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31

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 ...


27

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

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, ...


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.


20

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 ...


17

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

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. Only D&D 3e/3.5e was made open under the OGL. Other games derived from it (like Pathfinder) and totally unrelated games, like FATE, use the OGL. 5e does not use the OGL (their plans are yet to be ...


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 ...


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 ...


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, ...


10

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

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 ...


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 ...


8

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. ...


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 ...


6

(First, I'm not a lawyer, this isn't legal advice, retain a lawyer if you have any doubts.) Referencing things has nothing to do with copyright law Let's get one thing out of the way: Dungeon World's references to bits of pop culture and literature and stuff is in no way a violation of copyright, trademark, or patents. Trademark and patent law don't even ...


5

As the now parent company, you could just try calling or emailing CCP Games directly. The trail stops dead with White Wolf as Richard Thomas did not buy/acquire the license for BESM. So one can assume that with CCP it has remained (as far as the public domain is concerned) and that it is highly likely that it has been moth-balled due to the focus on WoD MMO ...


5

(usual disclaimer that I'm not a professional lawyer and that you should consult one) You're quite right to question the PRD as being 100% open content, as there are indeed some PI terms used within it. The PRD's Open Content declaration only specifies that rules included within are open (in similar wording to many printed products that state the same ...


5

Creative Commons is a nice license to use. For example, Eclipse Phase is using it and has sold a lot of physical copies -- there was a note on their web site but I cannot find it now. This allows you to distribute your book(s) for free with a tip jar. This is an easy way to get noticed but not all publication houses will agree to print the book under that ...


4

PI vs OGC The real answer is that every single book has a declaration of what parts are considered open content and which are considered PI. All trademarks, registered trademarks, proper names (characters, deities, etc.), dialogue, plots, storylines, locations, characters, artworks, and trade dress. In that, the "etc." is not a general "whatever ...



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