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Saben
18-01-2008, 13:04
Now, I didn't want to clutter up the VC rumour forum with this, so I thought I'd bring it here.


Look, posting this sort of information is not allowed and not by any roundabout way of "How many times the cost of this model is this upgrade?" either.

When a person has got hold of a book then sharing the information in it in this way is essentially the same as sharing copyrighted music files over the internet. It's not allowed and this will be my final warning. If you really want all the details, wait until the book is released.

I understand Warseer has its policies and I'm not trying to challenge that. I know it's against forum policy to post specific points values.

But would GW actually have any real legal standing in this regard? For a start photocopying up to a single chapter of a book is allowed under Australia law at least (not sure internationally) and there's other Fair Use provisos that apply.

In this case giving out unpublished information is "spoiling" but I'm pretty sure that people giving out spoilers from other books, while potentially liable for breach of contract, aren't able to be prosecuted over it.

And that brings up the legality of Army Builder. I can find out the points value of every single model and upgrade in the game by using a free trial of Army Builder and free data files. Yet as far as I know there's never been any legal contract between Army Builder (or the data file authors) and GW. Nor has GW issued any legal threats that I'm aware of.

Surely this would be a battle that GW can't win? If I tell someone over the internet "Snape kills Dumbledore" surely that isn't a breach of copyright. How is posting points values any different? Or as a more apt example if I post on an internet forum that Mayfair costs 400 monopoly money and charges 50 as rent unimproved? Someone on this website (http://www.jdawiseman.com/papers/trivia/monopoly-rents.html) has posted all the costs of properties. Is monopoly public domain yet..? If so what about older versions of GW rulesets? Does Warhammer 1st edition fall under public domain yet?

Now, I understand if the administration of Warseer prefers to show respect and support for GW by not posting points values and encouraging people to buy the books, but the question is LEGALITY. What is the actual law on this? Can anyone cite cases where an individual or entity has been successfully prosecuted over paraphrased game rules?

Osbad
18-01-2008, 13:14
I'm no legal expert, but as far as I understand it in the US/UK the only legal precedent for copyrighting games rules relates to computer games. That precedent implies that there is no copyright for actual game mechanics, but only for the "artistic expression" of game mechanics.

To translate this into GW terms, this means that you can explain a game mechanic, but not used trademarked terms and artwork - i.e. explanatory diagrams.

My understanding comes from the OSRIC project. (http://mythmere.blogspot.com/2006/12/osric-story.html)

"The basic idea of OSRIC is to make the rules of AD&D 1e generally available for use in publications. Although it is legal for anyone to use the rules of another person's game, it is not legal to use their descriptions of those rules, or "derivative material" from the descriptions of those rules, or to refer to the trademarked name of those rules. With all those pitfalls, it's obviously a major project to publish anything using RPG rules written by someone else, even if the rules themselves technically can't be copyrighted."

On that reading it is probably perfectly legal (although GW have expressly requested all fan sites to not allow it on pain of them getting very angry with them and taking their bat home) to explain that a certain model has a "Toughness of X" on the basis that "Toughness" is not a trademark but just a word in common useage, and the mechanic of how "Toughness" works in 40k (which putting a number next to the word toughness implies) is impossible to copyright under current law.

Now of course the OSRIC project was also helped by Wizards of the Coast issuing the System Reference Document that gave permission for "grey areas" to be freely distributed without fear. But given we aren't talking about a complete rules system, merely a few minor extracts from them then it sounds like it would be OK.

Sounds to me like GW's legal dept trying to defend the indefensible really. But it would take a court case and legal bills to determine for definite either way.

Griefbringer
18-01-2008, 13:28
Is monopoly public domain yet..? If so what about older versions of GW rulesets? Does Warhammer 1st edition fall under public domain yet?


No idea about monopoly, but WHFB 1st edition can't be - depending on country, copyright lasts around 50-70 years from the last authors death. And AFAIK all the authors of WHFB 1st edition are still likely to be alive.

Rules mechanisms (as pure mechanisms) are not protected by copyright, but their any particular written form is. Thus, you can explain a rules mechanism under your own words without infringing any copyright.

Similarly, known objective facts are not protected by copyright, though their given written form is. Thus you can express in your own words things you have read in an encyclopedia without infringing copyright. (Notice that GW publications are mostly pieces of fiction, and thus rather light on objective facts.)

Also, the concept of a fair use allows you to quote limited amounts of original work in public (eg. on a Warseer post) if relevant for your own work, such as for the purposes of a review or as a source on a research.

Glabro
18-01-2008, 14:16
I thought it was a given that there was no legal basis whatsoever for any of Warseer's legal policies, they just don't want to offend GW in the hopes of attracting more cooperation between fan forums and GW.

