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did HASBRO ever answered to indie devs legal issues?

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owning the D&D patent, doesnt mean they can hold everything that wants to come out in the genre. if D&D is used in a non commercial way-it is meant no profit was taken from them, so that means anyone who dont use a D&D game for profits can use the license.

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I'm not sure what you mean exactly, but you've got some things wrong:

* There's no D&D patent, Hasbro may own the _copyright_ to the D&D texts and the _trademark_ for the name and logos.
* Copyright & trademark infringement is infringement, no matter how much profit the infringer makes.
* Hasbro doesn't have to answer any "indie devs legal issues", the law is quite clear.
* The D&D license does not affect "anything coming out in the genre", as long as it doesn't infringe any copyrights and trademarks.

I hope that clears some things up!

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Also to be clear, there are more rights than just copyright and trademarks, which are the two biggies. The detailed list of IP rights is quite long, just read other forum posts to see a few of them.

Also, be aware that "no profit" does not mean "non-commercial"; the two have independent meanings. Commercial products can earn no profit (going into the black is a major event), and some non-commercial activities (ie: transactions not subject to commercial or business law) can result in real profits to individuals.



Hasbro/Wizards is extremely generous with their rights, as allowing external expansion packs and compatible modules improves the value of the franchise.

The d20 gaming system which was created by Wizards for D&D 3rd Ed. was released under an open license. The license is quite broad as to what is allowed. They still retain control of the license and their own content, but they release a huge swath of rights so you can make and publish content.


As always, the genre itself is not protected, it is not owned by Wizards/Hasbro or any other group.

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so if i ever want to use a name, say a campaign they have copyrights on them-i can never use it, question is can i use the setting the campaign used without the name? say it had monster that had two asses, so if i use that in my game i break the law?

i thank you for the links and replies, i'll dig in some more. we had a signed permission from a previous developer but now that HASBRO owned the rights, they just dont answer us.

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Quote:
Original post by TheJ
so if i ever want to use a name, say a campaign they have copyrights on them-i can never use it,

Unfortunately not. The campaign names and important characters will usually be trademarks, and the entire text (and illustrations etc) of their publications is also covered by copyright. What you can do is reuse their rules, since rules can generally not be copyrighted (but check if they have any patents out on this stuff, first - also, rules as abstract ideas are not copyright-able, but their expression in tangible form, ie text, is. so you can't reuse the text). There is also the SRD / Open Game Content stuff you can use using a permissible license as well as a separate d20 license for claiming d20 compatibility, although IIRC the d20 license explicitly prohibits you from using it for any kind of interactive software.

Quote:
Original post by TheJ
question is can i use the setting the campaign used without the name? say it had monster that had two asses, so if i use that in my game i break the law?

Hasbro does not own the idea of a monster that has two asses, and I really doubt they could ever patent it if they tried, so as long as your two-assed monster does not look anything like their illustrations, does not have the same stats, and is not called by the same or a similar name, you'll probably be fine. If you're gonna lift the entire campaign setting you are almost guaranteed to run into IP trouble though. You're better off creating your own campaign setting (and it would be more original, anyway).

Quote:
Original post by TheJ
i thank you for the links and replies, i'll dig in some more. we had a signed permission from a previous developer but now that HASBRO owned the rights, they just dont answer us.

If you're a small-scale developer, chances are you won't ever get any answers out of them. You do, of course, have to follow IP laws just like everyone else, but if I were you, I would run that previous permission by an IP lawyer to see if you currently have any rights to anything.

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ok lets uncover some cards:
around the early to late 90's 3 games game out which 2 of them held the rights for the campaign, they were called darksun they came for PC, first and a sequel later.
around that time or maybe even before, a MUD which is basically MMORPG but just with text-based on the same world-but with different names, al the rule set, monsters classes everything retained. i'm pretty sure they didnt own the copyrights....guess i'll try knowcking on their door see how they got it.

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Asking won't hurt, but chances are, if they were using any copyrighted/trademarked material, they did not have permission for it and just went unnoticed. Just because someone is doing something does not mean they are within the law, after all. I remember seeing many LOTR MUDs around the turn of the millennium, but I'm pretty sure they were all technically illegal. People do this all the time. Sometimes they get C&D letters (followed by a lawsuit on noncompliance), sometimes they are silently tolerated or go unnoticed. I'm not too familiar with HASBRO, but my impression of them is that they tend to aggressively go after people who infringe on their intellectual property. There have been numerous such cases involving them over the last decade.

If you have a written permission to use the MUD's material, but these guys themselves do not own the rights to that material, then this will quickly get complicated to the point that you'll want to ask a lawyer for advice or forget the whole matter altogether and remove any such material.

[Edited by - lightbringer on May 1, 2009 8:57:45 PM]

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Quote:
Original post by TheJ
guess i'll try knowcking on their door see how they got it.
I suggest that instead, you pay a visit to a video game IP lawyer and discuss the situation.

If you cannot afford a lawyer, you cannot afford to be in the business. That is especially true for independent development; less so for homebrew that is unlikely to see daylight.

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Quote:
Original post by frob

If you cannot afford a lawyer, you cannot afford to be in the business. That is especially true for independent development; less so for homebrew that is unlikely to see daylight.


not really, most indie developer are starving, or they would hire big cannon talents to enhance their game. but thanks for the encouragement.

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Quote:
Original post by TheJ
not really, most indie developer are starving, or they would hire big cannon talents to enhance their game. but thanks for the encouragement.


Most indie developers are also not toying with other people's intellectual property. Getting a C&D would be getting off lightly. Should you actually end up with a lawsuit (say if you managed to release a game or even make money off it) on your hands, you will end up paying tens of thousands of dollars for a lawyer to represent you and hundreds of thousands in damages once you inevitably lose the case. A visit to a lawyer today will only cost you a couple hundred in comparison, which is why everyone recommends this route.

The cheapest solution is still to create your own IP. You will have complete creative freedom over it and the IP rights will belong to you completely without you having to worry about whether some big company is gonna squish you underfoot.

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