TSR Internet copyright

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mort...@cats.ucsc.edu

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Jun 9, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/9/95
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As I recall, the copyright laws mean you can copyright text, but not ideas,
titles, or single words.
For example, TSR may not copyright the title Dungeon Master's Guide,
nor can they copyright the word "Strength." Nor the concept of Role-Playing
Games (which were around before TSR!)
So, the idea that "We thought of it, so we get to monopolize it" is BS.
Now, I don't have too much of a problem with TSR saying you can't post
entire text. But why CAN'T I discuss the particulars of a spell online?

Ex. Does anyone know what the duration and/or damage is for magic missile?

According to the new rules, (if I understand correctly), no one may legally
reply to this question, because it must include the particulars of the stats.

This is, frankly, stupid. It's not as if TSR isn't selling their books, and
it's not like people can always get a hold of these copyrighted materials (ex.
First edition books, past or out-of-print Dragon magazines). And let's not
pretend that you can check these materials out of the library (though that
would certainly be a worthy addition to libraries everywhere.)

So if I use the words "Duration 10" or "Strength 5" or "Saving 18" TSR can just
try to take my ass into court. After all, Duration, Strength, and Saving were
words long before TSR came around. So, by the way, were DUNGEONS and DRAGONS!

my (rather annoyed at TSR, and no cute nickname's gonna pacify me) 2 cents!

mortaine.

D
D
So, if I feel like using the word "Duration 10"

p...@nslsilus.org

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Jun 9, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/9/95
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In article <3r9uck$c...@darkstar.UCSC.EDU> mort...@cats.ucsc.edu () writes:
>As I recall, the copyright laws mean you can copyright text, but not ideas,
>titles, or single words.
>For example, TSR may not copyright the title Dungeon Master's Guide,
>nor can they copyright the word "Strength." Nor the concept of Role-Playing
>Games (which were around before TSR!)

*Technically* you are correct, but they *can* Trademark the title "Dungeon
Master's Guide" (and they have...) and thus prevent you from issuing a book
called "Dungeon Master's Guide" without paying them off first. It's the same
reason the Bulls couldn't hype the term "four-peat"--someone trademarked it.
:) And I won't comment on the "around before TSR" line, not so soon after it
was just hashed to death, anyway. :)

>So, the idea that "We thought of it, so we get to monopolize it" is BS.
>Now, I don't have too much of a problem with TSR saying you can't post
>entire text. But why CAN'T I discuss the particulars of a spell online?

>Ex. Does anyone know what the duration and/or damage is for magic missile?

>According to the new rules, (if I understand correctly), no one may legally
>reply to this question, because it must include the particulars of the stats.

Bzzzt. Wrong. (Actually, they can--you just post "YES" and leave it at that.
:) ) From my reading of copyright law, this would be considered something
of an "editorial" use, discussing the idea of the spell in question. But
creating a file which included all of the game stats for MM, copied straight
out of the PH, along with lots & lots of other copied spell descriptions is a
no-no. For a good example of blatant copyright infringement, see any posting
by Michaela Baginski, a.k.a. "Blackie". But discussing the spell and
correcting people who don't know the right info should be ok...but that let's
in the boogeyman of posting wholesale info people haven't seen; i.e. "I'm
wondering what the Cthulhu mythos was like..." "No prob...here it is, bud.
[followed by a scan of the original DDG]", which is infringement (actually,
its an infringement of an infringement, but that's another story).

>This is, frankly, stupid. It's not as if TSR isn't selling their books, and
>it's not like people can always get a hold of these copyrighted materials (ex.
>First edition books, past or out-of-print Dragon magazines). And let's not
>pretend that you can check these materials out of the library (though that
>would certainly be a worthy addition to libraries everywhere.)

Out-of-print does not mean the copyright has elapsed. There are a *lot* of
out-of-print books out there that still have a good number of years of
copyright left on them; you can't just go photocopying them willy-nilly. By
law, if you aren't doing educational research (or any of a list of other
things), you have to write to the copyright holder and ask for permission,
whether or not the item in question is in print. And if they say "no", you're
SOL. Them's the rules. If you don't like them, write your Congressman and
ask for a change in Title 17. Oh, and renegotiate the Berne Convention while
you're at it.

And as someone who has worked in a library for a few years, there are *many*
libraries which have the AD&D core books for checkout; many even have modules.
That is, until some shmuck decides to steal them and prevent everyone else
from enjoying them. My home library, at one point, had the DMG1, PH1, MM
(first cover designs), WSG, and 5-6 modules. (Then half
the stuff vanished; so the library decided it would be a poor risk to try to
get more to replace the missing stuff.) Another library in the area has
almost every Dragon Mag going back to 1988 or so, and spotty issues back to
around 1983. I've seen catalog holdings for local libraries for the 2nd ed.
stuff as well. It's called InterLibrary Loan. Ask your local reference
librarian to look into it for you. Or convince them that it's ok to for the
library to buy its own copies.

>So if I use the words "Duration 10" or "Strength 5" or "Saving 18" TSR can just
>try to take my ass into court. After all, Duration, Strength, and Saving were
>words long before TSR came around. So, by the way, were DUNGEONS and DRAGONS!

