Piracy, the Trove and how they affect the Hobby

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Trippy

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And it was a good thing that order was skillfully defied and prints shipped to safety. Nosferatu is a classic and one of the scariest movies ever made.
Which is all true, and an interesting example of how defying copyright laws can lead to a positive outcome.

That said, the main reason why Nosferatu is of artistic and historical significance is because of the value added by the creators of the movie. While copying the book's basic story was a breach of copyright, the craft and artistry of making the film itself wasn’t.

By comparison, what value is added by copying and distributing other people’s RPGs and supplements?
 

Brock Savage

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I am enjoying this discussion immensely as it allows me to make decisions from a more informed position. I already knew this was a nuanced subject but several posters have pointed out angles that I wasn't aware of. It is a credit to the Pub that most posters seem to be concerned with divining ethical choices and are arguing in good faith.

There’s a stereotype out there that gamers are cheap. I get a certain sense of entitlement from a fairly large section of gamers
In my experience there's a kernel of truth in the gamer stereotypes of "cheap" and "entitled". I think "childish" completes the list of negative gamer stereotypes that are based in reality.
 

TristramEvans

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But you're basically penalizing investment in land against other investments. Oh well, it's all hypothetical until somebody runs their nation into the ground or saves it by applying the principles. I wouldn't claim to know what would work or not. I do think the market is the only way to really determine the value of "art" or "ideas" I mean if they want to give me the job and $900000/a to do it I'll be the judge but I don't respect the opinion of anyone else on the matter so nobody else is qualified.

Well, as I said, this is a complex subject, one I may delve into at another time, but in the meanwhile if your curious, this video gives a pretty good overview (if you can ignore the weird elf avatar):

 

BedrockBrendan

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That said, the main reason why Nosferatu is of artistic and historical significance is because of the value added by the creators of the movie. While copying the book's basic story was a breach of copyright, the craft and artistry of making the film itself wasn’t.
At the time though it was considered enough of a breech for there to be an order to destroy all copies. So I think at the time, to the IP holders and the law, the craft and artistry were not particularly important. What mattered was the film violated the book's copyright. Thankfully there were people who either understood its value or were hoping to make a buck off it (I can't speak to what was motivating them). And that has allowed us to understand its significance.

Also I think it is worth noting that this was a case of the author himself not really being protected. It was his wife. And a lot of times with modern copyright it isn't the creator or writer, it is the company that owns the rights. I am much more sympathetic when you are talking about a writer protecting the copyright of their works. Less so when it is a large corporation that happens to own or sit on the copyright.

And to be clear, I am not saying people should be pirating RPGs. My point earlier in the thread was the reasons are not always just about theft. There are lots of reasons people download PDFs of RPGs on those kinds of sites. And the reasons why they are downloading them matter to me when I am deciding if it's wrong or right. I make RPGs. I publish RPGs. I would like people to buy them because I get money when they do. But I also have strong sympathy for people who can't afford them. I have strong sympathy for people who own a physical copy and need a way to share the material electronically with their gaming group. Also this is new terrain. Most of us have watched law evolve around this over time as the internet became more important. And I think many still question the validity of of some the decisions that have been handed down. To take it outside gaming, you also have a number of highly questionable copyright cases involving music. And as a former musician, I am very glad I am no longer a musician, because I would be terrified to write a note of music after the Blurred Lines decision. I think on the whole we've just gone in a direction with copyright law that benefits companies but maybe harms art.
 

Trippy

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I think the point of comparison would with Nosferatu would be more along the lines of preserving RPGs that are out of print.
That would be a worthwhile thing, although I think it could be done with the blessing of the whole hobby without compromising current, in print RPGs - especially ones from small publishers.

The thing like the Marvel Supers site which is generally given the blind eye, I guess, because it doesn’t challenge anyone or anything on actual sales.
 

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Just to clarify a few things about libraries in the United States, since there was a little bit of discussion of them:

- Most libraries buy their books from distributors that purchase directly from the publishers. Though the libraries generally pay less than full MSRP for the books, the discount varies a lot. Some books - particularly those put out by university and small presses - aren't discounted by much (often around 10%). In many cases, libraries pay extra for "library binding" on the copies, which makes them more durable.

