View Full Version : Seems Odd

06-09-2010, 11:06 PM
I was cruising through the interwebs looking over some Maptool stuff and came to a link somehow along the way that had a ton of maps and stuff. Ever interested in such things (duh) I started drilling through and could swear I was seeing things I have seen here. Only thing was this site had no information on the artists who did them. At least as far as I can tell.

So, I went to verify and found the search tool here doesn't do as much as I thought it would or maybe I had seen these maps elsewhere. I finally verified that one of them was indeed Torstan's Pirate cove and it had no indication it was his work. In fact, the name seemed to have been changed.

Now, before I get outraged completely let me just pass the links along to you all and let me know what's up. Perhaps Torstan doesn't care or something along those lines :?

The site I'm wondering about is: http://www.rpglife.com/maps/world/index.php

The maps I was sure I had seen before (There were others but these ones I remembered):

Torstan's Pirate Cove (as labeled on his Deviant Art page)

Also, I'm pretty sure this one is from here but can't seem to find it now: Dragonport (http://www.rpglife.com/maps/world/images/02_Cityscape_72_vn1023_ppi.jpg)

The only reason I'm posting this is because the lack of Artist credit and seeming name changes just seems wrong to me. I also noticed that some of the maps seem to no longer be hosted so perhaps some folks have found their artwork and had it removed?

Let me know what the deal is.

06-10-2010, 02:59 AM
hmmm.. at first when I saw the site I thought it was scraped content (thats content stolen from other sites in order to show google that there is content on your ad site). But looking more closely it does look like a proper community. I can see they tell people to upload rpg ressources to share with the community and they of course have a disclaiming about "not being responsible for what people upload/say/bla bla bla... " This of course doesn't mean that they shouldn't remove copyrighted content if asked to do so. Most of the maps in here are under CC license and under such MUST have artist credit, so I'm guessing the right thing to do is to tell all mappers in here to go look if any of their maps are on the site and if so, demand it removed or credited... (doesn't look like they can handle crediting though - but that's their problem.

06-10-2010, 04:32 AM
There are some familiar maps in the City section as well...

06-10-2010, 05:20 AM
Don't know if I spied a wizards map in there... did see the style though - and if thats the case... big guns - pointing your way

06-10-2010, 06:05 AM
Yes, there WAS a Wizards (as in WotC) map in there.

http://www.rpglife.com/maps/inside/images/01_September05_72_ppi_j53209ur.jpg Is from the WotC FANE OF THE DROW product, and was used in their miniatures competition:


06-10-2010, 06:22 AM
I think the best would be if Arcana, on behalf of the guild asked the site to remove all maps that aren't credited. If they will not comply - or says something stupid like "proof it", we should send out a mail to all members and tell them to go look (and we can do that on DA too), and perhaps drop a word to wizards as well. But let them have a chance to make emmends first, it is after all a rpg community :)

06-10-2010, 08:32 AM
We had a situation a while back when someone started posting wholesale maps posted on the guild on his website. Can't remember who it was (think it might have been Gamerprinter?) contacted him - he was very apolegetic (I think he was a young teen) and took all the stuff down.

I think if someone from the guild is going to contact the admins of RPG Life then we need to know which maps have been created by guild members and whether the creators of those maps have any objections to the maps being hosted on the site at all, or without any accreditation. After the the guild don't have any property in the maps posted by its members and we would look pretty silly asking them to take maps down if the owners don't mind them being hosted there.

I can pop something up on the news forum after a quick chat with the other CLs pointing to the site and inviting guild members to go and have a look. I guess we could post thumbnails of the maps we think have been created here - someone might recognise them and the creator and then we could email / pm the creators to see what they want done.

It doesn't have all be agression with loss though. If RPG Life wants a repository of maps then they could just have a direct link to the finished map forum on our site - they would have to register though.

Hmm I wonder they could become one of the Guild Alliance (which seems to have died a death). I don't know if it's possible (perhaps a subject for another topic) but I wonder if it's possible to have a system where if a person has registered for a Guild Alliance site their username and password automatically registers for the Cartographers' Guild. I'll post a suggestion on the CL board.

06-10-2010, 09:14 AM
Yep, there's a lot of Mike Schley maps up there, and also a number of 'adapted' 3.5 Faerun maps. That's not going to fly with Wizards. I didn't give permission for my Pirate Cove map to be up there, and there's no copyright info or attribution on any of the maps. It looks like man of them are lifted stright from Wizards map-a-week archives.

