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#556211
DarkSabre wrote: Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:16 pm But then you have SW Destiny & Transformers TCG that have sites actively selling cards if you don’t want to print them yourself.
I look at SWD and I'm envious but heckuva scared with their caution to the wind approach. It's Disney they're messing with, not some obscure nobody's-exactly-sure-who group of parties.
 
By phaserihardlyknowher (Ben Daeuber)
 - Alpha Quadrant
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#556219
DarkSabre wrote: Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:16 pm But then you have SW Destiny & Transformers TCG that have sites actively selling cards if you don’t want to print them yourself.
I assume Renewed Hope is counting on the fact that they are not using images from the movies, but rather original artwork. It's probably somewhat tenuous, but it's firmer ground than the CC would be on reprinting actual stills from the shows. That's largely speculation on my part, of course.

NISEI also uses its own art and writers. The legal status there is likely fairly tenuous as well since FFG could likely make a trademark claim on the Android setting.

MOD EDIT (nobthehobbit): Content in violation of Rule 4 removed.
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#556226
DarkSabre wrote: Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:16 pm To me it’s all semantic. The CC does raise money by selling tickets to buy tournament kits. It’s a slight of hand that I don’t think would really hold up. It’s why the SWCCG never used images until recently (and only of cosplayers) and used prior cards as needed to be sleeved with the new virtual cards.

But then you have SW Destiny & Transformers TCG that have sites actively selling cards if you don’t want to print them yourself.
No it isn't and using an example of someone doing something wrong is not proof it's ok to do that thing.
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By nobthehobbit (Daniel Pareja)
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#556227
Let's not directly discuss groups that sell professionally-printed versions of the cards they produce for the games they maintain?
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By BCSWowbagger (James Heaney)
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#556236
SudenKapala wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 6:00 am
DarkSabre wrote: Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:16 pm It’s why the SWCCG never used images until recently (and only of cosplayers) and used prior cards as needed to be sleeved with the new virtual cards.
I always assumed that this was due to CBS being more lenient than SW copyright holders.
Is this assumption wrong?
This assumption is correct. Disney is a vicious guardian of its legal rights -- both its real rights and those imagined by its lawyers -- in part because its business model for decades has relied on artificial scarcity. I hate the Disney Corporation unreservedly for this.

CBS/Paramount/Viacom learned an important lesson from the 1998 (?) Star Trek Continuum crackdown and the resulting backlash, and has never forgotten it, even though that whole ugly episode has been. The lesson: fans are good for business. Despite my very serious objections to U.S./International copyright laws and the power they give unaccountable corporations like Disney and CBS, I have to concede that CBS and its predecessors have really gone out of their way to be generous to the Trek fandom -- much more than the law demands. Disney's just evil.

On topic:

Several people have pointed out or argued that there are significant differences between the CC's actual operations and selling CC cards on eBay.

I wish to add one more significant difference: profitability. Courts of law care about this somewhat (it varies), but CBS specifically cares about it enormously.

In general, courts of law are more inclined to be lenient with individuals or organizations that use a copyrighted work non-commercially. This is written into U.S. copyright law (17 USC 107, subparagraph 1), and courts take it into account. A business or individual that is using a copyrighted work for corporate or personal enrichment had better have all his legal t's crossed and i's dotted, because he is going to get the full force of legal scrutiny applied to him. However, an organization that is using a copyrighted work for other reasons -- for example, an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization that engages in limited monetary exchanges solely to keep the lights on -- is more likely to be indulged on other points of fair use law.

(I will not discuss other points of fair use law as they relate to the CC, because I do not see any good reason to give hypothetical hostile future lawyers quotes to deploy in some hypothetical future lawsuit against the CC.)

Now, we could get bogged down for days debating what exactly constitutes a "commercial use" in the sense intended by 17 USC 107 -- and many lawyers have done just that! Suffice to say that selling cards on eBay is clearly, unambiguously, a commercial use, sure to draw a court's scrutiny, while the CC has gone to some lengths to minimize its exposure to accusations of commercial use. But the law only carries us so far here.

As many others in this thread have argued, the CC faces an uphill battle (at best) in any legal showdown with CBS. Therefore, our overriding priority should be to avoid provoking CBS. We don't have to win a legal showdown with CBS over the finer points of 17 USC 107 if CBS is never cheesed off at us!

And CBS has made it exceptionally clear that, for CBS, the line that you must never, ever cross is "personal enrichment."

For years (and years and years), CBS was quite happy to turn a blind eye to fan films, including some very expensive productions, starting with the "Cow Creek Agreement" of 2002ish. They allowed various productions to give big paychecks to "legacy" Trek cast like Nichelle Nichols and George Takei. They allowed productions to offer fans the materials to make their own DVDs of the shows. Eventually, they allowed productions to put out Kickstarters which could (and did) include DVDs as a backer reward. When the big snapback came and the guidelines were put in place (which did very little to stop amateur fan films, by the way), they explicitly continued to allow large amounts of money (up to $50,000!) to flow from donors to fan film producers, within limits. (The DVD backer rewards were banned.)