- Some libraries subscribe to book leasing programs. They will pay to have X number of books out at a time from a leasing company, and then juggle which specific titles those are according to demand. Since some bestsellers circulate heavily for a couple of months, then barely at all after that, a library may opt to have 20 copies of a given title filling up lease slots for a few months, then return 18 or 19 of those a few months later and pick other titles to fill those slots. There are pros and cons of using book leasing programs, and a lot revolves around the way a library's funding works and how much shelf space it has at any given time.

- Most libraries these days subscribe to one or more e-content programs (books, music, and/or video). Different companies offer those services, and they use various strategies to limit use. One of the most common strategies is to limit the number of "checkouts" that a title can have at a given time. The more that are allowed, the more the library has to pay to offer the service. Some of the services charge the libraries on a title-by-title basis, and some have the library buy a set of "slots" that can be filled with titles of their choice. If things are done on a title-by-title basis, the library typically has to re-purchase the rights to offer the title after it has been checked out a given number of times. That is ostensibly based on the average shelf-life of a print book in circulation. The issue that a lot of libraries have with some of the current services is that the price of a given e-book title might be roughly the same as that of a print copy (or even higher), and that the calculation for the "average shelf life" of a circulating book is incorrect. In some cases it makes more economic sense to just buy a print version instead, particularly for libraries where the use of e-books isn't particularly high.

- Authors and publishers are not paid a fee each time an item circulates.

- There have been a ton of studies done over the decades about how public libraries affect book sales. It is a complicated question, but in the end most have concluded that libraries help the book publishing industry (and authors) when everything is taken into account. It is telling that most authors really, really like for their books to be in public libraries. There are also a LOT of books (particularly non-fiction ones) that most likely wouldn't be published if not for public libraries, since libraries make up the majority of purchasers of those titles, particularly when it comes to long-tail sales.
 

Andrew J. Luther

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If it is any compensation, I did spend $4.06 AUS on one of your books on drivethrurpg. This Vision of Darkness.
Ironically, that’s the one book I’ve considered pulling it from sale as I’m not really happy with it and I actually feel guilty about people spending money on that one.

I would actually like to do it over or at least give a revised version to my customers for free, as I have a lot of things I’d like to improve in it and am in a much better position to do so now compared to when I put it out.

But thank you, nonetheless.
 

Bunch

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Just to clarify a few things about libraries in the United States, since there was a little bit of discussion of them:

- Most libraries buy their books from distributors that purchase directly from the publishers. Though the libraries generally pay less than full MSRP for the books, the discount varies a lot. Some books - particularly those put out by university and small presses - aren't discounted by much (often around 10%). In many cases, libraries pay extra for "library binding" on the copies, which makes them more durable.

- Some libraries subscribe to book leasing programs. They will pay to have X number of books out at a time from a leasing company, and then juggle which specific titles those are according to demand. Since some bestsellers circulate heavily for a couple of months, then barely at all after that, a library may opt to have 20 copies of a given title filling up lease slots for a few months, then return 18 or 19 of those a few months later and pick other titles to fill those slots. There are pros and cons of using book leasing programs, and a lot revolves around the way a library's funding works and how much shelf space it has at any given time.

- Most libraries these days subscribe to one or more e-content programs (books, music, and/or video). Different companies offer those services, and they use various strategies to limit use. One of the most common strategies is to limit the number of "checkouts" that a title can have at a given time. The more that are allowed, the more the library has to pay to offer the service. Some of the services charge the libraries on a title-by-title basis, and some have the library buy a set of "slots" that can be filled with titles of their choice. If things are done on a title-by-title basis, the library typically has to re-purchase the rights to offer the title after it has been checked out a given number of times. That is ostensibly based on the average shelf-life of a print book in circulation. The issue that a lot of libraries have with some of the current services is that the price of a given e-book title might be roughly the same as that of a print copy (or even higher), and that the calculation for the "average shelf life" of a circulating book is incorrect. In some cases it makes more economic sense to just buy a print version instead, particularly for libraries where the use of e-books isn't particularly high.

- Authors and publishers are not paid a fee each time an item circulates.

- There have been a ton of studies done over the decades about how public libraries affect book sales. It is a complicated question, but in the end most have concluded that libraries help the book publishing industry (and authors) when everything is taken into account. It is telling that most authors really, really like for their books to be in public libraries. There are also a LOT of books (particularly non-fiction ones) that most likely wouldn't be published if not for public libraries, since libraries make up the majority of purchasers of those titles, particularly when it comes to long-tail sales.
Libraries probably do the most to encourage more readers so losing them loses future sales.
 

