NO-GO IPs for MU*



  • I was thinking about this, thanks to @faraday and her other thread, but I've heard mention of some RPG/IPs that are pretty much verboten (either by the creators or holders of the IPs) from becoming RPG games/MU*/etc.

    I know a few that come to mind, but can anybody think of others?

    • A Matrix M* was shut down after receiving a cease-and-desist from FOX
    • I know Mercedes Lackey has no desire to see any of the contents her books recreated in RPG/M*/etc form (she's a very nice person and I totally understand her reasoning)

    Any others?


  • Coder

    @Ghost Jennifer Roberson (of the Cheysuli books) expressly mentioned MU*s and had a very good rationale (now archived) as to why.

    There's a handy list of fanfic policies on Wikipedia.


  • Pitcrew

    Anne McCaffrey was infamously involved in setting rules for what Pern RPs could or could not do back in the day.



  • A lot of this stuff goes from being a non-issue in a free-to-play game to a major issue when you start charging money. I know this is one of Storium's issues with the content/gaming systems it supports, since the creator is trying to make a little cash off it.


  • Pitcrew

    Not that many people are familiar with it, but the production company based around The Tribe has refused to grant permission for M*s, it's been attempted by more than one person.



  • Anyone remember e-Feds? Online roleplaying sites where you roleplay dice-based professional wrestling matches and roleplay the drama surrounding the make-believe wrestling television programs?

    I just read that WWE has, at times, sent cease-and-desist letters to online e-feds where their copyrighted characters were being used.

    No Rey Mysterio for you.



  • @Ghost

    Matrix MUSH

    Oh, is that what happened to it? I thought it just failed because the Matrix movies went WAAAAAAAY left field.

    Game of Thrones is technically supposed to be verboten.

    Disney properties (primarily in the days of Lion King MUCKs, though that was likely less the property and more... the content...)


  • Coder

    Last I knew, Steve Jackson Games was Mu*-unfriendly. I would consider anything from this company to be filled with land-mines for the online gamer.


  • Coder

    @Thenomain said in NO-GO IPs for MU*:

    Last I knew, Steve Jackson Games was Mu*-unfriendly. I would consider anything from this company to be filled with land-mines for the online gamer.

    Interestingly, http://www.sjgames.com/innomine/ lists MUSHes on their 'Resources and Pay Aids'.

    Looks like it's ONLY for In Nomine: http://www.sjgames.com/general/online_policy.html

    Create my own MUD, MUSH or computer game based on a SJ Games property?
    In general, no. These conflict with our licensing program. If you are a professional game developer and want to talk about licenses, write to the Director of Licensing.
    The exception to this rule has to do with the In Nomine background. You can get permission to run a M*, IRC channel, or other Online Roleplaying Community (ORC) for In Nomine. The details are right here.


  • Pitcrew

    @bladesurfer
    My guess on why that is different is that In Nomine was based on a French game, In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas, so while SJG did their version of it they also did not create the IP.



  • Black Jewels series (and I imagine her other works) by Anne Bishop. She even has a blurb on her website about muds/mushes not being something she wants popping up for her books.

    digs it up

    Q. Is it all right to create role-playing games or MUSHES/MUDS or LARPS based on your work?
    A. No. For legal and copyright reasons, I do not grant permission for the worlds and/or characters that I created to be used in role-playing games, MUSHES/MUDS, or LARPS.


  • Coder

    I think one of the biggest reasons that they say 'no' is because they have to 'defend their copyright' or else it can be lost. So if you ask, they have to say no.

    I think another part of this question is 'Which IPs have come after MU*'s to Cease and Desist?'



  • @bladesurfer said in NO-GO IPs for MU*:

    I think one of the biggest reasons that they say 'no' is because they have to 'defend their copyright' or else it can be lost. So if you ask, they have to say no.

    I think another part of this question is 'Which IPs have come after MU*'s to Cease and Desist?'

    While this is an entirely valid point -- and a lot of authors have been known to say 'just don't tell me because if I find out I will have to do something' overtly -- it is a lot of work to build a game properly.

    And that's a whole lot of time and happy creative energy and real work that might get shot to crap by someone who doesn't even want to have to stomp your butterfly into the dirt, but legally has to, which is a situation that sucks all around for everybody involved.


  • Coder

    @bladesurfer said in NO-GO IPs for MU*:

    I think one of the biggest reasons that they say 'no' is because they have to 'defend their copyright' or else it can be lost. So if you ask, they have to say no.

