Sunday, January 30, 2011

Help Me Protect My Intellectual Property

I have only once before overtly made an appeal for donations on the blog, but I must unfortunately report that I find myself in need of formally registering my copyrights with the government. Unfortunately, this necessity comes at a point in my life where money is tight, and I reluctantly reach out to you, my readers, to chip in.

In order to adequately protect my copyright to such works that I have made freely available such as Castle of the Mad Archmage and the two (soon to be three) books of Adventures Dark and Deep, I must submit forms to the US Copyright office, and they require certain fees. Without doing so, I might find myself in the unfortunate situation of having to prove that a given work is, in fact, my own, and that could potentially involve hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Unfortunately, this has happened already; someone has tried to sell my work under his name, for profit, and the incident has convinced me that I must thus register my works with the US Copyright Office, in order to protect my work and make claims of such protection easier in the courts.

So I find myself in the unenviable place of asking for donations; not to make better products, professional layout, boxed sets, pay for artwork, or any of the things I *want* to pay for. I find myself asking for donations to protect my work from wholly unscrupulous pirates who want to profit from my work without so much as an attribution. It happened once, and I need to prevent it from happening again.

I despise you, J.H., for making this necessary.

The donation button is in the upper-right corner of your screen. I will greatly appreciate anything you can give. It will go to help protect those things I have already written, as well as those that I will be writing in the future.

I am not happy about having to ask you, but I thank you in advance for whatever you can give to help.

UPDATE: The offending file has been removed, and I have information on how to get hold of the individual responsible for possible legal action. Thank you to everyone who has been so generous with your donations; I have collected enough to cover the cost of the copyright filings, although the trademark filings, being much more expensive, are still on the wish-list. Thank you, everyone!

24 comments:

Jim said...

Thank you for sharing CotMA with the world. I'm sorry that someone is being dishonest. You don't deserve that.

Arkhein said...

That is a really lousy thing to do. I'm not familiar with your work - I'll have to take a look.

What kind of costs are you looking at?

- Ark

Mungo said...

I would also like to know how much you need to raise.

@aterribleidea

Zak S said...

I understand you might be reluctant to say the name of the perp, but if you feel like it, I'll definitely spread the word.

cibet said...

I would appreciate if you could name the alleged perpetrator and exactly what you are accusing them of. You are not a multinational corporation so there is no need to be so vague. Please be specific in your accusations before you ask the public for donations. Thanks and good luck.

Dan of Earth said...

At this stage I'm not sure registering your copyright is the right way to go. If someone else is out there selling your work then your copyright is already being challenged. He could register it too and it wouldn't solve the matter. I'd use the money for a lawyer instead. You've been posting this material online and you will need to document the trail of all this.

Adam Thornton said...

Well, I'm going to guess that "J.H." is "Jon Hershberger," who is running a session of "Castle Of The Mad Archmage" at GaryCon.

I signed up for it, even. The event description did not have him claiming that he wrote it, so I assumed that he was just running some portion of WG13, which sounded like fun.

If he's claiming it's original...well, that will make GaryCon interesting. I will now certainly travel with a copy on a USB stick, and we'll see what happens.

Joseph said...

Not the right J.H., Adam. In fact, Jon Hershberger is a friend and I'm looking forward to reading his accounts of the Castle in play.

For now, pending possible litigation, I must keep the name of the perpetrator to myself.

Adam Thornton said...

I'm very relieved to hear that my J.H. guess was wrong.

Carter Soles said...

I am sorry to hear about this but would echo Dan's comment -- copyright registration doesn't do much for you if you have other means (e.g., this blog) to prove you were the creator of the works in question. Now that the copyright (which does not need to be registered to be valid) is being challenged, I second Dan's motion -- get a lawyer on the plagiarist's ass. Even a single strongly worded letter by an attorney can often be enough to deter such frauds.

ckutalik said...

Infuriating esp. given your generosity in putting this out for free.

We should all on on the consumer end make sure we help "dry up the well" for any profiteering by noisy public boycotting.

Joseph said...

Thanks to everyone who has made a donation or offered to help. It really means a lot.

Re: The costs. Each copyright filing has a $35 fee, and each trademark has a $325 fee. I'm planning on protecting both Castle of the Mad Archmage and Adventures Dark and Deep, so four copyrights and two trademarks. Not pocket change, exactly.

Re: The need to file. Filing is necessary before one can bring a copyright or trademark infringement suit. Any disputes about real ownership of the IP would come up in such a suit, but filing is necessary to even be able to bring it to court.

Brandon said...

Since you are registering after the violation, you will only be able to sue for cease and desist and actual damages on the copyright front. If you were already registered you could press for statutory damages. Still, cease and desist may be enough. Good luck to you, sir.

Andrew said...

Sorry to hear about the situation. Have you considered using Kickstarter to drum up the funding. Perhaps offer copies of the modules/rules in exchange to those who donate?

Mjolnir said...

Donation on the way. No need for anything the other way, considering all the free content you distribute.

Beedo said...

Good luck; I echo the others that thank you for sharing CotMA.

Grendelwulf said...

Sorry to hear about this crap. You have given too much to our community for nonsense like this.

My donation has been sent. Best of luck taking this bugger down.

Ciao!

Spawn of Endra said...

You have been donationed! Good luck in the struggle against shit-brains and keep us posted.

MX said...

Don't forget that, for copyright, $30 gets you a document in 4 1/2 months, and that might be a conservative estimate. Expedited handling is $750.

Tony said...

Thanks for making awesome stuff available to the world!

Tim Shorts said...

Best of luck with this. This is the part of I despise. If this guy is trying to sell your stuff should not be too hard to find. Hunt is in effect.

Northy said...

Haven't yet, but you'll have our donation over the weekend once checks come in.

Best of luck with keeping what's yours, yours. Fiery damnation to the thieves... That and 23 hour-a-day reruns of Judge Judy.

Fabio Milito Pagliara said...

Good luck!

sorry to hear this :(
hope that I can help

AD&D Grognard said...

This is where the tire meets the road in this community. I believe that everyone should be aware of these actions and report them immediately.

All the copyright registrations in the world wan't stop it. Only we can stop it.

One cheap way of helping to protect yourself from THEM (because if you publish they will try and take you to court in some cases) is to print and mail a massively sealed copy to yourself. Get it hand canceled if you can. This provides a sealed document dated by a government agency that helps to show ownership of the material. This is often a turning point if it goes far enough.

Look what Ken St Andre is going through with his dealings. And he does everything proper.

And I would ask that you and everyone spread the word as to website addresses or otherwise so that we can ourselves spread the message and expose these people. We are an EXTREMELY open community. There is no need to steal.

GG, it's time to turn loose your posse :)