First an introduction to what i am doing! I am creating a tool for players and DMs of D&D. The reason i've been trying to understand the copyright law in regards to this issue is that upon using any information from the books created by WotC you'd violate their copyright. Luckily, WotC has a "Open Gaming License" that you can use, to have much of the rules, items and monsters in your book, program, etc. for free (Link to the link of the SRD-OGL: http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/systems-reference-document-srd)

My issue is that WotC has intentionally left out some of the unique monsters that they themselves has created over the years. Which in itself is fine, but i have no idea if i would violate their copyright for these unique monsters if i were to create a module in my program where the enduser would be able to build a custom monster from a blank template (name: input here, armor class: input here etc. - you can look at an example on, say, page 279 with the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Here name would be Tyrannosaurus Rex and Armor class would be 13 (natural armor))

If the enduser were to create a totally custom, madeup creature i'd imagine that tool would be fine, but i can also see the scenario where a enduser could copy letter for letter the information of a copyrighted monster into my custom monster template and essentially adding a copyright-violating item into the program.

So. I guess in essence what i am asking is: By making a tool in my program that can enable the user to create their own monsters, will i then be in trouble because i've also, if the user is malicious, by extension enabled the user to violate the copyright of WotC?

I am from Denmark if that makes any difference, which i'd guess it doesn't. I have no real legal experience which is why i thought it'd be a good place to ask such a question. Thanks for your time!

  • You might want to find a different example, as the concept of "Tyrannosaurus Rex" as a creature predates Wizards of the Coast, and for that matter TSR. – David Thornley Jan 7 '19 at 16:50
  • Is this just a tool, or are you also creating a platform, e.g. where users can post their own created content (and that content might violate someone's copyrights)? – Brandin Jan 10 '19 at 6:30

Generally, no, this will not violate copyright. Your end user might violate copyright, but that is their problem not yours. Your program is a tool, just like a word processor is. If I copy a Harry Potter book into a word processor that does not make the word processor maker liable.

There is a concept of "contributory infringement", which I think is what you are concerned about. I don't know about Danish law in particular, but most countries would require evidence that you had reasonable knowledge that actual copyright violation was occuring, rather than just being aware that it might happen in theory. This is normally applied to file sharing services who have to have "notice and takedown" measures, file filters and the like. This isn't your concern as you never have any access to the files created by your users.

You can also be found liable if you induce anyone to commit copyright violations. Don't draw your customers attention to the custom monster feature as a workaround for those copyrighted monsters, as that could be considered to be inducement. Also don't provide any "wizards" or similar tools which make it noticeably easier to duplicate the custom monsters (e.g. if you notice that the copyrighted custom dragon stats are all on a linear scale with dragon size, don't create a "dragon creation wizard" embodying that fact.)

This assumes that your program runs entirely on the end user computer. Its different if you provide any kind of cloud storage for generated characters.

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