JohnnyStarr

Joined: February 14 2009
Comments: 1001
Votes: 0

23 Oct 10 #1

I've noticed that some MUDs lately have donation links on their sites.
This is all fine and dandy considering hosting and man-hours.

But what if someone was requesting to have a donation to a site, that uses a proprietary theme, without
explicit permission?

I have noticed this to be the case lately, and hope that those concerned consider the possibilities.

Dean

Joined: September 25 2008
Comments: 560
Votes: 0

23 Oct 10 #2


JohnnyStarr said:
But what if someone was requesting to have a donation to a site, that uses a proprietary theme, without
explicit permission?


I know of several places in this position. I think it's fair to say they walk a tight rope by doing so.

Runter

Joined: June 1 2006
Comments: 3432
Votes: 0

23 Oct 10 #3

They're walking that same tight rope with or without donations. I doubt you'd risk more than receiving a c&d notice. Zero or ten dollars profit makes no difference as far as protecting yourself here. Many-a-fanfiction site has been shut down for trademark infringement. If we are talking about starwars here they are pretty gracious.

KaVir

Joined: June 19 2006
Comments: 2654
Votes: 0

23 Oct 10 #4

Reminds me of this recent story: Ryanair wins ihateryanair.co.uk because ...

It's worth noting that many copyright holders do tolerate fan fiction, but only as long as you're not making money from it.

Runter

Joined: June 1 2006
Comments: 3432
Votes: 0

23 Oct 10 #5

Building what amounts to a free to play mmo with their trademark is likely to be out of the realm of what most would consider fan fiction. I think the only thing saving most of these projects is their relative unsuccess and thus unknown to the people they are infringing against. It would be interesting if the trademark was originally from a mud. Would anyone consider making an unauthorized mud using the trademark and intellectual property of another just fan fiction? Godwars Three by DavidHaley perhaps?

David Haley

Joined: June 30 2007
Comments: 7974
Votes: 0

25 Oct 10 #6

I see what you did there…

Incidentally, Darkstone the MUD existed before the Diablo-like of the same name, and we had the trademark as well IIRC. Apparently the MUD IP holder came to some sort of agreement with the game producer.

Rudha

Joined: August 15 2010
Comments: 468
Votes: 0

25 Oct 10 #7

By the way, unless you're a registered non-profit organisation, PayPal will probably steal take your donation proceeds. This happened to TortoiseSVN lately, and apparently several other smaller sourceforge projec... which accepted donations.

There's plenty of alternatives out there, and I'm not sure why people use PayPal for that kind of thing, given that this kind of thing has been going on almost as long as paypal has been around.

But anyways, a heads up if you're reading this thread considering asking for donations for your MUD.

Maya/Rudha

bbailey

Joined: June 7 2006
Comments: 149
Votes: 0

25 Oct 10 #8


Rudha said:
By the way, unless you're a registered non-profit organisation, PayPal will probably steal take your donation proceeds. This happened to TortoiseSVN lately, and apparently several other smaller sourceforge projec... which accepted donations.

There's plenty of alternatives out there, and I'm not sure why people use PayPal for that kind of thing, given that this kind of thing has been going on almost as long as paypal has been around.

But anyways, a heads up if you're reading this thread considering asking for donations for your MUD.

Maya/Rudha


It's probably worth noting that, despite the anti-PayPal hype going around, this is primarily the result of PayPal entities (finally) complying with banking and other financial regulations in their respective jurisdictions. Any of the alternatives likely will (and should) have these same issues: It would be wise to investigate and be aware of such requirements before doing business with any financial service.

Runter

Joined: June 1 2006
Comments: 3432
Votes: 0

25 Oct 10 #9

Yeah. A few years ago paypal seized my funds out of my poker account after the law was changed regarding "gaming" transfers.

Rudha

Joined: August 15 2010
Comments: 468
Votes: 0

26 Oct 10 #10

Point being less the specifics of that, though I like to provide examples of what I'm talking about, and more the importance of knowing what you're getting into.

There are banking services which will waive fees for you if you are a charity. Some of them, here in Canada at least, follow the strict definition of a charity as being an organisation recognised by the government. Others don't. It varies from the provider to the provider; I know the Canadian International Bank of Commerce (CIBC) can be fairly lenient to people whom fit their own (looser) definition of charity (just dont go looking for donations for them). Obviously I can't really speak for the banks in other countries, though, and donation and charity laws vary from country to country, and in some places, from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Maya/Rudha

David Haley

Joined: June 30 2007
Comments: 7974
Votes: 0

26 Oct 10 #11

MUDs are not charities, really. A MUD could call itself a not-for-profit, but that's still different from a charity. A charity is a particular form of not-for-profit organization.

Rudha

Joined: August 15 2010
Comments: 468
Votes: 0

26 Oct 10 #12

The difference is a semantic one really, the end effect is really the same: if you don't take care about the legal status of the money you're bringing in, and the circumstances under which you bring it in, you'll be in for trouble.

Generally, whether you're making a profit or not, asking for donations for any MUD that is using a franchise name, or any other licensed name (eg Dragonball Z muds, D&D muds, etc etc), then taking in ANY money is probably compromising your position legally. It doesn't stop many people from doing it; at the same time, that these people don't "get caught" doesn't make it legal, or for that matter moral.

And of course, if you're avoiding payment processing fees, etc. by claiming youre something youre not, then that's not a good thing either. MUDs are very, very rarely for NPO status, because they're considered an 'entertainment product'. Granted, again, laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdictin, but I find it difficult to believe that a government would legally recognize a MUD as a NPO (and definetely not as a charity).

