Tag Archives: art theft

Would Someone Just Please Shoot Jim Shipman In the Head And Get It All Over With?

That’s right.  I’m officially green-lighting a hit on Jim Shipman.  Apparently he’s back AGAIN and plying his illegal wares.  Yes, AGAIN, this isn’t a repeat from:

This is a sad statement on our modern legal system.  With stuff like this, it’s impossible to decently prove criminal charges, and you need money and time and gumption and standing to pursue civil action (which he’d just ignore anyway and leave a shell company to collapse).  Yay, if you’re a company you can get away with anything.  Can’t we put one of those annoying IP rights organizations to work?  Hey, RIAA, you could get some GOOD press for once by suing this dickhead into the Stone Age.

And don’t these Internet sites keep any records?  He’s been reported and his store pulled from Amazon and Lulu and all that multiple times now.  Come on guys.

Anyway, if you are near Lawrenceville, IL, you know what to do.  You don’t even really have to kill him – if ten strangers showed up and just kicked his ass really good then maybe he’d just go get a job at Denny’s or something instead of continuing to pollute our hobby.

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Further Jim Shipman Warnings, Sigh

Well, Jim Shipman, sole proprietor of Outlaw Press and the psychotic perpetrator of art and IP theft on a large line of Tunnels & Trolls products has recently moved on to good old fashioned eBay fraud.

As discussed on Tome of Treasures and The Acaeum, Shipman (under the name selling4u2) is selling “first editions” and other rare and valuable Tunnels & Trolls stuff on eBay.  But sadly, what one hapless buyer, who paid $1338 for a first edition, got in the mail was not what he paid for.  (Compare the eBay pic to the recieved pic.)

I can’t imagine the Tunnels and Trolls community is that large – have some of you really not gotten the news yet!?!   WAKE UP SHEELPLE!  This guy is using every existing way and some new ones of ripping people off he conceivably can.

Jim Shipman posts on eBay under the names jimship1, Hobbit_King, actionseller99 and selling4u2, using the hobbit_king@yahoo.com PayPal account.  Try not to get screwed!

Outlaw Press/Jim Shipman Sinks To Demented, Pathetic New Lows In Art Theft Scandal

The Newest Scam

This weekend, there was an interesting new comment on the Outlaw Press Thieving Update article detailing the ongoing blatant art theft perpetrated by Outlaw Press (aka James L. Shipman II) in his Tunnels & Trolls products.  It initially appeared to be Ken St. Andre (original designer of Tunnels & Trolls, who still runs a large T&T online community), calling into question the role of some of the artists in the debacle.  The message was attributed to “atroll”, kenstandre@yahoo.com, the identity he usually posts under.

One thing still bothers me about this whole sorted Outlaw Press mess is that M.E. Volmar and Simon Tranter were Art Directors, with Mrs. Volmar in charge of purchasing all artwork for Outlaw Press for several years (4 total I believe). Now she seems to be its harshest critic. I have to wonder if she purchased all that artwork over the years how she would not know if was stolen? Maybe this is her way of shifting the blame away from herself? Did she take the money from Outlaw Press and then help steal the artwork at the same time? I believe further investigation is needed. I’m inclined not to believe M.E. Volmar’s word at being the innocent Art Director, as she has shone herself to be less than truthful. She may need to be expelled from Trollhalla as well.
–Ken St. Andre

However, a couple things were suspicious about this post.  Besides the somewhat startling claims, there are a good number of spelling and grammar errors.  I haven’t known St. Andre longer than this stuff has been going on, but I’ve noticed that his communications tend to be extremely grammatically correct.  So I look at the IP address the comment came in from, and it’s different from the address St. Andre posted from in his previous comments on Geek Related about this issue.

Hmmm.  Maybe Ken was on a business trip to another state and was drinking wacky juice (accounting for the sudden 5 grade level drop in writing style) and decided to post odd accusations on my blog?  Or maybe, I should email him and make sure this was from him.  Sure enough, upon being contacted via email he confirmed that he didn’t post anything to this effect and that he considers the accusations in the comment to be fabrications.

Sadly, on blogs like this you’re pretty much free to put in whatever name, URL, and email address you want when posting comments – but the IP address tracks you down to where you really are.

