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Eridine

Post here if you don't find the NetrunnerDB C&D unreasonable

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The cease and desist letter recently sent to NetrunnerDB by Fantasy Flight Games has been a hot topic lately in the Netrunner community, and many people feel strongly about it, with many opinions going around about it. I thought I would share mine.

 

Before I give those opinions however, I'd like to clear up a few misconceptions I've seen bandied about on this subject.

 

First, I have seen a number of people say that if FFG doesn't assert their intellectual property rights in this situation, they could lose them. This is categorically false. What we are talking about here are copyrights. The type of intellectual property that you can potentially lose rights to if you do not defend them is trademarks, and that can only happen in rather narrow circumstances.

 

Second, people have been talking about fair use. I am not going to go into a detailed explanation of fair use, although I encourage anyone interested in it to research it themselves. (if people really want me to give an overview of fair use as it applies here, I will) The reason I bring this up is because NetrunnerDB's use of Fantasy Flight Games's copyrighted material does not fall under fair use.

 

Third, and finally, some people (although not very many) have mentioned that since NetrunnerDB is hosted in France, they are not subject to American intellectual property laws. This is also false, due to something called the Berne Convention. The Berne Convention is basically an international agreement between 168(!) countries to enforce each the copyright laws of all the other countries. France ratified in 1887, the United States in 1989 (slight edit here, the site is in fact hosted in the Netherlands, which signed on in 1912. I was a bit mixed up because the designer lives in France. My apologies for the mistake). Because of this, NetrunnerDB being hosted in France does not mean they are exempt from recognizing American copyrights, such as those held by Fantasy Flight Games.

 

Anyway, now that I've given some facts, I'd like to give my opinions.

 

My understanding of the situation, that leads to me finding Fantasy Flight Games's action reasonable is thus: First, FFG has given a lot of leeway to the fan community in using their copyrighted material for a very long time. From OCTGN to Netrunnerspoilers.com. Then, Jinteki.com came along. For those that hadn't heard of Jinteki.com, it was a browser based Netrunner client that was in development. I am not sure how far along it got before it got a C&D. NetrunnerDB was supplying Jinteki.com with high-res card art through its API. This, I think, is one reason, and a pretty reasonable one, that NetrunnerDB got a C&D. Second,  FFG recently acquired CardgameDB, and, most germane to this topic, its deckbuilder. This seems a compelling reason to crack down on other deckbuilders. In my opinion they would have done better to acquire Meteor Decks (netrunner.meteor.com) or NetrunnerDB, as I think they are superior deckbuilders, but they chose CardgameDB.

 

Putting all this together, FFG is well within their rights, and if I am correct in my understanding of the situation, had a couple of pretty good reasons to send a C&D.

 

There is definitely an argument to be made about it upsetting the community, but as long as they upgrade CardgameDB to be on par with other deckbuilding sites, I really don't see the harm at all in their choice here.

 

What are your guys thoughts?

Edited by Eridine

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As someone who never used NetrunnerDB (all my decks were on CGDB before FFG acquired them) I've bee unaffected by this anyway. Personally I have always preferred the CGDB deckbuilder anyway, but I understand that others will have differing opinions.

I understand why FFG felt the need to protect their copyright, as it was being violated by Jinteki.net. It does indeed seem likely that this was the reason that NetrunnerDB was also targeted (as opposed to other third-party sites).

What has disappointed me greatly is the community reaction. A lot of people have gone with what I like to call the 'toys out of pram' approach to the whole episode. Rather than wait for the involved parties to sort this out between themselves, many of those in the community have thrown what amounts to a huge tantrum. It smacks of the typical entitlement that I'm used to seeing from working in retail and customer service for a long time.

At the moment, the only thing to do is to be patient, and allow Alsciende to open a dialogue with FFG. They are the only people who will find a resolution to this issue (even if that resolution is the unpopular choice of closing NetrunnerDB permanently).

Obviously the community don't want to lose any of their fan-made tools, and I'm sure FFG are aware of this (kind of hard NOT to be at this point, given how vocal people are being). I'm pretty certain a compromise can be found (such as using the same watermarked images that CGDB uses). However that decision is NOT the community's to make.

Some food for thought: as I understand it, Darksbane (creator of CardGameDB) actually contacted FFG before setting up the site to find out what was acceptable to them in terms of using their content (if someone knows this is not correct, please let me know and I will rescind that statement). Does anyone know if Alsciende did the same?

