Transcript / Settlement with PCJoker

Normal Text = Exact Quotes Italic Text = Paraphrased
Bold Text = Read this
Red Text = My comments / notes

Note : There were two others involved in this situation, I will not post their names here for it doesn't matter who they are, but that is why you will see references to three times in some places. Also note this is all in cronilogical order.

FROM : Me PCJoker, it has come to my attention that you have used works from my web site without my permission.

FROM : Markus, PCJoker "This is Markus of the PC Joker magazine, and it was my fault (kind of) that you weren't informed about us using stuff partially from your homepage. Forst of all: Sorry about that! It's unually not our style to use any material without asking, but I was really short on time for the last deadline, and since I took some days off afterwards I simply forgot about it. Sorry again." [Translation : I stole your work and have been caught

.... [snip, talk about money, he offers their Standard fee

"I'm not yet sure how we're gonna get the money to you (or the other two guys, if they insist)

FROM : Me Talk about money not being enough (and the standard fee being an insult). And that we do insist that each of us be compinsated. Also preaching about how unethical it is to steal anothers work and then try to get away with just paying the standard fee. Also asking for a MUCH larger amount.

FROM : Markus, PCJoker "...if you want to hear my personal, totally unofficial opinion: You are some weird guys! I mean, putting together information and giving it away for free on your website, but making a fuss like this if we do the same (it's a service to players of the game, we're not selling a solutions mag here)." [The point is that they are making money off of it.

"...and the printed text isn't just a translation by a long shot." [Actually it is, right down to the editorial comments

"...I mean, why do I (for example) bother writing console game reviews in my spare time and publishing them on the web? I could as well try to sell them to a magazine, but I don't, because I think they belong to everyone." [But isn't that exactly what he did? The magazine IS making money off of it, if it was a FREE mag then that would be a different story

FROM : Me "I am sure that you are outraged by the summs that are being asked for,but put yourself in our positions; should we not be outraged for seeing our work in a magazine that is making money off of it?" 

... [Snip, more ranting on my part

"We are not unreasonable people and are more then willing to discuss this matter further. The point is not so much the money but the principle of the situation. We have all worked very hard to make our works the best they can be. Places like the [Name removed because it isn't necessary] had contacted us BEFORE using our works, and they were given written permission to used the works with certain stipulations. To take someone elses work and to capitalize on them without asking, or offering any compinsation until you were caught is very frustrating. If no one had mentioned that these works were in your magazine then we many never have known and you would have profitted more. Again let me state that we are NOT unreasonalbe people and that we are more then willing to discuss the situation to come up with an acceptable solution for all of us. Please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience." 

FROM : Markus "Yes, you do have every right to be mad at me for not asking you, and all I can say about this is that I'm sorry. I've often used (German) internet solutions in the past, and those guys have ALWAYS been paid afterwards (and mostly been informed in advance, I admit). " [Translation : Yeah, I stole others works in the past and then gave them a token amount when caught

"What I still don't get is your use of the term "making money off of it". I assure you, I would have written this one page of MM6-Hints anyway, as we have at least one fan of that game ourselves. It was just easier verifying your guide than most of the others, more incoherent (does this word exist in English?) ones that we got from our readers. The only money that we made is found in the 3 or 4 hours I saved using your file..." [Translation : We liked your work and just were too lazy to write something simular ourselves.

FROM : Michael Labiner "I am writing concerning your latest e-mails: I want to apologize about how things (the work in our magazine PC JOKER) went, but I definitely can not help you in the way you suggested. [snip money talk] I talked to my lawyers today and they assured me, that in case of court, I would have to pay less then what my editor allready offered to you. To tell the truth: As far as it concerns German (internet-) law, I would not have to pay at all!!!! So all I can do is offer the Standard Fee to you again. Anyway, this is a fair price - we never pay more and we do not "capitalize" on this work." [They don't Capitalize?? What they give away their mag for free and don't have any advertising in it?

