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Thread: A legal question

  1. #1
    Guild Artisan industrygothica's Avatar
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    Post A legal question

    This really has nothing to do with mapping, but I thought that maybe someone around here might lend a little insight.

    If I wanted to make an adventure (or six), compile it into a .pdf and distribute it for free, what would I have to do to make sure that I stay within the law?

    I'm specifically talking about 4e here, but really any setting and/or rules system should apply. I understand that posting complete stat blocks of existing published monsters and characters would probably be a violation of IP laws and such, but I should just be able to reference page numbers and tell you what creatures are in the encounter, shouldn't I? And creatures of my own design, providing they're not specifically listed as intellectual property (beholders, carrion crawlers, etc.), should be allowed full statistics, no?

    Anyone have any advise on this, or know where to turn for further information?

    Thanks in advance.


    -IG

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      Notsonoble is offline
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    With 3e and the OGL, it was fairly easy (you had to have at least 10 percent OGL content, and slap the D20 system logo on it somewhere, attach a text copy of the OGL, and fill out a little form and mail it to WoTC under this situation you even could post monster statblocks), however with 4e and the new license WotC has its a bit of a mess. One has to fill out a different form now, there's more restrictions, and I think you even have to wait for some sort of approval... but the 4e liscense rules are second-hand knowledge to me...

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    Guild Artisan industrygothica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Notsonoble View Post
    With 3e and the OGL, it was fairly easy (you had to have at least 10 percent OGL content, and slap the D20 system logo on it somewhere, attach a text copy of the OGL, and fill out a little form and mail it to WoTC under this situation you even could post monster statblocks), however with 4e and the new license WotC has its a bit of a mess. One has to fill out a different form now, there's more restrictions, and I think you even have to wait for some sort of approval... but the 4e liscense rules are second-hand knowledge to me...
    I guess my question is basically this: do you think the same rules apply for free publications as for for-profit ones?

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    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Post Rules are rules...

    Yes, they are pretty strict about their license.

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      NeonKnight is offline
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    I believe WotC DOES have a sort of OGL license for 4e, to allow others to make mods n stuff.

    Best to peruse WotC boards, ro at worst fire them off an Email and ask them.
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  6. #6
    NymTevlyn
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    Game mechanics can't be copyrighted, only their expression. That means you can print monster stat blocks, as long as you don't copy anything WotC has done stylistically or word for word without any license at all. You also can't print any fluff / intellectual property.

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      Notsonoble is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by NymTevlyn View Post
    Game mechanics can't be copyrighted, only their expression. That means you can print monster stat blocks, as long as you don't copy anything WotC has done stylistically or word for word without any license at all. You also can't print any fluff / intellectual property.
    Actually, they can, and WotC has. http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x...lfaq/20040123f

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      Notsonoble is offline
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    Here's the GSL pdf link by the way...http://www.wizards.com/d20/files/4E_GSL.pdf one of the more annoying things about GSL is you have to update material to follow changes in the license as WotC modifies the GSL... the OGL didn't have that.

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      Sigurd is offline
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    I am not a lawyer and wouldn't trust anything without a better idea of your local law.

    I should point out however that there are two conditions at least under which you can publish stuff for WOTC's D&D.

    1. Under their license. OGL, GSL etc.... In this case you trade many of your rights as a publisher for license allowing you clear but limited options. The elegance of this is that things should be spelled out enough to reduce lawyers etc...
    WOTC does not do this out of the kindness of its heart. Licensees accept a host of limitations and accept obligations to WOTC. This is mostly what people talk about when they talk about publishing 2nd source stuff. Licensees have obligations beyond copyright law because they have accepted a defined license.


    2. Copyright - I think this is more complex and certainly more expensive to litigate. My understanding is that you can't copyright game mechanics - this would seem to give publishers some flexibility.
    Trademark - WOTC has trademarked a number of names etc... within its properties and you most likely cannot use them in another game.


    I think it would be wonderful for the industry to have more liberal licenses or have some well funded game copyright cases define limitations. Nobody wants to go to court. I think there simply isn't enough money in the market for that.
    Its possible that small time publications would fall below the radar for infractions etc... Its also possible that since WOTC has to defend its copyrights to keep them they might get a very rude reception.

    Sigurd


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