Traveller PDFs on RPGNow & RPGDrivethru
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Post Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:20 pm 
 

I've raised the question before, about the sale of Gamelords' Traveller supplements though RPGNow.com, and whether anyone was aware of whether or not Tadashi owned the Gamelords' product line outright, and hense the possibility that these were illegal.

Subsequently we saw the release of GDW's Traveller supplements on RPGNow, scanned to the same quality, and also of dubious legitimacy.

Today we see the release of the entire FASA line of Traveller supplements, which is a stunning move by Microsoft into RPG PDFs, as they apparently own FASA and it's IP.

So, we have an internet pirate selling his entire PDF range of Traveller supplements through official websites. Presumably anyone can sell anything through RPGNow and RPGDrivethru so long as they say they have permission to do so? This certainly is a new development away from cheap CDs on eBay, because these things sell at anywhere between $2.50 and $8 a shot, and so long as the website gets it's cut, they don't care who gets the proffit.

Maybe this si the way to go for PDF sales?


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 5:41 am 
 

. wrote:So, we have an internet pirate selling his entire PDF range of Traveller supplements through official websites.

Sorry for my ignorance of Traveller and who owns the various documents, but phrases like, "hense the possibility" and "as they apparently own FASA" don't convince me of any sort of solid fact. Are you 100% sure this is indeed a pirate, or is it an apparent possibility?

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 6:14 am 
 

Okay, I concede that I am looking for facts from people who know. Gamelords' for example.

FASA was purchased by Microsoft and it's entire IP transfered. Microsoft then sold the license to Battletech to one of their employees who set up the company Whizkids and now publish Battletech. There may be a guy in a basement somewhere who owns the entire Traveller estate, who no-one knows about, and who is allowing all this to go on, but I doubt it.
What I am fairly sure about is that all the PDFs for Traveller that I have bought from RPGNow are manufactured by the same person. The imbedded metadata that I can see is the same. The resolution settings are the same. The complete lack of understanding about how to scan documents to PDF is the same. QED: The author is the same.
Now it could be the case that there's a guy out there like me who has scanned the entirity of his Traveller collection, and has convinced the copyright holders to allow him to publish them, or has given the PDFs to the authors, and they have published them. Or maybe all the original authors of the products came together at Gencon one year and set up a conglomerate and all decided to publish in PDF under the one name, and then went to Microsoft and licensed the FASA name, and went to GDW and licenced the name, and asked Tadashi for the rights to Gamelords name, or whoever owns it.
Yes, I agree, it's far more likely that the entire traveller authorship has come together in the past two months and decided to republish, and the whole Traveller licensee holders have granted permission for the use of their copyrights and trademarks.

But I don't believe in betting on the long shots. I can't go with the legit angle because of the numbers of companies involved and the numbers of legal teams and authors' rights that have to be addressed.

This is a person who is gonna publish and be dammed. He's playing the odds that no-one will notice and the copyright holders will never enforce their copyrights anyways. And I'm all for that. I believe this stuff should be out there in the public domain for collectors to collect. I just flagged it up and a new progression in the sale of PDFs, highlighted it in case anyone has a moral compunction against buying dubious PDFs (I don't), and I'm asking if anyone here knows anything that can shed light on this.

There are many game manufacturing employees, publishers, ex-employees, and some authors who lurk and post, and maybe someone knows something.


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 6:39 am 
 

I can't really respond to your questions, but I find I often wonder about what impact this trend of re-releasing RPGs as PDFs will have on Collecting. Will it diminish values for instance?

I suppose collecting RPGs is really a sub-branch of book collecting - does availability of cheap or free photocopies / PDFs impact the value of a rare book or not really?

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 7:58 am 
 

HermitFromPluto wrote:I can't really respond to your questions, but I find I often wonder about what impact this trend of re-releasing RPGs as PDFs will have on Collecting. Will it diminish values for instance?

All the evidence so far seems to be that PDF release has no decernable impact on value of the hardcopy. The first official PDF I had was the Dungeon Issue #1 PDF that was given away on CD by Paizo (Wonder why we don't see that CD crop up on eBay?), and it was a damn good quality PDF for it's time. But there was no corresponding drop in price of the Dungeon Issue #1 hardcopy. And there are at least 4 different versions of the ST1 Up The Garden Path PDF available on the internet, and WoTC released the OB 3 PDF and it's still there on their website. The value of ST1 and OB 3 has not depreciated at all. Looking to more recent publications, the readily available (and continually on sale) PDFs of Ptolus and Rappan Athuk Reloaded have done nothing to stop the continuing rise in the value of those two hardcopies, and the White Dwarf Archive does not seem to have dettered people from paying £100+ for a copy of White Dwarf Issue #1 alone.

Based on all the evidence I have at present, PDF release has no decernable impact on either the collectability or value of paper product.


