Should Out-of-Print Scenarios be freely available?

Psuderman

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I was wondering about this the other day - What's stopping scenarios from magazines that no longer exist, or that are no longer in print, from being made available (hopefully by their authors, but not necessarily)? After all, if a scenario is not available for sale in a publication, no money can be made from it, right?

I notice that the Tactiques scenarios are available like this. Has this had any negative impact on anyone? I know I've enjoyed looking at the 74 Tactiques scenarios, which seem to be the usual mix of fair to excellent.

Are there other scenarios available from defunct magazines somewhere? I'm a relative newcomer to ASL, so don't know of all the American and European fan-mags that once existed.

But I guess my main question remains - where's the harm in making scenarios like this freely available to the ASL public?

Paul
 

SamB

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The problem is (still) with copyrights. You can't copy / distribute scenarios without the permission of the copyright owner. Now, make your argument to the copyright holders and see if they say its OK.

Some of them have OK'd copying. Tactiques, and I think the Rout Report (but I'm not sure about the Rout Report in this regard.)

My point is that some will OK copying. Others will not.

The harm is to possible (future) revenue from publication / republication.

Sam
 

Fred Ingram

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Yes - I think that out of print scenarios should be freely available (but only after the copyright has expired). This is no different than any other printed material.
 

Psuderman

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How long is the length of copyright on something like an ASL scenario? 20 years?

Why, for example, are the Windy City Wargamers (WCW) scenarios not easily available? Does someone still have commercial interests for these? Are they under copyright?

What about ASLUG scenarios?

What about Time on Target scenarios?

Let's get these out there for everyone!

Paul
 

amuller

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I can see 3 reasons why they would not want this stuff free on the net.

1. They may want to republish.
2. They may, at least in MMP's case, use scenerios for futurte products a la FKaC.
3. It might discourage people from buying a product if they believed it may one day be free.

That being said has anyone thought of asking the MMP guys about scenerios that are in out of print materials and that have no chance of being republished ( Generals, Annuals etc)? Maybe they can put them up on the net for free or even (don't kill me for suggesting this) for a price. I'd be willing to pay a few bucks to download a copy of Journal 2.

AJ [/i]
 

Fred Ingram

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Psuderman

If you want to see this stuff out there "for free" - here is what you do.

1) contact the authors or copyright holders (if the rights have been transferred)

2) negotiate an unconditional release for the public domain

or

3) negotiate buying the rights yourself

then

4) after the release is signed or you have forked out your own money for the ownership, then publish them on the web


I would guess that if you put up your own money for the rights, you would not be placing them in the public domain any time soon (unless you got them for a pittance)
 

Commissar Piotr

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Another way to do it would be to scan the scenarios you would like to see and place them on the web on a server that cannot be connected to you or is in a country that have such copyright laws that it would be legal to put them there but still make sure you cannot be connected with it since that might get you in trouble in future meetings with the guys that actually produced what you put on the web.
It is free, simple and legal (for the second part).

I would not do it but that is another matter.

I think the community as a whole would benefit from seeing some of the OoP stuff being freely published on the net.
 

da priest

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Psuderman said:
Why, for example, are the Windy City Wargamers (WCW) scenarios not easily available? Does someone still have commercial interests for these? Are they under copyright?
The Chicago dudes have declined to allow publication. They are/were fellow ASLers, should we violate their rights?

Psuderman said:
What about ASLUG scenarios?
Not sure on these, think Fortenberry has rights and said ok to copy, but unsure.

Psuderman said:
What about Time on Target scenarios?
The TOT/KE dude has vehemently declined to allow publication. He is/was a fellow ASL, should we violate his rights?
 

Psuderman

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I, for one, am really frustrated with the "republish" argument - strictly because we, as ASL consumers, end up paying for the same product twice. FKaC was a good example of this - I had already paid for the majority of the scenarios.

You know, sometimes people are just *wrong* about allowing their stuff into the public domain. It was either Robertson Davies or George Bernard Shaw (I think the former) who did not want his books in public libraries, because people would get to read them 'for free.'