However, what with Warseer being the forefront of GW criticism (from concerned players, of course), this doesn't seem very likely, given Gav's disapperance.

spaint2k
18-01-2008, 15:29
I read something recently in regard to TSR that led me to believe that in fact games rules are NOT copyrightable. In other words, the posting of their content on the internet is not illegal, although word-for-word reproduction would be.

Steve

ChrisAsmadi
18-01-2008, 15:33
No idea about monopoly, but WHFB 1st edition can't be - depending on country, copyright lasts around 50-70 years from the last authors death. And AFAIK all the authors of WHFB 1st edition are still likely to be alive.

Aye, it's some huge insane number of years.

One of the main reasons why copyright law is a load of bull, IMO.

Mad Doc Grotsnik
18-01-2008, 15:46
Yes. Thats right. Copyright makes no sense.

Try having that opinion when something you have worked for, hoping to turn a profit, is spread around for free without your permission!

kris.sherriff
18-01-2008, 15:54
Yes. Thats right. Copyright makes no sense.

Try having that opinion when something you have worked for, hoping to turn a profit, is spread around for free without your permission!

QFT!
Well said.

Kris

Misfratz
18-01-2008, 15:59
Yes. Thats right. Copyright makes no sense.

Try having that opinion when something you have worked for, hoping to turn a profit, is spread around for free without your permission!
Worse - other people might make a profit selling it on without your permission. That would be galling.

With respect to GW, it doesn't really matter what the result of a court case would be. If GW sent their lawyers to the hosting company Warseer uses, then the site would be pulled down faster than you could say "Assault Cannons are broken"

That's the way the law often works on the internet. Guilty until proven innocent (which you can't do because you don't have the money for the court case).

In practice this means Warseer has to be very careful, just in case.

ChrisAsmadi
18-01-2008, 16:39
Yes. Thats right. Copyright makes no sense.

Try having that opinion when something you have worked for, hoping to turn a profit, is spread around for free without your permission!

Not really. If it were creator's death + 10 years, or production run + 10 years, it'd be fine.

But fifty plus years past the creator's death is just excessive.

RobC
18-01-2008, 16:48
GW owns the copyrights to Warhammer, so it's not tied to the lifetimes of the creators.

As for what is and is not legal: it's WarSeer policy. It doesn't have to be a legal issue. If WarSeer wants to keep GW at arm's length by ensuring that things like stats and points values aren't given, that's WarSeer's prerogative. I'm sure they'd be up for explaining their rationale in the appropriate forum.

Mad Doc Grotsnik
18-01-2008, 16:51
Not really. If it were creator's death + 10 years, or production run + 10 years, it'd be fine.

But fifty plus years past the creator's death is just excessive.

Why? Just because there dead, doesn't mean it's not their creation?

According to this rationale, perhaps we should do away with any kind of inheritance, leaving the goods of the deceased up for a free-for-all scramble to claim ownership?

Copyright is Copyright!

ChrisAsmadi
18-01-2008, 16:54
Why? Just because there dead, doesn't mean it's not their creation?

According to this rationale, perhaps we should do away with any kind of inheritance, leaving the goods of the deceased up for a free-for-all scramble to claim ownership?

Copyright is Copyright!

And equally, should companies really get to hold onto stuff they're not even producing for tons of years?

If they're not making money off of it/distributing it for a long period of years (like, ten years or such), should it really stay copyrighted?

Protolawyer
18-01-2008, 16:58
Yes. Thats right. Copyright makes no sense.

Try having that opinion when something you have worked for, hoping to turn a profit, is spread around for free without your permission!

I read his statement as "copyright laws as written make no sense." In the technical sense that "they are extraordinarily difficult to parse, bear little relation to common logic, and will drive you mad if you work with them for long enough," he is absolutely correct. Besides, there is no sweat of the brow copyright in the United States, so you can spend as long as you want making databases or other material that falls outside the technical reach of the copyright law, expect to turn a profit on it, and watch it spread around for free without being able to do a thing about it. I suspect you too would then say that the copyright laws make no sense, as I have had the dubious pleasure of hearing several very upset (and now very poor) creators say when confronted with this problem.

A player-produced list of point values and other hard data for each model would probably be a derivative work in the U.S., as GW can show creativity going into their numbers. However, GW has a good working relationship with WarSeer and can and does use WarSeer's internal board police to enforce its IP rights perhaps beyond what GW could expect in an EU or U.S. court of law. But the internet is vast, and there are probably plenty of boards dissecting leaked PDFs of the 5th Ed. rules right now, having just finished with the Ork codex two months ago.

