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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ruth Unger - 1926-2015

Mrs. Unger’s passing marks the end of an era. Her presidency spanned 51 years - my entire mahjongg life and then some.  Her imprimatur reached out from the tiny office on 57th Street and, through the three-colored card that we all know and love, entered our dining rooms, tournament halls and basements to imprint itself on our hearts.

The world has changed much, sometimes too much, and it can be overwhelming.  But when we sit down to play we know that there is something consistent, traditional and of the highest order in our lives and this is due to Mrs. Unger. Her dedication to the game, the rules and the steadfastness of her presence brought joy to the League's half million members.  Add our numbers to the countless others that have benefited from donations made by the League on our behalf.  Think about that for a bit – the amount of money generated by the sale of the card, year after year, being disseminated to a myriad of worthy causes. There are few, if any, organizations I can think of that operate in this way.  This is what Mrs. Unger presided over.

The League has recently moved to new offices.  Mahjongg is expanding, reaching contemporary audiences,  new generations and the virtual world. We do not as yet know what this change will mean for us as players, but I am sure we will stand behind the League as they learn to steer the ship without her hand.

Goodbye, Mrs. Unger. We are all
deeply appreciative of your devotion and will remain forever your fans.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Copying the Card - Don't.

There's one line on the card that never changes

One of the downsides to getting the card early is that I have to listen to the pleas of my out-of-state friend for a peek.  I get asked to take a picture of the card and text it or e-mail it to someone who is waiting by the mailbox.  After all, they've already bought their card, so what is the harm?  

When we pay our money to the League, we are buying more than a card, we are buying membership into a philanthropic organization.  The stock in trade of the League is the Official Standard Hands and Rules - a/k/a the Card.  The card is a document protected by copyright laws.  When something is protected by copyright, it means that we do not have the right to copy it.  Simple, right?

You may say - 
  • But my friend already bought her card, I'm just making one for her until she gets hers.  
  • I'm just making copies for my students so they can learn.
  • Only the members of my group can see it, and they all bought their card already.
  • I'm not selling it, so it's okay.
The top line in the center of the card has been there for at least twenty years.  It says:
This document is protected by copyright laws.  It is illegal to reproduce it.

I am not a lawyer, but you do not need to be one to know that copying the card is against the law.  So when your friend asks for a copy of the card they are asking you to commit a crime.  It may not seem like a crime, but it is.  Will you be prosecuted for it?  Probably not, but consider this:

When you copy the card and the copy you make leaves your hands, you have lost control over it.  Your friend may text it to another friend, who then prints it out and gives it to someone who makes another copy and gives it to someone else.  If you post it on your Facebook page, you are in essence making it available to the whole world - any member of your group can download it and do whatever they want with it - even sell it - and you have made that possible.

So think of what this might mean to the League, the philanthropic organization that uses the money it receives to donate to worthy charities.  Your one-time copying may escalate, causing lost sales and lost donations.  After all, why buy a card when you can just download it on Facebook?

I know this message does not apply to most readers, but there are a few who need to be reminded. Once it is done it cannot be undone - so best not to do it in the first place.  Thanks for listening.