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This thread is pretty much irrelevant since nobody really uses the Netrunner Forum on the FFG website.  Anyways, my feeling is that what FFG is doing to netrunnerdb is completely unreasonable.   They are trying to force feed cardboarddb down our throats, but it is very substandard compared to netrunnerdb.  FFG should make cardboarddb a better site and not use these kind of heavy handed tactics in order to gain market share.   If find it pretty repulsive.

 

Also - it seems like the guys on this thread actually work for FFG.  Strange....

 

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Sorry, who in this thread works for FFG? And where did you find that info? A cursory glance at Toqtamish's profile shows him to be in Canada, and I myself am in the UK. Eridine has no other activity on the board other than this post. I can assure you I personally have no working relationship with FFG. Toqtamish is openly one of the playtesters for Conquest, but that doesn't make him an employee either.

As for your point of 'no-one uses this site' - I believe the archives of the forum disprove that. There's been quite a lot of discussion here since Netrunner was announced two years ago. Certainly it's less popular than both CGDB and BGG, but there is a small-but-regular userbase here of which I count myself a part. You yourself, I see, have never posted here but presumably felt the need to register simply to make disparaging remarks?

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Eh I used NetrunnerDB and ya it sucks but it makes sense. Just downloaded my decks and imported them to cardgamedb which I had originally used pretty much since ANR came out. Really all the people throwing a fit about how bad Cardgamedb is are just stupid. It works it isnt difficult to use so quit complaining, you could have no online deck builder.

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Sorry it took me a while to respond, I meant to be more active in this thread on its first day.

 

The reason this is my first post is because this is the first time I've felt I've had something to add on an issue. I've been lurking the rules forum here and on BGG for a very long time (on that note, CommissarFeesh, you do an excellent job there helping people out)

 

I suppose I've no way to prove I'm not an FFG employee, so it doesn't really bear commenting on.

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Hi Eridine, I'm the owner of netrunnerdb.com, thanks for posting an explanation of your opinion here. I'd like to add a few things.

 

You think that FFG has a couple of good reasons to send a C&D. I'd like to adress the first one. You are saying that netrunnerdb.com provided high-res card art through its API. That's at least as vague as speaking of IP instead of copyright.

 

Netrunnerdb.com is hosting 300x418 pixels images of the cards. Jinteki.net was (it's not anymore) hotlinking these images on its pages. The API has nothing to do here. 300x418 pixels images are exactly what fantasyflightgames.com is hosting, and far less than what cardgamedb.com is hosting for some cards.

 

A card you all know, on netrunnerdb.com (300x418):

 

04015.png

 

The same card, on fantasyflightgames.com (300x418):

 

jackson-howard.png

 

The same card from cardgamedb.com (430x600):

 

jackson-howard-opening-moves.png

 

So, did netrunnerdb.com provide criminally-large versions of the cards? No. The images that jinteki.net hotlinked to on netrunnerdb.com are provided by FFG itself on its websites.

 

I'm not saying here that I have the right to use these images even if FFG doesn't want me to. But I didn't and I don't provide "high-res" versions of the cards. Or at least, be specific about what is "high-res" and why it's harmful for one website to host them and not for another.

 

Your second reason is that FFG acquired a deckbuilder and would want other deckbuilders to close to foster traffic and usage of its acquired deckbuilder. I can't argue with that. It's not factual, it's a matter of opinion. FFG can forbid the usage of all its copyrighted material to everyone if that's their wish. (Here we can note that FFG cannot, in fact, forbid the existence of a deckbuilder that would not use any trademark or copyrighted material.) Is it a good reason? I think that's to everyone to decide for himself. 

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Seconding Alsciende here: there's a line between what is legal and what is right, and shutting down a whole site only to prevent use of the images, imo, is not right. 

 

I'm looking forward to an agreement that allow NetrunnerDB to survive without any copyrighted infringement, but this requires FFG to state clearly what isn't licensed to use, in order to avoid similar situation in the future.

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To Alsciende: You are correct, some of my phrasing was poor there. My use of the term API was vague, but I thought the way I used the term would help communicate the it's meaning and the situation as I understood it to people who were unfamiliar with what was happening. Of course, this was nullified by the fact that the images were being hotlinked to, rather than being specifically and purposefully made available through your API, as I thought was the case. My apologies for the mistake.

 

As to whether or not the images are "high-res," it is true that I never provided a definition, but I am comfortable with saying that images that match the quality used by the people that produce the product are of high enough quality to deserve that moniker. I will admit that it is possible that that term might have a specific industry meaning that those images do not fit, in which case I will withdraw that statement. Also, I do not believe I claimed that it was harmful for one site to host them over another, just that it was an infringement for a site to host them if that site isn't owned by/hasn't been granted a license by the owners of the copyrighted material in question.

