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Subject: PnP and copyright: can people do with a PnP file whatever they want? rss

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dennis bennett
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I just came across this topic by chance in the "DIY" forum:
How to take pictures out of pdfs, to put on printer studio cards?

Basically what some people are doing is taking a PnP-Version of a game, transforming it into single image files so they can then have the cards printed more professionally.

I'm actually not quite sure how i feel about this but something rubs me the wrong way (but that could just be me... maybe i need to "evolve" my position).

I would have guessed that just because a PnP is free doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with it.
You can print it out at home on your own printer but that's about it.


Does anybody have any idea about this?

 
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dennisthebadger wrote:
I would have guessed that just because a PnP is free doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with it.
You can print it out at home on your own printer but that's about it.

I can't believe that there would be a problem in doing this for your own copy of a PnP game - after all surely the designer has released the PnP for the user to print out. What difference would it make where it is printed?

I can understand that there might be an objection if a person constructed a deck (let's say in ArtsCow) and then added an 'Add to Cart' link (so others could order it without the work) without asking permission from the designer.
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I'm not a lawyer and don't expect this to be a guarantee against some sort of legal action. But once I get my hands on something (even legally) I'm likely to do all sorts of things with a camera, copier, scanner, printer, or carbon copy if it helps me play the game. For my own use, no one is ever going to be the wiser.

Facilitating the printing of cards as you describe has to be one of the least objectionable processes. Sharing my modified efforts with my brother would be about as far as I would go without at least a little worry.
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JoffW wrote:
after all surely the designer has released the PnP for the user to print out. What difference would it make where it is printed?

This is my position as well.
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dennis bennett
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Black Canyon wrote:
JoffW wrote:
after all surely the designer has released the PnP for the user to print out. What difference would it make where it is printed?

This is my position as well.



The difference is:

printing something on your own equipment at home

vs.

Having somebody else print it for you and (that person/company) making a profit in the process of doing so.



Now i'm not saying that this is my personal oppinion (because i'm actually undecided as to what to think of this personally and i'm not sure about the factual legal side of it):

In any way editing/manipulating a file could be considered making a "derivative work" of it, which might not be allowed under common licence or whatever other copyright applies.

As soon as anybody involved is making a profit this might also not be covered by the copyright agreement.

I'm just not sure if the argument "what difference does it make if i copy it at home or take it to a printshop?" is valid. It might "feel" like the same thing but legally it migth not be.
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dennisthebadger wrote:
I just came across this topic by chance in the "DIY" forum:
How to take pictures out of pdfs, to put on printer studio cards?

Basically what some people are doing is taking a PnP-Version of a game, transforming it into single image files so they can then have the cards printed more professionally.

I'm actually not quite sure how i feel about this but something rubs me the wrong way (but that could just be me... maybe i need to "evolve" my position).

I would have guessed that just because a PnP is free doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with it.
You can print it out at home on your own printer but that's about it.


Does anybody have any idea about this?


Personal copy of a PNP is still a personal copy. Questionable, however, is whether it's OK to gift my personal copy to someone and then make myself a new one..
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If I'm not allowed to change the files so I can print them out in a way that I can cut the components easier (or for whatever reason) I will not be crafting the game, let alone pay for the PnP files...


My question for you is: is it okay to make photos of your game in play, or to scan the board to make a bigger version of it for your own use, or, or?


Either of those are not considered derivative works as far as I know and even if it is I can't believe any designer to have a problem with it...


Even letting someone else, be it a company or a person, print it out for you I don't see as a problem, not even if they 'earn' money with that, their supplies and time costs money, that's what you pay for, nothing more, nothing less.

I do know there are several designers here who do not entirely agree with the above though...
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dennis bennett
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Aenea wrote:


My question for you is: is it okay to make photos of your game in play, or to scan the board to make a bigger version of it for your own use, or, or?

