FAQ on IP, TM, and CW

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FAQ on IP TM and CW

This page exists to pool info on IP questions in support of a more robust page detailing the reasons Primus Database is resolute in watching for and removing potentially troublesome content. This page should be considered as a continual work in progress by the reader as it is meant to be supplemented as new issues occur.

What are IP, TM, and CW? Why are these an issue?

IP is Intellectual Property? Intellectual Property has become a catchall term for Trademark, Copyright, and Patent matters. All involve the formulation and refinement of an idea or concept for personal gain.

What is Trademark(ing)? A distinctive sign of a business of individual, meant to mark the object as having come from a specific source. By example, within the gaming industry, Hero Games holds the license of the Hero System. The Hero System is the set of rules and that allows the creation of any type of protagonists and antagonists and the rules that manage any conflict between the two. This would (roughly) include the mechanics of throwing three six sided dice and trait labels like Body, and Presence.

What is Copyright? The rights of an author or creator of an individual work, particularly the right to copy, distribute, and adapt the work. Within the agreements discussed above, the Champions and Dark Champions Universe, all of its history and characters, were purchased by Cryptic and liscensed back to Hero Games. From Defender to Doctor Destroyer; Millennium City to Vibora Bay; all of the gameworld creations in those lines.

For a more detailed discussion on the history of who owns what, when and where, you can visit http://www.herogames.com/aboutChampions.htm

Why is all of this an issue? All of the terms above are legal distinctions and concepts. While we may mess around and think, wouldn't it be cool if the Tremere Vampires (a White Wolf IP) came to Millennium City, we have an obligation to the owners of BOTH IP's. Hero games has it's own lore on Vampires, and a player should be looking to that lore as a guide to fit in. White Wolf has it's own investments to look after as well. If they were producing thier own MMO they have an obligation to protect thier IP. Assuming you love both products, it seems to me that the most sensible thing you could do for both, is to allow them to operate without a need to break out the lawyers. That is the real issue here. Causing anyone to set the lawyers loose means we all lose.

Why you being a dick White Wolf says we can use stuffs on the interwebs (White Wolf Dark Pack)

Short Answer

This has been examined at length. We do understand (and applaud) that White Wolf is doing a great deal more than most pen and paper gaming communities to foster creativity within tier IP. The problems arise when third parties get involved. For that reason we encourage anyone that wants to use IP that White Wolf holds on their own privately managed pages.

Letter from WW

Gladly, our guidelines for fan pages are part of the Dark Pack and can be found at http://www.white-wolf.com/darkpack/fs_faq.php We try to be as open as allowable within a framework that protects our IPs.

Sara Luebke Web Systems Programmer White Wolf | CCP North America

Pertinent to discussion from link

  • 15. What am I being granted in this Dark Pack?

By agreeing to these terms, CCP hf. grants you a limited, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, non-sublicensable license to use the CCP/White Wolf’s IP in (1) the presentation of World Wide Web Pages; (2) non-graphical online games such as: MUSHes, MUDs, MOOs, IRC and all similar Chat environments; (3) original chronicles; (4) live action performances of game scenarios; and (5) printed material supporting those projects (which may not be sold prior to, during or after any such project) subject to the restrictions in the Dark Pack.

  • 25. What if I can't comply to all of the terms of the Dark Pack agreement for my project or site?

If it is impossible for you to comply with any of the terms of this Agreement due to statute, judicial order, or governmental regulation then you may not use or continue to use CCP / White Wolf’s IP.

  • 27. How or when is this agreement terminated?

This Agreement will terminate automatically if you fail to comply with all terms herein and fail to cure such breach within 30 days of becoming aware of the breach. CCP hf. shall notify you concerning the breach. You agree that your failure to cure the breach or proactively terminate agreement and cease using CCP / White Wolf’s IP will damage CCP hf. in an amount that is difficult or even impossible to accurately estimate. Therefore, you agree to pay to CCP hf. the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000 USD) in liquidated damages. You agree that this amount is a reasonable pre-estimate of CCP hf.’s loss and is intended as liquidated damages and not as a penalty. CCP hf. reserves the right to pursue all other remedies, legal or equitable, in the event of an uncured breach and/or failure to proactively terminate the agreement and that this amount of liquidated damages shall not prevent CCP hf. from seeking all actual damages it may suffer or any other damages it may be entitled to under applicable law.

