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[SWAG] [RIFTS] Question about Savage RIFTS and SWAG

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  • [SWAG] [RIFTS] Question about Savage RIFTS and SWAG

    I'm not sure which forum this should go in, but... can we make SWAG content for Savage RIFTS? Such as new iconic frameworks, or adventures? I suppose the restriction on avoiding using others' IP would be difficult, but not necessarily impossible, to abide by when dealing with RIFTS, since an adventure couldn't mention the Coalition or iconic places. Iconic Frameworks and races and such might be a little easier, though.

  • #2
    Nope!
    Read the licensing page. *All* Pinnacle settings are exempt from the Fan Licence, which is a change I didn't realise occured until I went to get the link; before (under Deluxe) it was just Rifts and Flash Gordon that were exempt. Presumably because they themselves are licenced products.

    Incidentally, this means I need to remove the two documents I made for ETU, an expansion of High Strangeness and a new Party Generator.
    So if you haven't grabbed 'em yet...

    Additionally, you wouldn't be able to release any PEG products under SWAG since you aren't allowed (by international law) to profit off their properties. The *free* Fan Licence would have been the exception, but as noted above, that has all changed now.

    Hope this helps.

    Comment


    • Scottbert
      Scottbert commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm not asking about the Fan License, I'm asking about SWAG. The Fan License seems kind of weird and pointless. If you post fan material on your blog or whatever, are they really going to sue you for that? Or maybe it's more to allow the distribution of free pdfs on drivethrurpg and the like, I guess I could see that.

      While the Fan License's prohibition against referencing any savage settings is clear, SWAG's terms seem a little more unclear. Under 'Who owns material in SWAG', they specifically call out retaining the IP for their settings, which seems like an odd way to put it if SWAG products can't use their settings anyway. On the other hand, 'What kind of products are welcome' mentions original settings specifically but doesn't mention material for established settings, and 'What types of content are prohibited' calls out conversions of "other" settings ("other" than what?) This is further complicated by whatever complications there may be with RIFTS being a licensed setting rather than a PEG original property -- so even if SWAG's intent is to allow someone to sell, for example, original adventures set in Deadlands, I'm unclear on whether that would extend to RIFTS.

      So it seems considerably more muddy than you say, and you don't address these points (the bit about international law is interesting, but if that supersedes the license then what's the point of the license?) Your intent to help is appreciated, but I'd rather see a response from a PEG employee, unless someone makes a convincing argument that does address all these points.

  • #3
    Under Setting up your SWAG Title :

    "Note that you may not use Pinnacle’s settings or IPs, such as Deadlands, Rippers, or The Last Parsec, or any licensed settings such as Fear Agent™, The Goon™, Flash Gordon™, or Rifts® for Savage Worlds, at this time."

    It's pretty clear, not muddy at all.
    Although the wording does suggest they may release some products from this proscription in the future. But those would likely be PEG-original products since their license agreements with Palladium, etc. are, in all likelihood, non-transferable.

    Comment


    • #4
      Ah, I missed that, since it looked like the page it was on was just talking about logos and stuff. Thanks!

      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by Scottbert
        The Fan License seems kind of weird and pointless. If you post fan material on your blog or whatever, are they really going to sue you for that?
        It depends. In my experience, PEG has been extremely forgiving of the types of products that have been released under their Fan License. Some products didn't include the disclaimer or the Fan logo... or use the wrong logo. There are numerous other things I won't get into, but all show the tolerance and benevolence of the PEG staff to truely serve the fans.

        Will they sue you?
        Probably not. If what you post is too similar to an official product they are working on, they may ask you to kindly to remove the blog post. If you are being compensated in some way from your blog, that's another issue. A cease & desist order may be issued, but I don't think a lawsuit would be filed.

