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a multiplayer game of parenting and civilization building

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#176 2019-03-07 19:09:02

jord1990
Moderator
Registered: 2018-03-03
Posts: 185

Re: Open Letter to the Mobile Developers

futurebird wrote:

You should let the people who created Don't Starve know about this. I hate these kinds of half-assed games. Some of the time you buy one by mistake when someone tells you about a great game and you don't remember the exact name. Then it's something hacked together and hardly playable.

That happened to me with a puzzle game a few years back and now I do more research.

The Don't starve Devs are aware.

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#177 2019-03-09 02:34:47

Shallotte
Member
Registered: 2018-03-24
Posts: 30

Re: Open Letter to the Mobile Developers

I don't know what can be done now. But If I were you, I would try to put the games title under trademark and make it so that newer assets and updates/features are covered under copyright law(separate the builds on different severs if you have to), but the ones currently out are not. And make a spot on your website that clarifies what is and is not public domain.


But im not even sure you can do that anymore. Everyone is right. Without copyright and trademarking; anyone can just take your game and sell it for much less than you. Meaning, you are making more and more updates- but getting less and less customers because a cheaper version is available elsewhere that is simply porting the updates you make. That is the oldest trick in the theft book.

And you've done that to yourself- because you are greatly underestimating what people and companies alike will take from you, without those people even being remotely sorry about it. If their version of game gets more popular...  even if their version costs less, they'll eventually make more money than you'll ever make; and you'll have done all the work. That is the reason copyright exists. So people are right when they say you are getting upset with something you've very clearly made a choice to do to yourself. Don't complain about it, and don't beg these other people and companies to stop- because technically they ARE lawfully doing it within their rights you gave them.

So DO something about it. Separate the opensource from the newer build; and then copyright the new version of it with the newer assets you've released. This will prevent people/companies from getting the modern/futuristic assets you have planned to release, as well as the more stable builds of the game lawfully. This will leave the people who are selling and marketing the opensource builds with a inferior version permanently unless they know the programming to alter it. Other than that, I don't know what else you can do.

Because as that article says about your games case(https://legalinspiration.com/?p=682#more-682):

-----------------------

"Everybody hates cops until it’s their house being burgled, sort of thing. His post above details his issues and complaints, and contemplates various things he might to do deal with them. The thing is, we have systems for this. He just doesn’t want to participate in them. Again, his right. But he can’t have it both ways. “I don’t believe in trademarks, but you’re confusing people as to the source of these goods.” “I don’t believe in copyrights, but you’re changing my game to the point where it’s bringing my creation into artistic disrepute.”

"So, from my general understanding of what’s happening, here’s my non-legal opinion as to what he can do about this:

Nothing.

From a legal perspective, of course. From a moral/ethical/public opinion perspective, he can do exactly what he is doing – try to make people aware of the situation and try to pressure the mobile developer into helping to reduce the harm. Perfectly viable approach in many respects. But we have a system for dealing with just this problem: namely, consumer confusion as to the origin of a good or service. It’s called trademark law. He doesn’t want to use it. Mr. Rohrer is a gifted artist and a very smart man, but he’s not smarter than the cumulative efforts of hundreds of years of brilliant legal and commercial minds which created our current system. If he tries to create some sort of new approach, what he will do is recreate trademark law, because this is how we got trademark law in the first place."

"When I do consultations with potential new clients, one of the things I am fond of saying is that you cannot protect ideas. No legal system of which I am aware allows you to do that and philosophically, I’m not sure it can be done. What you can do is protect specific embodiments of ideas. You can patent inventions. You can copyright artistic creations. You can use specific distinctive names and other identifications as marks to identify your particular embodiments in trade (i.e., trademarks.) But once an idea is out, it’s out. It’s like the wind. No one can catch the wind for themselves: the wind blows, or doesn’t blow, for everyone. Once something is in the wind, it will flow to everyone in time.

By releasing his work into the public domain, Mr. Rohrer has put it into the wind. He has every right to complain, morally speaking, if people are acting in ways he finds objectionable and/or cause him to have to deal with problems he did not create. But he doesn’t believe in the systems we’ve evolved to help address exactly these questions.

