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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:44 am 
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Vile wrote:
Hmm. Well, IIRC in the pre-internet era, most publications and dead tree fanzines at some point published articles which were clearly OTU-based, even if prefaced with "unofficial". I wonder if those were legal, or just an established breach of copyright which was tolerated because, as someone said, there are few games companies who can actually afford to sue anyone - especially fans, who would be unlikely to pay damages. People these days just pay way to much attention to technical legalities rather than their enforcability.

Did anyone over-enforced their copyright back then? I recall a JTAS with stats (and a picture) for the critters from Alien; did Marc Miller pay royalties to 20th Century Fox for this? No. It was completely acceptable to allow derivative work - as long as it wasn't overdone. Everyone was using some sort of an unofficial "fair use policy" and everyone was happy. And people realized that their fans were the market and that fan-produced derivative works actually increased their profits by creating free support for their universes.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 7:05 am 
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Golan2072 wrote:
The funny side effect of over-enforcing the copyright of the OTU would be that Traveller would once again be used for what it was initially intended for - designing your own universes. The OTU might die in the process, though (never underestimate the importance of a fan-base to your market).


I've said as much in the SR thread on the MGT boards (I think maybe this post planted the seed of that in my mind :)). But I'll reproduce it here because it's relevant:

Over on the MGT boards, I wrote:
But that said... I think we're overlooking something here with Traveller - namely that its original purpose was to allow people to create their own SF universe. But what actually happened was that a lot of people decided to just stick with the Charted Space setting and they did their own alternatives based on that setting.

This wasn't really an issue with D&D when WotC released the rules as OGL and locked down their Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms and other settings, because for the most part people had created their own settings using D&D rules in the past - it's just that now they could legitimately use the rules and add more and publish that self-created setting. It's not like people were up in arms at not being allowed to publish their own alternate Forgotten Realms where the Avatar Wars never happened or whatever, because most people hadn't done that in the first place.

But that didn't happen with Traveller. Instead, the majority of people cheerfully took the existing Charted Space setting and based their alternatives on that (via the Fair Use rules or whatever). But when Mongoose does the same thing as WotC and releases the rules as OGL and locks down the Charted Space setting (which is pretty much the only way it can work), suddenly the Traveller Community finds itself boned because it was almost entirely reliant on the free lunch that was the Charted Space setting being available.

I don't know how this will turn out, but if it turns out that Mongoose does have to lock down the Charted Space setting then we can react in one of two ways - either we curse Mongoose and burn up everything in a flame war that makes the TNE fuss look like a storm in a teacup and get nowhere, or we can do something useful and say "OK, it's sad that the Charted Space setting is off limits now, but you know what? I can actually come up with something original and legitimately release it using the Traveller OGL now".

We can either look at this as "the end of Traveller", or we can have a real renaissance in original SF settings. Personally I'd rather see it as the latter.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 9:03 am 
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Golan2072 wrote:
It was completely acceptable to allow derivative work - as long as it wasn't overdone. Everyone was using some sort of an unofficial "fair use policy" and everyone was happy. And people realized that their fans were the market and that fan-produced derivative works actually increased their profits by creating free support for their universes.


Things have changed, it seems. :cry:

When I created my setting a year ago, I was too lazy to design an entire background univserse for it, and took one out
of a series of novels of one of my favourite authors. Harmless non-commercial fan stuff, I thought.
Unfortunately the agents of this author actively hunt down even such stuff. Websites had to be changed or closed, fan
fiction had to be removed, and so on. And I have been told on another board never to use any proper name from that
author's universe when writing anything about my setting, so "in public" I now use abbreviations and initials for such ma-
terial.

I am convinced that nothing like this will happen to Traveller fans and the OTU, but I think we should be aware that copy-
right issues are handled differently nowadays, and give Mongoose the time to sort out a problem that would not have been
seen as one not so long ago.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:09 am 
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Quote:
Unfortunately the agents of this author actively hunt down even such stuff.
Which author? Name names, dammit! :twisted:


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:25 am 
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Sorry, I have to get used to being allowed to name names ... my usual "home board"
has a somewhat paranoid administrator who severely dislikes the use of names ... :D

As the Wikipedia article on Legal Issues with Fan Fiction puts it:

"This incident is credited by some to have led to a "zero tolerance" policy on the part of a number of other professional authors, including ... David Weber."