I'm thinking about scenarios in the same way as 'abandonware,' computer programs which are no longer being sold by their company. IF you can't buy a program (or scenario) legally from its copyright holders, no matter how much you would like to, I think its no longer wrong to look at getting a copy of that program (or scenario).

I'm sure that some people who have been involved with ASL since it started, would have a legal, original copy of these scenario packs. However, it's NOT my fault that I'm coming to ASL later. If the WCW/TOT scenarios were available somewhere to buy, (and I'm only mentioning those groups because their products are highly thought of) would I be suggesting that their scenarios be made available to the hobby for free? Absolutely not. But since they do NOT seem available, WHERE IS THE HARM in making some good quality PDFs of these scenarios and posting them?

Let me make another thing clear: I know that some of this material may be under copyright. However, the analogy with abandonware still holds - most of those games/programs are still under copyright. But since the companies that hold the copyright are no longer even TRYING to make money from them, and do NOT have them available for purchase, and have already made whatever profits that they can from these products, they are made available, for free, even while still under copyright.

We need a home for abandoned scenarios, so that everyone in the hobby can enjoy them.
 

Larry

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Length of a Copyright

A copyright on an ASL scenario will exist after you have died. Under the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, a copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. The Supreme Court held in ELDRED v. ASHCROFT, 537 U.S. 186 (2003) that bootstrapping existing and future copyrights into the same length and treatment is OK under the constitution. If the author of a scenario does not relinquish his rights to a particular work, then it will expire 70 years after his or her death. :!: :!: :!:

You can find Eldred on Findlaw.com if you have the interest or inclination.

Respect the intellectual property of those serving the community so that they will provide us with additional material in the future!
 

SamB

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Let me make another thing clear: I know that some of this material may be under copyright.
Not "May" - "IS" under copyright. Any material that you create is covered under the copyright law. You don't even have to put a "copyright" notice on the material.

However, the analogy with abandonware still holds - most of those games/programs are still under copyright. But since the companies that hold the copyright are no longer even TRYING to make money from them, and do NOT have them available for purchase, and have already made whatever profits that they can from these products, they are made available, for free, even while still under copyright.
This is not true. Its what you'd -like- to be true, but its not the law.

I understand the desire to have copies of these scenarios. I have most of what Avalon Hill published - missing only a few of the ones published in the General. I also have most of what's worth having of third party scnearios. With regard to the out of print scenarios I've asked a couple of the copyright holders about providing a scenario service (for a fee, which would go to the copyright holders, not me) so that people could obtain legal copies of these scenarios. In both cases where I've asked, I've been told "no". I don't understand the reasoning behind the "no", but I will not provide copies without permission of the copyright holders.

The fact that you want the scenarios and that they are not legally available doesn't make it "right" to copy.

Sam
 

Fred Ingram

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Ah yes - "abandonware"


This is a pure rationalization on your part to justofy your need to partake in illegal ditribution of others intelectual property


I work for a software producer (product development manager).

We no longer sell or support TK Solver version 2.0 for the Mac. But we still will come down on people of we find them creating a black market for this item. Our more recent stuff (last 5 years or so requires registration and unlocking keys after the trial period ends)


www.uts.com
 

Psuderman

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Fred:

Excuse me? I don't "need" to "partake in illegal ditribution of others intelectual property" so please drop the tone.

Your company does not support TK Solver 2.0, true, but they DO produce and support TK Solver 5.0 - presumably a program to perform the same functions. Please try to understand what I'm saying here...

HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE FOLLOWS:
For example, if your company had produced and supported TK Solver 2.0, made some money off of it, then altogether stopped producing and supporting, would it still be illegal for LEGAL users to distribute the program to others? YES. Would there be any HARM to your company in it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. (If they weren't selling or supporting TKS2.0 , it seems like there was no interest in any potential further revenues from TKS2.0)

This hypothetical example is the situation that I see these out-of-print fan made magazines in. They appeared, they were sold, they are NO LONGER AVAILABLE. Are the scenarios under copyright (YES - Thanks, SamB and Larry). Are the copyright holders being damaged by further distribution? I don't think so.

