Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 Hide
14 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: P & P games. Ethical (perhaps legal) question. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Mark Crocker
United States
Westland
Michigan
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I downloaded, printed, and assembled one of the many "Print and Play" games available on the net. I won't name the game, but I have a mounted board, wooden counters, extra thick cards...the whole nine yards. I did a bang up job (if I do say so myself), but I won't mention the name of the game. Actually I've done several nice P & P games.
I realize that I cannot sell such items...here, e-bay, wherever. But what about offering a trade? One side of me says, "Why not?. No money changes hands." But another side of me says I should exercise both moral and legal caution.

I equate my moral dilema to downloading free music from places like Kaaza...and just to let you know where I'm coming from, I see no problem with obtaining free music. Somehow though, having a "hard copy" of something, feels different in my mind.

Again, I'm talking trade...not sale. Waddya think?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Mahaffey
United States
Columbia
South Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
GAME ARTIST
badge
GAME ARTIST
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My irrefutable rule of thumb is that if I am in doubt on an ethical issue, it is probably unethical.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hey, thats a great question.

As far as trade vs cash, a value is still assigned, so that doesn't affect anything.

Why not just ask the author how they feel? You did the craft. There is viable effort on both parts.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Davis
United States
New Concord
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, if you're just looking to rationalize, you could convince yourself that you've been hired by this other person to create a nice copy of the game in question, and their payment to you is whatever they're trading you. Here's an important question to keep in mind - is the designer of this game also selling nice copies of the game, and just encouraging P&P as advertisement, somewhat like a shareware model? If so, I would be more leery of doing this, and I suspect you might not even be asking the question. On the other hand, if the designer has made the game available just because they want people to play it and expect to never see it published or make any money off of it, I see less of a problem with this. If I personally were doing this, I think the relative value of things would come into play as well. If what I were getting in exchange was about equal to the cost of materials and a bit for the time invested, I wouldn't worry too much. Actually making money (or its equivalent) off of the deal...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Rauscher
New Zealand
Mount Victoria
Wellington
flag msg tools

Ethically: yes, you can trade, so long as it's not prohibited by the rules / requirements noted by the author when you downloaded.

Legally (and, remember, as with any legal observation, this is just the gist): It'll depend on the terms the author has placed on their creation. Under the law, "copyright subsists in a work of art fixed in a tangible medium of expression." (I think that's almost word-for-word.) That means there's copyright protection for the author of what you've printed and played. However, author's can "give up" the protection afforded by the copyright law, in whole or in part. (Think George Harrison's song which he released to the world without copyright after he lost a copyright case.)

Basically, if the author has basically given their game away for free "provided you don't sell it," a trade seems both morally and ethically and legally fine. If they've released "only to be printed and reproduced for the downloader's use," I'd say you cannot trade.

If you're not sure: just e-mail the author and ask. When asking for reproduction rights in the past, I found I didn't have to do anymore than that.

Best of luck.

P.S. while I hate the big music companies and their repressive tactics (I think it's good for the industry that these free music trade sites exist - but that's a separate complicated argument), it's CLEARLY illegal. No ifs, ands, or buts. No court has said it's fine, and it is clearly in violation of both the letter and the spirit of the law. In other words, stick it to the man!, and I'll applaud you, but understand that it is illegal. Whether you want to morally equate this with the old sit-ins is up to you, though I think it's a weak excuse. I won't hold it against you either, though.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott B
United States
Redmond
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
Something just occurred to me along similar lines. There are several P&P games I'd love to have nice versions of. But I really don't have the time, nor the talent, to build them well. Would there be complications if I said "Hey, who can make me a nice copy of X? If you can, I'll spring for the raw materials costs for _2_ sets, and you can keep 1." Get my question? I'm talking material costs only - time costs are VERY tricky to estimate, and I think they enter a grayer ethical area.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Me
United States
Bowling Green
Kentucky
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Give me an apple and I have the right to sell it. I don't see why it should be any different with these free games from an ethical standpoint. The legal question is different. Many copyright laws are made to make money for the fat cats in corporations, not necessarily for the creators.

But then again, I've been a fan of Negativland in the past. I may be biased.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Rauscher
New Zealand
Mount Victoria
Wellington
flag msg tools

David (Meredith) is right - copyright laws, while ostensibly written to protect the authors/creators/artists, have largely been hijacked and abused by the major corporations. This is especially so in the music industry (which it seems clear is substituting quality music with heavy-handed enforcement of its copyrights). Not that the copyright laws don't work - there are plenty of artists out there who are very rich because of copyright. I think the biggest loss has been to the concept of Fair Use, particularly with the major corps successful push to extend copyrights to 100 years+! That was solely to prevent copyrighted works (hello, how old are you Mickey Mouse?) falling into the public domain. Ticks me off.

Ah, well.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
davidme wrote:
Give me an apple and I have the right to sell it. I don't see why it should be any different with these free games


Apples are objects. The game is NOT an object until it is physically created. Then it is a copy of a creation.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Washington
United States
Unspecified
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
David_Rauscher wrote:

I think the biggest loss has been to the concept of Fair Use, particularly with the major corps successful push to extend copyrights to 100 years+!


That has noting to do with Fair Use, which hasn't suffered in the least since its inception.

The apparently oft-misunderstood Fair Use concept is about protecting the creators of works inspired by, scholarly studies of, and general news reportage regarding copyrighted material, and that's all it was ever meant to cover, though the door was left open to allow for new forsm of the above we might not anticipate.

i.e. Fair Use or Fair Dealing was nad has always been about allowing for use of copyrighted material that clearly doesn't involved harming the owner's right to profit.

Just to be clear, I agree that ruling was a heinous abuse of copyright, it just didn't affect Fair Use, which was never meant to be some carte blance to allow wanton infringement.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Crocker
United States
Westland
Michigan
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
(sigh)..I'm sure glad we cleared this all up.

No seriously, I'd love to hear more.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Rauscher
New Zealand
Mount Victoria
Wellington
flag msg tools
Yeah, we're quickly getting esoteric. Robert's right about definition of fair use - I drew a larger comparison concerning various means of corps to maximize protection of their "properties", and didn't bother to properly unmuddle the discrete legal concepts involved in these issues, but kind of lumped the various legal battles together.

So, Crockerdile, have we confused you enough?

I would sum up by saying: Dude, you're probably okay with trading. But there's no harm in simply asking the creator to make sure. Besides, it's a nice thing to do.

'nuff said.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Shaffer
United States
San Francisco
CA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I would trade it in a heartbeat if I didn't want it anymore and there was some game I wanted more. You're trading your time and effort and materials to create the game, not the intellectual property, which presumably is still available for general use on the publisher's website.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Me
United States
Bowling Green
Kentucky
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Geosphere wrote:
davidme wrote:
Give me an apple and I have the right to sell it. I don't see why it should be any different with these free games


Apples are objects. The game is NOT an object until it is physically created. Then it is a copy of a creation.


I admitted my bias.

I don't know the game, but if it doesn't have copyrighted images in the pieces, just trade the pieces. Leave rules to be found for those in the know. This works with one version of computer Scrabble I have. The programmer built it so that one can build any size board, any letter distribution, with letters worth as many points as assigned. Then of course, when a player builds the Scrabble board, the programmer has probably done nothing legally wrong (I say 'probably' instead of 'absolutely', because laws are vague and ambiguous and in general left up to judges and lawyers to interpret as they may).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.