ChrisAsmadi
18-01-2008, 17:06
I read his statement as "copyright laws as written make no sense." In the technical sense that "they are extraordinarily difficult to parse, bear little relation to common logic, and will drive you mad if you work with them for long enough," he is absolutely correct. Besides, there is no sweat of the brow copyright in the United States, so you can spend as long as you want making databases or other material that falls outside the technical reach of the copyright law, expect to turn a profit on it, and watch it spread around for free without being able to do a thing about it. I suspect you too would then say that the copyright laws make no sense, as I have had the dubious pleasure of hearing several very upset (and now very poor) creators say when confronted with this problem.


Aren't most laws written in that confusing manner, though?

Mad Doc Grotsnik
18-01-2008, 17:07
And equally, should companies really get to hold onto stuff they're not even producing for tons of years?

If they're not making money off of it/distributing it for a long period of years (like, ten years or such), should it really stay copyrighted?

Yes, because it is that company, or indeed, one it has absorbed, who put the effort in to create in the first place.

Just because they now choose to no longer market said goods, doesn't mean they should lose rights to it. It's still their property....

ChrisAsmadi
18-01-2008, 17:11
I don't think debating this has much point, so I'm not gunna reply after this post, except to something else, since we clearly have differing opinions.

I just don't think that companies should hold onto something for excessive amounts of time (I'm looking at you, disney!), you obviously disagree.

Protolawyer
18-01-2008, 17:30
I don't think debating this has much point, so I'm not gunna reply after this post, except to something else, since we clearly have differing opinions.

I just think that companies should hold onto something for excessive amounts of time (I'm looking at you, disney!), you obviously disagree.

Corporate copyright is a new creature. The copyright laws (pre-'76 in the US, I don't know when corporate copyright became the dominant legal form abroad) were written to protect 1) the author and 2) the author's heirs for one generation. The thinking was the same as the hoary Rule Against Perpetuities, which should trigger a shiver for any common-law law students out there. The time limit served a very different purpose than it serves now.

Emperor's Grace
18-01-2008, 18:15
I'd have to say that I'd also vote in favor of copyrights having an "abandonment" clause.

Essentially, non-use of the material for say, 20 yrs, and others have the right to use it.

It would be simple enough for a company that wanted to keep it's copyright to actually do something with it once a decade or two.

(And I understand that this NOT how the current laws work)

I've seen a lot of folks say the same about things like 1e D+D, Star Frontiers, etc...

Things that they'd love to have (or have new works for) but can't obtain because the companies that hold copyright choose not to issue any.

Marked_by_chaos
18-01-2008, 19:23
I agree that copyright abandonment would be a good idea.However, companies argue that without the protection of copyright to allow exclusive exploitation of their material/ideas they would not invest in the costly reasearch and development process.

However, this is often a load of bull.

The worst example i have heard of is companies buying out copyright which would threaten their product (understandable) where the outcome is massively harmful to the environment.

i.e. oil companies that have bought renewable energy vehicle copyrights and a detergent manufacturer which bought the copyright for an electrostatic washing machine (that removed the need for detergent and therefore prevented a massive source of pollution).

Griefbringer
18-01-2008, 19:59
Not really. If it were creator's death + 10 years ... But fifty plus years past the creator's death is just excessive.

If the time limit was very soon after creator's death, it would be more dangerous to be an author, with people stalking you with shotguns and bazookas in an attempt to make the works become public domain faster. :evilgrin:


I'd have to say that I'd also vote in favor of copyrights having an "abandonment" clause.

Essentially, non-use of the material for say, 20 yrs, and others have the right to use it.


However, what use would be enough to re-new? A new run of 100 copies?



The worst example i have heard of is companies buying out copyright which would threaten their product (understandable) where the outcome is massively harmful to the environment.

i.e. oil companies that have bought renewable energy vehicle copyrights and a detergent manufacturer which bought the copyright for an electrostatic washing machine (that removed the need for detergent and therefore prevented a massive source of pollution).

If those cases have happened, then they most likely were not about copyrights but patents, which work rather differently (having stricter restrictions, needing to be applied for, and having limited period).

susu.exp
18-01-2008, 21:39
In this GW would have a foot to stand on. And another one to boot. Now, most legislatures (including the australian one of the OP, the UK one where GW is based and the German one, where this forum is hosted) have "fair use" statutes of some sort, which allow people to use copyrighted material to some extend without actually infringing on the copyright. One of the factors that limit such fair use is financial damage to the owner of the copyright. While it may be fair use to review a forthcoming army book noting that "Skelletons points increased", because it does hint at the information without revealing it, GW can present a case that if point values are actually given, it will hurt their sales. In which case they have a legal mandate.

