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No More D&D PDFs, Wizards of the Coast Sues 8 File Sharers

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the perfectly-rational-reactions dept.

The Courts 501

An anonymous reader writes "On April 6th, Wizards of the Coast took all of their PDF products offline, including those sold at third-party websites like RPGNow.com. From the RPGNow front page: 'Wizards of the Coast has instructed us to suspend all sales and downloads of Wizards of the Coast titles. Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles.' Wizards of the Coast also posted a press release to their website that states they are suing eight file sharers for 'copyright infringement,' and WotC_Trevor posted a short explanation about the cessation of PDF sales to the EN World Forums."

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[Don't] Profit! (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 5 years ago | (#27503145)

Unfortunately, due to recent findings of illegal copying and online distribution (piracy) of our products, Wizards of the Coast has decided to cease the sales of online PDFs.

Step 1: Point gun at foot and pull trigger.

Wizards of the Coast has instructed us to suspend all sales and downloads of Wizards of the Coast titles. Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles.'

Step 2: Open yourself up to lawsuits for breach of contract.

(GMSkarka) Typical short-sighted reaction from WOTC, which makes zero sense at all, when you consider the fact that the most widely-spread pirated copies of the 4e products contain printers marks -- which means that their piracy problem pre-dated any purchases.

Speaking as somebody whose entire income is largely dependent on my PDF sales, this really pisses me off.

Step 3: Ignore all evidence and make assumptions in an effort to piss off both the users and the publishers.

Step 4: Lose all profits!

Re:[Don't] Profit! (0, Flamebait)

Smidge207 (1278042) | about 5 years ago | (#27503229)

Step 3: Ignore all evidence and make assumptions in an effort to piss off both the users and the publishers.

Yeah, here we go again. Oh we poor, poor developers, we didn't knew that there are millions of millions of people who will think: If I can get this for free, why should I pay?
WotC are playing oldest cart in the deck - like it was something they just found out about. This is whole fun of digital format - Copy/Paste cost nothing (not 4 teh users flagglots, anyway).

The whole PDF format was a mistake from my point of view, cause it pushed professional made PDF files into P2P net - no more crappy scans, missing pages and so forth and so forth and so forth. Purple monkey dishwasher.

So welcome ye right 'ol Wizards, welcome to the never-ending battlefront against mass digital piracy. Hope you enjoy staying with us, you coonts...and please don't hesitate to call for room service. Rob Malda will come to your room free of charge to change the linen.

I would suggest start calling RIAA and MPAA now, you pathetic dick-worm ass-crack shit-scab motherf*ckers.


The Who Did What Now? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503283)

This is all so mind-blowing !

Not quite like Suzi

Re:[Don't] Profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503549)

Go troll some other topic you asshole.

Re:[Don't] Profit! (1, Insightful)

zwei2stein (782480) | about 5 years ago | (#27503801)

So, they remedy their mistake of releasing everything in P2P-ready format which was superior to crappy scans. I say, good call.

What do you expect them to do? Bend over and let p2p fuck em in ass?

And its not like people have slightest justification for doing that:

  * Crappy product? Obviously, you want to p2p it so it has to have some value or you would not waste time searching for it.
  * eeeevil drm? werent those files put to p2p woutht any crack necessary? hell, they went path of least resistance: just crappy watermarks.
  * Prices? Can't afford it? I think I am confused. Is playing d&d some basic need that all humans have inherent right to?
  * Freedom? Get GNU-RPG.

All I see is company that made right moves (which pirate apologists say they want to happen for them to stop pirating) but was fucked by customers.

They will be back eventually. With all the DRM they can pack. And we have 8 assholes to thanks for that.

Here is lesson:

Do not do zero drm. Do not offer quality material. Average person, even smart one will act like douche and offer no thanks. Whole amount of "deserved", "go party with mafiaa", "they r desprit" and such from nerds who discovered that their future d&n books will once again be crappy scans is enough evidence that they did right thing. And

Re:[Don't] Profit! (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 years ago | (#27503231)

I think as people in this economy are becoming increasingly desperate, people are grasping at straws while they fail. Could this be considered a sign that there is failure approaching when a company starts resorting to litigation for income?

Re:[Don't] Profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503721)

Could this be considered a sign that there is failure approaching when a company starts resorting to litigation for income?

Yep, that's what it sounds like to me! Just like how the RIAA and MPAA have completely failed in the past decade or so when they went to litigation for income! Aaaaaaany minute now, they'll fold entirely, just like we keep saying they will!

Any minute...

...yep, that's the last lawsuit they'll be allowed to file...

...nope, nobody else is going to buy their products NOW...

...and they won't get another dime off of beleaguered filesharers after THIS lawsuit...

...oops, I mean the NEXT one...

...erm... the one past THAT...

...this time for SURE!

...crap, is that someone walking out of Best Buy with a purchased CD in his hands? Didn't we put an end to that nonsense when they sued us?

...y'know, tell you what, I'll get back to you on this.