06-10-2010, 09:23 AM
Of course we don't know if the admins are just sleeping or turning a blind eye. But they aren't doing a good job, especially with the wotc maps - cause they got lawyers and stuff :)

Does however make me think that I should sign my maps.. not that they "stole" mine... nooo.. they weren't good enough for stealing *ROFL*
And Ravs, concerning login on to more than one system can be done with googles something something ID system, where you basicly log on with you google ID on other pages (a free service from google), but that would require this page changed password system too... and the other... so big job. Otherwise if you shall be able to register with CG while you register any other place would require a common database so it also can check the same login isn't used by different persons...

But I do think that linking to our finished maps section could make everybody happy - we get more views and they get maps. And if they can make a smart thumbnail system good for them (and us) - just as long as the credits are posted too...

06-10-2010, 10:18 AM
That's pretty much what I figured. If only they had the credits with the maps I don't think we would have any issues. They have a lot of good looking stuff for gamers but it seems to me like it's been copied by someone somewhere and then a month later they uploaded it to the RPGLife site. The information of where it came from has been lost and they don't seem to provide anywhere for it in any case (as tilt mentioned). Also, some of the links are tiny little maps which lends me to thinking this is uploads from the community and not something RPGLife did themselves. The rest of their site looks pretty professional so I don't think they would purposely post maps that are basically unusable.

I can agree with the not having to be aggressive as the first step. You can catch more bees with honey after all. Still, it shouldn't matter if we have lawyers or not. Wrong is still wrong. Since there are a number of their thumbs that are dead links it does look like they are willing to pull the images if asked.

Links back to CG finished maps would be nice. Keep us posted on what happens with this.

PS. I just saw the Shley map for Dragonport (http://mikeschley.com/projects/gallery/images/cityandtownMaps/DragonPort.jpg) which is a WOTC which I originally thought I had seen here but evidently not. Either way, I think it's interesting the map styles you remember. I'm pretty sure there are some Devin Night maps over there too.

06-10-2010, 01:06 PM
Two of my maps are there with no attribution. I tried to use the contact form and got a message:

Unable to send e-mail. Please contact the site admin, if the problem persists.
Your message has been sent.

So I have no idea if it even reached them or not...

-Rob A>

06-10-2010, 01:17 PM
My guess would be not ... its just bad programming that shows the "your message has been sent" message even though the error message has shown.

06-10-2010, 03:03 PM
The joy of the internet :)

So who can read Spanish?

06-10-2010, 03:56 PM
maybe we should just have a forum/sticky for copyright violations?

I saw quite a few familiar maps on that site (none of mine though) :/

06-10-2010, 04:43 PM
Hopefully, someone hears back from them.

@Gandwarf: Why the Spanish site, is that connected somehow?

Maybe this is reason enough to actually post your sig/stamp & CC right on the maps you create.

06-10-2010, 06:33 PM
Heh.....come on Gandwarf....you've got to be just a little bit flattered that someone has put an entire history to your city! :)

This kind of stuff actually makes me love the internet more. Your map has been ripped off, but ripped of with a lot of love.

Aval Penworth
06-10-2010, 07:06 PM
Plus the author was kind enough to give his facebook address, so you can have a chat about further collaborations.

06-10-2010, 08:45 PM
Oh goodness Gandwarf, I didn't realize that was a rip. I can't read much Spanish. That is pretty ballsy if you think about it.

06-10-2010, 10:45 PM
I had something like this happen to me years ago. Its why I only post lower resolution versions on the internet, or higher res if its an unfinished project. I also had someone steal my mini essay from a debate forum and post it on another one as his own creation. In both cases it got resolved though. The former ended with an apology, the latter ended with me sending a message to a friend who was a moderator for the other forum at the time. :D

It sucks that sharing maps with a community can lead to this. May Sten-ret'ni be with y'all.

06-11-2010, 02:15 AM
I personally have no problems with people using my maps, rather I'm pleased and flattered if they do (and I know a lot inhere share my sentiment) - but I do want them to "follow the letter of the law" and credit me.
AND ... if you are looking at what rpgforum does to our maps, its breaking the CC on several accounts
1. They don't credit ... bad enough
2. They use the maps for commercial purposes, how you ask?... they have ads on their site and are using, amongst other things, our maps to pull in the crowd. Thats a commercial purpose.

06-11-2010, 07:58 AM
Heh.....come on Gandwarf....you've got to be just a little bit flattered that someone has put an entire history to your city! :)

This kind of stuff actually makes me love the internet more. Your map has been ripped off, but ripped of with a lot of love.

Haha... :D
It doesn't really bother me Ravells. Just curious what kind of history that person has written for the city. It does indeed look like he put a lot of love in it.

06-11-2010, 09:11 AM
Haha... :D
It doesn't really bother me Ravells. Just curious what kind of history that person has written for the city. It does indeed look like he put a lot of love in it.

use google translate.... thats what I did....while not a perfect translation, it should be close enough.

