[UPDATED] DM's Guild No Longer Allows Creator Logos On Product Covers
  • [UPDATED] DM's Guild No Longer Allows Creator Logos On Product Covers


    The Dungeon Master's Guild - the WotC/DTRPG-run storefront where fans can sell their own D&D content - has updated it terms to clarify that creators cannot put their own logos on the covers of their products. The only permitted logo is the DM's Guild logo itself.




    It should be noted that creators can still put their own logo inside their products. The DMs Guild terms have been updated to reflect this.

    Can I use the D&D logo on my DMs Guild title?

    The only logo you can use in your title is the DMs Guild logo [found here]

    Custom logos and other variations of existing logos are not allowed




    The policy change, seen in the image above, was (oddly) announced in a private DM's Guild Fan Club Facebook group owned by David Russell. Fortunately EN World member MerricB screenshot some of the replies to questions.







    ("CCC" means "Con Created Content")


    The policy will be applied for new products, but will not be enforced retroactively on existing products

    DMs Guild is a popular way for fans to sell PDF content in exchange for a 50% royalty on sales of their product, along with an exclusivity agreement, and allows access to settings such as the Forgotten Realms. It's a model which has inspired a number of other publisher-led fan stores from companies like Monte Cook Games, Chaosium, even my own little EN Publishing.

    Generally speaking, at a quick glance, most covers don't have much by way of personal branding - sometimes a small logo, or a line name like the Power Score RPG PDF shown below. One of the items below has D&D Beyond branding on it, and it would be interesting to see if the policy applies to that product. However, it does seem like this will make it more difficult for small companies or groups using different authors to build a following on the site; individual authors, on the other hand, should find it easier.





    Last year, WotC announced a new policy where they promote a group of ten or so DMs Guild authors; these were called the "DMs Guild Adepts", who they give special attention to in marketing, podcasts, and so on, along with their own special gold branding logo. This was initially promoted as a way of sorting quality product from the thousands of items on the store.

    OBS' Jason Bolte commented on the reasons for the change:

    "There are a number of reasons for the change, and it’s something we’ve discussed internally for a while now. One impetus is to be consistent across all of our community creation platforms. Another reason is to have clearer rules that we can enforce given our existing resources.

    The DMs Guild logo we provide is intended to satisfy a lot of the messaging that others logos would normally do. First, it signifies that the product is a member of the wonderful community that is the DMs Guild. Second, it signals that the product is for the Dungeons & Dragons game. We have provided it to this amazing group specifically for those reasons.

    The problem comes with the other branding, which often trends toward copyright infringement or trademark violations. Variations on the Dungeons & Dragons logo, the D&D branding, other DMs Guild logos, etc are common on new titles coming into the site. As we see more and more permutations, the lines get fuzzier and grayer, and it’s difficult for us to keep up and enforce. And since we’re dealing with intellectual property, branding, and trademarks in a retail setting, there are a number of reasons for us to find clear and enforceable rules for creators both old and new.

    So those are some of the many reasons a for the change in policy. We are always evaluating the site and watching its evolution, and we will continue to update our policies as the site grows and the community it makes more and more excellent content."


    I've added some more information from the private Facebook group, since this information will be useful to anybody who uses the DMs Guild. Answers below are from OBS employees Jason Bolte and Matt McElroy.

    • Can a text brand be included? "...yes, text is still fine, as long it does not approach branded text." (I'm not sure what that means).
    • Is the logo mandatory? "We’re still heavily encouraging that people use that logo. It’s not mandatory at this time, but we will evaluate that policy as well"
    • Does this only apply to community created content, or to Con-Created Content? "It only applies to community created content"
    • Are the red "D&D sashes" OK? "I’d say they’re ok as long as they’re not used as branding. Namely, don’t try to emulate or make a spinoff of WotC logos. If you use the sashes as a byline, that should be fine (Written by xxx).... In my estimation, as long as the red sash is not used in a stylistic manner to promote a brand, it is fine. Once you start using it as a brand, then there are issues. If you don’t know if you’re using it correctly, then ask!"
    • Is this actually new? "There has never been a time were D&D logos have been allowed on the covers. The only logo that was allowed before today is the same one that was only allowed previously. What we’re attempting to make more clear is that logos like “Bob’s Gaming Company” are not allowed on covers."
    • Followup to above: "Basically the rules for community content have always been there. I was just bad at enforcing them and the FAQ wasn’t helpful, it actually made things more confusing. Adventurers League is not part of the community content program and has its own templates, rules and administration."
    • About Fantasy Grounds. "FG logo is allowed on FG titles, we’re going to add a section to the FAQ linking to the FG section of the FAQ and clarifying that."