Wellll, TSR has decided to differentiate between your normal run-of-the-mill
discussion-oriented Usenet post, and an FTP-able file. Usenet is ok, as that
is a) discussion and b) fairly "ephemeral" in their eyes. FTP is ok, so long
as it is one of their official sites (AOL or MPGN). Otherwise, it can't
contain too many specifics, or else they'll decide it's copied from their
works. If it doesn't contain to omany copied specifics, then it can be put
*anywhere*! And the "TSR can just bite my @$$" arguement goes nowhere fast,
and jsut serves to make TSR keep on thinking that everyone out here is trying
to rip them off any which way we can, thus they feel justified in keeping a
hard line with their net.policies.

Oh, and TSRJim, to my knowledge, hasn't replied to the issue of whether or not
TSR will not pursue FTP-able files which contain complete D&D stats for
home-made creatures (like the Giant Chicken example) on non-TSR FTP sites. I
say they're ok, Rob Repp said they weren't. <shrug>

It's late, and I'm tired. If you want more on the topic, talk to Bryan.

Aardy R. DeVarque
Feudalism: Serf & Turf


Bryan Maloney

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Jun 10, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/10/95
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>by Michaela Baginski, a.k.a. "Blackie". But discussing the spell and
>correcting people who don't know the right info should be ok...but that let's
>in the boogeyman of posting wholesale info people haven't seen; i.e. "I'm
>wondering what the Cthulhu mythos was like..." "No prob...here it is, bud.
>[followed by a scan of the original DDG]", which is infringement (actually,
>its an infringement of an infringement, but that's another story).


As a manual on copyright once put it: It is okay to say that Illuvitar sang
the world into being in the Silmarillion but it is not okay to say "As Tolkein
once wrote:" and then quote a whole chapter of the Silmarillion. Let's put it
this way--would your English teacher from 12th grade have marked you down for
"plagiarism"? Not a legal yardstick, but a workable rule of thumb.


>>This is, frankly, stupid. It's not as if TSR isn't selling their books, and
>>it's not like people can always get a hold of these copyrighted materials (ex.
>>First edition books, past or out-of-print Dragon magazines). And let's not
>>pretend that you can check these materials out of the library (though that
>>would certainly be a worthy addition to libraries everywhere.)

>Out-of-print does not mean the copyright has elapsed. There are a *lot* of


True, true, and true again. Furthermore, "out of print", does not mean "out
of print forever". For example, and excellent early gaming supplement,
"Authentic Thaumaturgy", has been out of print for a decade or so, and quite
inaccessible. Suddenly, the original author has decided to revise it, and
Steve Jackson Games (I think--Bonewits said "Scot Jackson Games") is wanting
to publish the new edition. However, "in-print" status has nothing at all to
do with copyright protection.


To quote a US Government Circular regarding the basics of copyright:


The way in which copyright protection is secured under the present
law is frequently misunderstood. No publication or registration
or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure
copyright (see following NOTE). There are, however, certain
definite advantages to registration.

* * * *
NOTE: Before 1978, statutory copyright was generally secured by
the act of publication with notice of copyright, assuming
compliance with all other relevant statutory conditions. Works in
the public domain on January 1, 1978 ( for example, works published
without satisfying all conditions for securing statutory copyright
under the Copyright Act of 1909) remain in the public domain under
the current act.

Original can be found at:
gopher://marvel.loc.gov:70/00/copyright/circs/circ01


Thus, the idea of "in print" being a requirement for copyright protection in
the USA is actually a misunderstanding of a law that was superceded 17 years
ago. You do not even have to publish something for it to by copyrighted. As
soon as it is in a "fixed form", it is copyrighted. Now, if you want to have
stronger legal redress for infringement, you'll need to register the item, but
that's a different matter.


>ask for a change in Title 17. Oh, and renegotiate the Berne Convention while
>you're at it.


Actually, unless at least one of the copyright holders of the work is a
citizen of a full Berne Convention adherent nation, the Berne Convention
doesn't quite apply to US copyright. In fact, it's specifically excluded from
a couple points of US copyright law. We have agreed to "move towards" the
Berne Convention, but we're not there, and may never be.


>>So if I use the words "Duration 10" or "Strength 5" or "Saving 18" TSR can
just>>try to take my ass into court. After all, Duration, Strength, and
Saving were>>words long before TSR came around. So, by the way, were DUNGEONS
and DRAGONS!

Ah, but while "dungeons" and "dragons" were common words before TSR, "Dungeons
and Dragons" as the name of a PRODUCT that is SOLD was NOT! This is an
extremely important distinction. TSR can (and has) trademark "Dungeons and
Dragons" whenever it appears in a gaming context. Thus, you cannot legally
sell a gaming product called "Dungeons and Dragons" or probably even "Dunjuns
and Drachens" without TSR's permission.

However, as the Ford Motor Company vs. FASA to-do has demonstrated, Just
having a trademark doesn't mean that you can prevent anybody from using it in
another context. Ford put out the "Aerostar" van. FASA complained about
trademark infringement. Ford politely pointed out that FASA's trademark was
for a game played with little plastic toys, not for a real automobile driven
in the real world. Furthermore, Ford could simply squash FASA like a
soft-shelled cockroach.