As a related question - isn't it a copyright violation to make an ASL scenario in the first place? (Besides AH/MMP of course). What about using real people's names in the background/Aftermath?
 

Bryan Holtby

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Its a copyright violation if you use the ASL logo, use the counter art or use the scenario card layout that MMP uses.

While I would like to see some of the older scenarios out of the General's made available online, say one per month, I can sympathize with those who paid for the originals and are now seeing others get them for free.

That being said, I would prefer to see new modules released rather than another OotA.

How about a 'Dogs of War' release where all the woofer scenarios get a make up and re released into something more balanced. This is something everyone would get, IMO. God knows, out of the hundreds of 'official' ASL scenarios out there, there is at least 12 definite woofers.
 

Nat Mallet

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I see the copyright discussion has made it's way to the Forums. Good, as I have strong opinions about this.

I, for one, am really frustrated with the "republish" argument - strictly because we, as ASL consumers, end up paying for the same product twice. FKaC was a good example of this - I had already paid for the majority of the scenarios.
I don't understand your argument here. If you already have the majority of the scenarios, then why do you need to purchase this module again? I don't believe MMP published FKaC as a means to extort more money from its existing customer base. I believe they published FKaC because republishing WoA was too expensive, so they split the module up into two so new players could get the British module, which is one of the major forces of the game.

You know, sometimes people are just *wrong* about allowing their stuff into the public domain.
Wrong according to who? It's THEIR STUFF. They can do whatever the hell they want with it. An author may decide that if you want to read his book, you must purchase it for 1000$, and you must only read it in the bathroom, standing on your head. Well, then if you want to read it, then you'll agree to those conditions, because it's THEIR STUFF. You can't say "sure, I'll agree to those conditions" and reneg on them.

If their conditions aren't worth the product/service they're offering, then someone else will provide it at a better price. That's how free markets work.

'm thinking about scenarios in the same way as 'abandonware,' computer programs which are no longer being sold by their company. IF you can't buy a program (or scenario) legally from its copyright holders, no matter how much you would like to, I think its no longer wrong to look at getting a copy of that program (or scenario).
Ah, the "they aren't harmed so it's ok" argument. I've heard some people try to justify piracy of CDs and Software by saying "Well, I wasn't going to buy it anyway, so really, the company isn't losing anything", or "they make so much money they can afford to lose a bunch of copies to piracy', etc.

You're missing the point. It's THEIR STUFF. They get to decide what people do with it. Some may decide to give it away for free, others may over charge for it, it doesn't matter.

But since they do NOT seem available, WHERE IS THE HARM in making some good quality PDFs of these scenarios and posting them?
Have you ever considered the possibility that some of these scenarios were so extensively pirated that the producers went out of business, and that's why they aren't available anymore?

But since the companies that hold the copyright are no longer even TRYING to make money from them, and do NOT have them available for purchase, and have already made whatever profits that they can from these products, they are made available, for free, even while still under copyright.
A few things to consider here:

1 - How, and most importantly, who decides when a company has made whatever profits they're going to make from a product?

The company is the only entity capable of deciding so, because they see the numbers. They may also have business reasons why they won't release a product under copyright. They may decide that it could compete against an existing product, who knows.

2 - Why should you or anyone else benefit from a product that someone else produced without them getting compensated for it?

Producing software or scenarios or whateveris very difficult, time consuming work, despite what some armchair technologists may say. But it's very easy to distribute. However, price should not be based on distribution or media cost alone. Those who put the hard work in should also be compensated for their time and effort, regardless of how old or popular the product is.

3 - If you decide that these out of print scenarios would be fun to play, then their beneficial to you. Why do you think that the producers shouldn't receive compensation for it? They worked hard to produce these scenarios, and they should be compensated for each and everyone that is used.

Have you tried to publish scenarios yourself? I really suggest you try it. You'll understand how much work goes into one of these things. You have to do the research, the artwork, the layout, the playtesting, editing, review the product for errors, find someone to publish it, pay for printing and packaging and sending, etc, etc.