06-15-2010, 03:59 PM
So has anyone heard anything back from these guys or are we going to have to point wotc at them?

06-15-2010, 04:46 PM
From a personal standpoint (as my work isn't worth stealing), "borrowing" materials is not uncommon, particularly when it comes to fantasy materials. I can list at least a dozen sites off the top of my head that display artwork from professionals and call them "tributes." Some give due credit, others blatantly claim it as their own, thinking that no one will catch them. Myself, I have used bits and pieces (often modified) of professional art work in my personal sites, but I always try to get permission, give due credit to the originator and will remove it if asked.

I like the idea behind the site, as it puts a lot of good artwork in one place. On the other hand, if you are going to do this kind of thing, common courtesy (not to mention common sense) dictates that you get permission where possible and if you have made all reasonable efforts at communicating with the artist but failed, give credit. In the Digital Age, copyrights seem to have been "forgotten" by many folks. Some don't care, or cannot afford to take legal action, but others, such as Wizards, can and will do so.

06-15-2010, 05:04 PM
Personally, the greatest annoyance is that no one is stealing any of my stuff. Maybe folks are intimidated by my fleet of powerful lawyers...?

06-15-2010, 05:07 PM
So has anyone heard anything back from these guys or are we going to have to point wotc at them?

I did that already, I called WotC on the telephone. My concern was more for Mike Schley, than WotC itself, but I couldn't get a hold of Mike, so I called WotC Customer Support and reported the site, and the specific instances of their maps in that site's World Map section.


06-15-2010, 05:12 PM
It's worth noting that there are also a few works specifically labeled as belonging to ProFantasy, as well.

06-15-2010, 05:19 PM
I used to have a pretty lax view about things I considered to be "victimless" theft. I was even overjoyed when I found a site, many years ago, that uploaded the full text and images from numerous books (including every dnd book and module imaginable). Then I ran across a plea from Virginia Heinlein, asking that people please stop posting her late husband's books as those revenues were now her sole means of support and that the free copies were drastically affecting her dwindling income. That changed my views considerably.

Granted, that's a bit different but imagine the following:

You walk into an office about to start an interview for your dream job. Fully confident in your abilities, you proudly display your portfolio. After flipping through the artwork, the interviewer says "What are you trying to pull? These aren't yours. I've seen them on the internet under another name."

If the images were first seen by the interviewer on another site and credited to another name, the real artist will have to prove they are really his. But if the interviewer thinks they aren't he may simply show the artist the door, never voicing his suspicions and never giving him the opportunity to prove they are his. And never calling him back.

I urge anyone who has had their work stolen and posted under another name to contact the perpetrator and ask that the work be removed from their site, or at the very listed properly credited. Not only do you protect your own work, you let them know that they can't continue unnoticed and unchallenged. You may very well protect another artist from the situation described above.

< Places soapbox back in the laundry room >

06-15-2010, 05:37 PM
I don't think anyone here would care so long as credit was given to the artist who did the piece. It does seem like a good site but if they failed to respond to the efforts made to contact them it would seem it's not important enough in their mind and THAT is something puts me off. Maybe they are just slow and something will be worked out as soon as they realize it?

I'm just one of those old-fashioned folks who has a value system that triggers when I see stuff like this and I want it fixed even though nothing of mine is there (haha, like they would want my one piece anyway). It's the principle of the thing for me and I know this kind of stuff has to effect some of you who are more prolific and have been at it for a while.

I hope this comes to a good conclusion for everyone but the world can be an unjust place and sometimes I just have to let it go. Sometimes having a sense of justice sucks but I wouldn't want to be without it.

06-15-2010, 05:54 PM
It depends on the license of the piece. Some of the pieces on there are commercial copyrighted works. All three of mine (that I've found) are CC licensed, so it's less of an issue. However if one of the maps I've done for publication turned up there, then I could get in trouble with the company - which is not really what I'm after.

Their direct contact seems to be down so I've posted directly to their forums with a complaint. I'll let you know how I get on.

06-15-2010, 06:07 PM
if one of the maps I've done for publication turned up there, then I could get in trouble with the company - which is not really what I'm after..

Maybe I misunderstand you but how could YOU get in trouble with the company you did work for if that art ended up pirated on a website? Unless you mean the company never put it online in any shape or form...I guess I could see that because then it "might" have been you who posted it?

06-15-2010, 06:27 PM
Well there are maps that I've created that I have the permission to post in my own portfolio, but that don't appear anywhere else on the web as they are in print products. Those companies require the proper credit wherever the map is posted. Now if it turns up on a separate site like RPGLife then Mongoose might come askign why I posted it there without credit. I'll then have to explain that it wasn't me. Now I don't for a moment suggest that I'd have any trouble convincing them that it's not my fault, but as I'm a member of RPGLife and those are my maps up there I think they'd have a reason to start by asking me. That's just not a good way to be getting contacted by clients.

