WotC: Regarding permissions on older content

15 posts / 0 new
Last post
I'll get right to it.

I'm an amatuer web-designer who would like to build a personal website to support the original Savage Tide adventure path, which appeared in issues #139-150. I have purchased copies of these issues, as well as the majority of Dragon issues that ran congruently with these to gain the additional supplementry articles in the Savage Tidings series. This website is intended for personal use between myself and potential players, and possibly as a resource guide for others who are interesting in using expanded and supplemental materials for their own Savage Tide campaigns. One of the major points of focus will be the material expansion of the city of Sasserine, as well as providing an adventure journal for the (potential) ongoing campaign as it is played.

My question is, How do I go about gaining permission to use some of the available artwork to use for this website? Most of it is already available to download for free from the online supplements (made available by the gracious people at Paizo), so I don't imagine it would be a great point of contention if I were to provide the proper credits and links due. Nevertheless, I would prefer to gain written permission to abide by copyright laws, and as a professional courtesy.

I've already queried the good folks over at Paizo about this. James Jacobs (the Editor-in-Chief, himself) responded directly and pointed me over to these forums as the best place to post this question. It is my hope that this message will reach the appropriate authority on this matter, or at least point me in the right direction, either openly in this forum or privately through messaging. The reason I've posted openly is to share the outcome of this request with others who might have similar concerns or questions regarding previously published material from the magazines.

Thanks in advance. I await any information that can be provided.
Well not sure this is correct section, it might be close to best as to name.

Images are copyrighted just like text is. In general you need permission of the copyright owner to republish them. There is a Fair use exception that may apply, however fair use is limited in what you do with copyrighted material. The fact you are proposing a personal webpage might fall under Fair Use.
Hazzards are if copyrighted material is widely distributed (It does not matter you can download it free for personal use) or if hosted on a site that generates revenue (even if only the host server places ads). You could be held liable for thousands or perhaps even millions of USDs.

The contact should be made either with WotC and/or the artist that created the image to obtain permission to republish.
Plans are always subject to change.
What about the same questions but for older 1st ed. modules? I have knocked the idea around about building my new campaign around some older 1st ed mods and would like to have a web page for the campaign, but don't want to infringe on any copyright issues...
What about the same questions but for older 1st ed. modules? I have knocked the idea around about building my new campaign around some older 1st ed mods and would like to have a web page for the campaign, but don't want to infringe on any copyright issues...

I believe at the time 1st was released copyright was about 30 years. It is possible that copyright has expired under US law for some of the material, that should stand the legal test of an expo facto law that extended copyright to 75 years. TSR perhaps 7 years ago was very aggressive about protecting their material, they became less concerned as it appeared to erode their customer base. WotC and Hasbro may not be that concerned about excessive use of abandoned, but still protected material.

All in all you would need to check the laws in force at the time to be sure copyright has expired and or if your use is Fair Use. Recieving permission clearly is safer, but not sure you will get it.
Plans are always subject to change.
I am only talking about creating a site that would provide information to my players. I would in no way be posting details about the mod or mods I was converting. Only background info that may or may not be the same from the original as well as campaign journal type stuff. There might be some maps and some artwork but that would all be appropriately cited.
What about the same questions but for older 1st ed. modules? I have knocked the idea around about building my new campaign around some older 1st ed mods and would like to have a web page for the campaign, but don't want to infringe on any copyright issues...

For the most part, Wizards does not concern itself with the very small, private groups that utilize websites as a focal point for their personal campaign uses. That is, as long as you're not reprinted actual content where someone could just use the material as provided without needing to purchase the actual product. There are much bigger fish to fry, I'm sure (like people downloading pdf copies of products illegally, etc.).

But this is nothing like what I'm inquiring about. It's a little more complicated now. The free, downloadable material is hosted by Paizo, who had license to the magazines at the time. If they still held the license now, they'd either have the rights to grant or deny permission, or at least be able to direct me to the proper source over here. I expect things are busy for Wizards at the moment, and this is really of little concern for them, but I'm still hoping to get a reasonable answer or some helpful information on where to go next. Perhaps I'll just try an e-mail directly to... well, as soon as I figure that out, I suppose I will.

At any rate, I'll wait a few more days to see if I can get any official response (or notice) here before moving on. I don't need to use the available artwork, but it would be nice! Now its become a matter of curiosity to see how this gets handled, if at all. ;)
After a bit of digging around on the site, I found a link to contact customer support directly about this. The response came from one of their customer support representatives. It was done very quickly, professionally, and courteously. For those who may be curious, here is the official response.

I am glad to see that you enjoy our products. Although I realize you are not doing this for profit, I must let you know that Wizards of the Coast is not granting permission to use any of its intellectual property for fan websites. Your website would be considered a fan site. I wish I could tell you that it would be ok, especially if it was just for you and your friends. However, officially I can not say this, and therefore can not grant you permission.

If it's just for you and your friends, put the content in a private unlisted, members-only Google Group instead of a public Web site.
If it's just for you and your friends, put the content in a private unlisted, members-only Google Group instead of a public Web site.

Bad advice, "Fair Use" applies to personal use. A website, no matter how secure can become public, either because of hacking or cracking, security controls failure and/or one (if not more) of private group reproviding the data.

Oh one might get away with it as far as not being caught, however advising a legal hazard is not wise.
Plans are always subject to change.
Technically and legally, you're right, however, I never stated my idea was legally sound.

The idea was to present another scenario to customer service that suggests it's private and personal use within a secure and exclusive environment rather than a publicly accessible web site.

