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Great Milenko

Intellectual Rights & My Game

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Ok I''ve been thinking about this game for a long time and I''ve decided that I''d like to take it from a though into reality... The problem is I think they''re might be problems with property rights on it, but I don''t know the laws that well that deal with intellectual rights. I don''t realy want to say exactly what the game is cause I think its good enought to warent keeping that secret =) anyways they''res somethings in the game that I''d like to include from dungeons & dragons in there... the game system and rules are far enough apart that I don''t see there being problems with them. Where I''m think they''re might be problems is with things like names... Like "Drow" for example or "Melf''s Acid Arrow"(don''t think I''m going to use that in my game but it fits what I''m talking about)... I know I probably could use Menzelberanzen or Drizzet (sorry have a thing for the drow =)). Also if theses do fall under IPR then how far do they extened like say I start writing this game and I want to give out a few copy''s to people so I can hear what they have to say on it, then later if it looks like the game might do well enough to justify the cost of licencing them am I going to run into trouble there? I know I''m not even going to both with something if I know its copyrighted or trademarked... I''ll start checking into that if it passes the intellectual rights cause I think thats where most of this might fall... thanx

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Incidentally, the D+D rules are one of the few things you can use without fear of copyright infringement. Rules systems can''t be copyrighted, only the expression of them can. (eg. you can''t copy from the Player''s Handbook to explain your game.)

When you start using short phrases invented by someone else in the same field as them "for example, using Melf''s Acid Arrow in a fantasy roleplaying game" you are edging towards trademark law. Bear in mind that unregistered trademarks can be taken just as seriously as registered ones, but it all depends where you are, where the person who wants to sue you is, what you stand to gain from it, what they stand to lose, and more.

You''re unlikely to get a license to use these terms as such. There will already be developers who have probably paid for exclusive licenses. That said, Wizards of the Coast now offer 2 licenses on D+D stuff which you might want to look into on their site. One of them is called the ''D20'' system.

Is it really such a big deal for you to change the names? Because that would avoid any potential hassle.

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Wizards of the Coast has been very specific in what they consider "Open Gaming Content" and what they consider "Product Identity" in Dungeons & Dragons (r) 3rd Edition. They have also been very specific about how "Open Gaming Content" applies to software.

Check out this web page for the specifics:
Open Gaming Foundation

I can tell you now, though, that using "named" spells like "Melf's ..." and "Bigsby's..." is not allowed without a license from WotC. Those are considered "Product Identity".



DavidRM
Samu Games


Edited by - DavidRM on July 17, 2001 12:46:52 PM

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Well, I remember me having had a similiar question. Someone answered to me:
"So dude, ever heard of the terms orc or goblin?"
"Sure, every RPG has them."
"Ah. And where are they all from? Tolkyiens books. Do you think they all do copyright infringement?"

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On Names; You cannot copyright a name of a character or something along those lines. Names like in the Title of the Game can be Trademarked.

Also, you will probably want to get as much of your ideas down on confidential papers as soon as possible. You cannot protect your ideas, but you can however protect something of tangable nature. (aka, anything you could turn into a copyright office for copyright protection, such as the papers with your UNIQUE concept on them. Of course there is a fee for this.) There are also very limited items which you can copyright. I do not know the specifics, but once again, you can copyright names of Characters, Towns, or anything like that. I don''t think you can really copyright the concept of the storyline. You can copyright how it is protrayed, I believe. (but to actually do that you''d have to turn in a copy of your game for CR protection.)

Oh and that name thing has some loops too. Like if the name portrays a tangable object, then it could and probably is copyrighted/trademarked.

(Hope I wasn''t wrong on anything there)

Alex Ford
PointSoft EA Co., Ltd.
http://www.pointsoftonline.com

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That depends on whether or not Tolkyien actually invented the terms or found them from somewhere else.

It also depends on whether or not he copyrighted them. He died in 1973 so if they weren''t officially copywritted they are public domain now. Otherwise they will be public domain in 2023.

Ben
http://therabbithole.redback.inficad.com

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Tolkien mostly used mythical creatures and just altered their behavior (elves etc).Most of them were not his own ideas, as far as I know.
Oh, and I wouldn''t make a game with a character called Drizzt.A character is something very specific, part of the game universe, and I believe they could sue you.You can''t just steal characters from other people''s books/games.

Jonas Kyratzes - Progressive Design
Creator of Last Rose in a Desert Garden.
Now working on Horizon : Equal and Free.
"God is silent. Now if only man would shut up." - Woody Allen

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thanx for the replies, I''m going to check out they''re site for more information on it. yea I wasn''t going to use character''s from the game I was just naming off stuff as it poped into my head trying to get an idea about what was ok what was in the gray area and what was off limits...

as far as why I wanted to use some of them names... personaly I love the game and having elements of that world in my game would realy add to the mood of the game... I think it would also draw alot of players to the game for that reason...

anyways thanx for the help I''m off to wizard''s webpage... why did they drop TSR... personaly TSR sounds alot cooler than Wizards of the Coast.... =)

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Just a quick note to let you know that there are specific time limits that Copyright lasts for. These periods date from the end of the year of first publication (so things that appear in D&D and AD&D3rdEd are considered to be first published in D&D). Unfortunately, I cannot remember if it is 20 years (as it is for patents and trademarks) or 50 years? If it''s 20, then much of what was originally copyrighted by Gary Gygax would not be covered for much longer.

In all honesty though, it is most likely that you will be required to pay a licensing fee for any IP that you wish to use that belongs to anyone else (think about it... would you let someone else use your IP for free?). This prevents most independant developers from even considering the fact.

Good luck in whatever your choose.

Timkin

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Great Milenko
Ok I''ve been thinking about this game for a long time and I''ve decided that I''d like to take it from a though into reality... The problem is I think they''re might be problems with property rights on it, but I don''t know the laws that well that deal with


Step 1: Ask the people who actually own the copyrights and trademarks relating to D&D. They''ll know what they let you do (and WotC already have some clear guidelines for what you can do without being sued.)

Step 2: Ask a real lawyer. Yes, they charge for this.

Step 3: Ask for legal advice on the internet? that''s well known as being the best way to get accurate legal advice, isn''t it? And it has the advantage of being free, too. er, excuse me while I laugh for a bit

Step 4: Now you''ve done all that, forget about it and actually create something original, rather than rehashing D&D. (in other words: if you''re just taking names of spells and characters, um, what exactly is the point? If you''re so uncreative, you''ve got a lot more important things to worry about if you want to create a game worth playing.)

Incidentally, if you really want to create a fully D&D based compter game, why on earth do you think you won''t have to license it like all the professionals had to? If a large company with their own lawyers can''t get out of that, I wish you luck when you find yourself a lawyer

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