Open letter to TSR: their reply

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Nushae Siobhan Fahey

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Aug 1, 1994, 2:45:29 AM8/1/94
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Hi there fellow gamers,

on July 22 I posted an open letter on this group. Unfortunately it was
read by few, probably because the "Important TSR letter..." thread is going
through the roof and taking up all reader interest.
Among those not reading it, I suspected the TSR staff. Therefore I resent
the letter directly to them. Now I did receive a reply, which I hereby
post. Let me add that their reply has frustrated me because it expresses a
total lack of understanding and simply boils down to "let me repeat our
policy." Several questions have remained unanswered or have at best gotten
a reply that tells us nothing we didn't know already.
Some comments on the letter:

As far as I know, no-one can forbid me to use the word ROUNDS in a game
context. I know lots of games that use that term and I don't believe these
kind of words can be exclusively owned.

My remark that this group has existed for years without damaging them has
not evoked any reaction whatsoever.

From the letter:
>> of which themselves were borrowed. I mention here the ranger class from the
>> books of Tolkien and the spell memorising from Vance's works as two examples.
>> The Ravenloft novels themselves are based on well known horror stories like
>> Dracula and Frankenstein.
>
>Vampires are a good example here, so I'll glom onto Dracula. Dracula wasn't
>the first vampire. The vampire has been a mythological monster for as long as

Note that this argument does not hold for Frankenstein, Vance and Tolkien.

Anyway. Read it yourself. If you want to have a peek at the letter I
sent, it's on my AD&D page on the web:
http://www.stack.urc.tue.nl/~nushae/


----8<--------8<--------8<--------8<--------8<--------8<--------8<--------8<----

From: TSR...@aol.com
X-Mailer: America Online Mailer
Sender: "TSRInc" <TSR...@aol.com>
Message-Id: <940728111...@aol.com>
To: nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 94 11:19:25 EDT
Subject: Re: open letter
Content-Type: text
Content-Length: 5166
Status: RO

SNIP

> July 22, 1994.
>

SNIP

> Now, before your company started to participate in the dnd newsgroup, this
> was a thriving group, filled to the brim with ideas, expansions, modules,
> et cetera. All these things were made by enthusiastic fans of the game,
> without any monetary gain in mind. They simply wanted to share. This is
> because usenet news is historically an idealistic and freeminded setup.

We are expressing our policy because current copyright law is structured is
such a way that allowing unlicensed publication of copyrighted game elements
may cause us to lose ownership of those elements. This is true regardless of
whether or not anyone else profits from the infringements.

>
> Your company is about to make an end to that, I fear. By forbidding all
> kinds of uses of your products, you make it impossible for us to express
> our ideas. If, for example, I should ever write an adventure for the
> Ravenloft world, I would be in grave danger of prosecution, while all I
> actually did was add something to your game, not take it away.

BE CREATIVE! If you want to make a knight in shining armor, do it! He's just
going to be wearing "plate mail," not ARMOR CLASS 1. If you want to write
spells, do it! Just make them last minutes, not ROUNDS. If you want new
monsters, make them! But make them bite and scratch, not 2 ATTACKS PER ROUND,
+2/+4.

>
> Our options are limited; we can't claim ownership of such creations, since
> you already own most names used in them. Nothing keeps you from publishing
> an improved version of them, using our freely granted ideas without
> acknowledging us for them. If we send them to one of your magazines, the
> same would happen, since we would be signing away our rights to them.
> Whether it is intentionally or not, you make the impression of a company
> that supports new ideas, as long as you are the one profiting from it.

Excuse me? Are you expressing a concern over possibly having your copyrights
infringed?

>
> Please don't destroy a perfect forum by savagely forbidding everything that
> could be a potential risk. This newsgroup has existed for several years
> before you came to it and it has never damaged your profits. It does not
> keep people from buying your rules books. On the contrary. Using your
> language to express our original ideas is no threat to you whatsoever.
> More so, I think it is very questionable to fervently protect ideas, some
> of which themselves were borrowed. I mention here the ranger class from the
> books of Tolkien and the spell memorising from Vance's works as two
examples.
> The Ravenloft novels themselves are based on well known horror stories like
> Dracula and Frankenstein.

Vampires are a good example here, so I'll glom onto Dracula. Dracula wasn't
the first vampire. The vampire has been a mythological monster for as long as
mankind has been keeping written records, in one form or another. Vampires
have been described as everything from tragic royal figures suffering under a
terrible curse to suave night-lifers oozing contemporary style and charm. TSR
has chose to describe vampires with a small snippet of text and some
statistics. We thought up those vampires, just and Stoker and Rice thought up
theirs.

We understand that gamers game. That's why we make games. We expect you to
inject as much creativity into gaming as possibly can, and we help and
encourage it where ever possible. However, due to current copyright law,
allowing the continued unlicensed use of our creative efforts, whether
they're text, pictures, or carefully refined elements of our gaming systems,
jeopardizes our ownership of them. Taking your creative efforts incorporating
our copyrighted properties and placing them in a public place for all to
access is infringement just as surely as typing up a copy of "Dracula" and
uploading it.

>
> Ad&d in general is based on many themes and ideas from various existing
> sources. There is so much fantasy nowadays that it is hard to be original.
> The rules of your game themselves are, however, but does that mean we can't
> use them to express our ideas? Why, I ask you, did we buy them in the first
> place? You make the grave mistake of tempering our enthusiasm, which could
> result in our abandoning the game.

You bought them so you could play DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, I assume. Go to it!
Be as creative as you can be. Just try to recall that taking your creative
effort public without a license from the company whose gaming system you're
using is a copyright infringement.

>
> Yours truly,
>
> Nushae Siobhan Fahey
> --
> nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl (internet) |"| (" |"
> Anything's good if it's made of chocolate... with hazelnuts. | | _) |"
>
>

SNIP

Feel free to repost this letter. Thanks for your interest in our games.


Rob Repp | InterNet: tsr...@aol.com
Manager, Digital Projects Group | InterNet: mob...@mercury.mcs.com
TSR, Inc. | CompuServe: 76217,761
__________________________________ | GEnie: TSR.Online AOL: TSR Inc
All opinions are my own, not TSR's | 414-248-3625 Fax 414-248-0389

----8<--------8<--------8<--------8<--------8<--------8<--------8<--------8<----

Nushae Siobhan Fahey
--
nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl (internet) |"| (" |"
Anything's good if it's made of chocolate... with hazelnuts. | | _) |"
--
nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl (internet) |"| (" |"
Anything's good if it's made of chocolate... with hazelnuts. | | _) |"

William T

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Aug 1, 1994, 10:13:12 AM8/1/94
to
TSR continued to restate their policy simply because what
you said did not disprove their point. That is, REGARDLESS
of the intent behind the use of unauthorised materials TSR
IN THE EYES OF THE LAW (BTW, is this international or merely U.S.
law?) could still lose their ownership of their copyright
thru such use.

I would beg TSR to hurry up and license such FTP sites that existed
previously, or if they have to, to set up their own "official"
site. But whatever happens they MUST not infringe the principle of
non-commercialisation which still holds true throughout the
Internet community.

