Saturday, October 30, 2010

Art Theft & Copyright Infringement

Well, I'm going to try and not get all medieval about this subject, but it's going to be difficult.  Very difficult.

As an artist, cartoonist, and writer, copyright infringement and art theft is something that gets my blood boiling.  Why am I up in arms?  I found this post over at The Omnipotent Eye , which led to another blog ~ Esoteric Murmurs .  It discusses James L. Shipman II and his company Outlaw Press, and his theft of art work, and the numerous cases of copyright infringement he is involved in.  Apparantly he's been doing this for years, but because of the cost of lawsuits no one has taken him to court. Well, at least I haven't read anywhere that he's been taken to court over this; maybe he has?  I haven't read everything there is on the forums and blogs about this, but I have read enough to see this guy is as guilty as heck.  There are far too many people who say he ripped off their work for this to be any sort of mistake.  The guy is a crook.

Ken St.. Andre, creater of Tunnels and Trolls, says he can't be stopped in a comment he left on Esoteric Murmurs.  I disagree.  This person ( I use the term loosely ) can be stopped.  RPGNow, and other sites have stopped carrying his products.  If people STOP BUYING HIS PRODUCT ( I should say stolen product ) he will go out of business.  So spread the word.  Do not do business with him, or his "company".  Do not submit ANYTHING for publication to him, he will just rip you off.

He primarily sells T&T related products, and a magazine called The Hobbit Hole.   If you see anything on eBay with this type of product, be wary and do a little research.  He's been changing eBay "identities" since I guess some get compromised.

You don't have to believe me, just use some of the links on Esoteric Murmurs, and do some research, and come to your own conclusions.

Well, I'm proud of myself!  I didn't call James L. Shipman II a douche bag... erm... oh well.  I could have called him many, many things.  I showed great restraint.


Anyway, I hope to have the next post about the Robe of Useful Items up tomorrow.  I hope everyone ( except James L. Shipman II ) has a great Halloween!


  1. My suspicion (as a lawyer with probably less than an educated layman's understanding of copyright law) is that he's at least as interested in staking his own claim to the T&T IP as he is in peddling merch.

  2. Scott, from some of the things I read you may be right, and if that's what he's trying to do then that makes him an even bigger jerk. However, I doubt he will succeed.

    It's a shame that any of the injured parties can't seek justice, if not compensation, because of the cost involved, and that law enforcement considers this a low priority.

  3. I don't know that law enforcement really *can* get involved ... insofar as there's a remedy, it probably lies in tort or breach of contract.

    I don't know how much common ground that IP and trademark law share with other property law, but the one I'd worry about would be some analog of adverse possesson. As a matter of policy, our property law tries to efficiently allocate resources by not allowing viable property to lie fallow. If someone openly and notoriously squats on your real property long enough and you allow it to continue, they can actually gain rights in the property.

    Similarly, in the trademark realm, if you know about an infringement and do nothing about it, the intellectual squatter can gain some rights in the property. This, and not sheer bloodymindedness, is what generally drives corporations and other trademark holders to issue C&D letters - you either assert your own claim and dispute the adverse possessor's claim, or you cede certain rights.

    Again, I'm about as far from being an IP specialist as one could possibly be, but my worry would be that if KSA doesn't vigorously dispute Shipman's open and notorious infringement (if, in fact, it is actionable), that he could be ceding certain rights in the T&T property. And like all right-thinking people, I would hate to see that happen.

    Maybe he should get Dave Kenzer on the horn ...

  4. Scott, yes you're right about the whole thing being similar to adverse possession. I do not know if Tunnels and Trolls has been trademarked, but I hope it has. I thiknn fighting him is all about the cost of the legal system. There needs to be a non-profit group that helps creators with issues like these. There has to be a compromise between people having their rights protected and lawyers getting paid.

    I noticed that none of Shipman's products are available online anymore, and that's why he's probably using the mass email tactic.

    As far as the copyright infringment goes, I hope artists do their research and register their copyrights when they can. I know it's expensive, but it provides a whole different world of protection.

    Of course if people ( like this douche bag, Shipman ), didn't exist ( or at least HAD MORALS ) the world would be a much better place.