Re:[Don't] Profit! (5, Insightful)

Dotren (1449427) | about 5 years ago | (#27503325)

Mod parent up... that had me cracking up

Seriously though, is there a business conference that happens annually now where presenters try to sell the audience on the benefits of alienating your customers by providing sub-par purchasing and product use options? Do they start the whole thing off with a keynote on how to use copyright to extort and sue your customers?

I think, in recent years, its become readily apparent that a company's true customers are it's stock holders and board members. The consumers are just raw material to be milked for money in ANY way possible.

Sorry if that went slightly off-topic, it's just frustrating to see so many product/media providers jump on this bandwagon. Whats next? Some sort of physical DRM for printed copies?

Re:[Don't] Profit! (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | about 5 years ago | (#27503515)

Whats next? Some sort of physical DRM for printed copies?

This D&D guide, if you choose to ren, er buy it, will self destruct in 60 seconds. If you'd like to read page two please return to your local bookstore. . .BRING MONEY!

Re:[Don't] Profit! (0, Flamebait)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 5 years ago | (#27503731)

Wizards of the Coast are trying to do the same thing with DnD that they do with their card games. Make rule changes constantly that make anything old defunct. It's the ultimate in forced obsolescence.

Just fucking go out of business already. Dungeons and Dragons was finished when I was a little child. Your existence serves no useful purpose. You deserve nothing. Doubly so because you had no part whatsoever in creating it.

I was going to get a copy of those books for my kid next week too... but now that I've read this, I'm going to buy a used set.

Re:[Don't] Profit! (2)

Richard Steiner (1585) | about 5 years ago | (#27503475)

Wow. I've been toying with the idea of getting PDF versions of the 1st Edition AD&D books to suppliment my paper copies, but I guess that's not happening...

Re:[Don't] Profit! (5, Insightful)

MeanMF (631837) | about 5 years ago | (#27503587)

Oh you can still get them..You're just no longer allowed to pay for them.

Re:[Don't] Profit! (3, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 years ago | (#27503833)

And it's the only way you can get Gods, Demigods, and Heroes where TSR violated a lot of OTHER people's copyrighted material.

I started with the three book set, greyhawk, and blackmoor after hearing about the "DND" room at a convention.

ADND (i.e. 1st edition) killed my campaign when the DMG came out. Can't remember why. The PHB and MM were both compatible.

2nd edition wasn't my cup of tea and i stumbled on the Cyclopedia version and fell in love.

Lots of home rules later, my 26 year old rules set and Rev 4.0 are actually a lot closer together. I guess we both grew in the same direction. My rules are formatted Cyclopedia style (and probably still have about 40- pages or 10%-15% of Cyclopedia material).

If I had it to do over again, I think I would simplify things and reduce a lot of these feats (like cleave) to the basics: Unless it is a special squirrelly ability (like flying) then it points down to taking more hit points or doing more hit points.

Re:[Don't] Profit! (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 years ago | (#27503895)

That's basically what makes me shake my head in disbelief.

First: Those books are no longer in print and WotC is not losing a dime if they get copied. Unless, and I'd consider this highly unlikely if anything, they want to roll the printing press for those items again.

Second: It's anything but hard to get a hand on that copy. Instead of paying WotC for it, you have to hunt for it on torrents. Yeah, you could get sued. How well that works as a deterrent is evident. Not to mention that people will have zero problem with their conscience, since they could not even buy it, even if they wanted.

Finally, and most importantly: P&P RPG enthusiasts are, if anything, packrats. They want the printed copy if there is one available, if the book is good. I've seen books that are readily available in PDF form (from other publishers) go for three and four digit sums on ebay because they can't be bought anymore. I'm in a similar boat, I want my book in my hand (ever tried bringing a laptop to a fantasy RPG session? Talk about mood killer). I won't pay 300 bucks for it, but I'd certainly go to my shop and get it if I could! So any PDF being "ripped" is not a lost sale by any measure. It's about the best advertising you can get. Players don't read the book and then toss it away like a novel. RPG books are used more like encyclopedias, perused and consulted regularely to look up details. And gamers want that in book form. Not laptop, not a copy they tossed through their printer, they want a book!

So where the heck is the lost sale? Where is the damage?

Or does WotC fear that people could find out their latest edition sucks even more than the previous ones and people refuse to buy it entirely, and stick with AD&D 2nd forever?

Re:[Don't] Profit! (1)

cromar (1103585) | about 5 years ago | (#27503603)

Well. That sucks. Hey at least they're prolly on a torrent somewhere! Too bad you now won't be able to give WotC your money for it though...

Re:[Don't] Profit! (1)

TinBromide (921574) | about 5 years ago | (#27503481)

Yeah, i was wondering about how hard they would get reamed for cutting off access to previously purchased goods.

People who play D&D don't seem like the kind of people who will forget a perceived slight against them or their wallets easily and every time someone mentions purchasing a PDF D&D rulebook, they'll be reminded "You remember when WoC cut off access?"

And then they'll fire up bittorrent for something that they would have paid for before.

Re:[Don't] Profit! (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#27503539)

Step 1: Point gun at foot and pull trigger.

