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View Full Version : My character sheets are underattack



Sombrenote
2008-04-05, 12:20 PM
Do you remember me? I am Mr. "Character Sheets - color coded - all class compatible"

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?p=13168491#post13168491

Tens of thousands of you have downloaded my Character sheets. Whether it be from my torrents, or from my account on Scribd.

I had spent months designing and working on my sheets. They were created completely from scratch, and designed by me from the ground up, to be FREE to everyone who wants to play this game.

Now someone has gotten in their head that they want to steal what is mine, and force me and everyone else who would like to use my sheets to pay for them. For MY WORK, the work I spent for you all who wanted to smartly designed sheet.

I know nothing about copywrite laws, I just know that to find open licensed stuff on the internet and steal it is wrong. And that there is nothing wrong with custom character sheets, because it is allowed by the open licensing agreement for WoTC D&D rpg.

I need your guys help. I want as many places as possible to host my character sheet, for all of you to which can never been taken down by greedy American corporation.

D&D v3.5 - Character Sheet - All Class Compatible v2 - Fillable - BETA2.pdf
http://www.mediafire.com/?z26tjd0t2gg

D&D v3.5 - Character Sheet - All Class Compatible v2.pdf
http://www.mediafire.com/?m1jerz3gypp

D&D v3.5 - Spell sheet.pdf
http://www.mediafire.com/?1nm15xenbad

Drascin
2008-04-05, 12:59 PM
Say what? I fail to understand how someone can force you to pay for work you published under a free content license, but then, I guess in today's legal system you can do pretty much anything if you throw enough lawyers at it.

However, I'd like to note you'll have a much greater reaction if you post this at Gaming, instead of Media. Or if a mod would be so kind to give it a little kick down the fora table?

bosssmiley
2008-04-05, 06:30 PM
You might want to try releasing your sheets (which are very good btw - kudos to you) under the terms of Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/). I'm not sure myself how they would apply to works derivative of existing copyrighted material, but I'm sure a few minutes reading will give you some useful pointers.

Best of luck.

valadil
2008-04-05, 07:15 PM
I had something similar happen once. A halflife mod I created was being sold on eBay. The seller stated that the mod was free, he was just selling burnt copies for people who didn't have highspeed internet (this was around 2000, so there were plenty of people on a modem, myself included). I asked him to stop and he did.

I backed up your files here: http://files.thuranni.net/charsheets/

Rutee
2008-04-05, 08:12 PM
Say what? I fail to understand how someone can force you to pay for work you published under a free content license, but then, I guess in today's legal system you can do pretty much anything if you throw enough lawyers at it.

I don't think I'm going to do an 'amateur' (Moreso then a real lawyer, far less so then almost anyone else on this forum) analysis right now, but if I recall correctly, only Wizards is permitted to loot your work under the OGL, not /anyone/.

Edit: Oh screw you curiosity. Checking now, editting in a more proper analysis.

Nerd-o-rama
2008-04-05, 08:14 PM
Who exactly is trying to sell this content? Are they trying to charge you and keep you from freely distributing it, or are they just selling it to schmucks who don't know it's free? I'd need more details before I could give even bad advice.

Sombrenote
2008-04-06, 02:41 AM
From what I can tell is wizards had chosen to remove it.

http://www.scribd.com/word/removal/4521

I was not told out right who had this copy write, so I was worried someone had Copyrighted an aspect of the sheet like "color coding" which is unique to my sheets. I am a novice.

So this is not the case. Even though this document is made within the confines of the open gaming license, wizards has told scribd that my sheets are all copy write infringement. They therefore removed all traces of my sheet, so not even I can access them (though i have back up). I had over 200,000 hits for my sheets, and I am sure that is not a nothing sum for scribd advertisement. But the problem is it was an established venue, and now my top google hit is going.

THERE ARE D&D BOOKS, complete on their site. Just type in D&D and you will get complete books. It just makes me so frustrated, that they choose to attack my character sheets (that have never been sold), to be subject to this attack.

Sombrenote
2008-04-06, 02:45 AM
I updated the link, so you can see the last stages of development I was receiving ON the wizards forum. For more then a year someone could have told me there was a problem.

But I have never seen a custom character sheet be treated with a cease and desist.

pingcode20
2008-04-06, 03:00 AM
Not any more, apparently. I think your sheet just got taken out as collateral damage in a copyright infringement purge.

