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"Who owns my rules if I print them on TMP?" Topic


35 Posts

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808 hits since 28 Dec 2014
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2014 6:34 a.m. PST

I have been joking for years, mostly on April Fools day, about my new set of rules called "Flames of Liberty".
So we threw together a bunch of concepts last night and played a game.
I had intended to write them down on the American Revolution Board here until I had a thought.
Who would then "own" the rules? The Editor or me?
I see a copyright notice on the bottom of every page on TMP so I thought I would ask for free legal advice.
I don't have a blog and I am not on Facebook. I can always start a yahoo group. What's the best way to get the 1.0 out for abuse and praise and still own it myself?

I should also point out that it is derivative of a whole bunch of other rulers from which I borrowed heavily. Some ideas are my own, though. grin

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Dec 2014 7:10 a.m. PST

I've no idea if the copyright notice would actually stand up in court (it seems excessively catch-all to say the least) but according to its terms at least, Bill would. Which is ridiculous, but there you go…. From the FAQ:


I really like such-and-such discussion. Can I copy it to my own website?
- No, that would be a violation of copyright. Note that there's a copyright notice on each forum page.

Why?
- The copyright notice gives TMP the ability to prevent copying of discussions. Just because someone posted a message at TMP, doesn't mean they want it repeated all over the internet.

But I wrote something profound, and I want to have it at my own website.
- If it's your own post you want to copy, ask and we'll automatically give you permission to do so.


So Bill's copyright, but he'll let you use it…. ;-)

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2014 7:23 a.m. PST

I remember this being discussed elsewhere and a lawyer posted you have to put 'copyright pending' after the title and you retain the rights. Better double-check that.

Maddaz111 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member28 Dec 2014 7:38 a.m. PST

good question?

However, if you post to your blog (owned by company X) is that any different?

If you post on Facebook? is that any different?

If you post on Yahoo groups?

If you "Give away" use or access to material, you still have copyright to that particular wording (? at least from my limited understanding of UK law)

This doesn't stop somebody re wording your entire concept to create a retro clone of your rules – (you can challenge them for IP theft if your idea is so original… but… its a big world, and you would have to prove your Idea was so big.. and first.. and not a derivative)

If a person comes up with a wrinkle that adds to your rules, and you adopt the idea, then they gain the potential to be listed as a co creator… and so forth… (…)

I had to sign a proper NDA (Non disclosure agreement ) on some games designs with a few companies in the past… and I got a couple of playtest credits..

On my published and un-published games I always have a gentlemans agreement with prospective publishers that allows me some rights (… I got my fingers burnt once .. so never again) my "gentlemans agreement" is in writing and gives me final say, and stops them

1) Sitting on my design – un-published – whilst someone publishes a similar but different game around a similar theme (I have a time limit clause .. varies with company)
2) Pasting a theme on that I might find offensive – (so no to Racist or Fascist or Morally unreasonable re designs)
3) Derivative concepts – splitting my design into multiple sub concepts and using less than the whole in other designs – without my prior agreement (where I have been stung in the past…)

If you are writing a set of rules, write it, email it to your friends, play it – refine it, then open it up to wider playtesting, then consider making it available on a blog or put it on Amazon as a download (E book Format) or make it Print on Demand when it reaches a final edition.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2014 7:42 a.m. PST

Winston and I are not looking for trouble with or from Bill. grin No accusations or reservations are stated or implied. That was not my intent. Consult a doctor before continuing use, especially if consuming excessive alcohol. Rotate your tires. etc.

It's just that my friends and I all liked how well it flowed last night, and I am itching to put it out for public condemnation Flames of Liberty 1.0, the bare bones edition.
And if interest is shown… Well, stranger things have happened. It would be nice to have something to hide from the IRS under a pseudonym. Is that legal, BTW?

As for the title, well, we have almost as many game rules with "Flame" in the title as there are with Glory.
Maybe if I call it Flames of Glory…

GarrisonMiniatures Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member28 Dec 2014 8:09 a.m. PST

Include a statement like 'First Internet Publication Rights assigned to TMP, all other rights retained. Copies can be downloaded and printed for personal use only and may not be sold or used for commercial purposes.'