- William

Nushae Siobhan Fahey

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Aug 1, 1994, 10:43:55 AM8/1/94
to
Here follows my reply to Rob Repp of TSR, inc

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rob Repp of TSR, inc wrote:
>
> We are expressing our policy because current copyright law is structured is
> such a way that allowing unlicensed publication of copyrighted game elements
> may cause us to lose ownership of those elements. This is true regardless of
> whether or not anyone else profits from the infringements.

Note that I never denied that. As I stated, my letter was primarily written
to convey my concern over the consequences of excessive "protection"
measures. Your company has every right to defend any copyright it has.
However, and I may not have made this clear from the start, in my opinion
you also seek to defend rights you do not have. As I recall, your first
messages to the net community contained references to common game terms
stating that these, also, were copyrighted and therefore to be banned from
unauthorised publications.

This in particular concerned me, since these terms are widely used by other
game companies too.

I understand you do not want to allow free use of terms as "Ravenloft" and
"AD&D" since low quality products bearing these names may damage your
public image. However, numerous terms like "Paladin," "Armor Class" and
"Hit Point" are neither trademarked nor copyrighted. Therefore demanding
that any amateur products be stripped of all these references is not one of
your rights.

Of course this is not my only concern. As you can judge for yourself by
casually reading the rec.games.frp.dnd newsgroup, your company's
announcement has caused a lot of unrest. The main reason for this is the
threatening attitude you (unintentionally) took. You could learn a lot in
this aspect from game companies that have preceded you onto the net.

> BE CREATIVE! If you want to make a knight in shining armor, do it! He's just
> going to be wearing "plate mail," not ARMOR CLASS 1. If you want to write
> spells, do it! Just make them last minutes, not ROUNDS. If you want new
> monsters, make them! But make them bite and scratch, not 2 ATTACKS PER ROUND,
> +2/+4.

As above, I was and still am convinced you cannot demand this. Note I am
not saying I dislike the fact that you are demanding it, I am simply saying
you have no right.

> > Our options are limited; we can't claim ownership of such creations, since
> > you already own most names used in them. Nothing keeps you from publishing
> > an improved version of them, using our freely granted ideas without
> > acknowledging us for them. If we send them to one of your magazines, the
> > same would happen, since we would be signing away our rights to them.
> > Whether it is intentionally or not, you make the impression of a company
> > that supports new ideas, as long as you are the one profiting from it.
>
> Excuse me? Are you expressing a concern over possibly having your copyrights
> infringed?
>

Most certainly not, since I would not post anything to the net if I did not
want it freely distributed. However, if I do post anything, I want it to
stay free of charge.
Let me be very explicit. A large majority of the readers of
rec.games.frp.dnd has no profit in mind whatsoever. TSR on the other hand,
by it's nature, has. Any product made by us, the readers, is only allowed
if a) it's rendered useless as a specific AD&D supplement or b) it's signed
over to you via Dragon or Dungeon.
Therefore the conclusion: whether intentionally or not, you make the


impression of a company that supports new ideas, as long as you are the one
profiting from it.

I might add that I don't mean *we* want to profit from it.

> >
> > Please don't destroy a perfect forum by savagely forbidding everything that
> > could be a potential risk. This newsgroup has existed for several years
> > before you came to it and it has never damaged your profits. It does not
> > keep people from buying your rules books. On the contrary. Using your
> > language to express our original ideas is no threat to you whatsoever.
> > More so, I think it is very questionable to fervently protect ideas, some
> > of which themselves were borrowed. I mention here the ranger class from the
> > books of Tolkien and the spell memorising from Vance's works as two
> examples.
> > The Ravenloft novels themselves are based on well known horror stories like
> > Dracula and Frankenstein.
>
> Vampires are a good example here, so I'll glom onto Dracula. Dracula wasn't
> the first vampire. The vampire has been a mythological monster for as long as
> mankind has been keeping written records, in one form or another. Vampires
> have been described as everything from tragic royal figures suffering under a
> terrible curse to suave night-lifers oozing contemporary style and charm. TSR
> has chose to describe vampires with a small snippet of text and some
> statistics. We thought up those vampires, just and Stoker and Rice thought up
> theirs.

I dislike the habit of using examples, which usually tend to take the place
of genuine arguments, where the worst example of the bunch is fervently
discussed and the real matter lost from sight. I am not exactly illiterate
in horror and agree with your arguments, however these do not hold for my
other examples.
In the same piece of text was another remark which I would like you to
comment upon. It was the remark that while the dnd group has been here for
over five years (perhaps more, I would not know as I was not yet on the net
myself back then) it has never damaged your profits.

>
> We understand that gamers game. That's why we make games. We expect you to
> inject as much creativity into gaming as possibly can, and we help and
> encourage it where ever possible. However, due to current copyright law,
> allowing the continued unlicensed use of our creative efforts, whether
> they're text, pictures, or carefully refined elements of our gaming systems,
> jeopardizes our ownership of them. Taking your creative efforts incorporating
> our copyrighted properties and placing them in a public place for all to
> access is infringement just as surely as typing up a copy of "Dracula" and
> uploading it.
>

There is a small difference here. Gaming rules and novels are completely
different things under copyright law. If I buy a computer language, I am
allowed to publish my own code written in that language without infringing
on any law. Game rules are more like a computer language than a novel.
Therefore, it is not obvious that using your company's rules in order to
create something unique is a copyright infringement, as you would have us
believe.

> > Ad&d in general is based on many themes and ideas from various existing
> > sources. There is so much fantasy nowadays that it is hard to be original.
> > The rules of your game themselves are, however, but does that mean we can't
> > use them to express our ideas? Why, I ask you, did we buy them in the first
> > place? You make the grave mistake of tempering our enthusiasm, which could
> > result in our abandoning the game.
>
> You bought them so you could play DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, I assume. Go to it!
> Be as creative as you can be. Just try to recall that taking your creative
> effort public without a license from the company whose gaming system you're
> using is a copyright infringement.

There we are. This is my third concern; in stead of creative players that
make their own extras, discuss the game et cetera, you seem to want players
that simply buy and play. Your answer has only confirmed this concern. I
hope the others will prove unfounded, though I am not as optimistic as I
once was.

This is not simply another copyright issue, as you seem fond of telling
people on the net. Making it sound as simply exercising your rights is a
grave insult to a very loyal public. Even if you say you mean us well, your
actions say different.

>
> Feel free to repost this letter. Thanks for your interest in our games.
>

I have reposted it; I will also post this reply.
(Of course it goes without saying that you may use my letters in your
postings.)

>
> Rob Repp | InterNet: tsr...@aol.com
> Manager, Digital Projects Group | InterNet: mob...@mercury.mcs.com
> TSR, Inc. | CompuServe: 76217,761
> __________________________________ | GEnie: TSR.Online AOL: TSR Inc
> All opinions are my own, not TSR's | 414-248-3625 Fax 414-248-0389
>
>

Nushae Siobhan Fahey

S. Keith Graham

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Aug 1, 1994, 2:08:44 PM8/1/94
to

>TSR continued to restate their policy simply because what
>you said did not disprove their point. That is, REGARDLESS
>of the intent behind the use of unauthorised materials TSR
>IN THE EYES OF THE LAW (BTW, is this international or merely U.S.
>law?) could still lose their ownership of their copyright
>thru such use.

