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Subject: Launch of PC version's blog, new information rss

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a a
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Hello,

I'm creating an online version of Race that will eventually be available at http://www.r4tg.com/, but is currently being blogged at http://r4tg.wordpress.com/. The information will be migrated once development of the website (in php) is finished.

Please check back for updates. If you are an artist, we NEED YOUR HELP! All cards must be redrawn for public release.

If you want more information, check out the wordpress blog!

-james
 
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Mark Jackson
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Do you have the permission of the designer (Tom Lehmann) or the publisher (Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games)?

I'm a huge fan of the game & appreciate the incredible amount of work that it has/will take to make this happen - but color me "not impressed" if you're leeching off the work of others, regardless of the current status of copyright law & board games.
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Tom Lehmann
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James does not have my support for this effort. RGG and I are currently trying to license an online version of RFTG to an online gaming portal.

James, however, feels that his effort is completely within current "fair use" doctrine. I disagree, but understand that this is area of the law currently in flux and that reasonable people can and do disagree about what rights creators of intellectual property should and should not have.
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Steve E.
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He's not using copyrighted images or text and game mechanics can't be copyrighted. He's doing a shitload of work (and has quite a bit more to do it seems) to get the project off the ground.

Sounds just fine to me.

And if nothing else, if gives RGG more motivation to make their official version that much better. The free market at work!
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a a
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It is in my opinion, and those of friends in the know, that a "fair use" version is legal and has been similarly implemented in the past on websites like http://www.s3dconnector.net/. Until any lawyer advises me otherwise, R4tG online will be legal and fully within the bounds of US copyright law.
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Mark Jackson
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1copse wrote:
He's not using copyrighted images or text and game mechanics can't be copyrighted. He's doing a shitload of work (and has quite a bit more to do it seems) to get the project off the ground.


I acknowledged that there's a chunk of work going into creating this particular version - but being legal doesn't make it morally right.

Yes, this is me tilting at windmills... I'll pick up my toys & go home now.
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
James does not have my support for this effort. RGG and I are currently trying to license an online version of RFTG to an online gaming portal.

James, however, feels that his effort is completely within current "fair use" doctrine. I disagree, but understand that this is area of the law currently in flux and that reasonable people can and do disagree about what rights creators of intellectual property should and should not have.


Tom, great to hear that you are getting an online version done.

One request:
Please don't use flash or applets. A card game can be done with javascript, dhtml, and AJAX.

I'd like to be able to play this on my google phone and ipod touch. I'm sure iphone users would appreciate it too. This current gen of mobile phones can handle real web applications just fine. The use of plugins will just exclude users.

Thanks.
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Robert Price
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I know it's probably a bit silly to ask, but any idea when the official version would be available? And do you have a particular online gaming portal in mind at the moment?

To the OP - You've got a big job on your hands, but I appreciate that people, including myself, would love to see an online version of RftG. For my part I live in Japan, while most of my friends live in Australia. I love the game but only get to play it very infrequently, even at the local gaming groups. What are you thinking of doing with the project when an official version comes out?
 
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Jorge Arroyo
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While I don't want to get into the morals of doing this online version of the game without the consent of its author, I want to comment on the copyright law.

It's actually thanks to the fact that mechanics can't be protected by copyright, that we can enjoy so many games as we do. If game mechanics could be protected, practically 99% of the games released would be illegal, as they all use mechanics from older games. Very few games really add new mechanics, and as soon as some game innovates and is successful, you soon get a bunch of new games using that mechanic (role selection is a perfect example, but there are so many more...). Is that copying? Yes, although many times it's also refining, or using old stuff in new ways or combinations (there are many forms of creativity), but it's all possible thanks to game mechanics not being protected by copyright law...
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
James does not have my support for this effort. RGG and I are currently trying to license an online version of RFTG to an online gaming portal.

Please license an Xbox 360 version of the game. Everytime I play Lost Cities on my 360 I find myself wishing I had RtfG instead.
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Matt Lee
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I strongly suggest getting legal advice as to the legality of this version. Particularly since a legal version is being worked on for development, I believe that while copyright law allows fair use of many things, copyright does, however, also mean that if the owners of the original game think that it is too close to the original, that it can be forced to be taken down.

In particular, I think that using the same symbols and layout of the important elements of the cards and a website name that could be considered competition for the official game may be grounds for a legal challenge.

Tom has been civil in his response, and having the designer publicly state that this does not have his support is a problem that will follow this version of the game.

Saying "Until any lawyer advises me otherwise, R4tG online will be legal and fully within the bounds of US copyright law." does not make it legal, and qualifying it by saying "It is in my opinion, and those of friends in the know, that a “fair use” version is legal and has been similarly implemented in the past on websites like http://www.s3dconnector.net/." but not speaking with an actual copyright lawyer is very dangerous and can have an effect on your future work if you are publicly told to tkae it down by a court or lawyers.