06-15-2010, 11:56 PM
Ok, I get it now. Good point. I hadn't even thought about that.

06-16-2010, 02:57 AM
Immaterial rights are allways hard to uphold, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. RpgLife have been lax, especially since they actually managed to miss that WotC maps got in there. It looks like an all over good forum, but you can't have one without rules, and you can't have rules without someone checking people follow them. I hope they reply to torstans complaint and revise their forum so they can credit where the credit it due.
A good way to limit "illegal" uploads is to get people to mark that they have the right to upload the picture (and tell them - we got your IP *lol*), but what would also help would be an actual input box for a credit, with link - cause that makes people think. :)

06-16-2010, 02:59 AM
oh... and of course we ourselves could be better at signing our maps. Personally I think I'll find some kind of logo to add to them that would incorporate in most maps - don't think my blue devil head would work for that *lol*

06-16-2010, 03:22 AM
heh, I think your avatar rocks tilt!

06-16-2010, 04:25 AM
thanks :) ... maybe I can make a more discreet version to place in my maps ... but its not as stylish as pasis bird - love that one :)

06-16-2010, 08:09 AM
How about a blue smily face :) with devil horns, simple yet effective. Maybe we should come up with a small logo or something for the maps posted on this guild so we know if someone borrrows our maps without asking.


06-16-2010, 09:02 AM
Mmmm maybe something like a Monogram using the Colwell font which is used for the Cartographers' Guild Title?


06-16-2010, 09:09 AM
Cool, I like the last of the five, it'll make a nice little watermark in the corner somewhere.

May I have your permission to use it?


06-16-2010, 09:18 AM
Great idea! I like the look of the watermark, and it's distinctive enough to be readily noticeable. By the way, Tilt, I love your avatar! Every time I see it, a smile comes across my face

06-16-2010, 10:41 AM
Here is my test using Ravells watermark. I opened the file in GIMP, added a white background and then bump mapped that onto a new transparent layer. I then saved that as a pattern 500x500 px and used the pattern over one of my maps:

This is the image at half size with the watermark:

Same image zoomed in 200% and opacity dropped to 50%:

Steel General
06-16-2010, 10:43 AM
Seems to work fairly well.

06-16-2010, 11:17 AM
Cool, I like the last of the five, it'll make a nice little watermark in the corner somewhere.

May I have your permission to use it?


Of course. It's free for anyone to use. Seems to work quite well on jf's test....although I'm wondering if the watermark should say www.cartographers (http://www.cartographers) Guild so people can see it's a URL and come here. And maybe in the CG Brown?

It would only be worth doing a CG watermark if we can find a way where you can automatically have it placed on your maps if you want to like on Deviant Art (if you have to do your own watermark you might as well put your own name on it). We're also looking at an option where the watermark will only be visible to people who have less than a certain number of posts since they are the ones who are most likely to 'farm' our maps for their websites. There is a thread on the CL forum where we are currently discussing it, but there are downsides like server loads etc to the method that RobA has found so far.

Here are two versions

06-16-2010, 11:21 AM
Well, I used a bump map so that it could be at least "mostly" transparent over top of the image. In the second example I played with, I added my name as we as a copy of the CC license. Perhaps putting the .com on the end in letters the same size as www would help also(though, in the URL there is no apostrophe allowed).


06-16-2010, 11:37 AM
Well, I used a bump map so that it could be at least "mostly" transparent over top of the image. In the second example I played with, I added my name as we as a copy of the CC license. Perhaps putting the .com on the end in letters the same size as www would help also(though, in the URL there is no apostrophe allowed).

Yack....maybe we shouldn't have the apostrophe in the watermark then?

Something like one of these perhaps?

06-16-2010, 12:13 PM
To me a watermark is like a locked door, as locked doors keep the honest man out of your house, but the dishonest man will break into your house, despite the locked door. I'm wondering how easy would it be to create a symbol-signature that is hidden within a map, so it is not obviously seen, therefore not assumed to be a "lock", yet still retrieveable or recognizable if pointed out, as a means of protecting your IP. So if someone crops your map, since you've placed your watermark at the corner of the design, now the watermark is gone. If a hidden symbol is placed as part of a mountain top or buried in a forest near the center of the map. One can point to the hidden signature to prove it is your IP.

I don't know how practical or feasable this is - but I think creating a mark that is hidden has more protective qualities than a watermark that can be "photoshopped out" or cropped away.

If such was workable, I think both a watermark and a hidden mark would be the best solution. One prevents the honest man's theft, the other prevents the dishonest theft from being gotten away with.