>Oh, and TSRJim, to my knowledge, hasn't replied to the issue of whether or not
>TSR will not pursue FTP-able files which contain complete D&D stats for
>home-made creatures (like the Giant Chicken example) on non-TSR FTP sites. I
>say they're ok, Rob Repp said they weren't. <shrug>


I doubt that he will reply, simply because to say "no" could be seen as
"opening the floodgates" by the suits who run TSR (and regardless of what the
people are at TSRJIM's level of the hierarchy, the non-creative end of TSR is
run by a bunch of suits these days). Saying "yes" would be commenting on
potential legal action before the fact, and if you say that you will take
legal action and then don't you could potentially open yourself up to a
harassment suit.

Like always, I'm not a lawyer, but I've never been to the Moon, either.


Bryan Maloney

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Jun 10, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/10/95
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>*grin* Awwwww . . . cute nicknames are half the fun (I've been seeing
>one, Purple Kitty, around here somewhere - it's got good sound resonance
>and flow, and is visually interesting). TSRJim is particularly good, cuz
>it also lets people remember who and what he is, and why he's here, so
>they really know who they're gonna flame.

Not to mention the fact that TSRJim is not TSR's online rep. They're looking
for a new online representative right now, as a matter of fact.

Palatine Public Library

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Jun 10, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/10/95
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Bryan Maloney (bj...@cornell.edu) wrote:

: They're looking

: for a new online representative right now, as a matter of fact.

Now why am I not surprised to find this out? ;-)

Dru A Smith

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Jun 10, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/10/95
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In article <3rcrv0$g...@nsls1.nslsilus.org>,

Just FYI, a friend sent me this. It is TSR's official search
for an online rep.

Dru Smith
---------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 30 May 1995 14:43:29 -0400
From: "TSR, Inc." <TSR...@AOL.COM>
To: Multiple recipients of list ADND-L <ADN...@UTARLVM1.UTA.EDU>
Subject: Help Wanted

I realize that this is an ad, but I couldn't think of a more likely bunch of
people to be interested in it, so here it is. :)

Rob Repp
Manager, Digital Projects Group
TSR, Inc.



ONLINE COORDINATOR

TSR, Inc., the international leader in fantasy game, book, and magazine
publishing, has an immediate opening for a motivated, organized individual
with excellent communications and technical skills to assist in development
of content for commercial online services and the Internet. Qualified
applicants to be familiar with current online material. Ability to contribute
to development of imaginative new content. Preferred skills include: HTML
and/or RMPlus scripting; Adobe Photoshop; TCP/IP software tools; experience
using WWW, FTP and Usenet; and interactive multimedia development. Online
event planning, forum coordinator experience a plus.

Send resume and salary history to:

TSR, Inc.
201 Sheridan Springs Rd.
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
ATTN: Human Resources

or TSR...@AOL.COM

p...@nslsilus.org

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Jun 10, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/10/95
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In article <1995Jun10....@alpha.nsula.edu> nsbo...@alpha.nsula.edu (A little fish in a big pond) writes:

>mort...@cats.ucsc.edu () writes:
>> So, the idea that "We thought of it, so we get to monopolize it" is BS.
>> Now, I don't have too much of a problem with TSR saying you can't post
>> entire text. But why CAN'T I discuss the particulars of a spell online?
>>
>> Ex. Does anyone know what the duration and/or damage is for magic missile?

Ok. I think I responded to this eariler, but now I have Title 17 (aka
copyright law) in front of me...

Under "Fair Use" (S.108): "the fair use of a copyrighted work...for purposes
such as *criticism*, *comment*, news reporting, teaching (including mulitple
copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of
copyright." [emphasis mine]

Thus, you can discuss to your heart's content, and even quote straight from
TSR's stuff; so long as you include your criticism/comment/etc. along with it.

>The point isn't *talking* about the stats for stuff TSR invented, it's
>*publishing* about the stats for stuff TSR invented (or whoever). Someone
>flamed me a bit earlier, I think, over this misunderstanding (dunno who,
>but it was a really long post). There are several things on the Internet
>which are legally identical to publishing it on paper, internationally.

>Newsgroups and mailing lists, as far as I can tell, are considered to
>be conversation. FTP sites are international publishing, however.

At one point, Rob Repp said that Usenet was too "ephemeral" to be considered
an infringement. However, I have read in several books dealing with copyright
& the Interne, and see it posted in various places on Usenet, that for all
practical purposes Usenet *is* considered "publishing", (or at the very
least, "distribution", which is the key word in the copyright law anyways,
*not* "publication").

Gee... If Usenet is considered publishing, think what that'd do to Dragon's
submissions guidelines. ;-)

A little fish in a big pond

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Jun 10, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/10/95
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mort...@cats.ucsc.edu () writes:
> So, the idea that "We thought of it, so we get to monopolize it" is BS.
> Now, I don't have too much of a problem with TSR saying you can't post
> entire text. But why CAN'T I discuss the particulars of a spell online?
>
> Ex. Does anyone know what the duration and/or damage is for magic missile?
>
> According to the new rules, (if I understand correctly), no one may legally
> reply to this question, because it must include the particulars of the stats.

First of all: I am not representing TSR, so what I'm saying is just a
correlation of what I've seen, and what I know from my own attempts to
get a game published.

Second: Anyone can legally answer that question.