        Or maybe it's more to allow the distribution of free pdfs on drivethrurpg and the like, I guess I could see that.
        Not likely. The partnership PEG has with One Bookshelf has no bearing on the fact that Pinnacle owns their own material and has every right to dictate who and who does not get to use it. But as I mentioned, they are pretty lenient compared to other companies. The SWAG license allows creators to keep ownership of your IP. Other companies usually have a clause stating they can use your material in an official product without needing to compensate you for it. That's pretty nice of PEG.

        While the Fan License's prohibition against referencing any savage settings is clear, SWAG's terms seem a little more unclear. Under 'Who owns material in SWAG', they specifically call out retaining the IP for their settings, which seems like an odd way to put it if SWAG products can't use their settings anyway.
        That's just saying the same thing in different ways. To retain one's IP means others can't use it.

        On the other hand, 'What kind of products are welcome' mentions original settings specifically but doesn't mention material for established settings, and 'What types of content are prohibited' calls out conversions of "other" settings ("other" than what?)
        "Other" = DnD, Mutants & Masterminds, Shadowrun, anything else Palladium, etc.

        This is further complicated by whatever complications there may be with RIFTS being a licensed setting rather than a PEG original property -- so even if SWAG's intent is to allow someone to sell, for example, original adventures set in Deadlands, I'm unclear on whether that would extend to RIFTS.
        It doesn't allow either (at least at this time). And as I mentioned above, if Pinnacle's agreement with Palladium is non-transferable, they can't allow SWAG Rifts products even if they wanted to.

        ...the bit about international law is interesting, but if that supersedes the license then what's the point of the license?
        It doesn't supercede the license, which *is* the point of the license. Without a license agreement, international copyright and property law is in effect. You cannot steal other peoples' stuff. The license allows you to *use* some things (namely the system itself), but not any other IP.

        Your intent to help is appreciated, but I'd rather see a response from a PEG employee, unless someone makes a convincing argument that does address all these points.
        I'd love to get an official response too!
        But until then, hopefully some of what I said clears things up.

        Cheers, mate!
        Last edited by Deskepticon; 07-04-2019, 07:28 AM.

        Comment


        • #6
          For an official response you'll want to wait until after the holiday (today is a pretty big holiday in the U.S.) and you'll probably want to contact PEG directly.
          Past experience indicates they'll be really nice and helpful about it, but may be a little slow depending upon what's going on for them.
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

          Comment


          • Scottbert
            Scottbert commented
            Editing a comment
            I'm in no rush; it seems like actually making anything (if it were permitted) should best wait until SWADE RIFTS is out, after all. And to put things in perspective, I was thinking more along the lines of selling some of the material I come up with for my players for $1 or the like, in hopes that GMs who'd rather spend a dollar than take the time themselves to make a new IF for certain concepts might buy it and I'd get a few extra bucks on the side. I'm not planning some big unofficial RIFTS sourcebook or the like.

            As Deskcepticon noted, though, the language under Setting up your SWAG Title seems pretty clear.
            Last edited by Scottbert; 07-04-2019, 05:44 PM.

        • #7
          Originally posted by Scottbert View Post
          The Fan License seems kind of weird and pointless. If you post fan material on your blog or whatever, are they really going to sue you for that?
          It isn't pointless.

          1) Under the law, in most countries that are members of the Berne treaty, it is illegal to create derivative works without permission of the original creator. With rule systems it gets fuzzy in terms of copyright, but trade dress, game fiction, trademarks, etc.. are also in play. (There is a lot of stuff on the internet, such as fan-fiction, that is technically illegal but is politely ignored as most companies don't want the bad press over suing their fans.) IP law gets complex and it usually comes down to a judge making a wild-arse guess.

          2) Various game companies have taken legal action over fan-made material. Palladium is notorious for doing so.

          3) There have been bad-actor "fans" in the past that would post huge sections of books online, made sites that could be mistaken for the official site, etc...

          4) With the advent of Paypal, Pateron, Kickstarter, etc.., it is very easy for a "fan" to make money off of their material without paying royalties.

