Someone is trying to get other people to play our game

I saw this Today: ... genumber=1

It is a thread on another message board (something awful ? I'm not familiar with it I found it by googling Ars Magica) where someone has took the time earlier this year to passionately and enthusiastically sell Ars Magica to folks. It has some posts that are quite nice.

There might be some sections worth quoting next time you're trying to get others enthused.

Yeah, Mors Rattus wrote up some really cool reviews of Ars Magica supplements too. Unfortunately, you apparently need to be a SA subscriber to view them (I've no idea why the site let me see them that one time...)

His enthusiasm is infectious, however! :slight_smile:

Edit: Funnily enough, it's letting me view the reviews again, they're @ ... enumber=31 He just finished his review of Against the Dark! (pg 58)

If I still owned rights to my work beyond the moral right to be identified as author, I'd issue a takedown notice and offer to sue him to the eyeballs. That's not a review: that's taking all of the non-mechanical parts of the book and putting them online for free. It's clearly copyright infri9ngement and the idea that so long as you leave out the crunch the fluff doesn't matter is absolutely false. If you are wanting ideas for a non-Ars campaign, his reviews entirely alleviate the need to buy the books.

A review is -an opinion-, not a summary at exhaustive length.

We'll take a look at it and make sure there's no problems with the reviews. I've got a Something Awful account, too, which helps. Thanks all!

There are certainly novel ideas in most ArsMag books which might be protected, but I am not sure copyright covers more than that. That would make all movies/books plot summaries in Wikipedia copyright infrigements.

Timothy, an exhaustive summary isn't copyright infringement, and in my opinion, you can't do enough without having the actual Houses of Hermes Books.

There is a worse site than that, though. And I believe it has been posted before. ... _page.html
All of the pages for the Houses linked from that page are almost verbatim copies, if not verbatim copies of their respective chapters in the Houses of Hermes books.

I'd suggest that before commenting you check the sheer volume of the reviews, and the degree to which they simply paraphrase the books. Citation for the purposes of review doesn't allow you to recapitualte, for example, pretty much all of the fluf of every house from every Houses of Hermes book, even if you gloss it with the occassional personal comment.

I read several of his posts, but not all of them, to be sure. Perhaps, because I don't own the work, or was responsible for creating it, I might have a different perspective.
My example is a verbatim copy and paste with some adjustment for formatting. But before you start swinging at me, I really suggest you swing at him.

Just to briefly respond:

  • An exhaustive summary actually -is- copyright infringement, if you are in a Berne Convention country, as both of us are. You are required, in a review, to limit your citications to reasonable length. If you are going to quote more than a "substantial portion" for review, you need to follow quite strict rules, which are not being followed (for example, you have to name the authors).
  • Sure, you can use this material: if you were playing any sort of game of medieval lordlings, for example Pendragon, his Lords of Men review gives you all the stuff you'd need. His scans of plot hooks are ,for example, the sum total of that plot hook, and since they are mostly mechanics independent, they are directly portable to other games.
  • Just because there's worse (and of course there is - I presume many of the books are in torrent form since Atlas sells them as .pdfs.) doesn't mean that we can't say to the person "You know, your energy's admirable, but this is actually across the line. Have you thought about channneling your energy into instead?" There are ways a person can contribute to the community which don't involve what I honestly believe are breaches of Atlas's rights.

See what you did there? You educated me, and weren't at all brusque.
It's possible that he doesn't realize what he's done. It may be that he does, and doesn't care. But you and I both know that Ars is hard enough to get people interested and excited about that a full frontal assault will probably be poorly received. Last thing that needs to happen here is being threatened to be sued to his eyeballs, and then he pops off and gets a bunch of trolls to come visit us here.
Or some of his friends come back at the Atlas forum with a DDoS or something...

OK, so "sue to the eyebealls" was excessive, and I apologise for it. I agree, it would be bad to have a war between the two forums. Also, we would clearly lose. 8)

Hah! I didn't know that.

I'd second that.

I'll emphatically second that. Don't sue people, that'll just backfire.

I take it you have already seen the volumes of material on the previous pages and not just on page 58 of that thread on that forum? It's... massive.

Enthusiasm is great but I found it unbelievable that anyone could be that meticulous about summarising a publication without at any point wondering the legality of the thing. Funny how different approaches people have to RPG content - it's a tricky market to stay afloat in, yet to keep loved titles and designers at producing material whether existing brand systems or varies Indies, we - the fans - have to be mindful of feeding rather than stealing from the stream that serves us our goodies, lest it runs dry.