But CBS/Paramount/Viacom always came down hard if they got wind that you were personally making money off their property. They even took that rule and made it explicit in their fan film guidelines, and their representative, John Van Citters, went still further in making it clear a few days afterward: They don't really mind fans using other fans' money to create fan things. But they are BIG MAD about fans using other fans' money to pad their bank accounts.

You saw this in the really big confrontations, like the famous Axanar lawsuit, which happened because Axanar used fan money to build a movie studio (for non-Trek, for-profit works!) and sell branded coffee -- among other shocking violations of the informal agreements between CBS and fan films. You also saw it in really tiny confrontations, like when Star Trek Beyond (the US fan series, not the UK fan series, nor the Abrams movie) got quietly taken out behind the shed and shot with a C&D less than 72 hours after CBS became aware that they were selling DVDs directly to fans and (apparently) pocketing the profits. CBS likes the fan shows! They do not like fan profiteers, which is, as far as I have been able to gather, how they view such people.

Note that none of this has anything to do with copyright law. There is no legal rule determining where CBS sends its C&D's. It's all about CBS's specific preferences. And CBS's specific preference appears to be don't you DARE take money derived from our intellectual property and use it for self-enrichment. They don't seem to care much whether you use that money to buy a yacht or use it to buy a stick of chewing gum: they just really hate the concept of fans making personal profit off their intellectual property.

So, yes, there is some reason to believe that the CC's actions are legally more defensible than selling cards on eBay. But, more importantly, there is considerable reason to believe that the CC's actions (funding its all-volunteer fan activities) are much less likely to anger CBS than selling cards on eBay (funding the seller's personal bank account).

In conclusion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4FGvMdhG80
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By SudenKapala (Suden Käpälä)
 - Delta Quadrant
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1E The Neutral Zone Regional Participant 2021
#556238
BCSWowbagger wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 6:23 pm
SudenKapala wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 6:00 am
DarkSabre wrote: Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:16 pm It’s why the SWCCG never used images until recently (and only of cosplayers) and used prior cards as needed to be sleeved with the new virtual cards.
I always assumed that this was due to CBS being more lenient than SW copyright holders.
Is this assumption wrong?
This assumption is correct -- yadayadayada...
Thanks for that in-depth answer and explanation. :thumbsup: :cheersL:

I couldn't open the trek dot com link, though.

And my assumption is perhaps a bit older than Disney's acquisition of the Wars property -- the SWCCG PC has always done it differently than the CC. Which is why I like new Trek cards, and not new Wars cards. :-/ I'm a visual creature.

But yes, Disney has made everything worse and I hate them too. :(
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By Armus (Brian Sykes)
 - The Center of the Galaxy
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1E American National Second Runner-Up 2020
#556244
BCSWowbagger wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 6:23 pm

This assumption is correct. Disney is a vicious guardian of its legal rights -- both its real rights and those imagined by its lawyers -- in part because its business model for decades has relied on artificial scarcity. I hate the Disney Corporation unreservedly for this.

CBS/Paramount/Viacom learned an important lesson from the 1998 (?) Star Trek Continuum crackdown and the resulting backlash, and has never forgotten it, even though that whole ugly episode has been. The lesson: fans are good for business. Despite my very serious objections to U.S./International copyright laws and the power they give unaccountable corporations like Disney and CBS, I have to concede that CBS and its predecessors have really gone out of their way to be generous to the Trek fandom -- much more than the law demands. Disney's just evil.

On topic:

Several people have pointed out or argued that there are significant differences between the CC's actual operations and selling CC cards on eBay.

I wish to add one more significant difference: profitability. Courts of law care about this somewhat (it varies), but CBS specifically cares about it enormously.

In general, courts of law are more inclined to be lenient with individuals or organizations that use a copyrighted work non-commercially. This is written into U.S. copyright law (17 USC 107, subparagraph 1), and courts take it into account. A business or individual that is using a copyrighted work for corporate or personal enrichment had better have all his legal t's crossed and i's dotted, because he is going to get the full force of legal scrutiny applied to him. However, an organization that is using a copyrighted work for other reasons -- for example, an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization that engages in limited monetary exchanges solely to keep the lights on -- is more likely to be indulged on other points of fair use law.

(I will not discuss other points of fair use law as they relate to the CC, because I do not see any good reason to give hypothetical hostile future lawyers quotes to deploy in some hypothetical future lawsuit against the CC.)

