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Subject: Unfortunate enforcement of Copyright rss

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Dan Miller
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My friend Tim is an avid Settlers Fan and computer programmer who has written several useful applications for Settlers. He's provided these to the community for free however that appears to be ending. He recieved this from Catan LLC (others that are providing similar tools be warned):

Hi Tim,

My name is Nick Johnson, of Public Relations for Catan LLC. I am writing you concerning your "Catan Dice Roller" at http://www.bennettspeed.com/catan/catan.htm. This is a great idea and we appreciate your enthusiasm for our brand and products. But, unfortunately I have to ask you, amicably, to please remove all references to our brand "Catan" and "The Settlers of Catan" in text and copyrighted imagery from your website, and any other websites you might host or own. We cannot allow you to use our artwork and brand name without permission. It is clear your site has been created from a photo or image of our 3rd edition Mayfair Games "The Settlers of Catan" box top. There is a licensing and legal process that all prospective individuals who wish to license the Catan brand must go through first, before our brand our copyrighted imagery can be used by third parties.

I hope you can understand our position on this matter and that you will rectify the problems with using our refernces to our brand, name, and imagery promptly. You may call it "The Dice Roller" or something of that nature but you may not call it the "Catan" or "The Settlers of Catan" or any variation of the many brand names we own. Thank you.

Regards,

Nick Johnson
Marketing/PR
Catan LLC

nick@catanllc.com
510-457-6810
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Crazy Bob
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"We would like you to remove all players that you attract to our game from our customer base."

Edit: At least this was done in a cordial fashion
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Gerald McDaniel
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Seems like a very reasonable and friendly request. He should ask them about possibly using the name with their approval. All they can say is "no" or tell him what it would cost, and he can decide what to do.
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JH
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There is nothing wrong with enforcing a copyright in this way. They are not asking that the tool be removed or threatening a lawsuit. They are simply asking that copyrighted art and the Settlers of Catan trademarks not be used, which is reasonable and well within their rights.
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Larry Neal
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Yeah, while this is unfortunate (good choice of words there) I see their point. I am certainly not ready to brand them villains just yet however. I mean they DO have the right to administer the brands they have purchased, don't they? I hope they would like to work with Tim and others like him, by getting them "into the fold" or whatever passes for it for them. i.e. making it easy for guys just looking to contribute and not profit to make their wonderful tools and distribute them freely.

As a writer I have dealt with similar situations with several owners of MAJOR ip's and at LEAST one (now defunct) game company on this same issue. In my case it was of course for writing, but the process was simple. They had you request their accepted use package (or whatever they called it, all had different names it seems) and it contained what you needed to say and what it all needed to look like, anything NOT covered in the package could be discussed with their rep. directly, as far as I know no one ever said no to a reasonable offer OR charged money for non commercial interests on behalf of fans.

Like I said, let's hope there is something along those lines going on here, I suppose time will tell us all.


Edit for content.
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Rick Vinyard
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I am not a lawyer, but there shouldn't be any problem calling it "The Dice Roller" and saying something like:

===============================================================

The Dice Roller

Can be used with the Settlers of Catan* game



* "Settlers of Catan" is a trademark of Catan LLC

===============================================================

In fact, I wonder if there would be any issue calling it "The SoC Dice Roller".

If they need images, http://www.openclipart.org should be helpful.
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Sean Conroy
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Is he proffiting from this website and tool? No

Are they making it difficult for fans to make mods and tools for the game thay love to increace it's replayability/enjoyment? Yes
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Chris Ferejohn
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Pitying fools as hard as I can...
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The problem is if they let him keep using it they can lose their copyright (as I understand it - IANAL).
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Rick Vinyard
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TracerBullet wrote:
Is he proffiting from this website and tool? No


That doesn't matter. I'm pretty sure that profit is only a consideration for fair use, which is why saying it is for use with Settlers of Catan is probably ok (IANAL).

TracerBullet wrote:
Are they making it difficult for fans to make mods and tools for the game thay love to increace it's replayability/enjoyment? Yes


I don't think so. Just make it clear that this is not a licensed property or in any other way affiliated with Catan LLC.

If they don't protect their trademarks they could lose them (http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm), but again IANAL.

I think the real problem is that the page title comes up only as "Catan Dice Roller" and the only text on the page, other than the buttons, is the Settlers of Catan logo.
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Andy Ravenscroft
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I'm not sure I see anything unfortunate about it. Seems to me like a very nice letter from a copyright holder asking someone not to infringe their copyright. It could equally well have been a heavy-handed letter from a lawyer.

Incidentally, other than the disputed Catan logo on the website it looks like a simple 2D6 dice-rolling program to me. Why doesn't he offer it up as a 2D6 dice rolling program suitable for games that involve rolling 2D6?

I wonder what sort of letter he'd get from Hasbro if he put a Monopoly logo on the site and called it a Monopoly Dice Roller?
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Isaiah Tanenbaum
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I agree with what others have posted. They are within their rights to send a letter like this. They could have been much meaner and in any case, it's easy to fix. Just get rid of the header and the image. Provide a list of games that this sort of thing might work for, as a suggestion, and put up some boilerplate about how it's unofficial.

If they didn't send out letters like this, then Catan could become like Coke or Q-Tip -- abandoned trademarks that cease to provide a competitive advantage to the owners of the trademark.

Some more reading on the subject here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genericized_trademark

Note: I Am Not A Lawyer.
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Bert Nerdsen
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Harv wrote:
How about referring to the game as 'Settlers'?


Came to my mind as well. In Germany, everyone seems to refer to this game with "Siedler" (=settlers).
 
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Luke Morris
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If something is copyrighted and you use their stuff without permission you shouldn't be surprised to receive a very angry letter demanding that you remove said "stuff". So the fact that this guy send a VERY polite and generous letter asking nicely for such things to happen is a total bonus. Top bloke that Nick Johnson.

"Niche market" or not, nothing can be a free for all and it's not a case of "damaging" the fan base or whatever. Why should boardgames be exempt from the widespread copyright rulings?
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Chris Rutledge
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I think this probably one of the best ways a company could elect to handle this situation. They show that they understand and appreciate your enthusiasm, are *not* filing a cease-and-desist, and are open and cordial about their intentions, reasoning behind them and a proposed plan of action.

They even give you an option to pursue a legal way of using the logo (going through the licensing and legal process).

I applaud them for their letter. They care about maintaining their brand image, but are acutely aware of their fanbase and want to let them know that they are important.


For an example of how to enforce copyright the wrong way, see how SquareEnix went about ending "Crimson Echoes" (http://crimsonechoes.com/). SquareEnix had the legal right to end the project, but they did it in the most fanbase-alienating way possible.
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Kenny
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Well here is my opinion
I agree that the letter from the Catan PR guy was very polite and also that it is very likely that copyright law is on his side.

But Tim the programmer made his application for free and for love of the game. It might be a very useful application and it would certainly help promote the game. All due to Tim’s free time and effort. So I think he has a right to be a little put out in receiving a copyright warning, no matter how polite and legally accurate it was.

As an added twist to all this I see iPhone now has a little application called…..”Settlers of Catan Dice Roller - allows user to view roll statistics and deviation from dice rolling probability. Useful and fun to use when playing the board game, Settlers of Catan.”

Hmmm…that’s interesting.
 
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Daniel Corban
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cferejohn wrote:
The problem is if they let him keep using it they can lose their copyright (as I understand it - IANAL).


Copyright is not lost in this manner. Trademarks are.
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