Just got reminded of a post on the web that uses a map of mine. I know that many people use images without caring about a license. Please don’t do it. I hope I don’t do it, and I’ve seen many that use images from Flickr and attribute the images, usually by naming authors and linking to the appropriate Flickr page. This I like.
Some people will claim fair use, but in other jurisdictions such as Switzerland where I live, there is no such exception to copyright law. Instead, we have a limited number of exceptions, one of them being the right to cite a work for the purpose of criticism. Just using my picture doesn’t really do that, however. There’s also a lot more info about fair use on the Wikipedia page I linked to above.
To make it short, I was expecting a credit and a link for my map somewhere. If you took the map from Fight On!, then there’s no license for reuse, and if you took the map from my Flickr account, then it says some rights reserved and links to a page saying that attribution is required. Thus mentioning my name (or nick) and linking it to the source page seems like the obvious thing to do.
I would also encourage all RPG Bloggers out there to not just use any ol’ image, but care about authors and their rights. If you’re talking about a product, it’s ok to use a picture of the product and be done with it. Otherwise, check whether you’re allowed to use pictures, and follow the rules. Get some very old pictures that are no longer protected by copyright; search for pictures that allow you to reuse them, often by just naming and linking the author (personally I recommend Flickr).
And if you really care about the issue, help reduce copyright protection from decades after the death of the author to a much smaller and reasonable number of years. Also, make your own stuff available under a permissive license that allows reuse and remixing. I recommend reading Free Culture; an awesome book also available for free online.
Best comment ever on the Pirate Bay cabaret:
Today I stumbled over How to Host a Dungeon. It is labeled as a “game” but effectively it’s a random dungeon creation table collection. It’s not like the random dungeon creation tables in the various dungeon master guides which will tell you about particular rooms. Instead, you’ll be developping the side-view of your dungeon.
Based on these pictures, I downloaded and printed the “free limited content version without pictures or formatting and fewer civilizations and villains.” 
This sounds intriguing.
I’m hoping to take the dungeon moments before the game ends and use it in real play for inspiration while mapping. I wonder if there is a license granting users the right to do whatever they please with resulting dungeons. After all these dungeons seem to be “derived works” to me…
I’ve said it before: In order to add my own rhetorical spin to the entire debate, I’ll call myself a privateer! “In peacetime, it is a form of legal piracy.” 
I found some nice small dungeon maps via Dragonfoot in the thread Dungeon Maps. I picked the first map and started adding room descriptions. Then I noticed the license on the homepage: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives. Hm, that’s a surprise. That means I cannot publish the map with my location key because that’s a derivative. Unless I arrange for a separate license. Unfortunately I think that’s too much hassle. It might seem like so little, but in the end it seems to me that I profit more if I learn to quickly draw dungeons myself.
Digital technology has enabled us to copy and publish with ease. Unfortunately that has brought a large segment of the population in contact with copyright law – something that was written for a different time, for a professional target audience. Gah! I’m torn: Should I be happy that a Creative Commons license was used, or should I be frustrated because the license allows me to copy the map (and use it in my game) but doesn’t allow me to easily build on it and contribute back to society? Consider that copyright here in Switzerland doesn’t have a Fair Use exception; instead we have a list of exceptions. One of them is the right to make copies for your own private use amongst your closest friends and family. Thus, personally making a copy for my own game is legal with or without the particular Creative Commons license used. The particular license allows me to mirror the author’s website. Interesting, and valuable in the long term – but not what I need.
Update: Too late! I got an iPhone from my employer.
Interesting times. Mark Plemmons announces “4E-compatible Kingdoms of Kalamar setting released” and adds “we’re not using the GSL.”  It took me a while to understand what that means. Trask, The Last Tyromancer mentions “Kenzerco’s president is a copyright lawyer in the real world. This could get interesting.”  I agree. He also links to a blog post by Robertson Games  where Stuart Robertson explains how this works: Nominative use “by which a person may use the trademark of another as a reference to describe the other product, or to compare it to their own.”
