Case 14: The Case (and Counter-Case) of the Contested Copy

Durenmar vs. Leczyca: with the information at hand...

  • Leczyca should be seriously punished
  • Leczyca should incur a minor punishment
  • Leczyca should be acquitted (possibly with a warning)
  • Durenmar should be seriously punished
  • Durenmar should incur a minor punishment
  • Durenmar should be acquitted (possibly with a warning)

0 voters

A Grand Tribunal case! The covenant of Durenmar, of the Rhine, brings charges of scrying and of deprivation of magical power against the covenant of Leczyca, of Novgorod; which in turn brings a counter-charge of deprivation of magical power against Durenmar. It's a bit longer than usual, but I tried to incorporate as much information as possible upfront.

I've added a poll to simulate Tribunal voting. This should not discourage you from discussing the case! Keep in mind that you can, and should, choose two options. Also, you you can change your vote at any time -- so vote early, and change your vote as your sodales sway you!

Durenmar's complaint

Durenmar was visited several years ago by one Boris ex Miscellanea. The magus appeared destitute; Durenmar magnanimously offered him shelter for the winter. Boris spent the winter assisting the scribes of Durenmar in the library, and the spring studying from one of the [strike]Roots[/strike] Branches of the Arts, the famous Ars Percipiendi of Cecilius of Bonisagus. He left, and was never seen again.

Two years later, a number of agents of Leczyca swarmed throughout the Order's lands, from the Levant to Stonehenge, offering to sell or barter copies of the Ars Percipiendi to any interested covenant. The price was undignifiedly low for such a great work, particularly since it was offered without any Cow and Calf restrictions, and only one other copy existed (at Magvillus). Still, in a brisk trade lasting less than two seasons Leczyca may have put in circulation no less than nineteen copies of the Ars Percipiendi; gaining vis, goods and services for almost a queen of vis in value, if not more.

Quaesitorial investigation

Durenmar called for a quaesitorial investigation in the Rhine, and Tabanus of Guernicus was assigned to it. Tabanus reports that all evidence points to the mysterious Boris ex Miscellanea as source of the leak. All attempts to find his whereabouts, or any other information about him, have failed. In fact, it proved impossible to even ascertain his identity: there are a number of magi ex Miscellanea, including one Boris Paraliev who vanished in Faerie in the 10th century, who partially match his description.

Tabanus then visited Leczyca, where he faced a very cold reception. Leczyca said that the copy of the Ars Percipiendi was procured by one of their agents currently not in residence, and refused to provide Tabanus with means -- or even permission -- to locate the agent by magic. Leczyca said they would collaborate with Novgorod quaesitors, if asked, but not with "an agent of the Rhine". On the third day of his stay, Tabanus was rudely shown the door.

Tabanus then sought assistance from Novgorod's quaesitors. The local quaesitor assigned to the case, Pavel Chedyav of Guernicus, made it clear that they had far more serious cases on hand than unauthorized circulation of a book. Still, he briefly reviewed the case brought by Tabanus and -- separately -- the arguments of Leczyca, and judged that there was not sufficient evidence of any wrongdoing on Leczyca's part in Novgorod. He also suggested, since the issue was clearly impacting more than one Tribunal, and a Grand Tribunal was due relatively soon, that Durenmar bring the case there.

Leczyca's counter-case

Leczyca states its position in simple terms. Ars Percipiendi is a book in the library of the Domus Magna of Bonisagus and was authored by a Bonisagus. By the Oath, any magical knowledge that Bonisagus obtains should be shared with the rest of the Order, whose members may use it as they wish. Durenmar thus cannot construe acquiring such knowledge as scrying. Since no book was physically taken from them, they also cannot claim having been deprived of magical power. Thus, there is no need to further pry into Leczyca's affairs under the pretext of a quaesitorial investigation.

Leczyca, in fact, brings a counter-charge against Durenmar. It states that Durenmar has violated the Oath depriving Leczyca, and probably other covenants, of magical power. Well before the case at hand, Durenmar repeatedly refused Leczyca permission to copy any book from the Great Library. This even in seasons when said books were not otherwise in use, and during which Durenmar would have allowed any magus to study the books. Even just for study, Durenmar allows free access to its Library only to magi of Durenmar or Bonisagus -- everyone else must pay for the privilege with seasons of service, other books, or vis "donations".

A few notes:

  1. The Grand Tribunal is held at Durenmar itself! Keep in mind that it's a case involving your hosts :slight_smile:

  2. For those without HoH:TL, the research results that a magus of Bonisagus is supposed to share with his sodales include books. Furthermore, "Magi who wish to copy these texts are not allowed to take them away [from the researcher's covenant] and must provide their own materials. A covenant can charge the magus for his board and lodgings while he is scribing. To avoid these demands a Bonisagus magus can send a copy to the library of Durenmar. Once it is in this library, the Bonisagus can refer any enquiries there."