I find it funny that you use the Australian copyright, which has far more rigid limitations on fair use than the german one (which grants users far more rights). But even that would not allow publication of point values, indeed international right governing IP does make it clear that national fair use rules should not diminish the economic potential of the IP (with exceptions granted for the use of certain technological patents in developing nations).

Marked_by_chaos
18-01-2008, 23:44
If those cases have happened, then they most likely were not about copyrights but patents, which work rather differently (having stricter restrictions, needing to be applied for, and having limited period).[/QUOTE]


You are correct. My brain was not working for a minute :o They are real examples of patent abuse

Vaz84
19-01-2008, 01:49
Off topic.. but... believe it or not, there's a copyright for womans panty hose that dont rip (ever). It was bought out by a panty hose company so that your girlfriend/wife would always need a new pair every time she wanted to wear them :P.

GW uses its produced books, codex, armybooks, novels, etc. as revenue material. Which brings us the codex/army book creep, and long periods between revisions. They generally will and should do anything they can to protect a product that they depend on for revenue. This is justifyed because we buy (normally) elaborately put together works of art that include writen and visual material along with our gaming rules.

As many mailbox/copy stores say around here, its illegal for them to copy the book for you, but if you stand at the machine and make a copy for yourself they cant really stop you. This debate for writen material can be compared to the debate on mp3's and free music.

We're not just buying army lists, we are effectively buying expensive magazines.

RobC
19-01-2008, 10:41
We're not just buying army lists, we are effectively buying expensive magazines.They're called 'books', you know. ;)

I'd be lying if I said I'd never downloaded music, but that has never stopped me from buying albums when I liked something. I treat it as 'radio' in a sense; radio increasingly fails to cater to my musical tastes, so I have to resort to Last.fm, word of mouth and p2p to find stuff I like. But ultimately, the music gets bought eventually.

The downloading of written materials doesn't have quite as good an argument behind it, because you can happily read most books in a book shop. What's the problem with buying an army list? Granted, they're not that cheap, but few things produced by GW are. Why scrimp with the army list just because you could have a cheapo photocopy or dodgy scan for free?

BigRob
19-01-2008, 11:09
Theres another urban cpoyright myth about petrol companies buying up the patents for alternative fuel cars and then locking them away.

Games Workshop have thier copyrights/trademarks/legal protection just like any other brand or product. The comparison with Harry Potter probably best illustartes the points value thing. If the big secret spoiler was released before the book was, then (theoretically) less books would sell, either because peopel would be pissed thier favourite chatacter died, or because they were only going to buy it on the hype of a big secret twist. I would have brought it , but disapoointment with the 6th book led me to read a synopsis of the seventh online...I did not buy the book.

Look how Codex:Orks got spread about. It will damage sales. Therefore its good not to upset GW by posting it, especially when their designers are kind enough to take time out and post on these boards. Therefore th erules say no direct points quotes :)

That might sound a little rant like, but I just had top throw away all my furniature due to the damp problem in my house. My bookcase was soaked and all my books were soaked and damaged...all my 1980s Rogue Trader and WFRP books...:cries:

Wintermute
19-01-2008, 11:19
I'd just like to make one little point.

The rules om WarSeer regarding posting copyrighted material/ intellectual property do not exist to placate Games Workshop.

Our Posting Guidelines and Forum Rules prohibit copyrighted material belonging to any company or individual being posted on WarSeer without their permission.

Wintermute

The Phazer
19-01-2008, 23:03
I'd just like to make one little point.

The rules om WarSeer regarding posting copyrighted material/ intellectual property do not exist to placate Games Workshop.

Our Posting Guidelines and Forum Rules prohibit copyrighted material belonging to any company or individual being posted on WarSeer without their permission.

Wintermute

In no way getting at what I feel is handled pretty sensibly on WS, but there are dozens of people who have short quotes from books or television programmes as their sigs that aren't strictly legal under most territories copyright law...

Phazer

susu.exp
19-01-2008, 23:48
In no way getting at what I feel is handled pretty sensibly on WS, but there are dozens of people who have short quotes from books or television programmes as their sigs that aren't strictly legal under most territories copyright law...

Phazer

What do you mean with "strictly legal" here? UK law permits such quotes under the condition that they do not in themselves constitute a substantial part of the quoted work. While the law does not set a number of words and a court of law might even deem a single word as substantial, itīs unlikely that a court would rule that a single line from a movie or book would infringe on the original copyright.
The same ruling is in effect in the US and checking for precedents I find no instance in which a court decided that a short quote constituted a substantial part and therefore infringed copyright.
Under German law it is even permissible to quote complete books under the condition that the quote apears in a scientific work, it is not available comercially, nor present in any public library and the scientific work requires the reproduction of the complete book. Iīm waiting for somebody to write a detailed dissertation on RT...