By the way, according to your comment, any material provided to others, including printed copies of a character sheet, is susceptible to distribution by the recipient. Heck, even allowing a player to write down the specifics of a feat that you suggested from a book you own but they do not is susceptible. Does this mean we're not allowed to share books? There's a point where arguments regarding legality get a bit ridiculous.
Technically and legally, you're right, however, I never stated my idea was legally sound.

The idea was to present another scenario to customer service that suggests it's private and personal use within a secure and exclusive environment rather than a publicly accessible web site.

By the way, according to your comment, any material provided to others, including printed copies of a character sheet, is susceptible to distribution by the recipient. Heck, even allowing a player to write down the specifics of a feat that you suggested from a book you own but they do not is susceptible. Does this mean we're not allowed to share books? There's a point where arguments regarding legality get a bit ridiculous.

Well TSR specifically exempted character sheets from copyright protection, I am sure WotC followed the same course.
There was also a Court ruling that said tables were not entitled to copyright. Which removed protection from tables that the PHB, DMG, etc. had within them.

A copy of excerpts (portions relatively small) from a book or sharing a book with another tend to fall under "Fair Use", even making a full copy of a book for personal use falls under "Fair Use" as long as it is your copy and you retain the original. If you sell that tattered copy of the DMG and have a digital copy of it before it became tattered you are required to provide both the book and the copy.

The copy of a feat is legal, the copy of any rule even to the Internet (if properly citing) is legal, a copy of a book is not legal because that might prevent a sale that would otherwise occur. Of course attorneys can make money over arguing about how much is "Fair Use" as opposed to theft of IP by wide distribution.
The entire book of any copyrighted material can be posted under "Fair Use" if one quotes small (which is not well defined) potions at a time for discussion.

I am hardly a LG Paladin that I rail against your advise, just pointing out that such as you proposed could cause legal hazard that should not be courted. There are other ways to provide the data as needed that clearly are legal (or at least less illegal).
Plans are always subject to change.
By your definition above, I legally could create a personal feat compendium and distribute it to players for free because it's not an entire book, just clips from multiple books.

Anyway, I'm not really interested in this discussion. I just wanted to give the OP a suggestion. He legally obtained the material, and I think using artwork for a Google Group to post illustrations of locations and NPCs is within the intended use of those illustrations. There's not much difference between holding up a print out of the art in his own personal domicile and posting it in a restricted online environment.
By your definition above, I legally could create a personal feat compendium and distribute it to players for free because it's not an entire book, just clips from multiple books.

Err not quite correct, if TSR, WotC or others provided a table you can republish them, combine then under the Law based on a ruling a few years ago. There may have been an overturn at a higher level that I am not aware of. Posting clips from books clearly has been ruled legal under "Fair Use" in the past, of course this might have been overturned as well however I doubt that.
Anyway, I'm not really interested in this discussion. I just wanted to give the OP a suggestion. He legally obtained the material, and I think using artwork for a Google Group to post illustrations of locations and NPCs is within the intended use of those illustrations. There's not much difference between holding up a print out of the art in his own personal domicile and posting it in a restricted online environment.

For someone not interested I get faster replies, *wink*

As for your suggestion giving the OP the option of using Google, which archives everything, is the poorest idea I have seen should one choose to break law. At best one should use local Internet provider instead of a gobal one, such one choose to test the limits of the current law (which of course is subject to change at any time).
I have provided the best advice I can and mostly in the last few posts advised against a legal hazard.

WotC has not granted permission of what is protected.
The law on "Fair USE" is one of still legal debate.
Plans are always subject to change.
Somewhere out there in the realms of the internet there is a sight devoted to the world of Greyhawk. I think it is Kanonfire or something like that. Contact them for advice.
Gygaxian is NOT a slur. Those who use it as such should be punched in the face. Repeatedly.
None of what has been suggested is Fair Use.
Fair Use has nothing at all to do with writing down the text of a feat for reference, or sharing your book with a friend.

What Fair Use refers to is that it is legal to reprint a select excerpt from a larger work for purposes of review or literary analysis or criticism. That is:
A feat is a special feature that either gives your character a
new capability or improves one he or she already has.

Which is the first line of Chapter Five Feats in the PHB 3.5, if cited with reference as I have done for the comparative purpose of demonstrating how it is Fair Use to cite it is Fair Use.
I could also quote it as part of a review of the PHB 3.5, or quote it as part of a paper comparing and contrasting the reading level used in the PHBs in various editions of the game, all provided I cited it properly, and did not try and post the entire text of the book along the way.

This contrasts with use, simple, basic use, of the materials. I can write down the feats my character has on my character sheet. That is not under Fair Use or anything else, but simple, basic use, based on how you are supposed to create a character for D&D, using the samples character sheets as a model.

Moving to those sample character sheets, you will note the fine print at the bottom that says:
Permission granted to photocopy for personal use only.

That is a limited license to make copies of copyrighted material. While WotC is highly unlikely to demand you produce a receipt proving that you did indeed make a particular copy of such a character sheet yourself, if you decide to run off half a million copies to hand out, or worse, to sell, you are violating that limited permission. Personal use means just that, personal.

Handing a book to a friend is not making a copy of the text. Even having him look over your shoulder is not an issue. At no point does another copy of the book exist, no matter how many people are using it for a reference. Likewise you are free to resell it with no obligation to WotC. (Sales taxes, including on barter transactions, still apply of course.)

Making a backup copy of a book does not fall under Fair Use. It may fall under something else, but the critical concept to remember is that the relevant term is "copy + right", the "right to make a copy". You do not have that for a book you buy, you only have the right to keep the copy you paid for.
As for copying down a feat for a buddy, that is likely too minimal to be actionable, but if you are going to start making a massive compilation, you are going to be get in trouble eventually.

Fair Use is not "Any Personal Use".