The point isn't *talking* about the stats for stuff TSR invented, it's
*publishing* about the stats for stuff TSR invented (or whoever). Someone
flamed me a bit earlier, I think, over this misunderstanding (dunno who,
but it was a really long post). There are several things on the Internet
which are legally identical to publishing it on paper, internationally.

Newsgroups and mailing lists, as far as I can tell, are considered to
be conversation. FTP sites are international publishing, however.

So in the process of conversing with you and my other associates on this
newsgroup, I can answer that question for you.

> my (rather annoyed at TSR, and no cute nickname's gonna pacify me) 2 cents!

*grin* Awwwww . . . cute nicknames are half the fun (I've been seeing


one, Purple Kitty, around here somewhere - it's got good sound resonance
and flow, and is visually interesting). TSRJim is particularly good, cuz
it also lets people remember who and what he is, and why he's here, so
they really know who they're gonna flame.

Not to say his nickname should pacify, you understand ;)

Thomas

TSRJIM

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Jun 11, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/11/95
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>>>
Not to mention the fact that TSRJim is not TSR's online rep. They're

looking
for a new online representative right now, as a matter of fact.
>>>

Absolutely, 100% correct. I am a net rep for TSR who represents the
Creative Services side of TSR (although others from CS are out here as
well, lurking behind cyber walls and such). If they extra marshmallows,
they'd join me in these discussions <grin>.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++++ Jim Butler, Editor/Designer +++++++++++++++
++++++++++++++++++++++++ TSR, Inc. ++++++++++++++++++++++++
=================== Email: TSR...@aol.com==================

Rache Bartmoss

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Jun 11, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/11/95
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mortaine # cats.ucsc.edu@242:4900/99.0 meinte am 09.06.95
zum Thema "Re:TSR Internet copyright":

mcue> Ex. Does anyone know what the duration and/or damage is for magic
mcue> missile?

Instant and 1D4+1 per Missile.

mcue> According to the new rules, (if I understand correctly), no one may
mcue> legally reply to this question, because it must include the particulars
mcue> of the stats.

See, even if the Legal World plays by TSR's 'rules', I did it. If they sue
me, every german Judge would laugh at them. A case like that is just too
friggin' minor. :-) Besides you STILL need the descriptions as you don't know
how many missiles a mage gets ;-) What damage does it do... all in all, one
cent (rounded up) ? Hah! <LAUGHING>

mcue> magazines). And let's not pretend that you can check these materials
mcue> out of the library (though that would certainly be a worthy addition to
mcue> libraries everywhere.)

Hey. One of our local libraries carries D&D. They want to add other games.
DSA, a German game on which the computer game Star Trail was based, Shadowrun
2nd, and, if I remember that correctly, AD&D 2nd Ed. One of them checked the
games out I have in my private "collection"... I don't know if they will
carry out these plans, however.

mcue> So if I use the words "Duration 10" or "Strength 5" or "Saving 18" TSR
mcue> can just try to take my ass into court. After all, Duration, Strength,
mcue> and Saving were words long before TSR came around. So, by the way, were
mcue> DUNGEONS and DRAGONS!

What the f**k. Thac0 Thac0 Thac0. See. It's Easy.
Besides, I have the german ed. of Players Handbook right in front of me
(still from looking up the MM stuff ;)

Only AD&D, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Products of Your Imagination, and the
TSR logo are registered trademarks of TSR. Nothing else in the whole Player's
Handbook. So, if the english Playerhandbook DOES have TM's for all the stuff,
use the German words... How about that? <BIG GRIN>

And even the AD&D / D&D trademarks are a bit softened up on the Usenet. Okay,
if you write an article for a 'zine or post your new ad&d adventure to
rec.games-frp-archive you'd put the trademark mention in there... But who on
r.g.f.dnd puts it at the end of their mails?! :-)


CYa.... Rache_B...@digital.fido.de

The Dark Abyss

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Jun 12, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/12/95
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Rache Bartmoss (Rache_B...@digital.fido.de) wrote:
: mortaine # cats.ucsc.edu@242:4900/99.0 meinte am 09.06.95

: zum Thema "Re:TSR Internet copyright":
: mcue> According to the new rules, (if I understand correctly), no one may

: mcue> legally reply to this question, because it must include the particulars
: mcue> of the stats.

: See, even if the Legal World plays by TSR's 'rules', I did it. If they sue
: me, every german Judge would laugh at them. A case like that is just too
: friggin' minor. :-) Besides you STILL need the descriptions as you don't know
: how many missiles a mage gets ;-) What damage does it do... all in all, one
: cent (rounded up) ? Hah! <LAUGHING>

Due to the nature of the internet it would be impossible to prove that it
was you who posted that article, since postings are not very secure. besides
instead of "strength" and "dex" we could things "strongth" and "duck".


Bryan Maloney

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Jun 12, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/12/95
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>: See, even if the Legal World plays by TSR's 'rules', I did it. If they sue
>: me, every german Judge would laugh at them. A case like that is just too
>: friggin' minor. :-) Besides you STILL need the descriptions as you don't know
>: how many missiles a mage gets ;-) What damage does it do... all in all, one
>: cent (rounded up) ? Hah! <LAUGHING>

>Due to the nature of the internet it would be impossible to prove that it
>was you who posted that article, since postings are not very secure. besides
>instead of "strength" and "dex" we could things "strongth" and "duck".

How about "Starkheit" and "Machsmittel"?