06-16-2010, 12:26 PM
The main problem (and the one that the original post mentions) is not so much people taking individual maps from here and claiming that they drew them but people from other sites who copy a lot of maps from here and then post them (unattributed and without permission) on their own websites. The 'obvious' watermark makes it clear that this is what they are doing and the site loses credibility (and hopefully someone who sees the watermark on those sites will tell us about it). If they are taking a lot of maps it's going to be a whole lot of work for them to photoshop out the watermarks, particularly if they are little ones spread at regular intervals (as jf has done in his example)...or maybe that's what the 'spot healing' brush was invented for, lol!

06-16-2010, 12:50 PM
The question was brought up earlier in the thread, as to how to prove a work is yours or not, especially for a map that has been cropped so the title and by line is missing. The first world map on RPGLIfe.com is one of Mike Schley's and the property of WotC, however that map has certainly been cropped down to about a third of the actual map. My inquiry regarding hidden symbols relates directly to that issue. Mike's name was on this map, and not as a watermark, but now its gone in the RPGLIfe posted version.

I agree the watermark idea works for general purposes, but I think one can go the extra step and further protect their work by placing hidden symbols, that the perpetrator doesn't notice and therefore does not remove. Its a means of proving IP, which I think, especially in the situation this thread is currently about, has direct implications.

I'm not so worried about someone else claiming my work as theirs, rather I'm more worried about someone claiming there is no license to protect the item, as the license is not visibly seen.


06-16-2010, 01:03 PM
Well it's pretty easy to prove the work is yours - presumably you'll have all the WIP material and in addition if you will have a timestamp showing that you posted the map up earlier somewhere else. All you have to do is show the full map which will include the 'cropped' bit which has been posted by the rip-off artist. The hidden symbol idea is really cool, but if we're talking about cropped maps then the cropping process might not include the hidden symbol. As you said earlier, if someone really does want to rip your maps off, they will, I guess the best form of prevention is to make it time-uneconomic for them to do so.

06-16-2010, 02:40 PM
Update on RPGLife:

I posted a note on the forum about my maps and I've had a reply fro the staff. This has been more successful than using their contact form and I suggest that you do the same if you have a map that you would like removed (probably adding to the same thread as it seems to have their attention).

Note that their login seems to be broken on the main site. Go to the forums and use the register/login boxes on that page to access the site and log on.

Here's the thread and their response so far:

Steel General
06-16-2010, 02:41 PM
Good news! :)

06-16-2010, 03:57 PM
Good news indeed!

06-16-2010, 08:52 PM
Nice, and it looks like they got right on it once they actually got informed. Torstan's maps are already removed at least.

If you think about it, it's a hassle to run a site and have to worry about people posting things they shouldn't. Especially if you can get in trouble over it. Of course, I guess if they have good records they can just point to the one doing the illegal posting and remove the images.

06-17-2010, 03:06 AM
Here is something about watermarking your images - https://www.digimarc.com/solutions/images/ here you embed a noise pattern into your picture that can be read by software and if you pay them some extra cash, they'll scour the web for you looking for your images :)

06-17-2010, 07:08 AM
You have several types of people ripping off stuff and the vast majority of them fall into the category of taking it, reposting (whether not attributing or passing off). For these I think the plain sight watermark will help and protect 90% + of the problem even if watermark is in bottom corner and could be cropped off.

Next are the people who want to put some effort in to rip it. Personally I think those people would hit only the maps from wizards and other high profile sources since they usually do this to make a collection for download that is attached to ad revenue.

Third type is where they would do anything to rip it off even if it meant significant effort and usually that is because there is legal recourse if they get caught. For these you need the hidden ones. This could be the state funded map makers like Ordnance survey, google and photo sites like AP etc. Personally I don't think were in that league.

From a tech point of view the visible water mark can be removed especially if you have a pic of the source image used to put it there but it does take effort. If you flood fill a logo outline with noise before you use it as the water mark then it can be much much more difficult to remove.

You can do an all image watermark which falls into two categories that I know of. One is to modify the low bits of each color value to put a pattern on it - like say a canvas weave but more unique. If you blur the image then it takes it out so only good for some images.

You can do a more sophisticated change which is more invisible and is protected from blurs and rescales etc but its not so easy to implement. But I think this is overkill.

If you want examples of any of that then just ask.

06-17-2010, 07:33 AM
Personally I just plan to make a "signature" on the map - my maps are CC anyway so I'll be pleased if people use them ... I'll probably add them with the name/scale/compass somewhere. If someone should choose to crop them away then they'll miss out on that stuff. If they'll run it through photoshop and remove it there, well, nothting I can do about it. And its an easy job to do so if you are an experienced photoshop user. I just hope that people will respect the signature and link back. I'm not planning to use the digimarc myself, but posted it here just in case anyone found that interesting.

