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Subject: Kwanchai's Ogre rss

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Gene Dickens
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I just found out that Kwanchai's OGRE was nuked by Steve Jackson Games. I find this unconscionable, especially considering the history and play for sympathy concerning government interference with Steve Jackson Games.

Here was a neat little game with an iteresting theme that was actually drawing interest back to OGRE, and Steve Jackson Games NUKED it? What were they thinking?

This does not sit well with me.

Steve Jackson Games has done no better to Kwanchai's OGRE than what the Secret Service did to them.

Don't worry, all of my Steve Jackson games will receive a proper Viking funeral.

Gene "Kadesh" Dickens
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Rob Rob
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If SJG had half a brain they'd have bought the rights to Kwanchai's re-theme and printed it themselves. angry
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Marshall Miller
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I gotta say, I kinda agree. This is a game that is good enough to reprint and with so many Eurogamers seemingly willing to experiment with wargames right now that it really makes sense to rerelease OGRE. The preceding comment regarding purchasing the rights to the art... amen. They could have turned a PR defeat into a PR victory, drummed up support with a cheap version, bought themselves some time, and then released their "planned" rerelease while people were still excited.
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GeneGeek7 wrote:
Steve Jackson Games has done no better to Kwanchai's OGRE than what the Secret Service did to them.

Steve Jackson sent armed men to Kwanchai's house and took his computers? Man, I knew Texas could be a little rough and tumble, but that seems a little over the top!
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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GeneGeek7 wrote:
Here was a neat little game with an iteresting theme that was actually drawing interest back to OGRE, and Steve Jackson Games NUKED it? What were they thinking?

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/3718959#3718959
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Christian Link
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Darn, I was looking foward to other Kwanchai re-themes cry
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Kwanchai Moriya
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I understand that a company needs to protect its copyright. And, as an illustrator, I definitely understand wanting to protect your intellectual property. Yes, I violated copyrights across the board by posting the rules along with my redesign. Yes, I was wrong. But the only reason I made the redesign is because I wanted to revive a game which I understood to be out-of-print (or perpetually "soon-to-be-printed"). I meant to revive it; not pirate, or steal, or weaken, etc.

Of course I don't understand the vast legalities in play, but it does feel a bit like being stomped on. And I think for those handful of people who played Ogre for the first time with my redesign, that feeling is echoed.

I was thinking, BGG, in the big scheme of things, is a relatively niche internet community. The Ogre fan community is another smaller niche within that. And then PNP'ers are an even smaller niche within that. Then add the fact that most PNP'ers have more PNP games existing as PDF's on their desktop than as actual physical games (i.e. myself). And you have a very small, very specific community which has actually played the Ogre redesign. And when a community is that specific, it usually means that it is 100% fans. Only a real fan is going to spend a bucketful of cash, a few bloody cuts, and a really sore hand for a PNP game. It feels frustrating because we are all fans here.

"...our actions were guided primarily by trademark law," says Steve Jackson Games. Okay, I understand. But then questions still linger. Why don't other, bigger board games publishers (who often post their rules to BGG) request removal of redesigns of their games? Has SJG really lost sales because of the redesign? Has SJG's Ogre trademark really been "weakened"? Could things have been resolved differently?

I won't be reposting a stripped down version of the redesign to BGG, since a new edition seems to be on its way. And, by the way, I'm definitely buying a copy when it does come out, since I believe the game to be absolutely brilliant and SJG deserves money for their game. If you were able to download a copy of the redesign before it got removed, and you cooked one up and like it, please upload pictures of them! It's really rewarding to see proof that my little project has been recreated elsewhere in the world.
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Thanks Kwanchai for commenting. I also don't understand what they were thinking. Many other publishers certainly have no issues with fan made reworkings of their games. A good example is Dominion with a whole bunch of themed variants. Or Carcassonne for that matter. Those publishers aren't shaking in their boots with worry that their copyrights are going to get yanked out from under them. It's ludicrous to think some fan is going to own Dominion just because he made a zombie variant of the game. Or they lose sales since someone can make their own. Heck, it cost me many times more money to build my own Ogre then it would to just buy the game. Not to mention I own several copies of it already.

It just shows how behind the times they are and why they've not kept up with other publishers. But I also will buy a new edition if they decide to come out with it. Though they seem to push it back every year. They sadly haven't released a game I've wanted in a very long time, though I remember fondly all the stuff I used to buy from them in the 80's & 90's.
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Slev Sleddeddan
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What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
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OK, I've looked through what the SJG guys said and what the problems where. Most of the nay-sayers on the other thread want SJG to tell them how to circumvent their own legal policy. Not going to happen - that's not how businesses, the law and lawyers work.

