Quizbowl and copyright

Old college threads.
Locked
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6365
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Quizbowl and copyright

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:54 pm

This is a topic that's been of some interest to me for a while, so I thought in the absence of any other important discussions going on right now, it would be a good time to bring this before the entire community.

Basically, the issue is this: quizbowl is a practice that involves the production of a large amount of text. As of right now, the question of who owns any of this text is extremely unclear. There has been tacit agreement that has coalesced over the last few years that tournament editors pretty much have the right to dispose of their sets as they see fit. This is obvious in the case of a set produced by one team (e.g. EFT or VCU Open) but it's much less obvious in the case of packet-submission sets.

Fortunately, quizbowlers tend not to be litigious, but I wonder if at some point, the ambiguous status of questions won't cause problems. I'm not one to envision nightmare scenarios, but one example would be if ACF ever decided to become more than just an unofficial group of editors (which seems to be in line with the organizational reforms that have taken place in ACF over the last few years). If this ever happened, I think we would need a concrete copyright policy; in fact, I would suspect that most clubs, being organizations officially sanctioned by their schools, could benefit from having such a policy as well.

As anyone who knows me is aware, I'm a big fan of open-source stuff. One alternative to the common copyright licenses is the Creative Commons suite of licenses, and this is the model that I think a copyright policy in quizbowl should be based on. You can view the various Creative Commons licenses here. I'm personally looking at either the Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike or the Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (the last two, respectively) as potential copyright licenses for quizbowl packets. The only concern I have is in regard to the issue of derivatives; it's not obvious to me what would constitute a derivative of a quizbowl packet, but one potential example might be the edited version of a packet produced by the editor of a packet-sub event, and obviously we wouldn't want to prohibit that. The Attribution option would require that packets be attributed to their original authors (and editors) and the Non-commercial option makes it so that no one can distribute the set for money (reasonable exceptions can be made to cover printing costs or whatever).

My thinking is that in the case of packet-sub tournaments, the act of submission of a packet to an editing team should signify that you allow the distribution of your (possibly edited) questions under the Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives license. I think this is the policy that ACF should adopt for its events. I think this arrangement is practically identical to the current status quo, but it would be great to codify it in some official sense so that it can't become a problem later on.

I would like to encourage a public discussion on this matter with all quizbowlers, especially those with some legal background.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
theattachment
Rikku
Posts: 281
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2007 10:57 pm
Location: Eden Prairie, MN

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by theattachment » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:20 pm

I have zero legal background, but from my music industry knowledge (i.e. copyrighting and rights to stuff I've written or friends have produced), it seems to usually come down to a tacit agreement between producer and writer as to how royalties come out. If that agreement isn't made, the rights are given to the producer or the label who releases the song. That's why it's important to own your masters. If one is to apply that thought to a quiz bowl tournament, I would assume that the rights would then go to the club or person who released the set. The editor of the set basically acts as the set's producer.

That said, I really doubt anyone is going to sue to get their packet back. Because of the way tournaments are run, namely packet subs, you have to assume that your questions are gone. Plus, as you eluded to, it's almost in QB common law that you relinquish whatever rights you have to your questions and that the club in charge of the set won't sell it for an outrageous price (except for mirroring), then will have it for free use.
Colin O'Donnell -- ex-Eden Prairie High School (man, that feels nice to say), eventually University of Minnesota

User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8411
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:25 pm

Yes, it's important that we establish two principles of copyright:

1) Questions are owned by the institution that produces the final set, not by the original writer or anyone else.
2) The free distribution of questions post-tournament does not imply an abrogation of that claim--in other words, anyone who is Chip-ripped can still sue him.

However, it seems the way to do this is to attach an explicit disclaimer stating the above to all requests for question writing and all distributed packets, rather than casting in our lots with the Internet activist community. These existing things like GPL and Creative Commons are ideological projects from people who are angry at the music industry; they're not suited for actual legal use.
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org

User avatar
cvdwightw
Auron
Posts: 3446
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Southern CA
Contact:

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by cvdwightw » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:30 pm

One question I would have about this stems from some of the issues raised by the Pension Grillparzer team about their packet this weekend. It's not directly related to copyright, but rather with attribution of the packet.