Copyright law is quite thorny, from my discussions with a lawyer specializing in copyrights where I work, and if it is licensed for Xbox Live (and therefore legally supported by Microsoft for computers), you could be forced to shut down the website with a cease and desist order or be put into litigation that would cost you money for something that you aren't making money off of.

While I do think that you are covered to an extent, just be aware that you are on shaky ground already by using a name that is very similar to the copyrighted name and product, and the use of .Com suggests a for-profit motive that will definitely get you shut down if you go that route.
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Jorge Arroyo
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Styfen wrote:
Tom Lehmann wrote:
James does not have my support for this effort. RGG and I are currently trying to license an online version of RFTG to an online gaming portal.

Please license an Xbox 360 version of the game. Everytime I play Lost Cities on my 360 I find myself wishing I had RtfG instead.


Better yet, license a wii version so we can get some real online boardgames too. The interface is perfect for this kind of games!
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John Earles
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While I would love to see an online version of RftG as much as anyone, I would advise you to research the recent developments of Scrabulous/Lexulous on Facebook. After a legal battle, the brothers Agarwalla were forced to change their game fairly significantly - 8 letter racks, a different board layout, and a different tile distribution. Yes you are still drawing tiles and playing words on a board that can earn points and bonus, but the game now plays differently.

I doubt that just by changing the artwork and text will you be legally allowed to duplicate the core game/rules of RftG without permission of the designer and publisher.
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BT Carpenter
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1copse wrote:
He's not using copyrighted images or text and game mechanics can't be copyrighted.


It's thinking like that that will force card games to all have copyright notices on every single card.

The rules have (c)2007 listed for Tom and RGG.

The images for the cards didn't exist prior to the release of the game.

At best this is on thin ice, especially since Tom has put on this post his non-support of the project.
 
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Jeff Howard
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Quote:
I acknowledged that there's a chunk of work going into creating this particular version - but being legal doesn't make it morally right.


The editor in me (it is my profession) would prefer that you use the term ethically instead of morally. Perhaps "morally" is closer to the meaning you intended, but I don't think this thread is debating the morality of the online game.

Sorry to quibble, but eight years of someone else's "morality" has got me a little gunshy.

 
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Jonathan Franklin
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I am sorely tempted not to post, but just need to mention that copyright is not the only law that applies here. There is also trademark law (and possibly others).

Along with Scrabulous, this community has had a recent trademark dispute that suggests the legality of your domain name/game naming is highly suspect, given that the ownership of the mark is not in dispute.
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Mark Jackson
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vitaminj11 wrote:
Quote:
I acknowledged that there's a chunk of work going into creating this particular version - but being legal doesn't make it morally right.


The editor in me (it is my profession) would prefer that you use the term ethically instead of morally. Perhaps "morally" is closer to the meaning you intended, but I don't think this thread is debating the morality of the online game.

Sorry to quibble, but eight years of someone else's "morality" has got me a little gunshy.


As a writer, I'm glad there are editors out there - even when they monkey with my words! So...

I acknowledged that there's a chunk of work going into creating this particular version - but being legal doesn't it make it ethical.

I still think there are moral implications to taking someone else's work & repackaging it for your own profit. (I use the word "taking" because the creator of the work in question has expressed that he does not approve of this.) While this may not meet the legal definition of theft, it seems to me that a digital snatch-n-grab amounts to the same thing.
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Jacob Ossar
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vitaminj11 wrote:
Quote:
I acknowledged that there's a chunk of work going into creating this particular version - but being legal doesn't make it morally right.


The editor in me (it is my profession) would prefer that you use the term ethically instead of morally. Perhaps "morally" is closer to the meaning you intended, but I don't think this thread is debating the morality of the online game.

Sorry to quibble, but eight years of someone else's "morality" has got me a little gunshy.



The moral philosopher (or, if you prefer, "ethicist") in me (I have a Ph.D in the subject) has no objection to people using the terms "moral" and "ethical" interchangeably. This is not to say that one couldn't define a distinction between them for some argumentative purpose or another, but, at least among moral philosophers/ethicists, there's no single generally recognized distinction between the terms.

Very sorry to quibble, but quibbling is what philosophers do.
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Gabe Alvaro
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Technically, those who are talking about the legality of what jamesishere is doing, are off topic for this thread.
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Jeff Howard
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Quote:
The moral philosopher (or, if you prefer, "ethicist") in me (I have a Ph.D in the subject) has no objection to people using the terms "moral" and "ethical" interchangeably. This is not to say that one couldn't define a distinction between them for some argumentative purpose or another, but, at least among moral philosophers/ethicists, there's no single generally recognized distinction between the terms.

Very sorry to quibble, but quibbling is what philosophers do.



Morals and ethics are not interchangeable in my lexicon. You might say "murder is immoral." You would usually not say "murder is unethical." You could, but it invites the reader to think beyond the obvious to what you might be implying. Ethics involve the more immediate event while morals refers to something broader in scope. Both are technically correct, but one is clearly preferred in terms of clarity.