#1: The Copyright law is based on international treaty, but
not all nations are signatories.

#2: Failure to enforce copyright can not, under any circumstances,
cause someone to "loose their copyright".

#3: Failure to enforce TRADEMARKS can cause someone to loose the
trademark.

#4: Failure to enforce copyrights, especially "derivitive" works, etc.
could cause them to not be awarded as much money as they might, in a
copyright suit against another game publisher.

#5: Other Gaming companies allow people to create "derivitive works"
provided that they are marked as "unofficial", etc. SJG even allows
inclusion of actual copyrighted material in computerized game aids
if you get a license to distribute from them. (And Steve Jackson
Games would certainly refuse the license if it infringed too much
on an entire game/system. And SJG announced this policy along with
a copy of the licensing agreement. :-)

#6: T$Rs position, while _perhaps_ legally valid, is not a position
"forced by law", nor is the approach they have taken near optimal
to satisfying the gamers on the 'net.

Keith Graham
vap...@cad.gatech.edu

Robert Blanchard

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Aug 1, 1994, 3:10:44 PM8/1/94
to

: Feel free to repost this letter. Thanks for your interest in our games.


: Rob Repp | InterNet: tsr...@aol.com
: Manager, Digital Projects Group | InterNet: mob...@mercury.mcs.com
: TSR, Inc. | CompuServe: 76217,761
: __________________________________ | GEnie: TSR.Online AOL: TSR Inc
: All opinions are my own, not TSR's | 414-248-3625 Fax 414-248-0389

It does seem very odd that a well established company would have product
managers do what the legals should be doing.Since none of the letters
have been posted directly from their sources I am starting to believe
that this whole thing smell like alt.syntax.tactical. If it is real it's
having an effect that would make them proud.

Robert
rob...@comtch.iea.com

Keith Barber

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Aug 1, 1994, 5:59:52 PM8/1/94
to
Robert Blanchard (rob...@comtch.iea.com) wrote:

: : Feel free to repost this letter. Thanks for your interest in our games.

: Robert
: rob...@comtch.iea.com
when I fingered his account I got the following info:
Robb Repp (mobius)
Mail forwarded to mobius.
New mail since Mon Aug 1 16:43:14 1994
Has not read mail for 0:49:42.
Robb Repp has never logged on.
Plan file cannot be looked up or accessed.
Project file cannot be looked up or accessed.

Interesting isn't it?
--
Keith Barber
kei...@comtch.iea.com

WinningerR

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Aug 1, 1994, 6:07:05 PM8/1/94
to
In article <31i5m9$p...@tuegate.tue.nl>, nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl (Nushae
Siobhan Fahey) writes:

***Quote Starts Here, Not Sure Who Said What***


>> of which themselves were borrowed. I mention here the ranger class from
the
>> books of Tolkien and the spell memorising from Vance's works as two
examples.
>> The Ravenloft novels themselves are based on well known horror stories
like
>> Dracula and Frankenstein.
>
>Vampires are a good example here, so I'll glom onto Dracula. Dracula
wasn't
>the first vampire. The vampire has been a mythological monster for as
long as

Note that this argument does not hold for Frankenstein, Vance and Tolkien.

*** Quote Ends Here ***

Mary Shelley's Frankstein entered the public domain quite some time ago,
as did Stoker's Dracula. The TSR Rep made one well-intentioned mistake in
his reply -- typing out a copy of DRACULA and sending it over the Internet
is now perfectly legal (and, in fact, one exists).

In any case, Tolkien hardly invented the "ranger" -- defined as a warrior
with a spiritual affinity for nature. Although some of Tolkien's character
may resemble the generic AD&D ranger, none of Tolkien's specific text was
used or referenced in AD&D, and thus there is no violation. Likewise for
Jack Vance -- he certainly invented the "idea" of memorizing spells (Gygax
has credited this concept as inspiration), but again, this is only an
idea. None of Vance's specific text is referenced or copied in AD&D.

Bryan J. Maloney

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Aug 1, 1994, 6:33:15 PM8/1/94
to


You realize that the solution to all your problems is to toss all your TSR
stuff in the trash and switch to games systems put out by companies that are
less paranoid.

--
Bryan Maloney

Bryan J. Maloney

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Aug 1, 1994, 6:40:55 PM8/1/94
to


Under current USA law, you cannot lose copyright through insufficiently
ardent defense of copyright. You can lose trademark that way, but not
copyright. What has TSR's lawyers' panties in knots is the fact that
copyright protection of roleplaying games is somewhat less defined than
the multiplicative reciprocal of zero.

TSR probably lives in dread of a time when a questionable case actually
does come to trial and makes some definitions in these areas.


Thus, they're going to be badmouthed hardasses and try to scare everybody into
submission without legal action.

However, the law does NOT require action to protect copyright, only to protect
trademark. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or lying.

(Now, this protection only strictly applies in areas that are defined as
protected. When it comes to roleplaying games, there are no definitions, and
nobody wants to be the guy who plays definition guinea pig. This is one
reason why TSR probably decided not to go after Wizards of the Coast's Primal
Order product. The conversion notes were worded very carefully, and going
after them could have ended up blowing up in TSR's face--and now that WoTC
has a LARGER share of the gaming market than does TSR...)


--
Bryan Maloney

Brian Trosko

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Aug 1, 1994, 7:03:28 PM8/1/94
to
Bryan J. Maloney (jac...@sonata.cc.purdue.edu) wrote:

: You realize that the solution to all your problems is to toss all your TSR


: stuff in the trash and switch to games systems put out by companies that are
: less paranoid.

Oh, sure, if you've got a few hundred extra dollars around.

Bruce Baugh

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Aug 2, 1994, 12:39:00 AM8/2/94
to
In <31jtln$n...@mozo.cc.purdue.edu> jac...@sonata.cc.purdue.edu (Bryan J. Maloney) writes:

>TSR probably lives in dread of a time when a questionable case actually
>does come to trial and makes some definitions in these areas.

Frankly, given the modern American court system, we should _all_ be afraid
of such a case. The courts just ruled (in the case of Amateur Action BBS)
that a California BBS could be prosecuted under Tennessee obscenity laws
because TN callers could download pictures from it. Twelve jurors, given all
the evidence, couldn't seem to find anything much wrong in the actions of
the cops who beat Rodney King; another twelve thought the Menendez brothers
deserved acquittal for the murder of their parents because, after all, now
they're without their parents for the rest of their lives. Farmers growing
corn to feed their own hogs can be regulated under the interstate commerce
clause of the Constitution. It goes on and on.

