any of them in any other mud – at least I sincerely hope so. Most of them are also ‘original’ in the sense that their content came solely out of the head of the Builder.

However, there are a few that are based on, or loosely connected to books or movies. Those zones have a sign at the entrance, giving credit and showing homage to the original book or film. For instance, we do have a Star Wars zone, which has been in the mud for years, and is based on the first two movies. We also have a large Mine zone, where among a lot of other things you can mine into the Caves of Moria. And in that part of the zone – (about 100 rooms out of a total 1000) – there are several references to the LOTR books, for instance there is a Balrog, the ghost of Balin, Orcs, Gollum and even a sword called OrcRist.

So, are we infringing on any copyrights with these and other ‘theme’ zones? I have never been really sure about that, and this thread  - interesting as it has been - hasn’t exactly made things any clearer. We are most likely within that vast and undefined ‘grey zone’ that different people seem to have different views about. However, I don’t think we are doing anything wrong from a moral and ethical point of view. If I did, I’d obviously have removed those zones long ago. It’s not like we are dependent on them.

I also don’t think that Builders, by using existing myths, legends, books and other themes as inspiration for their zones, are showing either ‘lack of imagination or a lack of ethic’ as the_logos so politely put it. I’d rather say that they use existing parts of our common cultural inheritance in a new and imaginative way. A Mud is so vastly different from a book, that you cannot really compare them, even if both are text based. In a Mud the code interacts with the world in a way that makes it a pretty unique art form. And building a Mud zone is in no way comparative to writing a book; it is at the same time a more simplistic and more complex task.

Also, referring to and drawing inspiration from already existing material has a very long tradition in all art forms. Great composers used to borrow themes from other composer’s work, and make variations on them. I would hardly call Beethoven or Mozart unimaginative or unethical thieves for doing this. Many modern novels are full of Shakespeare quotations, and re-writes of, or references to mythology and legends, ancient as well as newer. In fact, when something gets so globally known as the LOTR and Starwars books and films, they become part of our common culture, some sort of modern myths. And people will quote parts of them to one another, to share the mutual pleasure from experiencing them. Like when Bogart fans say ‘Play it again, Sam’ and StarWars fans say ‘May the Force be with you’. People also like to see jokes about or references to names and things they know from books and films in Mud zones, because that makes them recall the original fun they had and feel they share this experience with others. That’s what fan fiction is all about.

So at what point does the use of short quotes or well-known names like Gandalf or R2D2 turn from fan homage to infringement? As several posters already have pointed out; the border area is very wide and hard to define.

Another angle is this: I prefer my own zones to be accurate and logic. If I build a zone based on Ancient Greece, I not only base the zone map on the world map of that time, I also try to make everything in the zone as correct to period as possible. And that goes for everything; geography, ecology, inhabitants, names on people and places, religion, myths. (A region in one of my Greek zones is actually named Achaea. I hope I won’t be sued for that, because it is the ancient Greek name for the north part of Peloponnesos. )
Consequently, if I built a StarWars zone – (not likely, since I am not really a fan) – I’d use the ‘correct’ names of planets, people, food and drink, and other references from the films too, to establish the ‘local colour’. Otherwise it would obviously not be a StarWars zone at all.

Again, I find nothing wrong in drawing inspiration for zones from books, films, myths or even the Real World.

What I do find very wrong however, is when Muds use non-stock material from other Muds (code or zones) without permission and/or in breach of licences, when people steal the credits for work done by someone else, and especially if they are making money from the scam too. That is why I particularly despise Vryce; he did all of those things. I would absolutely hate it if someone stole any of my own zones and claimed to have written them himself. Muds stealing from other Muds is despicable.

Over the years two incidents like this have occurred in our Mud. One was a person taking a zone from the net, (not quite stock, but available for free download). He then replaced the original author’s name with his own, and submitted the zone to us as his own work. In the other case the person copied large parts of a zone from another mud, by cutting and pasting all the descs from the screen. We didn’t catch up immediately in either of those incidents, but as soon as we did, both zones were deleted immediately, and the persons who did them lost all building privileges.

So, to sum this up; I am not having any sleepless nights over the few zones in our mud that are based on books/movies. The legal aspects may be a bit unclear, but I don’t see it as ethically or morally wrong. We give credit where it’s due, we don’t make any money from the mud, and I seriously doubt we could be causing any financial damage to the copyright owners. In fact I’d be rather more inclined to say that they constitute a form of free advertisement. I know about at least two occasions when a player, not previously acquainted with Tolkien’s works, was inspired by the zone to buy them, and eventually became an enthusiastic fan  - (this was before the films started the general LOTR craze). And the same has happened with at least one of the other zones as well. There are probably many more cases like that, and in other muds too. I just mention those, because I know it first hand; the players in question actually told me about it themselves.

Sure – if the copyright holder approached me formally and demanded that I remove a zone, I’d do so immediately, without discussion. If the owner of another mud did the same thing, I’d most likely tell him to clear out the skeletons in his own cupboard first, before poking his nose into other people’s business.
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Old 06-12-2003, 01:48 PM   #215
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Sure – if the copyright holder approached me formally and demanded that I remove a zone, I’d do so immediately, without discussion.
Well... So the copyright holder needs to approach you formally and demand things, for you to not rip off their work?