  • 28. Can I sub-license or grant the rights of this agreement to someone else?

You have no right to sublicense CCP / White Wolf’s IP or any derivative works to any third party.

  • 29. It says that you reserve the right to change these terms at any given time, why and how does that work?

If any provision of this Agreement is held to be unenforceable, such provision shall be reformed only to the extent necessary to make it enforceable.

CCP hf. reserves the right to change or remove sections and/or withdraw these usage rights at any time with 30 days notice. These policies are subject to change according to our discretion with 30 days notice.

What this means to us, you and white wolf and the legal interaction of the three

First, this grants you the 'right' to do web based text and art alone, that given, anything in the Champs MMO is invalid given item 2 of part 15. So when these toons are online YOU are violating thier IP rights agreement. Additionally, 25 states that if you cannot comply you must discontinue use.

Second, the document clearly bans subliscenceing, which YOU do when posting content here.

Third, Primus Database would have to enter into the agreement for us to host it. Which we will not do. Doing so could leave us open to a suit with an AUTOMATIC PENALTY. We have no legal staff, and there is no Primus Database legal body like a corporation to provide protection to its members. That said WE would have to enter into the same agreement and be held equally accountable ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS to the tune of $25,000 if we were found in violation. Not happening.

White Wolf clearly wants to be progressive, but the combination of the three of us (WW, PDB, and your creation) simply does not work. Additionally while White Wolf wants to be progressive, but they have a litigious history that we cannot ignore.

Admin's Note on Right to Use images

I'll be the first photoshopper in line to complain that there a a ton of images I wish I could use. But an individual’s rights of ownership are not to be ignored over convenience. With the current itteration of the IP rules being so open if thier are some limits you need to follow, then please do so. Additionally note that with the new IP rules, all images get 'graded' for thier handling of copyright. If you want the highest grade possible, you need to use images that have a right to reuse associated with them.

You can use any image that you own, or that can you can show location with full sharing and meet the highest criteria for grade. Using Google w/ the advanced setting for shares for reuse and modification (Yahoo as similar function) you can find many high quality pictures that can be used freely.

Why you in my grill over the homage homey?

Simply put, in order for an homage to be effective it has to be recognizable as the IP that it honoring. If it's recognizable within the audience as Hero X, then by definition it's a IP violation because thats the test to determine the infringement of a trademark. Further consideration on this topic is Cryptic's own stance on clones. If your toon is a clone and gets reported and judged in violation, you log into a randomized costume. If Cryptic will not tolerate the activity, and if PDB is being true to it's dedication to CO, then PDB cannot tolerate it either.

So how do these decisions get made?

All the PDB Admin's that I speak with on the CORP forum share a general view that messing with the results of a person’s creative efforts with a touch of trepidation. So there is no official overall guide. IP descsions are more structued, and the how and criterion will be listed in the PDB IP Policy conversion.

Speaking for myself (user:Mangle Paw) I work from the following thoughts. In the case of something is simply to overt to allow, I may zap it, or ask that you do so on your own. In most cases I ask the user to police themselves, and then wait and step in only if they refuse or try and retain what they have created. In my thinking it is better to attempt to educate the community and hold off on confrontation.

Some users insist that they can dictate what gets presented here. In this case they are straying very close into banning territory. At this point I often suggest that the user host thier content on a page that they alone are responsible for. At this suggestion, the author is very close to simply being banned. The reason for this is simple. I am a volunteer. That game you are playing and talking about on these pages is a game that I'd like to play too. Getting entangled in a never ending discussion burns the time I have to play. The rules are simply that, rules. The sites owner doens't require that I be nearly as patient and forgiving as I am.

Why are we are so cautious?

With the new IP rules the sites owner, U4dandy, is going to allow the possibility of legal paperwork. But that possibility is limited within sensible guidelines, meant to keep the worst foreseeable problems from occurring.