Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Throw of the Dice

Well, I did something today that I have been promising myself I was going to do for months but have never really gotten around to - I wrote to Bernard Cornwell. I asked, very politely, if I could reference Sharpe in Duty & Honour. Not as a licenced product but just out of courtesy. There are numerous books on the shelf that do this - a lot of them source material that I cite in the game - and none of them are obviously licenced. We shall see what comes back. Even if it is an 'absolutely not - no way' then at least the question is answered.



Anonymous said...

I know it's polite and all, but as long as you don't quote whole pages, and cite your references, did you actually need to ask?

Especially since if you hadn't asked he'd have never have found out, and may well have been legally fine, but now if he says no you'll feel obliged not to.

Still, someone will know the legal side better than me, but I always thought you were fine with quotes and 'inspired by' commentary as long as it clearly stated, etc.

redben said...

There's a difference between using someone's intellectual property for academic purposes and using it for commercial purposes. Even though you can sell a thesis and give a game away for free, the distinction is still there.

Whilst it's unlikely Cornwell would have objected if he'd discovered Neil had referenced Sharpe a couple of times in a self-published book with a small print-run, he in theory could sell the license to Sharpe to a games design company and make some money from it. The existence of Neil's book could compromise this if he included references to Sharpe.

I applaud your decision.

Anonymous said...

The other solution is not to reference Sharpe at all, and you have a game about adventures in the 'historic period'.

Take your choice.

redben said...

Not sure how that's relevant as Neil could do that regardless of what Cornwell said. It's not an either or proposition.

Anonymous said...

The only person saying it's an either or is yourself. It's still an option and still a choice. He's already made some choices regarding this issue and depending on the answer he'll make at least one more I'm sure.

redben said...

So deciding to leave references to Sharpe out is something Neil can do regardless of the reply he gets, so not really relevant.

Vodkashok said...

Its a marketing thing (hey, whodathunk?!)

Sharpe in the text instantly opens the book up to oodles of potential customers. The books I referenced are all 'unlicenced' Sharpe references and I have them on my bookshelf because of it. If he says 'no' then I won't. I can get by without it. If he says 'yes' then I can make the decision whether or not to.

Forewarned is forearmed.


Matt said...

I suppose worst case, you can reference all the material that references Sharpe!