Wiki Images and Copyright Law

While working on my finals I tried to relax a little bit by working on the Gurutama Wiki.

I’ve been tackling the behemoth that is the Slavery article on Gurutama. There’s a lot of ground to cover. Different types of slavery, how slavery is practiced in different locations, and the morality of slavery in a world with an absolute set of moral rules (for example, is temporary enslavement of convicts in exchange for a reduced sentence acceptable?).

I’ve been trawling the internet for images to post alongside what I write.

I want good images, but I also want to use them legally. I could just pick up any old image and plop it on the Wiki, but there’s a risk if the owner of that image gets mad at me and decides to take legal action.

In most cases that would just be a cease and desist letter. I’d take the image off the site and no one is hurt. But since my friends and I have a passing interest in eventually releasing the Gurutama campaign setting as a Kickstarter, we need to cover our legal butts before something bad happens.

So instead of taking whatever images I want (like this sexy image of Gibraltar) I have to use ones that the owners have approved for use by people like me.

There’s three basic ways the owner of an image can give permission for me to use their property.
1. An established license like the Wikimedia license or the Creative Commons license. The Wikimedia license is awesome. Essentially everything on Wikipedia is free to use in other projects as long as the attribution to the original author stays with the image.
2. Asking the owner of the image if you can use it. I unfortunately haven’t gotten responses from any of the cool images I want to use. And a lack of response counts as a “No.”
3. Implied consent. If an artist allows their image to be used by a bunch of places without taking action against them, then I can assume that I don’t need to ask their permission.

I got access to the following image due to a round-about application of implied consent.

Made by John Wigley. Props to him!
Made by John Wigley. Props to him!

This image is actually owned Games Workshop as part of their Warhammer card game.

Games Workshop allows their images to be used by anyone for any purpose as long as the original artist gives permission.

Andddd… John Wigley has allowed tons of people to use his image with no indication that he requires people to ask him for permission. Therefore, implied consent. I get to use it.

I did still ask him if I could use it, but got no response. Unlike when I asked to use the Gibraltar photo, there’s enough evidence that this one is okay to use, as long as I’m not profiting from the use.

There is a fourth source for images to use on the Gurutama Wiki, things that are out of copyright.

The length of a copyright is a little difficult to determine. You can thank Disney’s lobbyists for that. Everytime Mickey Mouse gets close to being out of copyright Disney throws more money at Congress until the maximum lifetime of a copyright is extended.

Here’s the basics on how copyright lifetimes work:
An artist can renew their copyright whenever they want while they’re alive.
After an artist dies, the copyright can only exist for a set number of years after their death. This is so the artist’s heirs can continue to profit and live off the artist’s work. It makes sense. The motive behind the original law is good.
So what’s a good amount of time for that law? I would think 20 years. By then, even if the artist had infant children they would be adults who completed college if they attended right after high school.
Not so! 50-70 years after death is the current law in most countries. Long enough for the artist’s grandchildren to be dead before the copyright expires in most cases.
It’s a little different for properties owned by corporations (like Mickey Mouse). Since there’s no individual artist that owns the intellectual property the countdown starts right away instead of waiting for the company to “die.” In exchange, the company gets a longer lifetime to exercise their copyright. The current lifetime is 95 years after publication in the United States.

What this essentially means is any art made prior to the 1900s is free for me to use. If I want to put the Mona Lisa on my Gurutama Wiki, I can do that. No problem. Leonardo de Vinci isn’t going to sue me because he’s been dead for centuries.

Which brings me to this image:

Bandit Attack
Lawlessness of Middle Ages. – Attack of Italian Bandits

I found this image on a website called Look and Learn while searching for a good picture of a slave raid that didn’t involve guns. I got a bandit attack instead, but it worked for the Slavery article.

Look and Learn claims their copyright on this image started in 2010.

Seems okay at first glance, right? Until you remember your art history and realize that the style of this drawing places it in the 1700s.

That got me suspicious of Look and Learn’s supposed copyright. I reverse image searched the drawing and found it in a scanned book (out of copyright) on Google’s book database.

