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Other Games, Development, & Campaigns => Design, Development, and Gameplay => Topic started by: Age of Fable on November 06, 2008, 02:09:24 PM

Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Age of Fable on November 06, 2008, 02:09:24 PM
As has been posted about already in this very forum, I'm intending to make a worldbook based on my game (see my sig). This would be printed and sold, rather than free on the net.

I just realised today that there's a problem with that. I've gotten several people to donate their pictures to the game. And in my emails to them, I've said that "Age of Fable is free so I can't pay you".

What do people think would be the ethical thing to do?
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Engine on November 06, 2008, 02:38:35 PM
Don't use the donated pictures unless you can secure approval to do so. Now that profit's involved, copyright becomes a larger issue, and one you don't want to mess about with.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: One Horse Town on November 06, 2008, 02:44:20 PM
Inform your artists of the change in circumstance and solicit their feedback. Decide on your course of action based on their feedback.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Arminius on November 06, 2008, 02:52:39 PM
That's a tough one. I'd start with a letter to all those people explaining how you've changed your plans and that you'd like to negotiate a deal with them to be fair.

The problem is that you've promised those people that you'll put out your work for free; it was on that basis that they agreed to donate their pictures.

The only option I can think of that doesn't smack of potentially applying unfair leverage would be to tell everyone that you're going to make the game free as-is, but you'll also produce a for-sale version. Anyone who wants to contribute to the for-sale version can work out a separate deal involving re-use of the art they've already contributed, or new material. And if (and only if) all the contributors agree, the free version can be nixed or scaled back to a demo/intro. As an incentive to the latter, you might give contributors to the for-sale version a per-copy royalty.

You might also try asking Malcolm Sheppard. IMO he's devoted a good deal of thought to equity in the independent RPG publishing business.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Kyle Aaron on November 06, 2008, 04:34:00 PM
Quote from: Age of Fable;263575
As has been posted about already in this very forum, I'm intending to make a worldbook based on my game (see my sig). This would be printed and sold, rather than free on the net.
Obviously you should just contact the artists involved for this new use of their work.

However, if you don't care about the money, you could sell the worldbook for the cost of printing, so that the worldbook itself - its content - is free.

The problem would be if you wanted to have it available as a pdf, too. If it's available as a free pdf, almost no-one will get the printed version.

But if it's a free pdf everyone will download it but almost no-one will read it, and even less play it. If you want people to read and play it you have to charge for it - however token a sum.

You have to decide what your goals are in writing it, and shape your approach to that. When writing d4-d4, my goals were,

With those goals, even without the last one, I decided that charging for it was the thing to do.

Had I had art from people who'd given it on the understanding it'd be a free product and then changed my mind, I'd just tell them so and let them decide.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Age of Fable on November 06, 2008, 06:40:52 PM
OK...I think I might have given the wrong impression:

The worldbook is not going to use any of the artwork that's on the site.

The site will remain free.

However the worldbook will use material (written by me) that's also on the site, and be 'branded' as the worldbook of the site.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Idinsinuation on November 06, 2008, 06:44:19 PM
Quote from: Age of Fable;263659
OK...I think I might have given the wrong impression:

The worldbook is not going to use any of the artwork that's on the site.

The site will remain free.

However the worldbook will use material (written by me) that's also on the site, and be 'branded' as the worldbook of the site.


So the free artwork won't be a part of the printed book but since it's on the website it might still be helping to "sell" your product, is that the concern?
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Age of Fable on November 06, 2008, 06:52:34 PM
Well, I have two concerns -

First, what you said. I said it was non-profit (note that this was true at the time, and still is - I'm only talking about a possible change in the future).

Second, some of the artists are professionals or want to be - and really I'm sort of saying that I'll take their art for free but don't want to pay them, which I can see them getting offended about.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Kyle Aaron on November 06, 2008, 07:01:03 PM
You just say, "now I'm going to make a paid-for version of this stuff, if I can I'd like to use the same art I used for the free stuff. If I don't hear from you I'll assume you don't give permission, otherwise we can talk."

And for the talk, you can offer them straight-up payment, a percentage of gross, or whatever.

Or you can just go for text and charts and headers only :)
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Age of Fable on November 06, 2008, 08:26:34 PM
This thread has clarified my thoughts a fair bit, so thanks everyone.

I'm thinking maybe I'll make the worldbook, use material from the game (eg the name of the main city, specific puns etc), but don't brand it as 'Age of Fable'.

Would that sidestep the whole issue?

Once again, I never was thinking of using the art from the site without paying and getting permission - my issue was people contributing to 'building the Age of Fable brand' on the understanding that it was entirely non-profit, and then that status changing.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Kyle Aaron on November 06, 2008, 08:42:55 PM
I don't think you need concern yourself with the "brand" stuff. People contributed work for a particular product on the understanding that it'd be free.

If the product is no longer free, or if there's a new product - free or paid for - which would have the artwork, then you need to talk to them again.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Arminius on November 06, 2008, 09:05:49 PM
Yep, that's pretty much what I was suggesting.

You're not using their art as part of a paid-for product without their permission.

You are using their art in the free product which you promised to produce.

The fact that the free product will have some promotional benefit to your paid-for product is a concern--someone might feel that they've worked on your advertising for free.

I would go to all the people, explain the situation, and express a willingness to take down any art if somebody doesn't want it to still be part of your site. I don't think it would be reasonable for someone to expect you to keep the site up in perpetuity after all, so it shouldn't be a big deal if you remove their art and keep the rest of the site up. Still, if someone has a problem with that overall approach, I'd listen to them.

But I think you'll probably find that people will be happy to let you keep the art up on the site as long you give credit. I'd try to find a way to promote the art, something along the lines of "Like the art on this site? Please click here to see the credits and information on contacting the contributors." I also think you'll find most people will happy to work something out on the paid version of the product.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Engine on November 07, 2008, 06:00:50 AM
Quote from: Age of Fable;263659
The worldbook is not going to use any of the artwork that's on the site.

Oh. Well, in that case, I don't think there's anything to be concerned about. You're not making money by selling the thing they created. I mean, I understand your concern, but I don't think anyone who donated art to your site is going to find out you've now published a book with a common basis, which includes none of their art, and get pissed at you.

I suppose if nothing else you could explain the situation carefully to them in an e-mail - make sure to point out the part where you're not using their art - and offer to remove their image from the site if they object to you making money off something else completely.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: One Horse Town on November 07, 2008, 09:34:31 AM
Offer them a free copy of the book if you can keep their artwork on the site which might, or might not, be promoting that book. I doubt anyone would mind that as a sweetner.
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Age of Fable on November 07, 2008, 02:04:31 PM
Quote from: Elliot Wilen;263739
But I think you'll probably find that people will be happy to let you keep the art up on the site as long you give credit. I'd try to find a way to promote the art, something along the lines of "Like the art on this site? Please click here to see the credits and information on contacting the contributors." I also think you'll find most people will happy to work something out on the paid version of the product.


I have something similar to that - http://www.apolitical.info/webgame/credits
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Age of Fable on November 07, 2008, 02:05:36 PM
Quote from: One Horse Town;263893
Offer them a free copy of the book if you can keep their artwork on the site which might, or might not, be promoting that book. I doubt anyone would mind that as a sweetner.


OK, that's not a bad idea..
Title: help me not commit fraud!
Post by: Age of Fable on November 07, 2008, 02:08:16 PM
Good advice all, I think I've solved my dilemma.