Currently the standard is that the packet authors are listed, with no attribution of what question was written by whom. In addition, questions written by the editors are not marked as such. I have some questions about how attribution of the packet would work:

(1) As with the current standard, the packet authors are listed at the top of the packet with no indication of who is responsible for what questions, and it is tacitly implied that the editors did some, unknown amount of work on the packet.
(2) As with an academic paper, the packet authors are listed at the top of the packet with no indication of who is responsible for which parts, and a small statement at the end of the packet thanks the editors for their revisions.
(3) All authors and editors are listed at the top of the packet, with no indication of who is responsible for which parts.
(4) Each question is marked with the original author and the editor(s) who worked on the question - this would be like NAQT, only less cryptic since actual names would be used.
(5) Both the original and final packets are released. Attribution of the original packet is to the original authors; the final packet is attributed to the editors.

Which of these makes the most sense?
Dwight Wynne
socalquizbowl.org
UC Irvine 2008-2013; UCLA 2004-2007; Capistrano Valley High School 2000-2003

"It's a competition, but it's not a sport. On a scale, if football is a 10, then rowing would be a two. One would be Quiz Bowl." --Matt Birk on rowing, SI On Campus, 10/21/03

"If you were my teammate, I would have tossed your ass out the door so fast you'd be emitting Cerenkov radiation, but I'm not classy like Dwight." --Jerry

User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6365
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:35 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Yes, it's important that we establish two principles of copyright:

1) Questions are owned by the institution that produces the final set, not by the original writer or anyone else.
2) The free distribution of questions post-tournament does not imply an abrogation of that claim--in other words, anyone who is Chip-ripped can still sue him.
I agree with both of these points; obviously any reasonable copyright policy should cover (and prohibit) instances of plagiarism.
These existing things like GPL and Creative Commons are ideological projects from people who are angry at the music industry; they're not suited for actual legal use.
This, however, is patently false. First of all, GPL has nothing at all to do with the music industry, and as far as I know, no one in music uses it. It's a software licensing structure that is intended for a specific purpose, which is to encourage the development of open-source software. Thus, it contains much that is specific to its application, though it could also be adapted to other uses as well. Second, Creative Commons was created by noted Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, so it seems to me a stretch to say that it is unsuited for actual legal use. Also, branding something an "ideological project" is not an argument against that thing; I have plenty of ideological arguments about quizbowl with people, but this has nothing to do with whether the ideas are good or not.

I should make it clear that I'm not devoted to Creative Commons as a solution to this issue, though it's the method that I prefer. For me, the benefit of Creative Commons is exactly the fact that it has been thought out by an expert in copyright and is ready for use, whereas anything that either I or Matt or anyone else on this board could come up with would not be. We're not legal experts and anything we would end up writing would probably have some holes in it that something like a CC license does not. I think it suits our needs and requires minimal effort to adopt.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
Mike Bentley
Auron
Posts: 5832
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Bellevue, WA
Contact:

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by Mike Bentley » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:48 pm

Jerry wrote:We're not legal experts
Hey I just found a new motivation for another twelve quizbowlers to go to law school.
Mike Bentley
VP of Editing, Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence
Adviser, Quizbowl Team at University of Washington
University of Maryland, Class of 2008

User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6365
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:51 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:
Jerry wrote:We're not legal experts
Hey I just found a new motivation for another twelve quizbowlers to go to law school.
My motivation, if I ever do go through with it, would be the fact that it's way easier (and much more lucrative) to be employed as a lawyer than as an astrophysicist. Plus, who needs more motivation than "eligible to play quizbowl for another 3 years" anyway?
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
The Logic of Scientific Disco
Wakka
Posts: 137
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:36 pm
Location: Cambridge, MA

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by The Logic of Scientific Disco » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:22 pm

