licenses for RPGs

David Johnson david at
Wed Mar 21 19:20:19 UTC 2001

On Wednesday March 21 2001 05:43 pm, Ken Arromdee wrote:

> Ryan, the problem is that TSR has bizarre ideas of what constitutes a
> derivative work, as well as bizarre ideas that the company owns all
> derivative works, which together amounts to a threat, not only to sue, but
> to take other people's works without compensation.

To expand on this. TSR/WoTC, and most of the larger game companies have 
ludicrously broad definitions of "derivitive work". A work does not have to 
contain any copyrighted material in it in order to be considered derivative 
by them. All it needs to do is have the words "Usable with..." and the 
lawyers come running. TSR shut down several fan websites for doing nothing 
more than posting generic adventures. ICE threatened an entire mailing list 
with a lawsuit for discussing how to create a character generator that didn't 
need to use any copyrighted ICE tables. And one game designer is noted for 
his recurring behavior of tearing up "unofficial" gaming materials at game 

There are a great many exceptions, of course, and I don't mean to imply that 
this is the standard behavior for RPG companies.

David Johnson

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