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Dec 2014 8:29 a.m. PST

WARNING: Not an IP lawyer and I didn't stay at Holiday Inn Express last night. I do, however, deal with IP issues at work and have a team of cutthroats and ne'er-do-wells with which I consult.

US copyright law is based on being in "fixed form", which your stuff would be before you upload it to TMP. So you can assert the copyright. By making your IP available through the Internet, you do not abrogate your claim to copyright, including exclusive control or reproduction rights at a later date. You do, however, create a claim for others to use, copy, and distribute your works based on you providing them publically (presumably without explicit claims of those rights in the work).

The best advice is to call up your local Better Business Bureau and ask to talk to one of their free IP lawyers about it and ask them to provide you with a disclaimer appropriate to how you want to release them.

But, really, the best advice is to not listen to anything I say. Just ask my mother-in-law.

RavenscraftCybernetics Inactive Member28 Dec 2014 8:30 a.m. PST

have you considered posting their availability on the forum and asking for playtesters?
you also may want to discus your apprehensions with Mexican Jack Squint or Walt OHara.

zippyfusenet Inactive Member28 Dec 2014 8:46 a.m. PST

Well, legalities aside, as a practical matter, if you publish your rules on an internet site, everyone will own them who cares to download and save off a copy, and replicate them as he pleases.

In this modern era, Information Wants to be Free! And Communism has become a pragmatic reality in the digital world:

From each according to his ability. To each according to his need.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Dec 2014 8:57 a.m. PST

From each according to his ability. To each according to his need.

And don't forget the enlightenment provided by our inherent superiors in the party who tell us of what we are capable and what we need!

Roderick Robertson Fezian28 Dec 2014 9:43 a.m. PST

"Copyright Pending"? As far as I know (they *could* have changed international law on copyrights…), Copyright is yours when you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). You don't have the "register" anything (unlike Patents and Trademarks). There is a way to register your work, but you don't have to.

To alleviate concerns, just add "Copyright John the OFM and Winston Smith 2015" on it. (You can use the copyright symbol if you wish, but again, you don't have to. This is just a notice on who owns the copyright, it's not *necessary*. If you leave it off, you don't give up your rights. Posting it on the internet does, de facto, if not de jure, mean that you give up all rights to it…

I'm ain't no lawyer, neither. But I used to work with IP matters.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian28 Dec 2014 11:14 a.m. PST

The only reason TMP has the copyright notice on the forums is that it gives us some leverage to prevent other websites from lifting material without permission.

We've had to fight a few websites in the past, that "borrowed" our webpages for their own websites.

KatieL Inactive Member28 Dec 2014 11:46 a.m. PST

And I've mentioned in the past that blanket exclusive rights assignment requirements are not valid under US law (under which TMP operates).

Title 17, S201; "Involuntary Transfer.—When an individual author's ownership of a copyright, or of any of the exclusive rights under a copyright, has not previously been transferred voluntarily by that individual author, no action by any governmental body or other official or organization purporting to seize, expropriate, transfer, or exercise rights of ownership with respect to the copyright, or any of the exclusive rights under a copyright, shall be given effect under this title"

Assignment of copyright ownership is covered in S204; "A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner's duly authorized agent"

In other words, exclusive copyright needs to be transferred SPECIFICALLY and IN WRITING.

So the answer is that the Editor thinks he'll own copyright and you'll have to ask permission to use the material anywhere else, but United States law (and hence by the Berne Convention, international law) says you still own it.

GarrisonMiniatures Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member28 Dec 2014 1:59 p.m. PST

'So the answer is that the Editor thinks he'll own copyright and you'll have to ask permission to use the material anywhere else, but United States law (and hence by the Berne Convention, international law) says you still own it.'