The one problem I've run across with Creative Commons licenses is that their intercompatibility is muddled and often kind of stupidly interpreted. For example, when I worked for MIT OpenCourseWare, we often needed to find graphics for various courses, and the party line was that OCW, which uses CC Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike, could only use a licensed image (or video, etc.) if it had exactly the same CC license. We were not to touch GPL stuff. I think this is the kind of legal clusterfrack that Matt is worried about, though I'm not sure how it could affect the posting/sharing/use of packets.
Chris Kennedy, MIT

User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8411
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:24 pm

No, seriously. Copyright is something you have automatically by producing a work, and you can assert or transfer it at will, without the need to get involved with the horrible, horrible people in the Internet whine-about-copyright community. There is absolutely no need to start acting like teenagers on GameFAQs and putting twleve-page descriptions of all our rights at the front of every packet--a three-sentence disclaimer will suffice.
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org

User avatar
cvdwightw
Auron
Posts: 3446
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Southern CA
Contact:

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by cvdwightw » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:38 pm

The Logic of Scientific Disco wrote:For example, when I worked for MIT OpenCourseWare, we often needed to find graphics for various courses, and the party line was that OCW, which uses CC Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike, could only use a licensed image (or video, etc.) if it had exactly the same CC license. We were not to touch GPL stuff. I think this is the kind of legal clusterfrack that Matt is worried about, though I'm not sure how it could affect the posting/sharing/use of packets.
This would definitely affect certain tournaments (like VETO) that have visual and audio bonuses.

Another, related, issue is that of citing. If I'm writing a tossup on Animal Farm, for instance, I don't want to have to write (Orwell 47) or some other style of citation after every quote, first because it takes up space that could be used for clues, and second because it just makes the question that much more ridiculous if someone mistakenly reads the citations. So then, I guess in the sense that those intro-to-writing courses tell us, every question that we write that way must necessarily be plagiarized because it's incorrectly cited.

But we're not writing academic essays here, we're writing trivia questions - admittedly long, pyramidal questions on (mostly) academic subjects, but trivia questions nonetheless. Right now, I think the standard in the community is that if the name of the work that the quote is taken from (or the quote's author) is given, either as a clue or in the answer line, and the copied parts are in quotes, then it's not plagiarism; as opposed to just copying stuff directly off a website, which is plagiarism. I, for one, would not like to see this standard changed. So, where is the distinction? At what point does something that would probably result in getting called for plagiarism in class become not-plagiarism in quizbowl? What gives quizbowl the power to decide what is plagiarism and what isn't, and who decides these things? What happens if the academic community, with its stringent and often arcane plagiarism rules, suddenly decides that quizbowl now falls into their domain?
Last edited by cvdwightw on Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Dwight Wynne
socalquizbowl.org
UC Irvine 2008-2013; UCLA 2004-2007; Capistrano Valley High School 2000-2003

"It's a competition, but it's not a sport. On a scale, if football is a 10, then rowing would be a two. One would be Quiz Bowl." --Matt Birk on rowing, SI On Campus, 10/21/03

"If you were my teammate, I would have tossed your ass out the door so fast you'd be emitting Cerenkov radiation, but I'm not classy like Dwight." --Jerry

User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6365
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:39 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:No, seriously. Copyright is something you have automatically by producing a work, and you can assert or transfer it at will, without the need to get involved with the horrible, horrible people in the Internet whine-about-copyright community. There is absolutely no need to start acting like teenagers on GameFAQs and putting twleve-page descriptions of all our rights at the front of every packet--a three-sentence disclaimer will suffice.
Hey, you must have a pretty large bucket to hold that huge fucking brush you just tarred me with!

Seriously, cut this stupid shit out. If there are significant drawbacks to employing CC (such as one Chris pointed to that I was not aware of) then let's bring them up and discuss them. But your absolutely uncalled-for smear of various (conveniently unidentified) people on the Internet as "horrible, horrible people" and "whine(rs)-about-copyright" is both insulting to me as someone who cares about these issues and embarrassing for you, since it shows your lack of understanding of what movements like CC and GPL are about. No one is advocating anything like whatever GameFAQs or some other stupid site does, or putting twelve pages of text anywhere. In fact, something like CC can be employed just by stating it on the ACF website or somewhere else and informing people of it, so this is a total red herring and has nothing to do with the desirability of using it or lack thereof.

