"You stole from Rick, a small press publisher [of Grimtooth's Traps] and an old man, from a book still published today. Then you took credit for it. Who is exploited now?"
Followed up by a comment, now un-accessible because that person blocked me, that is paraphrased below said:
"You're just upset that you got caught plagiarizing!"
What unexpected vitrol!
|Rick Loomis of Flying|
Now, IANAL, and will be glad to be corrected on anything I have gotten incorrect, by someone who is a lawyer. A specific legal claim is made above, That I am infringing on the intellectual property of a work. Then non-legal accusations were made, first that I plagiarized Grimtooth's traps, second that I was somehow 'hiding' this fact or that it was secret.
First is the claim that I am somehow infringing on the intellectual property of a work.
If you take a look at the index page for the trick/traps, you will see the text "Each of the following articles is not just a description of a trap, but how to present that trap to preserve agency of the players."
That is, in fact, something writers are allowed to do. I can discuss the text and writings of another author and provide my own insight into the implementation of those ideas. What's more, ideas are not copy-writable. Only the specific implementation of those ideas. Facts and ideas are separate from copyright. Anyone can write a story about someone who discovers that the world is a computer program. (Or, say a pit with an invisible barrier hanging down over it, Or a megadungeon built by a crazy wizard). It is only when the specific similarities of a creative work are so great that an intellectual property claim can be brought against the person, and in those cases brought to trial, it is extremely subjective.
I should also note that these legal filings are about profit, hence the 'taking advantage of'. Anyone know what 100% of 0 profit is?
The second claim is that I committed plagiarism. This is when one attempts to take credit for the writing of another persons work. This is not a legal claim, but rather a moral one. There are two factors here. The first is that every word of text on my website is written myself. No text is knowingly lifted directly from another source, and in no form am I attempting to take credit for any writing that I did not myself write. This is important. If anyone can point out any instance of plagiarism on this blog, I will immediately remove it.
The second factor is that the entire series of tricks and traps is about taking traps from a variety of sources and discussing ways in which agency can be applied to those traps. You can see the first reference to Grimtooth being a source of a trap idea is On the Poison Pit surprise in April of 2011. Another mention of Grimtooth as a source is in March, 2012 On the Wrong Choice. I'm certain with a more detailed perusal, you'd find mention of Undermountain pits and another source or two I might be discussing (Such as Ragnar's man trapping series).
I wasn't being secretive because there wasn't anything to hide! In fact here is an example where someone compliments me on the creation of a trap, where I reply that I wasn't the creator of the trap. Based on this recent issue, I've moved that source to the body of the article. The whole point of the series is to discuss agency in regard to old traps. Some research (like signs, or elevators) used many different source documents and webpages, others take a specific type of trap, where the ideas and agency are discussed. Part of the issue is that most of the traps people are 'sure' came from a specific source, are located in around 40 of the 500 or so books and magazines I use as research (A truncated listing of these will follow later in the week). It was my general assumption that my erudite readers knew that the traps and trap ideas came from a wide variety of sources. As ideas are not copy-writable, I take credit only for my writing, and my mention of primary sources is indicative of that.
The erudite reader might ask, "Why don't you credit the source for everything on the blog forever!" Well, the answer is that, now, I try to. Originally the blog was for me. The agency involving trap series was a tool for me to use in dungeon creation. An online database reference. Since I already know most of the sources, and have referenced them in the past I just figured if anyone was curious, they could ask. It's not like it's ever been a secret.
There was also some question over the use of the art of Stephen S. Crompton. Now as Mr. Crompton himself has commented on the blog saying "Hey - Thanks for remembering me!" He is well aware of my use of his art. Every time it has been posted, I have credited him as the artist, as I try to do with all art used on my blog. There was a piece of art used in one of the trap articles, credited to him. It falls AFAICT under the criteria of fair use. It 'stimulates creativity for the enrichment of the general public' and does not attempt to 'supersede the objects' of the original for reasons of personal profit. For certain extremely popular pieces by Otis, Trampier, or other fantasy art greats, I sometimes leave off the attribution because it is so well known.
There is nothing illegal or immoral about any of these actions. But that's not what's up. This person was angry about how I was just a horrible person! He was going to reveal to the world things that I would gladly admit to. As a person, I like to address the needs and concerns of others. So I asked him, "What action could I take so that you might feel mollified that I wasn't taking advantage of anybody?"
His reply: "Email Rick Loomis with the blog posts in question and ask him how he feels about it."
So I did! And truthfully, I can't imagine why I waited so long to get in touch with someone who I admired so long. I wrote him, with a link to each of the various traps on my site, asking what he thought. This is also a good idea, because regardless of the fact that I am in good legal or moral standing, I respect the writers of Grimtooth's traps, and making them happy and doing the right thing is more important than any law. His reply back?
"Hi. It is always nice to hear from a fan. That's why we are in this business. . . If you would mention on your main page that you are discussing traps from Grimtooth's Traps, and that Grimtooth is a trademark of Flying Buffalo Inc, and include a link to our webpage, I would be happy."
This seems like a totally reasonable request, and will be implemented shortly! Also, It was a real pleasure to get to talk to him.
How's that for reader mail!
If you've got any questions, not just for me, but for anyone in your life, give them an e-mail. You never know how it might turn out.