I sincerely hope that dialogue and diplomacy can succeed in getting the material offline and an -otherwise rightful- Schism War be prevented.

And when I said it was massive, here's a link to a summary of links to all the 201 articles he has transcribed online (actually parts of it is scanned rather than actually synthesized). If clicking any of those 201 links be aware that the actually stuff they're linking to often seem to be a few post above where the link will send you.

The Great Library all over again, except this one isn't in Durenmar... ... _Rattus.29

Speaking as a fan of the game, a Lawyer AND a player of a Flambeau Magus, I have just looked at the restricted Flambeau section, and it's almost Verbatim the Flambeau section fro HoH societas.

If this were anything other then an RPG, I would be advising a corporate client to aggressively litigate ti have the material taken down.

Some RPG companies take the stance (Nightmare stance for an intellectual property lawyer) is that they won't aggressively sue people who actively cite their sources. In some extreme cases They'll politely ask for the stuff to be taken down THEN litigate if it's not complied to.

I'm sure the team at Atlas are all over this, and as a fan of the game I'd support whatever stance they take to defend their own IP


PS you may now get why I used a Guernicus Icon.

As far as I can tell, he's not reproducing text verbatim except in a few places. Yes, he is providing a very exhaustive summary of what's in the book, but because he's saying in his own words that the book says X and Y, he can easily claim it's fair use. This is particularly true because it's a discussion forum. If a lawsuit did take place, I'd say that he'd stand better than even chances of winning in most countries part of the Berne Convention.

On the other hand, I believe that "offering to sue someone to the eyeballs" if he does not comply with someone's demands, in many countries (most of Europe, for example) is a crime. It's a subtle distinction: suing is not a crime, but offering to sue if you don't comply is a form of intimidation.

On this I completely agree. In fact, the fluff is the only thing that matters in most jurisdictions: you can freely reproduce the crunch as long as you are leaving out the fluff (including all the origina names etc.). That's what makes many "retro-clones" of D&D perfectly legal.

This in no way supports your "it's copyright infringement" argument.

That strongly depends on the context the word is used in, and on the meaning you assume "exhaustive length" to have.
In many contexts a review is a summary, possibly with commentary.

I'm not a legal expert at all, but

... if that was true, there would be a cottage industry of Harry Potter unofficial books. I think that, at the very least, it's a derivative work and as such illegal without Atlas' permission.

Now that's a different manner. I believe that to win an actual penalty Atlas would have to prove damages. Then again, perhaps with the record-business precedents it wouldn't. And at any rate, I suspect the message board at least could be claimed to be an economic enterprise making money from its content - if only in the form of donation drives and/or advertisements to support itself. So I'm not sure how that goes.

Another legal point I'm curious about - is Atlas required to protect its copyright, by law ? I know that one has to protect trademarks, but it is my understanding that one doesn't have to protect copyright.

I'd love to hear the opinion of an actual lawyer on any of the above points....

Not an actual lawyer, and I was stepping out of this thread because I've said my piece to intemperate length, but on this one question I can help.

No, you are not required to defend your copyright in Berne countries.

This is particularly important to those of us working with older documents, because there are many works which cannot be used because they are "orphans". That is, no-one knows who owns the rights, either because their authors are unidentifiable, or because American copyrights are so long now (published works from before 1923 are in the public domain, basically, and your Supreme Court has ruled that it is possible that nothing in the US will ever enter public domain again, and certainly nothing before 2019) that it can be difficult to work out which of the many great-grandchildren of an author have some share of the rights.

This stops those of us (like me) who create derived works from doing so, because the orphans still have a theoretical legal owner, who can make their rights live at any time. Even librarians dedicated to the preservation of works had their hands tied until very recently.

(Not a lawyer, but I am a librarian with preservation skills, and I turn pre-1923 written works into audiobooks. Not representing my employer.)

As far as I understand, the idea of having to defend your copyrights (and patents) are an american one.
In the EU (and indeed as far as I know most of the rest of the world), there is rule of law, not rule of lawyers.

That thread is awesome! Reading that poster's summaries really inspired me to look back at books I haven't read in a while and appreciate them all the more. I really think that person is doing our hobby a great service.