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Art theft & copyright violation?

mxyzplk

Villager
Ah, the saga continues.

That WHOIS is accurate, it's his parents' house. When he is posting on blogs/forums and defacing Wikipedia the IP addresses come from Marion, IL. So he is based in that area.

You can get all the information you'd ever want on this guy and his history on Geek Related - thanks for linking my one article, but it's part of a long term chronicling of this guy and his misdeeds on the off chance someone'll do something one day. Concerted effort has gotten some Web sites and stores of his shut down (notice that his Web site URL and email has changed several times over this); do feel free and complain to his ISP, email provider, Web host, Paypal, etc. to disrupt his fencing. And heck maybe writing to his parents at the WHOIS address and explaining their son's a crook might help, it is the Midwest, maybe they'll give him a long deserved talking to.
 

Janx

Adventurer
Yup. But someone still has to think of it and pay for the initial consult.

Plus, the class has to be certified by the court, which isn't a rubber stamp process.
I think we all hope that some forum member who happens to be a Lawyer is outraged by the injustice of it all and solves these parts of the problem...
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I think we all hope that some forum member who happens to be a Lawyer is outraged by the injustice of it all and solves these parts of the problem...
I'm pretty sure WotC, Games Workshop, and Dreamworks can afford lawyers. Cost clearly isn't the issue.
 

billd91

Earl of Cornbread
I'm pretty sure WotC, Games Workshop, and Dreamworks can afford lawyers. Cost clearly isn't the issue.
But cost vs benefit may be an issue. That cost could be larger than the perceived benefit of shutting the infraction down.
 

Janx

Adventurer
I'm pretty sure WotC, Games Workshop, and Dreamworks can afford lawyers. Cost clearly isn't the issue.
From my read of the article, those people weren't the ones stolen from. An artist licensed some art to WotC, and Shipman pirated that art. WotC got what it paid for. It's not the same as Shipman stealing WotC's in-house art.

As such, these big shops aren't as invested in the problem.

I would be surprised to hear this guy is making lots of money (I saw 50 units referenced for one title). But no doubt its eating into individual artists, etc.
 

Ryujin

Adventurer
But cost vs benefit may be an issue. That cost could be larger than the perceived benefit of shutting the infraction down.
Sometimes the only cost is to have a letter sent by a lawyer, though it sounds like this particular person really wouldn't care about that. If he's using mommy and daddy's place as an address then perhaps he's somewhat judgment proof? Blood from a stone (or basement troll) and all of that.
 

Janx

Adventurer
Sometimes the only cost is to have a letter sent by a lawyer, though it sounds like this particular person really wouldn't care about that. If he's using mommy and daddy's place as an address then perhaps he's somewhat judgment proof? Blood from a stone (or basement troll) and all of that.
Might be a matter of chasing the problem down the wrong way.

He's doing this stuff online, which may violate Wire Fraud or other laws as he is misrepresenting his product. It's basically piracy, and if you get the right agency involved (say if you know an FBI guy who has fast-lane tickets to Gitmo because you work in InfoSec related industries...)

If he is using Mommy and Daddy's place, then file suit and get judgement against them. That'll help nip that crap in the bud when his family suffers the repercussions of his actions.
 
I see he's still up to no good. Unfortunately a search for Outlaw Press brings his site up, again, and I notice that he's got all of my books back up for sale --again-- that he is not authorized to print or sell, and which he agreed to take down in discussions when this first boiled to the surface back in 2008ish; and lots more....in fact I am arguably among the least of his victims. Some of the books I had effectively donated to his cause back when it looked legit in the early 00's since they were reprints of articles and adventures for T&T from my old 80's fanzine, and I only requested copies as payment since (at the time and still today to be honest) I saw no point in trying to profit on old T&T content from ages past. But then stuff I had not authorized started appearing...and the whole thing blew up with the revelation of his unauthorized use of art and content in early 2008 (iirc) when he set up an account with onebookshelf and started posting product for sale at rpgnow. This opened it up to wider exposure than before, and almost immediately people started recognizing pirated work.