06-17-2010, 08:18 AM
I have a final response from them. They say that the best way to have a map removed is to email:

webmaster (a t) rpglife.com

with details of any map that they want removed. They will take them down. They look overstretched, and underfunded, but were quick to pull down my images when they were notified.

06-17-2010, 08:40 AM
it is a common problem with sites depending on volunteer work to make them work - its hard to check everything, especially when the site grows. I'm guessing that this community here (CG) is lucky in two ways, first off people are really nice in here and respect each other, second - a large percentage of our members make their own maps - it not only means that they would rather use their own material, but also that they respect the process and the work put in maps by other cartographers :)
I think that rpg life should be more adamant in getting the right info when people upload, ie make input fields for artist and link to artist + they might write a short text about what i means of troubles and possible closing of site if the copyright rules are broken - that might make their users more carefull about what they do :)

06-18-2010, 08:11 AM
I go on vacation and come back to find more peeps stealing our stuff. I think my future maps will all just be of the human middle finger :) Punk ass bitches stealing everything, ****es me off.

06-18-2010, 08:19 AM
Looking forward to seeing that middle finger map ;)

Aval Penworth
06-22-2010, 10:35 PM
@ Tilt... What you say is true of the regular contributors. However....What percentage of people who have logged in over the past couple of months actually post and contribute? 5% ? 10%? Everyone else is trawling for free tutorials and maps. Many of those people would be downloading art without really reading any of the posts, and are not aware that the usage of those images is restricted. They are probably going to many other sites too. Soon they have a folder full of pretty maps and can not remember where they got each individual image. Often there is no signature so how could they know? A few weeks later they find themselves on another site with a bank of images. So they upload some from their folder and download some from the site. And so on.

There is nothing obvious in place to warn people from doing this innocently or prevent them from doing it deliberately. Now with the new gallery up it will be much more prevalent because casual users will have much easier access to the maps without even seeing the license requirements in peoples sigs. (if that even makes a diference)

Personally I don't care who uses my maps...I wouldn't post them if I did (which is also why you will never see pictures of my children on the internet). But for you pros out there I guess that it is one of the drawbacks of posting on the net. Have you gotten more work from posting here than you would have otherwise? Is it worth taking the risk of copyright breaches to get your work out there?

One more thing I will say though is that the more generic and easily adaptable the map is the more people are going to want it. I've noticed that the unlabeled WIPs are downloaded a lot more than the finished maps. That's why I like to post raw versions, so they are useful to others. A simple watermark over your work will deter most people from taking the image because they are looking for something quick and pretty...not an afternoon of doctoring each image in photoshop.

06-23-2010, 01:05 AM
I've noticed that the unlabeled WIPs are downloaded a lot more than the finished maps.

Ok, this is going to be a dumb question but how do you see the number of downloads? I know I'm going to put my face in my hand as soon as you tell me :)

06-23-2010, 01:24 AM
you're right of course Aval, most inhere are lurkers, and I agree especially with the new gallery feature they will never see the signature where we keep our copyright info. So thats back to having your signature on the map so people can find you if they want to. I'm guessing thats the best we can do. And I can see that scenario you paint (or map) easily, and if we add to that that EVERYTHING on the web is FREE *sigh* then the rpglife thing happens. Unfortunatly its up to rpglife (and all other sites, this included) to make sure that people aren't idiots and don't break the law, cause its their (and our) ass on the line.
Concerning the number of people watching the maps, I think the reason for the high number in WIP is that people inhere spend a lot of time in there critisizing and helping and when the Finished map is uploaded a lot of people don't go there, cause they've seen the finished WIP - or at least they only go one time.

06-23-2010, 03:06 AM
Maybe we could remove the lurkers, but that may be unfair, or put a rule in place that encourages people to contribute a bit more, I think that if people want to be members of this site they should contribute in some way, at least post one map or something like that. That and install a watermark feature.

Just an idea...


06-23-2010, 03:36 AM
I would never have found this place if it wasn't for a lurker - cause one of my friend who DM's a game I'm in found it in search for battle maps for D&D, he told me about it - and I haven't left since *lol*

I think the only way to "activate" the lurkers is to just continue how we do - by being nice to everybody and making sure that people are accepted no matter if they post maps or not. I don't think we'll get the majority of lurkers to participate - they are probably just here to get maps for their games, but every now and then a lurker "jumps out" of the darkness and join the debate - and thats cool :)

Personally I don't care about the watermark feature - they have it on DA and I don't use it there either (even though my maps and art are for sale there), but I'll start adding a symbol of my own to my maps - and hope people who repost it, don't remove it :)

06-23-2010, 03:38 AM
Fair enough, it was just a spur of the moment idea.


