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WotC The other snake in the grass: the Wizards Fan Content Policy

I like the cut of your jib, OP. Now is probably the best time for the community to get together and demand better terms for fan content and DM's Guild stuff.

Channel 9 Rock GIF by The Block
OP joined the boards 9 days ago. Your account started 6 days later. :unsure: Coincidences do happen I suppose...

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To those telling me to be silent: I rather think I shall not.
Note, you have no right to free speech on these board. The US First Amendment does not apply to private forums. Break the forum rules and the mods will shut down your speech.
Given their demonstrated goals through the past several weeks, they'd be fools not to look at how they can weaponize what's left to them.
Or they might be fools to continue trying to weaponize things. You can assume anything you want.
Or make sockpuppet accounts to try to steer the discussion.
There is zero evidence that WotC has done so. But it is interesting your account is less than 10 days old and all 8 of your posts are pretty much on a single topic with a single agenda. Really doesn't do much for your credibility.
I don't understand the pushback against warning that there might be other documents WotC could try to leverage
It's about how you are going about it. As has been pointed out repeatedly, you are posting in an aggressive manner with an absolutist approach with a 'you can't be wrong' attitude.


As long as i get to be the frog
And the Community wept when they heard Anaxarchus discourse about an infinite number of policies that WoTC had, and when others inquired what ailed them, "Is it not worthy of tears," the Community said, "that, when the number of policies is infinite, the Community has not yet fought against them all?"
-Plutarch, confusingly.
Meh, I find it matters very little what the policy says when they are not enforced equally and without bias.


Rotten DM
Do we have rights to use WotC's intellectual property? Factually, if you bought your D&D books, or are using the SRD 5.1 under its Creative Commons status, YES. Not unlimited, i.e. falsely implying endorsement, or some trademark uses, or to deceive, but otherwise very, very broadly.
  • Can we use WotC's intellectual property for criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, including trademarks? Absolutely yes. Fair Use Doctrine.
  • Can we do things like livestream D&D games? Factually yes, and WotC doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. First Sale Doctrine.
  • Can we advertise, without permission, compatibility with WotC's products? Yes, modulo some trademark restrictions (see section D).
Of course WotC doesn't want someone publishing a d20 system for "Rednecks and Racists", for instance. .....

Seriously, I don't understand the pushback against warning that there might be other documents WotC could try to leverage, especially when those documents contain at least some assertions of rights and powers they factually do not have. The FCP is a weaker document than the OGL (especially the proposed OGLs), but it does indicate a mindset of "we can take stuff down". I quote from the policy:

No. They do not have that right, and they will not be the judge of that. The above quote is just plain a lie. If I want to have a sponsor to my Dungeons and Dragons videos be Bad Dragon and they were down for that (wibble wobble), I have the right to do exactly that as long as I don't claim specifically that WotC is okay with that sponsorship. They don't get a vote. Similarly, I can have Paizo as a sponsor to videos discussing featuring and discussing WotC products if I so desire. Takedown attempts there would run squarely into anti-competitive practices, and that's the kind of behavior that incites those mind-boggling (but justified) fines we're hearing about Google and similar being hit with.

Another quote:

First, the above is simply untrue based upon the principles early in this post. Second, there never has been an obligation to release something under OGL. Third, that doesn't matter any more with regard to anything in SRD 5.1 because CC-BY-SA-4.0 (so they probably should update that). Game mechanics are not patentable. Long since settled. And I can absolutely use their logos and trademarks under the Fair Use Doctrine (see above); I just cannot use them in a way that implies I'm WotC or the trademark owner myself, i.e. confuse a reasonable customer/viewer that there is specific endorsement or ownership by WotC.

In fact, about the only thing I couldn't do with a stream is to either sit down and page through every page on-camera or go 100% audiobook-reading of WotC's book content that isn't covered by SRD 5.1 (copyright infringement) or blather on in a way falsely claiming trademark ownership (deceptive trade practices/trademark infringement). Patents (the third pillar of intellectual property) are not applicable, as game mechanics are not patentable, and even if they were the grace period within the public disclosure doctrine has long, long since passed (by years to decades) and would have expired even if such a patent had been granted.

Oh noes. All those 50 years of study for "Rednecks and Racists", is down the drain. I guess my 101 Kobold Recipes is off the table too?

Damn cat quit knock stuff off.


tl;dr there's another Wizards document out there that needs to be stamped out.

A heads-up to all who have been following the Open Game License debacle... pay attention to the OTHER potential problem: the Fan Content Policy.

Yes, Wizards/Hasbro have backed down on the OGL and SRD 5.1. That's great! It never should have gone this far, but here we are. However, there is a "back door" that is still out there which can potentially be used to harass competitors and critics, or to seize fan work without compensation. That is the Wizards Fan Content Policy (FCP).