They just went "Look, there's tonnes of pirated Wizards stuff on your site, get rid of it or we'll have to take you to court", so Scribd purged the lot.

kpenguin
2008-04-06, 05:07 AM
THERE ARE D&D BOOKS, complete on their site. Just type in D&D and you will get complete books. It just makes me so frustrated, that they choose to attack my character sheets (that have never been sold), to be subject to this attack.

Actually, searching for "D&D" on scribd comes up with nothing. "DnD", however...

Drascin
2008-04-06, 05:26 AM
I see... so the main thing was that you were, basically, collateral damage. They started deleting every DnD material in there left and right (and with good reason, if there were actual complete books in there), and your sheets got caught in the crossfire? Well, that sucks, but makes sense. As I see it, you have two options - try to contact Wizards with one of your backups to show them it's well under OGL and pray they agree (or even bother reading your message because, y'know, huge soulless company), or finding another server and endure all the inconveniences that entails.

Nerd-o-rama
2008-04-06, 10:48 AM
Yeah, if that's the case, contact Wizards and Scribd and explain that you feel your sheets were targeted in error, including a very thorough list of every aspect and why they are OGL-compliant.

RS14
2008-04-06, 12:30 PM
The header - "Dungeons and Dragons..." is almost certainly a trademark violation.

Sombrenote
2008-04-06, 12:40 PM
Thank you for your comments, they are very helpful.


"Dungeons and Dragons..." - i considered that, but then again everyone seems to have that on their sheets. I think of i would have used names from their trade mark stuff like "Githyanki" then there world be a problem.

I did a google of the person that tool my stuff off "copyright agent C. Reynolds o/b/o Wizards of the Coast, Inc."

I can not find a way to get in touch with them. I would like to plead my case. Hell I do not see why my sheets could not be hosted on the wizard site themselves. It does nothing but promote the game.

Anyone have an idea how of how I can get the word out?

Sombrenote
2008-04-06, 12:47 PM
http://www.scribd.com/copyright

How would I fulfill all this stuff. It is like I have no way to fight back. Someone could step on my all they want, and if I do not have a lawyer that I am paying a ton for, I can not protect myself.

###############
Dear sombrenote,

We have removed your document "D&D v3 5 - Spell sheet" as a result of a third-party notification that it holds the copyright and has not given permission for it to appear on Scribd.com.

If you believe the takedown is improper, you are welcome to contact us at copyright@scribd.com and provide us with the information described at http://www.scribd.com/copyright

As stated in our terms of use, repeated incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your Scribd.com account and prohibit you from uploading material to Scribd.com in the future. To prevent us from having to take these steps, please delete from scribd.com any material you have uploaded to which you do not own the necessary rights and refrain from uploading any material you are not entitled to upload. For more information about Scribd.com's copyright policy, please read the Terms of Use located at http://www.scribd.com/terms

Jason Bentley
Directory of Community Development
jason@scribd.com
################################

I was planing on following directions, but reading what it asks of me I do not even know what it wants.. Without completely co-operation with WoTC I can not get this reversed, and doesn't that defeat the point?

RS14
2008-04-06, 01:00 PM
3. A statement under penalty of perjury that the subscriber has a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.


a statement that the subscriber consents to the jurisdiction of Federal District Court for the judicial district in which the address is located, or if the subscriber’s address is outside of the United States, for any judicial district in which Scribd may be found, and that the subscriber will accept service of process from the person who provided notification under subsection (c)(1)(C) or an agent of such person.


Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.
Emphasis added.

I cannot in good conscience advise you to challenge WotC's claim without a lawyer. The risks are significant, particularly as they are not telling you in what way it violates their copyright. It may be that they believe it to be a derivative work of their character sheets.
You might try emailing corporateinfo@wizards.com and asking only for their reason for having the document removed, or to be forwarded to their legal department. It would be prudent to avoid asserting any claim to the copyright at this point.

GoodbyeSoberDay
2008-04-06, 06:44 PM
Not any more, apparently. I think your sheet just got taken out as collateral damage in a copyright infringement purge.