Every action that makes it possible to acheive a settlement without going to
court is likely to be a good one. None of us should be eager to commit
anything we care about to the sensibilities of American jurisprudence.
--
bru...@teleport.com | "People outlive governments now." - Bruce Sterling
| "I din't know you was a bona fide hippocritical
Bruce Baugh | oaf." - Walt Kelly

WinningerR

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Aug 2, 1994, 1:41:01 AM8/2/94
to
In article <31jr8o$a...@krel.iea.com>, kei...@comtch.iea.com (Keith Barber)
writes:

>Interesting isn't it?

Such an individual does indeed work for TSR and if his posts were not
genuine you would have certainly heard about it by now (several TSR
employees read this group regularly).

WinningerR

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Aug 2, 1994, 1:50:03 AM8/2/94
to
In article <31jtln$n...@mozo.cc.purdue.edu>, jac...@sonata.cc.purdue.edu
(Bryan J. Maloney) writes:

>Under current USA law, you cannot lose copyright through insufficiently
>ardent defense of copyright.

Not necessarily. Little in law is ever this simple. In any case, again I
ask, so what? If it will make you happy, go back and substitute the word
"trademark" for every instance of "copyright" in the original letter. What
changes?

Kendall Bullen

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Aug 1, 1994, 8:06:30 PM8/1/94
to
nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl (Nushae Siobhan Fahey) wrote to All on 8/1/94,

NS> Anyway. Read it yourself. If you want to have a peek at the letter I
NS> sent, it's on my AD&D page on the web:
NS> http://www.stack.urc.tue.nl/~nushae/

<frown> I can't web . . . but it looks like TSR...@aol.com quoted a lot of
your letter. If there was a lot of stuff that wasn't covered, then I'd love to
read your letter (posted, e-mailed to me, whatever).

TSR> BE CREATIVE! If you want to make a knight in shining armor, do it!
TSR> He's just going to be wearing "plate mail," not ARMOR CLASS 1. If you
TSR> want to write spells, do it! Just make them last minutes, not ROUNDS.
TSR> If you want new monsters, make them! But make them bite and scratch,
TSR> not 2 ATTACKS PER ROUND, +2/+4.

Wow, how TSR can think that "2 attacks per round, +2/+4" could possibly
infringe on their copyright or trademarks is beyond me. (Does Rob Repp play
AD&D? That's not a real monster stat anyway. ;) Don't even try to tell me
that "2 attacks per round" is a trademarked phrase . . . and since rounds, and
multiple attacks per round, are used in plenty of combat systems in plenty of
games. . . . ;)

Kendall

Kendall Bullen

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Aug 1, 1994, 8:15:35 PM8/1/94
to
winni...@aol.com (WinningerR) wrote to All on 8/1/94,

WR> In any case, Tolkien hardly invented the "ranger" -- defined as a
WR> warrior with a spiritual affinity for nature. Although some of
WR> Tolkien's character may resemble the generic AD&D ranger, none of
WR> Tolkien's specific text was used or referenced in AD&D, and thus there
WR> is no violation. Likewise for Jack Vance -- he certainly invented the
WR> "idea" of memorizing spells (Gygax has credited this concept as
WR> inspiration), but again, this is only an idea. None of Vance's
WR> specific text is referenced or copied in AD&D.

But it doesn't have to be -- as it said in the copyright circular, derivative
work without permission (which is what the netters want to do) is still a
violation. It doesn't matter if you quote directly or not. I've seen many
posts (from both 'sides' ;) about this matter, in addition to seeing the
copyright circular quoted, so I think you're mistaken. Now, how derivative it
is -- how enforceable it is -- and whether or not Vance, et al., want to pursue
the matter -- these are entirely *different* issues. But I'd say that a lot of
supposedly evil and illegal stuff is about as derivative as AD&D was.

Unless I've totally misunderstood this "derivative work" concept -- in which
case, slightly modified, net.books are okay; you can't have it both ways.

Kendall

Brian Trosko

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Aug 2, 1994, 12:58:11 AM8/2/94
to
Bruce Baugh (bru...@teleport.com) wrote:
: they're without their parents for the rest of their lives. Farmers growing

: corn to feed their own hogs can be regulated under the interstate commerce
: clause of the Constitution. It goes on and on.


Uh....just one thing...WHAT 'interstate commerce clause' in the
Constitution?

: Every action that makes it possible to acheive a settlement without going to


: court is likely to be a good one. None of us should be eager to commit
: anything we care about to the sensibilities of American jurisprudence.
: --


I'll agree with that one, though. ;)

hod...@emu.insted.unimelb.edu.au

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Aug 2, 1994, 5:34:21 PM8/2/94
to
> : Feel free to repost this letter. Thanks for your interest in our games.
>
> [chop]

>
> : Rob Repp | InterNet: tsr...@aol.com
> : Manager, Digital Projects Group | InterNet: mob...@mercury.mcs.com
> : TSR, Inc. | CompuServe: 76217,761
> : __________________________________ | GEnie: TSR.Online AOL: TSR Inc
> : All opinions are my own, not TSR's | 414-248-3625 Fax 414-248-0389
>
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Is this an unfortunate inclusion, an automated .sig appender gone mad or was it
a deliberate effort.

Brian Trosko

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 2:52:45 AM8/2/94
to
WinningerR (winni...@aol.com) wrote:

: >Under current USA law, you cannot lose copyright through insufficiently
: >ardent defense of copyright.

: Not necessarily. Little in law is ever this simple. In any case, again I
: ask, so what? If it will make you happy, go back and substitute the word
: "trademark" for every instance of "copyright" in the original letter. What
: changes?

Well, if I substitute 'trademark' for 'copyright', then Mr. Repp still
isn't correct, as Armor Class and hit points aren't trademarked, either.
And, while TSR might be awarded less money in a future civil suit due to
their prior inactivity in defending their copyrights, they don't actually
lose their copyrights. Really, show me one precedent where this has
happened, and I might become less of a stickler for detail. But your
statement is like saying "Well, on occasion, murderers have recieved
light sentences, so murder must be considered a non-serious crime."

Nushae Siobhan Fahey

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 2:42:19 AM8/2/94
to
This thread seems to be evolving into a discussion about the American law
system. I don't know anything about it, since I am Dutch, but I do know
that if people start opting for a settlement just to keep things out of
the courts, then why do we have them in the first place? Large companies
are already using their power to achieve what they want without the
nuisance of having to do that in court.

Nuff said; back to the matter it started with. I'm beginning to think very
nasty thoughts about TSR. I know my letters weren't exactly filled to the
brim with suggestions on how to solve this problem. They weren't meant to
be. I wrote them to try and reason with the TSR staff, explain them that
their paranoia is unfounded. All with the best intentions, understand.

My first letter evoked few useful replies; the real questions weren't
answered. (Eg. "Why?" reply: "Because we can.")
In the second I amplified many statements and repeated several questions
explicitly. The reply really had me fuming, because it clearly shows how
easily they discard us. We were having a conversation, for god's sake!

My guess: they feel they've gotten in way too deep and are backing off
fast. The reason: loads of mail. I suspect a lot of it was not particularly
discreet.

