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Inactive File => Arkenstone Publishing => Topic started by: orklord on January 04, 2009, 04:36:52 PM

Title: Solar System License Question
Post by: orklord on January 04, 2009, 04:36:52 PM

I recently purchased the pdf and am awaiting the arrival of the physical copy of Solar System.  I previously thought about using tSoY for a game I'm writing, but perusing Solar System has really unlocked things for me.

What do I need to do to properly use the Solar System as a base license and also use your keen logo on my book to be?

Rich Rogers
Canon Puncture Show

Title: Re: Solar System License Question
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on January 05, 2009, 04:21:57 PM
The following is based on my own layman's understanding of the relevant laws and the Creative Commons license that applies to both Clinton's TSoY texts and my Solar System rules text.

If you just want to use the Solar System as the rules set for the game, but do not want to actually copy any text I or Clinton have written to describe the system, then you don't have to do anything, really - just write your crunch to match the system and mention somewhere that you're writing for the Solar System so that your audience understands what to relate your text to - perhaps mention where one can find an appropriate rendition of the full rules.

If you want to put in significant portions of the original rules texts (either mine or Clinton's) and/or procedures, then you might get away with some interesting work-arounds, but why bother when you can just use the Creative Commons licence and make an adaptation: according to the license you can adapt the Solar System freely as long as you take "reasonable steps to clearly label, demarcate or otherwise identify that changes were made to the original Work." In practice this means that if you, for example, decide to copy portions of my Solar System booklet into your book and make some changes in places to improve the material for your work, you might then add a line saying something like "The character creation rules of this game are based on the Solar System by Eero Tuovinen, published then and there" for example. Essentially anything goes, as long as you identify the original work and the creator, and give some notion of how you changed the original, even if it was just that you cut out some forewords or something. For an example of how you might go about this, check out the cover of the booklet - my own work is based on Clinton's CC-licensed work, which I promptly admit on the cover. (I also based my work on the Finnish edition of the same game, but as that was my own adaptation for which I own the copyright, I could use it without a separate explanation.)

(To be exact, what you need to list about the original work when publishing an adaptation are the name of the product, the creator and any copyright information the original work had. So in this case you'd need to list the year of publication of the Solar System booklet, too, as it has such listed. I can't say if this actually matters for any imaginable situation, but that's what it says in the CC license text. Also, if I had associated an URI with the work, you'd have to provide that, too.)

If you want to republish the whole work, essentially unchanged, then almost the same procedure applies - you can read the legal text of the CC license ( yourself to see what exactly it requires of you; I think that it's far from too long to check out if one is really serious about basing his own work on something CC-licensed.

(Also note that the CC attribution license is not viral like another popular rpg license, OGL, is - this means that you don't have to license your own work with the CC license. I mention this because you might get this mistaken impression due to how I've licensed Solar System; doing so was just a gesture of appreciation for Clinton's values and publishing strategy from me, and was not legally mandated.)

If you want to prominently display the Solar System trademark on your work and marketing, then you need to get a separate permission, interestingly enough. While this is not usually emphasized when discussing the good qualities of Creative Commons, the license is actually relatively strict about the general issue of trademark. Specifically, the original creator of the work can require you to remove any mention of his original work and his own identity from your adaptation of his work. This might in an extreme case mean that you could create an embarrassingly bad rewrite of the Solar System, after which I could ask you to not to associate the work with me or my prior work. To do this you'd have to rename the work at least, and desist from marketing it based on the connection. Pretty interesting for an otherwise laid-back license, that.


Anyway, the above is theory. The real answer is that I'd love to see others use the Solar System in their games either by leaving rules out of their products and referring people to use the available generic text, or by integrating the rules into their own product. Doing this doesn't really require much; wherever you put the edition notice for the work, just add a line about how the rules of your game are based on the Solar System, and you're pretty much good to go. No need to run the work by me or anything like that. While this mention is not actually legally necessary for many practical uses of the system (such as writing character stat blocks for it), it doesn't cost you anything, so it might be overall simplest to just put that one line in there and not worry about the exact limits of how much you can copy from the Solar System.

If you want to use the Solar System brand and display the Solar System logo in your product, you can email me for some print-quality files for it. While the logo itself is not CC-licensed for some reason I can't off-hand remember, I don't have any particular requirements for its use. We might check out your game text at some point if you'd like another set of eyes on it, but I haven't been thinking of starting any sort of quality determination agency, really. If you think that the Solar System brand won't mislead the audience about the contents of the work, then that's cool with me.

Hmm... that's pretty much the whole picture, I think. Let me know if there are any questions.

Title: Re: Solar System License Question
Post by: dindenver on January 06, 2009, 08:19:10 AM
  Thanks for your frank and honest answers. I had developed a basic framework for making a cartoon-based game (Tome and Jerry/Bugs and Daffy/Roadrunner/Coyote style) based on Solar System I was planmning on either cal;ling it Cel Block or Duck!.
  I had asked Clinton how he imagined CC working and what he would require from me in order to use the Solar System as a basis and I got no reply at all.
  When I wrap up my two campaigns of TSOY, I will use what I learned there to finish my idea and get a Solar System-based game out to market.

Title: Re: Solar System License Question
Post by: Corvus69 on February 06, 2009, 02:00:40 AM
All separately unattributed textual portions of this work are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license
This line makes me wonder: since vignettes of play are attributed separately to their writers can I translate them (as they basically serve as rules examples too)?

Title: Re: Solar System License Question
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on February 06, 2009, 02:28:14 AM
I didn't bother to ask each of the vignetter writers for a permission to publish the vignettes under CC license, which is why they are specifically excluded. I imagine that the individuals will easily allow you to translate them if you want, or you can write your own. I for one don't mind if you translate the ones I wrote.

Title: Re: Solar System License Question
Post by: dindenver on February 06, 2009, 11:28:59 AM
I double-dog dare you to translate mine!

Title: Re: Solar System License Question
Post by: oliof on February 08, 2009, 10:05:14 AM

I remember having discussed this with Eero, but it seems I completely forgot about the details:

I have translated all the vignettes in the german translation which only is available for free. Do I need to pull them? (Except Eeros and Daves, that is).

Title: Re: Solar System License Question
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on February 09, 2009, 04:19:53 AM
To clarify, I don't expect anybody to have a problem with you translating those vignettes. I just didn't discuss the possibility of translations with the authors at the time, so technically you're in breach of their copyright. I suggest simply asking each individual about it. Somebody already told me when I was collecting the pieces that they're fine with a CC license for their piece, but as I didn't collect comprehensive permissions, I left these specifications out altogether from the booklet.

Title: Re: Solar System License Question
Post by: oliof on February 09, 2009, 06:20:19 AM
OK, I'll hunt after the contributors then.