Jim is weirdly fixated on T&T, and will pirate anything for his own use and sale that is T&T connected or can be forced to connect to T&T (I recall one of his books was actually content from an old issue of Dragon Magazine retooled for T&T, for example). The art is a bigger issue, however, as he clearly takes what he wants without regard or interest in the source, and uses the talent of others to make a profit off of them. For a guy so fixated on T&T, he's taken great pains to destroy the game's community and take advantage of the fact that it's such a small niche community and no one is able to defend themselves from his predation of their works.

Although I have bigger things in life to worry about, I do periodically entertain a fantasy of picking up some equipment and paying Jim a visit. Luckily for him I have a family to worry about and a strong sense of right and wrong....unlike Jim.....but one day I imagine he might finally step on the wrong person and learn a very painful lesson for it.
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
If he is using Mommy and Daddy's place, then file suit and get judgement against them. That'll help nip that crap in the bud when his family suffers the repercussions of his actions.
I'm personally leery of punishing someone's relatives for their crimes; we have no way of knowing if they're even aware of what he's doing, let alone know that he's using their address as a location from which to commit his crimes.

While I agree that dragging them into any sort of proceedings against him might be a good way to have them make him stop, it'd be something different if, say, the federal government simply seizes their house (via civil or criminal forfeiture) as being the base of operations of a systemic copyright-infringement scheme (which is entirely possible; it's how we took down the Vampire Nation, after all).
 
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Emirikol

Villager
Why not just send the cops to his house with a letter from the company alleging theft/fraud?

You don't have to be a lawyer to bring charges against someone. I had an assistant stealing $20 copays up front. I didn't get a lawyer. I called the cops. They handled it.



jh
 

Janx

Adventurer
I'm personally leery of punishing someone's relatives for their crimes; we have no way of knowing if they're even aware of what he's doing, let alone know that he's using their address as a location from which to commit his crimes.

While I agree that dragging them into any sort of proceedings against him might be a good way to have them make him stop, it'd be something different if, say, the federal government simply seizes their house (via civil or criminal forfeiture) as being the base of operations of a systemic copyright-infringement scheme (which is entirely possible; it's how we took down the Vampire Nation, after all).
If I was a lawyer (and I am most definitely not), I'd start off with a scary letter to his folks worded in a way that defines that we know who they are, who he is, and that they are colluding in an illegal operation with him and will thus be included in any legal actions if his entire operation does not cease and desist.

Basically a C&D letter, putting them in the cross-hairs of the oncoming storm if he doesn't stop. because they are named as the responsible party for his web-site. ICANN is serious about that domain registry requirement to name a person who is responsible (which is what WHOIS returns).

Based on the outcome of that, then you go feral on them all with any legal angle you can. Fact is, they raised a crap-son. If they don't correct it or disassociate from him, they deserve what's coming.

This ain't rocket science. 4chan retaliation is of the same scale of war. you pick a target, and hammer them with the tools of your trade.
 

Janx

Adventurer
Why not just send the cops to his house with a letter from the company alleging theft/fraud?

You don't have to be a lawyer to bring charges against someone. I had an assistant stealing $20 copays up front. I didn't get a lawyer. I called the cops. They handled it.



jh
Good idea, but for some reason business operations are out of the jurisdiction of cops.

Your assistant was local to you and the crime and the police.

I don't know that [MENTION=10738]camazotz[/MENTION] can call the police in Shipman's town and get them to go to his house.

Which is ironic, because online gamers can figure out where a rival lives and call a SWAT team in on them...
 
If I was a lawyer (and I am most definitely not), I'd start off with a scary letter to his folks worded in a way that defines that we know who they are, who he is, and that they are colluding in an illegal operation with him and will thus be included in any legal actions if his entire operation does not cease and desist.

Basically a C&D letter, putting them in the cross-hairs of the oncoming storm if he doesn't stop. because they are named as the responsible party for his web-site. ICANN is serious about that domain registry requirement to name a person who is responsible (which is what WHOIS returns).

Based on the outcome of that, then you go feral on them all with any legal angle you can. Fact is, they raised a crap-son. If they don't correct it or disassociate from him, they deserve what's coming.