The reply was as follows:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: TSR...@aol.com
To: nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl
Date: Mon, 01 Aug 94 10:49:01 EDT
Subject: Re: open letter

Due to the large volume of mail we're receiving, we're not replying to most
of it personally. Copyright comments and legal questions will be archived for
later examination. Policy statements will be posted to rec.games.frp.dnd.
Customer service and gaming questions will be routed internally and answered
as quickly as possible.

Thanks for your interest in our games.

Rob Repp | InterNet: tsr...@aol.com
Manager, Digital Projects Group | InterNet: mob...@mercury.mcs.com
TSR, Inc. | CompuServe: 76217,761
__________________________________ | GEnie: TSR.Online AOL: TSR Inc
All opinions are my own, not TSR's | 414-248-3625 Fax 414-248-0389

Nushae Siobhan Fahey

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 2:53:25 AM8/2/94
to
winni...@aol.com (WinningerR) writes:

>In article <31i5m9$p...@tuegate.tue.nl>, nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl (Nushae
>Siobhan Fahey) writes:

>***Quote Starts Here, Not Sure Who Said What***
>>> of which themselves were borrowed. I mention here the ranger class from
>>> the books of Tolkien and the spell memorising from Vance's works as two
>>> examples. The Ravenloft novels themselves are based on well known horror
>>> stories like Dracula and Frankenstein.
>>
>>Vampires are a good example here, so I'll glom onto Dracula. Dracula wasn't
>>the first vampire. The vampire has been a mythological monster for as long
>>as

>Note that this argument does not hold for Frankenstein, Vance and Tolkien.
>*** Quote Ends Here ***

3 marks: Nushae. 2 marks: Rob. 1 mark: Nushae again.

>Mary Shelley's Frankstein entered the public domain quite some time ago,
>as did Stoker's Dracula. The TSR Rep made one well-intentioned mistake in
>his reply -- typing out a copy of DRACULA and sending it over the Internet
>is now perfectly legal (and, in fact, one exists).
>In any case, Tolkien hardly invented the "ranger" -- defined as a warrior

>...


>Jack Vance -- he certainly invented the "idea" of memorizing spells (Gygax

>...

Everybody seems to be missing the point. The point I was trying to make is,
that nowadays, nothing can be really called original anymore. I could add
more examples of source material AD&D is based upon. I have already
explained why I won't: they will not make my argument any more or less
valid. (As a fact, I even made a distinction between Stoker/Shelley and
Vance/Tolkien because the last two weren't in the PD.)
Whether it was legal or not, AD&D was partially derived from these sources
(among other sources), whether they themselves were original or not.

verkuilen john v

unread,
Aug 1, 1994, 9:40:38 PM8/1/94
to
winni...@aol.com (WinningerR) writes:


>In any case, Tolkien hardly invented the "ranger" -- defined as a warrior
>with a spiritual affinity for nature. Although some of Tolkien's character
>may resemble the generic AD&D ranger, none of Tolkien's specific text was

No, I think there's no way that the original ranger could be called
underivative of JRRT's work. A fighter able to use scrying devices
like crystal balls? Come on. Second edition ranger is much better as
far as that goes.

--
Jay Verkuilen ja...@uiuc.edu

"I am resplendent in divergence." --Robert Fripp, "Under Heavy Manners"

WinningerR

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 11:26:06 AM8/2/94
to
In article <77581941...@clone.his.com>, kendall...@his.com
(Kendall Bullen) writes:

>But it doesn't have to be

Yes, in essence, it does. A "derivative" work reprints or references
(implicitly or explicitly) copyrighted material. To switch examples to
something a bit clearer:

DC comics has copyrighted (and trademarked) Superman. This doesn't stop me
from publishing my own stories about a strong guy who flies, wears a cape,
and fights crime -- this is just an idea, it cannot be copyrighted. If,
however, I describe my character as "another lost son of Krypton" it
becomes obvious that I am referencing DC's copyrighted material and
creating a derivative work.

Now plug Vance back in: I can write all the stories I want about wizards
who memorize their spells, just so long as I don't reference any of
Vance's works.

Under your interpretation, virtually no stories could be published anymore
because they'd all be "derived" from previously published works.

WinningerR

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 11:30:10 AM8/2/94
to
In article <31kqft$5...@netaxs.com>, btr...@netaxs.com (Brian Trosko)
writes:

>Well, if I substitute 'trademark' for 'copyright', then Mr. Repp still
>isn't correct, as Armor Class and hit points aren't trademarked, either.

>And, while TSR might be awarded less money in a future civil suit due to
>their prior inactivity in defending their copyrights, they don't actually

>lose their copyrights.

The absurdity of this is that you are expecting perfect wording from
someone with no legal training (Mr. Repp does not work in TSR's legal
department). We can argue semantics all day, but the gist of Mr. Repp's
letter -- unauthorized use can strip TSR of some of its rights and injure
TSR in other ways -- remains true.

WinningerR

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 11:35:07 AM8/2/94
to
In article <31kpsb$e...@tuegate.tue.nl>, nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl (Nushae
Siobhan Fahey) writes:

>explain them that their paranoia is unfounded.

Unfortunately, this isn't necessarily true. One thing you should
understand about the United States is that folks over here are "sue happy"
-- lawsuits and litigation of all sorts are common. Every time a company
like TSR decides to start waving its rights to facilitiate the 99% of you
out there who are good natured and really just want to play the game,
somebody else comes a long and tries to legally exploit their weakness.
It's sad, but unfortunately true.

This bears another repeat: FOR NOW, JUST RELAX. TSR has promised to
rectify this whole situation as soon as possible. What this probably means
is that the TSR Legal Dept. will draft some sort of standard language you
can tack to the beginning of your internet material and make it perfectly
legal. Give them a chance. If they fail to deliver, then start to get
outraged.

WinningerR

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 11:38:06 AM8/2/94
to
In article <31kqh5$e...@tuegate.tue.nl>, nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl (Nushae
Siobhan Fahey) writes:

>Whether it was legal or not, AD&D was partially derived from these
>sources (among other sources), whether they themselves were original >or
not.

Of course AD&D was influenced by all manner of books, legends, etc. some
of which are not in the public domain. There is nothing illegal about
"influence." To be recognized as a "derived" work, a publication must meet
certain criteria. See my earlier post.

WinningerR

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 11:40:02 AM8/2/94
to
In article <31k86m$g...@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>, ja...@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu
(verkuilen john v) writes:

>No, I think there's no way that the original ranger could be called
>underivative of JRRT's work. A fighter able to use scrying devices
>like crystal balls? Come on.

First, off a "fighter able to use crystal balls" is, again, an idea. It
cannot be copyright.

Second, do you really think Tolkien invented the idea of "fighters" using
magical devices?

Marcus L Stone

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 12:32:02 PM8/2/94
to
Brian Trosko (btr...@netaxs.com) wrote:

Actually, yoou can do what I did. I allow myself a certain amount of
money per month for gaming supplies and novels. I have used my monthly
allotment to purchase the core rules of a different system to 'explore'
the possibilities of changing. My roommate is considering going a step
further and selling off most of his rules books to help finance the
change. The change is also much cheaper for most other stystems because
they don't charge as much and have about 1/2" margins. We will both be
keeping the game worlds to play in for a while since that is what we are
used to after over 8 years of playing for him and over 12 years for me.
The worst part about this for TSR is that he and I are DMs and our group
will have no choice in the matter if we should decide to change systems.