If it's anything like Patent Law in the UK, it would come under the generic heading 'Assignment of Rights'.

napthyme Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Dec 2014 3:10 p.m. PST

Mark at Scale creep would probably host the file for you, then you only need to share the link.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2014 4:12 p.m. PST

In the US, it's copyrighted when created, period. Sites may claim copyright of something you post, but one wonders if that claim would hold up in court. I'm in the "I doubt it " camp, but IANALNDIPOOTV. In any case, you do not have to specify what rights you intend to keep; those are assumed to remain yours unless otherwise explicitly stated as being transferred. You can, of course, add the circle C or the word "copyright", the year, your name and the statement "All rights reserved," if you want to be clear. That covers it, no other gobbledygook gook needed. At least that's how I've understood it.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Dec 2014 9:24 p.m. PST

In other words, exclusive copyright needs to be transferred SPECIFICALLY and IN WRITING.

That is not true the way it sounds. If you are using someone else's resource, you do so on their terms. In the case of an online forum, if its terms of service claim some type of copyright over your submission and you use that resource, you are agreeing to those terms of service. As long as the terms of service are legal. (Claiming copyright on material you publish using someone else's service would be legal; claiming copyright on everything you ever write or wrote in your life because you logged in to the forum wouldn't.)

The TOS for TMP claim copyright, but do not go into the specifics of what type of rights are being claimed. The default in most jurisdictions would be one-time publication rights (or their equivalent), the least extensive claim. Just like you are agreeing to the TOS by deliberately using the system, the owner would need to explicitly claim some rights more than the minimum set.

BTW, this is pretty much what any magazine that publishes an article or letter submission from a non-employee does the overwhelming majority of the time. They get one time publication rights that prevent others from violating the agreement between you and them to publish the work.

KatieL Inactive Member29 Dec 2014 5:19 a.m. PST

"but do not go into the specifics of what type of rights are being claimed."

The FAQ says "But I wrote something profound, and I want to have it at my own website -- If it's your own post you want to copy, ask and we'll automatically give you permission to do so."

If you have to ask permission to copy something you don't own the copyright on it. Hence, TMP is claiming copyright ownership over the material. Since the writing here is not "work for hire", it is therefore attempting to make a blanket copyright ownership reassignment of the creators implicit rights. Which as, as mentioned above, is not binding because copyright ownership assignments in the US must be made in writing.

"Claiming copyright on material you publish using someone else's service would be legal;"

No, it wouldn't. Claiming a non-exclusive *distribution right* would be legal. Claiming the copyright ownership would not because copyright ownerships need to be assigned by an "instrument"; a written document.

Compare, for example, with Google's version;

"Your Content in our Services

Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services."

There's no requirement there to ask permission to recopy your own material elsewhere.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2014 8:00 a.m. PST

It all boils down to how much is this project worth to you? If it has "great" value, then spend the money and pay for a consultation with an attorney. Otherwise, all the "advice" on TMP is worth what you paid for it.

It is the same as filing a suit against another party, if the damage is not over $30 USDK, then you are wasting your money because that is what it will cost you to sue.

So, if you are really, really concerned, spend the money and get expert advice.

GarrisonMiniatures Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member29 Dec 2014 8:36 a.m. PST

'If you have to ask permission to copy something you don't own the copyright on it. Hence, TMP is claiming copyright ownership over the material.'

There is a difference to owning something and having the right to use it. That's where Assignment of Rights come in – you own copyright, but have assigned the rights to use that copyright to a third party. You have to be sure which rights have been assigned – most stories, for example, can be sold lots of times to different publishers. That's because the author has sold specific rights, for example First Publication, or First Internet Publication. Separate deals can then be made for future publication rights. However, if something is sold or assigned as All Rights – then you lose control of the item. However, YOU STILL RETAIN COPYRIGHT. Evdence? in the UK, similar things elsewhere, 70 years after you die cpyright ceases.

Personal logo combatpainter Supporting Member of TMP Fezian29 Dec 2014 2:16 p.m. PST

Simple:

TMP is a venue like a movie theater, a radio station, art gallery or TV station.

You can display my work but I own it.

If you post rules and someone prints them out all over and markets them, you are entitled to royalties. They are your intellectual property.

So make a copy, file the forms and send to Washington-fast.

You will be a millionaire before you know it.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Dec 2014 2:30 p.m. PST

Which as, as mentioned above, is not binding because copyright ownership assignments in the US must be made in writing.

