Sunday, July 26, 2020

Art Theft in the Gaming Community? Say it isn't so Johnson Games!

First, I'm sure 98% of you are going "who the fuck is Johnson Games?" I know I did when I was shown the following piece:

Notice the "12" x 18" of my original work" part?

Here's Lloyd Metcalf's original work of art: https://www.instagram.com/p/CABztcpA6_Z/?fbclid=IwAR1K7lhUPrJAl4YaMwDqKrqYNZEybvA3rhrHsNK92iXnkbUeSQ7r83qMZdY

I've spoken with Lloyd. He did not authorize this use of his work, nor is he credited.

This is NOT how things should happen. It reminds of the days of Shipman in the Tunnels & Trolls community. Theft is theft, plain and simple. "Original work" my ass.

There is also the question of dice using a Pelgrane Games trademark. I'll reach out to them later today and see if it is authorized.

Edit: Found the answer, and the use is legit and authorized

This is a quick FYI as I run out to handle today's chores (vet time for Danke). I'll followup later.


Follow Up to the "Inspired By" Art Disagreement
Dave spoke with Lloyd. Dave also spoke with me. I spoke with Lloyd.

Dave apologized to Lloyd.

As far as I'm concerned it is over and done.

Any further updates will come from the involved parties.


  1. A really bad trace & color job. Looking at the online store, it looks like all he does is steal IP and try to confuse people into thinking that he is behind Alarums & Excursions.

  2. Terrible thing, copying someone else's work and ideas. Especially when it happens to people I'm friends with.

    1. >>Theft is theft, plain and simple.

      Copyright infringement and/or plagiarism isn't theft. It's not a type of theft. It's not theft any more than it is assault, murder or genocide.

      This situation is wrong and inexcusable, but that doesn't mean we should be inaccurate. It's stealing only in the "hey you stole my spot on the couch" sense of the word.

      Calling it theft spreads the idea that ideas can be owned and that should be anathema in a free thinking society. Don't mean to give you a hard time about it, it's just a peeve of mine.

    2. Arguing the semantics of theft in a case of IP infringement is a pedantry too far in my opinion. Such things have a potential impact on the creator's livelihood and can mean lost revenue.

      In this case, it isn't theft so much as counterfeiting...but that makes it no better or no worse.

      The expression of ideas *IS* something that can be owned. You don't have to like it, but that is the way global society currently operates. How LONG it can be owned varies (and certainly is too long here in the US) so as to allow a person to profit from their own ideas before the vultures swoop in.

    3. > In this case, it isn't theft so much as counterfeiting

      That's essentially what the person you're responding to is saying, so it sounds like you're in agreement.

  3. They are not the same exact picture. The first is not even a colorized version of the second. They are obviously two different works using very similar ideas and compositions. I hate to point it out, but skull rocks dungeon entrance is a relatively common idea... at least since Golgotha. Myself, I would have rendered it in 3/4 view, but then I don't like straight side renderings much. There are many similarities that make me think one artist had most likely seen the work of the other, but repainting is not a crime, nor is using an uncopyrighted idea.

    Really, famous artworks are often copies of other famous artworks. Have you seen da Vinci's painting of the last supper recently? Check again, because it's probably by a different artist who copied the original. The original is a fresco mural done with oils, and began to deteriorate almost immediately upon completion.

    So the question then becomes, did the picture appear in a copyrighted work, book, portfolio, collection? I say this not to justify, but as one who has been on the front end of similar "idea" wrangling. I've even had people look at a work of art in some published form and say, "Hey, didn't you do one like that years ago?" I just nod and tell them that the idea is the same, and just perhaps they saw mine somewhere on the internet. Since, I do tend to post random sketchbook work from time to time.

    Saying all that I leave you with the words of Pablo Picasso who is often credited with saying, "Good artists copy; great artists steal." The key is to take the idea and make it your own.

    1. > uncopyrighted idea

      Ideas can't be copyrighted, only the expression of an idea.

      > did the picture appear in a copyrighted work

      Copyright is created automatically when the work is fixed (Berne Convention), so the picture is itself a copyrighted work.

    2. It’s simply not that simple. “Automatic Copyright” is not not absolute. In fact it is limited. I have personally gone through the copyright process in the past. I had to go back and forth with the copyright office because only the specific piece of art could be covered. Not the idea. Not the angles. Not the composition. All that could be covered was the specific instance of the way my hands and fingers came together with the media to create a single piece of art. It’s like clip art... you can find many line drawings these days of heads wearing masks. You can draw one from a specific angle and copyright it... and anyone else can make what amounts to the exact same drawing and use theirs without having to pay you for it, because it’s a common theme and they did not outright take yours. Your lines are thinner or thicker... your head is a slightly different shape... your mask fits less snug... your picture was drawn by a different hand.

      For those who are looking for the whole copyright experience, here’s a tip: it costs the same to copyright one work of art or an entire portfolio containing that same work of art.

    3. I think the question here is really, is this a derivative work, which is protected by copyright. I would argue that the work in question is not inspired by the original, but rather directly based on it, and copying it in great part. See the overlay image I've created here: https://ibb.co/5Yk5chx
      (Gray is Lloyd's illustration. Red is derivative work.")

      Also, see this article about The Associated Press suing Shepard Fairey for infringing upon their Obama photo for his Hope poster.

      They are pretty much the same issue.

  4. I think it was traced for the simple reason that I can't imagine an artist who created something from scratch would put that garish red ADVENTURE! title on the top.


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