WotC is such a small part of Hasbro that there is very little that they could do with through WotC that would be shooting themselves in the foot (and shooting WotC in the foot is meaningless, WotC isn't an independent entity.) I suspect, also, that WotC, or at least D&D, has been disappointing to Hasbro since the acquisition, and has never been profitable enough, and I wouldn't be surprised if they are at the point where desperate moves that are perceived as having some (though low) probability of improving the profitability in that area are warranted prior to simply cutting their losses and moving the resources elsewhere or simply not expending them at all anymore in a cost-cutting move. IOW, this may well be a natural part of Hasbro proving to themselves that D&D (except, perhaps, in the online-game form) simply cannot be salvaged as something profitable enough for them.

Re:[Don't] Profit! (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27503795)

You really don't understand business do you? WotC is a division of Hasbro. This means that if they don't preform, they get cut. So yes, they have shot themselves in the foot.

Re:[Don't] Profit! (2, Interesting)

xymog (59935) | about 5 years ago | (#27503799)

If Hasbro is like every other bean-counter-based business, it demands 10-15% growth year over year from its subsidiaries, otherwise no bonuses for executives. Perpetual linear growth is not possible in a finite market, but that doesn't stop the parent company from squeezing the sub (in a decidedly non-sexual fun way).

Maybe we should send a PDF copy of the Cluetrain Manifesto to the execs at WotC and Hasbro....

Re:[Don't] Profit! (5, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | about 5 years ago | (#27503661)

This is their second salvo, of course. The first was when they decided to yank the rights to Dragon and Dungeon magazines from Paizo, the company that salvaged those two titles from their late-1990s slump and made them popular and useful again. Wizards is no longer the cool company that Richard Garfield and crew took from obscurity to gaming geek super-stardom. Since the Hasbro buyout, they've moved further and further into a campaign of systematically alienating and angering every one of their customers, partners, authors and fans.

It's sad, really. There were (and probably still are) some good people there. Oh well, Steve Jackson [sjgames.com] will enjoy the business, anyway. They still have plenty of PDFs [sjgames.com] for sale, and even a few for free [sjgames.com]!

Re:[Don't] Profit! (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27503937)

Steve Jackson? gah. Screw GURPS, too many damn specific rules, combat takes to long, and running on a bell curve with their point system make no sense mathematically.

I gave up on that pile of needless complications 4 years ago.
Try savage worlds [peginc.com] and have some fun. Play characters that can actually be cool right out of the gate, and only get cooler. There rule book cost 10 bucks.

What's that? 10 bucks too much to try a new game? well then, I suggest you take it for a Test Drive [peginc.com]

Do I sound a little fanatical? probably, but I ahve played it since it's release, and still enjoy it, and have played and ran in almost every Genre available.

Re:[Don't] Profit! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503755)

(GMSkarka) Typical short-sighted reaction from WOTC, which makes zero sense at all, when you consider the fact that the most widely-spread pirated copies of the 4e products contain printers marks -- which means that their piracy problem pre-dated any purchases.

I would like to emphasize this point. I have many pirated D&D 4e books. They ALL have printers marks, not pdf seller watermarks.

Also, no matter what your cheapass players tell you, pdf copies on a computer don't work well around the game table. There's a reason that, despite the rampant pirating we engage in, we have still purchased TWO hardcopies of the PHB, in addition to the DMG, Monster Manual, Adventurer's Vault, Martial Power, and Open Grave. Oh, and a D&D Insider subscription.

So, despite the free availability of pdfs, I still buy hard copies- lots. I don't think Wizards is losing much on the pdfs when they halt sales, but it is certainly not going to do anything about the piracy problem (if indeed it is a problem, since it's driven so many of the purchases I've made).

/AC so they don't sue me

Does that mean... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503153)

...that if they are using D20 dice and they roll a 20, they get out of being sued?

Re:Does that mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503705)

Well, considering that they have the Hasbro legal department behind them, I think they get a few more modifiers than that.

D&D is dead (2, Interesting)

Metapsyborg (754855) | about 5 years ago | (#27503165)

WotC killed it with 4e. These are the throws of a dying organization, just like RIAA/MPAA.

Re:D&D is dead (3, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | about 5 years ago | (#27503241)

I kind of hoped that 4e was going to embrace the Internet and allow people to create tools for it... I was trying to have high hopes for the future of D&D, but now I wish I could get a refund for my rulebooks.

Re:D&D is dead (2, Insightful)

evilkasper (1292798) | about 5 years ago | (#27503591)

I think a lot of us were. All the online tools they talked of in D&D insider. The collaborative game space program that would let you play D&D with your buddies who've since scattered to remote parts of the world. I know there are programs for this but all the ones my group has tried haven't worked very well. Just try not to let the douchebag actions of WoTC ruin the game for you.

Re:D&D is dead (4, Interesting)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503313)

No it isn't. I've been playing since 2nd edition. So far 4e is pretty decent. Yes it has some annoying aspects (daily abilities, more limited abilities to choose from) but it also has some nice ones (when you raise your stat scores you get to raise two of them instead of one, magic items are simpler, healing is simpler, etc). So it has it's positive traits and it's negative traits but overall it's not bad. It's also a much faster combat system.

