Hot answers tagged

32

TL;DR If thousands of other people are doing exactly the same thing for years on the net and the current employees of the firm are endorsing it (by participating, streaming, tweeting, linking-to, it) you are in the clear. There are literally tens-of-thousands of blog posts, wikis, podcasts, and vlogs of actual-play including by D&D employees past and ...


28

I am a game designer with my own game designs already on the market. My primary system at the moment is currently the number one RPG system on Amazon.com. I'm also a writer with over ten books to my name and dozens of shorter stories. I've read a lot of books with regards to copyright law and checked both the Canadian and U.S. laws concerning copyright, ...


28

I am not a lawyer. This doesn't constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice in a practical matter, retain a lawyer. Yadda, yadda. However, these are two well-understood parts of game design, so I can comment generally. Rules cannot be copyrighted, as they are procedures and processes. The correct arena of government-granted production monopoly for ...


25

Anything you find in the SRD is Open Gaming Licence content and thus free to use so long as you abide by the terms of the OGL. You'll note that it does not contain XP or Wealth-By-Level rules, and you'll also notice that it doesn't really contain fluff; those rules (and the fluff) are still WotC's property and cannot be used. Beyond that, you're perfectly ...


25

Legal issues First, I'm not a lawyer. I've spent the past 15 years paying attention to the shifting landscape of copyright and trademark and other IP law, so I can point you toward a few ideas that might help, but I'm still not a lawyer and can't give you legal advice that's worth a damn when you actually start publishing. Infringing others' IP rights ...


24

In terms of the GURPS part, assuming this is not for sale and just posted publicly on the Web, your use would be dictated by the Steve Jackson Games Online Policy. This allows you to make adventures and stuff but not things that require a restatement of the GURPS rules - so you'd want to be careful that your "fan book" doesn't do that. In addition, the ...


22

Risking a copyright lawsuit over gaming material based on things somebody you don't know said on a public internet forum is naive at best. You are not talking about peanuts here. A wrong decision can seriously impact your whole life. Get a lawyer. This is the only answer you should get. Even if he tells you the same you read here.


21

OK, so here's game intellectual property 101. There are niche exceptions to all of it, but at a high level it's going to hold for 99% of use cases in the free world. If you don't already know all the stuff below you should not enter into any commercial enterprise based on someone else's IP without professional legal advice. You are never free to use ...


18

You're somewhat confused, which is understandable since intellectual property rights and D&D is a confusing issue. OGL The OGL is a specific license with specific terms. D&D 3e/3.5e was made open for others' use under the OGL and the open portion was published as a SRD, or System Reference Document. Other games derived from the d20 SRD (like ...


18

All FR gods and other setting proper nouns are the intellectual property of WotC - probably copyright, maybe some trademark, maybe even some trade dress... The specifics aren't all that important in this case. Technically, legally, and unless you have a bunch of money and lawyers to try to fight it, you need permission to use them. This kind of use is NOT ...


16

First, I'm not a lawyer, I just have a keen personal interest in IP law, from a desire to be a well-educated consumer and creator. You likely don't need legal advice for this, but if you do, get a lawyer, &c. Yes, the "NDA" is still in effect, but no, it doesn't control use of the retail rules. The Online Playtest Agreement ("OPTA") only covers the ...


16

I focused on copyright and cyberlaw when I obtained my JD, but I never took the bar because I knew I didn't want to practice law. So this is backround material, not legal advice, and I am not a lawyer. There are two legal areas to pay attention to here: trademark and copyright. Trademark was created to protect businesses from fraudsters trying to masquerade ...


15

While I'm not a lawyer, I'd suspect that part of your liability here is determined by the method you do the 5e updates. Are you talking about republishing them, including maps and flavor text? If so, I'd be very cautious, especially given WotC's proclivity to shut down 3rd party resources for older versions of the game. However, a simple listing of changes ...


15

You're right that you can't reproduce the D&D 5e edition rules, Forgotten Realms maps, etcetera, because they are fully copyrighted and no open/free license exists for any of their content. You would need to get permission from Hasbro (not Wizards of the Coast), and Hasbro's lawyers wouldn't even give it a moment's consideration. Making a “retroclone” ...


