Guidelines questions

Greetings, I am very new to StoryNexus (although not to creating text adventures, RPG scenarios and user content for games in general) and I am seeking advice and clarification from more experienced creators and possibly FBG.

First of all, my apologies I have a fair number of questions which would mean fair amount of reading, and I suspect (as well as hope and dread) fair amount of responses and opinions. Because of this I would like to create a number of threads, each dealing with specific issue. I apologize therefore for cluttering the forums.

Now, I’ve read the guidelines of course, nothing truly surprising there and similar to the guidelines you find with many other content creation platforms. However there is always room for an interpretation (and for creative freedom) so I find it pays to check on some fine details.

My first question is about ownership of content and fan-fiction. Once again I am not unfamiliar with the concepts but in different places I’ve received different answers to the sample scenarios so here are some example of “using others work” and I’d like to know if it might be allowed in the StoryNexus.

Recreating… say d’Artagnan’s famous trip to London to retrieve queen’s diamonds. Naturally the storylets text will be my own (no cutting and pasting from Three Musketeers ;) ), the sequence of events might change, new encounters will be added, elements from numerous movie versions of the events might be used, perhaps even time and place will change (say replacing the 17th century trip from Paris to London with… say 25th century one from Earth to Planet X). In short you can say that story will be my own, but clearly based on the Dumas work.

There are plenty of other example of this scenario, recreating Kobayashi Maru Incident (new ship, new crew, new names… perhaps not even Star Trek universe – but still Kobayashi Maru), Recreating The Hound of the Baskervilles (new detective – player, new sidekick, different characters, different place and time… but still recognizably based on The Hound)

(One thing to add, sources of inspiration and “due credit” text will always be included in world description/introduction)

Welcome to StoryNexus! :)

Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with Failbetter Games; my interpretation is absolutely is not anything resembling the final word. Also, this is a bit off-the-cuff – I’ve been having trouble loading StoryNexus for a couple of days and don’t have a direct link to the ToS.

My understanding is that the StoryNexus policy on copyrighted fiction plays out as follows:

1.) You can create whatever world you want, as long as it’s not set in a FBG-proprietary universe (e.g. Fallen London) and as long as it follows all the other terms of use (e.g. it can’t deploy hate speech).

2.) If you create a world that uses copyrighted material, it is against the ToS to monetize it without written permission from the copyright holder.

3.) If you create a world that uses copyrighted material, FBG will take it down if the copyright holder requests them to.

I don’t know whether this is still under copyright. But given that FBG has created a game of muskeeters in Richelieu’s France and monetized it, I expect you could skirt Dumas and create your own not-quite-3M world without a problem.

Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is quite emphatically still under copyright. But: a story that re-interprets the Hound of the Baskervilles would probably be both outside copyright and monetizable – as long as it uses different characters and a different setting.

Thanks Gordon, I am sure the good folks at Failbetter will be along to give the official slant on this in due course.
edited by Alys Indigo on 3/30/2013

In general - there are no new ideas. It’s very hard to come up with a completely original story that doesn’t at least have elements that have been used before. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Agatha Christie wrote a story called AND THEN THERE WERE NONE which is about ten people isolated in a place where a serial-killer takes them all out one-by-one to punish them for perceived crimes. Sound familair? It’s basically the plot of every slasher movie ever written.

It’s one thing to mix and match tropes of a genre; it’s another to use someone else’s assemblage of these tropes.

James Cameron used many common SF tropes of a band of explorers exploiting an inhabited planet. There are hundreds of examples of this story, and I can write my own. But if I write that the planet has blue creatures with strong tails and the humans can inhabit them using virtual-reality technology, I’m ripping off AVATAR.

You can also do homage…where you knowingly update or adapt a classic story. The key here is “classic”. WEST SIDE STORY is an homage to ROMEO AND JULIET. Me using the Harry Potter characters without permission or even just writing a blatant “kids go to magical school” without enough of a new spin to make it my own is a ripoff.

[color=#009900]Hi Dmitriy - I’m going to answer all the threads here. As Alys said, let’s keep it all in one place.[/color]
[color=#009900]Bigotry: try it and see. The detail is important. It’s good to do early playtesting with the community - there are smart and sensitive folk here who can give you some idea whether you’re crossing the line, as the Compton Adventures folk found. I will say that I don’t think there’s any value in deliberately recreating racist elements in 19th Century (or whenever) literature - I’m sure you can find plenty of more interesting ways to create a sense of historical authenticity. As I once said in a similar context, there aren’t many South Asians in Dickens, but there aren’t many sorrow-spiders either: we don’t have to follow our source material slavishly.[/color]
[color=#009900]Copyright: The restrictions are down to copyright law. [/color][color=rgb(0, 153, 0)]We can’t tell you what’s legally appropriate, because we’d get it wrong, and then be liable. I[/color][color=#009900]t’s up to you to determine whether you are in breach of copyright. The only people who can definitively tell you what’s appropriate are (i) the rights holders and (ii) IP lawyers. If ther is any doubt in your mind, then ask the rights holders.[/color]

[color=#009900] (NB that we are the rights holders for Fallen London, and our answer to ‘can I do an FL StoryNexus fan world?’ is currently a blanket ‘no’. :-) )[/color]

Having spent a few years of my life watching numerous edgy pieces of theatre, and observing people’s reactions to them, here’s one piece of advice:

As soon as you have a character say something which makes your audience (or readership) uncomfortable, then that’s what defines your play (or by analogy short story, or StoryNexus world). So for example, if you use the n-word, then your work immediately becomes That One Which Uses The N-Word, and that’s the first thing anyone knows or remembers about it.

Which sometimes, is what you want. If you’re doing a hard-hitting analysis of the effects of racism, then being known for confronting the issue head-on is a valid choice. But if you’re actually writing a flippant tale of boyish derring-do and you used the n-word purely to make Dr Evil seem even eviller, then you’ve made yourself notorious for completely the wrong reason.

As for stereotypes which are a part of a literary convention - unless you’re subverting them (as in your example where the protagonist overcomes prejudice), or parodying them to make the point that they’re ridiculous, then all you’re doing there is giving new life to the original stereotypes. There’s a difference between having characters act in a prejudiced way, and writing a work based on a prejudiced concept. Be careful not to do the latter.


Thank you, everyone, for your responses. Can’t say everything is clear now, but it would be naive to hope otherwise. At least i’ve got “try and see” which does rather implies there no automatic NAY

It is of course a bit discouraging to begin work fearing that chunks of it could be deleted or edited… but then how is it different from working with any other publisher in the world? ;)

[color=#009900]We are legally speaking a platform, not a publisher. We don’t agree to publish anyone’s content - we just leave a channel open for them to do it themselves, and we have to remove it from our site in very rare circumstances. The only times so far we’ve had to do that are obvious trolls and breach of FL copyright.[/color]