Bryan Maloney

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Jun 12, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/12/95
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>Absolutely, 100% correct. I am a net rep for TSR who represents the
>Creative Services side of TSR (although others from CS are out here as
>well, lurking behind cyber walls and such). If they extra marshmallows,
>they'd join me in these discussions <grin>.


This, of course, opens a new question, that of TSRJim as an avenue for
proposals to TSR, whether he wanted to be that or not.

I'm sure that some of you out there may be interested in such stuff,
so I'm going to make TSRJim's life easier by telling you the right way
to do it.


1: Do not, under any circumstances, email him a complete product. He
cannot look at it, and it may just screw him over if it turns out that
TSR was already in the very initial stages of a similar product.

2: Do not email him a "complete proposal" (defined below). Again, he
cannot look at it, and it may give him difficulties.

3: Do email him a "query letter", this he can look at, and this he can
legally and ethically follow up upon. It makes his life easier and
makes you look more like a pro.


Okay, so what is a "query letter"?

A Query letter is a letter that spells out an idea for a project in only
the vaguest terms. For example:


TO: Bigshot Avalon Hill Gaming Guys
From: The EGG of Coot

Dear sirs:

I have been working on a variant upon the classic model of the wargame that
I believe to be both innovative and entertaining. It concentrates upon the
play of individuals and their day-to-day conflicts in a heroic or mythic
setting. The working title of this game is "Dungeons and Dragons".

I believe that this product will fit well into an untapped market niche,
specifically that of the "fantasy" or "science-fiction" literature fan, who
may not be interested in strict military simulation but might be willing to
purchase a product that permitted them to enact and create their own
"adventures" similar to those in "fantasy" literature, _a_la_ J.R.R. Tolkien.

The sales of this sort of literature have been on the upswing in recent
years, and I think that my product would be able to capitalize upon this
potential market.

In addition, since it addresses the concept of conflict-gaming from an
original angle, it may open up an entirely new marketing niche altogether.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you for your time,
The EGG of Coot.

EGG of Coot
0000 Coot St., Apt. 0
Cootvile, WI, 00000


The appropriate response would be, if Avalon Hill has any brains, to send out a
release form and a response letter saying that they'd be interested in taking
a look.

Okay, so you get the release form. Look it over--the first thing you should
note is that it claims what you do is "work for hire". That is, even if you
originated the idea and wrote it all yourself, TSR will get the copyright
upon paying you. Don't bitch, you aren't important enough to demand copyright.
HOWEVER, if TSR tries to claim any further legal rights upon your work IN
ADDITION to that single product, this is excessive. Cross out any such lines
and initial them. No corporation has the right to demand that you sign away
rights to works you have not yet presented to them unless you are a regular
employee and have signed an intellectual property agreement.

TSR does have the right to insist that the specific product you are proposing
is "work for hire". Wait until you've written an Origins Award-winning game
and/or gotten the Hugo or Nebula in SF/Fantasy before you start to demand
copyright.

Now, don't worry about how much they'll pay you, it won't be shit, believe me.
You're not important enough to pay well, and the game industry is the worst
possible market of any fiction market. You're taking a shot at publicity, the
money is just gravy.

Okay, so you've got the release forms. You'll notice that they ask for a
"brief description" and give you a little space. Type "see enclosed proposal"
on that space. Write a real "complete proposal". What is that? A complete
outline (with estimated page counts) and two chapters. If you can't do an
outline and two chapters, you're not ready to write. Also, include a
proposed schedule for you to be able to complete the product upon TSR's
acceptance of your proposal. BE REALISTIC, NOT "IMPRESSIVE". Deadlines
that are made are better than early deadlines that are missed. If you're
feeling daring, try some sample ad copy or back-cover copy for the proposed
product. This is a great way to show that you understand the target
audience.

Mail the forms, typed, signed and dated, with your proposal. Check the
proposal for spelling errors and grammatical errors. TSR gets so damned
many proposals that they can afford to chuck most of them. Have the
proposal typed or laser-printed. Don't use a daisy wheel. Rule of thumb:
It should be able to go through a fifth-generation Xerox copy and still
be legible.


Now, why send a proposal and not the whole shebang? Two reasons:

1: If you can do a credible proposal, you have shown that you have a little
organizational skill.

2: A proposal is less work than a complete product, and TSR can then evaluate
your work with less effort from you. If they think it's crap, it won't
matter if it's from a proposal or the whole thing, likewise if they like
it.

If TSR turns you down, don't pitch a bitch--they're allowed to turn you down.
Every great author's dream house was built upon a foundation of rejection
slips.

If TSR turns you down and you see "your idea" three months later, they didn't
steal it. There is no way that anything can go from proposal to publication
in only three months. Believe me, I have encountered so damned many ideas that
I had, jotted down, told nobody about, and found on the shelves a few months
later. You are not a genius, nothing you think of is unique--somebody else
will think of it, too. If you were a genius, you wouldn't need to read this.

If TSR accepts your proposal, get it to them under deadline. With this "draft
final", include a letter letting them know that you would be happy to help with
any editorial or revisions they would like to do. Don't expect them to go for
it. The majority of amateur game designers are primadonnas who get all huffy
if their sacred words are meddled with. TSR knows this, and is leery of
giving amateurs too much authority. Also, like most game companies, TSR has
a production schedule that would make any other publishing company fire its
production managers and hire somebody with a grip on reality. Editorial is not
the evil part of TSR, the guys who set the production schedule are the evil
ones.