Except that the law says that operation of law is also a way to transfer copyright as well as by written agreement. Twice. You are legally bound by the TOS for a capability when you use it.

The service providers are equally bound. In this case, TMP's TOS says (in a rather colloquial, non-lawyery way) that if you ask for permission to use something you posted to the site, you will be given it.

Compare, for example, with Google's version;

How is what Google chooses to claim in their TOS relevant to what is legally permissible? They are not required to claim everything that is permissible.

There is a difference to owning something and having the right to use it.

Yes they are different things, however, in the US (which we are discussing), ownership, transfer, and use rights are all covered under the same law, USC Title 17.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2014 5:31 p.m. PST

They are dumb rules. They are insanely simple rules. But they are MY rules and I want to keep them. That is all this is about.

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2014 10:30 p.m. PST

listen to the experts. Do what they tell you to do. Then wire it to a claymore, just in case.

Roderick Robertson Fezian29 Dec 2014 10:48 p.m. PST

But they are MY rules and I want to keep them

So don't post the actual rules here, put them on a blog or website, or email a file (or printout in an envelope) to those who show an interest.

KatieL Inactive Member30 Dec 2014 5:10 a.m. PST

"Except that the law says that operation of law is also a way to transfer copyright as well as by written agreement. "

Yes, but TMP's FAQ is not the "operation of law" either.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Dec 2014 6:05 a.m. PST

Yes, but TMP's FAQ is not the "operation of law" either.

TMP's FAQ is not operation of the law, however, an individual's choice to operate under a TOS is.

alien BLOODY HELL surfer Inactive Member30 Dec 2014 6:12 a.m. PST

'The only reason TMP has the copyright notice on the forums is that it gives us some leverage to prevent other websites from lifting material without permission.

We've had to fight a few websites in the past, that "borrowed" our webpages for their own websites.'

yet Tango 'borrows' and repeats here almost everything on the internet – be it news stories, new releases from companies or from people's own blogs. I don't think you can complain about people doing the same from here. Have you checked that everything Tango* posts from has permission from the owner to do so? what about anyone else who posts something from another site (which happens a lot)
also, does TMP then have copyright to that post or any part of it?
If someone reposted stuff from my blog or website here without permission, and I complained about it, would it be taken down?

*used as an example as he is the most prolific at doing this, not as a personal dig at him.

freewargamesrules30 Dec 2014 7:03 a.m. PST

You can post the files on the freewargamesrules website and retain copyright on them.

Some of the rules already posted there are copyrighted material and I host them with the copyright owners consent.

I have always worked under this principle as it is someone else's hard work.

Klebert L Hall Inactive Member30 Dec 2014 8:59 a.m. PST

Since wargames rules generally have no meaningful value, I strongly suggest you just don't worry about it.

You are far more likely to lose money trying to operate in this field than you are to lose money because someone "stole your IP".

-Kle.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Dec 2014 9:36 a.m. PST

yet Tango 'borrows' and repeats

Both the US (possibly the relevant law for TMP) and UK (where you claim to be from) have exceptions to copyright protection, broadly called "fair use".

You voice a legitimate concern. Perhaps the right questions here are:

* Do you consider Tango's posts to be fair use of the copied material?

and

* What type of egregious violations has TMP/is TMP likely to pursue?

Roderick Robertson Fezian30 Dec 2014 10:17 a.m. PST

Tango actually posts links with a brief header – he's not reposting an entire article, just enough to get you interested. This is probably a "fair use".

Posting images (with a link to the original page) might or might not be considered "fair use".

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP30 Dec 2014 2:42 p.m. PST

Any images posted on TMP have a link embedded in them.

alien BLOODY HELL surfer Inactive Member30 Dec 2014 4:07 p.m. PST

yup etotheipi that covers it in a better way, ta :D

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2015 4:30 p.m. PST

It's 2015. A hosted website that you own is like a couple bucks a month, if you are concerned about it.

Browbeat a nephew to set it up for you.

If you just want to get it out to the world, start a blog and publish it there. Hope for the best, it'll probably be okay :-)

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.