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:38 am 
 

. wrote:All the evidence so far seems to be that PDF release has no decernable impact on value of the hardcopy. The first official PDF I had was the Dungeon Issue #1 PDF that was given away on CD by Paizo (Wonder why we don't see that CD crop up on eBay?), and it was a damn good quality PDF for it's time. But there was no corresponding drop in price of the Dungeon Issue #1 hardcopy. And there are at least 4 different versions of the ST1 Up The Garden Path PDF available on the internet, and WoTC released the OB 3 PDF and it's still there on their website. The value of ST1 and OB 3 has not depreciated at all. Looking to more recent publications, the readily available (and continually on sale) PDFs of Ptolus and Rappan Athuk Reloaded have done nothing to stop the continuing rise in the value of those two hardcopies, and the White Dwarf Archive does not seem to have dettered people from paying £100+ for a copy of White Dwarf Issue #1 alone.

Based on all the evidence I have at present, PDF release has no decernable impact on either the collectability or value of paper product.


I don't have the link handy but the owner of Goodman Games mentioned something like that recently on their message boards.  PDFs, while a quickly growing segment of the business, don't really stack up sales wise against the hard copy of a product.  The people who buy them usually do so for convenience sake (cut and paste anyone?) or for back up copies.  A small percentage of PDF buyers will never buy the hard copy but the fact that a PDF exists has little impact on buyers willing to purchase a hard copy (for whatever reason they want the hard copy, i.e. collector, bathroom reading, etc).

As far as pirate copies impacting hard copy sales, most of the file trading going on is by people who wouldn't be in the market for high end collectibles due to cost.  Some may want to buy a hard copy after seeing what it is (I wouldn't buy a copy of RAR without seeing what I'm buying for instance) but I doubt that serious buyers will be put off by the fact that you can download it for free (as that's not the point of collecting).


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:03 am 
 

. wrote:Yes, I agree, it's far more likely that the entire traveller authorship has come together in the past two months and decided to republish, and the whole Traveller licensee holders have granted permission for the use of their copyrights and trademarks.


If I had time to give a flying fart about stuff like this I would probably start with Marc Miller.  He has slowly been releasing CD-ROMs of all of the GDW Traveller books and recently announced he would be doing the same with the material published by FASA and Gamelords.  You can purchase the CD-ROMs here:  http://www.farfuture.net/cdroms.html

The email address to contact them is at the bottom of the page.


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:17 am 
 

. wrote:The first official PDF I had was the Dungeon Issue #1 PDF that was given away on CD by Paizo (Wonder why we don't see that CD crop up on eBay?), and it was a damn good quality PDF for it's time.


Paizo still has more than 100 of the promo CD-ROMs for sale for $1:

http://paizo.com/store/sale/bitsAndPiec ... 48btpy7qhy

This is the CD-ROM alone (no Dungeon #87). The CD-ROM has the pdf of Dungeon #1 plus two additional pdf adventures.

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:20 am 
 

SoulCatcher78 wrote:PDFs, while a quickly growing segment of the business, don't really stack up sales wise against the hard copy of a product.


For established businesses and lines like DCC I am sure that hardcopies way outnumber PDFs.  I think PDFs are great for small press items or even out-of-print items that are harder to find.  It lets the little guy create a product without taking the risk of printing up 200 copies and sitting on them when none of them sell.  Also, it saves the little guy from trying to get his item into the distribution chain.

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:25 am 
 

zhowar wrote:Paizo still has more than 100 of the promo CD-ROMs for sale for $1:


Everyone also needs a Warduke window cling:

http://paizo.com/store/sale/bitsAndPiec ... 48btpy8213

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:50 am 
 

Mars wrote:Everyone also needs a Warduke window cling:

http://paizo.com/store/sale/bitsAndPiec ... 48btpy8213

Can I get that as a PDF?   :D

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:21 pm 
 

Kingofpain89 wrote:I would probably start with Marc Miller.  He has slowly been releasing CD-ROMs of all of the GDW Traveller books and recently announced he would be doing the same with the material published by FASA and Gamelords.  You can purchase the CD-ROMs here:  http://www.farfuture.net/cdroms.html

The email address to contact them is at the bottom of the page.

Well, that explains who the author is. I guess he owns everyone's rights to publish. That explains it. Might be worth talking to him about avoiding copyright legeslation, and abandoned works. Could be useful, as I'd like to publish Midkemia and The Companions, and neither are likely to roll over and give permission, or publish themselves if I give them the stuff for free. This guy may have a handle on these tricky copyright issues.


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:02 pm 
 

. wrote:I guess he owns everyone's rights to publish.


That may or may not be true.  He could be another Outlaw Press that is pretty loose about copyrights.  It seems odd that FASA would sell their rights to this stuff.

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:10 pm 
 

Mars wrote:
That may or may not be true.  He could be another Outlaw Press that is pretty loose about copyrights.  It seems odd that FASA would sell their rights to this stuff.

He claims to be the 'successor to GDW', implying that he owns the rights to their stuff, and he also claims to 'license the rights to Mongoose Press'. Maybe FASA only owned the rights to publish stuff written for it by GDW?

Either way, the guy may be able to give me pointers in covering my arse if I were to take abandoned works to press. He seems to have been doing this for donkey's years, and no-ones sued him yet, so seems that either no-one cares (and legally the precedent has been set to argue that a copyright holder does not 'actively defend' thier copyright and therefore they abandone their work), or he is legally entitiled to do so.