  3. For those who do not have GotF, canonically Durenmar does indeed require "payment" for study at its library. The basic "exchange rate" is 1 Tractatus or 1 new spell for 2 seasons of study, or 1 season of scribing (somewhat demeaning, but ok for apprentices) for 1 season of study. Weighty Summae yield proportionally more study seasons. The rationale is that "those who study from the Great Library must also contribute to the Great Library." -- this is not a Tribunal ruling, however, is just how Durenmar justifies its decision. As an alternative to books or scribing, Durenmar accepts vis, but they never acknowledge it as payment -- it's just "donations". Magi of Durenmar or Bonisagus are exempt from all "payments" to use the library.

  4. According to GotF, Durenmar satisfies requests for copies of spells or lab texts (but not Tractatus or Summae); however, it's notoriously slow and asks for vis "to cover the scribing costs".

  5. According to GotF, the number of magi visiting the library at any one time is relatively small (around a dozen magi) at least compared to the number of magi whom Durenmar hosts for the Tribunal and to the number of Tractatus and Summae in the library.

  6. According to GotF and 4th edition The Dragon and the Bear (the Novgorod sourcebook) there's quite a bit of animosity between the Rhine and Novgorod. Characters who have sufficient Order of Hermes Lore will recognize that Tabanus (the Rhine quaesitor) is a junior, and very annoying, strict Traditionalist; and Pavel (the Novgorod quaesitor) is a staunch anti-Rhine Pole, apprenticed at Leczyca but now at Three Lakes, and next-in-line for the post of chief quaesitor of Novgorod.

Ah, hermetic IP law. Fun, fun, fun... :slight_smile:

Wow. talk about a conflict of intrest. Too bad tribunal votes are not anonymous.

Hey folks, don't let the poll prevent you from discussing this case, either in character or out of character!

It's indeed a conflict of interest on many levels.

For example, virtually every Bonisagus is put in a bind by this. Durenmar's leader, Murion, is also the prima of Bonisagus. So any Bonisagus antagonizing Durenmar could find himself cast out of the House!

On the other hand, magi of Bonisagus are supposed to share their research in exchange for their privileges. If the Great Library does not "open up", they'll risk having their sodales pester them in person, or, far worse, face a massive vote denying them all their apprentice rights (well, not "denying", but ruling that other magi should be allowed to ask adequate compensation).

This is an interesting issue -- is anyone aware if there's any precedent? If there is no clear precedent against anonymous voting, someone favouring Leczyca -- probably Pavel Chedyav of Guernicus -- may bring the issue up and ask for a secret vote. Even if there is precedent, some Tytalus may try to turn the tide anyways.

Tijentsus ex Guernicus, from the Roman Tribunal, shares his thought

"This is indeed a complicated case. Let us par it down of irrelevant issues.

First, this mention of the Cow and Calf restriction. The book was authored by a Bonisagus, so he himself cannot have put any such restriction on his work, since it would go against his Oath of freely sharing his research. So are our esteemed colleagues of Durenmar claiming that they put that restriction on the book themselves ? Is that their customary practice ? Is such a practice even legal given the Oath ? All irrelevant: clearly Leczica did not acquire that book from Durenmar under the Cow and Calf restriction, since that requires a formal agreement at the time the copy is acquired. Either they stole it from Durenmar, or they didn't. If they didn't, Durenmar has no case; if they did, the case if about theft and the sales of the copies are just part of the damage.

Also, scrying: whoever he might have been, this Boris ex Miscellanea was granted access to the library and to the book himself. All Tribunals have consistently ruled that there is no case of scrying when a magus announces his presence and uses his regular senses. Likewise, even magical study of the book by this Boris cannot be construed scrying, since he was given permission to study it. Unless Durenmar wishes to claim that someone else scryed on them as part of this offense, or that Boris scryed on something else, there is scrying involved in this case.

So, to the real case: on one hand, Durenmar claims that Leczyca copied a book they own without permission and then made and sold further copies, also without permission.
Leczyca's counter claim is that any restriction Durenmar makes on the copying of books from Bonisagus authors in its library is a violation of the Oath, since by tradition a sending a book to its library fulfill the 'share research' close of the Bonisagus' Oath.

This is difficult. Durenmar still hasn't proved conclusively that Leczyca acquired the book from its library. After all, Cecilius, by his Oath, was bound to share his work with his sodales, and may well have done so in addition to his sending the book to the library. It seems likely that Boris ex Miscellanea did copy it, and his failure to present himself here certainly points to it, but there is no proof that he was a member of Leczyca or acted with their knowledge. If he then sold them a copy of the book and they bought it in good faith, it is hard to fault them.
And indeed, since this was a book authored by a Bonisagus, it was meant to be shared with the Order, so I cannot see that their doing exactly so can be seen as a violation of the Oath. That does not mean that this Boris may not have committed an offense by his actions in Durenmar, if he broke the rules of hospitality of that covenant. But that offense must be laid at his feet, and is a matter for the Rhine Tribunal.

