Copyright & tm part of FAQ

Date: Sun 05 Feb 1995 - 22:34:32 EET

A note on copyrights and trademarks:

The following notice appears in each issue of the Glorantha Digest:

RuneQuest is a trademark of Avalon Hill, and Glorantha is a trademark of Chaosium. With the exception of previously copyrighted material, unless specified otherwise all text in this digest is copyright by the author or authors, with rights granted to copy for personal use, to excerpt in reviews and replies, and to archive unchanged for electronic retrieval.

What this means:

"RuneQuest is a trademark of Avalon Hill, and Glorantha is a
trademark of Chaosium."

     These words ("RuneQuest" and "Glorantha") are proprietary names for the roleplaying game products involved. You can't use them on any product if there might be a chance of confusion between your product and official products, except with the permission of the trademark owner. You could sell RuneQuest brand coffee, or open a Glorantha restaurant, because there's no risk of confusion between those businesses and the RPG's.

     Amateur scenarios and newsletters (like the Glorantha Digest) enhance the value of the trademarks, rather than infringe on the trademark owners' income. For that reason, the trademark holders have not made a big issue out of amateur products.

     Technically, The Avalon Hill Game Company is a division of Monarch Avalon, Inc., and Chaosium should have an "Inc." after its name.

"With the exception of previously copyrighted material, ..."

     Be careful in how you quote published material. Short excerpts are allowed as "fair use," but overly long quotations infringe on the owners' copyrights. There is no clear cut-off point, so err on the side of caution and quote only what you need to make your points.

"unless specified otherwise all text in this digest is copyright
by the author or authors,"

     The copyright laws protect the expression of an idea if it is minimally creative, original, and fixed in some tangible form (such as on a hard disk or floppy).

     On the internet, you own your own words. (If you sell it to The Avalon Hill Game Company, a Division of Monarch Avalon, Inc., however, they own all the rights forever.) You can't use someone else's words without their permission. Any author is free to place restrictions on the use of his or her words, or to grant further rights than are granted customarily. The author can give away or sell his or her rights, and can also dedicate his or her work to the public domain.

     You can't avoid copyright infringement by paraphrasing. If you modify another author's work beyond recognition, however, there is no copyright infringement. But rather than do that, why not just write something original or get the owner's permission?

     Technically, to be valid in all countries, a copyright needs to be in the form "Copyright (c) 1995 by Rainier Wolfcastle. All rights reserved."

     Not that it matters in this forum, but copyright owners also own all derivative rights to their work. You can't legally make a movie or stage play from a copyrighted work without the owner's permission.

"with rights granted to copy for personal use,"

     Although this doesn't explicitly say so, I think it means that you may make both electronic and print copies for your personal use. What is personal use? For roleplaying game purposes, it includes use in your game. Distributing copies to your friends, however, is an infringement. When in doubt, ask the author for permission. Let him or her know what you want to do with the material. Most authors are very generous with their work.

     Also, the copy must give credit to the author and state that the author retains the copyright.

"to excerpt in reviews and replies,"

     Excerpts must show that the work is quoted, by use of > or other line-prefix characters or by use of quotation marks. Always identify the person quoted.

     As a matter of netiquette, don't insert or delete words from someone else's text. If you must do so for clarity or some other reason, clearly showing the insertion or deletion. For an insertion, use square brackets: []. For a deletion use an ellipsis: ... For deletions of a line or more, use * * * on a separate line. Quote enough material to show context.

"and to archive unchanged for electronic retrieval."

     This is similar to copying for personal use, but includes archives available to other persons. For example, you can archive material appearing here on the Berkeley ftp archive or on similar archives elsewhere. The copyright notice must accompany the archived material.

For more information, I recommend The Copyright Handbook, by Stephen Fishman, published by Nolo Press (2d ed. 1994).

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