Even letting someone else, be it a company or a person, print it out for you I don't see as a problem, not even if they 'earn' money with that, their supplies and time costs money, that's what you pay for, nothing more, nothing less.

I do know there are several designers here who do not entirely agree with the above though...


first question: i really don't know. It probably depends on what you then do with those photos. I'm pretty sure there are some types of usage that might not be okay. I'm not sure what you mean by "scanning the board". if the PnP provides a board you can probably print it out any size you want.

The "have some company print out the PnP for you": well, that is exactly the issue, even if to you personally it doesn't make a difference and seems to be the same. "even if they earn money with that" is all the difference.

There is another issue thought with it: when you upload stuff to print on demand services you're usually giving them some right sover the work you're uploading.

Taken from printerstudio:

"You retain all ownership of Content you submitted to the PrinterStudio. By submitting Content to PrinterStudio, You hereby grant PrinterStudio and/or a third party subcontractor/ partner an nonexclusive, worldwide, transferable license to use, copy, reproduce, modify, publicly display, and distribute your Content, solely for the purposes of enabling you to use our service and/or to process, produce and deliver your product(s). However, by submitting or communicating Content on areas of the service including but not limited to questions, e-mails, survey, comments, suggestions, reviews, and/or other written information to PrinterStudio, you assign, grant and transfer all intellectual property rights of such Content to PrinterStudio. PrinterStudio may use, copy, publish, share, implement, and transfer such Content for internal use, marketing, advertising and in any way and for any purpose as PrinterStudio may decide at its sole discretion.

PrinterStudio respects the intellectual property rights of others. If you believe that your work has been copied in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, you may contact us here: customerservice@printerstudio.com"

The whole point of a PnP is that it's for personal use. You shouldn't be able to transfer any rights of that usage. By uploading stuff to print on demand serivces you state you own all rights to it, which you don't, you only have limited rights.

At least that is how i understand it. Again, i'm not saying this is the way it "ought to be" or the way "i want it to be", simply how i understand it.
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Here are some more scenarios. I am interested where you begin to get uncomfortable morally.

1) I really want a copy of a PnP game, but I don't have the materials or skill to create it. I have a friend who does though, and I ask her if she'd build a copy for me using her own supplies. She does and gives it to me as a gift.

2) Same as 1, but I offer her $20 for her troubles.

3) Same as 1, except she asks for the money up front before building the game.

4) The same friend has the files for many, many PnP games on her computer and she also has all the necessary supplies to craft them. She emails me the list of games and extends the offer to build any game I like as long as I compensate her for her supplies and time.
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dennis bennett
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Black Canyon wrote:
Here are some more scenarios. I am interested where you begin to get uncomfortable morally.

1) I really want a copy of a PnP game, but I don't have the materials or skill to create it. I have a friend who does though, and I ask her if she'd build a copy for me using her own supplies. She does and gives it to me as a gift.

2) Same as 1, but I offer her $20 for her troubles.

3) Same as 1, except she asks for the money up front before building the game.

4) The same friend has the files for many, many PnP games on her computer and she also has all the necessary supplies to craft them. She emails me the list of games and extends the offer to build any game I like as long as I compensate her for her supplies and time.


I'm really not sure. I wouldn't even call my uncomfort a "moral" one...
Seriously i don't know.

another scenario:

A designer offers a free PnP: can you upload it to a print on demand and get a more professional version (possibly equal to a retail version if there was one)?

A designer/publisher offers a free PnP (to gather interest for the game for example?) to a game that is also available for purchase in retail (online, shops, whatever, somewhere were the designer might be getting royalties): are you allowed to use the PnP to get a print on demand copy if this is cheaper for you than the regular retail copy?

A PnP version is offered at a (low) price, uploading the PnP to a print on demand would be cheaper for you than purchasing the regular retail version (you're bypassing the royalties the publisher/deisgner migth get: is this also okay for you to do?
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dennisthebadger wrote:
Aenea wrote:


My question for you is: is it okay to make photos of your game in play, or to scan the board to make a bigger version of it for your own use, or, or?