So, get your final draft in under deadline, and don't complain when TSR
changes it without consulting you. I'd wager that they don't even have
their production/editing apparatus completely networked, yet. Once that
happens, designers MIGHT get more input, but I doubt it.

So, when do you get paid? You don't for a while. You'll get paid AFTER TSR
gets into the black on your product, so you'd better make it damned good.
(This policy may have changed. TSR may have enough capital now to pay on
a more rapid schedule.)


Anyway, that is the basics of how to approach a gaming company with a product
idea. One more thing--expect to be rejected or not hear from them for six
months. Why? Look at their production schedule. They aren't exactly hurting
for stuff to put out at the moment.


p...@nslsilus.org

unread,
Jun 13, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/13/95
to
In article <bjm10.353...@cornell.edu> bj...@cornell.edu (Bryan Maloney) writes:
>> besides
>>instead of "strength" and "dex" we could things "strongth" and "duck".

>How about "Starkheit" and "Machsmittel"?

How is that different from the suggestion in TSR's policy statement to
"genericise" spell/monster/item/world/stat/etc. names?

Rache Bartmoss

unread,
Jun 14, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/14/95
to
guru # infernal.demon.co.uk@242:4900/99.0 meinte am 12.06.95

zum Thema "Re: TSR Internet copyright":

gidcu> Due to the nature of the internet it would be impossible to prove that
gidcu> it was you who posted that article, since postings are not very secure.

Yeah. A last ditch-out way for everyone.. But as I didn't commit any crime I
don't have to run. :)

gidcu> besides instead of "strength" and "dex" we could things "strongth" and
gidcu> "duck".

Hey, you can use "Strength" and "dexterity" as much as you like. Besides it
being very ridiculous if everyone would be forbidden to use those words,
about EVERY RPG uses them as stats.. ;-)

CYa.... Rache_B...@digital.fido.de

Bryan Maloney

unread,
Jun 15, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/15/95
to

>>> besides

>>>instead of "strength" and "dex" we could things "strongth" and "duck".

>>How about "Starkheit" and "Machsmittel"?

>How is that different from the suggestion in TSR's policy statement to
>"genericise" spell/monster/item/world/stat/etc. names?


It isn't, I was just making a play on words.

Rache Bartmoss

unread,
Jun 15, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/15/95
to
bjm10 # cornell.edu@242:4900/99.0 meinte am 12.06.95

zum Thema "Re: TSR Internet copyright":

bce> >besides instead of "strength" and "dex" we could things "strongth" and
bce> >"duck".
bce>
bce> How about "Starkheit" and "Machsmittel"?

Strength is "Staerke". Dexterity is translated as "Geschicklichkeit". A word
like "Machsmittel", I have never seen nor heard before ;-) Sorry! ;-)
But as there's a German translation of the AD&D rules and many supplements,
they own those German words, too. Of course! ;-) ;-)

CYa.... Rache_B...@digital.fido.de

mltu...@ualr.edu

unread,
Jun 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/19/95
to

I don't know a darn thing about German copyright or trademark law, but
I DO know that in the US you _cannot_ copyright single words or short
phrases. You can _trademark_ words, and T$R owns a trademark on the "word"
TSR and the phrase "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons". I don't believe that they
own trademarks on Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, etc. and it wouldn't matter
if they did. A trademark does _not_ prevent you from talking about
something that's been trademarked. It prevents you from selling a product
under that trademarked name. I don't think that you can even trademark a
common term such as "strength", or "dexterity". These are very common terms
in the english language and any trademark on them would probably be pretty
easy to challenge in court. So I wouldn't worry about T$R "owning" the
words "dexterity" and "strength".

TSR Inc

unread,
Jun 21, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/21/95
to
Actually, I just hired a new online coordinator. I remain the "online
rep." More and more TSR people will be out on the net in the future,
though. We're getting more wired all the time.

Rob Repp
Manager, Digital Projects Group
TSR, Inc.


Rob Repp | InterNet: tsr...@aol.com
Manager, Digital Projects Group | InterNet: mob...@mercury.mcs.com
TSR, Inc. | CIS: 76217,761 eWorld: TSR Inc
__________________________________ | GEnie: TSR.Online AOL: TSR Inc
All opinions are my own, not TSR's | 414-248-3625 Fax 414-248-0389

Rache Bartmoss

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Jun 21, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/21/95
to
mlturner # ualr.edu@242:4900/99.0 meinte am 19.06.95

zum Thema "Re: TSR Internet copyright":

mue> I don't know a darn thing about German copyright or trademark law, but

Uhm, didn't you see the little ;-) ;-) faces? :-)

By the way, I don't know a darn thing about German copyright law either, but
I think we're one of those countries supporting those Berne or whatever
conventions.

mue> I DO know that in the US you _cannot_ copyright single words or short
mue> phrases. You can _trademark_ words, and T$R owns a trademark on the
mue> "word" TSR and the phrase "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons". I don't
mue> believe that they own trademarks on Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, etc. and
mue> it wouldn't matter if they did.

