[Resolved] Misappropriation of my Work

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PyTom
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[Resolved] Misappropriation of my Work

#1 Post by PyTom » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:25 pm

EDIT, 31 October 2012:

vNovel Interactive has modified the version of Moonlight Walks on their website to change the title, and to display the license to their users prominently. Now that they're complying with the license, the problem has been resolved to my satisfaction.

-------------------

Just a note, for the record.

Vnovel interactive (vnovel.info) has recently published my game, Moonlight Walks, on their website. They've done this without my permission, and in a manner that is not consistent with the - incredibly lenient - license that Moonlight Walks was released under.

Moonlight walks was released under the following license, a modified version of the MIT license:
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

This Software may only be distributed under the name "Moonlight Walks" if the visual and audio output it presents in response to user input is unchanged. If such output is changed, then the Software must be distributed under a different name.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.
Moonlight Walks can be downloaded from http://www.bishoujo.us/moonlight/. The unauthorized version can be found at http://vnovel.info/moonlight/.

Vnovel is in violation of our copyright in two ways:

1) Despite their game being a substantial copy of Moonlight Walks, they do not include the license/permission notice required by the second clause above. On their website, there is a copyright notice that claims "Copyright 2012 vNovel Interactive. All rights reserved." - a copyright notice that doesn't apply to Moonlight Walks. While they do credit Mugenjohncel and myself, they do so behind an unlabeled tab, and do so in a way that doesn't mention our copyright interest.

The license notice is displayed when someone reaches an ending of the game - sort of. Instead of the messages I placed at the end of the game, they display this screen. Click on it to view it on actual size - and see if you can read the copyright information:
copyright.png
As best as I can tell, the last two paragraphs of the license are entirely missing. So they're out of compliance with this clause of the license.

2) Their version of Moonlight Walks massively changes the audio and visual output of the game. For example, the opening pan is completely missing, as are several images in game. The text is reformatted, and the text box has been changed. While the license allows this, it also requires that if you change the output of the game, the name must be changed. What they have is a game that displays "Moonlight Walks" on its title screen.

I did this because I think free culture is important - I wanted to let people translate and remix Moonlight Walks, and to port it to new platforms if something was to happen to me. But at the same time, I wanted people who attempted to find the definitive version of Moonlight Walks to be able to find it. The license I released it under was an attempt to find a compromise that's good for everyone - and it's this compromise that vNovel is violating.


I contacted vNovel yesterday to ask them to come into compliance with Moonlight Walks' license. And while a representative replied quickly, the have yet to reply to my second email, where I asked them to remove it from their site until they came into compliance. It's been 24 hours, in the middle of the week. They have yet to respond to that email - and why they've changed their navigation to use "Moonlit Walks" as the game name - but the title in-game, and the URL, both say moonlight walks. They've yet to add the license to their web page, and the deceptive copyright notice is there.

On their homepage, they use the term "PyTom's Moonlit Walks". There's no such thing.

This is a little personal for me. Moonlight Walks is _my_ game - now, mine and Mugen's - and I while I'm fine with people remixing it, I don't like people releasing an altered games under the same title, or with using my name to promote an inferior version.

I will note that vNovel is banned from the forum, for using multiple accounts on a single residential connection to promote their product.

I'm hoping that posting this will help convince people that vNovel is a company they don't want to be associated with. And I wanted to make it clear that I have no affiliation with vNovel's version of Moonlight Walks.

I'm sorry I had to post this, but thank you for reading.


PS: vnovel.com has nothing to do with these guys. vnovel.com is the good guys.
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Re: Statement on Vnovel's Misappropriation of my Work

#2 Post by evgaming » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:31 pm

My pitchfork is ready!!! Who's bringing the torches?

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Re: Statement on vNovel's Misappropriation of my Work

#3 Post by fleet » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:50 pm

Have your lawyer contact their ISP.
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Re: Statement on vNovel's Misappropriation of my Work

#4 Post by CheeryMoya » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:05 pm

Yikes, when I saw this I thought redeyesblackpanda and leon did something to piss you off. Skim down, see something about an email, I know panda's more responsible than that D: I need to read before I get a heart attack >_>

I thought vNovel putting Moonlight Walks on their engine was pretty old news and that you already knew about. 'Course with that small disclaimer text, how could anyone notice without straining their eyes? I recall that the user vNovel caused a lot of headaches for people and I always wondered why they never released their web engine for free. It doesn't matter now since C7N is making the WebStory Engine, which is actually available for everyone to use and has a lot of features vNovel never had.
PS: As far as I know, vnovel.com has nothing to do with these guys.
The vnovel.com website project is definitely not related to this, I can vouch for them.