This is what I've figured out:

The first problem was the prominent use of the word "Ogre" which is a breach of Trademark. If this was replaced by a new name, let's say "T.R.O.L.L." (as some kind of German acronym), it would remove this problem.

The second problem is the inclusion of the rules almost verbatim, which is a breach of copyright. They have to be re-written from scratch (i.e. reverse-engineered to do the same thing with different wording), or not included at all.

You will note that pretty much all the other remakes make little use of trademarked names or copyrighted versions of rules texts.

So, if the rules are stripped-out and the "Ogre" uses are removed/replaced, SJG should have no problem with it, but they'd be unable to tell you that.
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Rob Rob
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The second problem is the inclusion of the rules almost verbatim, which is a breach of copyright. They have to be re-written from scratch (i.e. reverse-engineered to do the same thing with different wording), or not included at all.



Big no no.
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Tim Stellmach
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GeneGeek7 wrote:
Steve Jackson Games has done no better to Kwanchai's OGRE than what the Secret Service did to them.

This is just plain crazy talk.
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Paul Chapman
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kwanchai wrote:
"...our actions were guided primarily by trademark law," says Steve Jackson Games. Okay, I understand. But then questions still linger. Why don't other, bigger board games publishers (who often post their rules to BGG) request removal of redesigns of their games?


You'd have to ask those other publishers about their own decisions. We can only operate based on the guidance our lawyers have given us; they obviously have different lawyers, and have received different guidance.

kwanchai wrote:
Has SJG really lost sales because of the redesign? Has SJG's Ogre trademark really been "weakened"? Could things have been resolved differently?


Allowing unauthorized use of our trademarks does indeed weaken future defenses of that trademark.

As I've stated before, we acted according to the legal advice we have been given. If that doesn't sit well with you -- and I'm fully aware of a great number of people, both in and out of the games industry, who disagree strongly with the current IP laws -- there are a number of political organizations which are working to change the laws.
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Paul Chapman
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Rob Rob
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Paul,

I totally understand and support your company's policy as well as copyright law. Out of curiosity, if Kwanchai had posted his art;

1) Without the copyrighted rules.

2) Using generic terms other than Ogre and/or other SJG's copyrighted text.

In other words, would a "generic" rendition have been possibly acceptable (e.g. non-threatening to the copyright)?

Also, has SJG given any thought to purchasing Kwanchai's art for a future "alternative" re-release of SJG flagship game?

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Seth Owen
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PaulChapman wrote:
kwanchai wrote:
"...our actions were guided primarily by trademark law," says Steve Jackson Games. Okay, I understand. But then questions still linger. Why don't other, bigger board games publishers (who often post their rules to BGG) request removal of redesigns of their games?


You'd have to ask those other publishers about their own decisions. We can only operate based on the guidance our lawyers have given us; they obviously have different lawyers, and have received different guidance.

kwanchai wrote:
Has SJG really lost sales because of the redesign? Has SJG's Ogre trademark really been "weakened"? Could things have been resolved differently?


Allowing unauthorized use of our trademarks does indeed weaken future defenses of that trademark.

As I've stated before, we acted according to the legal advice we have been given. If that doesn't sit well with you -- and I'm fully aware of a great number of people, both in and out of the games industry, who disagree strongly with the current IP laws -- there are a number of political organizations which are working to change the laws.
--
Paul Chapman
Marketing Director
Steve Jackson Games
paul@sjgames.com
(512) 447-7866 x206


As a disinterested bystander, let me also make one point that the SJG folks may not feel free to make. Violating the OGRE trademark and copyright is not just violating any old TM/(C) that the company owns, but taking something that is very personal.

In case people don't know, Ogre was Steve Jackson's first big hit. I think it may have even been his first published design, but it was definitely the game that "made" him a force in game design. I think it's safe to say that there would have been no Steve Jackson Games without Ogre (and no GURPS, Munchkin or Illuminati either).

Like many people I think Mr, Jackson is overdue for a new, in-print version of his baby, but it IS his baby and it's his decision ultimately. Personally I'd like to see a new euro-quality edition with plastic bits, etc., but that's just me.

Legally, SJG is completely within its rights here, and I think they are also justified from a creative standpoint. Every so often a game comes along that has a legion of fans, but for some reason or other a new version is not in the cards (Up Front, Dune), but that doesn't provide a right to violated author's rights.

I do think SJG will get around to a new edition someday. In the meantime it's not that hard to find copies on the secondary market.
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Rob Rob
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Quote:
I do think SJG will get around to a new edition someday. In the meantime it's not that hard to find copies on the secondary market.


Absolutely. In copyright law, it's not the individual violation that breaks an author's claim to his work, it's the totality of violations. The old story of what happens when you let your camel stick its nose into the tent, eventually you end up with the whole camel.

