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Messages - Becca Mills

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1
Nobody could make an RPG based on your series without your permission. No trademark needed. You have copyright and if you don't license the rights to X to them, they can't do it. They would be liable for a ton of damages under the law in the USA.  Trademark won't change that.  This is part of my point... people seem to think trademark and copyright are the same thing and they aren't, at all.

Hmm. I thought copyright only protected the actual text of my books, not including the titles. I guess an RPG would include all sorts of place and character names and so forth, and would therefore violate copyright, but couldn't someone put the title of my book or series on a lunch box, along with illustrations of my characters, as they see them, without violating copyright? (This is, we understand, a lunch box exactly nobody would buy.) If copyright already protects against a variety of unauthorized merchandising spinoffs, well, I guess I'm really not seeing why people want to trademark. Author name ... I guess I can see that, though it doesn't seem all that important.

2
Here's what should be posted here:

1) Factual updates on changes in the status of the case. That means stuff like "my lawyer filed X today," "the judge ruled Y today," "a hearing has been scheduled for Z date," etc.
2) Occasional appeals for financial support and expressions of appreciation for such support.
3) Civilly phrased expressions of emotional support and appreciation for such.

Rebecca should not be mentioned here except to report significant legal actions taken by her lawyer(s).

Discussion of legal tactics and the giving of legal advice is not welcome.

If these limitations have not been made adequately clear, I apologize. I hope the situation is clear now, and that everyone who has been following the case understands the thread's rules and abides by them. We'll move to thread bans from here on out.

Questions about the rules for this thread should come to me or one of the other mods via PM. If they're posted here in the thread, they'll be deleted.

ETA: I see a number of posts came in while I was writing this. I'm going out for a while, so I'll be locking the thread until I get home and have time to read what's been posted.

EagainTA: I was disappointed to see that discussion of the material I removed from Christina's post continued after I removed it. Most of those posts have been deleted. I salvaged a few bits that appeared mostly to convey factual information and clarification about an upcoming meeting.

I'm going to leave this thread closed for the time-being. After more than a year and 150+ moderation actions, there's apparently still significant misunderstanding of the limitations the site owner placed on this thread. Given our attempts to explain here, here, here, here, here, and in a number of other locations, I'm thinking the limitations simply cannot be made clear enough. Or perhaps they simply can't be accepted. At any rate, I think I've maxed out on working this particular thread, at least for now.

3
Trademarks are supposed to be on existing products, not on products you're thinking about producing in the future. I think there's some sort of "reserve" thing in the Trademark system, though.

Yeah there is. Not sure how it works, but I remember seeing references to it. Maybe that's how the owners of major IPs expand into new areas of merchandising? I'm really not sure.

Lordy. All this stuff gives me a powerful way-above-my-pay-grade feeling.  :-\

4
That's really interesting Imgregory -- thanks for sharing!

I can see how this happens. If I wrote a really, really, REALLY successful series and thought I might want to sell rights to make a RPG or something, a trademark would help make sure no one else created a RPG based on my series, claiming some of the money my RPG could've made. Movie studios think this way -- the lunch boxes, the action figures, the Halloween costumes, the phone skins, etc. You don't want someone else raking in some of the potential profit from revenue streams you're planning to exploit. But if you're just an author and have no plans to get into lunch boxes and Halloween costumes and so forth, maybe you don't care a whole lot if someone else makes such things based on your series. Yeah, they're piggybacking off your success, but they're not actually collecting dollars you were trying for because they're making things you have no plans to make because overseeing licensing for a lunch box empire is just not your dream.

That's my total-layperson way of thinking about it, anyway.

5
OK, I was a little snarky. But I think it's still a valid point. You would think that given the number of high ranking pen names involved that at least some of them would be making a concerted effort to go wide and possibly republish their (non-stuffed) books to Amazon through D2D or Streetlib. The fact that they aren't is... Interesting? As JWright said, after having something like that happen, even if you got your Amazon account reinstated would you really want to risk going back into KU? People are nervous enough about their accounts over this and the page read stripping issues already. If you had your account terminated and you knew that Amazon was going to be examining everything you did from now on under a microscope, why take the risk? It would make far more sense to stay out of KU and go wide, in which case why not start getting your books out there?