While I hate buying the books over and over again I also realize that WoTC needs to do that every so often to get more sales. I was annoyed from 3.0 to 3.5 because that was a sham (3.5 was fixing 3.0), but 4.0 is a complete revamp so warrants it. There is still plenty of 3.0/3.5 material that you can play that. There are some companies that didn't even change and will continue with 3.5 material.

Re:D&D is dead (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27503597)

there was a lot of 3.0 -> 3.5 errata, and in fact you did not nede to buy new books becasue the difference were all laid out on TSR's web site.

Lets think about this 'sham' a moment.

If you pay full cover(why?) you are shelling out 90 buccks for the core three books.

that's 11 movie tickets. Spread out over a few years.
Considering the books can be found for under 20 bucks, it's even better.

And yes, WotC didn't hire Ninjas to sneak in and destroy all previous version, so no one is forced to move to a new verion. If epople do feel forced to the new version, they might as well say "I'm WotC's bitch"

Re:D&D is dead (3, Insightful)

Metapsyborg (754855) | about 5 years ago | (#27503633)

They are not bankrupt, but what they are doing is shattering their core userbase into many different groups. This is not the same as 1st ed vs 2nd ed players, or the players (like me) who still play 2nd and 3e.

Hasbro/WotC completely dropped support for their OGL that they developed with 3rd edition, but many people still use that. There are many other new, creative RPGs that can easily give D&D a run for its money, and the old powerhouses like Palladium are still going strong.

It's funny that everything you mention about 4e is in the sense of a dumbing-down or simplifying. WotC has always been obsessed with that concept but it is just not in sync with reality. Gamers love complexity and they want a system that has rich options. Why do you think WotCs attempts to turn RPGs into a kids oversimplified boardgame always fail, and the system inevitable ends up becoming more and more complex?

As for the actual content, well WotC will never be able to top the greats of 2nd edition; that is when there was true creative talent in the AD&D universe, with settings like Planescape, Dark Sun and Spelljammer as well as the more "traditional" fantasy settings on Toril, Krynn and Greyhawk. WotC has just been living off those great masterminds and reprinting books of lists (feats, skills, equipment, classes, whatever), not creating anything of its own.

Re:D&D is dead (1)

dchaffey (1354871) | about 5 years ago | (#27503331)

The sooner they die the sooner their old, useful, materials can be bought up by an wealthy geek and put into the commons.

Re:D&D is dead (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#27503609)

The sooner they die the sooner their old, useful, materials can be bought up by an wealthy geek and put into the commons.

You assume that Hasbro is going to sell rights to the back catalog and the trademarks; this may be unlikely. If their attempt to make D&D a profitable as a set of subscription-based online servcies works, they may well just keep all the old stuff to keep it off the market, even if traditional D&D dies completely.

Of course, with their (now abandoned) foray into open licensing, they already let a lot of material out that isn't coming back, and people will continue to build on that as long as there is interest in the market.

Re:D&D is dead (1)

Abreu (173023) | about 5 years ago | (#27503373)

Actually, 4th edition breathed new life into our gaming table. We are very satisfied.

Re:D&D is dead (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 years ago | (#27503449)

Are you kidding? They killed it with 3.0 & 3.5. They stopped selling products and started licensing to third parties (eg ravenloft), then broke contract when the third parties started making too much money. They're finally following this model with their old PDFs.

Re:D&D is dead (3, Informative)

evilkasper (1292798) | about 5 years ago | (#27503507)

Odd I know a lot of people who enjoy 4e, then again I heard the same thing when they went to 3.5. I heard the same thing when D&D was no longer owned by TSR, etc etc. Point is it's different and still around. The neat thing is you don't have to upgrade to 4e if you don't want to. Hell if you liked the first incarnation of D&D you could still play that.

Re:D&D is dead (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27503543)

4e rocks.
And yes, I have played all other version, a lot.

The brought back the 'war game' aspect and maintained the original feel, and improved a lot mechanics.

And I'm a die hard THAC0 fan.

How embarassing.. (4, Funny)

qoncept (599709) | about 5 years ago | (#27503179)

The most effective part of this move will probably be revealing the names of these 8 file sharers that are playing D&D.

Re:How embarassing.. (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | about 5 years ago | (#27503605)

I play Shadowrun if that helps. Heck, I'm running a game tonight and another one on Sunday.

By the way, the Shadowrun 20th Anniversary Edition PDF is out :)


Won't stop illegal downloads (5, Interesting)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503193)

People will just do what happened BEFORE WotC started selling their rip-off priced pdfs (pdf should not cost as much as the hard-bound book) they will scan them in and put them online.

The moment you release your information to the public you open it up to be copied.

BTW their 4e application (a nice piece of software) requires a subcription to update it (that is fine) my beef with it is if your computer gets reformatted you MUST resubscribe (pay money) to get a full version of it. I think that is crap. If I paid for the software to utilize and decided not to pay for my monthly subscription renewal then I should not have to pay again to reinstall the software.