    Florian Emmerich asked about the product depicted below. OBS' Jason Bolte confirmed that "If you’re asking about the P. B. Publishing Presents part, then yes, that would be would qualify as what we don’t want on the cover".






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    Comments 186 Comments
    1. CapnZapp -
      Makes sense. They don't want a repeat of the 3e era experience where WotC met competition by the ones "supposed" to play in their own walled garden.

      This way, they put a lid on the possibility that some 3PP product lines become popular and well-known in their own right; making it harder to leverage your success into a stand-alone brand.

      /Someone that quite likes the notion that your main motivator for producing fan material is simply the gratification of sharing, rather than monetization.

      Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
    1. delericho's Avatar
      delericho -
      Well, I'm sure they could come up with a worse policy, if they really tried. I doubt they could come up with a worse way of announcing it, though.
    1. R P Davis -
      It's worth noting that, irrespective of what the OBS employees say on Facebook, the FAQ says you can't use another logo in your product at all.

      Read it again: "The only logo you can use in your title is the DMs Guild logo." [emphasis mine]

      I really wish they'd get their act together.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      I've updated the above post with a ton more information.
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      This is .

      Okay, blocking people from using WotC/TSR logos they do not have the right to use is fine. I should not be able to put an FR or DMsGuild or D&D logo on the cover. I should not be able to make the book look more official than it actually is.
      (And there are people who do slip in the actual FR logo and such.)

      But banning the logo of my personal publishing house is a huge dick move. That's one of the best ways to recognise who the "publisher" of a particular book is at a glance.
      With the content/noise ratio of the DMsGuild it's pretty hard to get noticed and even harder to build a following. This is going to cost people sales and money. It won't affect the people who already have a solid rep and sizeable back catalog (M.T. Black) but it will likely hurt the newcomers and middle rung writers who are still trying to get noticed.
    1. Evenglare's Avatar
      Evenglare -
      It seems like nothing was being hurt by this or else they'd have found it a LOT sooner. Kinda messed up to implement something now. DMs guild has been out quite a long time now, if it were hindering sales or something It'd have happened by now. Not that I was ever interested in the DM guild, even though I've gotten my own setting/classes/races/etc in book form, I'd have thought about putting it up there but definitely am going to pass now. My logo and entire project is incredibly important to everything I do via youtube channel, podcast, liveplay all that stuff. Either way , no loss for me but sucks for other people im sure. /shrug
    1. Gardens & Goblins's Avatar
      Gardens & Goblins -
      ''There's one brand we're growing and its not yours. But we appreciate the help.''
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      The only part of the cover you see on DMs Guild is a teeny little thumbnail. You can't really see the logos anyway, unless you go out of your way to enlarge the image.
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      Other thoughts:
      A lot of publishers like to put the sales icon on the cover, as a badge of being a high selling product. That's now banned.

      Also not permissible would be putting the "Fantasy Grounds" logo on the product, to differentiate material made for that platform.

      Plus, what defines a logo?
      Is text a logo? Would the "name" of, say, Power Score RPG count as a logo:
      Name: 225854.png ► Views: 2960 ► Size: 827.5 KB
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post
      Other thoughts:
      A lot of publishers like to put the sales icon on the cover, as a badge of being a high selling product. That's now banned.
      It's on the product page, though.

      Also not permissible would be putting the "Fantasy Grounds" logo on the product, to differentiate material made for that platform.
      Apart from the bit where the FG logo is permitted (see the first post).

      Plus, what defines a logo?
      Is text a logo? Would the "name" of, say, Power Score RPG count as a logo:
      It's almost like you haven't read the article you're replying to!