Frankly, I think the price on some of these scenario packs are a steal to begin with. I bought HoB's firefight recenctly for about 25$ with shipping. These are all very small scenarios, specifically designed to be played in an evening. Let's assume 2.5 hours per scenario. If I play them each once (which won't happen; I've played one twice already), then I'll have played for 15 hours. At 25$, that's 1.60$ an hour, Canadian!. That's less than going to the movies.

If a scenario isn't worth 1.60$, then it probably isn't worth playing at all. If you think a scenario is worth playing, then it's worth paying for it.

For example, if your company had produced and supported TK Solver 2.0, made some money off of it, then altogether stopped producing and supporting, would it still be illegal for LEGAL users to distribute the program to others? YES. Would there be any HARM to your company in it? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Are you serious? OF COURSE there would be harm to Fred's company. The people who would buy TK Solver 2.0 are those who are willing to spend money to solve a problem. Since they're buying 2.0, they're not buying TK Solver 5.0, so Fred's company would lose money.

Not only that, but some other company would profit from all the hard work from Fred's company! If you don't see anything wrong with that, then send me your paycheck, you'll see why companies protect their hard work so zealously! :)

Nat
 

Psuderman

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Phemur,

I think a lot of people purchased FKaC because it was a core ASL module, even if they already had WoA. As well, ASL #101, Throwing Down the Gauntlet is a new scenario. ALL the rest from FKaC are reprints. So, I guess I bought the whole module for one new scenario and a new British OB. Moving on...

Interestingly, free markets have a LOT to do with piracy, don't you agree? Windows 3.1 was the most pirated piece of software in the world, and Windows 95 because the best selling piece of software in the world, and that pattern repeated itself with Win98 and WinXP.

Also, copyright issues make the 'free' market a whole lot less free. If the market was free, some 3rd party would have produced, marketed and sold a ASLRB v2 in electronic form quite some time ago.

Ok - let's say I wanted to buy the Windy City Wargamers scenarios, which I see have good ratings on ROAR. I don't have the scenarios. Who can I pay for a copy of these scenarios? If I can't pay the designers, the publishers or the distributors, who can I pay? Should I pay someone who I meet at a tournament for a copy of them?

See, I'm against that. If I happened to have "Unavailable But Highly Sought After ASL Pack#1," is it legal for me to make a photocopy for someone and charge them $30 for it? No, and I think it's bad form as well. Is it legal for me to make a photocopy and give it away for free? No, but I'd likely generate some friendship. Remember, I'm speaking hypothetically about a module that is no longer available for sale, plus the author/publisher/playtester/distributor of the self-published scenarios is dead, and has no family. Realize that I'm not suggesting any of this to make money for myself. The whole idea is more like an archive.

1 - How, and most importantly, who decides when a company has made whatever profits they're going to make from a product?
When a company no longer offers a product for sale, that is PRECISELY the point that they have chosen to stop making profits from that product.

2 - Why should you or anyone else benefit from a product that someone else produced without them getting compensated for it?
If I am unable to compensate someone for their product, no matter how much I want to, what then do I do? I am speaking strictly of scenarios where the normal methods of compensating someone for their hard work is NOT available.

3 - If you decide that these out of print scenarios would be fun to play, then their beneficial to you. Why do you think that the producers shouldn't receive compensation for it? They worked hard to produce these scenarios, and they should be compensated for each and everyone that is used.
I think you said something really, REALLY good here - "compensated for each and everyone that is used." Unfortunately, the system right now has us paying for all the scenarios in a pack, not just the ones we use.

Like I just said... I want to pay for them, but they are not for sale! If they are not for sale, they should be freely available!

I bought HOB's Firefights as well, and I love 'em.

As fine and upstanding as the ASL Forum members are, I suspect that a site hosting scans of out-of-print scenarios would get a lot of traffic - demonstrating a demand. If there is a demand, a capitalist system suggests that a supply be created. That's the free market. I'm against someone MAKING A PROFIT from someone else's scenario.