Re:Won't stop illegal downloads (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27503621)

That is crap, and someone should talk to a lawyer.

Re:Won't stop illegal downloads (5, Insightful)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503851)

Manufacturers can tell retailers to cease and desist from selling their products - electronic or otherwise. If they had a contract which said "Retailer is paying WoTC in advance for 100 licenses of our material for X dollars" then the retailer could say "sure we will stop selling it, but we only sold 20 so you owe us the cost of 80". Otherwise they have no recourse. Yes someone could come up with a lawsuit "I spent 40,000$ creating an ecommerce site specifically for your product which you no longer allow me to sell...you owe me money". But it all depends on the contract they signed. If WoTC had in their contract "we can tell you to stop selling our products at anytime without recourse then you must do so and you can't sue us" well it sucks for the retailer. It all depends on the contract - but to say "that is crap...." without knowing the contract is baseless.

I love it when people scream "sue" without knowing the facts.

Linux uninstalling fest (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503195)

Help us get 100,000 nerds a life. Find everyone you know who is using Linux and install Windows back on them. If they refuse then tell them a brown bear will be after their children.


Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503197)

You can still get the pdf's...
Of 3rd edition nonetheless. Making it so much better..

I do recall seeing a collection of sorts that hit almost 13 gigs of pdfs on a few select websites..

They might claim it is about infringement (4, Interesting)

phantomlord (38815) | about 5 years ago | (#27503203)

What this is really about is them trying to force people to go out and buy 4E material. Having low cost OOP material out there diminishes the value of their current product by saturating the market. D&D is about the story, not about the numbers... so if you have original setting material, it isn't hard to adapt it to current rules.

They lost me a long time ago when then current head of the AD&D product line tried to assert ownership over all third party content, including homemade settings that weren't tied to any particular rule system, claiming that anything that used the AD&D rules was a derivative work.

Re:They might claim it is about infringement (1)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503345)

Never heard of that...do you have a link to some articles? Considering they have their OGL and SRD information which is free to the public to use I don't understand how this claim came about.

Re:They might claim it is about infringement (1)

phantomlord (38815) | about 5 years ago | (#27503429)

It was Ryan Dancy on rec.games.frp.dnd back in 2000, before the OGL and SRD.

Here are a couple [google.com] links [google.com] to threads from around that time.

Re:They might claim it is about infringement (1)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503729)

From your link:

Never take legal advice from Uncle Louie or Usenet. Ryan aint a lawyer and others have disagreed with him about fan material. Besides, Wizards has put up a liberal use policy on their site, one vetted by their pet shysters. It comes down to honor, but lots of folks have decided to take Wizards at their word. Compare the number of Star Trek sites with the number of DnD sites sometime.

Until an experienced copyright lawyer, specifically with intimate knowledge of this license/situation, says otherwise I feel confident that WoTC was not malicious when they created the OGL license. Again, do you think publishers like Mongoose press would spend so much money to create VERY competative products (I believe they are the biggest competator to WoTC who utilize the d20 rules set) if they knew WoTC could just swoop in and take it? Remember these guys *CAN* afford lawyers. They also reference OGL, SRD, and Core rules books in their publications.

Re:They might claim it is about infringement (2, Interesting)

phantomlord (38815) | about 5 years ago | (#27503859)

Again, this was BEFORE OGL, D20 and SRD... Dancey supposedly came up with them in response to the complaints we had in rec.games.frp.dnd.

But if you read through the entire threads on the issue at that time, Dancey was definitely strongly implying a whole lot of "if it uses AD&D rules, we own it." Dancey even tried to claim copyright on the game mechanics (which everyone knows aren't copyrightable... the expression of the rules, yes, but not the rules themselves).

Not being able to afford a lawyer should they try to assert ownership of my campaign setting (which I had available online at the time), I pulled it and none of it has ever been online again since. In fact, I haven't bought any D&D product since 2000, so Dancey sure did a great job at keeping us 1E/2E people excited about the game as they were getting ready to launch 3E. By the time the OGL came out, I had no faith left in TSR/WOTC/Hasbro and, as the post below illustrates, the possibility that they were still claiming ownership of my material if I used them anyway.

Re:They might claim it is about infringement (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 5 years ago | (#27503489)

Read the Open Gaming License carefully. It talks about derivative works in the definitions, and then says this:

(d)"Open Game Content" means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Product Identity.

So it's not entirely clear but one could claim that under these terms, any game played with any DnD book that used OGL material is in fact OGL licensed, kind of like the GPL.

Re:They might claim it is about infringement (1)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503653)

So it's not entirely clear but one could claim that under these terms, any game played with any DnD book that used OGL material is in fact OGL licensed, kind of like the GPL.