I reviewed the discussion on his forum about the situation (well, one of them) and the more I read, the more that I got exactly that impression: he has a problem, the problem is a solved problem, but he doesn’t like the known solution. He’s even discovered the law of moral rights, but in the US at least, moral rights are inextricably associated with the concept of unfair competition (the case he cites, Gilliam v. American Broadcasting Companies, basically imported European-style moral rights into American law by saying you can’t alter a product, including an artistic work, and then pass it off as the original to the public.) In other words, it’s back to the ultimate underlying principle of trademark law: no confusing the public as to the source of goods or services, including making people think that a good or service was created by someone else when it’s no longer the good or service they created."

Last edited by Shallotte (2019-03-09 03:25:41)


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#178 2019-03-09 10:44:15

Lily
Member
Registered: 2018-03-29
Posts: 416

Re: Open Letter to the Mobile Developers

Probably best to contact a lawyer about this sort of stuff but I have a question. Is One Hour One Life actually public domain? Just because it is open sourced and you let anyone use the code, doesn't mean that it is public domain. Have you ever actually stated that it was specifically public domain? If the game is open sourced but it isn't public domain, then you would likely still have rights. For example, I think the name One Hour One Life would still be protected.

I saw on the website that it does say it is opened source but I see nothing saying it is public domain. Legally you probably have to make some attempt to actually classify it as public domain and if you do not, it is likely still protected even if you may have casually mentioned it in a conversation or something.

Depending on the specific, you probably do have some rights. I am fairly certain your intention was just to make the code free for everyone to use and not to abandon the game and throw everything into the wind. After all you are still working on the game, still selling it and still using the name. Also things like names are different from code. So even if you released the game as open sourced and public domain, that doesn't mean the name One Hour One Life is necessarily public domain as well. Obviously, outside the game you still run this website as well don't you?

There is the argument to be made that someone selling the game under the same name would be going against your copyright on the website, even if the game didn't matter at all.

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#179 2019-03-09 14:29:05

Starknight_One
Member
Registered: 2018-10-15
Posts: 345

Re: Open Letter to the Mobile Developers

Lily wrote:

Probably best to contact a lawyer about this sort of stuff but I have a question. Is One Hour One Life actually public domain? Just because it is open sourced and you let anyone use the code, doesn't mean that it is public domain. Have you ever actually stated that it was specifically public domain? If the game is open sourced but it isn't public domain, then you would likely still have rights. For example, I think the name One Hour One Life would still be protected.

I saw on the website that it does say it is opened source but I see nothing saying it is public domain. Legally you probably have to make some attempt to actually classify it as public domain and if you do not, it is likely still protected even if you may have casually mentioned it in a conversation or something.

Depending on the specific, you probably do have some rights. I am fairly certain your intention was just to make the code free for everyone to use and not to abandon the game and throw everything into the wind. After all you are still working on the game, still selling it and still using the name. Also things like names are different from code. So even if you released the game as open sourced and public domain, that doesn't mean the name One Hour One Life is necessarily public domain as well. Obviously, outside the game you still run this website as well don't you?

There is the argument to be made that someone selling the game under the same name would be going against your copyright on the website, even if the game didn't matter at all.

Check your game folder. There is a file called 'no_copyright.txt'. The text of the file is as follows:

no_copyright.txt wrote:

This work is not copyrighted.  I place it into the public domain.

Do whatever you want with it, absolutely no restrictions, and no permission
necessary.


Jason Rohrer
Davis, California
March 2018

Perhaps the first paragraph should have read, "This work is not copyrighted, but I reserve the moral rights associated with authorship. In other words, do not claim authorship over the portions of the work that I have created, only the portions that you create for your game. Beyond that, the work is placed in the public domain."

Jason put the game in the public domain with this statement. Most people took it to mean that they could do anything with it, including claiming authorship, since that's what the license says. (I'm not saying that DD did this, by the way. Everything I've seen has them being aboveboard and honest about what's happening and what they are doing to correct it. I think this is just a case of things getting out of hand due to miscommunications.) Now, Jason's putting conditions on the (very liberal) terms of the license - which is his right as the creator of the work - which puts DD in a very precarious position.

If they don't comply, they (or their business partner) are guilty of fraud, whether by intent or omission. This obviously opens them up to legal action, even if Jason doesn't want to go that route.

If they do comply, what is the next thing that Jason will decide violates the spirit of his trademark and authorship of the game? It's a slippery slope. Maybe it will be the character models next - DD needs to redo *all* of the character artwork, not just the 'signature character' in the banner. Or the music. You can see how this would present a chilling effect on development of OHOL-derived games.