I would view an out-of-print scenario archive as a public service. If a scenario came back into print, why then it would be removed from the out-of-print scenario archive.
 

SamB

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When a company no longer offers a product for sale, that is PRECISELY the point that they have chosen to stop making profits from that product.
No, it means that for the time being they are not selling the product. It does not necessarily mean that they have chosen to stop making profit from the product.

Avalon Hill sold the rights to their games for a reported $8,000,000 to Hasbro. Eight Million Dollars. I can remember when that was quite a bit of money. Hasbro has a right to protect that investment. So do other people who produce(d) scenarios and other game material.

You can not argue that "there is no harm" so its OK. This is cut and dried. Its the law. And its just not right to steal someone's property - even if they don't seem to be using it right now.

As fine and upstanding as the ASL Forum members are, I suspect that a site hosting scans of out-of-print scenarios would get a lot of traffic - demonstrating a demand. If there is a demand, a capitalist system suggests that a supply be created. That's the free market. I'm against someone MAKING A PROFIT from someone else's scenario.
No, that's not free market. Free market is you see that there is a demand for ASL scenarios so you go out and produce some for sale. There's a demand for new cars, but that doesn't mean its OK for me to sell cars that don't belong to me. :oops:

There are only a few relevant facts:

1. The scenarios don't belong to you.
2. You don't have the right to copy / distribute them.

All the rest (I can't find them, I can't find anyone to pay, It won't hurt anyone, etc, etc,) is really off-topic.

8)
 

Nat Mallet

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Interestingly, free markets have a LOT to do with piracy, don't you agree? Windows 3.1 was the most pirated piece of software in the world, and Windows 95 because the best selling piece of software in the world, and that pattern repeated itself with Win98 and WinXP.
I'm not sure what you mean by that. If you're using the argument that piracy increases the demands for a product because everyone is using it, then I disagree. I've read a lot of these reports that piracy has helped sales, therefor we shouldn't worry too much about it. I'm not convinced that it has. Most of these reports support that claim by saying that sales of particular products have gone up, but none of these reports bother to mention anything about the disposable income of the consumers, the reduction in price of these products, or any other factor which could contribute to the rising sales.

I'd be willing to bet that by eliminating piracy, sales would go even higher for the following reasons:

- Profits would be made on volume rather than on margin
- Companies would no longer waste time prosecuting pirates
- Companies would no longer waste R&D money on DRM and other anti-copying material.

Ultimately, consumers would win, because the price of those products would come down.

If the market was free, some 3rd party would have produced, marketed and sold a ASLRB v2 in electronic form quite some time ago.
There's nothing stopping anyone from doing what you suggest now. A company could license publication rights to the ASL rule book from the current copyright owners. The company that produced the original works benefits, this new company benefits, and the consumers benefits.

Doesn't this remind you of an existing situation? That's right, MMP and Hasbro. The original copyright owners went under, the copyrights were picked up by Hasbro, but the weren't interested in publishing, even though there was demand. MMP is formed by die-hard ASLers, they license the product, and ASL is again available to all who want it.

And it's all legal, too.

So why isn't the ASL rule book already in electronic format? I don't know. Maybe MMP/Hasbro are worried about piracy. Maybe they don't see enough demand for it. Maybe they can't figure out how to produce it at a reasonable cost. Maybe they're working on it now, but it's at the bottom of their list to do.


Who can I pay for a copy of these scenarios? If I can't pay the designers, the publishers or the distributors, who can I pay? Should I pay someone who I meet at a tournament for a copy of them?
This is an easy answer: you pay the copyright owners. There are laws in place to determine who the copyright owners are (if you have a lot of free time visit http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/ ).

Believe me, there is no such thing as an ownerless product.

Remember, I'm speaking hypothetically about a module that is no longer available for sale, plus the author/publisher/playtester/distributor of the self-published scenarios is dead, and has no family.
Copyrighted work is considered an estate asset. Even if there's no family, that work has to go somewhere. Typically, it goes to the government, who then decides where it should go, which could be the public domain. But there is still an owner.

