|From:||"Robert A. Hayden" <hayden@*******.MANKATO.MSUS.EDU>|
|Subject:||ADMIN: FASA Internet Position (fwd)|
|Date:||Sun, 25 Sep 1994 16:11:21 -0500|
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 94 16:45:24 EDT
Subject: FASA Internet Position
To Whom It May Concern:
I recently attempted to forward this message to the
NERPS@*****.BITNET,SHADOWRN@*****.BITNET, and SHADOWTK@*****.BITNET lists,
and of course, as I am not a member, the message was bounced back.
Since I believe the contents would be of interest to the List members, I am
forwarding it to all three control address. My apologies if all end up in the
In the beginning of August, Robert Hayden (hayden@******.mankato.msus.edu)
sent me (Tom Dowd/FASA Corporation) the following letter inquiring as to
position regarding the Internet. I have recently been informed that my
response may not have been adaquetly distributed. Here is both the original
letter, and the response.
My name is Robert Hayden and I am writing on behalf of several dozen
Internet users who are subscribed to one or more of the four ShadowRun
related mailing lists. As you may be aware, late last week, TSR Inc, the
makers of the AD&D role-playing game (and several others,) sent email
messages to several dozen system administrators telling them to
immediately remove their several-year-old archives of AD&D related
materials written by various Internet users. TSR cited copyright
infringement concerns and implied that possible legal action would be
forthcoming if their demands were not met immediately.
As you can immagine, this has sent shockwaves through the Internet
As one of the two administrators of the ShadowRun mailing lists, I am
very concered as to the stance that FASA is taking/will take with regards
to net.publications and forums set up for discussion of your games.
As an example, I'd like to summarize the resources that I am aware of that
fans have made available for Shadowrun. Please note that all of these are
offered at no charge.
* The SHADOWRN mailing list (SHADOWRN@*****.BITNET), with about 200
summer subscribers (300+ during the school year) serves mainly as
a forum for discussion of the game's rules, setting, products, etc.
* The SHADOWTK mailing list (SHADOWTK@*****.BITNET) has about 150
summer subscribers (250 during the busy season) and consists of
a forum for the creation of a single storyline. Each of the
subscribers plays the part of one or more characters, and posts
to the list as that character interacting with other characters.
The setting is the SR universe of 2055. The list came online in
November of 1992 and, to date, has produced about 3500 pages of
medium-quality storyline and encompassed about 500 characters.
There is also a companion mailing list (PLOT-D@*****.BITNET) that
servers as a forum to discuss plotline ideas and administrative
* The NERPS mailing list (NERPS@*****.BITNET) has around 80
subscribers. NERPS, on the list, stands for Net-Enhancements for
Role-Playing Shadowrun, and this list acts as a forum for people
who are interested in taking all of the ideas that are batted
around on other lists (such as ShadowRN) and writing them up
into an organized fashion for others to us.
The NERPS list has, to date, produced two books. NERPS:
ShadowLore was released in May and had 80+ pages of various rules,
including new races and alternate rules for magic and other items.
NERPS: Foundations is to be released in the next week or two and
consists of various general outlines for plots, NPCs, and sprawls.
Currently, the NERPS list is working on organizing and ultimately
writing rules for the unofficial integration of Psionics into the
The approach that the NERPS creators used with regards to questions
of copyright was similiar to that used by the NAGEE.
* The Neo-Anarchists Guide to Everything Else (NAGEE) has had five
volumes produced, and is similiar to the NERPS publications. The
creation has not been part of the lists I administrate but it
appears from the copyright information that FASA is aware of the
NAGEE's existance and even contributed materials for the most
* Rec.games.frp.cyber is a Usenet newsgroup devoted to discussing
the many cyberpunk-genre RPGs, including ShadowRun. SR makes up
approximately 50% of the traffic on the list, but, unlike a
mailing list, there is no central authority and no administration.
* In addition, there are various smaller publications that have
been produced and made available. These can range from a listing
of all the new weapons that one group designed for their game, to
some lists of spells, to a person that took all of the timelines
from the various FASA books and compiled them into one long
As you can see, with the large number of resources that are available,
there is a substantial concern of a TSR-like backlash with regards to
fan-produced materials and forums.
I would like to quickly restress, though, that all of the above resources
are being made available at no cost to the recipient, and, to my
knowledge, there have been no attempts to represent any of these materials
as 'official, FASA-approved' supplements.
I am writing to see if perhaps there is some way to get a definitive
listing of what FASA feels is and/or is not permitted with regards to
Internet-based resources. There is a legitimate fear of both legal
retribution and the removal of these resources under like threat, and I
would like to find out for my subscribers what can be done.
Please let me know as soon as possible. If you would like additional
information or would like to discuss these resources in greater detail,
please email me a phone number and contact name and I can contact you via
telephone to fill in any holes in the above information.
I appreciate your time.
I am carbon-copying this message to "rpg-copyright@******.mankato.msus.edu".
This is a new mailing list devoted to the discussion of copyright and
trademark issues relating to role playing games.
Please indicate if any response you make may be forwarded to the
list. Or feel free to send your response directly there, if you desire.
If you would like to subscribe, you can send mail to
"majordomo@******.mankato.msus.edu", with "subscribe rpg-copyright"
in the body of the message.