--
+-------------------------------------+--------------------------------+
| Endless Loop; n.: See Loop, Endless | O'Toole's Law: |
| Loop, Endless; n.: See Endless Loop | Murphy was an optimist. |
+-------------------------------------+--------------------------------+
| mst...@mason1.gmu.edu | Myth...@aol.com |
+-------------------------------------+--------------------------------+


Anthony Ragan

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 7:31:00 AM8/2/94
to
In article <31kjp3$4...@netaxs.com>,
btr...@netaxs.com (Brian Trosko) writes:

>
>
>Uh....just one thing...WHAT 'interstate commerce clause' in the
>Constitution?

Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 3: "The Congress shall have the
Power To Regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the
several States, and with the Indian Tribes."

Man, this discussion is getting convoluted.....:)
--Anthony
ecz...@mvs.oac.ucla.edu -OR- Iris...@aol.com
Rune Chia Pet of Ernalda, Snotling in Chief

Jean-Marc Libs

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 6:37:06 PM8/2/94
to

In article <31lse2$3...@portal.gmu.edu>,

Marcus L Stone <mst...@mason1.gmu.edu> wrote:
>: Bryan J. Maloney (jac...@sonata.cc.purdue.edu) wrote:
>
>: : You realize that the solution to all your problems is to toss all your TSR
>: : stuff in the trash and switch to games systems put out by companies that are
>: : less paranoid.

First of all, Bryan, this is your third "helpful" post on this
exact subject. You'd think everybody has seen it by now, no?
Not that I'd suspect any helpful fellow contributor from spreading
adverts on usenet, of course.

>Actually, yoou can do what I did. I allow myself a certain amount of
>money per month for gaming supplies and novels. I have used my monthly
>allotment to purchase the core rules of a different system to 'explore'
>the possibilities of changing.

This is weird to me. You say you are posting from a *.edu site and
you have to actually purchase different games to 'explore' them?
What do you think gaming clubs (or guilds, or whatever this is called
in america) are for?
Enquiring minds would like to know. All the gaming clubs I've seen
are basically organised around one big cupboard full of varied gaming
material. Is your university so small that this isn't possible
or what?

J-M

Bruce Baugh

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 6:16:28 PM8/2/94
to
In <31kjp3$4...@netaxs.com> btr...@netaxs.com (Brian Trosko) writes:

>Uh....just one thing...WHAT 'interstate commerce clause' in the
>Constitution?

Ask, and ye shall receive. Article I, Section 8:

"Congress shall have power [stuff deleted]...to regulate commerce with
foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;"

michael thomas fassbender

unread,
Aug 2, 1994, 11:05:36 PM8/2/94
to
WinningerR (winni...@aol.com) wrote:
: In any case, Tolkien hardly invented the "ranger" -- defined as a warrior

: with a spiritual affinity for nature. Although some of Tolkien's character
: may resemble the generic AD&D ranger, none of Tolkien's specific text was
: used or referenced in AD&D, and thus there is no violation. Likewise for
: Jack Vance -- he certainly invented the "idea" of memorizing spells (Gygax
: has credited this concept as inspiration), but again, this is only an
: idea. None of Vance's specific text is referenced or copied in AD&D.

Actually, it has appeared at least once. Back when Gygax
was still involved with TSR, he wrote an installment of From the
Sorcerer's Scroll (which has been reprinted in one of the first
two Best of Dragon issues), in which he described the key influences
on AD&D's magic system. If memory serves, two of the three influences
cited were Vance and Lovecraft.

Adelheyde

WinningerR

unread,
Aug 3, 1994, 10:33:06 AM8/3/94
to
In article <Ctxv9...@usenet.ucs.indiana.edu>,

mfas...@nickel.ucs.indiana.edu (michael thomas fassbender) writes:

>Actually, it has appeared at least once. Back when Gygax
>was still involved with TSR, he wrote an installment of From the
>Sorcerer's Scroll (which has been reprinted in one of the first
>two Best of Dragon issues), in which he described the key influences
>on AD&D's magic system. If memory serves, two of the three influences
>cited were Vance and Lovecraft.

No, no. This isn't what I meant. Gygax can acknowledge Vance as an
influence all day without fear. I'm not familiar with Vance's work so I
can't provide a decent example. Let's switch to Tolkien (I know that Gygax
has made the absurd claim that Tolkien had very little influence on AD&D,
but let's assume just for the sake of example that he acknowledged the
debt). Gygax can write about how AD&D captures "the sweep and feel of
Tolkien," he can even write "the PC races are largely borrowed from
Tolkien." The moment he references Tolkien's work within the rules,
however (ie. allowing characters to be "elves of Mirkwood"), he infringes.

Tor Iver Wilhelmsen

unread,
Aug 3, 1994, 9:17:54 AM8/3/94
to

winni...@aol.com (WinningerR) writes:
>
>Yes, in essence, it does. A "derivative" work reprints or references
>(implicitly or explicitly) copyrighted material. To switch examples to
>something a bit clearer:

But it's very possible to quote (goes under fair use) copyrighted
material, but only if you give a source for the quote. Calling a filled-in
character sheet a "derived work" (I seem to remember you said this in an
article) is like calling a compiled program a "derived work" of the
compiler in question, and therefore a breach of the copyright of the
compiler writers.

>
>DC comics has copyrighted (and trademarked) Superman. This doesn't stop me
>from publishing my own stories about a strong guy who flies, wears a cape,
>and fights crime -- this is just an idea, it cannot be copyrighted. If,
>however, I describe my character as "another lost son of Krypton" it
>becomes obvious that I am referencing DC's copyrighted material and
>creating a derivative work.
>

Yes, but Marvel have trademarked Loki, yet DC uses the name and the
(approximately) same character (as in: the Norde god) without batting an
eye. I doubt Marvel would go to court over this. Same goes for the other
Norse gods (all TM Marvel) and both universes have a Captain Marvel or
two.

>Under your interpretation, virtually no stories could be published anymore
>because they'd all be "derived" from previously published works.

That is why copyright dwindles into nothingness after a while (under
Berne rules 50 years after the author's death). Noone can prevent you from
writing "Alice: Wonderland Revisited" or "John Carter, Door-to-door
Salesman of Mars", since the works being 'derived' from have passed into
the public domain. When did JRR pass away by the way?

- Tor Iver
--
Tor Iver Wilhelmsen <tor...@pvv.unit.no> CS student at NTH, Trondheim, NO
Info: http://www.pvv.unit.no/~toriver/ Member of The Software Workshop, UNIT
"Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced."
- Dr. Barry Gehm's corollary to Clarke's law

WinningerR

unread,
Aug 3, 1994, 10:44:05 AM8/3/94
to
In article <31o5e2$b...@ugle.unit.no>, tor...@pvv.unit.no (Tor Iver
Wilhelmsen) writes:

>But it's very possible to quote (goes under fair use) copyrighted
>material, but only if you give a source for the quote.