In short: Please substatiate your claim that short quotes from books or television programs are not strictly legal in any relevant legislature (I think UK, US and german law covers a mayority of users as well as the company base, the place the server operates from and your location).

Wintermute
20-01-2008, 10:12
In no way getting at what I feel is handled pretty sensibly on WS, but there are dozens of people who have short quotes from books or television programmes as their sigs that aren't strictly legal under most territories copyright law...

Phazer

They are legal, as already explained by susu.exp, and they are not in violation of WarSeer's rules.

The Phazer
20-01-2008, 18:59
What do you mean with "strictly legal" here? UK law permits such quotes under the condition that they do not in themselves constitute a substantial part of the quoted work. While the law does not set a number of words and a court of law might even deem a single word as substantial, itīs unlikely that a court would rule that a single line from a movie or book would infringe on the original copyright.

If such a quotation is a "key moment" of a copyrighted work (such as a famous moment) then under UK law there is substantial precedent that they count as sufficient part of a work to constitute an infringing use.

Seriously - I'm a copyright lawyer for a major international broadcaster, and we've been sued over this (and lost) several times over the years - even on scripts *we* commissioned.

Phazer

susu.exp
20-01-2008, 22:51
If such a quotation is a "key moment" of a copyrighted work (such as a famous moment) then under UK law there is substantial precedent that they count as sufficient part of a work to constitute an infringing use.

Can you cite me a case. Copyright regulations have become a hobby for me...


Seriously - I'm a copyright lawyer for a major international broadcaster, and we've been sued over this (and lost) several times over the years - even on scripts *we* commissioned.

The difference between comercial use and non-comercial use is pretty obvious here. While I agree that somebody could potentially sue over a quote in a message board signature and they could potentially would lose, thatīs two very big ifs. Do you know any precedent where use of a single line in a message board signature was involved?

Shamfrit
20-01-2008, 23:15
As far as I'm concerned, as long as the original source is cited and references given, and it's made clear that it is NOT clearly the person posting's own words? Then we're all just being good students.

Who is going to get sued over having:

"And Mork Said..." (Book of Random Orkness, GW, etc etc etc.) That's right, nobody, mind, in this modern world who knows...

Unless the issue here is Plaguerism, not Copyright, in which case it's a whole new ball game entirely.

Emperor's Grace
28-01-2008, 19:17
However, what use would be enough to re-new? A new run of 100 copies?

I'm fond of any commercial use as the bright line.

Whether they license the logo to a soft drink company or make 5 books to sell to themselves and friends, it would show that they're still interested in keeping it active.

(The examples, Star Frontiers + 1e D+D, have both been dormant since the 1980's.)

(Not counting the d20 Star Frontiers, as I'm told the ruleset was completely different even if the background was the same - and it was >20 yrs between the two publishings)


Who is going to get sued over having:

What it comes down to is that anyone can sue for anything. Even if their claim is baseless or the effect minor. It's up to the courts to decide what has merits. Unfortunately, the mere threat of a suit often quiets opponents due to the cost of even a successful legal proceding. Funds could be gotten back in a countersuit but the reality is that a lot of people/companies can't have that much money tied up for that long.

Andyalloverdaplace
28-01-2008, 22:14
A very simple reason why Warseer might have this point of view:

If GW ever decides that Warseer or it's users are doing something to compromise the copyright, and decides to sue Warseer for damages, for whatever reason (even something as simple as "teach them a lesson") Warseer gets to either a) pay some settlement that probably puts them in hoc up to their eyeballs or b) pay some lawyer to fight the suit for months or years, which also costs them a bucketload of money. I don't see Warseer has having a lot of extra cash to spread about. Remember, people have sucessfully sued Macdonalds after spilling hot coffee in their laps. It doesn't have to make sense in order for the lawsuit to win.

If somebody else (like army builder) is using copywritten material, they either have an agreement with GW, or they are betting GW won't sue them.

It doesn't really matter if the lawsuit is on solid ground, Warseer is out of pocket because some snot-nosed ***** decided that he had a right to say whatever he wanted anonymously, and let other people take the blame. GW has lawyers to protect it's interests, and even if they sit on their thumbs, they get paid.

As far as "It's ok to do that in the UK/US/Russia" goes, if GW decides to sue someone, they are going to launch the suit where they have the best odds to succeed, thats why the lawyers get paid so much, to think rings around 12 year olds with camera phones.