Trippy

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That's an interesting example of a fairly hard pivot from 'all copyright infringement is theft, simple, end of!'
Well, that is a matter of context.

The manner in which certain posters were saying ‘it’s not theft, it’s just copying’ and the like, needed some response. What people on this thread were describing and then justifying was theft. The copyright laws that were being flagrantly disregarded, in that respect, were only done so because it was practically impossible for anybody - especially small publishers - to do anything about it.

If you look at my first post on this thread, you will find more nuance if that is what you are looking for, and my recent comments demonstrate that nuance as well. What I don’t like is how gamers feel entitled to take other people’s creations without giving any recompense to them though, or without any permission given. I think it is cheap, repugnant behavior.
 

Trippy

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The only thing consistent about Trippy's position is an inability to admit being wrong at all costs
The only thing honorable about yours is that that you are too childish to realise it.
 

TristramEvans

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honorable

giphy.gif
 

Alai

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The manner in which certain posters were saying ‘it’s not theft, it’s just copying’ and the like, needed some response. What people on this thread were describing and then justifying was theft.
Well no, it's still not, that's the plain fact. If it needed some response, perhaps the one you have reached for would have been on the lines of "it's not theft, it's a civil infringement and possibly a criminal offence (but one distinct from theft)". Not so punchy and hyperbolic, of course, but hyperbolic accuracy can be tricky to pull off, and hyperbolic nuance especially so.

The copyright laws that were being flagrantly disregarded, in that respect, were only done so because it was practically impossible for anybody - especially small publishers - to do anything about it.
So it's "theft" if a law -- other than any of the ones actually on theft, mind -- is being flagrantly disregarded, but not if the exact same law is being disregarded leading to a "positive outcome"? Or does that depend if you have your nuance hat on?
 

Trippy

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Well no, it's still not, that's the plain fact. If it needed some response, perhaps the one you have reached for would have been on the lines of "it's not theft, it's a civil infringement and possibly a criminal offence (but one distinct from theft)". Not so punchy and hyperbolic, of course, but hyperbolic accuracy can be tricky to pull off, and hyperbolic nuance especially so.
I think, on moral grounds, if you knowingly take something that belongs to somebody else without their permission, then it is theft. The legal case you could argue, but morally that is exactly my position - with reference to some of the creators who have cited their situations on this thread.
So it's "theft" if a law -- other than any of the ones actually on theft, mind -- is being flagrantly disregarded, but not if the exact same law is being disregarded leading to a "positive outcome"? Or does that depend if you have your nuance hat on?
I think it is theft if you take something that belongs to somebody else without their permission, but in the realm of ideas this is sometimes difficult to define and certainly difficult to legislate for. In the case of Nosferatu, they certainly disregarded the copyright laws, but they did something creative with it - so there is a lot more sympathy for that. But simply copying a small publishers work, who has invested in being able to release it for commercial purposes, and then just distributing it without their permission is more egregious.
 

Trippy

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This isn't a debate, and ad hominems means you lost any debate before it started.

The gif is an accurate representation of my IRL response to you using the word "honorable"
You came in to this exchange as a third party with a disparaging remark in order to attack another poster, then used yet another gif, designed as a disparagement, instead of providing any thoughtful response because you are incapable of doing so. Don’t lecture anybody about ad hominem.
 
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Alai

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I think, on moral grounds, if you knowingly take something that belongs to somebody else without their permission, then it is theft. The legal case you could argue, but morally that is exactly my position - with reference to some of the creators who have cited their situations on this thread.
I am not any sort of lawyer (if you'll pardon my bragging about that fact!), but I think I know which of those legal case I'd like to argue. Deliberately charging someone with a crime they very plainly did not commit is popular rhetorically, not so much if your boss is about to fire the assistant prosecutor with the worst conviction rate. I'm sure we can all think of other areas of public discourse in which "why, I disagree with this so strongly -- my moral principles, you see! -- that I'm going to persistently refer to it as a crime that it manifestly is not!" is tediously popular, so I'll spare everyone any direct comparisons or examples.

I think it is theft if you take something that belongs to somebody else without their permission, but in the realm of ideas this is sometimes difficult to define and certainly difficult to legislate for. In the case of Nosferatu, they certainly disregarded the copyright laws, but they did something creative with it - so there is a lot more sympathy for that.
So legally, it's not theft, but morally, it's theft, but a good theft?