I have reported the situation to the abuse department at Level 3 Communications, which is the ISP where the post came from.  In fact, I’d be interested if anyone else has records of who might be posting from IP address 4.159.56.108. If owners of other sites – Trollhalla, Trollbridge, RPG.net, etc. – could check their logs and see if anyone has posted there from that IP it would be interesting.  Naturally Shipman is the leading candidate, but I’d like to have proof.  What do you say, fair readers, would you like to know who posted the above comment? Ask your favorite blog and forum owners to check for people coming from that IP, especially Saturday 1/19 AM.

My own detective work: an IP geolocation indicates this IP address is currently assigned to Marion, IL.   (Such traces are usually pretty good but not necessarily accurate down the the exact town – like running a trace on my IP gets close, Austin, but not my exact nearby city.)  Interestingly, guess where outlaw-press.com is registered?  Lawrenceville, IL (the address on the WHOIS record indicates it’s Shipman’s parents’ house, Leroy and Julie.)  And Outlaw Press has been listed in several places (mostly taken down now due to complains) as a Lawrenceville, IL bookseller.  It’s where Shipman lives.  So same neck of the woods, seems like.  Isn’t technology fun?

Anyway, I talked to Volmar and St. Andre via email about the claims and turns out Volmar did occasional work for Shipman as a direct favor to St. Andre, doing some art and layout, but she and Simon Tranter didn’t do art direction or buying, despite being miscredited on products by Shipman.  Who to believe?  Well, even if the history of lying on Shipman’s part doesn’t make it obvious, there are also numerous other documented complaints by people he has miscredited on his products, so it’s consistent with everything else.

Lulu Shenanigans

Guess what else Shipman’s been up to?   He’s resorting to e-mailing Lulu posing as the trademark owner for Tunnels & Trolls, and telling them that copyright and ownership of the trademark is under litigation. He’s apparently doing this to stop anyone, including Ken St. Andre, from publishing any T&T related materials through Lulu’s print-on-demand service, as this only happened after he tried re-opening his Lulu store, now as James Shipman (http://stores.lulu.com/hobbit_king) and not Outlaw Press, Inc., with a handful of products that were immediately reported as infringing the copyright of several artists and writers by the copyright owners. This claim about there being current litigation on the T&T trademark is a complete fabrication, as the owner of the T&T trademark,  Flying Buffalo, Inc. and Rick Loomis, has said himself that he has not started any litigation regarding T&T.  Ironically, the only product currently listed at the James Shipman store on Lulu right now is a Ken’ St. Andre/Flying Buffalo publication.  Stay classy Shipy!

Ignoble Knight?

Also, jeers to Noble Knight Games, who seems to be happily selling loads of Outlaw Press products, even after everyone from Amazon to RPGNow has removed them.  I know people have contacted them about the situation.  Come on guys, you have a pretty good rep, do you want to sully it by continuing to sell stolen IP?  I’m sure you paid for that stock and it’s sad to take a bath on it, but sack up.

What You Can Do

First, if you are a T&T player, don’t buy any of the Outlaw Press stuff with stolen art or IP, wherever places he finds to list it briefly before people find him and get it taken down (it’s a continuous battle on eBay, Lulu, etc.).

Second, if you admin a blog or forum or Web site, find more proof about who posts from IP address 4.159.56.108.  Post here or email me at geek.related@gmail.com with your findings.

Third, if you’re one of the defrauded artists, continue working on legal redress of the situation.  No one else can do anything about this, and clearly he’s looking to make a long term stand and continue to blatantly defraud people until something’s done about it.

Fourth, if you admin a blog/forum/Web site – be careful, there is “someone” now willing to post lies under false pretenses regarding this issue.  You may need to turn off anonymous posting, observe posts and comments for signs of identity theft, etc.  Clearly someone’s trying to post falsehoods to add FUD to the situation – be observant and prevent that.  All major software – WordPress, phpBB, etc. logs IP address and other identifying information for all contributions, if you don’t know how, take a couple minutes to learn how to find and use that information.