I still think SJG is missing out if they don't co-opt Kwanchai's remake. The theme and art are outstanding!
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Todd Pytel
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Robrob wrote:
Absolutely. In copyright law, it's not the individual violation that breaks an author's claim to his work, it's the totality of violations.

Um... you mean "trademark law"? I'm not a lawyer, but I'm fairly sure that laws regarding copyright enforcement have nothing to do with the history of such enforcement. Trademarks, on the other hand, are only valid if they have been defended.
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Rob Rob
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Whatever... you get the point.
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chris reichl

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The thing is the last reprint was 2000; and that was just that. a reprint. no new artwork whatsoever.
 
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Marshall Miller
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To be totally fair, OGRE is a really cool game. I really want to play it.
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Jeremiah
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ugh... yes, SJG was within their legal rights to do what they did. not really the point. everything isn't black/white and the "slippery slope" isn't all that slippery.

I don't like what SJG did the same way I don't like celebrities that insult people when asked for their autograph.

Here's my copy:


Thanks for introducing me to this game Kwanchai.
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Todd Pytel
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jBullfrog wrote:
the "slippery slope" isn't all that slippery.

Again, as far as trademark law concerned, it is. Legally, trademarks must be consistently defended to be valid. There's no wiggle room like there is for copyright. Had the board not included the word "Ogre" and not included the rules, there would be much less legal pressure on SJG to respond. Of course, they might have anyway. But in the current situation, they really didn't have much choice, legally speaking.
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Jeremiah
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tppytel wrote:
trademarks must be consistently defended to be valid.

this does not imply SJG has "no wiggle room".

they just need to wiggle consistently and in the same space.
 
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Seth Owen
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tppytel wrote:
jBullfrog wrote:
the "slippery slope" isn't all that slippery.

Again, as far as trademark law concerned, it is. Legally, trademarks must be consistently defended to be valid. There's no wiggle room like there is for copyright. Had the board not included the word "Ogre" and not included the rules, there would be much less legal pressure on SJG to respond. Of course, they might have anyway. But in the current situation, they really didn't have much choice, legally speaking.


You can legally rip off the idea behind Ogre so long as you write your own rules and are careful not to repeat the wording. Ideas can't be copyrighted. You can patent a game idea, but I don't believe SJG has done that with Ogre. The Trademark name Ogre, referring to a cybernetoc tank, however, you can't touch with a 10-foot pole -- unless the trademark owner neglects to defend it. Note that the title Ogre is not necessarily protected, so long as you use it for something else (maybe a game about hairy fantasy beasts called ogres).

So re-theme the game, write your own rules and there ya go. But don't call it Ogre.
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Kwanchai Moriya
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wargamer55 wrote:
You can legally rip off the idea behind Ogre so long as you write your own rules and are careful not to repeat the wording.

So re-theme the game, write your own rules and there ya go. But don't call it Ogre.


Just to clarify, this is not at all what I intended to do. I wanted to revive interest in the game, not rip-off, pirate, supplant, etc.

wargamer55 wrote:
Violating the OGRE trademark and copyright is not just violating any old TM/(C) that the company owns, but taking something that is very personal.


I did not intend to take anything. My redesign is a direct tribute to the original Ogre microgame. Not a clone or knockoff. Everything is identical, yes, even the rules. I wasn't trying to make my own game, or garner any money or personal fame as a designer.

I don't intend to turn this thread into another board game IP argument. I believe SJG to be completely justified in their actions, and even polite enough to engage personally in this forum. I just wanted to clarify some of my feelings on the issue, aside of the legalities.

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Gene Dickens
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I'm back!

No tirade this time. But, here is the law as posted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

http://USPTO.gov

Now you can read the LAW, find out what everyone is talking about, and come to you're own conclusions. The applicable laws can be found under the Patent header, sub heading; Patent Laws, Regulations, Policies and Procedures. There is also a header for Trademarks.

I've decided not to have a Viking funeral, for now. Steve Jackson Games makes good games, and I hate to burn up Afwul Green Things, et.al. What ticks me off the most though, is that such a creative and innovative company would stoop to such destructive, legalistic, and self-centered bullying no matter hwo personal it is. I have to agree with many of the posts above, why didn't you contact Mr. Kwanchai before you sicked the lawyers on him.

Steve Jackson Games, I belive that instead of standing up for yourselves, your rights, and your products, you have sullied and tarnished your reputations. Look at poor Mr. Kwanchai, you can tell he was really close to the blast.

Ah, what a cup of coffee can do for a tirade. Yeah, I promised I wouldn't do a tirade, oh well.

Oh yeah, Mr "Crazy Talk", explain yourself. Bullying is still Bullying no matter what form it comes in.

Gene Dickens
SFC, USA/USAR Ret
EN, AG, FI, Unit Administrator

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