I have my own reading and interpretation which concludes that most of it was never enforceable or is legal junk to begin with:
  • "We ask." It's good to want things, but asking does not mean you get what you want.
  • It's not an agreed upon license.
  • With the SRD 5.1 now in Creative Commons, the FCP is in many ways in direct conflict with that, and loses.
  • Some of it is just restarting "trademarks are a thing". Yep. That's not a policy, trademark infringement is a law. FCP is irrelevant.
  • Same for implying "officialness" or endorsement. That's already covered by law.
  • That bit about "we can take your stuff for free"? Without agreed-upon compensation, that's also against the law.
  • And about a "right" to take down any videos, reviews, etc. they feed like? Nope. Illegal seizure, especially given the now-present CC-SA-4.0 license, basic intellectual property law, and public statements made by WotC all acknowledge that they can't take that stuff down. It's just hot air, and abuse of copyright claims can land them in hot water.
Wizards/Hasbro needs to be told to take that FCP down. It's a garbage document that has no teeth other than to intimidate. Do we look intimidated?

We have millions of master rules-lawyer DMs used to people trying to get away with shenanigans.
We have tens of millions of min-maxers who know how to look to grant themselves Advantage in a rules system.
We have many, many real-world attorneys who play the game and who are paying attention to this.

And Hasbro/WotC? You're under the microscope. You're on probation. You've made a positive step which I and many others acknowledge, but if after all this you still think you're clever, think again. You're not owed forgiveness, and a second abusive scandal will be the nail in the coffin that destroys the value of D&D forever. Your investors and shareholders will not be pleased. Speaking of which:

I also am aware that Paramount is not happy that you've ruined their investment in "Honor Among Thieves". Their attorneys are looking at your behavior too, and I'd bet a copper to a GP that there are mutual-obligation, legal detriment and non-performance clauses in the contracts between Hasbro and Paramount that cover actions that badly harm the viability of the project. Personal opinion: I think it's likely that Paramount applied a lot of pressure to Hasbro to knock it the F off when publications like Forbes and Motley Fool started discussing (and thus widely amplifying) OGL upset and calls for boycotting of the movie. P.T. Barnum's assertion that "there's no such thing as bad publicity" just ain't so, even in this circus.

I, however, am not an attorney. I am a DM of 45 years' experience, a QA engineer of 33 years' experience, an author of commercially-successful fiction who has successfully used the legal system to defend my own intellectual property, and a department head that read, approves, rejects, and signs contracts on a daily basis. I'm not coming in completely cold here, but would like to hear from IP specialist attorneys as to whether the FCP ever had any real relevance or what, by simply stating "We can has Policy", what power Hasbro can simply assign to itself without others' consent, and how to proceed to dismantle the FCP as a potential sleeper-cell.
Hey. I have come up with a system that I cannot disclose, and I am writing my T&C's ect. I was wondering if you could help me? As an observation, they are deliberately obfuscating legal documentation e.g. "Don’t use Wizards’ IP in other games." by including in the same sentence "your own or other people’s games or game components (e.g., rule books, tokens, figures), regardless of whether it is distributed for free".

I am of the understanding that physical products built on top of gaming mechanics in similar nature or likeness is allowed. "Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles - The Board Game Designers Guide to US Intellectual Property Law –... "
Therefore WotC are in fact abusing copywriting claims by explicitly implying something which is not true. Solely to discourage the creation of new or like systems e.g. fictional in nature which fall outside a particular character's attribute(s) e,g, story and related characters or in this instance (worlds). In essence, they are lumping false pretenses into a non-legally binding document to deliberately obfuscate others from building physical products which can be used including but not limited to dungeons and dragons.

This is what I have so far for my patent-pending products... I will change the fabric of the game. I just need help constructing a good enough legal document to take them down.

Magnetic Mini has no affiliation with Dungeons & Dragons, and hereby renounces all responsibilities for the publication of material by others despite being covered in Wizards of the Coast (WoTC) Open Gaming License, Version 1.0a, on our website. Magnetic mini acknowledges that while Wizards of the Coast claim rights to the trademark of Dungeons and Dragons, along with the stylised use of the & symbol, WotC do not have sole claim to the use of “&” symbol and the term “D&D”. Magnetic Mini acknowledges the acronym “D&D” as a generalised term used to describe games of likeness, including but not limited to Dungeons and Dragons, along with mechanics of likeness set out in various Systems Reference Documents (SRDs), specifically, pertaining to Wargaming and Fantasy Tabletop Role Playing Games (TRPGs) (see reference DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Trademark of WIZARDS OF THE COAST LLC - Registration Number 3155935 - Serial Number 76652346 :: Justia Trademarks).

Magnetic mini acknowledges that content using fifth edition rules for Dungeons & Dragons is allowed on our platform under their OGL and Creative Commons license, including original campaign world(s) using fifth edition rules. Likewise, acknowledges content published on DMs Guild, or any other partner of Wizards of the Coast unless specifically stated as “unique” or otherwise upon receipt are....

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