Outlaw Press Thieving Update

As a followup to my article “Outlaw Press, aka Jim Shipman, Is a Big Crook“, I have an comprehensive update provided by one of the artists Shipman ripped off.  The story thus far:

A small RPG Publisher (Outlaw Press, Inc. run by James L. Shipman II) that exclusively publishes Tunnels & Trolls RPG materials was accused of extensively using and publishing unlicensed art and text for profit by several artist and writers who own the copyright to the art and content in question. Some of the images used by this publisher are work-for-hire art copyrighted by big-name companies like Dreamworks SKG. Games Workshop, Upper Deck/Blizzard, and Wizards of the Coast.

The discussion about the whole matter of this publisher using unlicensed art started on this thread at RPGNet (which is now 101 pages long, and has been closed). The thread started when it was brought to the attention of an artist, Kevin Bracey, that he was wrongfully credited with the cover art of a product that had actually been created by Mauricio Herrera and used without permission. Kevin Bracey was, however, the creator of the original cover for the product, which was changed when the work was made available in PDF format by Outlaw Press, Inc.

After repeated unanswered communications sent to the publisher by the growing number of artists who recognized their work as being used without a license, mainly as covers for his products, his Lulu and DriveThruRPG stores were taken down with all the questionable products removed. The products were also removed from his own website for a while, but soon afterward were re-listed without showing the cover art–the most readily recognized and easily identifiable circumstance of copyright infringement. Moreover, Outlaw Press, Inc. removed their e-mail address from their main site, although the publisher’s actual contact details can still be found here and here.

After many more unanswered communications to the publisher, some from past contributors requesting the removal of their freely contributed material from his publications (Tori Bergquist, Simon Lee Tranter, Ken St. Andre, Gianmatteo Tonci, and M. E. Volmar included) as a result of their outrage and in solidarity to the affected artists, the matter was still unresolved and being ignored by the publisher who continued to sell – through his own website, Lulu’s Amazon Markeplace and Amazon’s CreateSpace – products that were no longer just suspect (on a grand scale) of copyright infringement, but whose permission by the contributing artists and writers to sell their materials had been rescinded.

Some artists, prompted by a lack of answer from Shipman, resorted to leaving notes of art theft on the Reviews section of the products listed on Amazon.com. And eventually, all but 5 of the roughly 130 listed items were removed from the Amazon.com and Lulu’s Amazon Marketplace stores at the request of the art’s copyright owners who were left no choice but to contact Lulu and Amazon.com directly.  Of the 5 remaining products (which can still be found here), 2 still present covers with verified unlicensed art – “Troll’s Blood & Old Delvers: Tunnels & Trolls Anthology” with Jon Hodgson’s art, and “Lizardmen In Red Water Bay: A Tunnels & Trolls Fanpostal Novel” with Allen Palmer’s art.

So far, the list of artists that have confirmed the use of their unlicensed art featured on the covers of Outlaw Press, Inc. products (without counting the 10+ contributors who have so far rescinded Shipman’s permission to use their materials) is overwhelming and growing (with around 20 or so other artists who are being contacted to confirm if indeed their art has been used without permission). These 30+ artists, some whose 70+ pieces of unlicensed artwork is featured on several of the publisher’s products (see attached PDF file), include:

  • J. P. Targete
  • Sylvain Despretz
  • Simon Dominic
  • Mauricio Herrera
  • Jon Hodgson
  • Daniel Horne
  • Michal Ivan
  • John Shannon
  • Bill Corbett
  • Martin McKeown
  • Mats Minnhagen
  • Ursula Vernon
  • Jeff Lee Johnson
  • Henning Janssen
  • Zoltan Boros and Gabor Szikszai
  • Jhoneil Centeno
  • Johann Valentin Andree
  • Bera Karoly
  • Alan Lathwell
  • Ken Jeremiassen
  • Jan Patrik Kresny
  • Fredrik Rahmqvist
  • David Lightfoot
  • Allen Palmer
  • Alejandro Guitierrez
  • Daniel Falck
  • Storn A. Cook
  • Norbert Vakulya
  • Thom Scott
  • Darrenn E. Canton
  • Tibor Szendrei
  • Goran Josic
  • Per Eriksson
  • Kory K.

One of the artists, Daniel Falck, wrote about the situation in his own blog.