The book was published in 1894 by John Clark Ridpath and is titled History of the World.

It’s likely that Ridpath found this illustration in a museum and used it in his book as it was already out of copyright when he was writing.

Lets assume he didn’t. Let’s assumed that Ridpath was the owner of this image, either by purchasing it from an artist or drawing it himself in an old style to match his subject material. Ridpath passed away in 1900. The copyright on the image would only extend to 1970, making it 45 years out of copyright.

So how exactly does Look and Learn claim to own and sell this image? They even cite the source (erroneously citing a reprint of the original book, but a citation), making it clear to the astute observer that they couldn’t possibly own this image.

Well, Look and Learn is actually selling a high quality scan of this image, which they do own.

I just took a lower quality scan from Google’s database and used that.

This is all part of the Slavery article on Gurutama. It’s shaping into something I’m proud of. Check it out!

-GoCorral

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Fixing the Camera Printer

image
Ancient technology from the long long ago. The printer is the thing on top of the computer tower. The camera is the giant cabinet looking thing to the right of the monitor.

We have something called a “gel doc printer” at my work. It’s purpose is self-evident. It prints documents of our gel pictures.

Gel doc printers are used infrequently and often labs share them. Ours is shared between… probably five different labs? Maybe more.

Taking pictures of gels is important in science. Gels are how we visualize DNA and proteins.

A digital copy is good enough for your own records, but you need a printed copy in case someone claims your digital copy is edited. The gel doc printer provides that physical copy.

Our printer is shared and an issue comes up that when the printer breaks we don’t know whose responsibility it is to fix it.

Usually the breaks are fixed easily. A reboot of the printer or the computer will suffice. Not this time!

This time the printer has refused to print any and all images despite the computer recognizing it as a printer that is plugged in and printing test pages.

Awful looking test pages, but test pages none the less.
Awful looking test pages, but test pages none the less.

I delved into it and realized the printer’s driver’s were outdated. Normally this would be an easy problem to fix. Not so!

You see, the computer the printer is attached to runs Windows XP which is no longer supported by Microsoft.

An unsupported operating system can easily be hacked which means this computer can no longer be connected to the internet. If it was, hackers would have an easy access point to UC Davis’s systems.

What that means is I couldn’t just download an update to the drivers like usual. I had to download the update on my laptop and then move it over to the printer computer with my USB drive.

So I downloaded the drivers and moved them over to the computer. “But wait! You need the driver install program.”

Okay. I get that and move it over. “But wait! You need .Net Framework 4 to use the driver install program!”

Okay… I get that and move it over. “BUT WAIT! You need Windows Service Pack 3 to install .Net Framework 4!”

Okaayyyy… Move that on over. And that one finally installs!

Moving backwards, the .Net Framework 4 installed as well. Along with the patch I got for that.

Then the driver install program laughed at me and said it needed access to the internet after all. I tried installing the drivers on my own, but no luck there.

I researched more on the problem. The printer is able to print out the very first part of all the images. Then it disconnects from the computer, reconnects, and decides the print job is complete.

I found absolutely nothing on how to fix that problem. There were some suggestions that it was a problem with the connection to the computer, but switching the USB port used by the printer changed nothing.

Maybe a new USB cable would do the trick, but I’m unsure if those are available for printers this old or whether it would fix the problem.

For now, all the images are put on USB sticks and printed on different computers.

-GoCorral

Hearthstone Tracker

Hearthstone Tracker Stats
More statistics than you can swing a stick at! That is, if you’re into swinging sticks at statistics…

I got a program called HearthstoneTracker to generate some statistics on my Hearthstone matches.

Do I win more against a certain type of class? Do I win more when I’m playing a certain class? Which matchups are favorable for which class? Which class have I been playing against the most lately? Do I win more often going first or second? Am I making enough money in Arena for it to be worthwhile?

Hearthstone Tracker collects the data that I can then use to answer those questions. It even has graphs!

Hearthstone Tracker Over Time
I lost a lot of games on September 14th.
And here you can see my win/loss rate is good, but not amazing.
And here you can see my win/loss rate is good, but not amazing.