Now, regarding Leczyca's counter claim: I do not think that Durenmar can be faulted under the Oath for putting restrictions on access to its material. After all, Durenmar is a covenant, not House Bonisagus, and as such never took an Oath to make the content of its library available to all.

However,loath as I am to fault our gracious sodale of House Bonisagus, who have for so long had a widely regarded tradition for sharing their knowledge with the rest of the Order, that complaint worries me. The Order is growing, and it may be time for House Bonisagus to review the ways in which it fulfill its Oath to share its research, to make sure that all magi have adequate access to it. If the Great Library at Durenmar is no longer able to accommodate all requests for access to the material the Bonisagi deposit there, and is putting restriction to their further copy, then it may be time for the House to consider other ways it might fulfill such needs. Perhaps other copies should be sent to other libraries ? I am certain the Order can find a way to deal with additional scribing costs if the House cannot.

Thus, I suggest that House Bonisagus, and the Order at large, reflect on the subject, so that we may discuss it further at the next Grand Tribunal."

Also, a Root of the Arts book is, by canon, "the preferred primer for a magus seeking the competence necessary to train an apprentice" (meaning a low level but very high quality summa). Such a summa wouldn't be a root book if there were only two copies in existence. I think you meant a Branch of the art, "summae that are widely accepted as the finest works yet produced" (see Covenants, p. 93)

I think because many consider the restrictions placed on the Great Library by Durenmar to be onerous in the spirit of "sharing knowledge with the Order" I think Tijentsus makes an excellent point in asking Durenmar to revisit the way that they share the knowledge.

So a couple of years after studying or acquiring the book, this covenant puts no less than nineteen copies into circulation? The book seems to be a summa, and they are slow to copy. Either:
they have copied the original, had people copy the copy and the original, and then copy those copies until either people have bought a third or fourth generation copy;
Someone has invented the hermetic photocopier, and it's time to investigate this item and get a grand tribunal ruling on disseminating information this way.

After after the first copy (or copies), doing the copying quickly allows a skilled scribe to crank out one copy per season by reducing the Quality by 1. They may also have used Eternal Repetition in a Bottomless Pool (from Covenants). This can technically allow multiple scribes to work at the same time, although some consider this an abuse of the spell.

If it's a Root of the Art, then it is relatively low level, and easily copied in one season at the original quality. By keeping the first few copies and using multiple scribes, it's easy:

Season 1: 1 copy
Season 2: 2 copies
Season 3: 4 copies (two scribes using the two existing copies)
Season 4: 8 copies (four scribes using the four existing copies)... theoretically you could reach 128 copies in two years.

If it is in fact a Branch of the Arts, as I suggested above (because a Root of the Arts is supposed to be widely available or it wouldn't be a Root), then probably some debased copies have been made to speed up the process, or Leczyca has access to some outstanding scribes or magic... or else copies have been sold but not yet delivered.

How do we know that the Leczyca copies descend from the Durenmar text and not the Magvillus?
Are the Leczyca copies complete and accurate? - They have been sold as such so on what basis do Leczyca make that claim?

I did spend some time making sure the timeline is correct, even though I wrote root instead of Branch (it's a Level 17, Quality 18 Summa on Intellego).

So, two years, or, more precisely, two years, one season and a few weeks after Boris left Durenmar marks the appearance of the first copy. Within two years and three seasons since the time Boris left Durenmar, at least nineteen copies were in circulation. The copies are all perfect copies of the original. I can think of several ways this could be accomplished, but most suggest that Leczyca was (suspiciously) ready.

So what is the accusation, concretely? Deprivation of magical power?

And the counterargument? Breaking the sharing by bonisagus?

Neither holds very well, but the lecyca case has more strength: if you have to pay for the "share" the bonnies can be argued to have to pay for the "take apprentice" bit as well.

Except Durenmar is paying for the costs associated with storing and maintaining books, providing scribal hospitality.
When an apprentice is taken, the Bonisagus is taking on all ongoing costs related to the apprentice.

I will also point out that Cow & Calf, canonically has not been approved at Grand Tribunal... So... :smiley:

Some questions on Durenmar procedures:
a. do wizards studying Durenmar texts give an undertaking not to use advanced memory techniques or magics?
b. Under what circumstances will Durenmar allow copying of tractatus and summae?

And a flat out question for the Magi of Leczyca - was "Boris ex Misc" and agent or member of your covenant?