"Please answer soon, because this offer will expire by the end of this week. Then you will have to look for a lawyer in Germany....." [Translation : Come get me if you can

FROM : Me I'm mad, and I will sue you as soon as I can find a lawyer!

FROM : Michael Labiner "as much as I understand your anger, I sadly have no time for further discussions. Just that much: The material was not claimed to be made by us and was not published for profit - the hint-pages in our magazine are a pure reader-help-
reader-thing. At this point there are only 2 possibilities left: Either you let my Editor Markus know that you want your fee oft [Initial offering amount here] until end of this week (if you are interested, we then maybe could buy material from you on at this rate on a more or less regular basis) or you take things to court. It is your decision, I dont mind very much - this allready cost me more time than some maps in the hint-pages are worth anyway." [Translation : Go away, you bother me. If you don't take the insulting offer, just try and sue me

FROM : Me "This whole case is not about money, it is about what is wrong and what is right. After doing a brief search on the Internet seems to show that PC Joker has done this before and many people have been upset about it." 

FROM : Markus "I've been doing this job for more than one and a half year now, and I've NEVER had any problems or trouble with any of our readers or the guys that provided us with walkthroughs (apart from the X-Com cheats that were taken out of the German version)." [Note : He says that the people who GAVE them the info, not those he stole from.

"Please don't answer this mail (I kinda had enough of that discussion), just tell me when I've ever tried to rip people off, because I'm counting that as a personal affront." [Let's see, you ripped ME off!

Time goes by with no other messages; I am talking with several copyright and international lawyers trying to get someone to take the case. Unforutnatly I get the following line from one of them, "Listen.. I'm not going to make any money on this, so I won't take it". Finally we decided that we must settle for their offer. 

FROM : Me "After conferring with the lawyers and discussing the matter among ourselves we feel we have no other choice but to accept your offer of [initial offer] a piece for our work. With the acceptance of this offer, a couple of conditions are asked. 

1) This entitles you to use of the material in the one issue of PC Joker that is has already appeared in. It does not allow you to use this material again, or to use any additional material from the Mandate Mania web site without additional written consent before publication.
2) The removal of the quest list from your web site as soon as possible.
3) Notification in the next issue of PC Joker of where the maps and quest list came from (inclusion of names) and the web address of Mandate Mania ( of where the latest versions of these works can be found.
4) A free subscription to PC Joker for all three people involved. 

We feel that these conditions are not extreme nor are they unreasonable. If you have any questions on these conditions or additional comment please feel free to contact me directly. A printed copy of this agreement will be sent to you as soon as we receive your acceptance. Please make all checks payable to the names listed below, and made out to U.S. Dollars. Thank you." 

FROM : Markus We're glad you made the right decision. The German quest list has been removed from our site, and the subscriptions have been taken care of. If it's of any interest to you, I might add that with the [Offer] added, this is more than even our usual reward for a complete walkthrough... The money will probably be sent out within the next two weeks to you directly, because it would be a lot more expensive to split the reward (postal fees and cheque expenses). If that's a
problem, please drop us a line. Also, if you've got some interesting solutions/maps/hints in the future and want to make some extra money, just let us know. We are always on the lookout for good cheat providers! 

FROM : Me "Actually it is much more difficult if the money is sent to me directly; we are all in different parts of the country and then there is the part of taxes (I would be responsable for taxes on [3x Offer] instead of [Offer]). Please see if you can arrange for each of use to have seperate checks. Thank you." 

FROM : Markus "Well, technically, this won't be a problem (just more expensive), so we'll do it your way and send you guys three separate checks. But: You seem to be missing a major detail! Our offer didn't include [offer] for each one of you but
for the combined maps and quests! Check your email folder, our mails were really clear on this one. (BTW, it wouldn't be fair considering our readers only get less than [Offer] in exchange for a complete walkthrough with maps, savegames and/or screenshots.) Thanks for your understanding." 

FROM : Me "Your first message clearly stated that it was for each "if we insisted", and we do. Second off, you are talking about several people's work, not just one. Each of them has the right to bring you to court if need be. 

This is NOT acceptable." 

[All talks have been for EACH person at this point, look at his first message, the bold caption

FROM : Markus "Unfortunately, I don't have the first mail I sent you ready (I didn't expect things to get this complicated), but I'm absolutely positive that I didn't offer you three times [Offer]. If there's an "each" in my email it surely meant the maximum payment for each issue, but as you didn't permit us to use any further materials, our offer was clear (just read Mr. Labiner's mails) and your responses suggested that you perfectly understood them. I'm sorry there was any doubt but I don't think it was our mistake. Again: We're NOT trying to rip you off, we just want you to get your fair share as every of our information sources does. Of course, you could still give us your permission to use the material on your homepage (I'd even turn down some of our readers who offered their help on MM6), and we could raise the reward. But I'd need to know that as soon as possible because I'm almost done sighting the stuff I've already got for the next issue. 

Sorry for the inconveniences I've caused you, but I don't think we could have stated our offer more obvious." 

FROM : Me "No the offer was not clear. Actually the message I wrote issuing the statement on what we felt the conditions were was very clear (it even used "each"), and that was accepted till today (Monday). Personally I now feel that you ARE trying to rip us off, thinking that now you know we'll settle that you should make it as low as possible." 

"You do not have permission to use any materials from the web site at all, and you will not get the rights to use it. Why? Because you have shown that you are very untrust worthy. You steal others work, then when caught and you feel you can get away with it you make a cheap offer, when that is finally accepted you try and get away with ripping us off again." 

FROM : Markus "And that's what I don't get. I'm still telling you that it was a honest mistake (you on the other hand still haven't pointed out on which occasions I've ever tried to take advantage of other people's work), so why don't give us the permission of using any more of your material? It wouldn't mean any work at all for you, just more credit and money..." 

"Allright, since this is really getting to my working performance now, and as I still believe it's more of an personal apology than the money you're after, I offer you this deal: I'll personally throw in another [Offer], which means that every one of you will be receiving a check of [less than the original offer]. Don't ask for any more money, because as you probably can imagine (or rather remember, since I'm starting to believe that you have to be much older than me), [Offer] Dollars are a lot of money to just "give away" at the age of 25. No, I don't want your pity or your sarcasm, I just want to point out that this is a take-it-or-leave-it-offer." 

FROM : Markus "Okay, it's a deal.
Just for the record: 

We'll be sending out [the settlement]. The subscriptions are in the works, the quest list has long since been removed and there'll be a note in our next hints & cheats section containing the autors of the original maps and hints plus the location where the other ones can be found." 

FROM : Markus "Hi!
In order to transfer the money, we'll need a bank connection for each of you three." 

FROM : Me "Unfortunatly I won't be able to get in contact with [the other two] today; and even so sending out account numbers like this is very dangerous and I do not wish to do so. It is very simple to have a bank make out a check in any currency you wish (I have done this many times)." 

FROM : Markus "That might be correct, but for all we know it's much more dangerous to send a check by mail then an account number by email. If you are browsing through the web, everybody advises you to refrain from sending either cash or checks by snail mail.
So we'll try sending you the money via postal money order, if there are any problems we'll let you know. Then perhaps someone (someone save me, that is, as I'm taking some weeks off) could just call you directly, if you don't like the idea of sending your account numbers over the net. But personally, I can't understand your fear; I mean, it's not like sending a credit card number and an expiry date and pray that nobody abuses them... Well, we'll be in touch (if there are any problems)." 

FROM : Markus "Just wanted to inform you that the money orders have been successfully sent out to you. The guys at the post office estimated that it will probably take two to three weeks until the transfer is completed."

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