Now, we could get bogged down for days debating what exactly constitutes a "commercial use" in the sense intended by 17 USC 107 -- and many lawyers have done just that! Suffice to say that selling cards on eBay is clearly, unambiguously, a commercial use, sure to draw a court's scrutiny, while the CC has gone to some lengths to minimize its exposure to accusations of commercial use. But the law only carries us so far here.

As many others in this thread have argued, the CC faces an uphill battle (at best) in any legal showdown with CBS. Therefore, our overriding priority should be to avoid provoking CBS. We don't have to win a legal showdown with CBS over the finer points of 17 USC 107 if CBS is never cheesed off at us!

And CBS has made it exceptionally clear that, for CBS, the line that you must never, ever cross is "personal enrichment."

For years (and years and years), CBS was quite happy to turn a blind eye to fan films, including some very expensive productions, starting with the "Cow Creek Agreement" of 2002ish. They allowed various productions to give big paychecks to "legacy" Trek cast like Nichelle Nichols and George Takei. They allowed productions to offer fans the materials to make their own DVDs of the shows. Eventually, they allowed productions to put out Kickstarters which could (and did) include DVDs as a backer reward. When the big snapback came and the guidelines were put in place (which did very little to stop amateur fan films, by the way), they explicitly continued to allow large amounts of money (up to $50,000!) to flow from donors to fan film producers, within limits. (The DVD backer rewards were banned.)

But CBS/Paramount/Viacom always came down hard if they got wind that you were personally making money off their property. They even took that rule and made it explicit in their fan film guidelines, and their representative, John Van Citters, went still further in making it clear a few days afterward: They don't really mind fans using other fans' money to create fan things. But they are BIG MAD about fans using other fans' money to pad their bank accounts.

You saw this in the really big confrontations, like the famous Axanar lawsuit, which happened because Axanar used fan money to build a movie studio (for non-Trek, for-profit works!) and sell branded coffee -- among other shocking violations of the informal agreements between CBS and fan films. You also saw it in really tiny confrontations, like when Star Trek Beyond (the US fan series, not the UK fan series, nor the Abrams movie) got quietly taken out behind the shed and shot with a C&D less than 72 hours after CBS became aware that they were selling DVDs directly to fans and (apparently) pocketing the profits. CBS likes the fan shows! They do not like fan profiteers, which is, as far as I have been able to gather, how they view such people.

Note that none of this has anything to do with copyright law. There is no legal rule determining where CBS sends its C&D's. It's all about CBS's specific preferences. And CBS's specific preference appears to be don't you DARE take money derived from our intellectual property and use it for self-enrichment. They don't seem to care much whether you use that money to buy a yacht or use it to buy a stick of chewing gum: they just really hate the concept of fans making personal profit off their intellectual property.

So, yes, there is some reason to believe that the CC's actions are legally more defensible than selling cards on eBay. But, more importantly, there is considerable reason to believe that the CC's actions (funding its all-volunteer fan activities) are much less likely to anger CBS than selling cards on eBay (funding the seller's personal bank account).

In conclusion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4FGvMdhG80
Ok so that's a lot to chew on, but if I try to boil it down, my main takeaway is that the CC is relatively safe from CBS while people selling CC cards on eBay are not.

So I guess my question at this point is who would be more likely to get the C&D: the person selling the cards on eBay or the CC who is clearly and demonstrably doing everything they can to stay on the right side of the implied and informal "law"?
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By Boffo97 (Dave Hines)
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#556247
I would say if eBay selling drew a C&D, and the seller said where they got the cards from, the seller themselves might draw a C&D, but the source would definitely draw one.
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By BCSWowbagger (James Heaney)
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#556253
Armus wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 10:50 pmOk so that's a lot to chew on, but if I try to boil it down, my main takeaway is that the CC is relatively safe from CBS while people selling CC cards on eBay are not.
Relatively, yes. (Big strong emphasis on "relative.")
So I guess my question at this point is who would be more likely to get the C&D: the person selling the cards on eBay or the CC who is clearly and demonstrably doing everything they can to stay on the right side of the implied and informal "law"?
Oh, I think the person selling the cards on eBay certainly has more risk of a C&D (or worse) than the CC in this semi-hypothetical. By a long shot!

But it's nevertheless reasonable for the CC to be concerned that CBS will trace this commercial activity back to the source and -- perhaps not studying the CC's operations all that closely -- make a rash decision to C&D us as well. (This would be especially true if the CC allowed a larger secondary market in its VPs to flourish; one rogue seller is a small risk, but a hundred sellers would be practically an invitation to CBS to turn its gaze on us -- something we do not want.) So the CC's best interests are served by loudly and vigorously decrying anything of this nature, in every single case, to prevent that kind of attention-drawing behavior from happening... especially if it creates the happy side effect of showing some CBS lawyer skimming our website that we're on CBS's side.

The fact that the rogue seller's risk is higher than the CC's is not really of interest to the CC; the only thing the CC cares about is keeping its risk profile as low as possible while still continuing operations, and the rogue seller compromises that goal.