Well, I have no idea what's up with these two fantasy authors, and my general outlook about my own books is like David's -- I don't like the idea of exclusivity. I'm thinking about a short spell in KU for a new series I'm working on, but honestly, even considering it sort of gives me hives. I wouldn't be if Amazon hadn't apparently decided to stop terminating accounts in connection with the page-stripping issue. That was scary stuff.

That said, I can see reasons why these authors might be hesitant to go wide immediately, even if they're innocent of wrongdoing. Like David suggested, some genres seem to have the bulk of their readership in KU. Certain types of UF seem to, definitely. LitRPG might as well -- I don't read that one, so I'm not sure. Harem and RH books might too? So there might be a sense of utter defeat, like 95% of your audience has been taken away, and it's all hopeless if you can't get back into KU. It'd take me a while to get my self together, if I were feeling that way. There also might be a desire not to do anything that might send an oh-yeah-who-needs-you-anyway message to Amazon at a delicate juncture. Trying to get the removed books back on Amazon through a backdoor seems very risky to me. I wouldn't want to try that until I'd exhausted all possibilities with Amazon because it might really tick them off.

Not defending these guys, because I really have zero idea what's happened. But as someone who's been on the wrong end of an undeserved (though understandable) draconian Amazon reaction, I don't think we should jump to conclusions based on this or that little thing, because little things might look other than they really are when you're viewing them as part of an incomplete picture.

6
Let's keep things civil, folks -- we're a no-snark zone around here. Well, a minimal-snark zone, at any rate.  :)

I hear word the thread-splitting function may have been fixed, so I'm going to try again to excise the trademark-related material. There may be a brief thread-lock involved ...

ETA: It ain't fixed.  :-\

7
Writers' Cafe / Re: Failure
« on: July 20, 2018, 08:16:15 PM »
Let's keep the focus on writing and publishing, folks. Posts have been edited and removed.

8
We've promoted her from the cupboard under the stairs to Dudley's second bedroom.😆😄🙄😂😁😎

 ;D

9
They would definitely have to ask Craig Martelle for permission.

Yes, agreed -- sharing screenshots from private groups without permission is a no-no.

10
20Books is a secret group. Taking screenshots might get you banned from it.

I think ........ was saying they could ask permission to take screenshots ("could perhaps wrangle"), but as I said, not necessary.

11
It's inside the 20Booksto50K group. I could perhaps wrangle screenshots?

Thanks, but there's no need to request screenshots. I'm sure a number of people here are also members there and can confirm the material was copied completely and accurately.

12
........, can you please supply a link to the place Earle posted that material? We want everyone to be able to see that people really did say/write the words that are attributed to them.

ETA: Okay, I see where this was posted. Since Earle explicitly invited sharing, I'll leave the material here for now for the moment -- we'll do some smoky-caves discussing. Please remember our prohibition on importing controversy from other groups. The focus should be on what Earle said, as shown here, not on what may be happening elsewhere surrounding his remarks. We'll see how it goes. Thanks.

13
That is heroic, Becca. Do you actually have a life outside this place, or do you live in the Kboards stationery cupboard?

Betsy and Ann absolutely DO NOT have me wedged in a smoky crevasse. ;)

14
Okay, I'll do a little paring of the closed thread and reopen it, but let's do keep things factual and resist piling on Rutkowska. A few posts struck me as having a nasty edge at the end there. Staying informed is good, but KB isn't the place to host a sustained effort to get a particular book taken down.

A thread focused on the larger issue of what and how much incentivizing material a blurb should/is permitted to contain would of course be fine.