This ain't rocket science. 4chan retaliation is of the same scale of war. you pick a target, and hammer them with the tools of your trade.
I think the key issue is that those who have been most affected by his actions, at least of those I know, are not affiliated with 4chan in any way, nor are they the kind of people to even think of 4chan-level retaliation. That's not to say some of the artists he's wronged wouldn't be.....I can always hope.
 

Janx

Adventurer
I think the key issue is that those who have been most affected by his actions, at least of those I know, are not affiliated with 4chan in any way, nor are they the kind of people to even think of 4chan-level retaliation. That's not to say some of the artists he's wronged wouldn't be.....I can always hope.
Well, you can always do some research on who he is, who to contact in his town and call the cops.

Just be prepared with URLs and proof that he is selling your stuff and that you want to press charges for theft.
 
Good idea, but for some reason business operations are out of the jurisdiction of cops.

Your assistant was local to you and the crime and the police.

I don't know that [MENTION=10738]camazotz[/MENTION] can call the police in Shipman's town and get them to go to his house.

Which is ironic, because online gamers can figure out where a rival lives and call a SWAT team in on them...
It's a question of time/effort investment, and how one wants to resolve it. I personally would like to meet him in person and have him look me in the eye, and explain himself. At least I could understand if his behavior is sociopathic, caused by some sort of mental condition, or is purely driven by an amoral personality.

As I said, of the works he's stolen I am low on the list of offended parties --about four or five modules that he's ripped off, but which due to obscurity and being OOP weren't creating money for me previously-- so I could probably probably make a small claims court case against him for theft of copyrighted product, and seek reparations....which come to think of it might not be a bad idea if I feel like taking the time to do it. Other people, especially Ken St. Andre and others such as Fiery Dragon and Flying Buffalo Inc, have a significant case against him for unlawfully reproducing their product and selling it as his own.
 
Well, you can always do some research on who he is, who to contact in his town and call the cops.

Just be prepared with URLs and proof that he is selling your stuff and that you want to press charges for theft.
That's the tricky part. For example: I published most of the content he now flaunts in 1984-1989 via a semi-monthly gaming fanzine called The Sorcerer's Scrolls. At least one of the modules he publishes in one of his compilations is mine, but it's from an issue of TSS I no longer own, and the original files (which were on an old 386 PC that died in 1993) are lost. I know it's my work, but demonstrating that isn't so easy. Other works are more problematic: Aberdan's Folly module was originally a four-part serial solitaire for T&T published in 1987 in TSS. When Shipman contacted me in 2003ish about reprinting old TSS articles I gave him permission to restore/edit Aberdan's Folly in a new format, and did not ask for compensation; as far as I was concerned in 2003 there was no money to be made and Jim's operation looked more like a T&T fan project. The final product was very nice, the guy who edited did a great job, and I thought the art was amazing. Of course cut to a few years later, and I find out the art was mostly pirated (the cover chiefly).

I got my first foreshadowing of problems in 2007 when I found out by accident that he had published "Nymph-o-Mania" and the module in question without my permission, nor did he send me free copies (as had been my arrangement for Aberdan's Folly). In fact in a prior engagement with him he had purchased most of my old copies of TSS issues he did not have, and I had indicated that if he was interested in reprinting my written content (about 30% of TSS's content was written by me) I could make similar arrangements as we had with Aberdan's Folly. The problem was, he went ahead and did that without actually consulting me. He may have other works of mine in books I don't know about. I know of at least one satirical article I wrote that I have been told made it in to a product....but none of these subsequent reprints were vetted by or agreed to. Had he simply asked, I would have let him do it for no cost other than some free copies; that's how these articles appeared in the 80's, and how I mistakenly thought his operation was working at the time.

When I confronted him about publishing Nymph-o-Mania and other works he was basically apologetic and sent me copies. I concluded with reservations that maybe there had been a misunderstanding, so I let it lie at the time....until....