Yes, Jason has said that he will sign an affidavit that the changes made are sufficient, and that he renounces any further control of such a product. But then, he said that in the first place (reread the above text), and look where we are now. I happen to believe that Jason is in the right on this particular issue - but it's still something that makes you stop and think before beginning work on any large-scale mod project (like the stone-age tech mod I wanted to make). I still want to do it... but if I can't call it "One Hour Stone Age Life" I'm not sure I want to go forward.

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#180 2019-03-09 18:07:59

jasonrohrer
Administrator
Registered: 2017-02-13
Posts: 4,737

Re: Open Letter to the Mobile Developers

Well, they DID actually claim sole authorship over it in China for 40+ days before someone noticed.  After I pointed it out, they fixed it.

But, depending on which country's laws you're considering, they either violated my moral rights (Europe and China) OR committed libel against me (USA).

When the United States acceded to the Berne Convention, it stipulated that the Convention's "moral rights" provisions were addressed sufficiently by other statutes, such as laws covering slander and libel.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_rights

The "demands" that I'm making now are demands for "settlement" for that 40 day period of libel (or moral right violation).  Take some big steps here, folks.  You did wrong.  You need to make it right.

It may have not been intentional.  It may have been simply negligent.  But still, it was done.

I created a file called "no_copyright"

I didn't create a file called any of these:

"no_reputation"

"no_truth"

"no_original_authorship"

"libel_is_okay"

"no_moral_rights"

Furthermore, they asked for clarification along the way, and I gave it, explaining that claiming sole authorship would be fraud.  They they claimed sole authorship anyway for 40+ days in China, the largest market the game has ever been exposed to.

So not only did they go against common sense, libel law, etc.  They also went against the specific clarification that I gave them, early and often, while they were working on their version of the game.

In fact, my clarification was that they didn't have to give me credit---BUT that they couldn't take sole credit themselves.  From May 2018:

So, just be sure to make this clear.  Same game, but an unofficial port, by you guys, but based on my work.  You don't HAVE to say that it is based on my work, by the way (there is no attribution license in place here), but if you're claiming authorship yourselves, you'd better mention this so as not to commit fraud.

You can see that the wording I originally okayed for the splash screen did not give me credit, but made it clear that they were not the sole authors.  The reason I started demanding that they stick my name in there, suddenly, was to correct for the sole authorship claim made for 40 days in China.  You put YOUR name out there for 40 days as the sole author.  You'd better put my name out there now to correct that false impression.


As for your Stone-aged mod, that sounds awesome to me.  I can't imagine that you would be causing confusion with it in a gigantic market, and claiming sole authorship over my work by accident.  Don't do that, because it would be fraud.

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#181 2019-03-09 18:31:19

Lily
Member
Registered: 2018-03-29
Posts: 416

Re: Open Letter to the Mobile Developers

It gets really complicated when talking internationally, since countries have different laws. It is difficult enough when just dealing within one country, but you definitely need a lawyer if dealing with multiple countries.

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#182 2019-03-17 02:12:09

TribuneAlpha
Member
Registered: 2019-03-17
Posts: 1

Re: Open Letter to the Mobile Developers

My two cents is that The Mobile Version should at least put the notice in their app description, and a popup when you first join after the add said update adding the notice saying something like 'this game is not the original version, it is an unofficial version that contains separate content, by clicking you agree, you are confirming you understand this is not the original product(by Jason Rohrer), but a separate entity's implementation'

To add the words 'unofficial' to the title of a game is a really harsh counterbalance, especially because of the potential audience that was showcased in the demo's download count. It gives a stigma to the title that is detrimental to the publisher's reputation that it produces official, well-made works(even if this is not the case).

The lack of response on the Mobile Version's devs is not a good thing, they should be eager to fix a critical miscommunication, and while Jason may be pushing hard, he has stated after receiving an initial pre-noted quota, he would be willing to negotiate it things went sour on the monetary end. I don't see an issue, but that might just be me

for all that legal stuff, I'd wager Jason can argue against the translation company for the error if it was purely translation, but i'd imagine it's fairly hard to just miss something that says 'this is unoffical' in comparison and testing. but who knows where that fault lies rn.

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