 

As to netrunnerdb.com providing "criminally large" versions of cards, I agree that they weren't, because the size of the infringing item isn't a factor in whether copyright infringement rises to the level of being a criminal matter, as opposed to (as in this case, and far more commonly in general) being a civil matter. (if you are interested in the relevant factors taken into account in determing whether copyright infringement rises to the level of criminality, check 17 U.S. Code § 506 (a)(1)) Even though these pictures were not criminal, they certainly were infringing, whether or not FFG had posted them on their website.

 

I would lastly like to thank you very much for responding to my thread, compliment you on the stellar work you did on netrunnerdb.com, and just say that while this is the first time that I have personally interacted with you, I do spend a decent amount of time both here and on BGG, and so I'd like to take this opportunity to compliment you on being a beacon of civility on the internet.

Edited by Eridine

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Slightly off topic but I was very sad to see Jinteki.com go down, and would like it if FFG could make a similar client. I work in a country where opponents are scarce (China) for a year at a time between taking breaks to come back to the UK. I was very excited by Jinteki.com because it would allow me to play the game over the internet with my friends while I'm over there.

Personally I do not have a problem with what is happening on netrunnerdb. Its sad for the individuals involved, but I never really used the site anyway, and the legal justification seems solid.

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Slightly off topic but I was very sad to see Jinteki.com go down, and would like it if FFG could make a similar client. I work in a country where opponents are scarce (China) for a year at a time between taking breaks to come back to the UK. I was very excited by Jinteki.com because it would allow me to play the game over the internet with my friends while I'm over there.

Personally I do not have a problem with what is happening on netrunnerdb. Its sad for the individuals involved, but I never really used the site anyway, and the legal justification seems solid.

 

Your statement confuses me a little bit, I'd like to ask for a little clarification.

 

Do you agree that the same or a similar solid legal justification exists for the C&D that was sent to Jinteki.com, but you just didn't mention it because you actually cared about the site, or do you see a difference, legally speaking, between the two sites?

 

On a seperate note, give OCTGN a try.

Edited by Eridine

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No, I completely understand why Jinteki.com was taken down. I was just sad it was removed without a replacement program being in place from the license holders. That's all.

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No, I completely understand why Jinteki.com was taken down. I was just sad it was removed without a replacement program being in place from the license holders. That's all.

I have tried to keep to facts and opinions thus far, now I am venturing more into speculation, and I hope anyone with more solid information will correct me. As far as I understand it, they shut down netrunnerdb for two official reasons, because it was competing with cardgamedb and because it was hosting images . They shut down Jinteki because it was making (or planning to make) money, and because it was, while not hosting, displaying images hosted elsewhere.

 

They shut down Jinteki without having a replacement program in place, but there is another program available that doesn't have any of the problems that led to the demise of netrunnerdb and jinteki.com, or any other issues that I am aware of that are easily actionable causes for FFG to shut them down.

 

I am speaking of OCTGN, and I would again recommend you check it out. It's the program I use for online play, and once you learn to use it, it works pretty well.

Edited by Eridine

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@Eridine, to start with the end, it's always my great pleasure to have a conversation with civil people, even (and particularly) when we disagree. I'm glad that you presented another point of view in a respectful manner (in no small part because FFG has not yet replied to my letter.)

 

I wouldn't call the images "high-res", but that's bickering over words. What I'm trying to say, mainly, is that those images cannot be used to counterfeit the cards. At least, no more than the ones provided by FFG themselves. I shouldn't have used the term "criminally". I meant "harmfully". Arguably, providing 1200dpi versions of the card would enable true counterfeiting of the cards by a professional printer, and that would be more harmful to FFG than those 72dpi images.

 

Now, on the legal angle of the discussion, the level of harm I'm causing is irrelevant (I guess), as long as I'm infringing on their copyright. That's ok, I get that. But if we talk about the reason that FFG could have to grant me a licence to use their copyrighted material, it's different. Since I'm not causing any harm to their company (arguably, I'm even supporting their activity), since the material I'm putting online is already online, one could hope that they'll agree to grant me a licence to continue operating, within certains boundaries and under certain rules.

 

Unless they have other motives to shut me down, of course. As you said, they may want their tools to be the only tools available. I'm fondamentally opposed to this idea, but I know that it's perfectly within their right. A:NR is their creation.