Only under certain very special circumstances and the quotes must remain
"brief."

>Calling a filled-in character sheet a "derived work" (I seem to remember
>you said this in an article) is like calling a compiled program a
"derived >work" of the compiler in question, and therefore a breach of the
>copyright of the compiler writers.

I said a character sheet MAY be a "derived work;" it depends upon the
circumstances (ie. what's written on the sheet). A compiled program is not
a derivative work (except for the special case I'm about to mention)
since, in compiled form, it doesn't include any of the compiler's code and
is not derived from the compiler's code (ie. the program does not include
code that references any specific code in the compiler). Aha, you say!
What about compiler libraries -- if I include a library function in my
program than it DOES contain specific code provided by the manufacturer of
the compiler. Now it is a derivative work, but if you look at your
software license, you'll note that the compiler's manufacturer
specifically assigns you the right to publish these sorts of works.

>Same goes for the other Norse gods (all TM Marvel) and both universes
>have a Captain Marvel or two.

Trademarking a norse god that has floated around in the public domain for
10,000 years is problematic. There is no way Marvel could stop anyone from
writing a comics story that includes Thor or Loki. The reason they still
<TM> these characters is that trademarks can apply to visuals as well as
names. In other words, they are TMing their specific look for Thor. The
name Captain Marvel was the subject of much litigation between DC and
Marvel; the two now have a written agreement on the matter. (This
agreement explains why DC's books are titled "SHAZAM" and not "Captain
Marvel," BTW).

WinningerR

unread,
Aug 3, 1994, 10:47:04 AM8/3/94
to
In article <31o5e2$b...@ugle.unit.no>, tor...@pvv.unit.no (Tor Iver
Wilhelmsen) writes:

>That is why copyright dwindles into nothingness after a while (under
>Berne rules 50 years after the author's death).

No. Copyright expires after that time period because anything that
actually lasts that long is, by definition, a piece of human culture that
belongs to the race as a whole.

Under your interpretation, it would be impossible for anyone to publish a
story about a spaceship that zooms around the galaxy righting-wrongs until
fifty years after Paramount (copyright owners on Star Trek) dies.

I believe Tolkien died in the mid 70s.

Lawrence R. Mead

unread,
Aug 3, 1994, 3:46:25 PM8/3/94
to
Kendall Bullen (kendall...@his.com) wrote:
: winni...@aol.com (WinningerR) wrote to All on 8/1/94,

: Kendall

I would truly like to know what E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson ( the
two inventors of DnD ) would say about all of this TSR vs Internet
strife. I am guessing that EGG and DA would come down on our (Internets)
side on this. Anyway we can find out directly?

--

Lawrence R. Mead (lrm...@whale.st.usm.edu) | ESCHEW OBFUSCATION !
Associate Professor of Physics | ESPOUSE ELUCIDATION !

James Sneeringer

unread,
Aug 4, 1994, 3:15:53 AM8/4/94
to

In article <31i5m9$p...@tuegate.tue.nl>, Nushae Siobhan Fahey (nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl) writes:

>> = Nushae Siobhan Fahey
> = Rob Repp of TSR, Inc.

>> Our options are limited; we can't claim ownership of such creations, since
>> you already own most names used in them. Nothing keeps you from publishing
>> an improved version of them, using our freely granted ideas without
>> acknowledging us for them. If we send them to one of your magazines, the
>> same would happen, since we would be signing away our rights to them.
>> Whether it is intentionally or not, you make the impression of a company
>> that supports new ideas, as long as you are the one profiting from it.
>
>Excuse me? Are you expressing a concern over possibly having your copyrights
>infringed?

Uh, yeah, Rob, I think that's EXACTLY what he's saying.

Okay kids! It's vocabulary time! Can you say "DOUBLE STANDARD"?

Sheesh...

/me dons asbestos armor... flame at will.


--
____
/__ |
_________ / | _________
\____ \| |/ ____/
\____ \__/ ____/
\____ ____/
\___ ___/ James Sneeringer
\____/ Internet: cro...@inferno.win.net
/ \ jsne...@flute.aix.calpoly.edu
/ \ AOL: DJVJ
\/\/\/\/

James Sneeringer

unread,
Aug 4, 1994, 3:44:55 AM8/4/94
to

In article <31kpsb$e...@tuegate.tue.nl>, Nushae Siobhan Fahey (nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl) writes:

[stuff deleted]

>The reply was as follows:

[reply was to Mr. Fahey's 3rd (?) open letter to TSR]

>--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>From: TSR...@aol.com
>To: nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl
>Date: Mon, 01 Aug 94 10:49:01 EDT
>Subject: Re: open letter
>
>Due to the large volume of mail we're receiving, we're not replying to most
>of it personally. Copyright comments and legal questions will be archived for
>later examination. Policy statements will be posted to rec.games.frp.dnd.
>Customer service and gaming questions will be routed internally and answered
>as quickly as possible.
>
>Thanks for your interest in our games.

Public statements like these really piss me off. You only see people dodge
questions like this when they know they're wrong, but don't have the decency
or courage to admit it. Thanks for just brushing us off, TSR... glad to see
you really care. :P

<IRCers will recognize the next few lines>

*** Mode change +b *!*tsrinc@*aol.com on #rec.games.frp.dnd by CrowMan
*** RobRepp has been kicked off channel #rec.games.frp.dnd by CrowMan (bye)

/me still wearing asbestos armor...

Rob McNeur

unread,
Aug 4, 1994, 6:24:03 AM8/4/94
to
In article <31i5m9$p...@tuegate.tue.nl>, nus...@stack.urc.tue.nl (Nushae Siobhan Fahey) writes:
> Hi there fellow gamers,
>

< Internal content deleted >

> Rob Repp | InterNet: tsr...@aol.com
> Manager, Digital Projects Group | InterNet: mob...@mercury.mcs.com
> TSR, Inc. | CompuServe: 76217,761
> __________________________________ | GEnie: TSR.Online AOL: TSR Inc
> All opinions are my own, not TSR's | 414-248-3625 Fax 414-248-0389
>

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

By shoving this at the end, he just invalidated the whole discussion.

Ask him again for TSR's policy *WITHOUT* the disclaimer to screw it up.
Otherwise he's just another idiot throwing his opinion around, and we've
already got enough of them on the net....

(
/ \
/ )
>>---|-> get my point ?
\ )
\ / Rob McNeur
( R...@ccc.govt.nz

Chris Anderson

unread,
Aug 3, 1994, 8:52:55 PM8/3/94
to
According to WinningerR <winni...@aol.com>:

Thus the reason that ents became treants and hobbits became halflings.