I see your point about philosophers not making this distinction, but isn't that more on an academic level than daily usage?
 
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Lance Moody
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This is hilarious. He IS using the copyrighted images of Race for the Galaxy on his web site. Also I suspect the actual titles of the cards are owned by the PERSON WHO CREATED THEM!

The "My friend said I could steal whatever I wanted" defense is one that I look forward to seeing tested in court.

Lance
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monteslu wrote:
Tom, great to hear that you are getting an online version done.

One request:
Please don't use flash or applets. A card game can be done with javascript, dhtml, and AJAX.

I'd like to be able to play this on my google phone and ipod touch. I'm sure iphone users would appreciate it too. This current gen of mobile phones can handle real web applications just fine. The use of plugins will just exclude users.

Thanks.
!! Dunno if this'll work on such a small screen. If you have the cards memorized, then it won't be too bad. I suppose a popup of each card would mitigate that.




maka wrote:
It's actually thanks to the fact that mechanics can't be protected by copyright, that we can enjoy so many games as we do. If game mechanics could be protected, practically 99% of the games released would be illegal, as they all use mechanics from older games. Very few games really add new mechanics, and as soon as some game innovates and is successful, you soon get a bunch of new games using that mechanic (role selection is a perfect example, but there are so many more...). Is that copying? Yes, although many times it's also refining, or using old stuff in new ways or combinations (there are many forms of creativity), but it's all possible thanks to game mechanics not being protected by copyright law...


Truly. That's why there are a gazillion Tetris, Pacman, whatever clones out there, freeware, shareware, or otherwise. Within music, artists often "use" or "borrow" elements from other songs as part of their own. A game like Monopoly had it's mechanism copied many times and even improved upon. Ditto for Puerto Rico. As for everything else, not sure how well that'll pan out in terms of legality.




klz_fc wrote:
and the use of .Com suggests a for-profit motive that will definitely get you shut down if you go that route.
While I have associated ".com" with commercial sites, I no longer think of them as profit sites. Surely, no one who's spent time on boardgamegeek.com got the impression that this was a profit site.
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jearles wrote:
While I would love to see an online version of RftG as much as anyone, I would advise you to research the recent developments of Scrabulous/Lexulous on Facebook. After a legal battle, the brothers Agarwalla were forced to change their game fairly significantly - 8 letter racks, a different board layout, and a different tile distribution. Yes you are still drawing tiles and playing words on a board that can earn points and bonus, but the game now plays differently.

I doubt that just by changing the artwork and text will you be legally allowed to duplicate the core game/rules of RftG without permission of the designer and publisher.


Scrabulous is a good example:
excerpts from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrabulous

"According to Anthony Falzone, head of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University, copyright laws do not allow someone to freely copy the particular expression of an idea."

After legal battles:

A Game name Scrabulous changed to Lexulous
B "On December 3, 2008, Lexulous announced the fact that users might notice "minor changes" in the game, which would be explained later. The score multipliers have changed in layout from Scrabble (including a 4x multiplier for the first time) and the point scores for the tiles no longer match those of Scrabble. In addition a player is given 8 tiles to play with instead of the traditional 7 tiles." [4x tile removed later]

So it seems you have to modify the game, thus making it not Race for the Galaxy but something different to avoid legal woes.
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Adam D.
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I wrote several different versions of my response to this thread, but I threw them all out so I wouldn't get kicked off BGG for conduct unbecoming I'm in the software biz, don't tell me it's ok to copy my business logic, brand name and look and feel and I'm supposed to agree because you worked so hard at it.
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Matt Lee
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Quote:
klz_fc wrote:
and the use of .Com suggests a for-profit motive that will definitely get you shut down if you go that route.
While I have associated ".com" with commercial sites, I no longer think of them as profit sites. Surely, no one spent time on boardgamegeek.com got the impression that this was a profit site.


No, however using a name that is quite close to the actual game's name gives me the impression that it has profit motives behind it. Note that the Settlers clone website name is generic enough that you would not mistake it for a commercially legal extension of the game. http://www.r4tg.com/ is close enough that a court could easily see it as pretending to be a legal version of the game.

I consider the fact that there are clones of other games already out there partly relevant to this particular case, however, we don't know for sure how Tom and Jay (and any potential partners) will react once a deal is made. A company like Microsoft is likely to be far more aggressive to stop a clone of a game they have a stake in than just Rio Grande, and with the apparent successes of Settlers and Carcassonne, I would not be surprised if they are looking deeper into our niche hobby.

I should note that while I applaud the enthusiasm and work going into this, it's heavily tempered by the designer's post and the fact that potential copyright and trademark violations are being blown off so lightly. I'd prefer to see what appear to be enthusiastic and intelligent people not be caught off guard by something that can affect their outlook of things if they are hit by an aggressive legal attack. That kind of thing can really turn ugly against obvious fans of the game.
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