According to a post at ENWorld Wizards of the Coast has sent a Cease & Desist letter to 4epowercards.com. This time a site has been hit that offered power cards for 4E for free. Although I think that the law is on Wizard’s side, I am not happy about this development. I have actually never used 4epowercards but as far as I know it was a site by fans for fans and the people behind it were not interested in making a profit. And I don’t think that anyone can make use of mere power cards without actually having bought the D&D 4th Edition rulebooks.
The question is now: where will WotC draw the line? Who will they shut down next? And will it affect the RPG Bloggers Network and the RPG Blog Anthology? Quite a few people on the network are posting about D&D 4th Edition. We have seen new rules, rules variants, new items and even complete settings. Up until now I was pretty sure that they won’t go after us, but I am not so sure anymore. What about my own D&D 4th Edition Firearms post? Is it already a violation of Wizards’ rights or is it considered fair use?
Wizards of the Coast really should release the fan site policy and the revised GSL they have been talking about for months now. I can understand that they want to protect their IP, but what they are currently doing is just making the fans nervous. And nervous fans don’t promote a game for free or even decide to turn their back on the company they once supported.
Geek Related has two interesting posts on that topic:
Scott Rouse posted this on EnWorld –
"The fansite policy is being worked on. I was in a planning meeting today and it was being discussed and appropriately prioritized. I have read the draft and my personal opinion is that it looks very good. These will be guidelines and not a treatise on IP law. The fan site policy will not be a replacement for legal advice or common sense.
The web site in question had approximately 1825 full text power card entries. Of those 1 was a homebrew power. It also used Player's Handbook trade dress and the Dungeons & Dragons logo. The GSL does not allow for this type of use. FWIW, I saw this site for the first time on January 5th.
As I said in the Ema's post this is not a war on fansites. We appreciate fansites that respect our IP and support our business, ENWorld is a fine example of this type of websites. WotC has a great relationship with Russ and we sincerely value this community's support and patronage."
Blogs, messageboards, and the like have nothing to worry about. The two sites that have been "hit" were reproducing wholesale sections of the PHB as written, both with Powers. The Powers section is 120 pages of the PHB. There would be a point to all this Doom and Gloom about these actions if the violations weren't so clear and blatant.
Ok, from what I gather from Scott Rouse's post, 4epowercards.com used a lot of content from the PHB and that's probably quite different from what we see here on the network. But I am still not 100% convinced that they will stop there. WotC is quite a different company today than back in the day when D&D 3.0 came out. And I fear a lot has changed for the worse.
But perhaps that's just me…
What Thasmodius said. I have a good enough working relationship with Scott Rouse that I'm not worried at all.
Eh, I don't reprint anything that doesn't fall under fair use; so I feel fairly safe. That and I would ensure I got my money's worth if they ever tried to strong-arm me with legal action… like I'd make it more trouble than it was worth on a personal level.
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All the hate I see coming from "fans" is ridiculous. Ema and 4ePowerCards were taking about 2/3rd of the PHB and making it available on their sites. For free. Or, in the case of Ema, even charging for storage of the characters.
The fear that bloggers are talking about is unjustified. WotC does not own your homebrew firearms, or your homebrew Feat. It does own the nearly 2000 powers published in its own books.
I don't hate WotC for what it has done. I am (or was) just concerned that they will not stop there. But I took some time to think about the whole situation an Scott's post at ENWorld and Dave's comment relieved me quite a bit. So I think my fear is unjustified.
Stargazer, that last comment is tough to say. Almost as difficult as saying "I was wrong". Things like that just don't come naturally to those of us with a Y next to our X. So I just want to give you a tip o' the hat.
You are the man.
I hope the revised GSL will go out this week. I am also looking into the idea of posting the draft of the fansite policy and crowd sourcing some of the basic tenants.
Thanks for letting us know, Scott!
I don't think the majority of RPG bloggers or the RPG blog anthology (Open Game Table) by extension is in any real danger of receiving a C&D letter. So long as you limit what you reprint from WotC material to just the minimum needed for research, commentary, or opinion purposes I think you should be fine. IANAL, but I have a few close gamer friends who are and… in their opinion, my anthology project should be safe from any problems.
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