Showing posts sorted by relevance for query tracey alley. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query tracey alley. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, June 13, 2013

UGH. Do we have to do this one again?? IP theft

Before I go too deep here if you want to wish me a happy birthday and win a prize, go to this thread.  If you want to see me rage against the machine some more stay here.

Still with me?  Ok.

For the record I want you to know that I was not setting out to do this. I just wanted a nice little novel about Mystara and witches to read.  Been on a great Mystara kick all week.

So I treated myself to a bunch of books on my Amazon wishlist for my birthday.  Three of them were the "Witchcraft Wars" series.  I am not sure how I found them but all I knew about them that they dealt with the rise of Witchcraft in the Mystara game world.  So perfect for me right?
The cover art looked a little off from other Mystara books, but they were new and I thought that maybe WotC was trying something new.

That's not the case.

I was so excited that the first book was free for the Kindle that I grabbed it and the next two books.
You can get it too so you can see what I mean.

There was a map inside. I was quite excited to see it to be honest. I saw Glantri..right next to Karameikos and way north of Alfheim (on the coast)

Wait. What??

I then noticed that the publisher was NOT Wizards of the Coast or Mirror Stone but "Amazon Publishing Services".

A closer dig into the other books from this author, Tracey Alley, revealed more books and two with some pretty blatant art theft.

Here are the books in question:
The Witchcraft Wars, Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3
A Very Hairy Adventure - A Kaynos History Tale with Clyde Caldwell art from a WW Werewolf game.
An Unholy Encounter (The History Tales of Kaynos) with art from an October 1988  issue of Dragon magazine.

There is a long discussion about it that I started last night over at the Facebook Mystara group.

But here are my point.  I bought all three books because 1. they were set in Mystara and 2. they were well reviewed. So I do feel a little like I was ripped off. I thought these were something like those "Dragon Codex" books from Mirrorstone; novels that take place in Krynn but are not part of Dragonlance (but still published by Wizards).
I mean really. A novel set in Mystara about the rise of Witchcraft? Why not just call it "Tim Read This Damn book Now!"
If you ignore the map it reads like a Mystara book. She has a Vestlander that used to be a Monk and is now a Druid. There are half-orcs that speak Hill giant. There are elves and dwarves, The writing isn;t bad, it's not great either, but I didn't mind paying whatever I paid for them BECAUSE I thought I was sending a message to WotC that Mystara books are a good idea.
Thankfully Amazon let me return the last two books of the series for a full refund.

I have started to reach out to people at Wizards, but no response yet (no surprise it's like 6:00am there now).  This is not how I wanted to spend my birthday.

Here are some links.
Her website/blog,
Amazon page,

I should just stick with reading witch books where the witch gets pregnant by her lesbian lover.   After all, I have a reputation to maintain.

ETA: Part 2 is here.

UGH. Do we have to do this one again?? IP theft, Part 2

Here is a comparison of the map from Tracey Alley's book and the map from the Expert set.

Tracey's map

The Known World from the Expert Set

And both at 50% opacity.

So not just redrawn, but maybe even traced.

In better news I am going to pick winners later tonight!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Why Plagiarism is a problem

So I wasn't going to go on (and on) about this, but I had a number things happen this morning that made me rethink it.  For starters I read this posting in my feed today about how plagiarism is a huge issue in the novel writing business.

Then there was an unrelated Facebook posting about reporting plagiarism and piracy when you see it (I am not at liberty to link that though).

And this one has been sitting in my drafts now for a bit.

Then to top it all off I got a renewal notice today at work that my subscription to Turnitin was updated.

One thing we should do though is talk about what plagiarism is and what it means to the gaming community.
Look, there is no why to gloss this over, plagiarism is theft. It is the theft of ideas, or expressions or words and it still theft even if you can't touch it or feel it. It is intellectually dishonest and frankly arrogant.  
Turnitin actually has a nice infographic on the various types of plagiarism and how prominent they are in academics (the data they have).