Even letting someone else, be it a company or a person, print it out for you I don't see as a problem, not even if they 'earn' money with that, their supplies and time costs money, that's what you pay for, nothing more, nothing less.

I do know there are several designers here who do not entirely agree with the above though...


first question: i really don't know. It probably depends on what you then do with those photos. I'm pretty sure there are some types of usage that might not be okay. I'm not sure what you mean by "scanning the board". if the PnP provides a board you can probably print it out any size you want.


I was more thinking that you as a designer might one day get a game professionally published, then there are no PnP files to work with so people would need to scan the board.

Als if the PDF file of a PnP containing the board is formatted for A4 paper is it allowed to blow up the image and print it on A3 instead? That way I'm actually modifying the image...
 
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dennisthebadger wrote:
Aenea wrote:


My question for you is: is it okay to make photos of your game in play, or to scan the board to make a bigger version of it for your own use, or, or?

Even letting someone else, be it a company or a person, print it out for you I don't see as a problem, not even if they 'earn' money with that, their supplies and time costs money, that's what you pay for, nothing more, nothing less.

I do know there are several designers here who do not entirely agree with the above though...


The "have some company print out the PnP for you": well, that is exactly the issue, even if to you personally it doesn't make a difference and seems to be the same. "even if they earn money with that" is all the difference.


Yeah but they are not earning money from illegally copying your work, they are earning money by spending their time and materials.

Would it be okay if I printed and crafted a game for someone else and they gave me a game in return? Or a promise that if I need some DIY done around the house (which I'm bad at) I can call them since 'they owe me'?

Why would giving me money for the materials and time spent be any different?
 
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dennisthebadger wrote:
There is another issue thought with it: when you upload stuff to print on demand services you're usually giving them some right sover the work you're uploading.

Taken from printerstudio:

"You retain all ownership of Content you submitted to the PrinterStudio. By submitting Content to PrinterStudio, You hereby grant PrinterStudio and/or a third party subcontractor/ partner an nonexclusive, worldwide, transferable license to use, copy, reproduce, modify, publicly display, and distribute your Content, solely for the purposes of enabling you to use our service and/or to process, produce and deliver your product(s). ......"

The whole point of a PnP is that it's for personal use. You shouldn't be able to transfer any rights of that usage. By uploading stuff to print on demand serivces you state you own all rights to it, which you don't, you only have limited rights.

At least that is how i understand it. Again, i'm not saying this is the way it "ought to be" or the way "i want it to be", simply how i understand it.


I do believe that PrinterStudio is just covering it's arse just in case. If they somehow get too many orders for something and they have to hire a 3rd party to print out some of your orders they have to give that 3rd party the files which is basically copying it.

The important part is that they only copy, blabla, "solely for the purposes of enabling you to use our service and/or to process, produce and deliver your product(s)". Again, just to cover their arses if someone starts to get cute with the law...
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dennisthebadger wrote:
Black Canyon wrote:
Here are some more scenarios. I am interested where you begin to get uncomfortable morally.

1) I really want a copy of a PnP game, but I don't have the materials or skill to create it. I have a friend who does though, and I ask her if she'd build a copy for me using her own supplies. She does and gives it to me as a gift.

2) Same as 1, but I offer her $20 for her troubles.

3) Same as 1, except she asks for the money up front before building the game.

4) The same friend has the files for many, many PnP games on her computer and she also has all the necessary supplies to craft them. She emails me the list of games and extends the offer to build any game I like as long as I compensate her for her supplies and time.


I'm really not sure. I wouldn't even call my uncomfort a "moral" one...
Seriously i don't know.

another scenario:

A designer offers a free PnP: can you upload it to a print on demand and get a more professional version (possibly equal to a retail version if there was one)?

A designer/publisher offers a free PnP (to gather interest for the game for example?) to a game that is also available for purchase in retail (online, shops, whatever, somewhere were the designer might be getting royalties): are you allowed to use the PnP to get a print on demand copy if this is cheaper for you than the regular retail copy?

