Re: Gloranthan products

From: Jon S Green (jonsg@harlequin.co.uk)
Date: Tue 31 Mar 1998 - 13:35:02 EEST


(Sorry, this is going to be quite long. I hope it's worth it. I've
some constructive suggestions at the end.)

On Mon, 30 Mar 1998 22:31:46 GMT, Shannon Appel <appel@chaosium.com>
said, in 5.07:

> All I can really say regarding old RQ2 Glorantha products is this:
>
> * If you're photocopying them you're violating the author's

> intellectual property. By doing so you're also making it less likely

> that Chaosium/Issaries will ever be able to reprint the background
> material that appeared in those books.

In a strict legal sense, that's true, but that's not what Laurent was
saying: he wasn't advocating photocopying the old materials if there
were an alternative available, and most of his message was decrying the
fact that there wasn't.

I do have sympathy with Laurent. If you happen to be in the right place
at the right time (as you evidently were, Shannon), there's a chance you
can pick up some old materials cheaply. It helps if you're in the US.
Anywhere else, even in the UK, you're just hoping desperately that
something will turn up, unless you've bottomless pockets and can afford
to offer lottery-money figures. Which, of course, inflates the market
for the remaining punters.

> * Saying you can't understand Glorantha without those books is also
> false. Anything really important on a global level has appeared in
> _Gods of Glorantha_ or _Genertela_. The other supplements just
> provide details which you can happily vary in your own campaigns
> without changing the big picture.

Shannon, have you been _reading_ the Digest recently? In order to
participate in at least half of the discussion you need to know just
about _every_ piece of the published material by heart. Including the
RQ2 stuff. Now, having started RQ in '82-3, I've got about a third of

the published RQ2 stuff, and most of the RQ3, and I'm still left
standing by many of the participants in this list, bereft of a lot of
the reference material that's being cited on a daily basis.

New gamers, joining this highly knowledgable clique, are never going to
be able to play at parity if they cannot have sight of the same sources.
(I feel a lot of the RQ3 materials lacked the depth of vision of the RQ2
sources, and often also the depth of information. If that offends, I'm
sorry, but I tell it how I see it. Some material was superb -- the
Lunar Coders for one -- but a lot was bland and shallow. All IMHO, of
course.)

The problem is how to address this.

On the one hand, Issaries Inc. wants -- quite rightly -- to enforce its
intellectual property rights. On the other, fans are desperate for
access to original materials. Not as collectors, salting them away as
an investment, but as genuine enthusiasts, whose fascination with
Glorantha and all things Gloranthan drives them to devour every word
ever printed on the subject with a vigour Krarsht would be hard put to
match.

There are a limited number of copies in circulation. The market is
evidently much larger than the volume of material available, as the
current prices show.

I have one possible solution, for people to consider.

For -- and only for -- the original Chaosium-published material,
Issaries Inc. could set a copy fee per item (per book, booklet and
separate map). The copy fee represents the original purchase price,
less printing costs; adjusted for inflation, but a little extra added
for the additional printing costs (see later).

If you have access to an original source, you send Issaries Inc. the
copy fee for the materials you wish to copy, and a return envelope.
They send back a sticker per item, something inexpensive but difficult
to forge like a serial-numbered holographic foil sticker, which
represents permission to make one copy of the specific item. You then
copy that material and stick the sticker on the front cover as proof
that you've paid the original publishers the copy fee, and therefore
that the copy is legitimate.

In this way, the punter gets their copy in good conscience, everyone
who's entitled to a royalty fee gets their fee, Issaries Inc.'s
intellectual property rights are observed, and seen to be observed, and
no-one loses out. If you're seen using a copy without a sticker, you
will be seen as a thief -- but equally, there is a method of
legitimising existing copies.

The cost to Issaries of producing the stickers is minimal, and covered
by the copy fee. And the copy fee income would probably be rather handy
right now. We're not talking about a charitable act by Issaries here,
it's a commercial transaction with genuine profit.

One remaining argument against this would be that Issaries' new
publications' sales figures would be damaged. C'mon, that ain't so.
Anyone who's interested in Glorantha becomes a completist pretty
quickly. As soon as Issaries starts publishing G-t-G materials, they're
going to sell out, fast, and I doubt that legitimised copies of the old
materials will impact those sales by as much as one copy. Even if they
did, you've still got the income for the material, in advance, at full
rate. More likely you'll get the income for _both_.

Think about it. It's not as harebrained as it may seem.

> I can tell you briefly that Issaries doesn't plan to revisit old
> locales in the first few years of publication (instead you'll get to
> travel to Orlanthi countries, the Lunar Empire, the homes of the Elder
> Races, the hero plane, and the oceans), so if you take the time to
> search out those RQ2 products, it'll be worth it for a few years at
> least. (And I trust that most people will be very happy to see totally
> new locales detailed, rather than just revisiting Dorastor and Prax.)

Shannon, you just made my day! My season, come to it. When they're
published, just tell me where to queue!

Jon
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Opinions expressed may not be Harlequin's! <*> Junk email utterly reviled
"Nonthreatening and comfortable, this green does not pounce on you." (JB)

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