15
:) :) :)

Hey, it let me ignore my WIP for like an hour. #procrastination #level6unlocked

16
This thread has been active for going on three months, and I daresay its hugeness has made it difficult to mine for information. So I've made a sort of table of contents of posts that struck me (subjectively, of course) as the kinds of things people might specifically want to find. I'll place a link to this post in the OP so people will be able to find it easily, even as it gets buried. If the thread continues to cover new terrain, I'll add more entries below. If you think I've missed something essential, or if you find an error, please feel free to drop me a PM. That said, I've tried to keep this short. There's a lot of super-interesting stuff in this thread I disciplined myself not to mention below, as I don't want a tool intended to assist manageability to itself become unmanageable.

Information on filing a letter of protest against a TM application:
Overview: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3691980.html#msg3691980, http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3662023.html#msg3662023
Where and how to file: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3661924.html#msg3661924
Suggestions on what to include: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3668065.html#msg3668065, http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3668148.html#msg3668148

Attempts to grasp trademark law and procedures:
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3673372.html#msg3673372
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3673376.html#msg3673376
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3677591.html#msg3677591
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3682162.html#msg3682162
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3682640.html#msg3682640
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3685279.html#msg3685279

Where in the thread discussion of various other TMing efforts begins (listed alphabetically):
"big": http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3678426.html#msg3678426
"dragon slayer," "destroyer," and others: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3677420.html#msg3677420
"embrace": http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3662876.html#msg3662876
"forever": http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3668063.html#msg3668063
Michael-Scott Earle cover trade dress: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3691733.html#msg3691733
"infinite": http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3677454.html#msg3677454
"quantum series": http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3668850.html#msg3668850
"rebellion": http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3662222.html#msg3662222
"stargazer": http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3670768.html#msg3670768

@cockybot:
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3662222.html#msg3662222
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3670701.html#msg3670701
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3670713.html#msg3670713
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3677486.html#msg3677486
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3685334.html#msg3685334

Legal actions:
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3668850.html#msg3668850
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3669209.html#msg3669209
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3671325.html#msg3671325
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3684566.html#msg3684566
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3685145.html#msg3685145

RWA involvement:
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3661677.html#msg3661677
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3661340.html#msg3661340
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3671087.html#msg3671087

SFWA involvement:
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,263084.msg3692327.html#msg3692327

17
As to protesting it? A web search should bring up the place where protests can be sent. Best to do it now, while it only costs time.

Directions and advice from Kevin Kneupper appear in this thread as well. I'll track it down.

Edit: forgot to add the link
Edit again: specifically, see here

18
Guess I know what the $20 I asked be refunded but haven't received when she shut down IASN went for.

Please locate reports of late/missing IASN refunds on Phoenix's thread about the closing: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,264334.0.html. Such reports should not include allegations embezzlement.

19
There's a thread on this book that got locked yesterday. I think a lot of people complained about it because they were violating TOS right on the Amazon site by saying you needed to send them a reciept to get the bonuses.

Thanks for mentioning the locked thread, Hope. I see that the book in question is available for preorder again, and the offer of $5,000 in bonuses for those who enter their receipt on a website after purchase is still present in the blurb. Apparently, that blurb material has passed muster with Amazon -- they had the book down for a while on Wednesday, so we know they looked at it.

As I said above, let's keep this thread focused on "Goodreads Cracked."

20
Writers' Cafe / Re: Gender neutral singular “they”
« on: July 20, 2018, 10:52:45 AM »
I conclude that the writer is either illiterate or lazy.

I would think threads like this one, where people are going to the trouble of discussing the issue (suggests non-laziness) and seem capable of extracting meaning from one another's posts (suggests literacy), provide counter-evidence.

21
I believe "Downloadable series of fiction books" is pretty specific. You can find it under Goods and Services on the application.

IME, CONAN The Destroyer would not violate the proposed TM. Chris Fox's Destroyer book would not violate the TM. No single title books would violate the TM.

Are we really sure about this, not regarding "destroyer," specifically, but as a general principle? Couldn't a TM holder argue that using their series title in your individual book title represents an attempt to make your book seem like it's part of their series?