I started this discussion because I think it's an issue quizbowl should be interested in addressing and talking about. As I said before, I am not committed to CC by any means, and if there is a different route that can be taken that provides similar results, that's fine with me. Whatever the case may be, this kind of offhand dismissal has no place in this debate.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6365
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:43 pm

cvdwightw wrote:Another, related, issue is that of citing. If I'm writing a tossup on Animal Farm, for instance, I don't want to have to write (Orwell 47) or some other style of citation after every quote, first because it takes up space that could be used for clues, and second because it just makes the question that much more ridiculous if someone mistakenly reads the citations. So then, I guess in the sense that those intro-to-writing courses tell us, every question that we write that way must necessarily be plagiarized because it's incorrectly cited.

But we're not writing academic essays here, we're writing trivia questions - admittedly long, pyramidal questions on (mostly) academic subjects, but trivia questions nonetheless. Right now, I think the standard in the community is that if the name of the work that the quote is taken from (or the quote's author) is given, either as a clue or in the answer line, and the copied parts are in quotes, then it's not plagiarism; as opposed to just copying stuff directly off a website, which is plagiarism. I, for one, would not like to see this standard changed. So, where is the distinction?
From my perspective, it seems like the issue of citing solves itself. For example, if I am writing a tossup on Animal Farm, then by virtue of having written that tossup I have effectively cited George Orwell's Animal Farm as the source of at least some of the information in the tossup. If I use a clue that mentions a work, then again I have effectively cited that work (e.g. "Robert Nozick criticized this work in his Anarchy, State, and Utopia" is a de facto citation of Robert Nozick). I don't think there is any need for this standard to change.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
Mechanical Beasts
Banned Cheater
Posts: 5673
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:50 pm

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:21 pm

grapesmoker wrote:From my perspective, it seems like the issue of citing solves itself. For example, if I am writing a tossup on Animal Farm, then by virtue of having written that tossup I have effectively cited George Orwell's Animal Farm as the source of at least some of the information in the tossup. If I use a clue that mentions a work, then again I have effectively cited that work (e.g. "Robert Nozick criticized this work in his Anarchy, State, and Utopia" is a de facto citation of Robert Nozick). I don't think there is any need for this standard to change.
In none of my four humanities classes from last term was I required to do anything more than this on some assignments implying that parenthetical citations, or Chicago, or whateverthefuck, are essentially more a matter of style (hence why they do appear when articles and papers are published in journals, but can be flexible when I'm saying "R.P. Wolff made such and such an incoherent argument about a sea captain or some shit" in a paper--or hell, a midterm; as long as I'm not representing it as my own work, it's cool.
Andrew Watkins

User avatar
theMoMA
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5692
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:00 am

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by theMoMA » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:37 pm

It seems to me that any possible confusion over ownership of questions between question submitters and editors can be fixed with a disclaimer that, by attending the tournament, you agree to transfer the rights of your intellectual property to the host school in exchange for the privilege of attending the event. If it ever becomes necessary to do this on paper, the logical place seems to be during the payment for the tournament (have the team representative sign a disclaimer that is also printed on the invoice, or something of that nature).
Andrew Hart
Minnesota alum

User avatar
No Rules Westbrook
Auron
Posts: 1223
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:59 pm

Yeah, I pretty much agree with Weiner here. I don't see a pressing need for anything more than a few quick sentences of boilerplate language which say the two things that Weiner mentioned. If anyone manages to take material from our packets and make millions off of it, I think that should suffice to be able to sue them...though, before suing in that event, I recommend that we castigate ourselves for not realizing the lucrative potential of what we're doing.
Ryan Westbrook, no affiliation whatsoever.

I am pure energy...and as ancient as the cosmos. Feeble creatures, GO!

Left here since birth...forgotten in the river of time...I've had an eternity to...ponder the meaning of things...and now I have an answer!

