To be clear, WoTC certainly owns a copyright in pages 158-161 of the Monster Manual, and adaptations/derivative works thereof. They may not own copyright in the original White Dwarf text (& picture) describing the Githyanki, this will depend on the contracts between Charles Stross (UK), Games Workshop (UK), and TSR or TSR UK. Copyrights are not free standing concepts like patents or Trademarks, certainly not in English Law, and in the circumstances effecting a successful transfer of (c) in the original published work from Stross to TSR under the pre-1988 Copyright law would have been very tricky. Especially as Stross still held full copyright at time of publication (GW only received a licence to print and reprint once, under their own standard form contract of the era, which I saw when I submitted something to them). And I suspect that TSR was less than fully aware of the intricacies of UK copyright law.And now I wonder, if Fyrlock published one of his stat blocks for such IP considered monsters as the Githyanki, Mind Flayer, etc. The only question is, and perhaps that is what he is counting on in case the affair goes to court, if those IP "protected" monsters are really covered by some copyright or IP laws and are really the IP of WotC (thanks S´mon for the remark about that).
People can and do publish D&D sourcebooks without using the OGL. Kingdoms of Kalamar, by KenzerCo, is probably the most well-known example. But, not coincidentally, David Kenzer is an expert in copyright law. That's the problem: If you're going to go the "fair use" route, you are walking a minefield and you need an expert to steer you along the safe path. Most designers lack that expertise and can't afford to pay for it.My basic stance is that, in terms of the intent of copyright law, it seems pretty clear that a module that uses the D&D terminology to refer to the D&D rules, but does not reproduce those rules, and does not use the Named Characters And Settings, is not actually infringing on anything, and is only "derivative" of the stuff that is absolutely not protected -- the rules-as-abstraction, not the text of the rules. And thus, there's no need for anyone to make a special agreement that "entitles" them to make such a thing, and the agreement exists only to fast-talk people into agreeing to arbitrary restrictions, some of which would not apply otherwise, some of which probably would.
The problem here is that in UK law there is no "copyright in the Gith race", there can only be copyright in literary musical artistic & dramatic works. There is a copyright in the words Stross wrote (literary work) that were published under licence in White Dwarf. TSR think they 'acquired the rights' to Githyanki and the other Fiend Factory creatures, and the authors (Stross included) presumably signed off on something - the question is what that something said, and what its legal effect would be under the governing law, presumably English law. It is pretty hard to transfer copyright in an already published work under US law and my feeling is it is/was a good deal harder under UK law. And I have interacted enough with TSR lawyers to know they would not have had the competency to do this. But it's conceivable GW or TSR UK might have hired specialists in London with the ability to actually do this. I kinda doubt it though. Copyright was a really minor field ca 1980, GW was a small company, TSR was a mid sized US company not a a major media conglomerate. Even judges of the time deciding IP cases tended not to know IP law. Very few lawyers would have.Therefore the copyright for the Gith race for example is with TSR = WotC
UK law (the 1988 Copyright Designs & Patents Act) doesn't really define 'dramatic work' other than that it includes works of dance or mime, and works capable of being performed before a live audience. If it were true that Critical Role were a 'fake', a (semi) scripted performance, then it could be a Dramatic Work under UK law. But a sports match is not a copyright work under UK law and I don't think a (real) RPG session would be considered one, either.but one thing you mentioned: dramatic work. RPG say something about role playing. Can* taht be considered dramatic work equalling acting?
Is there any laws regarding improvisational comedy? That seems the most directly analogous example, at least more so than sport.UK law (the 1988 Copyright Designs & Patents Act) doesn't really define 'dramatic work' other than that it includes works of dance or mime, and works capable of being performed before a live audience. If it were true that Critical Role were a 'fake', a (semi) scripted performance, then it could be a Dramatic Work under UK law. But a sports match is not a copyright work under UK law and I don't think a (real) RPG session would be considered one, either.
(But this is actually a really complicated issue; in the Norowzian v Arks case the court held that a film was a dramatic work even though films are a separate category under the CDPA, because they wanted to give films the full protection due to 'Primary' works. This could well apply to RPG Podcasts too, I suspect. Without that they only get the much more limited Broadcast Right.)
This whole thing seems to me like one guy who got a bug up his butt and has just enough knowledge of copyright law to get himself into trouble. I'll be surprised if this ever sees the inside of a courtroom.Thanks for replying again S'mon. I know that EU/UK laws are a lot different than US, and its interpretation (no idea if this is the correct term) is also very different (especially, when you take your knowledge/understanding from public media like I do). Like I stated my basic concern already, I have a funny feeling, that this thing is bigger than it implies at first look. I hope it just doesn´t kill the OSR movement (and yes even that term can be contested nowadays with that oh-so great split everybody talks about nowadays).
I only hope that WotC is keeping up their good-faith towards those small companies that publish OSR style material and tht not one of those Hasbro guys take the whole thing as an excuse to fhigt the OGL (to say) and try to revoke it for the idea of loosing a couple of bucks due to Joe Averages publishing splendid material based on D&D.
Ha! Depends who you ask.Ok, so gimme a summary. If he is right what is the outcome?
The other thing, assuming this particular claim is correct, is that WotC has engaged in Copyright Misuses by claiming copyright they don't have and stopping people from exercising their legal rights. Which means for the length of time they have been doing so they cannot get damages for copyright infringement even if there was actual copyright infringement going on. Not that it matters at whole lot, since the only thing that WotC can copyright is effectively artwork.bout all that can be definitely stated is that if Frylock is right lots of things might change. Or they might not.
This is almost entirely incorrect. I say almost because I'm willing to concede the last sentence.The other thing, assuming this particular claim is correct, is that WotC has engaged in Copyright Misuses by claiming copyright they don't have and stopping people from exercising their legal rights. Which means for the length of time they have been doing so they cannot get damages for copyright infringement even if there was actual copyright infringement going on. Not that it matters at whole lot, since the only thing that WotC can copyright is effectively artwork.
I can't comment on that much more than what I just posted, because 1) not a lawyer and 2) not American.
Oh, I tend to agree since even my rather cursory understanding of American copyright law suggests Frylock has composed most of his argument from BS and Horse Hockey.This is almost entirely incorrect. I say almost because I'm willing to concede the last sentence.