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Old 01-02-2024, 06:05 PM   #1
MacSenour
 
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Default Copyright question

HI,

I should ask a lawyer this, but I thought I'd start here first. I want to make an RPG adventure, I want to make it generic so any system can be used. I'd like to direct the purchaser to a webpage that has stats for various system.

Am I stepping on any copyright by having "The Fantasy Trip Stats" for all the NPCs listed in the adventure?
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Old 01-02-2024, 08:19 PM   #2
Refplace
 
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Default Re: Copyright question

I recommend you read this page. If it does not answer your question, shoot an email to the address on it.
https://www.sjgames.com/general/online_policy.html
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Old 01-03-2024, 01:06 PM   #3
Alden Loveshade
 
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Default Re: Copyright question

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacSenour View Post
HI,

I should ask a lawyer this, but I thought I'd start here first. I want to make an RPG adventure, I want to make it generic so any system can be used. I'd like to direct the purchaser to a webpage that has stats for various system.

Am I stepping on any copyright by having "The Fantasy Trip Stats" for all the NPCs listed in the adventure?
I for one appreciate seeing someone ask! So many people violate copyright nowadays....

And I agree with Refplace on checking that link! Lawyers can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for something that a person could do on their own in an hour or so. (I'm speaking from experience.)
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Old 01-17-2024, 10:15 AM   #4
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Default Re: Copyright question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alden Loveshade View Post
I for one appreciate seeing someone ask! So many people violate copyright nowadays....

And I agree with Refplace on checking that link! Lawyers can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for something that a person could do on their own in an hour or so. (I'm speaking from experience.)
Be advised that just because some legal issues don't require a lawyer doesn't mean you should never consult a lawyer when an issue becomes too complex or specialized for your abilities. You can apply bacitracin and a bandage to a minor abrasion, but that doesn't mean you should remove your own appendix.

On the other hand, lawyers are famously reluctant to give legal advice unless you officially become their client. If they just dole out generic advice that doesn't take into account the unique details of your situation, they could get in significant trouble.
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Old 01-17-2024, 10:22 AM   #5
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Copyright question

I would note that there's some uncertainty in how copyright law applies to RPGs... but the reason it's uncertain is that no-one has found it worth the money to litigate that divide, and you likely don't want to be the first. If a game has a published policy that you can work with, much better to work with it even if you might be able to get away with more.
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Old 01-17-2024, 10:46 AM   #6
ravenfish
 
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Default Re: Copyright question

Note also that, in legal questions, "what the law actually says" is often less important than "who has the best lawyers" or "who can afford to drag out the case the longest before the other party is forced to concede for want of money", and the answer to either question is unlikely to be you. For example, it took years of expensive court proceedings to rule that Warner Chapell Music could no longer shake people down for money when they sang "Happy Birthday", despite it always having been a matter of public record that the song had been written too early to still be copyrighted.
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Old 01-27-2024, 02:11 AM   #7
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Default Re: Copyright question

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacSenour View Post
HI,

I should ask a lawyer this, but I thought I'd start here first. I want to make an RPG adventure, I want to make it generic so any system can be used. I'd like to direct the purchaser to a webpage that has stats for various system.

Am I stepping on any copyright by having "The Fantasy Trip Stats" for all the NPCs listed in the adventure?
Hi, welcome right into a foggy-and-disputed zone that is not really any clearer today than it was back in, for example, 1992, when a (then) small Seattle-area publisher released The Primal Order with appendices for using its "capsystem" with a score of other RPGs.

Lots of people will tell you lots of things. None of them will cite any particularly on-point precedents in actual US case law, because all the actually-litigated cases involving RPGs since their first publication 50 years ago wound up either settled or decided on the basis of non-copyright matters (contracts, prior settlement agreements, and so on).

Also note that the people telling you things will almost exclusively talk about US law. Few people can give you a particularly good explanation as to what would happen if someone went after you in a non-US court, which, given the character of the Internet and the terms of international copyright treaties, is something of an oversight. (Only something of one because, even though theoretically possible, you are unlikely to actually be pursued by a publisher under non-US law, if only because most are US-based and so have no easy means of pursuing a case in the many, many jurisdictions that have legal systems that have never heard of, for example, "fair use".)

Anyway, the safe thing to do is limit yourself, whenever offering material for a system, to things you have written permission from that system's publisher to do (whether from an open license, a posted online policy, or a specific-to-you authorization). This will, unfortunately, often be more limited or more complicated than what you'd like to do.
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