Again, all my experience is in fan films, and the "card game" part of the market is a bit different... but I can't think of a single fan film producer who would react differently if they found their work being sold on the secondary market. Fan creators carefully manage the amount of risk in their relationship with CBS, carefully weighing all the costs and benefits at every step. Fan film fans who start selling DVDs or whatever increase the creator's risk with no benefit to the creator (or to the project, or to fandom, or to anyone except themselves). They are generally considered scum, and I generally agree with that assessment.

EDIT: If it came down to it, and CBS got in contact with us about a problem, I suspect we could work something out, as others have done in the past. CBS is not unreasonable. Sometimes rash, but, even then, generally open to reasonable discussion with fans. But "not getting to that point" is a good solid objective for the CC to follow, and aggressively opposing virtual card sales for personal profit is a good solid way to support that objective.
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By Boffo97 (Dave Hines)
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#556254
My answer contradicts James' answer.

This means I am almost certainly wrong. ;)
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#556302
This thread made me think of another thing. If a group wanted to print on actual cardboard to make it possible to tell someone, "welcome to the game, here sleeve these", would that be prohibidado?

What if a store charged a membership to keep the lights on and gave away nicely printed starters as part of the membership programme?

For that matter, could the CC get a deal to print a hundred copies of Lucas's beginner decks and send them to TDs who pay to be part of a recruitment programme? Does the "sticker on top of a real card" strategy play a genuine role here?
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By edgeofhearing (Lucas Thompson)
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#556307
Fritzinger wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 2:02 pmDoes the "sticker on top of a real card" strategy play a genuine role here?
I believe the distinction here is the same reason why sometimes print shops turn people away when trying to just print the pdfs on regular paper. That happens to me all the time, to the point where I don't even bother with it. The print shops don't care about the copyright disclaimer on the card - fundamentally, they are making a profit by printing copyrighted images, so an astute/asshole clerk will turn us away no matter how fair our use is.

The difference with prints on cardboard vs prints on regular printer paper is that the prints on cardboard can't happen at home. None of us have home card-production facilities. If there are cards printed on cardboard, then it was done professionally, and money changed hands for a profit (even though it wasn't for the CC's profit). If cards are printed on regular paper, or even foil sticker paper, well, that could have been done at home for personal use.

The CC can't be seen to be involved in cardboard printing. I think the biggest problem with the event that got all printing site discussion banned is that the site-that-shall-not-be-named had a storefront that people could order copies of the TNG starters that someone had uploaded. That's the part of the operation that attracted the (phony) C&D that the CC received. If there were to be a site that would print cards but not show what people have uploaded to it, individuals might do that, but I don't think the CC can risk being involved in such a thing directly.

If such a site existed.
 
By phaserihardlyknowher (Ben Daeuber)
 - Alpha Quadrant
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#556313
There's also the question of trademarks to consider. Regardless of whatever the copyright status is -- and I don't know it -- there's things like logos and names that are likely trademarked. And I can say from direct experience that companies are often very protective about how their trademarks are used. It's not only their public image, but licensing those marks is a revenue stream. Since I see those logos on subreddits and websites, I assume CBS lets trademark use slide because fan groups promote their product, but they will swing a trademark hammer if they felt someone was misusing their brand (say they were co-opted for a racist group). Another reason to err far on the side of caution.

I'd also add that trademark protects consumers as well as companies. It's disingenuous to sell cards to people who don't know better and might think they are buying a licensed product. When you come to trekcc.org it's clear this is a fan group and unlicensed. That's not clear in other venues.
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#556331
My take is pretty simple:
1. The legality doesn't actually matter, because even if we were 100% in the right (and let's face it, we're in a bit of a grey area *at best*), the CC can't afford to get anywhere near a judge to get a ruling. And I wouldn't expect the Board members to pony up their own cash (and risk the liabilities!) to even make the attempt. Any serious C&D will sink this whole enterprise.

2. There's no way the rights holders don't know we're here. We're far too visible to pretend that CBS somehow hasn't Googled their own series and stumbled into us.

3. This means that what the CC is doing today is falling into that space of "CBS doesn't mind... for now". And as others have pointed out, we can map out a general-but-fuzzy area of where CBS lets fans play and where they 100% don't.

4. If that C&D (or Brad forbid, an actual lawsuit), the Board is gonna be stuck dealing with the lawyers and the paperwork. Not me, not the folks who want to post their graphic cards on this site, not the folks who want to advertise that cool site that makes cards that look just like the real thing. Which means I have no problem with the board being conservative in what they allow, since it's their hide on the line and their risk to manage. (And me going "aw, it'll be fine!" doesn't count for beans when I'll get to whistle merrily into the distance when the fecal matter impacts the rotary blades)
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