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@Alsciende I hadn't even considered the actual very tangible harm that could be caused if the images were of high enough quality to allow counterfeiting on the scale of say, passing at an official tournament. I think this is actually an excellent definition of "high-res," far better than the one I selected, which was simply, "whatever the actual owner chooses to display."

While you are of course infringing, as you have admitted, it is interesting that you have shown me a display of possible harm, as I thought for a while trying to come up with one and I was unable to. Thanks! (by the way, if I may make a suggestion, you probably shouldn't admit on a public forum to things like infringing on someones copyright)

 

At the beginning of this thread I was simply trying to debunk a number of misconceptions people seemed to have over a number of legal realities, not trying to imply that my personal perspective was that, "harm is irrelevant, any infringement needs to be shut down." (not to say that's what you took my stance to be, just making sure to clarify)

 

By actual stance (to again clarify) is pretty basic. A company should adopt whichever practices benefit them the most (within reasonable ethical guidelines, of course. Slavery is bad) This forces them to walk a fine line between maximizing their profit while still maintaining the good will of their consumers and expanding their consumer base. Companies sometimes make poor decisions when trying to walk this tightrope. Sometimes they realize this quickly enough to make a course correction, and sometimes they don't. I think it is too early to tell if this was a poor decision, and if it was, if they will make that course correction.

 

I will say I certainly still think it's possible that this is a poor decision, but if it turns out to be, I believe they are intelligent enough to correct it once that becomes clear. I do also think it's possible this is not a poor decision, although it will perhaps take longer for that to become clear.

 

The next couple weeks should be an interesting time vis-a-vis this situation, I think.

 

By the way, I have a question for you: This thread was titled "Post here if you don't find the NetrunnerDB C&D unreasonable" I of course have no issue with people with different opinions posting here, and I am very glad you posted here, as we can get information, "straight from the horses mouth," as it were. (Also because, as I mentioned before, you are a pleasure to speak with) Anyway, if I may ask, because I don't think you have quite stated it directly, what is your opinion on the NetrunnerDB C&D? Also, more specifically, do you find it unreasonable, and, whatever the answer, why?

 

I apologize for putting you on the spot, but I am very interested in your answer to that question.

 

I am, of course, also interested in the answer of anyone else who would care to respond.

Edited by Eridine

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I'd rather keep my sentiment private while I have a chance to have a dialog with FFG. And there's still so many unknown elements that any opinion is highly conjectural, anyway. The only thing that I can say, I already said: I'm surprised and sad, and I hope they'll revise their decision and allow me to continue under a mutually-agreed set of rules.

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Completely understandable, of course. I actually really shouldn't have asked, or at least been smart enough to know you're smart enough not to respond.

 

If I may give one more piece of advice: I noticed you shared in another thread the contents of the C&D FFG sent you. I would suggest that unless they specifically tell you they don't mind you sharing it, that you keep any communications with them regarding this matter private from this point on.

 

I realize this will probably disappoint a great many people who will be clamoring for news about this, even me, but it would be unfortunate if something like that were to jeopardize these proceedings.

 

I would also recommend potentially speaking with an attorney of some kind, as you may be approaching the hour when that sort of thing might be helpful, although you probably aren't there yet. (I hope these suggestions don't alarm you, as they aren't intended to, and they really shouldn't)

 

This does not constitute legal advice, et cetera, et cetera...

 

(Also, to clarify a bit, those were definitely suggestions, not things I think are neccessary. I do think you could probably handle this on your own, given the intelligence you've displayed, but it's never a bad idea to seek advice.)

Edited by Eridine

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Thank you for that advice. I only shared a part of a sentence from the letter, because people were dead curious to know the reason of the C+D. But you're right that I shouldn't have. I'll keep any further communication (assuming there will be any) entirely private.

 

Thank you for your kindness, Eridine.

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I am also surprised and sad. I had begun developing a Drupal plugin for Netrunner when Alsciende's app hit the net. I stopped my dev immediately because his product was far superior to anything I had the time, and skill, to assemble.

 

Having been a fan since the beginning of the Original Netrunner, and having cobbled together deckbuilders in MS Access 95 (waaaaaaay back in the day) I have to say that FFG's stance on this is ridiculous. When you see a fan doing something that promotes your product without taking money out of your pocket you either buy their 'product' and make it yours, or your license or affiliate with it. You don't shut it down.

 

I have been purchasing 3 copies of each Netrunner datapack that has been released (including the original set) in order to have a working collectors version of each card and @ 9 copies of each card for multiple deck building purposes with friends and families... and I am seriously considering setting aside Netrunner for good over this.

