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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 96 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Gameplay terms - safe or dangerous on ground of copyright  (Read 2183 times)
David C
Member

Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« on: November 01, 2006, 04:29:56 PM »

As I write my rules, I find myself using terms like 'saving throw' 'DC' and 'skill check.' Then I find myself wondering, with increasing frequency, am I stepping on thin ice?  I know that copyright infringment is a continuum that goes something like this A*B*C   A being the power of the company, B being the strength of the terms you use, and C how worth are you squashing?  Since presumebly Wizards started these terms and I hope to be wildly successful, A and C are very large values. So the question remains, are these rule terms safe to use? How many other publishers use them without rights? Do you have any reccommended guidelines when I ask myself about other terms? Am I worrying too much? I know that a lawyer would give me better founded answers, but if I talk to one, I want to go in educated.

I'm not publishing under any particular license (yet.)
Thanks for your help,
-Dave
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...but enjoying the scenery.
Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2006, 08:14:17 PM »

Based on the number of different games  (and not just rpgs, but boardgames too in some cases) that use terms like saving throw/resistance roll, or skill check/roll, or difficulty/target, I think you'll be on pretty safe ground.

Here's a guideline I think is pretty reliable: if the term you use arises naturally from its function within the game system, you'll be safe.
For example, if you have a roll to save against some bad effect, or you have skills and need to roll them, then using the terms saving roll or skill roll are natural and safe.
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Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2006, 03:01:27 AM »

The Forge is not an appropriate place for soliciting legal advice.

I recommend the www.intelproplaw.com/ forums.

yrs--
--Ben
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Justin D. Jacobson
Member

Posts: 186


WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2006, 04:08:35 PM »

Why not just use those terms but include a copy of the Open Game License (and abide by its terms)? That eliminates the worry.
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Facing off against Captain Ahab, Dr. Fu Manchu, and Prof. Moriarty? Sure!

Passages - Victorian era, literary-based high adventure!
jerry
Member

Posts: 98


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« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2006, 08:04:57 AM »

Why not just use those terms but include a copy of the Open Game License (and abide by its terms)? That eliminates the worry.

Terminology is not copyrighted, period. There is a sticky up at the top of this forum for copyright resources; it includes a link to the copyright office (if you're worried about U.S. law); it would be worth reading. If things are still confusing, talk to a lawyer.

Definitely do not put yourself under a license you don't otherwise want just to avoid a problem that doesn't exist. This is begging for trouble later on.

Jerry
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Jerry
Gods & Monsters
http://www.godsmonsters.com/
Justin D. Jacobson
Member

Posts: 186


WWW
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2006, 01:38:09 PM »

Why not just use those terms but include a copy of the Open Game License (and abide by its terms)? That eliminates the worry.

Terminology is not copyrighted, period. There is a sticky up at the top of this forum for copyright resources; it includes a link to the copyright office (if you're worried about U.S. law); it would be worth reading. If things are still confusing, talk to a lawyer.

Definitely do not put yourself under a license you don't otherwise want just to avoid a problem that doesn't exist. This is begging for trouble later on.

Jerry

1) I am a lawyer. (Admittedly, my practice focuses on debt collection--not IP--but I have some training in the field.)

2) The sentence "Terminology is not copyrighted, period." is exactly the kind of overreaching statement that can cause its own problems and is frowned upon offering here.

3) Using a license is not begging for trouble later on. The OGL is very straightforward and easy to use. If you use it correctly it's not something that can cause trouble later on. Not sure where that's coming from.
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Facing off against Captain Ahab, Dr. Fu Manchu, and Prof. Moriarty? Sure!

Passages - Victorian era, literary-based high adventure!
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
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Posts: 16490


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« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2006, 03:20:23 PM »

OK guys, stop.

The right references have been given. Now you guys are moving into commenting on comments about a comment.

This thread is now closed; no more posting to it please.

Best, Ron
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