The EN World kitten
Eh, I'd say this was more of a police action on fans. If you want to see a real war on fans, look no further than Kevin Siembieda.
I'd add also that in addition to the fact that you, indeed, can't lose your copyright that way, 'defending' a trademark includes things like 'giving permission' or 'creating a license [like the OGL or d20 System STL]' or an online marketplace [like DMs Guild] or numerous other positive things you can choose to do rather than a C&D. 'Defending' is a word with baggage; I prefer 'protecting'. You don't want people to infringe on your IP, but there are many ways you can allow them to use your IP. Which means that claiming one has to declare war on their fans because the law is forcing them to is disingenuous at best. You never have to do that; you choose to.
Exactly what WotC did. The d20 STL and SRD. Worked perfectly. Those fans became publishers and began driving sales of the core rulebooks via a tier of supplements WotC wasn’t interested in publishing. Then they created DMs Guild and made it even easier.That's all fine and good, but when you are dealing with "fans are posting online every number and every table and most of the passages of text of the books we print online for free and likely making them more accessible, interactive and easier to navigate than they are in our actual book" how exactly do you create a "license" around that?
Either you send them to stop and take it down until you have drafted such a thing and then figure out what fee to charge them for the right to make such things or... you make such a license and then go after them demanding whatever fee you decided on... or you just kind of accept that you are no longer going to be selling any books and thus no longer making any revenue and fold up shop.
It's not like their business ran off of selling people models and paints and scenery so if they spread the rules around for free, it would only affect a very small portion of your line and might boost sales for the rest. The books with all the tables and numbers were the primary product TSR was selling.
Looking at it from the point of view of the company-- what else could they have realistically done?
Do I believe Ryan Dancey or Zardnaar? Hmmm....
Well I guess the ad hominem mashed up with a solid No True Scotsman convinced me that everything I know is wrong.
I can't make head nor tails of that.
Anyway, the OGL and the d20 STL served WotC very well and created a network of supporting publishers which produced all the material that WotC didn't want to produce, driving sales of the core rulebooks. I've interviewed WotC staffers at length about this stuff; it's uncontroversial. It worked.
The d20 glut hurt the d20 publishers. There were too many of them. It didn't hurt WotC one iota, any more than DMs Guild is hurting them now.
The fact that they blew it with the 4E GSL and created a rival (a talent of theirs) in Pathfinder is by-the-by. If they'd stuck with the OGL for 4E, and not pulled the D&D magazines from Paizo, that wouldn't have happened. Paizo would be driving sales of D&D core rulebooks to this day.
Or to curse at them for being jerks who used their position as a market dominant company with a legal department to misapply the law and bully and harass their own fans.
I forget the award show, but seeing the head guy of Napster (pre-iPod music-sharing site) come out wearing a Metallica shirt was awesome.
So deal harshly with that, if you feel it's necessary. It doesn't follow that you have to deal equally harshly with the other 95% of the fan works that are/were out there. The stuff you're describing certainly existed (indeed, there's more of it, and more easily accessible, now than there was then), but it was only a small fraction of what got C&D letters.That's all fine and good, but when you are dealing with "fans are posting online every number and every table and most of the passages of text of the books we print online for free and likely making them more accessible, interactive and easier to navigate than they are in our actual book" how exactly do you create a "license" around that?