Chris

Chris Anderson

unread,
Aug 3, 1994, 8:56:21 PM8/3/94
to
According to Kendall Bullen <kendall...@his.com>:

> winni...@aol.com (WinningerR) wrote to All on 8/1/94,
>
> WR> In any case, Tolkien hardly invented the "ranger" -- defined as a
> WR> warrior with a spiritual affinity for nature. Although some of
> WR> Tolkien's character may resemble the generic AD&D ranger, none of
> WR> Tolkien's specific text was used or referenced in AD&D, and thus there
> WR> is no violation. Likewise for Jack Vance -- he certainly invented the
> WR> "idea" of memorizing spells (Gygax has credited this concept as
> WR> inspiration), but again, this is only an idea. None of Vance's
> WR> specific text is referenced or copied in AD&D.
>
> But it doesn't have to be -- as it said in the copyright circular, derivative
> work without permission (which is what the netters want to do) is still a
> violation. It doesn't matter if you quote directly or not. I've seen many
> posts (from both 'sides' ;) about this matter, in addition to seeing the
> copyright circular quoted, so I think you're mistaken. Now, how derivative it
> is -- how enforceable it is -- and whether or not Vance, et al., want to pursue
> the matter -- these are entirely *different* issues. But I'd say that a lot of
> supposedly evil and illegal stuff is about as derivative as AD&D was.
>
> Unless I've totally misunderstood this "derivative work" concept -- in which
> case, slightly modified, net.books are okay; you can't have it both ways.

Actually, for a good example of a company getting around the derivative
work problem, see the old Judges Guild modules or Gary Gygax's Dangerous
Journeys. Both of these emulate AD&D without crossing the line.

Chris

Chris Anderson

unread,
Aug 3, 1994, 9:01:50 PM8/3/94
to
According to Lawrence R. Mead <lrm...@whale.st.usm.edu>:

> I would truly like to know what E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson ( the
> two inventors of DnD ) would say about all of this TSR vs Internet
> strife. I am guessing that EGG and DA would come down on our (Internets)
> side on this. Anyway we can find out directly?

It doesn't matter. Both of those people are completely out of
the picture as far as this debate goes.

A better question would be whether or not TSR's legal department can
come up with a blurb that can be added to a derivative work (as all
the net.books are) that would allow them to be freely redistributed
without infringing TSR's copyrights.

TSR? Comments?

Chris

WinningerR

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Aug 4, 1994, 2:01:02 AM8/4/94
to
In article <CtzJs...@Unify.com>, c...@unify.com (Chris Anderson) writes:

>Thus the reason that ents became treants and hobbits became halflings.

Yes, exactly. For everyone who doesn't know, there was litigation between
Gygax/TSR and the Tolkien estate.

The lawyers decided that "ent" and "hobbit" were specific terms that were
unique to Tolkien's world and referenced his creations. By changing "ent"
to "treant" and making sure that the treant background does not reference
Tolkien in any way (ie. "Treants inhabit the Mirkwood."), TSR removed the
direct reference and thus the infringement. The mere idea of an
intelligent tree cannot be copyrighted.

Hans M Dykstra

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Aug 4, 1994, 5:14:36 PM8/4/94
to
In article <31mhqi$b...@thot.u-strasbg.fr>,

I don't know about him, but here at UMass they have a gaming club.
(I'm not a member since staff can't join student activity groups,
but leave that be.) Problem is, they have no *space*. As a student
group, they are allowed to reserve rooms in the Campus Center, but
that is as far as it goes. They don't have a cupboard, so there can't
be any games there.

Is your university so small that this isn't possible
>or what?

This is true at a lot of schools. Generally, the BIGGER the
school, the less likely that a student organization will be able
to get permanent storage space. And a closet full of games in the
president's room doesn't do anybody much good, really.

***
hmd

Rob Repp

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Aug 4, 1994, 11:18:12 AM8/4/94
to
In article <5...@inferno.win.net>, cro...@inferno.win.net (James
Sneeringer) wrote:


For the record, I haven't been on any IRC channels in over 3 months.
Accept no substitutes.

WinningerR

unread,
Aug 4, 1994, 11:16:05 AM8/4/94
to
Sneeringer) writes:

>You only see people dodge questions like this when they know they're
>wrong

No, you also see people dodge questions like these when they are literally
inundated with mail and have no time to answer it.

Geoffery C. Haigh

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Aug 5, 1994, 3:32:17 AM8/5/94
to
>jeopardizes our ownership of them. Taking your creative efforts incorporating
>our copyrighted properties and placing them in a public place for all to
>access is infringement just as surely as typing up a copy of "Dracula" and
>uploading it.


Should someone write back to T$R and tell them that Dracula is readily
available on gopher sites as it is public domain?

Thsi reminds me, why don't we just go through all of the Net.*.Books and
come up with similar names, and copyright them? I actually think that
T$R should be copywrited. Let's see we could have:
THAC0= THACO <everyone says it like that anyways>
RAVENLOFT= Poe's RAVEN_RIP_OFF
DRAGONLANCE= DRAGONSWORD
PLANSESCAPE= OUTER PLANES <heh, I actually think T$R's copywrite ran out
on this one>
Eliminster= Eliminister
DMG= Hey!, That's not copywrited!
DM= Ever wonder why they're called GM's in other games?
Dragon Magazine= The pretty magaizine with pictures of Dragons on the cover.

Okay, in all reality, I was being rather sarcastic there, but we can just
come up with a Net to T$R translation table for some ideas that T$R has
copywrited. OR, remember, paradies are totally protected.

Steve Spencer

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Aug 4, 1994, 9:33:52 AM8/4/94
to
Keith Barber (kei...@comtch.iea.com) wrote:
: when I fingered his account I got the following info:
: Robb Repp (mobius)
: Mail forwarded to mobius.
: New mail since Mon Aug 1 16:43:14 1994
: Has not read mail for 0:49:42.
: Robb Repp has never logged on.
: Plan file cannot be looked up or accessed.
: Project file cannot be looked up or accessed.

: Interesting isn't it?
: --
: Keith Barber
: kei...@comtch.iea.com
Not particularly interesting. He has his mail forwarded to another
account. So?


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Steve Spencer, Jack of Moons,
Thief of hearts, Paladin of Ovaltine.
SLC, UT. s...@unislc.slc.unisys.com
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bill Hay

unread,
Aug 6, 1994, 1:54:41 PM8/6/94
to
Tor Iver Wilhelmsen (tor...@pvv.unit.no) wrote:

> winni...@aol.com (WinningerR) writes:

> >
> >DC comics has copyrighted (and trademarked) Superman. This doesn't stop me
> >from publishing my own stories about a strong guy who flies, wears a cape,
> >and fights crime -- this is just an idea, it cannot be copyrighted. If,
> >however, I describe my character as "another lost son of Krypton" it
> >becomes obvious that I am referencing DC's copyrighted material and
> >creating a derivative work.
> >

> Yes, but Marvel have trademarked Loki, yet DC uses the name and the
> (approximately) same character (as in: the Norde god) without batting an
> eye. I doubt Marvel would go to court over this. Same goes for the other
> Norse gods (all TM Marvel) and both universes have a Captain Marvel or
> two.

Hang about. ISTR DC acquired their Captain Marvel after forcing the original
publisher out of business by suing them on the basis that Captin Marvel was
a rip-off of Superman. Can anyone confirm this?


--
Bill Hay

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