06-23-2010, 03:42 AM
the sentiment is fine - its the means of execution that are limited.. :)

06-23-2010, 02:24 PM
Maybe we just block downloading because even if I put a little thing on my map about copyright someone can always just crop that out or cover it up (I've seen it done countless times). Maybe we have a public forum and a private forum and you have to be approved to get into the private area (sort of like what we have for CLs and IPs) and put basic stuff in the public area. But the bottom line is that if someone is really intent on taking credit for someone else's work they will figure out ways to do so...lots of insecure teens (children really) out there want some kind of notoriety and will do these sorts of things. The other thing to note is that if someone wants to hire them to make a similar map for them then they won't be able to so they're found out in time. I could never replicate a Ramah map the way he does it or Torstan or anyone...even though I know how and there are free brushes to use. The real signature is in the style which comes from a multitude of little things.

PS I'm horrid sick so maybe none of that makes any sense.

06-23-2010, 02:36 PM
I think it would be a shame to block downloading - A lot of lurkers out there probably use our maps for their games, and I'm fine with that - pleased even :) ... although feedback would be nice ;)

06-23-2010, 03:47 PM
I too am pleased to think that someone is able to enjoy a map I make by using it in one of their games. Feedback is always great because it spurs you on to make your next map.

I was looking at the downloads though and I'm a bit confused. I noticed that just a few lines on a page gets downloaded, what's that about? I can understand once an item starts taking shape but when it's still in the infancy stages why would anyone download that? Unless maybe, they are trying to create their own work in progress. Seems a waste though because like Ascension said, if they were to try and create a new map like it they would not have the ability.

I think a lot of what we are talking about here is along the lines of what the music industry went through a few years ago. There is always going to be the leaks. I am reminded of something I read written by one of the guys at Stardock. Stardock put a game out called Galactic Civilizations 2, and it had absolutely NO anti-piracy software. Boy the anti-piracy developers went ape nuts over how foolish this was. They said, Stardock was going to loose their shorts because they were making it possible for folks to easily pirate the game. The Stardock guy said something about knowing your target audience and not stressing about the few who were going to rip the game just because they could. The end result? GalCiv2 was like the best selling game of the year or something. Basically, they rolled the game out, allowed you to register with them and then you got free updates and added content for several months afterwards. You also had a reputation with them and could talk with them on their boards, offer suggestions and the like, yadda yadda.

It was an incredible debate that went on about the value of anti-piracy. One of the Anti-piracy companies had a guy who actually posted the game for a short time for download who was later forced to apologize by his company. What an idiot.
Best seller of the year was a great victory for the good guys though.

I think the target we want are the folks who offer feedback and/or are willing to pay something because not only do they get more of what they want, but it helps all of us continue to put out more stuff. These are the win/win people. Thieves just gradually kill it for everyone.

06-23-2010, 04:54 PM
how do you look at downloads? I just thought we could only see how many time a thread was watched...

06-23-2010, 04:54 PM
Hmm, well maybe if you had to donate a dollar (or 10) in order to download something if you had no posts or no minimum post number say like 10...we require 5 posts before being able to send private messages. Or maybe for like every 10 posts you go down a dollar until you get to the point where you don't have to donate any more.

06-23-2010, 05:00 PM
the problem here is how to do that practically - cause if you see the map - then you can download it, or take a screenshot (but most maps are of course bigger than the screen). And if you want the people to give good critique, you'll have to show them a good quality map :)
We could do a test for people being able to se more than thumbs... 3 easy questions concerning copyright ;)

06-25-2010, 02:41 PM
Um, er.... yup, I only just joined and so I'd better put my hands up now and confess! :blush: I'm one of the very few volunteer moderator/admins at RPGLife - the website in question that sparked this thread. I'd like to plead "lack of credibility" in my defence! :oops:
....and, yes, torstan, I'm the same "Crayons" who responded to you and then poked senior Admin into dealing with the situation you raised. Whilst I have admin rights there, I'm generally just a "moderator with extreme prejudice" when it comes to the "bot" spammers and the like. If it's OK with you guys I'd just like to be the noob here? If you want stuff deleted off there could you please contact RPG Life directly as mentioned earlier?

Now, before I appear for my public stoning I could add a bit of info about some of the discussion here, plus I have a question( or two) on copyright and here.

Firstly. Back in 2002 I had a Digimarc registry (mentioned earlier) for some of my artwork I put on the web. It does work - PSP can read it for example. However, it costs a little money depending on the number you intend using. It's also not foolproof (back then anyway) - the water mark is (as far as I could tell) invisible but didn't seem to survive cropping. Sometimes it could read that there was one but not the ID. I guess the point comes down to who owns the least corrupted original. If someone is publishing a cropped version and you have the uncropped original - the courts will presumably favour your claim. It's still a murky old area.
However - the nice thing is that people are basically good. Like you chaps. They usually don't mind their stuff being free so long as credit is assigned (and I thoroughly agree with that sentiment) aaaaand most people don't steal anyway. Not intentionally anyway. All in all the whole thing gives me one of those rare warm feelings about the human species!