      SaveSave
    1. R P Davis -
      FWIW I don't use my own logo on the cover of my Guild stuff. I only use Guild-branded logos.

      Quote Originally Posted by Gardens & Goblins View Post
      ''There's one brand we're growing and its not yours. But we appreciate the help.''
      Exactly. They're already getting 50% of the cover price. If they'd give me DTRPG returns, I'd have no problem with this. But this, this is too much. You want to cripple my branding, give me a larger cut of the profits.

      Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post
      Other thoughts:
      A lot of publishers like to put the sales icon on the cover, as a badge of being a high selling product. That's now banned.
      That does impact me, because I have used the medal-badge logo on my products. That's a stupid rule, because it hurts them, too; people are more likely to buy things which are already visibly best sellers. Putting the medal logo on a product thumbnail makes it more likely for the customer to click through and convert the sale.

      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      It's on the product page, though.
      Gotta give people a reason to click through to the product page. The more reasons you give people to click on and buy a product, the more money you make.

      People who run an e-commerce site should know that, and should look for reasons to reduce the number of clicks between logon and "submit payment." This is throwing a roadblock into that process.

      Also not permissible would be putting the "Fantasy Grounds" logo on the product, to differentiate material made for that platform.
      They say they're addressing that.

      Plus, what defines a logo? Is text a logo? Would the "name" of, say, Power Score RPG count as a logo:
      That's going to be the stickiest question. There are more than a few established Guild creators who have very clear branding merely in their names and a consistent font choice.

      Put another way, if I put the word "Serenity" in the Papyrus font, I don't need graphics to make you think of the Joss Whedon franchise.
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      It's on the product page, though.
      The intent is to get people to go to the product page when scrolling through the thousands of cover icons. Something to stand out.
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      Quote Originally Posted by R P Davis View Post
      Put another way, if I put the word "Serenity" in the Papyrus font, I don't need graphics to make you think of the Joss Whedon franchise.
      Or even, say, "D&D" in Modesto Condensed.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post
      The intent is to get people to go to the product page when scrolling through the thousands of cover icons. Something to stand out.
      I'm looking at the DMs Guild right now. If you can make out little logos on those cover thumbnails as you scroll through thousands of products, you have better eyes than me.
    1. Kobold Boots -
      Use of the red sashes to promote a brand = not allowed
      Use of the red sashes to indicate authorship = ok.

      The middle ground problem is that anyone who has written professionally realizes that their name is their brand (Patterson, LeGuin, etc.)
      I'll accept that stream of thought via twitter and facebook explains the reason why things are stated the way they are, but this sort of thing really needs to be discussed with their legal and codified before it goes online.

      Be well
      KB
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kobold Boots View Post
      Use of the red sashes to promote a brand = not allowed
      Use of the red sashes to indicate authorship = ok.
      Yeah, the red sash thing is weird. It's very clearly branding for the D&D brand. The official D&D covers don't have a massive amount of trade dress, but those red sashes are an integral part of it. IMO, it makes products look official; I know that when I've seen things with that on them out of context, I've had to look twice.
    1. R P Davis -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Yeah, the red sash thing is weird. It's very clearly branding for the D&D brand. The official D&D covers don't have a massive amount of trade dress, but those red sashes are an integral part of it. IMO, it makes products look official; I know that when I've seen things with that on them out of context, I've had to look twice.
      Yeah, and according to their new FAQ entry and their Facebook comments, using Modesto Bold and the red slash is perfectly acceptable. How on earth that isn't worse than having a small non-Guild, non-WotC logo in a corner of the cover is beyond me, but that's what the OBS chaps have said. The mind boggles.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      This could have been worse. I remember when they pulled the d20 System logo. That was painful.
    1. FrogReaver's Avatar
      FrogReaver -
      Dumb move. Growing other d&d related brands is growing d&d as a whole
    1. Von Ether's Avatar
      Von Ether -
      So text as art for logos is bad, but a consistent choice of off the shelf font for a company name is good. Cool.

      (From a dude who is doing okay on a non-WotC Community Content Creator Program and wonders what's coming down the pike.)
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