The types of abuse we see most often are of the CTRL-C and Mashup variety (and I can think of a few cases of the 404 Error type).

We have had our share in the RPG world of late. So for the Tracey Alley types she used something and then tried to pass it off as her own.  If you are smart you there two things going on here. There is the willful use of someone else's ideas AND the arrogant presumption that it was ok to do so because no one was watching.   Somewhere below that is the Mykal Lakim types that try to pass of someone else's work as their own and then stubbornly and arrogantly defends their rights to do so. Where you might argue that in the first case she "forgot" (which I don't buy) where the map and names came from, in the second there is art and text lifted right out of other peoples work.  The Jim Shipmans of the world might be the worse, taking the material from multitudes of others and passing it off not only as his own, but selling it as his own against the repeated requests of the IP owners.

Now bringing these to light is never a good thing really. It causes animosity and even ends up putting money in the pockets of the people selling stolen goods.  Hell I have to admit I have wanted to shell out the bucks for a copy of Lakim's Vampire book just to see how bad it really is.  But I am loathe to give him any money.

The accusations of being an "internet bully" also come up.  To that I say, what else do we have? Getting the word out is the only recourse a fan has. If the above linked authors (and more I know personally) are to be believed they are very appreciative of the negative attention thrown on the thief.   Plus I have purchased books from authors and game designers because their material had been stolen as a show of support.  I have this blog and a little bit of cash to throw at the problem.

But people around here will say, but what about the OSR? Haven't they based their entire existence on plagiarism of one level or another? Well I do believe in Intellectual Property (and Intellectual Capital) but I also believe in community.  The OSR as a whole is a community using a set rules release specifically for the purposes of sharing and publishing your own materials based on it. This isn't a contradiction. Now I do feel that some products out there are a little too close to the source material. I also feel we simply do not need another retroclone to play the exact same game we have been playing for years.  But I also know market realities.  I could have released my Witch book for example using a proprietary game system and my sales would have been about 5% of what they were.  The OGL does the heavy lifting it also brings in an audience.

Sometimes I feel this is often more Quixotic than some of my other crusades or activism. And I am atheist that grew up in the bible belt, so you would think I'd know a hopeless cause when I see one.

I don't know. What are your thoughts?
Do I have a point or should I just go back to my windmills?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Winners, Losers and the Tomb

Wow!  What a day yesterday.  All I wanted to do was celebrate my birthday and give out some free stuff. ;)

Well I have emailed the two winners, I am just waiting for them to confirm their emails.  (ok both have gotten back to me!)

So congrats to John Harp and Michael Bolam!  You can thank the d20 and d6 I rolled!

Honestly that was a lot of fun and I need an excuse to do that again soon.

The big loser of the week is (or will be) Tracey Alley for publishing Mystara books.
I did not set out to ruin her week but seriously folks, IP is IP is IP.

I have seen a lot of comments of "well WotC isn't doing anything with it".  Sorry, but there is no such thing as "Abondon-ware" in fact the Mystara property is alive and kicking with the release of the "Dungeons & Dragons Chronicles of Mystara Game" out next week.
Or even "She is not making a lot of money on it". The amount made (lots, little or none) doesn't matter.  I bought those books (but got a refund) because I thought they were official Mystara books. There are lots of people that would love to make more Mystara products, people that I would love to support.  But they don't make them because they know they are not allowed too.

Of course the other loser in this is me.  I thought I had found a new series to read and instead I have to drag all this out into the light.

The Tomb
The best news though is for my birthday and Father's day I am going to play some D&D with my kids!  YEAHH!

Since it is also D&D day I think a classic is in order.   So Liam and Connor will be headed to The Tomb of Horrors!

I have copies for every version of D&D (well 1st to 4th) so I am not sure which system to run it yet.  1st ed is the obvious choice, but the boys are playing 3e now and their 1st ed characters are only 1st level.

I am expecting it to be a lot of fun!