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Re: (TFT) Appropriate use of copyrighted material

I said:

>>Chiseling the rules to Melee on stone tablets thirty feet high
>>would be an enourmous amount of work, and take great craftsmanship to
>>do well. But it would still be a violation of copyright and WRONG!
>Legally yes, but if the person did it out a labor of love and charged a
>minimal $1 fee to see it - do you really think they should be denied that
>because they don't legally own the rights to Melee?

Yep. I sure do.

>Remember, the current copyright laws are NOT protecting the origional
>author! They're protecting Howard Thompson - who didn't even DESIGN Melee!

Granted. And it is a lousy shame that Howard never allowed anyone else to buy TFT from him so it could live on. But there is no law against being foolish. (If there were, the jail's would never hold 'em all!)

>No, I dont think it's the same thing at all. I think 'fair use' has to
>encompass the wide variety of ways an intellectual property might be used.
>If I want to make a copy of "Rainbow Six" to read on my pilot on the bus on
>the way to work, right now that's illegal. That's a lot different than
>putting it in shrinkwrap and trying to sell it at Fry's.

I agree that there's a big difference, but there has been little use of the law to bludgeon people for transfer of copyrighted material into a different medium for personal use. (There HAVE been some silly cases, but they are the exception.) It's where you start widely distributing it that it gets sticky (and should).

>No, these distinctions don't boil down to simple "This use is wrong - this
>use is right" soundbites. It goes back to the origional intent of the law -
>to promote innovation and to protect the creator of an oriigonal work to
>profit from their work. NEITHER intent of which is being served by the
>current legal snafu with Howard Thompson and Melee!

There's no "legal snafu". No one seriously questions Howard's rights in this matter -- certainly not Steve. (And if anyone had a kick coming, it's Steve.) It's a simple case of wanting what you can't have for many people. No law says (or should say) that a copyright holder HAS to be reasonable in his demands to be paid for something he owns.

>Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not going to DO anything about it. It's a
>interesting discussion, but far to complex to be resolved without YEARS of
>appropriate lawsuits. I'm not interested in being involved with that.

>But as a discussion, it seems obvious that even if you feel doing something
>illegal is also "wrong" (I don't), then wouldn't you still have to admit
>that the tangle involved with Melee is far less that clear-cut.

It's pretty clear cut. Steve created it. He transferred the rights to Howard in a deal made when Steve left Metagaming (the same deal in which Steve received OGRE). Howard's been a dog-in-the-manger about it since, which is unfortunate but no crime. Neither you nor I (nor anyone else, for that matter) has anything to say about it.

Don't get me wrong! I think it's a damn dirty SHAME! But if I grant that someone oughta be able to publish MELEE in any form without Howard's permission, what do I do when someone comes along and decides I'm not doing a good enough job of promoting or selling COMPACT COMBAT and wants to publish my game in another medium without my say-so or financial recompense?

>I don't question whether you OWN the rights. I question whether the rights
>should belong to the owner or the creator!

The rights belong to the creator UNTIL he voluntarily transfers them, which is what happened in this case.

>I may have missed the point. Is the point that it's illegal? I know that.
>But you keep saying it's WRONG! And no amount of it's being illegal is
>going to make it WRONG!

We'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

>I think that Japan seem to have the right idea (though I'm not an expert on
>it by any means). They seem to draw a line between 'fan-based' creations
>and 'commerical' creations that allow a certain amount of copyright
>violation in the spirit of common sense that our laws don't seem to have.

Japan also allows a lot of companies to practice dividing up a market in ways that would bring anti-trust suits here, but that's not the point either. Even in Japan I doubt you are going to see someone create and sell a computer game based on the character Lum from Urusei Yatsura (for example) without paying the owners of that character for it, or at least obtaining their permission. You weren't talking about creating a web page that presented your ideas for rule add-ons for TFT (something that does exist). You talked about creating and selling a computer game that was -- for all intents and purposes -- Melee just translated to a computerized format. That's hardly the same as a site full of fan art of company-owned characters, or a fan-written Star Trek story.

Guy McLimore - guymc@evansville.net
MicroTactix Games - http://welcome.to/microtactix

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