13

There is no such a single meaning as 'using' content; it depends on what exactly you do with it - are you making a copy? Are you distributing a copy? Are you creating a derived work? etc. Copyright law on literary works, including gaming books, mainly refers to the copying and/or redistributing the actual textual content. It does not apply in any way if you ...


13

Yes, and the law says you don't actually need the Open Game License to do it. But, You probably need to use the OGL anyway because the world is crazy. The OGL is the legal vehicle that most publishers used during the d20 craze, and is what Pathfinder uses, to be "compatible with" D&D 3rd Edition; it was given by Wizards of the Coast during their ...


13

You do not need to do anything special to get your work protected, as it is already protected from the moment you make it. You only need to register your copyright if you actually want to get involved in a lawsuit involving copyright. From the US Copyright Office FAQ: Do I have to register with your office to be protected? No. In general, ...


12

You cannot copyright a name. Still, this doesn't mean you can use them freely, because characters can be copyrighted. The deities in Forgotten Realms are no doubt fictional characters with individual characteristics, so they are subject to copyright. This means that, you can use the names, but if you also borrow the characteristics (appearance, moral ...


12

It depends on what you want to use and how you want to use it. As Lord_Gareth mentioned, all of the content from the System Reference Documents are available under the Open Game License. If you write your adventure and setting in a sufficiently generic way, you may not need to bother with the OGL. The answers for Copyright of Existing Systems might also be ...


12

Your stated motive is to make the old material available to a new generation of gamers. You're not really interested in just writing conversion notes that require the originals — you want to include the maps, descriptive passages, and all the rest of the creative content that makes these adventures awesome. The correct, ethical, and legal means of doing so ...


11

It's a complex issue. I'm going to use U.S. copyright law, because that's what I'm familiar with. I'm going to go from ultra-basic to our application, so stick with me. What is copyright? Copyright is the legally granted exclusive right to publish and redistribute specific content, particularly things that an individual has made. Corporations, however, ...


11

Short terms can't be copyrighted, and your actual play is highly unlikely to contain reproductions of passages of WotC-copyrighted material unless you're cutting and pasting material from the adventures or books for some odd reason. There is one common misstep that you might need to deliberately avoid though: it is a widespread practice to decorate blog ...


10

Publishing the old content in full is illegal and unethical, just as it is for new content. It's owned by WotC or GW or whoever, and if they wanted to sell it they would (they're making more old adventures available over time in PDF, actually). Those authors, artists, mapmakers, etc. were compensated by TSR/WotC for their work and have no explicit or ...


10

the GUMSHOE is now available under two open licenses; the Open Gaming License and the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Unported License. That means you are free to choose which license to use. The OGL license is a bit more complex, but the CC-BY-3.0 Unported has a very simple "human-readable" synopsis: You are free to: Share — copy and ...


9

The simple answer is that it's legal but if Hasbro decide to sue you it won't matter because you won't have the cash to argue and anyway they'll lean on your hosting service who will cut you off in a moment. This is exactly the state things got to in the dying days of TSR (when they became known as They Sue Regularly); they never got anywhere near a court ...


9

Talk to a Lawyer This should always be the answer for copyright questions. That said, what you are asking about is largely known as parody. However the legal protections of parody are a complicated matter and may require a lawsuit to defend. Thus, you should consult a copyright lawyer before attempting to publish any material derived from these campaigns. ...


9

I'm not a lawyer or giving legal advice on a course of action, only explaining my understanding of relevant law and licensing. There are two things here: copyright and licensing. They cannot be mixed up if you want a clear picture of what's permitted. Because each use completely different rules, they can have different, even opposite answers! Therefore you ...


9

I am not a lawyer. But the following is my understanding of current law and the licenses. It does not constitute legal advice. To publish an app that has OGL content, the OGL content inside your app must be open source. That doesn't mean the whole app has to be open, just the files that contain OGL content. So, if you have a list of spell names, races, ...


8

There is no open license for D&D 5e therefore you may not reprint, in part or on whole, any of the 5e materials without facing legal action for copyright violation. Only a specific agreement from WotC would allow you to do that, and I see no reason why they would agree to one.


7

The Law of the Geek podcast has two episodes about the protectability of game systems under copyright law: Warning: System Failure and OMG, it's the OGL. While it is not legal advice, they are lawyers. As an aside, Geoff makes the case that Paizo, from a legal standpoint, should have made Pathfinder without involving the OGL or Wizards of the Coast's ...



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