The program is available for free at http://hearthstonetracker.com/

It’s a small download and it runs in a separate window while you play Hearthstone. You can minimize the window or even have the program stored in the tray if taskbar space is precious to you.

The program may collect a lot of statistics but it has a few issues.

Originally the program collected stats through a screen capture system. This is fine if you always keep the game open, but I like to do other things while I play (like writing blog posts).

I created a workaround for that through a little bit of window feng shui.

The program developer has since come up with a way to grab data from the stream going on to the internet or something.

And somehow that method is even worse. I don’t know how it manages to get the length of a game wrong every single time, but it does. There’s an option to manually enter the times along with changing which class you played, which class you played against, how many turns the game took, etc. But who wants to do that manually? That’s why I got the program in the first place!

Other than that it performs fine. It detects who won and who you were playing against. Ultimately that’s all that matters.

The Tracker also has a neat feature after you finish an Arena run. You can manually enter your rewards and it keeps a running total at the bottom of the application.

I’ve tested HearthstoneTracker against other tracking applications out there, Track-o-bot and HearthStats, and I found HearthstoneTracker to be the best one. If you’re interested in something that will keep track for you, I’d definitely recommend the little program!

-Mister Ed

Original Gurutama Timeline

As I continue to develop more of Gurutama I’ll be making page links in the top bar for permanent information.

Eventually those page links will be an easy source of information for myself, my players, and anyone else who wants to read up on our imaginary world.

I’ll add more organization as necessary, but with only one link right now, I don’t think its needed.

If you haven’t already seen it at the top, the Original Gurutama Timeline is now accessible.

This is the unedited version which is probably filled with inconsistencies, timing problems, and other errors. I’ll be smoothing those out and posting a Revised Gurutama Timeline as I go.

That’s pretty much it for today!

Here’s a picture of a bear starting an exercise regime to make up for the lack of a real blog post.

Hula Hoop

-Mister Ed

Mapping Methods

Room 2 of the Lich Shade dungeon drawn using graph paper with notes on it.
Room 2 of the Lich Shade dungeon drawn using graph paper with notes on it.

There a lot of different styles of DMing in D&D and other roleplaying games.

You can wing it and come to each session with very little prepared.

You can come up with the adventure for each session in the week before.

You can also do what I do, make up the entire campaign before starting it.

Between each session I have almost no creative work to do for D&D. My campaign has been running for close to three years now and I’ve only had to design one adventure out of about a dozen since then.

It’s nice. I don’t need to spend extra time on the game for me and my friends to have a lot of fun.

I have started to run into a few issues though.

When I wrote the campaign I imagined my group would still manage to meet in person.

That proved to be horribly wrong. We have in person sessions about once a year now.

When I drew all my maps they looked like the one pictured above. I’d make them on a piece of yellow-green graph paper.

When they reached a room I’d draw with a wet-erase marker on a battle mat I brought to each session.

When the players defeated the monsters in one room I’d erase and draw the next room.

Dry erasing was easy, but creating good maps in our current system is a little difficult.

My group now plays over the internet using an internet browser program called Roll20.

Roll20 is really great. It has everything a tabletop has. You can even turn on a feature to see your dice roll across the table.

However, I can’t just grab a pen and draw on my monitor as easily as I draw on the battle mat used previously.

I suppose I could do that if I was used to creating digital images, but I’m not.

Instead I’ve taken to making lame looking maps or using a cool mapping software piece called GridMapper.

The second room of the Lich Shade dungeon made using GridMapper.
The second room of the Lich Shade dungeon made using GridMapper.

GridMapper is extremely simple. You pretty much just click to change stuff.

I can easily build maps in GridMapper. They don’t look amazing because it doesn’t come with preset images like trees and stuff, but they’re functional just like my dry erase mat.

GridMapper has one issue, it has a maximum image size. Easy to get around though, I just make two images and glue them together for really big rooms.

I’m slowly converting all my old pencil maps into GridMapper maps for Roll20 now.

That’s it for now!

-Mister Ed