No offense meant to you, but if it is "not entirely clear" then this is a weak argument. There are MANY big name publishers who produced hard-bound books based on the 3x rule-set using the OGL license. Actually the OGL license was hailed as a break-through in the gaming industry to allow other publishers to add-on material utilizing the same rules set. I highly doubt publishers like Mongoose would create works that WoTC could then swoop in and steal it. I am more willing to bet this means that any subsequent materials they produce is covered in the OGL. So they are not relinquishing the copyrights to the rules but are allowing people to use them. WoTC produces the 3 core books under the OGL. They also produce 100 supplemental books. They want to make sure the OGL does not infringe on their right to not release the 100 supplemental books in the SRD format (which they do not).

Re:They might claim it is about infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503887)

A license cannot define what a derived work is. When you're trying to decide whether or not you need to license something, you never ever ever read the license first; that can only distract and confuse you. That holds for the OGL, the GPL, or a MS EULA.

Re:They might claim it is about infringement (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#27503735)

Considering they have their OGL and SRD information which is free to the public to use I don't understand how this claim came about.

About the same time as the 4e release, they pulled the OGL, because of similar concerns. They can't "get back" the stuff that was already out there (though, IIRC, the initial version of the GSL included a clause intended to get as much of it off the market as they could by dangling participation in the anticipated 4e boom as bait), but they certainly aren't happy that it exists. The 4E SRD is not available under the OGL, only the very restrictive GSL (which essentially replaces the old d20 System Trademark License.)

Re:They might claim it is about infringement (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27503983)

They have a long history of that, especially during 2nd edition when the bitch took over.

They tried that crap with me. I paid 100 bucks and got a lawyer to draft a nice letter. After which they left me alone.

Granted I was only making a few thousand bucks a year.

oh noes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503207)

realizing people pirate anything not nailed down and then respond to it by screwing customers was a hip business model like... in the 90s.. good luck with that

Re:oh noes (5, Funny)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503389)

realizing people pirate anything not nailed down

Great you just gave WoTC a new business model. Whenever you buy one of their books you must buy the installation package which will have a WoTC technician come out and nail the book down into your coffee/gaming table.

Re:oh noes (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | about 5 years ago | (#27503581)

I bet they would if they could reasonably afford to do it, or you know, pass it off as a special feature to customers.

Hello Slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503227)

summary not available


You keep it real, I'll keep it frosty.

AC, keeping Slashdot frosty since 1998.

I did it! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503267)

I got a large buttplug inserted.
It took around half a hour, and it popped out a few times, but once you get past that point, it just gets sucked up, then it's in.

Now I just have to get it out...

Quite a shame... (1)

ghostgrave (1527575) | about 5 years ago | (#27503277)

I never understand the intelligence behind actions such as this.. For some reason companies tend to phaze out useful parts of their businesses in favor of "piracy" diversion.

This will yield opposite results (5, Insightful)

Duane13 (1340371) | about 5 years ago | (#27503323)

So instead of making still LOTS of money off of legal PDF sales, now EVERYONE who wants PDFs will find them on torrents. This will make the torrenting of them more prevalent.

Re:This will yield opposite results (1)

dword (735428) | about 5 years ago | (#27503703)

Oh, no! People won't torrent, because they sued 8 file sharers, didn't you read about it on the 'Net? [like anyone would believe that]

Re:This will yield opposite results (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503791)

Makes it easier to prosecute when the only copies available are known to be illegal copies. Kind of makes it hard to use the "how do they know this copy is an illegal copy and not approved" argument a lot of people here like to make.

I am amused at the false outrage of the thieves that have been stealing this material now saying "I guess I just have to steal it", when they know damn well they were stealing it before.

Hopefully, they go after these criminals and find enough stuff on their hard drives to put em away for 20 years.

How dare WotC for trying to stop the criminals that are stealing from them.


Makes perfect sense (3, Insightful)

tsstahl (812393) | about 5 years ago | (#27503327)

Now the only avenue of ownership for their digital content is unsanctioned file sharing.

All future unsanctioned copies will bear the same (at least) 8 watermarks losing TOS abusers in a sea of anonymity.

Best viral marketing move for an RPG ever.


And just when you thought they 'got it'...

Re:Makes perfect sense (1)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503439)

You didn't own the pdfs, you licensed them. There is a difference.

Re:Makes perfect sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503991)

This distinction has almost no practical value. If I bought something, I own it. If I leased something, I dont. "Licensing" fits neither of these two categories, as it basically says "you bought it, but its treated as a lease."

WotC wants 3e DEAD! At any cost (4, Interesting)

swordgeek (112599) | about 5 years ago | (#27503329)

Recently I went looking for some 3rd edition books, since I thought they'd be getting scarce soon.

Scarce? I was mistaken. 3.0 and 3.5 are GONE. Every local gaming store, every local used book store, every online store in Canada, and everywhere else I checked were out of old editions.

Especially curious was the fact that one of the gaming stores had about 15 full sets of 3.5 at Christmas, but by the second week of January, didn't have a single copy of any sourcebook from that era. Nada.

Does anyone know if WotC has done a big buyback? It almost seems like someone has been scouring the bookstores methodically, snatching up everything that would suggest an older edition ever existed.

Ah well, screw 'em. I'll play what I want, and if I can't buy the material, I _will_ download it. Way to go, Wizards!