Maya/Rudha

David Haley

Joined: June 30 2007
Comments: 7974
Votes: 0

26 Oct 10 #13

If by 'semantic' you mean that they don't actually mean the same thing and that it can matter for legal purposes, then yes, it's a semantic difference. If by 'semantic' you mean 'trivial', then no, it is not a trivial difference, depending on where you are. :smile:

We are however fully agreed that you don't want to be taking in money saying you're one thing when you're something else, or if you're bending the truth. If you are already basically infringing on somebody else's IP in the first place, then you really don't want to give them even more reason to come after you.

Quote
MUDs are very, very rarely for NPO status, because they're considered an 'entertainment product'. Granted, again, laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdictin, but I find it difficult to believe that a government would legally recognize a MUD as a NPO (and definetely not as a charity).

I think that you should be careful about making claims without being even more clear that you mean in your own very particular jurisdiction. In the United States, for example, being an entertainment product has absolutely nothing to do with qualifying for non-profit status.

A cursory Google search shows that in at least some parts of Canada, some entertainment services can be not-for-profit, such as theaters. I'm curious if you could point to something more specific about this (perhaps it varies by province?) since it's pretty surprising (and news) to me.

Note that there are different kinds of non-profit statuses, hence the distinction between a generic NPO and a charity, for example. Not all NPOs are tax-exempt in the US, either.

Rudha

Joined: August 15 2010
Comments: 468
Votes: 0

26 Oct 10 #14

David Haley said:
If by 'semantic' you mean that they don't actually mean the same thing and that it can matter for legal purposes, then yes, it's a semantic difference. If by 'semantic' you mean 'trivial', then no, it is not a trivial difference, depending on where you are. :smile:

We are however fully agreed that you don't want to be taking in money saying you're one thing when you're something else, or if you're bending the truth. If you are already basically infringing on somebody else's IP in the first place, then you really don't want to give them even more reason to come after you.

Quote
MUDs are very, very rarely for NPO status, because they're considered an 'entertainment product'. Granted, again, laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdictin, but I find it difficult to believe that a government would legally recognize a MUD as a NPO (and definetely not as a charity).

I think that you should be careful about making claims without being even more clear that you mean in your own very particular jurisdiction. In the United States, for example, being an entertainment product has absolutely nothing to do with qualifying for non-profit status.

A cursory Google search shows that in at least some parts of Canada, some entertainment services can be not-for-profit, such as theaters. I'm curious if you could point to something more specific about this (perhaps it varies by province?) since it's pretty surprising (and news) to me.

Note that there are different kinds of non-profit statuses, hence the distinction between a generic NPO and a charity, for example. Not all NPOs are tax-exempt in the US, either.


Recent federal legislation in Canada specifically excludes 'businesses related to entertainment software' from being classified as 'non-profit entities'. Whether that specifically includes MUDs, would be something for the lawyers to decide, but I would err on the side of caution. Which is to say, that it does. Various related Canadian legislation includes the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Broadcasting Act. Specific implementations of NPO definitions are at the provincial level, and include the Ontario Not-For-Profit Corporations Act, and the regulations specified by the federal Canada Revenue Agency.

I took a cursory look over the US legislation related, and it gave me a headache, so yeah, I'm not going to comment on it.

As I said, though, this isn't something you should take my word on; you should be very careful to research your position and the related laws in your jurisdictions.

Maya/Rudha

[edit]: There were so many typos there. Bleh. I need to stop posting in the early AM. Sleepy time now.

Runter

Joined: June 1 2006
Comments: 3432
Votes: 0

26 Oct 10 #15

My advice for someone in this situation would go beyond donations. Don't become popular either. Obscurity is really the only thing protecting these projects. The idea that you're safe under some unspoken rule of fanfiction is fantasy at best. There is absolutely nothing stopping them from taking action against you even if you aren't taking donations.

Ssolvarain

Joined: November 14 2008
Comments: 933
Votes: 0

27 Oct 10 #16

Since it's never came up in these sorts of discussions, guitar tablature pretty much got slapped down and buried awhile back by the music industry.
In short, if a company (or, forbid, a group of them) decides they don't want you to do something for whatever reason, they can throw enough money at the legal system to make sure they get their way.

David Haley

Joined: June 30 2007
Comments: 7974
Votes: 0

27 Oct 10 #17

Why shouldn't it? Sheet music is basically the written form of music.

Ssolvarain said:
In short, if a company (or, forbid, a group of them) decides they don't want you to do something for whatever reason, they can throw enough money at the legal system to make sure they get their way.

No, this is not true, although it makes for a nice story. It suffices to look at phone jail-breaking to see that companies don't always get their way (although they try).

Ssolvarain

Joined: November 14 2008
Comments: 933
Votes: 0

27 Oct 10 #18

Allow me to go trash my entire education, because I didn't write the books from which I learned. ALL OF US ARE DIRTY IDEOLOGICAL PIRATES!

You're right.

Runter

Joined: June 1 2006
Comments: 3432
Votes: 0

28 Oct 10 #19

I don't know what you're railing against exactly. Stealing intellectual property might be the easiest way to get kicked out of any school of prestige. Not ideas.

David Haley

Joined: June 30 2007
Comments: 7974
Votes: 0

28 Oct 10 #20

I don't get it either. You bought (hopefully, you didn't steal) textbooks so that you could learn from them. Does that mean you could copy the textbooks and sell them? No. Does that mean you can apply that knowledge? Yes. The difference is that a textbook is not trying to produce an original work, never mind an original work of fiction. A textbook is written with the express purpose of sharing ideas with you to go reuse. That is not the case with works of fiction.

So, yeah, I'm not sure what you're complaining about here. :sad: How does a textbook relate to sheet music or companies paying their way through the legal system?