And here is an example of the results of that "zero tolerance policy":
http://www.dalefranks.com/honorverse/


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 11:18 am 
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Ah. One of those authors. I like to keep track of their ilk, as it prevents me from accidentally supporting their megalomania with my hard-earned cash. Mind you, The few DW books which I found in libraries in the past never really grabbed me, anyway. :|

My advice to anyone in the modern world who wants their fictional universe to remain inviolate: don't tell anyone about it. Look what happened to Tolkien. :twisted:

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 12:06 pm 
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I'm pretty sure everything is going to work out. Mongoose is sensitive to their fans (they ran an open playtest on the core rules, after all.) They have to establish a policy that allows them to protect the intellectual property that they have been licensed, for legal reasons. If I had to guess, one of the big reasons this whole situation has come up is simply because of people that have talked online about writing stuff to sell in the OTU, now that the OGL is out, presumably because they cannot separate the OTU as a setting from their concept of what Traveller is. It's an investment on Mongoose's part, I'm sure. We have no idea how much Mongoose is paying MWM for this license, but they've got enough tied up in this that they have plans to publish books over the next ten years, so that represents a significant investment of their own personal resources into this license. It makes sense to me that they want to protect it.

In the end, either Stellar Reaches will be able to release OTU stuff as a free fanzine under a Fair Use policy, or we won't. It boils down to these two options, which are mutually exclusive. If we can, then business moves forward as normal. If we can't, then I have to decide what to do next. Maybe you guys can help me with that.

What do you think we should do in the event that we can't keep releasing OTU articles?

I'm not saying that is what's going to happen, because I don't know. However, it would be stupid of me to ignore the possibility, and so I just want to know what you guys think. I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions, and I ask that we keep any aggression or venom to a minimum. This is just speculation, nothing more. My personal opinion is that Mongoose will work things out so that we can release OTU articles, so truth be told, I think the question is academic. But like I said, I feel like I have to consider it, just in case.

With Regards,
Flynn

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 12:28 pm 
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Flynn wrote:
What do you think we should do in the event that we can't keep releasing OTU articles?


I also think this is an academic question, but just in case ...

From my point of view, Traveller is far more than just the OTU. You could fill Stellar Reaches for years and years with
generic Traveller material: Aliens, creatures, characters, organizations, worlds, equipment, ships, plots - far more topics
than I could list here.
And, frankly, it would hardly matter at all whether you call such stuff "OTU" or "generic", it would make almost no diffe-
rence for those of us who use it in their campaigns. Whether the aquatic beast I introduce into my setting is said to be
from Mora or from X-1234, whether the freighter is said to be built on Gram or on Y-9876 - I do not really care. These
are just a few minor details I may have to add or change.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 12:43 pm 
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Of course, if you're going to file off the OTU serial numbers anyway, you may as well go the whole hog, get the traveller license and sell the stuff. ;)

I've already made my mind up to follow the latter path. After my current project (if that comes to pass), it's my own ATU all the way. Mynerves just can't take this on-again, off-again stuff any more.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:01 pm 
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Flynn wrote:
What do you think we should do in the event that we can't keep releasing OTU articles?

In this case, like rust has already said, we'll have more than enough to do with non-OTU stuff - Traveller is, after all, a generic sci-fi ruleset, and there are so many subjects we could safely publish about without even touching the OTU.

Regarding back issues, as some of them have OTU content, you should probably take the non-OTU stuff and compile one large "best of Stellar Reaches" PDF out of them and sadly leave the OTU stuff out. However, some of the OTU stuff is quite easy to clean of its OTU contents with a little work and make it generic or in another universe.

Other than that, I think that we should write our own, open-content, free universe for SR publication, references and use.

If it'll be illegal to discuss the OTU online, then the OTU would die. Too bad for the OTU. we'll just use the rules for our own universes...

And, besides, I'm starting to tire with the OTU with its over-sized amount of canonical baggage and cannon flame-wars.

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