All they need to watch out for is copyright violations, obviously. But they’re sidestepping the trademark licensing issue. According to Stuart Robertson, they use “for use with Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons®” on the cover. Unlike Paizo which keeps on using “compatible with the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game” – but then again Paizo is using the OGL in order to republish material from the SRD, and the OGL says: “You agree not to indicate compatibility or co-adaptability with any Trademark or Registered Trademark in conjunction with a work containing Open Game Content except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of such Trademark or Registered Trademark.” In other words, by using the OGL they’ve traded off the right to say “Dungeons & Dragons” on their covers.
As Mark Plemmons says: “No one has to use the GSL. Using the GSL gives you the right to use some exclusive logos and such, but also comes with some restrictions […]” 
Interesting times, indeed!
Related: 2008-07-03 Good Bye PDF Economy, Hello PDF Piracy, where I argue that the termination clause in the d20 trademark license is causing a lot of unnecessary grief.
When D&D third edition appeared, Wizards of the Coast provided a big chunk of the game material under the so-called Open Gaming License (OGL). This was a perpetual, unrevokable license that allowed people to create derived works. Essentially, Ryan Dancy was inspired by Free Software at the time and thought that this would help Wizards of the Coast to sell more core rulebooks. Let other people create adventures. 
At the same time, a second license was available to publishers: The d20 System Trademark License.  If publishers wanted to put the d20 logo on their product, they needed to get that license. That license was more restrictive than the OGL, and it could be terminated. In fact, when D&D fourth edition was announced, the d20 System Trademark License was revoked.
And now we’re getting to the main point of this post. Here is what Scott Rouse has said on the topic:
Unfortunately it appears that without the d20 System Trademark License you not only need to remove the logo but some other stuff as well – such as named references to the core books. This is a major hassle for small publishers that don’t expect a lot of sales on these products. Here’s what Matthew Sprange of Mongoose had to say on the topic:
It’s a neat idea. Unfortunately it remains a lot of work.
Some people thought that PDFs were here to stay, never go out of print, always be there for the last grognard to purchase. Except that with the d20 System Trademark License we’re now faced with a situation where this is no longer true. Essentially worthless PDFs have to be pulled from the infinte electronic bookshelves – no LongTail for you, mister! – because of the termination of this license.
Unlike books that are out of print, these PDF documents will not end up on AbeBooks and the Amazon Marketplace. There will be no legal second hand market because of legal issues. Even though I don’t remember any verbiage to that effect, if PDF documents are treated like software, there is no resale possible because you never “buy” software (you buy the medium it is printed on and the books), you “license” the software. And the license doesn’t allow you to make copies, to give it to anybody else, etc.
So, are PDF documents like physical books and can be resold?
If not, then massive “privateering” using peer to peer networks is going to be the only way to get these books. I want to be a privateer! 
I didn’t like Moglen’s apparent lack of tact. Who knows, maybe you need that kind of stubborness, the quality that keeps you talking while the other is trying to interject something.
What I really liked was the following thought:
The GPLv3 doesn’t force service providers (like Google or EmacsWiki) to make their source code available. This is a problem because in the old days, users of Free Software had that right because software was always a local thing. So people ask: Why isn’t this a requirement?
Moglen says that this is a conflict of rights: People have the right to make private modifications. People have the right to study the software. It’s a conflict. Concentrating on the second right by eliminating the first right is not a good solution, he argues. The correct solution is to treat this as a public policy issue.
And he provides and example: Corporations can protect their dirty secrets from the press by keeping the press off their private premisses. This is a conflict of rights: People have a right to privacy, and they have a right to uncover the dirty secrets of others. Abolishing privacy in order to prevent crime is not the correct solution, he argues. The correct solution is to treat this as a public policy issue, take it to the next level, and find a more complex solution. A gazillion details govern this conflict of rights: Search warrants, whistleblowers, public interest, privacy – all these issues are part of the solution.
I assume that Moglen would like a similarly reasonable and thoughtful regulation for the conflict of interest regarding freedom and computation.