Sunday, October 23, 2011

More OSRIC Player's Guide woes

EDITED TO ADD:  I am getting a lot of links to this.  To be clear: WotC is NOT going after OSR blogs or books.  They asked 1 author to remove 1 product that had some clear violations of the OGL.

A while back I posted the tales of the OSRIC Player's Guides/References.

The first one I detailed here,
It was just a copy-paste job of the OSRIC rules and some stolen cover art.  The author claimed he did not know, which is fine, but then he turned around and did it AGAIN with Holmes Basic producing something called "Mazes & Perils", detailed here, and

Frankly that guy has lost all benefit of the doubt from me.

But that is not the tragedy today.

Today I want to mention the OSRIC Player's Guide, the one detailed here and here

This one was done by the same guy that ran the blog BreeYark!.  Unlike the first, this one had been in the works since Jan/Feb of 2011.  Unlike the first this one also was full of original art.  But like the first one, this one has also been taken down from OneBookShelf and the BreeYark! blog is now gone.

I am not going to speculate as to why.  There was a C&D order issued and you can read some more at the K&KA forum,
I just think it is too bad really that all the work that went into it was lost.

I guess the learning point here is if you are going to publish something and put it up on DriveThru/RPGNow/OBS then you better be sure you know what you are doing.  Make sure you understand the OGL (if you are using it), know where your art is coming from.  Though I'll admit I thought the OSRIC Player's Guide was fine as far as copyrights/trademarks are concerned.  Just goes to show you can't know everything.

I am reminded of something though Clark Peterson of Necromancer Games once said about OSRIC.  I won't detail it here, but I am wondering if the eye of Hasbro/WotC is becoming more focused on the OSR.  I know they read these blogs, they are gamers afterall.  And I am sure that the sales of legit products are nothing compared to what a multi-billion dollar company like Hasbro makes.  But all the same we have had some pretty spectacular screw-ups and it might not be long for that attention is on all of us.

I do hope the BreeYark! blog comes back tough.


James said...

The only thing I can figure is the WotC decided to give him a hard time about a couple of the Homage pieces, since Steve did all of the art himself.

Which would be incredibly petty on WotC's part.

Goodman Games might want to take another look at some of their art for the DCC.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Do we know it was WotC for sure?

James said...

Nope. Afaik he had S. Marshall's blessing and I can't think of any other party that might have reason & resources, to send the C&D.

A very good point though. Maybe something in the art we're unaware of, that stepped on someone else's toes?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I ask because to date WotC has been rather forgiving of all sorts of infractions with the most I have heard in the form of "please review the website guidelines".

Art on the other hand is a much larger target. That is what took down the first OSRIC Player's book and that is what Shippman got into so much trouble with.

I don't want to idly speculate.

James said...

The only case I know of where WotC sent a C&D, was Die Cast Games and their Insidious Module. An utterly blatant infringement.

Stuart Marshall said...

He did have my blessing.

A C&D letter isn't written in a day. I doubt if he received a proper C&D in that time scale. He may have received an email asking him to cease distribution, which isn't the same thing at all.

WOTC did issue me with an email asking me to cease distribution of OSRIC when it first came out. I said no.

Bree Yark! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@James - IIRC the publisher of Insidious stated on the Acaeum forum that they never actually received a C&D, despite it being common belief that they had done so. I believe they made changes to the module based on community concerns alone.

Anonymous said...

@Bree Yark! - I doubt very much that WotC could prove copyright ownership of the rust monster image given that Gygax came up with the idea based on a plastic toy - see here and here. As for the beholder, I wouldn't be surprised if some google research could uncover a pre-Gygax beholder-style monster.

Of course corporate bullies rely on intimidation rather than the law when dealing with the little guy, with the latter no doubt lacking the resources for a financial challenge.

Perhaps the rumours of WotC's 5e being more old school than recent versions is true. Perhaps your the start of a campaign by the company to stake their claim. If so they stand to alienate many potential customers and will only fuel a growth in piracy. Not really a smart business move, but then that's never stopped them in the past.

Theodric the Obscure said...