What if the copyright holders have no clue about what you are doing? And they probably have no clue at all about what is going on in particular muds, or in the mud community as a whole.

Its like your local gansta drug dealer works on your street selling drugs to your kids, without you knowing it. And his policy is "#### if their mom comes down and tell me not to sell drugs to their kids, sure i'l stop without discussion!".

But if someone else on the street walks up and says its illegal, he give a ****, and tell them to mind their own business.
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Old 06-12-2003, 02:02 PM   #216
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But if someone else on the street walks up and says its illegal, he give a ****, and tell them to mind their own business.
Or, he shoots them dead for crossing his turf. Apples and oranges. Here, people don't get killed - they just get nitpicked and flamed .

The wheels on the bus go round and round...
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Old 06-12-2003, 02:22 PM   #217
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Originally Posted by (Brody @ June 12 2003,13:02)
The wheels on the bus go round and round...
I would like to formally dispute three parts of this assertion:

1. That there is, in fact, a bus. I've seen no bus.
2. That the bus has wheels. Perhaps the bus is a hover bus.
3. That EVEN if there is a bus and EVEN if the bus has wheels, there's no proof the wheels go round and round. Perhaps it is a short trip and the wheels just go around once instead of going "round and round."

Get your facts straight before posting, sir. There's no room for such irresponsible speculation here.

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Old 06-12-2003, 04:08 PM   #218
 
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Originally Posted by (Molly O'Hara @ June 12 2003,11:40)
So, are we infringing on any copyrights with these and other ‘theme’ zones?
Probably

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Originally Posted by (Molly O'Hara @ June 12 2003,11:40)
I’d rather say that they use existing parts of our common cultural inheritance in a new and imaginative way.
That's the entire point of copyright law.  Controlling when works enter the public domain.  You fail to make the distinction between public domain works and copy protected works in your post.  It doesn't become part of the public inheritence until it's public domain.  

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Originally Posted by (Molly O'Hara @ June 12 2003,11:40)
A Mud is so vastly different from a book, that you cannot really compare them, even if both are text based.
So is a movie just as different from a book, yet you don't see Hollywood making unauthorized movies from copy protected books.

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What I do find very wrong however, is when Muds use non-stock material from other Muds (code or zones) without permission and/or in breach of licences...
Completely illogical.  Tell me why Diku mud code and zones (or yours or mine) should enjoy greater copyright protection than Tolkien's LOTR or StarWars?  What's to stop me from saying Diku or your mud and zones are now part of the common cultural inheritence and appropriating them?  What makes you think it is right to do that to another author yet you think it's wrong for someone to do to you?
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Old 06-12-2003, 04:27 PM   #219
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Tell me why Diku mud code and zones (or yours or mine) should enjoy greater copyright protection than Tolkien's LOTR or StarWars?
They shouldn't. If I went to some discussion forums for fiction authors, and saw some posts about someone who had made a few changes to a copy of LOTR, replaced Tolkien's name with his own, and started selling it, then I would expect to see the same sort of responses I see here concerning Medievia.

But if someone on that fiction authors discussion forum had written a non-commercial fan-fiction story based on a mud - a mud which had been used as the basis for dozens (if not hundreds) of other short stories over the last 30 years - and that author had contacted the mud owner to inform them that if it was a problem, they would delete their story, then I would be quite surprised if they got the same sort of response on that fiction authors discussion forum that Traithe has received here.
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Old 06-12-2003, 07:58 PM   #220
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Hephos:
Its like your local gansta drug dealer works on your street selling drugs to your kids, without you knowing it. And his policy is "#### if their mom comes down and tell me not to sell drugs to their kids, sure i'l stop without discussion!".

But if someone else on the street walks up and says its illegal, he give a ****, and tell them to mind their own business.
I made my post in good faith, as an example of a phenomenon that I think exists in a very large number of muds, namely references to well known things in our contemporary world, be it books, movies or comic strips. I was hoping for a serious discussion. Next I know, I get compered to a drug dealer.

If this is the level the argumentation will sink to, I will withdraw from the discussion again.

Sure, I plead guilty to having some planets named Endor and Hoth in my Mud, and also to using the phrase ‘May the Force be with you’ as a common greeting phrase in our Future Dimension. Personally, I don’t believe that things like that constitute a copyright infringement. If they do, we might just as well close down 90% of all existing muds, since I bet you could find similar things in most of them, even though they are more likely to be references to Dungeons and Dragons than StarWars. And even though their owners may not be quite as candid about it as I have been, for fear of being flamed by people like you.

You apparently believe otherwise, but why would I care about what you think? You are not a lawyer, you are not the copyright holder, you are not the FBI, you are just stating your opinion - (and doing it in a very rude way, I might add). So what makes your opinion more worth than mine?

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Originally Posted by
Tyche:
Completely illogical.  Tell me why Diku mud code and zones (or yours or mine) should enjoy greater copyright protection than Tolkien's LOTR or StarWars?  What's to stop me from saying Diku or your mud and zones are now part of the common cultural inheritence and appropriating them?  What makes you think it is right to do that to another author yet you think it's wrong for someone to do to you?
If you cannot see the difference between using a few names from a commonly known book or film in a mud, and ripping off an entire codebase, zone - or book - and presenting it as your own work... then either your intelligence must be very limited, or you may have some ulterior motive for just picking a fight.
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