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 2:48 pm 
 

Mars wrote:
That may or may not be true.  He could be another Outlaw Press that is pretty loose about copyrights.  It seems odd that FASA would sell their rights to this stuff.


Doesnt really seem that odd to me.  Jordan Weisman started FASA.  Jordan along with the Keith Brothers (J. Andrew & William H.) wrote and/or developed the majority of the FASA Traveller supplements licensed by GDW (which Marc Miller co-founded).  It could be that Marc Miller had some rights to the intellectual property as part of the licensing deal with FASA (and Gamelords as well).

Miller did license Traveller to Mongoose although I dont really understand why.  He has been working on Traveller 5 for awhile now (was planned to release last August at Gen Con) and I would think that by allowing Mongoose to release material would make it difficult to sell his version of the Traveller rules.


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 2:49 pm 
 

HermitFromPluto wrote:I suppose collecting RPGs is really a sub-branch of book collecting - does availability of cheap or free photocopies / PDFs impact the value of a rare book or not really?

It might lessen the spikes in prices for 'sudden nostalgia' of products like The Temple of Elemental Evil. I wasn't collecting then, but remember that the price of that supermod was well north of $100 for a long time. Of course today we all know that 3.5 materials are easily found in .pdf form, yet that didn't stop a spike of the 3.5 player's handbook a few months ago.[/i]

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:04 pm 
 

Kingofpain89 wrote:Miller did license Traveller to Mongoose although I dont really understand why.


I'm sure GDW reserved some rights for the products to be "officially approved for Traveller" but I doubt a company like FASA would give up rights to republish or their IP in developing the book.

It is a similar situation to the CZ items.  Gygax Games owns the IP to CZ and TLG published them etc.  GG cannot simply reprint the TLG items and TLG can no longer publish the CZ items.

As for Mongoose publishing Traveller 5e, that might make sense for the same reasons that Mongoose was announced to publish GG Lejendary Adventures.  Mongoose also acts as a large publisher who will put out your books and get them into distribution while not taking over your system.

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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:29 pm 
 

Mars wrote:
I'm sure GDW reserved some rights for the products to be "officially approved for Traveller" but I doubt a company like FASA would give up rights to republish or their IP in developing the book.

It is a similar situation to the CZ items.  Gygax Games owns the IP to CZ and TLG published them etc.  GG cannot simply reprint the TLG items and TLG can no longer publish the CZ items.

As for Mongoose publishing Traveller 5e, that might make sense for the same reasons that Mongoose was announced to publish GG Lejendary Adventures.  Mongoose also acts as a large publisher who will put out your books and get them into distribution while not taking over your system.


Mongoose Traveller and Traveller 5 are two separate systems.  Mongoose Traveller wasnt written by Marc Miller just based on what he had done before.  He just approved it similar to what he did with GURPS Traveller.

It is entirely possible that Marc Miller has an agreement with whoever owns the licenses to redistribute the Gamelords and FASA Traveller books in electronic format.  Getting paid "royalties" while doing nothing is a heck of a way to make money.


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:36 pm 
 

Kingofpain89 wrote:
Doesnt really seem that odd to me.  Jordan Weisman started FASA.  Jordan along with the Keith Brothers (J. Andrew & William H.) wrote and/or developed the majority of the FASA Traveller supplements licensed by GDW (which Marc Miller co-founded).  It could be that Marc Miller had some rights to the intellectual property as part of the licensing deal with FASA (and Gamelords as well).

Miller did license Traveller to Mongoose although I dont really understand why.  He has been working on Traveller 5 for awhile now (was planned to release last August at Gen Con) and I would think that by allowing Mongoose to release material would make it difficult to sell his version of the Traveller rules.

That's the sort of info I was hoping someone would be able to contribute.
If GDW retained copyright, and used FASA and Gamelords etc as a 3rd party publisher, that would explain why he believed he retains the right to republish, and that might very well be so (use of a trademarked name aside). I presume MM retained copyright upon desolution of GDW? Because if GDW desolved without explicit written terms prior to an author writing something, then copyright reverts to the original authors. But then, maybe GDW was never a real company (just a bunch of guys and an assumed name), and I very much doubt the authors give a damn. Like most authors in the RPG community in those days, they abandone their work and move on with life.


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Post Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:45 pm 
 

Kingofpain89 wrote:It is entirely possible that Marc Miller has an agreement with whoever owns the licenses to redistribute the Gamelords and FASA Traveller books in electronic format.


This is possible but I am a bit suspect.  He also sells the Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society in electronic format.  As with other magazines/fanzines it seems unlikely that he tracked down all contributors and received their approval to republish in electronic format.  It seems to be that he is going with the same argument that TSR used - an electronic copy of the magazine is a valid "reprint".

Although by reading a bit through the Traveller "fair use", it suggests that making copies of the items (as long as it is for non-commercial purposes) is okay.

http://www.farfuture.net/FFEFairUsePolicy2008.pdf

This could have been part of everyones agreement to use the approved for Traveller.  Also, it would suggest that making PDFs of all such products to give away for free would be legit as well since you would have no commercial gain.

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