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  1. #1

    Legal Use of 2e Content

    Since AD&D 2.0 was a TSR product that was not covered under the OGL, does anyone know what the SmiteWorks/WotC permissions and limits are on using the materials?

    I'm not interested in re-selling 2.0 content. But I do want to know what the limits on use of the material will be. Back in the 90's, TSR was rather aggressive about limiting unauthorized use of it's material once they caught wind of the content that was being generated by the early Internet community, which has evolved quite a bit since then. In particular, I am trying to determine the answers to these kinds of questions:

    1. Does the WotC Fan Content Policy apply to AD&D 2.0 material?
    2. What kind of content can we share freely? I understand I cannot, for example, take a kit from the Complete Fighter's Handbook, convert it, and share it with everyone, but could we make our own kits that references AD&D 2 materials & terms (like spell names, "THAC0", etc.)?
    3. The same question also applies to PreGens. Would we be violating any licensing or property rights if we created pregenerated 2e characters and shared them on the forums or elsewhere? (presuming they were free and included a disclaimer)


    I guess that pretty much convers my concerns. But I think it's an important issue for DM's who are considering running 2e campaigns.

    Elohir
    Last edited by Elohir; May 14th, 2019 at 23:42.

  2. #2
    LordEntrails's Avatar
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    Good question I don't know if you are going to get any type of official answer, and I can't give you one either, but here's how I would approach it personally.

    1) The Fan Use Policy applies. In short, it says it covers all WoTC IP and doesn't exclude anything, so yea, it's applicable.
    2) I think any original content created for 2E could be shared "free" under the Fan Use Policy. So yea, new stuff you create, but not conversions of existing stuff.
    3) I can't imagine WotC getting upset about Pre-gens, UNLESS you create pre-gens that effectively had every option or item, or class detailed in it. The safest way would be to not provide the text of features, spells or abilities. Though including that for a few things here and there would probably be fine, if or others made or were perceived to make a set of pre-gens that included all the wizard spells with text, that wouldn't be very good for Wizards right?

    The other thing to consider, is the OSRIC stuff. My very limited understanding of that movement/approach is that some prior editions things effectively became part of what was released under the OGL. But, never took the time to really understand that.

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  3. #3
    Thanks for the reply LordEntrails.

    I haven't heard of OSRIC until today, but I guess I need to look into that a bit, and see what's covered. But I like your view on the Fan Use Policy.

    I think my attitude is not to go overboard, but see how much I can share before someone complains. For instance, a kit I include in a Pregen may contain much of the descriptive text, but someone wont be able to assemble a complete set of kits from me.

    Elohir

  4. #4
    damned's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elohir View Post
    Thanks for the reply LordEntrails.

    I haven't heard of OSRIC until today, but I guess I need to look into that a bit, and see what's covered. But I like your view on the Fan Use Policy.

    I think my attitude is not to go overboard, but see how much I can share before someone complains. For instance, a kit I include in a Pregen may contain much of the descriptive text, but someone wont be able to assemble a complete set of kits from me.

    Elohir
    Do not include ANY descriptive text from Copyright materials.

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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by damned View Post
    Do not include ANY descriptive text from Copyright materials.
    Actually, the Fan Content Policy does allow for some use of descriptive text, and even images, within reason. So if it comes from WotC, then we can use descriptive text under the conditions laid out there.

  6. #6
    damned's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elohir View Post
    Actually, the Fan Content Policy does allow for some use of descriptive text, and even images, within reason. So if it comes from WotC, then we can use descriptive text under the conditions laid out there.
    quote from the wizards page you linked to:

    The key is that it is your creation. It should go without saying, but Fan Content does not include the verbatim copying and reposting of Wizards’ IP (e.g., freely distributing D&D® rules content or books, creating counterfeit/proxy Magic: The Gathering® cards, etc.), regardless of whether that content is distributed for free.

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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by damned View Post
    quote from the wizards page you linked to:

    The key is that it is your creation. It should go without saying, but Fan Content does not include the verbatim copying and reposting of Wizards’ IP (e.g., freely distributing D&D® rules content or books, creating counterfeit/proxy Magic: The Gathering® cards, etc.), regardless of whether that content is distributed for free.
    I think the discrepancy here is the scope. I am not suggesting I would be providing a complete copy of anything. But a few paragraphs of descriptive text, or using an image provided in a module (from WotC) would not qualify as 'verbatim', as long as I am not reselling it, or providing an alternate means for others to obtain the full product (and of course, I meet the other requirements including appropriate disclaimers and free access to my viewers).

    But if in the course of a storyline, I decide to use say, a 'Beholder,' as one of the elements in a storyline based in the 'Forgotten Realms' for a game that I may stream online, the Fan Content Policy allows me to refer to such content. I can describe the Beholder using their 'descriptive text.' I can similarly describe the streets of Calimport using text from WotC material. Obviously, if I provide a complete stat block on the Beholder, or I provide a means for my viewers to download all the details about Calimport that has been published, then that would be abusive.

    But what I am trying to clarify is if I talk about Bigby's or Mordenkainen's spells , or run an adventure through the Demonweb pits. Can I not describe the spells? Can I not show portions of the map? Can I show them the whole map if it does not allow them to reproduce it for game purposes? Do I have to rename Lloth? Is the 'Abyss' fair game? There's a wide range of grey in this point, which OGL and the Fan Content Policy address. But until LordEntrails pointed out the detail in the scope clause, above, I was unsure how it all applied to AD&D 2.0 and earlier.

    Elohir

  8. #8
    JohnD's Avatar
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    Probably best to err on the side of being overly cautious.
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  9. #9
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    In regards to you running your game, converting content for your game and streamng it or recording your game I don't think there is any issue with you using images or descriptive text.

    The restrictions apply to sharing content outside the context of your game.

    If you converted the keep on the bushland and streamed your group running thru it there is little likelihood of any issues.

    If you then share that content with other GMs you would find yourself in trouble.

    In specific respect to beholders I think they are very much restricted IP of the wizards.

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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnD View Post
    Probably best to err on the side of being overly cautious.
    Unfortunately, no one ever achieved much or has as much fun being cautious.

    I am willing to respect people's claims to their IP, but the Fan Content Policy makes it pretty clear what we can do with WotC material. Besides, if I am not charging any fees, the risk-benefit analysis makes it pretty clear it's best to see how much I can do, instead of not allowing myself any wiggle room. You can't win the lottery if you don't play.

    If WotC or some individual sees something of theirs and asks me to remove it, I'll be happy to comply. But if the big players can scrape images and text excerpts for their search engines, I'll be damned if I am going to impose additional restrictions on myself when they are not legally required. Those who already HAVE the money, have enough of an advantage on the playing field.

    Elohir

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