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Old 04-22-2014, 11:44 AM   #1
PlagueGiver
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Question Basing a non-commercial MUD upon a novel

So, I was wondering, would it be violation of IP law if I made a MUD about a novel, or a series, or a world used in many different novels by the same author? It would be completely non-commercial, with no donations or anything.
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Old 04-22-2014, 11:56 AM   #2
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Re: Basing a non-commercial MUD upon a novel

Usually it falls under the domain of 'fair use' (ie fan fiction), but you'll want to do some Google-fu on it depending on your specific book/books. Some, ie Midkemia, Tolkien etc, are very specific and only have let 1 Mud each (that I know of) be created from them.
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Old 04-22-2014, 05:28 PM   #3
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Re: Basing a non-commercial MUD upon a novel

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlagueGiver View Post
So, I was wondering, would it be violation of IP law if I made a MUD about a novel, or a series, or a world used in many different novels by the same author? It would be completely non-commercial, with no donations or anything.
There's no easy answer, it would depend on the individual case. It's certainly possible that your MUD might violate copyright and/or trademark law, depending on what you'd copied. It's also possible that the author might actively encourage fan fiction, or at least tolerate it - but equally they might hit you with a C&D and force you to shut your MUD down.

What I would suggest is that you contact them and ask permission. If they say no, better to find out now than later.
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Old 04-23-2014, 12:57 PM   #4
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Re: Basing a non-commercial MUD upon a novel

Agreed. If you're serious about it, ask the IP owner. Otherwise, you risk putting a lot of effort into a MUD only to have it summarily shut down by the IP holder.
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Old 04-23-2014, 03:31 PM   #5
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Re: Basing a non-commercial MUD upon a novel

If he's serious about it, he should first find out if he needs to ask the OP owner. Some authors welcome fan-fiction (which is basically what a novel-theme-based mud is), and some forbid it. Anyone who doesn't do one or the other, you should ask. But if they expressly forbid it, then there's no point in asking. They've already said "no" before you get that far. If they welcome it, the answer is already "yes" - but they might have specific criteria (like, maybe they ask you to credit them in the opening page/login screen, or include the title/author/publishing company somewhere on the website where you tell people what it's based on, for example).

Mercedes Lackey was well known for her stance against all fan-fiction, but that's since relaxed over the past years due to a change in publishers. You can see her current "Common License" details here:

Mercedes Lackey - The Official Website

Scroll to the last news item on the page.
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Old 04-24-2014, 04:07 AM   #6
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Re: Basing a non-commercial MUD upon a novel

I am a Lawyer and I specifically studied IP in one of the most credited IP Law School in NY. I confirm everything you guys stated so far. It is too risky. I am not sure that any IP owner will automatically deny it. I can conduct your negotiation pro-bono, if you want. PM me, in such case. Or even better ask a local IP lawyer in your jurisdiction.

As you guys are all correct, the fun part of this is that it seems that we lawyers are useless, but this is the understatement of the year.

The funnier part of this is that your fan fiction reminded me that last week I was discussing fan fiction with a law student of mine (I now also teach legal English in Italy). This student would be an awesome player in Achaea, she writes fan fiction, she love RPG and everything fantasy-themed, but I want her to focus on Law School. How can we do that the Logos?
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Old 04-24-2014, 01:00 PM   #7
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Re: Basing a non-commercial MUD upon a novel

Not quite sure what you mean. Flbellman! Feel free to reach out to me privately. matt =(at)= ironrealms +(dot)+ com
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Old 10-09-2014, 06:50 PM   #8
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Re: Basing a non-commercial MUD upon a novel

As someone who has done this:

Yeah, it's a copyright violation to do this. Fanfiction is not 'fair use'; it is not a parody nor a review or commentary on the original work. However, odds are, nothing will happen. If the author finds out about the game, then he or she may send a cease and desist. If that happens, shut your game down.

Many authors do not care. Some like it. Heck, Neil Gaiman came along and played on the MUSH based on his Sandman series.

'Kay, so. In trademark law, if you don't protect your trademark, by filing legal objections to other people using it, you can lose the trademark. Copyright law does not work that way. You can't put an author's rights at risk by creating fanfic. Sometimes authors are confused about this and spaz out. But eventually the author learns that copyright law doesn't work that way, and then takes up the Sane Author's Policy On Fanfic, which goes, "Do what you like, just don't send it to me or try to fool anybody into thinking I had anything whatsoever to do with it."

The RPG vs. fanfic question gets things a bit tangled. When I opened my game, a 'Song of Ice and Fire' game, I said, "George R.R. Martin has specifically said he hates fanfic, BUT he has also sold the rights to make an RPG based on his world. He is not accessible to ask for permission, but I think that the existence of that game is evidence enough that I'm allowed to role-play in his world." Later he put up that Sane Author's Policy On Fanfic on his blog-thing, so I feel pretty well covered on both the RPG and the MUs-are-fanfic-engines sides.

If your author has publically stated that s/he doesn't want people doing that stuff, well. Don't. Not 'cause you'll get into trouble (except for the trouble of creating a game and then having to take it offline) but because it's rude.
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Old 10-10-2014, 12:24 PM   #9
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Re: Basing a non-commercial MUD upon a novel

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlagueGiver View Post
So, I was wondering, would it be violation of IP law if I made a MUD about a novel, or a series, or a world used in many different novels by the same author? It would be completely non-commercial, with no donations or anything.
If it's Steven Brust's Dragaera setting, he's expressed that he's fine with non-commercial MUDs being based on it.
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:10 PM   #10
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Re: Basing a non-commercial MUD upon a novel

Quote:
Originally Posted by chaosprime View Post
If it's Steven Brust's Dragaera setting, he's expressed that he's fine with non-commercial MUDs being based on it.
Oh man, that setting would be great for an RP MUD/MOO.
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