Secondly, the question(s).
I've recently bought into Runequest, "The Second Age" as a campaign area and I was basically confused by all the separate maps in the books. As a private project and to learn FM8 a bit, I basically joined all the maps together to make one single .FMP of continental Genertela. It's a fairly monster map, and not entirely accurate to the books, what with FM8's fractals doing their "thing". It's not exactly an artistic masterpiece either but could be useful to RQ players/GMs.
However, it's essentially a sort of "tracing" of Mongoose's map design with all the place names etc that go with that. Mongoose appear to reserve copyright on anything pertaining and so forth and so I'd be happy to write to them to ask the various permissions.
In a nutshell - does anyone know Mongoose? Would I be wasting my time asking and, more importantly, what should I be asking them if I wanted to publish it on CG?


06-25-2010, 06:20 PM
Well, from what we/I know, Fan Derivative works fall outside the realm. If the patchwork map is an entirely original work (i.e. You Traced the original merged maps and then 'redid' the whole), you should be fine. I say this, because I redid all the encounter maps from Thunderspire, Pyramid of Shadows and Trollhaunt Warrens modules by Wizards of the Coast, as clean Encounter Maps suitable for printing and for use with minaitures. I put on the maps when I knew whose work they were based on, and my own or open commons artwork for symbols/fills etc. To date I have not heard of complaints from Mike Schley or WotC to remove my maps, and I KNOW they are likely aware of it (the maps were used by the folks at Penny Arcade in their games, and I know these folks are quite friendly with the WotC staffers.)

And thats just me, lots of maps here are reworks of other peoples worlds, so again,I think you should be fine, especially if you are not selling them, and giving credit where credit is due.

06-25-2010, 07:08 PM
Mongoose is a pretty decent sized company with a lot of products they keep track of. When I did some work for them they were happy to let me put it up in my portfolio, but they were clear that I would need to make it obviously labeled that it was their copyright. I'd be surprised if they objected to your use of their work in the way that you say, but there's certainly no harm in sending them a note to check. if you have trouble tracking down an email address then send me a pm here and I'll track one down from my work with them.

And no worries about the map issue - thanks a lot for passing the question along to the guys who handled it. That was a pretty quick turnaround actually and you did a good job. I'll see what I can do to hold back the stones :)

06-26-2010, 02:57 AM
*putting down the fluffy live roleplaying stone* *lol*... good show Crayons - and as you have read in this thread, we're just concerned with credit and don't really believe people steal (a lot) but more that people "share without predjudice" ;) and we know you moderators and admins on a free site can't keep track of it all either, but as mentioned earlier, if the process for uploading included a credit field - then it would get people thinking more :)

Concerning your map I agree with the others, if you have drawn a new map inspired by theirs I think they will be allright with you publishing it - but it never hurts to ask... especially since it can hurt NOT to ask *lol*.
There are lots of maps in here from books, games etc - and nobody has been hung yet - its like fan fiction ... it helps sell the product behind it and no need to shout at fans who are putting money in our pockets :)

06-26-2010, 12:43 PM
Just a by-the-way: If you're concerned that one of your images has escaped custody and is running amok out there on the 'net, try Tin Eye (http://www.tineye.com). It's a reverse image search. You upload or link to your image, and it searches its index to find matches. It's still in beta, I think, and it's still building its index, but it does work. I've never found one of my own images with it, but I have used it to track down the source of an image that I wanted to use in order to find out its pedigree (it turned out to be a NASA photograph in the public domain, which is why I found it everywhere with no attribution).

And welcome Crayons! The issue of derivative works is murky. I've done essentially what you describe with the map from Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, and I have to admit that it made me a bit nervous, particularly since I was unable to locate any guidelines for fan art based on Jordan's work. RPGs, of course, are a somewhat unique area of intellectual property, since there is an expectation that GMs and players will expand upon the existing information and create derivative works as a side effect of playing the game. And since we roleplayers are naturally cooperative, sharing people, anyone who publishes in this industry should expect that those derivative works will be shared and further expanded. That being the case, I do not think Mongoose should object to your project or your sharing of it. Whether should equates to would is, of course, another matter.

The short answer is that there isn't a short answer—maybe it's okay and maybe it isn't, and the way the courts would hypothetically decide shouldn't be your guiding principle. The safest course is to try to get in touch with Mongoose and ask for permission, 'cause that's bulletproof.