          With the Fan License, PEG is giving permission for fans to make and share material. They also layout the rules for doing so.

          Comment


          • #8
            Scottbert There is really two separate issues here.
            1) Making a Fan product, and
            2) Profitting off of it.

            In the case of the former, PEG has (until recently) allowed fans to write and publish adventures, new characters, new or alternate game mechanics, etc. for their official products, PROVIDED they aren't being compensated for it. The content needed to be 100% free of charge.

            That's the terms of the Fan License.

            SWAG is a new thing that allows people to create their own IP using the Savage Worlds system, and sell it for profit. You are not allowed---both by the terms of SWAG and the law---to profit from someone else's IP. At least not without express written permission. Violating this is grounds for expulsion from the SWAG program, and whosever IP you nicked might choose to seek litigation as well.

            __________

            Illegal content that is provided free-of-charge is generally ignored simply because the IP holder isn't actually seeing a revenue loss. They are entitled to a percentage of any profit you make off their IP, and any% of 0 is 0.

            So they usually ignore it... sort of like a 'No-harm, No-foul' policy. Still, you might not want to press your luck, because the company could decide to make an example out of you. Disney, for example, loses copious amounts of money shutting down counterfeit products just to retain brand recognition.

            TL;DR You simply cannot sell a product that references someone else's intellectual property without their permission. Bottom line.
            Last edited by Deskepticon; 07-05-2019, 02:44 AM.

            Comment


            • #9
              On a related note:

              I constantly see folks justify IP infringement by stating that since it is free, it is OK.

              Free isn't a defense that judges look at when determining IP infringement. It is looked at during the damages phase of the trial. An person can be found guilty and be fine $0 plus the legal fees of the plaintiff. Given that legal fees can run 10's of thousands of dollars....

              IP laws can get quite complex when folks start focusing on the small details. Many companies have "rules of thumb" that they use to determine if some is worth suing over; however, those are not hard and fast rules that have the support of law or case history.

              IP is definitely one of those areas where it is better to ask permission as asking for forgiveness can cost thousands of dollars.

              Comment


              • #10
                Custom content is something I'll end up making anyway, whether I share it outside my campaign or not. My original post up there was because I saw SWAG and thought 'Oh, hey, this sounds pretty cool! If I'm doing the work of making a bit of new material ANYWAY, why not polish it up and put it on drivethrurpg for a dollar or something since apparently I can do that? But, it does look unclear whether I can use RIFTS. So I'll ask.' I overlooked the Setting up your SWAG title bit because a glance at the page it's on made it look like all that stuff was about proper use of logos rather than licenses. Once Deskcepticon pointed that out, it seemed pretty clear that this is a nonstarter.

                Comment


                • #11
                  Where it gets much fuzzier, is if you want to make Rifts compatible products not based on any Palladium or SW IPs. For example, Let's say you create a VERY high fantasy setting with Templates that are similar in Power to Rifts IF and could theorically be used with it. I don't think that would be a problem unless they are too similar to still unconverted Rifts OCC or RCC.

                  I'm not an IP expert, though.

                  Comment


                  • Deskepticon
                    Deskepticon commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Game mechanics aren't protected by copyright or trademark laws, but names are. So you could make a clone of Iconic Frameworks as long as you call them something different (like Mega Classes or something). Similarly, your setting could have an army of zenophobic humans hunting down aliens, but your can't call them the Coalition or have them walking around with skull-motifs. That'll be a bit too "on-the-nose," and can be seen as trademark infringment.

                  • dentris
                    dentris commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Alien-hating human supremacist with advanced tech and a thing for skull imagery? You mean the Imperium of Man from WH40K.

                    Jokes aside, that's not exactly what I meant. I was talking about a trully original setting, but with a power-level equivalent to SW Rifts or IF ideas that could fit in the Rifts lore but aren't already a part of the setting.
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