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Knight of the Dinner Table

Overturn Rising Sands

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A big part of the problem is that game rules live at the intersection of copyright (literary and artistic expression) and patent (things that do practical-ish things).

 

I know that similar things apply in Europe to some extent because of the attempts by Lego to use trademark and copyright law to protect the designs of their bricks. In that attempt, they were informed that you can't use those areas of law to protect the functional design of the bricks, so anybody can make bricks that work with Lego. (And that are nearly indistinguishable other than Lego's logo.)

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1 hour ago, Doug Sundseth said:

It's entirely possible (I haven't read either of the rulebooks in question), that copying the rules is entirely legal. Game rules (other than creative elements that are not necessary for the play of the game) are limited in their copyrightability, at least in the US.

 

Here's the document from the US Copyright Office:

 

https://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.pdf

 

None of which is to say that I'll be giving them money, just that the outrage here might be misplaced.

 

How a game works isn't copyrightable in the US. The text of the rules is however copyrighted the moment it's written.  So you can have games with the same rules as long as those rules are expressed differently. Overturns issue is that they seem to have copied the text of the rules.

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1 hour ago, cmorse said:

 

How a game works isn't copyrightable in the US. The text of the rules is however copyrighted the moment it's written.  So you can have games with the same rules as long as those rules are expressed differently. Overturns issue is that they seem to have copied the text of the rules.

 

That's true to the extent that the actual text of the rules isn't necessary to get the game to play the way it needs to play, only to the extent that it "contains a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial expression". Purely rules elements may not contain that. It's not especially straightforward and obvious.

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It is still uncool to copy rules text and not be up front about it. This is a game they've supposedly spent a lot of time on - and I believe they have on the creative side. But their order of execution, combined with the way they've appropriated text from several places, does not give me confidence as an investor. Have they appropriated anything else? Will someone drain their resources in a copyright lawsuit? The best thing they could do IMHO is to cancel this KS and come back with prepared materials and a more finalized product (and someone who can be clear and consistent in communication...)

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In addition to the copying of the rules text from CMON's game, it has now been pointed out that Foxtales kickstarter profile is a direct copy of Mythics Games kickstarter profile.

 

For myself, if there was any doubt before, all this makes me believe this is not naivety on behalf of the project creators, but an attempt at willful deceit with no intention of fulfilment.

 

Theres also reports that CMON will be sending a DMCA takedown notice to kickstarter.

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Dropped my pledge here. Making rookie mistakes is one thing but to copy not just once but twice...I hope they get it taken down before any pledges go through from people that are not checking frequently on this project.

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Here's the latest Copy/Paste from the comments: 

 

Reposting for new visitors of this comments section...

Here are some of the key things that are very concerning about this campaign: 
- The 3 creators are not Canadians, yet they’re posting this as a Canadian-based project. They are all Pakistanis, but they are not posting this as a Pakistani campaign. They said it is because one of their first financial backers is located in Canada, who had paid for them to take trips to visit Canada. Nothing’s wrong with being Pakistani, but something’s wrong when you’re pretending to be someone you are not. 
- Plagiarism - refund policy copied from another KS campaign without even fixing it to show the correct currency. 
- Plagiarism - their posted rulebook has astounding similarities when compared to the Massive Darkness rulebook, with many paragraphs copied word for word. 
For your reference, here’s a side-by-side comparison one of the backers have posted: 
https://tinyurl.com/ybcr8j42 
- They haven’t posted an update addressing all the concerns that backers have raised since the rulebook was posted. Campaign updates trigger emails and other forms of notifications to all backers, which will be an effective way to inform all backers of the current situation and how they choose to handle it. Yet, no updates on that topic, just some responses on the comments page, which get hidden unless someone decides to go in and dig through it. The latest update mentions nothing about the plagiarism accusations. The creator only said in the comments section that: “Its unfortunate that the alpha version bears uncanny similarity with the said game's rule book but since it's not the final version there is no need for us to address this any further than we already are.” 
- CMON’s CEO, Chern Ann Ng, has filed a DMCA notice against them for this. Screenshot for your reference posted by @Impact! Miniatures: 
http://www.midgardbb.com/KenWhitman/Screenshot%202018-07-14%2017.14.24.png 
- Plagiarism - they copied Mythic Games’ KS profile biography word for word. 
This is Foxtales’ profile bio: 
https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/1412544049/about 
This is Mythic Games’ profile bio (starting at the 2nd paragraph): 
https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/1162110258/about

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If this doesn't get cancelled by Kickstarter it will be proof a lot of people back these games and then never look at the project page again.

 

Also this, which I just saw from someone in the comments section:

 

"Just adding to the plagiarism - I'm sorry, I meant UNCANNY SIMILARITIES -
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamepublisher/37906/foxtales-studios
"Foxtales Studios LTD is a toys and hobby games company based in Ontario, Canada. We publish board and card games, roleplaying games, miniatures games and digital games. We create innovative gameplay, immersive gaming experiences, and top-quality game components (often enhanced with highly detailed plastic miniatures and beautiful artwork)."
https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/about/
"Fantasy Flight Games is a leading hobby game company based out of Roseville, Minnesota. We publish a massive array of board and card games, roleplaying games, Living Card Games®, miniatures games and digital games. Established in 1995, FFG has earned a reputation for its innovative gameplay, immersive gaming experiences, industry-leading customer service, and top-quality game components (often enhanced with highly detailed plastic miniatures and beautiful artwork)."