Re:WotC wants 3e DEAD! At any cost (2, Informative)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503485)

I don't know if Wotc did but it would be smart for them to do it and smarter for the bookstores to sell it (gauranteed sales). I doubt Wotc did - WoTC is not in the habit of buying their products. More then likely it is someone who wanted to do the same thing as you.

You may want to try ebay, amazon, borders, etc. Doing a quick search on amazon dungeons and dragons 3.5 [amazon.com]

There are no shortages of books. You can also get it cheaper online.

Re:WotC wants 3e DEAD! At any cost (4, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 5 years ago | (#27503523)

Trying to take things off the internet is like trying to take piss out of a pool.

The sooner companies learn that, the better.

Re:WotC wants 3e DEAD! At any cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503557)

Gone? Ever heard of Amazon?

Re:WotC wants 3e DEAD! At any cost (1)

Abreu (173023) | about 5 years ago | (#27503613)

I don't think so. A lot of game store owners and employees frequent the gaming forums and if WotC were implementing a "third edition buyback" program, a big fuss would have been made in the forums (with the subsequent Streissand Effect)

I just believe that there was enough demand for those books and they were all bought. Which is good news for people like Paizo who are supporting those players.

For my part, I was already a little tired of the third edition rules and I'm quite happy so far with 4th edition. However, I think "edition holy wars" are just stupid. People should play whatever game they like and stop trying to evangelize...

Re:WotC wants 3e DEAD! At any cost (3, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27503641)

Huh. Here in Portland Oregon I see them in every hobby store, and in used book stores. can't get rid of that crap fast enough.

I mean..um.. yeah there scarce how much, exactly, would you pay for these 'scarce' books?

Sword of Litigation +1 (5, Funny)

spookymonster (238226) | about 5 years ago | (#27503337)

WotC attacks the gazebo!

Re:Sword of Litigation +1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27503909)

WotC strikes the gazebo with the Sword of Litigation.

Suddenly 500 gazebos magically appear each holding a Shield of uTorrent. WoTC can feel his purse become lighter.


Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 years ago | (#27503363)

They found the universal solution to copyright infringement!

Stop selling the copyright protected content!

How could we miss such an extrardinary solution! ...

Oh. Right. Because it's a complete idiocy. I knew there had to be a reason.

Pirates will just break out the scanners (1)

Glass Goldfish (1492293) | about 5 years ago | (#27503383)

With scanners at $100, who do they think this will stop. People will scan their books or borrow them from a friend and scan them. These scans will end up on the Internet. Wizards of the Coast is going to stop as much piracy as the RIAA. All they've manage to accomplish is cutting off a source of revenue. People who pirate will continue to pirate, people who don't pirate won't be able to buy your books in digital format. Not to mention reducing revenue from people who want to look at a pirated PDF to see if the book is useful before spending $20 to $30 on a non-pirated book. Now they're just not going to buy.

The only way to stop piracy is to lock down every system in the world and then destroy all knowledge of computer technology. And that will only work until some guy in his basement re-discovers the knowledge.

Hubris (4, Informative)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 5 years ago | (#27503413)

Back when Wizards of the Coast took over D&D, one of the striking things then-Vice President Ryan Dancey said was that TSR (the former publisher) has obviously not listened to customers and had lost relevancy for that reason.

Now, Ryan Dancey is no longer at WotC, and WotC is not listening to customers, and what do you know? WotC is losing relevancy. People are going to buy the products they want, in the format they want, from the retailer they want, and you can never make them buy something different. It's as simple as that.

Fortunately the 3.x rules are open source [opengamingfoundation.org] so D&D can never die, in spite of WotC's seemingly intentional efforts to run their business into the ground. It just can't be called D&D for trademark reasons.

It's not about piracy.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 5 years ago | (#27503443)

... I'd bet on it. Even though that's what they're claiming, I'm quite sure that they are presenting it from that angle because what I'm quite sure is the actual reason, that they don't want people playing the old editions anymore (possibly because they are noticing by sales figures that a lot of 3.x players aren't migrating to the new edition), would make them sound too selfish and juvenile. I'm compelled to agree with another person I saw who remarked on this story when it broke when he said that it's probably preferable to appear stupid than immature and greedy.

Re:It's not about piracy.... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27503679)

Bing Bing Bing! we have a wHinner!
There has been a lot of contention between them and people still selling material geared at 3.5
This sire wouldn't budge becasue they have a customer base. WotC tried to get them to drop 3.5 but they said no.
And now this happens. 8 people? really? that's their concern? I think not.

Re:It's not about piracy.... (2, Insightful)

MadKeithV (102058) | about 5 years ago | (#27503929)

Or that they've realized they could be selling the downloads directly for the same price and pocket the difference of selling through a middle-man.

Illegal (3, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | about 5 years ago | (#27503445)

Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles.

Why do these arrogant companies think they can take back what they've sold without compensation? This is ripe for a lawsuit.

Re:Illegal (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | about 5 years ago | (#27503561)

Probably buried in the contract somewhere, that 50 page (or whatever) monstrosity you agree to when you buy. Does it make it legal? Possibly. Does it contain a "binding arbitration" clause? Certainly. Is that legal? Possibly.