A PnP version is offered at a (low) price, uploading the PnP to a print on demand would be cheaper for you than purchasing the regular retail version (you're bypassing the royalties the publisher/deisgner migth get: is this also okay for you to do?


Please point me to a print-on-demand that can print a game professionally cheaper than the retail version. I'm very, very interested to find one!

I then might even stop crafting my own PnPs since what I make always ends up way, way more expensive than a retail copy of a similar type of game...
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Some "armchair" legal thinking (not a lawyer, not able to dispense legal advice, take what I say for amusement only).

By default the creator of the game has a copyright to his/her work. This is copyright law.

When the game is put up for print-n-play, the author SHOULD specify the rights the print-n-play users have. There are multiple options from "this is public domain, do whatever you like" to some sort of licencing option (of which there are many one can assert -- for example see the following six https://creativecommons.org/licenses/) to make one up yourself ("you can make ONE copy on a 1980's printer for your own use, but all other rights retained").

It's not really a moral issue, but a legal issue surrounding what rights the author conveyed to third-parties, ie the gamers who want to play the game.

The real problem come when a print and play is put up with NO guidance. Now everyone is in a murky world and we would probably fall back to the conventions of the community.
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Aenea wrote:


Please point me to a print-on-demand that can print a game professionally cheaper than the retail version. I'm very, very interested to find one!

I then might even stop crafting my own PnPs since what I make always ends up way, way more expensive than a retail copy of a similar type of game...


In the very specific case of my own game i could do it:
offer a free PnP version for anybody who wants to try the game out before buying it, then offer a a version on drivethrucards where i'm earning a couple of cents (or even a dollar or two! yay!) per copy sold.
You could edit the PnP and upload it yourself though and cut me short of the royalties.
Is this still okay, since you know, the PnP was free so you can do whatever you want, right?
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dennisthebadger wrote:
The difference is:

printing something on your own equipment at home

vs.

Having somebody else print it for you and (that person/company) making a profit in the process of doing so.

When I look at it, there is no difference between a print service and printer manufacturer. You paid someone for your ability to print regardless of location.

For me, the line is personal use. Your own copy in any media is fine, but distribution is the big no-no.
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dennisthebadger wrote:
Aenea wrote:


Please point me to a print-on-demand that can print a game professionally cheaper than the retail version. I'm very, very interested to find one!

I then might even stop crafting my own PnPs since what I make always ends up way, way more expensive than a retail copy of a similar type of game...


In the very specific case of my own game i could do it:
offer a free PnP version for anybody who wants to try the game out before buying it, then offer a a version on drivethrucards where i'm earning a couple of cents (or even a dollar or two! yay!) per copy sold.
You could edit the PnP and upload it yourself though and cut me short of the royalties.
Is this still okay, since you know, the PnP was free so you can do whatever you want, right?


What I meant with a retail version is a regularly published and printed game, not one you sell yourself thru a Print-On-Demand outfit.

But anyways, I do think that in the particular case you are describing that both you as the designer and the user uploading it to a POD use the same POD service it would be a bit icky to do so but I still believe the user is in their right to use any way to print them as they see fit.

But if you're really worried about such a thing then you should not give away the PnP files for free but sell them for a few $$ at the DriveThru website then if they use DriveThruCards or maybe even another POD service they prefer more you wouldn't miss any income...

-------

What is interesting in the scenario you provided tho is DriveThruCards. They earn money in both cases, the ones sold directly from their website where you get a few cents and the one someone decides to upload them themselves.

Why would it be wrong in 1 case for them to earn money of it and not in the other while they do the exact same work?
 
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Aenea wrote:

Why would it be wrong in 1 case for them to earn money of it and not in the other while they do the exact same work?


simply because in 1 case i as the designer am giving them the right to do so.
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dennisthebadger wrote:
Aenea wrote:

Why would it be wrong in 1 case for them to earn money of it and not in the other while they do the exact same work?


simply because in 1 case i as the designer am giving them the right to do so.