Novel applications of magic may be conveyed by lab texts but innovation in the art itself is communicated in tractatus and integrated with existing knowledge in summae. If those texts are flowing in to Durenmar and not flowing out then sending a copy here is not an adequate means of meeting the Bonisagus obligation to disseminate their research. Now, I quite understand that until now it has been held to be so and it would be quite wrong to levy any penalty for following existing practice but that practice will have to change.
It would be wonderful if Durenmar could act as a functional and impartial master library for the Order. It would also take far more resources than any one covenant could bring to bear and just as a Magus copying the work of an individual Bonisagus must meet the costs so it would be only right for the order as a whole to fund the work and upkeep of such a Master Library. But how? We do not tax each other. These are matters that cannot be solved between the sessions of one Grand Tribunal. It will take years of planning and decisions that only a Grand Tribunal can be empowered to make. I suggest we create a Grand Library committee to investigate possibilities, make plans and put forward some concrete proposals at the next Grand Tribunal.

Marcus sits down, confident that he is too junior to end up being on the committee.

a. and b. Canonically: "Visitors to the Great Library are not permitted to take its books outside its walls, nor to copy them, without the explicit permission of the librarian." (GotF p.55) and "The Library of Durenmar is permanently enchanted to prevent [Memory Palace of the Sage, a Ritual to memorize a whole book] from being performed within its walls, although only the Primus of the House knows how this was achieved" (TMRE p.27).

The first clause seems to be nicely inclusive: it takes the permission of the librarian to copy a book. But it says nothing about the circumstances under which such a book may be copied. And presumably visitors are informed that they may not copy books without permission when they enter the library. The enchantment against memorizing is just a precaution against thieves, by itself it does not mean that memorizing is forbidden (that would be akin to copying, which is allowed under certain circumstances).

Regarding the timeline, it seems to hold nicely assuming it takes two seasons to copy the book perfectly, and Boris was able to leave with a copy (or create one in less than a season). It does mean Leczyca had the materials ready and a sufficient number of skilled scribes at hand.

Regarding the case, as I hinted above under the name of Tijentsus ex Guernicus, I think Durenmar's position is quite weak, because if they truly want to pursue the case, they will have to formally state that the books they own by ex Bonisagus authors are not freely accessible and that copies cannot be freely made. That would be their right, of course (it is after all the rule at almost every other covenant), but it would mean that the counter case by Leczyca would be valid, at least if restated against House Bonisagus as a whole (and Durenmar is the domus magna of House Bonisagus). Which would mean the end of Durenmar's status as the repository of nearly all the works of House Bonisagus. Alternatively, the primus of House Bonisagus could find himself (as the leading magus of Durenmar) guilty of violating House policy and his own Oath by restricting access to books that he (as primus of House Bonisagus) had ordered made available to all.

Now Tijentsus was diplomatically trying to convince both parties to just drop the case and stop rocking the boat, because if they truly pursue the matter to the hilt a likely result is that Leczyca will be found guilty of theft (on a grand scale) and most of House Bonisagus will be found to have to have broken their Oath. Tijentsus suggested to refer the whole matter of Durenmar status to the next Grand Tribunal (in 33 years) as a nice way to let tempers cool and to give plenty of time to House Bonisagus and Durenmar to show that they could fulfill the Bonisagus clause of the Oath, possibly by expanding. After all, charging a fair fee for copying book or housing a magus while he does so is certainly allowable, as long as the fee covers actual costs and isn't just pure profit.

But the magus who looses his apprentice also looses the investment in time for the initial training of the apprentice. We all know that the first few years of that training provides very little benefits (from a magical standpoint) to the master. It is the later years that really make it worthwhile.

It's like taking a loan to purchase the materials and land to build a house, spend a year of hard work building it, and see someone come to snatch the house from you, saying "well I'll be carrying the loan from now on so I don't owe you anything".

The main problem is not that you are charged to copy (as long as the fee is not prohibitive) but the fact that you can be denied the right to access the library's contents to read and/or copy. Here is where we are breaking the Code. And here the librarian might be the one being accused, or being accused as well as the primus. Quite a lot of flying crap.

IIRC in the Novgorod book we had quite a few cases of Rhine tribunals trying to encroach on Poland, where Leczyca sits, and expand the border in that direction, so it might be that Leczyca is rising a fuss to destabilize the Rhine tribunal. Divide and conquer.


And accepting a book is like accepting an apprentice in perpetuity. Durenmar is now paying all costs associated with the storing and providing access to said book. One is a sunk cost, and the other is an open-ended arrangement that lasts so long as the book lasts.
I think there's a discounting of the costs of keeping books; perhaps because the rules gloss over that.
Magi wanting to copy a book could also go to the Bonisagus who wrote the book and ask to copy that copy. Or go to Magvillus, in this case. I don't take the view that Durenmar limits access to the library; so long as you put your name on the waiting list, pay the agreed upon fee, which is designed to help defray costs related to maintaining the library and scribal facilities (and is, IMO a pittance) you can enter and do stuff... :smiley: