My previous post addressed my grievances with Outlaw Press / James Shipman. Since then, Outlaw Press / James Shipman has removed my Down Time solo from the “free downloads” section of the Outlaw Press site, and has stopped selling print copies of issues of TrollsZine from the site. Some other infringing materials by other authors have also been removed from the site. These actions appear to have been in response to a message I posted to the Blue Frog Tavern Yahoo group, publicly stating my opposition to Shipman’s practices, especially with regard to his violation of my rights. I also terminated my membership in that group, because it appeared to me that the group moderators condoned Shipman’s illegal activities.
The removal of these materials from the Outlaw Press site is a bittersweet victory for me, because the rights of many other authors and artists are still being violated. I know that Ken St. Andre has publicly asked Outlaw Press / James Shipman to stop publishing Ken’s materials. Yet many materials that Ken has independently published since his split with Outlaw Press can still be obtained as free downloads from the Outlaw Press web site. Some materials independently published by others who have been publicly vocal about this subject are also still being distributed as free downloads from the Outlaw Press site. Hardcover copies of older materials that were never printed in hardcover and to which Outlaw Press / James Shipman clearly has no rights are being offered for sale.
While a good portion of my personal anguish over having my rights violated by Outlaw Press / James Shipman has abated, I’m still not satisfied with the situation. I doubt Outlaw Press / James Shipman will ever willingly take all of the actions necessary for me to be fully satisfied. In addition to the removal of all materials available from the Outlaw Press site that were not submitted to Outlaw Press and are not legal second-hand re-sell items, I would want to see Outlaw Press / James Shipman also stop selling any products making use of materials that, although having been submitted to Outlaw Press, are used in ways not agreed to by the contributors. This includes my article on Solitary Wizards being used in the solo adventure, Three Days to the Tower; I submitted that article for inclusion in the Hobbit Hole magazine, and I’m fine with its appearance therein. I was not asked for permission for it to be included in Three Days to the Tower. The GM adventure I coauthored with Tom Loney, Between Sea and Sky, appears in both Dungeonier Digest and GM Adventures, both without my permission. In fact, Between Sea and Sky never appeared in the Hobbit Hole, which was the original intent when it was submitted to Outlaw Press.
If Outlaw Press / James Shipman had asked my permission to include my Solitary Wizard article in Three Days to the Tower, I might have agreed, under the conditions that I be properly credited for having written the article, and it be made clear that I still held the copyright to the article. I would have also wanted a contributor’s copy of the adventure, which in fact I did receive, without my having to ask for it, but receipt of a contributor’s copy did not make it all right for Outlaw Press / James Shipman to use my article in that way without first asking.
As for Between Sea and Sky, I might have agreed for it to be included in GM Adventures under similar conditions. But it would have been only with reluctance that I would have agreed for Between Sea and Sky to appear in Dungeonier Digest instead of the Hobbit Hole. That adventure constituted nearly the entirety of that particular issue of Dungeonier Digest, and in that respect, I felt that the adventure should have simply been published as a separate adventure under its own title, rather than under the title of Dungeonier Digest. But was any of this put up for discussion by Outlaw Press / James Shipman? No. He did whatever he wanted to do with materials that were submitted to him.
And that, more than the alleged theft of artwork created by artists outside of the Tunnels and Trolls community, is why James Shipman was excommunicated. If his sins had been only against outsiders, the community could probably have forgiven him if he had taken some steps to make right by those artists. Even a public apology for what he had done would probably have sufficed for the community at large, even if it did not suffice for the artists. But Shipman’s sins were also against the members of the community, whether his sins were intentional, and whether he was fully aware of what he was doing. So Shipman is still on the outs with the community, and will probably never find his way back in, especially since he has never made any public apology for any of his actions.
Taking the print versions of TrollsZine off the Outlaw Press web site and removing Down Time from the free downloads page are probably as close to an apology as I’ll see from him. I’ll accept that apology, as far as it goes. But it’s not a full apology, and until Outlaw Press / James Shipman publicly admits his wrongs—all of them—and takes steps to correct them all, I cannot condone his actions or support his operation. In fact, I will continue to offer my support to those people whose rights are still being violated by Outlaw Press / James Shipman, until the time comes, if it ever does, that Outlaw Press / James Shipman makes a public apology and decides to play by the rules. The Tunnels and Trolls game encourages players to make up their own rules, but Outlaw Press / James Shipman needs to be able to distinguish between the game and real life. In real life, there are certain rules you don’t break without consequences.