When a company no longer offers a product for sale, that is PRECISELY the point that they have chosen to stop making profits from that product.
I'll conceed that point to you.

If I am unable to compensate someone for their product, no matter how much I want to, what then do I do?
Assuming that the product isn't in the public domain, you have two options: Do without the product or pirate/steal it. They own the rights to that product. They can either sell it, or not.

Even if a scenario is easily copied and even if there is no loss to the person who owns the scenario, it's still theirs to do whatever they want with it. Think of it as a car that someone isn't using. It's just been sitting in their driveway for years and years. You come by, and offer them money for it. They say no. What are you going to do, steal it?

Don't get me wrong, I think it *really* sucks when someone has ownership of a product that's useless to them, but they're still unwilling to sell it or give it away. Unfortunately, I also believe in the respecting other people's property. It's their scenarios, and it they don't want to share, too bad for me.

Of course, these people are usually very lonely people. :)

I think you said something really, REALLY good here - "compensated for each and everyone that is used." Unfortunately, the system right now has us paying for all the scenarios in a pack, not just the ones we use.
I'd like that as well, but unfortunately, it raises the cost of reproduction and distribution. That's why you get steep discounts when sold in bulk.

The worse part is that cheap distributions mechanisms exist. Imagine how cheap it would be for MMP to post their scenarios online for sale. No distribution cost other than bandwidth.

But do you know why nobody is willing to do this? That's right, piracy.

A lot of people have been harping on DRM technology, but if ever this can be figured out, watch how much money media companies make, and watch how cheap it will be for consumers.

As fine and upstanding as the ASL Forum members are, I suspect that a site hosting scans of out-of-print scenarios would get a lot of traffic - demonstrating a demand.
I certainly don't disagree with you here. I've downloaded pretty much every free scenario I've found.

If there is a demand, a capitalist system suggests that a supply be created. That's the free market.
That's certainlly true, but as an amateur economist, I'd like to point a few things out.

First, demand is about volume. No matter how much someone wants something, if there's no volume, there isn't really a demand for it.

Second, (and forgive me if I get the terminology wrong), demand for items which have a replacement item is usually low. This is true in the case of scenarios. There are so many scenarios already available, that the demand for specific, out of print scenarios is going to be low.

(Replacement isn't the word I'm looking for, but my economics courses are too far behind me now).

If a scenario came back into print, why then it would be removed from the out-of-print scenario archive.
I'm not a lawyer, but I believe that the public domain is an entity of it's own, and once something is put into it, it can't come out.

In any case, a scenario archive would be an absolutely fantastic idea, and there's no reason it couldn't happen what with the existing "free" scenarios available now.

Nat
 

pryoung

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Psuderman said:
So, I guess I bought the whole module for one new scenario and a new British OB.
Your choice, MMP has stated publicly they'll be selling the scenarios (and other components) separately, as they do with their other modules, although I guess buying a pack of 20 scenarios to get one new one still doesn't fit your definition of "free market."

And what exactly is it you want? You complain that these old scenarios are not available and your justification for distributing them for free (the companies, not you, I understand that point) is that the companies aren't selling them anymore and must not want profits from them anymore. Yet when a company does make old scenarios available for purchase again (ie, FKaC), you complain about that. What are you looking for?

Pete
 

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Psuderman's comments make me really angry. They seem entirely selfish--an "I want something for nothing" attitude. If you want free scenarios, design them yourself. Demanding that Kinetic Energy (or other) scenarios be free just because you don't have them is ridiculous. YOU didn't put any time, effort or money into creating those scenarios. Why should you get them for free? If Mark Neukom and Mike Reed wanted to give scenarios away, then more power to them. If they don't, that's their RIGHT.

If I wanted to be selfish myself, I could say that I've spent hundreds of dollars on TOT scenarios and why should you get something for nothing when I most definitely did not. But I'm not being selfish--my opinion even holds for those (few) remaining rare ASL products I do not have. I am not going to demand that they be made freely available to me.
 
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