Well like I said I would find it icky to do such a thing as the user of your PnP files and wouldn't really see the point since I doubt it will be that much cheaper anyways.

I've never put up one of my designs at such a website so I have no clue if they charge a higher price if you as a designer do it or when someone uses them for a one-off print, but like I said, I can't imagine it to be too different so why would anyone want to do such a thing?


My opinion stays the same tho, if you sell me or give me PnP files so I can print them out I am allowed to do with them as I please for my own use and can even decide to pay someone else to have it printed.



-----

Like someone above said, the printer manufacturer also earns money on the printing of PnPs, so do the 3rd party ink companies and the ones that make the nice paper I use and the postal services who send those items to me, the electrical utility company since I'm using more electricity when printing then when I'm not (even when I'm cutting images from a PDF I use my computer more), etc., etc., etc.
 
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If the question is just 'should you be allowed to hire someone to print the game for you?' that seems pretty black and white (and silly.) I don't even own a printer! At least in the usa, there really isn't really any cultural thing I can think of that suggests there's any issue with this. (Hiring a guy to assemble an Ikea shelf? Hiring a guy to cook my chicken for me? Sure, both Ikea and grocery stores might offer a comparable service and 'lose' money, but it's my business what I do with it after I buy it, not theirs.)

If the question is 'should I be able to modify the files before I print it (using my printer, my friend's my company's, china's, etc.)' I guess that would have to be laid out in some sort of user agreement.

But that's a reality that every digital thing ever deals with. You either engineer a product that can't be easily copied (ios aps?), or run a big enough company to prosecute whatever level of infringement you feel appropriate (games workshop?), or monetize your work in a way that works out regardless (Bands touring?).

I guess if there really was some objection to how a pnp file was used when there was nothing some small time designer could actually do about it, I'd put the onus on the designer to grow a thicker skin and not care too much (unless people keep sending it to KKK printing or something).

Though others would probably say that end users have some artistic obligation to respect the designer's every whim.

(Don't you dare listen to digital rips of my album, that's only supposed to be played on vinyl!!)

edit: and if the question is 'should a company who gives me a commission for files I created being sold print the same files if someone else has them without paying me a commission,' I'd say stop doing business with that company.
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Aenea wrote:

Well like I said I would find it icky to do such a thing as the user of your PnP files and wouldn't really see the point since I doubt it will be that much cheaper anyways.

I've never put up one of my designs at such a website so I have no clue if they charge a higher price if you as a designer do it or when someone uses them for a one-off print, but like I said, I can't imagine it to be too different so why would anyone want to do such a thing?



You always pay the same basic price for anything you have printed when you upload it yourself (obviously).
If you purchase someone elses game that person (designer) can add on any amount he wishes which is essentially his royalties (a part of which actually goes to drivethru, the designer keeps somehting like 70% of that added cost).
Other sites like zazzle, society6 and other print on demand services that allow you to offer your products to other people for purchase work similarly.

So yes, if you just upload the file yourself you can bypass those royalties.


Some of the other points you keep making about there being no difference between printing soemthing at home (and printer and toner makers making a profit) and using a printing serivce, while possibly making total sense to you personally, i believe to be flat out wrong in a legal sense. The legal disclaimers print serivces put on their web sites are not just gobbledygook.
Of course you're totally entitled to your own oppinion

From what i understand (i'm no law expert), even if it's not explicitly stated, there are some copyright laws that apply and print on demand services shouldn't really be allowed to reproduce PnP games for you without the consent of the creator.
 
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Aenea wrote:

Please point me to a print-on-demand that can print a game professionally cheaper than the retail version. I'm very, very interested to find one!