Yeah.. I know. I've been following this discussion pretty closely, and even
though there wasn't really anything new for me, it was good to see the
arguments supported by quotes from US documents.
I was being sarcastic about it. I mean, if I was TSR I'd design a few rules
on Sex and then sue everybody who's doing it in real-life. An obvious
infringement of their material, right? <chuckle>

mue> These are very common terms in the english language and any trademark on
mue> them would probably be pretty easy to challenge in court. So I wouldn't
mue> worry about T$R "owning" the words "dexterity" and "strength".

Thanks for clearing it up, even though it wouldn't have been neceassary. I
know my English is far from perfect, but I don't think TSR would manage to
fool me on this one ! :-) Basically I find TSR's "policy" extremely amusing.

With that said, A Bartmoss is a monster of CG alignment. It has Thac0 15, 2
HD, AC of 4, and a Godlike INT. #A: 1, Dam 2D4. SA Sarcastic Remarks. SD
None. Saves as Mage 4th. MR none. It has 2 Lev-1 Mage spells memorized. XP
200. I'd post this in standard format but am too lazy to look it up.

CYa.... Rache_B...@digital.fido.de

Louis Kahn

unread,
Jun 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/22/95
to
TSR Inc (tsr...@aol.com) wrote:
: Actually, I just hired a new online coordinator. I remain the "online

: rep." More and more TSR people will be out on the net in the future,
: though. We're getting more wired all the time.

And trhis is somehow supposed t make us gamerz feel better or
something??? That's like saying "Guess what Big Brother will not have
thought control devices implanted in EVERY proles mind soon! All hail
Big Brother!"

This is just another signal that they (tsr) are prolly getting closer to
charging for access to mpg net or setting up theit own pay per use site
aso we can all have the pleasure of paying to d/l what we wrote. Their
policy sucks and their are lamerz! I dount this "new online rep" will be
any less of a corporate apologist than rrepp was.

*sigh*

louis

--
******************************************************************************
________ ___.-.___ -FIRE! sir...@best.com
\______|)\_______/ ---==* Sir...@aol.com
_||___//`-' ---==* bras...@spring.com
'-._____]( Louis_...@bmug.org
http://www.best.com/~sirlou
******************************************************************************

Veggie Boy

unread,
Jun 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/22/95
to
Louis Kahn (sir...@best.com) wrote:

: TSR Inc (tsr...@aol.com) wrote:
: : Actually, I just hired a new online coordinator. I remain the "online
: : rep." More and more TSR people will be out on the net in the future,
: : though. We're getting more wired all the time.

: This is just another signal that they (tsr) are prolly getting closer to

: charging for access to mpg net or setting up theit own pay per use site
: aso we can all have the pleasure of paying to d/l what we wrote. Their
: policy sucks and their are lamerz! I dount this "new online rep" will be
: any less of a corporate apologist than rrepp was.

Actually, this new online coordinator is going to manage the AOL forum,
internet stuff, and set up the MOHS/TSR online catalogs on the WWW, which
will free up Rob to work on other digital projects (he works on more than
just online stuff).
--
Sean K Reynolds a.k.a. Veggie Boy skr...@netcom.com skr...@aol.com
"You, you are so strange, why can't you be what you ought to be?"
- the Russian and Florence, CHESS


Veggie Boy

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Jun 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/24/95
to
Louis Kahn (sir...@best.com) wrote:
: Your point is? I cannot see that this person will be aby better at
: understanding hte needs and wants of the online gaming commuit7y that rob
: repp was. My point was that whoever it is they will kjust be tsr's
: messenger of doom.

The person they have hired for this position is a gamer and frequents
this newsgroup. He's quite aware of the wants and needs of the
net-frp-community, I'm sure.

--
Sean K Reynolds a.k.a. Veggie Boy skr...@netcom.com skr...@aol.com

"Vote Republican. Its easier than thinking."


Karl Mamer

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Jun 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/24/95
to

>if they did. A trademark does _not_ prevent you from talking about
>something that's been trademarked. It prevents you from selling a product
>under that trademarked name. I don't think that you can even trademark a
>common term such as "strength", or "dexterity". These are very common terms
>in the english language and any trademark on them would probably be pretty
>easy to challenge in court. So I wouldn't worry about T$R "owning" the

>words "dexterity" and "strength".

In Canada a beer company tried to trademark "gold" as referring to
its line of beer. The courts stated gold was far too generic of a term
to trademark and anyone could release a beer named gold.

Louis Kahn

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Jun 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/24/95
to
Veggie Boy (skr...@netcom.com) wrote:

: Actually, this new online coordinator is going to manage the AOL forum,


: internet stuff, and set up the MOHS/TSR online catalogs on the WWW, which
: will free up Rob to work on other digital projects (he works on more than
: just online stuff).

Your point is? I cannot see that this person will be aby better at
understanding hte needs and wants of the online gaming commuit7y that rob
repp was. My point was that whoever it is they will kjust be tsr's
messenger of doom.

louis

Ken Arromdee

unread,
Jun 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/25/95
to
In article <skreynDA...@netcom.com>, Veggie Boy <skr...@netcom.com> wrote:
>: Your point is? I cannot see that this person will be aby better at
>: understanding hte needs and wants of the online gaming commuit7y that rob
>: repp was. My point was that whoever it is they will kjust be tsr's
>: messenger of doom.
> The person they have hired for this position is a gamer and frequents
>this newsgroup. He's quite aware of the wants and needs of the
>net-frp-community, I'm sure.