But is anyone really going to sue? Naah. If I did D & D, I'd just go back to bittorrent, or just stop playing altogether.

Who can afford litigation anyway, in terms of time if not money?

Re:Illegal (1)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503563)

Why do these arrogant companies think they can take back what they've sold without compensation? This is ripe for a lawsuit.

Your statement makes no sense. If they sold you a PDf you still have it on your computer. WoTC is not demanding you delete it from your computer. They are telling stores they cannot continue to sell the PDFs. Typically places that sell PDFs pay royalties to the company which owns the information (in this case WoTC). So for every PDf they sell they give x% to WoTC. WoTC is now saying "no more". They are not taking what a customer paid for away from them. Is their decision smart? I don't know - time will tell. Is it "ripe for a lawsuit" absolutely not. They can decide not to have their content sold anymore. If you honestly believe this is "ripe for a lawsuit" then you have no idea what you are talking about.

Re:Illegal (1)

Millennium (2451) | about 5 years ago | (#27503715)

Your statement makes no sense. If they sold you a PDf you still have it on your computer.

Unless, of course, you don't. Things happen, stuff breaks, and when it does, you now lose access to your legitimately-purchased work.

Re:Illegal (1)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27503893)

Unless, of course, you don't. Things happen, stuff breaks, and when it does, you now lose access to your legitimately-purchased work.

If the place you purchased it from offers free downloads in case your computer busted it up then you need to take it up with them. Most places do not offer such a service. So if they do not offer the service it sucks for you (l2backup). If they did offer you a service then they are bound by your contract with them to replace your material or provide you a refund. That has nothing to do with WoTC.

Re:Illegal (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#27503775)

Why do these arrogant companies think they can take back what they've sold without compensation?

Maybe they just figure that the amount they are likely to be held liable for is less than the cost of continuing the existing business model.

Or maybe the contract they had with the electronic resellers is written in a way that it is quite clear that the reseller, which is who sold ongoing access to the consumer, is on the hook, since Wizards didn't provide any assurance to the reseller that justified them making that offer to the consumer.

Free Business Hint (3, Insightful)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 5 years ago | (#27503531)

If your demographic is largely weighted towards nerdy type males, a demographic whose mantra is 'free the information!' and who live for finding new and interesting torrents, it's probably not a good idea to put your bread and butter product in the digital domain. Just saying...

Pathfinder (plug for improved 3.5e compat system) (2, Interesting)

Psymin (154718) | about 5 years ago | (#27503569)

Paizo has come up with a system that I think rocks.

If you are angry with WotC and their Vista-like 4e, try the Beta .. Real version should be out this year.

Free Beta Download [paizo.com]

eBook format anyone? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 5 years ago | (#27503601)

There are a variety of DRMd eBook formats they could choose to use. This would satisfy their contractual obligations if nothing else.

Why they haven't changed to that is a mystery... they should have done so and added something new and put out a release.. would have been relatively bland PR instead of this negative result.

The more you tighten your grip (2, Insightful)

Raleel (30913) | about 5 years ago | (#27503623)

The more starsystems will slip through your fingers.

and I was going to buy about $300 of 1e pdfs. oh well, guess I'll torrent because I CAN'T GET THEM ANYWHERE ELSE NOW.

Value added for printed material? (1)

DeweyQ (1247570) | about 5 years ago | (#27503647)

If viral marketing can rely on cheap distribution of PDFs, and the printed version offers stuff that is simply unavailable in the PDF... maybe they would have a business model. But to make the PDF exactly the same as the printed book, then charge the same amount... it doesn't seem to make sense. In any case, D&D fans tend to be technically savvy so there will always be digital distribution, authorized or unauthorized. Better to come up with a business model that leverages this tendency instead of fighting uphill against it. M:TG cards put Wizards on the map: scarcity and added value were the cornerstones of that whole business model. Without turning D&D into a collectibles game, surely they can take a page out of their own history and add value to materials that people are willing to purchase -- while still offering the viral "word-of-mouth" benefits of a freely distributed digital medium.

Timr the ole' (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27503763)

"To use with ..." tag.
This is what I put on no the modules I made in 79-84.
Yeah, TSR tried to get me to stop. I got a lawyer, pointed out that every module and add on I made had "To use with DnD. This product is in no way affiliate with TSR, inc."

They went away.

As we sued to say:
"What to TSR stand for? To Sue Regularly"
Also known as T$R

Create Lawsuit (1)

dstech (807139) | about 5 years ago | (#27503797)

Necromancy [Fear, Evil, Mind-Affecting]
Level: Lawyer 5
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 day
Range: 12,800 kilometers
Targets: up to eight D&D players
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

You ensnare the targets in a vast machine of red tape, legalese and procedures. The target feels compelled to pay you 1d10 x 1000 gp per caster level. If the target succeeds at his will save, he navigates the red tape and is not affected. The target is then free to return to his mother's basement.

Material Components: a large amount of money and a Legal team

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