Man. Best wishes, Bree Yark, if you see this.

James said...

@Austrodavicus - No, according to the author:

"WotC didn't shut us down, just hit us with a C&D letter We are just getting the site ready for the second print. Should have them in hand any day."

Needles said...

Wow this is most interesting & makes my heart skip. So sorry for you Bree Yark! Hope you come back to the school yard. Sigh

Mark CMG Clover said...

You're in pretty safe harbor if you stay clear of the elements and names listed in the legal section of the SRD here -

One of the explicitly listed creatures is the "beholder" but there is much more there.

Tenkar said...

I wonder too if there is more to this then meets the eye. If this is a backhanded attempt to roll back the OGL (via art as opposed to games rules) in prep for 5e, it's a piss poor way to do it.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

It's not a back handed way to block the OGL. There are 1000s of products out using the OGL, some are not even D&D related.

This actually makes a lot of sense really given the monsters used. Some monsters have always been verboten. It does not matter if it is "right" or even copyrighted, those are the rules you agree to when you use the OGL.

James said...

Most likely, some lawyer got bored.

While crazy crap happens in the American legal system, I don't see how WotC could get rid of the OGL.

The license clearly states it's irrevocable and the courts aren't going to casually dismiss the concerns of a company like Paizo, who's whole operation is dependent upon the OGL, have acted in good faith and who, I would imagine, have the resources to defend themselves if sued by WotC.

It's been, what, almost 12 years? The OGL has been used thousands of times by god knows how many gaming companies. All of whom invested their time and money, based upon WotC clearly stating the license was permanent and irrevocable.

Tenkar said...

not necassarily a way to kill the OGL, but kill alot of OSR style products that are based on it, aiming at the art as opposed to the rules (rules are protected for use under the OGL).

Some of the upcoming products for DCC has artwork that is easily referenced to the TSR originals.

Tenkar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ERIC! said...

Is it possible there was confusion on the part of WotC over the two Players Handbooks? Maybe a lawyer was contacted and before he could fully research the C&D was launched?


Bighara said...

I think it would be very hard to kill the OSR products at this point. I don't know that it was the FIRST OSR product (whatever THAT means), but it's been 5 years since OSRIC was released. Not to mention all the other stuff since then. If WOTC/Hasbro hasn't actively pursued "defending their IP" in the interim, then they kind of lose their legal edge. As I understand it, a lack of vigorous defense in these cases means you don't care and it's fair game. I'm not a lawyer, and I'm sure I am oversimplifying at the very least, but you get the drift.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Well so far everyone has been playing nice in the safe harbor of the OGC.

As long as everyone still does that then WotC is happy to let publishers continue.

James Maliszewski said...

Wait ... What was the title of the product that was removed? If it contained the words "Players Handbook" in it, then it's a violation of the OGL, as that title is reserved to WotC itself, along with Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual.

James said...

No. Neither the word Handbook, nor the words Hand Book in conjunction, appear in the text or on the cover. The C&D appears to have been directed against a stock art pack, the author has had up on RPGNOW for years, which contained original illustrations of the Beholder and Rust Monster. I don't know if those illustrations appeared in the OSRIC Player's Guide. In a deleted comment, Steve said he went ahead and pulled everything down, just to be on the safe side.

Bree Yark! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Matthew Stater said...

I think I know which stock art pack you're talking about. I bought it a month ago and though I didn't have any immediate plans to use it, I worried a little about using it.

Bree Yark! said...

Matt, I apologize for any convenience this may have caused you.

It was only regarding the two pictures "Rust" and "Eye." Presumably, this means they have seen the rest and do not have a problem with them.

I have attempted to upload a couple of replacement drawings and to contact those who have already purchased it, through RPGNow, but I have no way to know if I was successful.

If you have any problems or questions, please e-mail me (my e-mail can be found in the stock art license).

Anonymous said...

Does this art have the words "Beholder" or "Rust monster" associated with these illustration? A spherical creature with a single large central eye with ten smaller eyes on top of its head otherwise can be anything you want it to be. Other games have beholders and mind flayers by other names. Is WotC just bored because we aren't buying their stuff?