For instance, I'm pretty sure I couldn't get away with publishing a standalone, non-series book titled Chicken Soup for the Urban Fantasy Lover's Soul, or whatever. Even though I'm not using "chicken soup for the ___'s soul" as a series title, my book's title would be a pretty clear attempt to piggyback on the trademarked series title. I suspect they could take me to court and win on that.

There's got to be a line in there somewhere, maybe having to do with the strength of the mark? Or how much of it you're using? Dunno. I think I'd want advice from a lawyer before using a trademarked term, even in a non-series title.

Edit: inserted a word for clarity

22
Writers' Cafe / Re: Box sets no longer eligible for KU bonuses
« on: July 20, 2018, 09:30:55 AM »
Well, there are already legitimate definitions for these things. Of course, we can depend on Amazon to come up with something needless convoluted and make it pointless.  :P

A boxed set has traditionally been multiple full length works "boxed" together (traditionally, an actual box). Current boxed sets are generally uncurated collections of full length, unrelated books by different authors. (often, the only curation is a willingness to pay to be part of the set).

A short story collection is a collection of short stories by a single author.

An anthology is collection of short stories compiled and curated by an editor (usually multiple authors, but occasionally single-author. But the key point is that it is curated by someone other than the author)

An omnibus is a collection of previously published full length works, usually by a single author. Rarely, multiple authors but in such cases it is a curated collection by an editor and the books are related in some way. For example, an omnibus of books all set in the same fantasy world, but written by different authors.

You and I know the difference because we're humans.  ::)

But seriously, if they do take this step, I hope they'll try to stay a step ahead of those who want to abuse the system. If I can think of one loophole, those with a strong incentive to abuse will come up with far more.

23
I can tell you for a fact that this is not true. We know that Amazon removed some titles after trumped up TM claims. I bet those authors saw some financial harm when their books disappeared.

I know of quite a few authors who filed for trademarks as a way to protect themselves. When you see people being granted questionable trademarks and then using them to strong-arm their competitors out of the market, it is only natural to want to protect yourself, especially when your books are your livelihood. Even some of the filings that seem the worst might be coming from someone who is legitimately afraid that someone else is going to come along and TM their books out from under them.

The real problem is that many of the TMs never should have been granted in the first place. If we could trust the trademark office not to grant unwarranted TMs, then we wouldn't see so many authors rushing blindly into the process because they think it is the only way to protect themselves.

Have there been a bunch of totally ridiculous filings lately? Sure. But to claim every author who has ever filed a trademark application is doing it unjustly is incorrect and unnecessary.

I'm sure some people are motivated by genuine feelings of concern, Steve, but giving in to those feelings perpetuates and worsens the problem, potentially exponentially, IMO. This trademarking movement has the potential to sweep across indiedom like a virus.

Also, considering it through the lens of self interest ... every trademark an author owns is going to be a money pit, due to the need to spend decades defending the thing with pricey C&D letters or even lawsuits. You have to defend it consistently if you want it to still be valid when you feel you really need it, right? Well, if one has that kind of money to spend, I personally I think it'd be better to bank it to cover the possible cost of defending one's books from suits brought by overly aggressive trademarkers, rather than taking on the certain and unending cost of suing people to defend one's own questionable trademarks.

Trademarking conservatively, rather than aggressively, seems better both for the community and for the author themself. That's my thinking, anyway.

24
Writers' Cafe / Re: Box sets no longer eligible for KU bonuses
« on: July 20, 2018, 08:56:03 AM »
So, fake news? Was anyone else in the RWA audience who can comment/confirm/refute?

MARK: Can you change the subject line for this thread, please? (ETA: Maybe add a note to the OP as well. This rumor has been spreading like wildfire.)

3rotic: The metadata requirements are in the policy links Mark posted above.

I'll change the thread title now. Mark, if you get confirmation of your initial info, you can change it back using the "modify" button on the thread's initial post.

Darn. Based on initial responses from a range of people, this did seem to be a good solution.

25
Welcome to KBoards, vcerises, and congratulations on your book. :)

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