But simply copying a small publishers work, who has invested in being able to release it for commercial purposes, and then just distributing it without their permission is more egregious.
In at least one sense yes, but possibly less egregious in some other respects, if (for example) not done for profit, done on a smaller scale, etc. (Though no doubt you'll wish to argue aggregate harm over any or all such instances.)
 

TristramEvans

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You came in to this exchange as a third party with a disparaging remark in order to attack another poster, then used yet another gf, designed as a disparagement, instead of providing any thoughtful response because you are incapable of doing so. Don’t lecture anybody about ad hominem.

I warned another poster what to expect trying to expect a logically consistent position from you - which you've admitted you don't care about, you blatantly admitted to disingenuously represented your position previously in the because, as you put it to justify your lack of consistency, "The manner in which certain posters were saying ‘it’s not theft, it’s just copying’ and the like, needed some response". If you found an accurate description of your behaviour pattern disparaging, you may want to spend some time reflecting on that.

And to demand a "thoughtful response" to your reflexive ad hominem fallacy is ...well, kinda hilarious. Still.
 

Trippy

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I am not any sort of lawyer (if you'll pardon my bragging about that fact!), but I think I know which of those legal case I'd like to argue. Deliberately charging someone with a crime they very plainly did not commit is popular rhetorically, not so much if your boss is about to fire the assistant prosecutor with the worst conviction rate. I'm sure we can all think of other areas of public discourse in which "why, I disagree with this so strongly -- my moral principles, you see! -- that I'm going to persistently refer to it as a crime that it manifestly is not!" is tediously popular, so I'll spare everyone any direct comparisons or examples.
The copyright infringements are a law that is being broken, so people who have a moral stance about it do have a legal recourse on the matter. It is just that law is obviously hard to enforce.
So legally, it's not theft, but morally, it's theft, but a good theft?
It isn’t Robin Hood, necessarily. In the case of Murnau and whoever the producers of Nosferatu were, I think they were punished enough for their infringement , although they may not have been necessarily aware that they were breaking any laws when they made their movie. In terms of the movie itself, for artistic and historical reasons, I am glad it got preserved.
In at least one sense yes, but possibly less egregious n some other respects, if (for example) not done for profit, done on a smaller scale, etc. (Though no doubt you'll wish to argue aggregate harm over any or all such instances.)
Well, the aggregate cost is hard to calculate, but like I say, any decision about distribution should come from the person who created it first and foremost, not have that capacity to make that decision taken away by somebody who has no stake in its commercial success.
 
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Agemegos

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14 renewable once I think was fine, but I'm also not against the creator's lifetime, with the provision they are keeping it regularly in print/accessible.
The problem with author’s lifetime is that it means creators who are elderly or ill can’t get decent payments for their work. (That’s also a problem with inalienable rights.)
 

Trippy

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I warned another poster what to expect trying to expect a logically consistent position from you - which you've admitted you don't care about, you blatantly admitted to disingenuously represented your position previously in the because, as you put it to justify your lack of consistency, "The manner in which certain posters were saying ‘it’s not theft, it’s just copying’ and the like, needed some response". If you found an accurate description of your behaviour pattern disparaging, you may want to spend some time reflecting on that.

And to demand a "thoughtful response" to your reflexive ad hominem fallacy is ...well, kinda hilarious. Still.
I’ve heard it all before from you Tristram.

You had no need to get involved at all, and you made an unsolicited attack against another poster. I have no wish to engage with you further on the matter.
 

TristramEvans

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The problem with author’s lifetime is that it means creators who are elderly or ill can’t get decent payments for their work. (That’s also a problem with inalienable rights.)

Sure, but they couldn't get payments after they died anyways....either way it's out of their hands.
 

TristramEvans

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I’ve heard it all before from you Tristram.

You had no need to get involved at all, and you made an unsolicited attack against another poster. I have no wish to engage with you further on the matter.

Welp, no one's forcing you to keep replying, lol, ....except for that "need to get the last word" gremlin on your back I guess
 

Agemegos

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Sure, but they couldn't get payments after they died anyways....either way it's out of their hands.
But with a term of copyright that extends until after their deaths they can get money for their immediate needs by selling the copyright to someone who will be able to collect the revenues after they die.
 