Others have also written about the matter at:

The publisher was also accused of reprinting and selling without the author’s permission a magazine called “Mazes & Minotaurs,” which is offered for free on the author’s website. The details of this accusation can be found here.

Moreover, most of the art identified by the artists as used without a license is art featured on the covers of this publisher’s products, meaning that a thorough examination of the interior art used on his publications is yet to be undertaken, and that more artwork could have been used without a license by this publisher and more artists may be in reality affected by his practices.

The requests to remove freely contributed art and content, and the cancellation of the license to publish Tunnels & Trolls materials made by the makers of the Tunnels & Trolls game, Ken St. Andre and Flying Buffalo, Inc., have so far been completely ignored, and nothing close to an apology or explanation has been offered by the publisher to anyone – although he has appeared as Shipy (also his nickname on http://www.trollhalla.com – Ken St. Andre’s Tunnels & Trolls website) in this thread (post 162 and 168) mocking the requests and comments about his practices made by the RPG community.

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 announced on its homepage:

“All this month we will be having a X-mas sale. That means most of our T&T prices will be listed for half price or cheaper. So if you are looking to buy something, this month will be the best time to do so.”

And went on to boast about the money he was making off products that still featured all the unlicensed art in question.

“We have lots of new T&T items planned for the coming year (Novels, Solos, T&T Supplements and even a T&T Battle Dice Game Ken St. Andre created). Our sales have continued to grow with the site statics breaking down as such; roughly 3,241 people visit here each day, with 1 in 122 people making a purchase of $50 or more. We are shipping world wide and we continue to expand.”

It is also of note that the publisher sells a magazine called “The Hobbit Hole,” although the word Hobbit and its use is trademarked to the Tolkien Estate, and highly unlikely to have been licensed to an obscure independent publisher such as Outlaw Press, Inc. and/or James Shipman.

This week, and after having been contacted through e-mail by Shipman (who cited bogus publication rights and falsely claimed owning the copyrights to freely contributed materials whose copyright was never given to him by the rightful copyright owners), Ken St. Andre terminated James Shipman membership at Trollhalla–St. Andre’s own Tunnels & Trolls fan club–after issuing the following statement:

“Because James Shipman has shown himself to be neither truthful nor courageous nor ethical, I declare that he cannot remain a member of Trollhalla any longer.”

Although the publisher’s website has now been down for a few days, he continues to sell his products on E-Bay under various user names including: jimship1, Hobbit_King, actionseller99 and selling4u2, using the hobbit_king@yahoo.com PayPal account.

Still, a storefront for this publisher and most of his products (which still feature the unlicensed art) can be found by following the product links at the Noble Knights game store here, probably selling old stock.

Not only have the actions by James Shipman been damaging and disrespectful to many, including his contributors and the Tunnels & Trolls community, but his practices have muddied reputations, impacted artists and fans alike, and cast a bad shadow on the whole RPG community and on legitimate independent publishers. This situation needs to be exposed, if only in the hope of helping the affected artists and contributors who have been wrong by Shipman, and the RPG community and independent publishers alike.

Please help support the artists and legitimate RPG publishers by not patronizing this ripoff artist, even at discount prices.  If you are an artist or writer, do not compromise your own professional reputation by working with him.

Outlaw Press, aka Jim Shipman, Is A Big Crook

Outlaw Press is a small press outfit that publishes for Tunnels & Trolls, run by one Jim Shipman.  Late last month, a South American guy noticed that a cover for one of their products was miscredited and posted on RPG.net about it.  Innocent mistake?  Overreaction?  Well, as time wore on, actual RPG artists took note and started noticing work of theirs appearing as covers on Outlaw Press products. A huge list of artists.

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.  In fact, Ken St. Andre and Flying Buffalo pulled his Tunnels & Trolls license over it, but that’s not stopping Jim!  “I have warehoused products to sell!” he declares.

He is still selling his wares clandestinely on eBay and other places under shifting seller names, including jimship1, Hobbit_King@yahoo.com, and actionseller99.

Do not buy anything from Jim Shipman or Outlaw Press, now or in the future!  And feel free and take whatever kind of righteous retribution you see fit upon him, his products, his Web site, and his business.  He’s flaunting the law and ripping off legitimate artists and creators trying to make their way generating content for their favorite games.