    I think another part of this question is 'Which IPs have come after MU*'s to Cease and Desist?'

    Except.. this isn't how copyright works. You can't lose copyright. You are under no obligation to defend copyright. If you don't defend copyright you in no way shape or form lose it.

    That's trademarks, an entirely different type of intellectual property.


  • Coder

    @ixokai
    Ah gotcha. Not having either, I admit mixing them up isn't hard for me ;)



  • Seconding @ixokai on this one; it's the text of the work that's copyright protected, which is why we can't, say, copy the text of a game system onto the game or its website legally without licensing. Copyright applies in terms of creating a derivative, essentially, as the game itself that isn't just cut and paste from the existing text.

    For fictional worlds and characters, a lot of them are protected under trademark, which can be lost if it isn't defended. It's actually a requirement of holding a trademark: if you don't legally defend it the moment you're aware of it, you can lose it and the protections it provides.


  • Coder

    @ixokai said in NO-GO IPs for MU*:

    @bladesurfer said in NO-GO IPs for MU*:

    I think one of the biggest reasons that they say 'no' is because they have to 'defend their copyright' or else it can be lost. So if you ask, they have to say no.
    Except.. this isn't how copyright works. You can't lose copyright. You are under no obligation to defend copyright. If you don't defend copyright you in no way shape or form lose it.

    Except except.... many copyrighted RPGs/TV shows/universes/etc. are also trademarked. If you want to make a Shadowrun game, for instance, you're butting up against not only the copyrighted material in the rulebooks, but also Shadowrun itself, which is a registered trademark of... someone. I lost track. Now Shadowrun happens to encourage fan contributions but the example stands in principle.

    So yeah, people get the rules confused a lot, but there's also significant overlap in the situations where they need to be enforced. It's messy. I don't blame authors for not wanting to deal with the legal minefield.



  • Trademark is a red herring.

    The reason none of these authors want to give permission is to protect licensing deals. If they want to license their IP for a TV show or an MMO or something, it is more lucrative to sell exclusive rights. If they gave permission to a MUSH, the rights wouldn't be exclusive.

    Also, fictional characters are generally protected by copyright, not trademark. (Though some used extensively for corporate branding, like Mickey Mouse, are protected both ways). Reusing a distinctive character is automatically a derivative work, even if you don't copy any text or images verbatim.


  • Coder

    @faraday said in NO-GO IPs for MU*:

    Except except.... many copyrighted RPGs/TV shows/universes/etc. are also trademarked. If you want to make a Shadowrun game, for instance, you're butting up against not only the copyrighted material in the rulebooks, but also Shadowrun itself, which is a registered trademark of... someone. I lost track. Now Shadowrun happens to encourage fan contributions but the example stands in principle.

    Yes, but those are different things and there isn't really overlap. A copyright protects a specific expression: its automatic, lasts damn near forever these days, and you have absolute authority to determine who can do what with it except in the case of fair use (which a court determines on a case by case basis), including who can create derivative works of it.

    A trademark protects, essentially, a title, name or symbol (a 'mark'). Specifically, it allows you exclusive use of a title in a certain context for the purpose of consumers not being confused. Shadowrun may be trademarked but unless you use Shadowrun in such a way that you're presenting your thing as Shadowrun confusingly, you're not violating someone's trademark.

    You can say 'This game is based on Shadowrun' and voila: there's no way anyone can be confused and think this game is Shadowrun. The trademark is protected.

    A MUSH would almost certainly be a derivative work, so the authors are entirely legally allowed to disallow their use. But they have no obligation or need to based on any danger of losing any IP rights. Arguably, if someone names a game 'Shadowrun Toronto' it might be in violation of a Shadowrun trademark, so just name the game 'Toronto Sprawl' and put a subnote, 'a game based on Shadowrun'.

    Further, people overstate this 'you must enforce the trademark' thing a lot. You are not required to defend every use of a trademark. You're required to maintain control: but control doesn't mean that everytime you see someone use the name of your work you have to send them a C&D letter. It just means you need to enforce when people use it in a way that you do not allow for. You're entirely permitted to allow people to use Trademarks according to certain rules you establish. Just be careful they aren't too lax or your word will turn generic.



  • White Wolf when it was White Wolf loved to go after people for sharing their IP online. But they seemed to leave games online alone, even if they were sharing the material at the same time. Does anyone understand the difference in their reasoning?

    ETA: I hit enter too soon.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to MU Soapbox was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.