User avatar
Deviant Insider
Auron
Posts: 4635
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 6:08 am
Location: Chicagoland
Contact:

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by Deviant Insider » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:26 pm

I fail to see what the problem is here or what copyrighting gets you. If one of your questions is plagiarized and is one of a thousand questions used in a tournament that brings in $5000, then what does that get you in court? Furthermore, how does the court case differ based on a note placed on your website?

Also, the idea that quizbowl questions are properly sourced is just wrong. Here's a typical question from ACF:
One group of these compounds is based on hydroxamic acid and typically consists of non-ribosomal peptides, known as siderophores. The namesake effect of these compounds describes their increased thermodynamic stability as a result of a more positive entropy, and molecules like DMSA can be used in their namesake therapy to treat certain poison victims. Seen biologically in porphyrins and chlorophyll, a common example of these is the amino acid EDTA. For 10 points, name these coordination compounds in which one or more polydentate ligands bind with and often sequester a central metal ion.
ANSWER: chelates [accept chelating agent]
I'm guessing that the author looked up at least some of the information somewhere, but I have no idea where. Furthermore, that's not a problem in any way and does not reflect poorly on the writer or editor or ACF in any way.
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)

User avatar
Mechanical Beasts
Banned Cheater
Posts: 5673
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:50 pm

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:38 pm

Lime, Self and Society wrote:Also, the idea that quizbowl questions are properly sourced is just wrong. Here's a typical question from ACF:
One group of these compounds is based on hydroxamic acid and typically consists of non-ribosomal peptides, known as siderophores. The namesake effect of these compounds describes their increased thermodynamic stability as a result of a more positive entropy, and molecules like DMSA can be used in their namesake therapy to treat certain poison victims. Seen biologically in porphyrins and chlorophyll, a common example of these is the amino acid EDTA. For 10 points, name these coordination compounds in which one or more polydentate ligands bind with and often sequester a central metal ion.
ANSWER: chelates [accept chelating agent]
I'm guessing that the author looked up at least some of the information somewhere, but I have no idea where. Furthermore, that's not a problem in any way and does not reflect poorly on the writer or editor or ACF in any way.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that this isn't what we're talking about, since none of these facts are too distantly separated from common knowledge sorts of things. It's just that when a question says "He critiqued Susan B. Anthony as having the politics of 'a total slut' " then we're not actually stealing the language and ideas of the answer to the tossup, since we're attributing it by saying that he said them. It's not a question of "we write questions by saying 'organic-chemistry.org tells me that hydroxamic acid...' " but rather that "when we actually talk about ideas that people have, they're never pointlessly inserted into tossups because why do that, so we're all right."
Andrew Watkins

User avatar
AuguryMarch
Wakka
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2003 2:47 pm
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Contact:

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by AuguryMarch » Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:01 am

hey, as someone who wrote a fair share of the packets of yore, here's a totally mundane idea that I think everyone can agree on. what if when you went on the acf/stanford/whatever archive every packet had the authors and editors written at the top. i'm sure many of you out there have tournaments you may have edited or written packets for and received no acknowledgment. why not start why making a concerted efforts to figure out who wrote what and moreover, when doing searches for specific topics or questions, for the names of the writers/editors to show up in addition to the question content? don't you want to go down in history (and be able to prove it) as the first person to e.g. introduce sperry gyroscope company into the canon?
your fogey,
paul
Paul Litvak -- Michigan '02, Carnegie Mellon University '10

User avatar
at your pleasure
Auron
Posts: 1670
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:56 pm

Re: Quizbowl and copyright

Post by at your pleasure » Thu Aug 21, 2008 5:42 pm

No Rules Westbrook wrote:Yeah, I pretty much agree with Weiner here. I don't see a pressing need for anything more than a few quick sentences of boilerplate language which say the two things that Weiner mentioned. If anyone manages to take material from our packets and make millions off of it, I think that should suffice to be able to sue them...though, before suing in that event, I recommend that we castigate ourselves for not realizing the lucrative potential of what we're doing.
Relax-nobody's going to pay millions of dollars for(relativley) long questions on the peace of westphialia that don't make for good televison.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
"... imagination acts upon man as really as does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid."-Sir James Frazer,The Golden Bough

http://avorticistking.wordpress.com/

Locked