After the explosion of reveals about his theft of art and content that popped up when he went live on rpgnow in late 2007 early 2008, I realized that something else had been going on with Jim and it was not just another fan-centered effort to keep T&T alive like the old days as I remembered it. I emailed him and asked that he stop producing and selling my content during the explosion of theft reveals, and tried to get some sort of explanation out of him, but he would not offer up any info, merely agreeing to stop selling my works. He did stop for a while, but with a recent check he has reneged on that agreement, clearly.

One side note: I never determined if it was him or an auspicious do-gooder, but one of my own books at the time was hit by a takedown request (Keepers of Lingusia, an OSR book for use with C&C and AD&D). The tie-in was that the same setting us used in all of my old T&T content, and the original "Keepers" title linked to my first T&T sourcebook I published in 1987. I got the book back up after demonstrating my copyright ownership, but it was intensely annoying...I never did determine if the accuser was Shipman trying to steal my work or a well-meaning soul who saw Shipman's sale of my book on his site and assumed it was more of Shipman's theft. After the email conversation I had with him, he did stop selling physical copies of books I had produced on his site (new issues of TSS, the Keepers book and my Troll Companion book, iirc). So he at least seems to have honored that portion of my request....though I wouldn't be surprised at all to find he was simply reproducing the work with names changes slightly.

So the conundrum I face is: would I have enough impetus and "damages" to make the issue worthwhile? Is police involvement for my sake alone worth it?* Groups have been formed among those wronged to discuss exactly this. I've sort of fallen out of the direction they went, but mostly I think the efforts have been to police his antics and try to get takedowns of his sites when possible.



*Would police take this seriously, too? I may be jaded about our police system but I am sure I don't have the legal know-how to navigate our system of justice to insure that this would work as intended. I'd be a lot more comfortable with a civil court situation, but even then I think the cost of pursuing it would outweigh any claims of damages. But again....my situation is pretty unique. Others have experienced real and significant losses because of his actions, including publishers like Flying Buffalo and Fiery Dragon. Why they haven't taken action, I don't know....
 
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Janx

Adventurer
It's a question of time/effort investment, and how one wants to resolve it. I personally would like to meet him in person and have him look me in the eye, and explain himself. At least I could understand if his behavior is sociopathic, caused by some sort of mental condition, or is purely driven by an amoral personality.

As I said, of the works he's stolen I am low on the list of offended parties --about four or five modules that he's ripped off, but which due to obscurity and being OOP weren't creating money for me previously-- so I could probably probably make a small claims court case against him for theft of copyrighted product, and seek reparations....which come to think of it might not be a bad idea if I feel like taking the time to do it. Other people, especially Ken St. Andre and others such as Fiery Dragon and Flying Buffalo Inc, have a significant case against him for unlawfully reproducing their product and selling it as his own.
A guy broke into my house a few months back and stole some stuff. If I had that guy's name, I'd drop a load of trouble on him just on principal.

So whether you are a small fish or not, if you have proof of what you own, and that he has it and that's something the cops can bust him, I'd do it in a heartbeat. You can easily point out other victims to the cops, and they can do the legwork of contacting the other victims and confirming the violation to build up a heavier case.
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
Seems pretty cut and dried to me too. But until someone cobbles together enough scratch to sue the bastard and have enough stamina to win, he's not going to stop.
He shouldn't need to be sued. Copyright law is a criminal affair, not a civil one.
 
A guy broke into my house a few months back and stole some stuff. If I had that guy's name, I'd drop a load of trouble on him just on principal.

So whether you are a small fish or not, if you have proof of what you own, and that he has it and that's something the cops can bust him, I'd do it in a heartbeat. You can easily point out other victims to the cops, and they can do the legwork of contacting the other victims and confirming the violation to build up a heavier case.
Not being very legally savvy, I am not sure ordinary burglary would work the same way as copyright violation, which is effectively what he's doing (to me, at least). I can get take-down notices pretty easily for that reason, but sale of works unlawfully as I understand it would be a court/lawsuit issue as opposed to a cop/arrest issue. If I'm wrong someone correct me.

That said, I do wonder if everyone who's wronged by him has similar issues to mine....they know they've been wronged, but the next step (lawsuit) looks too costly to be worth the effort.
 

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