On June 3rd, a small indie role playing game company called Rarr I’m A Monster Publishing posted a a new RPG book, Monster Menagerie, for sale here.
It featured the over art of one Jon Towers. On September 8th, the publisher informed Towers that a competitor of theirs, Outlaw Press Inc had downloaded the book and were now selling it on their own website with a removed logo.
In the last month, a staggering 70+ works of art have been identified as having been stolen by Outlaw Press and used in their publications, as well as a large laundry list of other kinds of IP theft. There’s a convenient PDF someone put together showing the various copyrighted works and the products ripping them off. Much of the art isn’t even just copyrighted by a random artist, but was work for hire and actually owned by Games Workshop, Dreamworks, and Blizzard. All their products have been yanked from RPGNow for these shenanigans, and is getting yanked from Amazon and other locations as the wronged parties hunt down everywhere these tainted products are being sold. Apparently and incredibly, Shipman has responded to all this with vague evasions and defiant “I do what I want” declarations, continuing to sell these products despite being notified of the art theft.
I am not working and will never work with James Shipman and Outlaw Press. I know that Mr. Shipman has been making statements to this effect on his website. I have not submitted anything to Outlaw Press for publication since I became aware of his illegal practices in 2009.
At this point, the publisher claimed that his art was bought from an art broker called David Levine (or David Levin) from the United Kingdom, of whom no record exists anywhere on the Web and to whom Shipman claims to have paid around $2000 for all the art used in his publications. Still, after having been repeatedly informed of his use of unlicensed art, the publisher tried to sell the infringing print products through his own website and made no effort to recall or remove the publications from any of his other still active sales outlets.
Subsequently, after the posts were made by Shipy on the Trollbridge, the publisher’s website: http://outlaw-press.com/ announced on its homepage:
Outlaw Press / James Shipman is not stealing from only one or two people. His victims comprise every creative member of the Tunnels and Trolls community—including even those who joined since 2009 and never had any prior dealings with Outlaw Press—and fantasy artists outside the community. More than this, he has altered statements of credit and copyright in the versions of the products he has pirated, either removing credits altogether, or outright claiming ownership of rights by Outlaw Press.
Towers e-mailed Shipman himself, asking for his art if nothing else to be removed and not sold. He received a response saying that Shipman saying,
” I really don’t care. Your item(s) will remain there forever. Copies are selling very good. Over 50 copies sold to date. I’ll probably soon be adding Hobb Sized Adventures and Angry Flowers to my web site as soon as I get the layout finished.”
That would be more titles with Towers’ artwork. Outlaw Press in more than just name it seems…