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Alai

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14 renewable once I think was fine, but I'm also not against the creator's lifetime, with the provision they are keeping it regularly in print/accessible.
I guess the last proviso is very material to some people's concerns. "It's OOP, there's no way other way to get it," "to preserve it from being entirely lost to the culture," and so on. Less clear how you enforce that in a proportionate way. Might you not simply get ashcan-printings, absurdly limited editions, or that cost <mouthpinky> one million dollars each? If the copyright office starts to manage that in a more detailed way, that could rapidly get complicated in a manner that might also make a lot of people very unhappy. Starting with "ermgawd socialised art!" and progressing from there.
 

TristramEvans

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Less clear how you enforce that in a proportionate way. Might you not simply get ashcan-printings, absurdly limited editions, or that cost <mouthpinky> one million dollars each?

You could, but that would be just as much a disadvantage to the creator...just because they ask for a million dollars for something, that doesn't mean there is anyone out there willing to pay that. And yes, maybe some crap will be created just to hold onto the copyright, but that's no different than now, be it the latest direct to video Hellraiser or Corman's Fantastic Four.


If the copyright office starts to manage that in a more detailed way, that could rapidly get complicated in a manner that might also make a lot of people very unhappy. Starting with "ermgawd socialised art!" and progressing from there.

I'm not advocating for the copyright office to be given enforcement powers...dear lord, no. I don't see this needing to ever go further than civil claims court as the worst scenario.
 

Alai

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The problem with author’s lifetime is that it means creators who are elderly or ill can’t get decent payments for their work. (That’s also a problem with inalienable rights.)
Sure, but in the context it was mentioned here, I took it to mean some combination of the two. So for example, you might have:

<N> years renewable <M> times, but only during the author's lifetime.​

Or arguably less clunkily:

<author's lifetime> + <P>, or <Q> years, whichever is the longer.​
 

Alai

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You could, but that would be just as much a disadvantage to the creator...just because they ask for a million dollars for something, that doesn't mean there is anyone out there willing to pay that. And yes, maybe some crap will be created just to hold onto the copyright, but that's no different than now, be it the latest direct to video Hellraiser or Corman's Fantastic Four.
That's my point, it's not clear that it makes things any better than at present, unless it were fairly strenuously regulated in detail. If it's not going to achieve a material improvement, why bother to legislate in the area at all? Law into disrepute, yadda-yadda.

I'm not advocating for the copyright office to be given enforcement powers...dear lord, no. I don't see this needing to ever go further than civil claims court as the worst scenario.
"Don't worry about the bureaucrats, we'll get the lawyers involved." -- reassurance that doesn't.
 

TristramEvans

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That's my point, it's not clear that it makes things any better than at present, unless it were fairly strenuously regulated in detail. If it's not going to achieve a material improvement, why bother to legislate in the area at all? Law into disrepute, yadda-yadda.

I mean solving one major problem doesn't mean we have to simultaneously solve a bunch of other possible minor problems or strive for perfection.


"Don't worry about the bureaucrats, we'll get the lawyers involved." -- reassurance that doesn't.

I'm not sure what your concern is there.
 

Vile

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Creator's lifetime is the only thing that makes sense, with publishers, studios, labels, etc. paying handsome royalties. But then, would the latter be interested if they had to fork out more than minimum wage, and lose out on stealing creators' works?

Note that I believe art is far better without entitled patrons at all - fine if they want to support creators anonymously without thought of gain, but never if there is even the slightest influence on the work.
 

Bunch

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Creator's lifetime is the only thing that makes sense, with publishers, studios, labels, etc. paying handsome royalties. But then, would the latter be interested if they had to fork out more than minimum wage, and lose out on stealing creators' works?

Note that I believe art is far better without entitled patrons at all - fine if they want to support creators anonymously without thought of gain, but never if there is even the slightest influence on the work.
Not sure I'd agree it's the only thing that makes sense. Let's say you have a creator who dies 1 day after publishing something. Is his family screwed? Alternately lets say Walt Disney made the Mouse at 15 and lived to 98. One seems arbitrarily short and the other long. To me a fixed length gets everyone incentivized to actually use something they create and make deals. It becomes pointless to hold out too long.
 

TristramEvans

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But with a term of copyright that extends until after their deaths they can get money for their immediate needs by selling the copyright to someone who will be able to collect the revenues after they die.

They can still sell the license, and a publisher who is first on the market will always have financial advantages.
 

Alai

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I mean solving one major problem doesn't mean we have to simultaneously solve a bunch of other possible minor problems or strive for perfection.
I'm not clear what major problem you're declaring to be solved here, given the difficulties I've pointed out in the one you actually specifically identified!

I'm not sure what your concern is there.
That lawyers are the worst?
 
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