It doesn't matter how "aware" someone is, if they're just a one-way mouth-
piece. They simply wouldn't be given the permission by TSR to respond in
any meaningful way to the things people point out.

If _any_ TSR employee sensibly replies to to the person who pointed out a few
articles ago that Polyhedron magazine, by TSR, uses game mechanics of other
systems in a way equivalent to the supposedly illegal use of hit points and
armor class, I will be _very_ surprised.

It doesn't matter how good their representative is--the problem comes from
TSR's claims, not from the representative's presentation. No TSR public rela-
tions person may disagree with TSR, so if TSR's legal department insists on
baseless things, their net representative will automatically have to follow
along. The best he could say is either "I'm not permitted to answer that" or
"Our legal department disagrees with you and no, they haven't told me why".
--
Ken Arromdee (email: arro...@jyusenkyou.cs.jhu.edu)

Romana: "But he had such an honest face!"
Doctor: "Romana! You can't be a successful thief with a _dis_honest face!"

jmcguire

unread,
Jun 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/25/95
to
Well, the *major* thing that gamers invented, and T$R trademarked, is the
terms "Dungeonmaster" and "DM".

--jmm

Travis S Casey

unread,
Jun 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/26/95
to
Avatar wrote:
>Karl Mamer (kam...@interlog.com) wrote:
>
>: In Canada a beer company tried to trademark "gold" as referring to

>: its line of beer. The courts stated gold was far too generic of a term
>: to trademark and anyone could release a beer named gold.
>
>Ahhhhh, but don't forget that TSR did list the term 'nazi' with a
>Trademark in their Indiana Jones game.....:)

Nope, sorry. The trademark referred to the specific image of
the particular Nazi on that chit, and it was Lucasfilm that had
the trademark on it, not TSR.
--
|\ _,,,---,,_ Travis S. Casey <ca...@cs.fsu.edu>
ZZzz /,`.-'`' -. ;-;;,_ FAQ maintainer for rec.games.design
|,4- ) )-,_..;\ ( `'-' confirmed cat person
'---''(_/--' `-'\_) No one agrees with me. Not even me.

Larry Smith USG

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Jun 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/26/95
to

In article <3sklr0$3...@jyusenkyou.cs.jhu.edu>, arro...@jyusenkyou.cs.jhu.edu (Ken Arromdee) writes:

>It doesn't matter how good their representative is--the problem comes from
>TSR's claims, not from the representative's presentation.

And Heaven knows their rep's presentation could've used some work. TSRjim
is better, but that's damning with faint praise. But Ken is right, it's the
policy, not the rep. Henry Kissinger couldn't put a good odor on that stuff.
--
Larry Smith --- My opinions only. lar...@zk3.dec.com/lar...@io.com.
Liberalism...[for] half a century...has been tested to destruction [and] failed
everywhere, overwhelmingly and manifestly - except in...the minds of its advoc-
ates. For them, liberalism is a religion... -- Paul Johnson, WSJ 4-Jan-94

Avatar

unread,
Jun 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/26/95
to
Karl Mamer (kam...@interlog.com) wrote:

: >if they did. A trademark does _not_ prevent you from talking about


: >something that's been trademarked. It prevents you from selling a product
: >under that trademarked name. I don't think that you can even trademark a
: >common term such as "strength", or "dexterity". These are very common terms
: >in the english language and any trademark on them would probably be pretty
: >easy to challenge in court. So I wouldn't worry about T$R "owning" the
: >words "dexterity" and "strength".

: In Canada a beer company tried to trademark "gold" as referring to


: its line of beer. The courts stated gold was far too generic of a term
: to trademark and anyone could release a beer named gold.

Ahhhhh, but don't forget that TSR did list the term 'nazi' with a
Trademark in their Indiana Jones game.....:)

Avatar


The Amorphous Mass

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Jun 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/26/95
to
On Sat, 24 Jun 1995, Veggie Boy wrote:

> Louis Kahn (sir...@best.com) wrote:
> : Your point is? I cannot see that this person will be aby better at
> : understanding hte needs and wants of the online gaming commuit7y that rob
> : repp was. My point was that whoever it is they will kjust be tsr's
> : messenger of doom.
>
> The person they have hired for this position is a gamer and frequents
> this newsgroup. He's quite aware of the wants and needs of the
> net-frp-community, I'm sure.
>

Let me guess: it's you.

Or maybe Jeff Kesselman? :)

___________
Bushido, n.: the ancient art of keeping your | James Robinson
cool when a US President ralphs in your lap. | james-f-...@uiowa.edu


Larry Smith USG

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Jun 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/27/95
to

In article <3smfpc$k...@netaxs.com>, ava...@netaxs.com (Avatar) writes:

>Ahhhhh, but don't forget that TSR did list the term 'nazi' with a
>Trademark in their Indiana Jones game.....:)

Tut, tut. A (TM) does not an (R) make. You can (TM) whatever
you jolly well please but it isn't reserved unless it is registered.
Furthermore, that incident refered to a Cardboard Hero-like figure,
and while the _legend_ was "Nazi" the (TM) in that context must be
presumed to refer to the whole illustration. Still silly, but not
as silly as just trademarking "Nazi".

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