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To be absolutely clear: The copying of the shipping, refund and boardgamegeek texts was pointed out right when the project started. They said they naively copied texts that had the "spirit" of what they wanted to say. Supporters shouted down every criticism in that vein. I think maybe we all should consider our behaviour against people who criticize a project dear to us --- maybe others DO have a point (sometimes).

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I didn't see anything about the boardgame geek things and shipping/refund policy but to me that's a different caliber than the rule book, which is actually part of the product. Don't get me wrong, it's absolutely not cool, especially for a company that talks about innovation (ha, the irony) but at least that not directly part of a product that's made to be sold and to be profited from. The fact that this was pointed out to them and they still went ahead with doing it for the rulebook though?! If I have to choose between stupid and brave...I'll just straight up go with stupid. A lot of people don't frequently check though it's usually after the funding period I think (I'm one of those culprits, I have actually forgotten about a few Kickstarters before). I hope that more people see this though and pull their pledge because I'm fairly sure CMON would go ahead with a lawsuit (and can afford to, as well).

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While this is looking more and more dubious I have to point out that running a project out of a different country was the norm for many companies before KS green lit local version of the site,

 

for example mantic ran (still runs?) a load of projects via KS USA when they were a UK company with no presence in the US other than a US address/bank account

 

since Pakistan doesn't have a local KS site they've got to run via another KS platform so if they've got a money man in Canada to provide an address/bank account it would be sensible to run from there

 

 

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 Kickstarter does not allow projects from Pakistan - maybe for a reason (reason being local laws that are a problem for Kickstarter or backers)?

And: the fact that they had an "office" in Canada but were from Pakistan came up early and was not THAT big a red flag. But with everything else, it is a small one, especially as they seemingly have been contradicting themselves as to whether they are in Canada at the moment or not, whether they are working full-time jobs at the moment (that's why they cannot be so present in the comment section) or not (if they are staying in Canada, they probably can't work at the moment - but the times when they are present seem to hint at them being in Pakistan ...).

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Update from Foxtales:

 

"Dear Backers:

During the last few days the campaign took a drastic turn after some of our backers pointed out that the rule-book we had shared was plagiarized from Massive Darkness. 

Some harsh words have been said about our integrity and authenticity of this project and we would like to share our side of the story and then leave the matter in your hand. 

Most backers may have realized that not being native speakers, we showed certain language related issues in the game as well as the campaign. Typos, grammatical and syntax errors were constantly pointed out which we admit were made by us. 

The game when it was conceived by Humayun had detailed rules but they were written in textual form in the language Humayun is comfortable with. They were detailed, step by step and at points rather complex. We admit that when we had prepared the campaign, a coherent rulebook should have been prepared alongside the content of the campaign and we paid the price for that. When the campaign initiated we tried to create the content asked by our backers along the way since everything was ready but when the majority clamored for the rule-book we realized our folly. 

We had to deliver the backers a rule-book so that they could believe that game is not just a pretty diorama but playable. Humayun resorted to the free-lancer who had drafted the content of the campaign to turn our textual rulebook into something coherent. We knew that we were sharing a very small part of the rule-book so released it as an alpha version to pacify our eager backers and boy did it back fired. When analogies were drawn, we were shocked as well and freaked out. 

We apologize to all our dear backers who had such high hopes and interests vested in our project. However our inability to handle this disaster complicated this issue further. We also apologize for anything harsh that we may have said to our backers who were only looking out for this close knit community and just wanted what was best for all the backers. We apologize that we released the alpha-version without quality testing it and leaving a lot of our dedicated backers in dark without coming up with a formal statement from our own side.  

Our actions have painted us in a negative light and we understand the consequences of the course we followed in the wake of this scandal but we assure and promise our backers that THIS IS NOT THE RULEBOOK THEY WILL BE GETTING WITH THE GAME. WE WILL NOT BE USING THIS BOOK AT ALL.  

We apologize once again for this huge blunder on our part and own it.  

Last but not the least, we would want to thank a lot of backers who showed faith in us and encouraged us not to give up. Their faith in us has served as a beacon for us during these dark days and we can’t thank them enough.  "

 

My thoughts:

 

Even if I believe that ... it means:
- you were nowhere near as ready as you should have been (and as you told us) when the Kickstarter launched
- you have no idea what Kickstarter is about - it is absolutely necessary to have at least a real alpha rulebook during the campaign. And you thought you would not need one?
- you tried to fool your backers by presenting a rule book to them that is nowhere what the real rule book will be. So what is the worth of the presented rule book but to make the backers feel comfortable but based on false assumptions?
- you dodged (again) a lot of questions
- when people found out, you were condescending and aggressive in the comment section, trying to lie to us (again) by not calling it a copy&paste, but "uncanny similarity" (i.e. unfortunate coincidence)
- you passed that worthless rule book on to a backer to edit it - you don't do that if it is not expected to be at least very close to the final version
- even if I take everything in the best possible light, I see three people who are incredibly clumsy and naive, who make mistakes somebody asking for trust (and money) and is planning to produce a miniature game should simply not make in the number you made them - and for that reason alone, I cannot trust you to deliver the advertised product.

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