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Re: Statement on vNovel's Misappropriation of my Work

#5 Post by Taleweaver » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:12 am

The sheer amount of arrogance in what the vNovel guys did here even tops most of what others reported from their behavior. It's a shame - I really thought they had potential and vision. Looks like all they have is an urge to walk over people.
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Re: Statement on vNovel's Misappropriation of my Work

#6 Post by Crocosquirrel » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:31 pm

The vnovel.com team consists of redeyesblackpanda, leon, sventheviking, and myself. Speaking for the group, we don't work for them, past, present, or future.
I'm going to get off my soap-box now, and let you get back to your day.

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Re: Statement on vNovel Interactive Misappropriation of my W

#7 Post by PyTom » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:34 pm

That's what I thought. I've made the subject a bit clearer.
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Re: Statement on vNovel Interactive Misappropriation of my W

#8 Post by leon » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:36 pm

We just received a note via contact form on vnovel.com
From: Rick Mason <contact@vnovel.info>
Subject: Potential Trademark Infringement

Message Body:
Hi there,

Please note that your current domain name and website title strongly resemble that of our company. Please also note that vNovel Interactive is a trademarked business name, and seeing as you are operating in the same demographic (namely visual novels) you are likely in breach of intellectual property.

Now, I know that you are a bunch of guys who just want to make great visual novels, not necessarily for profit, and wanted a place to be able to display them practically, and we absolutely welcome that -- in fact, before you came along we were in negotiations to open a public place for everyone, using vNovel's popularity, similar to what you're aiming for, too.

To avoid any legal entanglements, I recommend that you rename the website from "VNovel Initiative" to "Visual Novel Initiative," or even "The Great Visual Novel Initiative" (VNI or GVNI). This is not only clearer to understand for newcomers, but also covers your hides from any potential lawsuits that may arise as a result of claimed business damages.

Thanks for your attention, and I look forward to seeing what you guys make of this place.

If you are in need of any help, don't be afraid to give us a shout.

Oh, and keep an eye out for some open source goodness coming from our end. ;)

All the best,
Rick
If they actually did register for a trademark (I kind of doubt they are even a real company), they almost certainly can't sue someone for having a somewhat similar name. Not to mention we are non-profit.

However in order to make it more clear we are not associated with them, we will rename the project to Visual Novel Initiative - Cooler than the fools at vNovel.info in so many ways.

Also other members involved with this project are jghibiki and SusanTheCat. And anyone willing to help is welcome.

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Re: Statement on vNovel Interactive Misappropriation of my W

#9 Post by SundownKid » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:45 pm

It's a bold-faced lie that you would be breaching "intellectual property" since you are not attempting to sell any visual novels that they created and/or published (and therefore would not hurt their business in any way). It's also incredibly ironic considering they themselves breached the intellectual property of someone else. While I do agree the latter name is better, they are clearly trying to strongarm your name away and you might as well call their bluff.

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Re: Statement on vNovel Interactive Misappropriation of my W

#10 Post by Samu-kun » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:02 pm

Kind of interesting, considering there is no Vnovel trademark in the US Trademark Database... Are they based off seas?

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Re: Statement on vNovel Interactive Misappropriation of my W

#11 Post by AshenhartKrie » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:29 pm

Dude. The arrogance of those people astounds me.

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Re: Statement on vNovel Interactive Misappropriation of my W

#12 Post by ririruetoo » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:22 am

I just finished reading your post Pytom, and I find it disgustingly unprofessional what that site is doing! They stole your game! Ugh. Hopefully they put the game down soon, 'cause you know what bothers me? That they're might be people out in the world now playing it thinking that imposter second rate game is the legit one!
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Re: Statement on vNovel Interactive Misappropriation of my W

#13 Post by AxemRed » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:47 am

If they do actually hold a US trademark, they have to defend it like this or risk losing it.

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Re: Statement on vNovel Interactive Misappropriation of my W

#14 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:46 am

AxemRed wrote:If they do actually hold a US trademark, they have to defend it like this or risk losing it.
While that's true if they have a trademark, I think you're missing the irony of the situation.

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Re: Statement on vNovel Interactive Misappropriation of my W

#15 Post by leon » Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:36 am

Samu-kun wrote:Kind of interesting, considering there is no Vnovel trademark in the US Trademark Database... Are they based off seas?
Whois data shows "Registrant Country:US". Other data about the domain (address, phone number...) is blank, which is why I doubt vNovel Interactive is even a company. I don't think companies usually hide such information.
ririruetoo wrote:I just finished reading your post Pytom, and I find it disgustingly unprofessional what that site is doing! They stole your game! Ugh. Hopefully they put the game down soon, 'cause you know what bothers me? That they're might be people out in the world now playing it thinking that imposter second rate game is the legit one!
Checking the comments on their FB, a lot of people are indeed under an impression vNovel Interactive is making all these VNs, not just publishing them:
"i love your story ripples! i'm gonna read the others as well. will there be more added?i really hope so."
"Ripples change the way i thought of the world, please make a part 2"
"plz make a part 2 for ripples i really want to know what happens next"
"make a sequal to ripples pwease"
"You need to make a sequel to Songs of Araiah"

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