 

My username / website that I have had since Netrunner first came out is based on my favorite card 'Blink' from the original set.

 

But I will gladly set aside my interests in this game if FFG is going to play heavy-handed corp and stomp on the people that pay their salaries by loving their product.

 

I still have over 14,000 cards in boxes from the original set.

 

I will HAPPILY auction off my current cards and give up on Netrunner if FFG is going to play like this. I wouldn't be friends with someone who acted like this in my social circle, and I won't support a corporation that does this neither.

 

FFG, you have a chance here. The NetrunnerDB is far superior to any commercial product on the net for Netrunner. You have in your hands a chance to ENCOURAGE the community of fans for this game and help them build something truly spectacular. Imagine if you were to instead offer to host the NetrunnerDB on your own site... charge fans $10/yr to have an online account... link each card to a retailer that sells that packs (amazon, etc)... Hell, I just learned about the Jinteki site today, but give them the same offer.

 

Anyone that thinks an online version of a CCG/LCG would diminish sales isn't thinking. I buy physical cards for games IRL. I would GLADLY purchase online booster packs INSTEAD so that I could play with friends online.

 

Get a clue FFG... wake up... your community is pissed. You don't have to stay silent. Step up and grow a pair. Hell, start a community debate?! Find out what we really want and if you can offer it with little (to no) output of funds, then why the hell not? Give Alsciende a percentage of the accounts created to manage the site on your servers...

 

This is sad and disgusting and just another sign of greed, not gaming.

 

Just another random rant...

Peace, Love and Cards... not Corp

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No, I completely understand why Jinteki.com was taken down. I was just sad it was removed without a replacement program being in place from the license holders. That's all.

 

I have tried to keep to facts and opinions thus far, now I am venturing more into speculation, and I hope anyone with more solid information will correct me. As far as I understand it, they shut down netrunnerdb for two official reasons, because it was competing with cardgamedb and because it was hosting images . They shut down Jinteki because it was making (or planning to make) money, and because it was, while not hosting, displaying images hosted elsewhere.

 

 

Jinteki.net is free and open source https://github.com/mtgred/netrunner

 

OCTGN proposes a subscription model to financially support the platform. Jinteki.net is completely free.

Edited by mtgred

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Jinteki.net is free and open source https://github.com/mtgred/netrunner

 

OCTGN propose a subscription model to financially support the platform. Jinteki.net is completely free.

 

Well, it being on Github is pretty compelling evidence that they were not and weren't planning to make money with it. (I would point out however that the subscription to OCTGN is optional. This is not ultimately very important, since it still leads to OCTGN making money from FFGs copyrighted material, but I do think your statement was possibly misleading to someone not familiar with OCTGN)

 

Anyway, regarding these C&Ds, I don't think it can really be argued against that the idea of FFG wanting to stop people using their copyrighted material and that the idea that the idea of FFG wanting to shut down online gaming gaming platforms are that unreasonable. Whether or not FFG making the decisions they made in this case will end up being a poor business decision is certainly debatable though. That said (it being debatable) I do think we have, at this time, nowhere near enough information to come to any kind of firm conclusion on the subject.

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Anyway, regarding these C&Ds, I don't think it can really be argued against that the idea of FFG wanting to stop people using their copyrighted material and that the idea that the idea of FFG wanting to shut down online gaming gaming platforms are that unreasonable. Whether or not FFG making the decisions they made in this case will end up being a poor business decision is certainly debatable though. That said (it being debatable) I do think we have, at this time, nowhere near enough information to come to any kind of firm conclusion on the subject.

 

 

I have to disagree. Are they being unreasonable? I think so.

 

Think about this for a moment. They have created a physical product. People hold these cards in their hands, play games with them, etc. How is it unreasonable to think that people would want a nice, online, experience with managing these cards and the decks that can be built with them? Why is it unreasonable to think that people will take pictures of or scan these cards and share this passion with their friends and gaming communities online?

 

I think that FFG thinking that people should sit with their thumbs up their @$$3$ and wait for FFG to do something similar... oh wait they did. They purchased the ever failing cardgamedb... an online gaming resource that isn't even mobile... *facepalm* and it looks like crap. NetrunnerDB is my site of choice because it looks like it was made by the same company doing the Netrunner card designs... It's freaking gorgeous!

 

No. I believe that the unreasonable opinion is when FFG thinks they know how people should enjoy their game... not even a game that FFG came up with. This is a Wizards of the Coast original... Richard Garfield designed and created this beautiful game. FFG is just the one currently irresponsibly managing this farce of a situation.

Edited by randomblink

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