>>>>This is my/FASA's response:
Thank you very much for your e-mail of Monday, August 1, 1994. We are aware
of TSR's requests regarding Internet files pertaining to their copyright and
trademark materials. While we understand TSR's position in this matter, we at
this time have no plans to make a similar request.
The problem is a difficult one as it addresses the unanswered (at this time)
question of what, with regard to publishing, distribution, and access,
networks such as Internet, are. United States and International courts (to
the best of our knowledge) have been either hesitant or unwilling to
categorize electronic files on a network such as Internet with regard to
whether or not their existence and manner of distribution does in fact
constitute copyright/trademark infringement, or is in fact simple "fair use"
of said copyrights/trademarks.
The way current United States and International copyright/trademark law is
written is that if a challenger to said rights and marks can prove that at
any time in the past the holder of those rights/marks a) knew of a existing
rights/marks violation, and b) failed to pursue said rights/marks violation,
ownership of those rights/marks can be questioned. This means that, in order
to maintain ones rights/marks, a holder must actively pursue any and all
potential violations, no matter how questionable or non-offensive that
violation may appear. This often forces companies, such as FASA, to take
actions we rather not take. The consequence is, unfortunately, that if we do
not we could loose our copyrights/trademarks. The consequence of that would
be the dissolution of FASA as a company and employer, as the virtue and
strengths of those rights/marks is what we live and profit by.
This does not mean that we do not have our concerns about the possibility
that the presence and distribution of Internet files containing FASA's
copyrighted and trademarked material are in fact a violation of those
copyrights/trademarks. We are, however, awaiting a more definitive legal
ruling on that matter before we our selves reach any decisions. This does
mean that we have for all intents and purposes elected to reserve the right
to request at some time in the future that any and all material containing or
pertaining to our copyrights/trademarks be withdrawn from distribution.
In the meantime, there are a couple of points which if followed can and will
make life easier for everyone involved.
1) Inclusion of verbatim text from any copyrighted product or novel is
strictly forbidden under US and International Copyright law, without the
copyright holder's permission. Except if otherwise noted, by written
agreement, this right is withheld by FASA Corporation in all instances.
(What this means, simply, is that you can't copy portions of any of our
products or novels into an electronic document and then distribute it. This
primarily pertains to large blocks of text, such as rules, stories, fiction,
and so on, rather than game statistics or individual proper nouns or slang,)
2) Any electronic material that includes or reference any of FASA copyrights
or trademarks must include the statement (in all copies):
Shadowrun is a Registered Trademark of FASA Corporation. Original
Shadowrun material Copyright 1994 by FASA Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Used without permission. Any use of FASA Corporation';s copyrighted material
or trademarks in this file should not be viewed as a challenged to those
copyrights or trademarks.
(In the above, Shadowrun is used as an example. The relevant game line
should be referenced instead. Also, the current year, or year of creation of
the electronic file should be used as well.
Ideally, this statement should be positioned as close to either the
beginning of the document/file or immediately following the title/credits.)
3) Any use of artwork or graphics without written permission is expressly
forbidden. This includes use of the trademarked line-identifying logo.
4) Under no circumstances, for any reason, can any money at all exchange
hands with regard to the duplication, transmission, forwarding, handling,
shipping, packaging, or transfer of material containing or pertaining to FASA
copyrights and trademarks. This includes shareware and fees/costs for
duplicating online material for non-online distribution.
(This is because the courts have been very vague about defining what is
meant by "profiting" from the use of a copyright or trademark. It is
generally taken that the exchange or payment of any money for any reason
could be viewed as "profiting" and thereby violate the copyrights or
trademarks. This is usually the area that most copyright/trademark violation
occurs that we have to deal with whether we want to or not.
Specifically, as a result of all this, we have learned that fees are
being charged for duplication and shipping of the Shadowlore book from the
NERPS mailing list available at NERPS@*****.BITNET. We must request that this
practice cease immediately. The book may continue to be distributed via the
Internet, or on paper, as long as the above noted trademark and copyright
notices are included, but money cannot change hands regarding it. We regret
having to make these forms of demands, but feel that current law requires us
We believe that this, at this time, addresses all of our concerns regarding
online files and net.publication. The law, however, will undoubtedly change
in the near future, and when it does FASA may need to change its position as
well. Many future problems with regard to online files and net.publications
could be avoided if network users remained vigilant of the potential
violation of copyrights and trademarks of all kinds. It appears obvious to me
that if the net is able to police itself, others will not feel the need to.
The last thing that we want to do is stifle anyone's enjoyment of the
material we create. That is, after all, one of the primary reasons we do it.
We are also aware that the discussion of the material and the creation and
elaboration of new or existing material is part of that enjoyment, and we
encourage it. There are, however, valid copyright and trademark
considerations that have to be addressed within those contexts.
Again, thank you very much for your letter. We are very pleased that you and
others on Internet (and other locales) are concerned about our trademarks and
copyrights to inquire as to our stand on the matter. If you have any further
questions, or need any additional clarification, please feel free to reach me
at either FASA.SUPPORT@*****.GEIS.COM or FASATom@***.COM. Please, however, do
not subscribe me to any mailing lists or user groups as I, unfortunately, do
not have the time to read, let alone respond, to that volume of mail (though
I wish I had.) We can also be reached at our archaic address of 1100 West
Cermak, Suite B305, Chicago, IL, 60608.
Director of Product Development