Tracey Alley - plagiarist

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
...she doesn't appear to have received any threats to her personal well being, unlike some other women being savaged by the genre crowd.

I hasten to add: that's a good thing!
Agreed. I have often said that there is no situation so bad that people can't make worse. The world doesn't need more of that kind of nonsense. I'm glad that restraint has kept things from crossing that particular line.
 

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Wycen

Explorer
The goblin art reminds me of when we were working on Dawning Star Operation Quick Launch. The original artist on the project had produced some cool sci-fi artwork, possibly "concept" work or maybe specifically for marketing. 1 or 2 pieces were posted on an art review or freelancer site. This was back in 2004 so my memory is fuzzy.

The piece I can recall was a woman in armor, or a space suit, holding one arm up with a gun. The original image had been flipped and the arm changed into the up position. Anyway, someone on the art site recognized it. So, we ended up finding another artist, Danilo.

What really sucked was that I had gone to Gencon SoCal as a sort of ambassador for Dawning Star and handed out flyers teasing the project. It had that picture on it. I still have a couple leftovers somewhere.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Agreed. I have often said that there is no situation so bad that people can't make worse. The world doesn't need more of that kind of nonsense. I'm glad that restraint has kept things from crossing that particular line.

I'd like to think of this a little more optimistically and say that it's not restraint, which would imply that degenerating to that level would be a normal tendency. Rather, I'd like to think that the posts aimed at the author didn't get infected with that particular variety of douchebaggery.
 

Cover art aside, there could be an easy fix for her in this: apologize, admit that she's wrong, withdraw the books, change the names, cover art, and maps, and then republish. Given that they are self-published works that's easy and inexpensive to do (I know, I've self published using the same companies).

The early denials and accusations don't help, but quick action might fend off counter legal action and at least allow some recovery.
 


Janx

Hero
Cover art aside, there could be an easy fix for her in this: apologize, admit that she's wrong, withdraw the books, change the names, cover art, and maps, and then republish. Given that they are self-published works that's easy and inexpensive to do (I know, I've self published using the same companies).

The early denials and accusations don't help, but quick action might fend off counter legal action and at least allow some recovery.

If we take her words at face value, that kind of comes to the point where she was too stupid to do any kind of name search on Google to verify these things are original.

I expect everybody and their uncle who play's D&D to know that published game worlds are copyrighted. At the minimum, they are owned by the GM if it was homebrewed. You can't just publish books set in a game world you played 20 years ago, without doing some safety checks to see if it was copyrighted.

Any other intelligent writer knows to make up their own world, so they can avoid any copyright issues. They AVOID using anything anybody else made up.

This Alley person was in just as much risk from being sued by her old DM if the world hadn't been Mystara, but his own creation.

the high programmer blog lays out the evidence much better though. It's not just names. The place names AND positions on the map are the same. Her cover art has been sourced to top artists like Jeff Easely. Which she probably didn't pay for.

Art is harder to google for a match online. But it's likely this person didn't even THINK that other people would recognize it.

She deserves all the legal trouble the IP holders can muster.

Which in turn, will hopefully teach other aspiring writers to USE THEIR OWN MATERIAL WHEN PUBLISHING.

I am always surprised by how many people don't stop and think about what's legal, what will get you sued. If you think you have a good argument on why your THING would in a lawsuit, you've already failed. Your THING must not be enticing for somebody to want to sue. Never assume you have a perfect exception or argument to win a lawsuit. Develop your ideas to AVOID a lawsuit.
 

Janx

Hero
I wish more people saw these issues the way that I do. There was no theft; there was never any theft. Ideas can't be stolen, only copied. The copyright holders still have the ideas she used, and nothing she has done affected anyone else's ability to use those ideas in the slightest.

Let's avoid the legal part of the discussion that Umbran admonishes for. Suffice it to say, if she broke a law, the lawyers will be happy to sue the stuffing out of her for it.

My name is on a patent that my former employer owns (meaning, I know a thing or two about IP). I design software for a living. It's all my ideas, expressed in code. While you can't steal one of my 10 ideas and now I only have 9 to sell to other people, you would still be violating my wishes and potentially reducing the value of my 10 ideas.

Firstly, there's credit that's being stolen. I am prideful in my work, in that when you know something was built by me, versus another builder, you are happier (as my customer). Therefore, it benefits me everything my idea is used, that I am associated with it. That gets me future business. If you steal my idea (and start selling your own version of it), they customer is happy with YOU, and not Me.

Nextly, I am a control freak to some extent. I don't use my front lawn for much. But I absolutely don't want anybody else using it for their dogs to crap on or some other purpose I am not aware of (like the 2 kids who were screwing in my bushes until my dog found them). I don't want somebody else taking my lawn for their own uses even if I'm not actively using it (the Mystara situation with WotC). And that is my right to do so as the OWNER.

The same is true for ideas. Minecraft (made by Notch) is directly inspired by a game called Infiniminer (made by Zach). Minecraft has made millions of dollars, Infiniminer has not. And it's not because MC stole the idea from Infiniminer. Nope. Instead, Infiniminer died because other developers reverse engineered the code of Infiniminer and began making their own variant versions. Thus, the dev couldn't establish his own work as the definitive version, so he gave up. Once Infiniminer died, Notch was a fan of it, and had new variation idea on the general concept. Unlike Ms. Alley, Notch had the courtesy to code his own version from scratch. Had this theft and forking of the code not happened, Infiniminer might have evolved into Minecraft and Zach would be rich, instead of Notch.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/01/20/proto-minecraft-abandoned-due-to-epic-error/

once, as a young lad, I was making a game called Arena. This was in ye olde times of floppy disks and Apple IIe's. It was coming along great, and my friends really liked it. One of my friends who also programmed borrowed my disk and copied it. He then begain making his own changes. this was NOT a good thing in my mind. I tossed a magnet into his disk case to take care of the problem (back in the day, one carried your stack of disks in a plastic box that fit in your backpack).

I wasn't sitting on the goldmine that was Minecraft (after all, you've never heard of my game). But I knew that I would lose control of my audience and my product if I let rogue variations develop. It was non-trivial to write code back in those days. Even harder to integrate changes from another developer into a common code-base after the damage is done.

Whether it be a real physical property or just bits of magnetic pattern on a disk, the guy who owns it is protective of it. It hurts him emotionally, economically or physically. It don't matter what the thief thinks, it's the Owner who matters.

I hope that this gives some perspective on how an Owner feels. Even in cases where money isn't involved, if you take my idea, that makes me mad. That's harm. If the owner gives his idea away (like Zach effectively did, AFTER the theft), that's his choice.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Incidentally, Mystara is being used by WotC in a licensed deal with CapCom for their new arcade game.
 



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