To be fair, I think it depends a lot on the game! You can get a deck of 54 cards from Printer's Studio for $8 USD, with free shipping if you wait for the right offer; there's a lot of commercial games out there which cost more than $8. One of my favourites, Ruse, had an RRP in this country of £30, and that game is playable with 60 poker-sized playing cards... so should I feel so inclined, it would certainly be technically possible (albeit definitely not legal!) to get Printer's Studio to print me a copy much cheaper than I could buy it in a shop.


Of course, these games would be without the fancy box, the printed rulebook, any tokens or player mats they normally come with, etc. ... and they're also not the norm; generally speaking one PnPs for the love of it, or to play games which wouldn't otherwise be available, not because it's cheaper.

It's pretty rare for POD to come close to competing with traditional publishers on price and quality at the same time, so this is really only going to happen when there's other components to the game which make a big difference to the price.

dennisthebadger wrote:

In the very specific case of my own game i could do it:
offer a free PnP version for anybody who wants to try the game out before buying it, then offer a a version on drivethrucards where i'm earning a couple of cents (or even a dollar or two! yay!) per copy sold.
You could edit the PnP and upload it yourself though and cut me short of the royalties.
Is this still okay, since you know, the PnP was free so you can do whatever you want, right?


If you don't want people to send your files up to Printer's Studio, then distribute them with a license that states that they can't do that, then it'll be very clear that it's not legal. But you won't be able to stop it technically unless you never distribute the files at all. Ultimately, people who feel like they ought to support you as the creator of the game aren't likely to cheat you out of your profit to save a dollar or so.
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dennisthebadger wrote:
Aenea wrote:

Well like I said I would find it icky to do such a thing as the user of your PnP files and wouldn't really see the point since I doubt it will be that much cheaper anyways.

I've never put up one of my designs at such a website so I have no clue if they charge a higher price if you as a designer do it or when someone uses them for a one-off print, but like I said, I can't imagine it to be too different so why would anyone want to do such a thing?



You always pay the same basic price for anything you have printed when you upload it yourself (obviously).
If you purchase someone elses game that person (designer) can add on any amount he wishes which is essentially his royalties (a part of which actually goes to drivethru, the designer keeps somehting like 70% of that added cost).
Other sites like zazzle, society6 and other print on demand services that allow you to offer your products to other people for purchase work similarly.

So yes, if you just upload the file yourself you can bypass those royalties.


Some of the other points you keep making about there being no difference between printing soemthing at home (and printer and toner makers making a profit) and using a printing serivce, while possibly making total sense to you personally, i believe to be flat out wrong in a legal sense. The legal disclaimers print serivces put on their web sites are not just gobbledygook.
Of course you're totally entitled to your own oppinion

From what i understand (i'm no law expert), even if it's not explicitly stated, there are some copyright laws that apply and print on demand services shouldn't really be allowed to reproduce PnP games for you without the consent of the creator.


I do believe I'm not flat out wrong in a legal sense either.

I could be tho, since I'm not a lawyer...
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Bichatse wrote:
Aenea wrote:

Please point me to a print-on-demand that can print a game professionally cheaper than the retail version. I'm very, very interested to find one!


To be fair, I think it depends a lot on the game! You can get a deck of 54 cards from Printer's Studio for $8 USD, with free shipping if you wait for the right offer; there's a lot of commercial games out there which cost more than $8. One of my favourites, Ruse, had an RRP in this country of £30, and that game is playable with 60 poker-sized playing cards... so should I feel so inclined, it would certainly be technically possible (albeit definitely not legal!) to get Printer's Studio to print me a copy much cheaper than I could buy it in a shop.


Of course, these games would be without the fancy box, the printed rulebook, any tokens or player mats they normally come with, etc. ... and they're also not the norm; generally speaking one PnPs for the love of it, or to play games which wouldn't otherwise be available, not because it's cheaper.


Yeah but that's the thing, when I PnP a game it will have a proper box and all of the components and I doubt one can find a POD that will do it cheaper than a mass (okay, 1000+ copies) produced game...
 
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