They just went "Look, there's tonnes of pirated Wizards stuff on your site, get rid of it or we'll have to take you to court", so Scribd purged the lot.But this is not the case. As the OP said, entire books are still on scribd. I'm guessing the problem arose when someone was actually trying to sell the stuff. Unfortunate that it happened to the OP, but this sort of stuff happens.

RS14
2008-04-06, 07:27 PM
But this is not the case. As the OP said, entire books are still on scribd. I'm guessing the problem arose when someone was actually trying to sell the stuff. Unfortunate that it happened to the OP, but this sort of stuff happens.

Alternatively, this is really a trademark issue. It is possible that WotC wants there to be limited piracy of their books - it's possible that they actually sell more books by letting piracy continue. That doesn't legalize it of course; they can still sue at any time. But it may explain why the books are still available.
If this is a trademark issue though, they would be more likely to take action. They cannot take such a lax position with trademarks. If they do not enforce their trademarks, they risk losing them.

Of course, I would expect Scribd to say it was a trademark issue in that case, so the above may be completely wrong.

Douglas
2008-04-06, 08:09 PM
You could try asking WotC customer service (http://wizards.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wizards.cfg/php/enduser/acct_login.php?p_sid=&p_lva=&p_sp=&p_li=&p_next_page=ask.php) about it. They should at least be able to tell you who to contact and how.

I'm not sure exactly how the Open Game License applies to custom character sheets, but I'm pretty sure you could build a strong case for fair use out of this regardless. Don't push it unless you're willing to spend lots of money on this or can find a lawyer willing to do the case pro bono, though. You can try talking it out with WotC customer service and whoever they tell you to talk to, but if you can't get an official approval your only other options are probably to take it to court, ignore WotC's decision and hope they don't take you to court, or just drop it.

I don't see how it could be a trademark issue. For there to be any risk of trademark loss, the trademark must be being used for something other than it is supposed to be. For example, using "coke" to mean any cola drink rather than Coca-Cola, "aspirin" as a generic term for over-the-counter painkillers, or "Xerox" as a verb for using a copying machine rather than a particular brand of such machines. In this case, "Dungeons and Dragons" is clearly referring to the actual game of that name, which is a completely legitimate use.

sikyon
2008-04-06, 08:41 PM
I had something similar happen once. A halflife mod I created was being sold on eBay. The seller stated that the mod was free, he was just selling burnt copies for people who didn't have highspeed internet (this was around 2000, so there were plenty of people on a modem, myself included). I asked him to stop and he did.[/url]

Honestly, if the price was around 2 bucks + S/H and he told people that the mod was free then I think that you made a mistake. Lots of people didn't have high speed back then, and even now while it's a safe bet by no means does everyone have access to it. It seems like he was really trying to honour your mod and spread it to people without access. Of course, your work your rules, but I would have been flattered and thanked him. To me, what you did seemed rather... well, against the whole point of releasing something free.

Lord Tataraus
2008-04-08, 10:38 AM
http://www.scribd.com/copyright

How would I fulfill all this stuff. It is like I have no way to fight back. Someone could step on my all they want, and if I do not have a lawyer that I am paying a ton for, I can not protect myself.
Not true at all:
How to Secure a Copyright

Copyright Secured Automatically upon Creation

The way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently misunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. (See following note http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#note.) There are, however, certain definite advantages to registration. See “Copyright Registration http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#cr.”

*_Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created_*, and a work is “created” when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. “Copies” are material objects from which a work can be read or visually perceived either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, such as books, manuscripts, sheet music, film, videotape, or microfilm. “Phonorecords” are material objects embodying fixations of sounds (excluding, by statutory definition, motion picture soundtracks), such as cassette tapes, CDs, or LPs. Thus, for example, a song (the “work”) can be fixed in sheet music (“copies”) or in phonograph disks (“phonorecords”), or both. If a work is prepared over a period of time, the part of the work that is fixed on a particular date constitutes the created work as of that date.

Copyright protection is available for all unpublished works, regardless of the nationality or domicile of the author.

Published works are eligible for copyright protection in the United States if any one of the following conditions is met:

On the date of first publication, one or more of the authors is a national or domiciliary of the United States,...


Notice of Copyright

The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law, although it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older works.

Notice was required under the 1976 Copyright Act. This requirement was eliminated when the United States adhered to the Berne Convention, effective March 1, 1989. Although works published without notice before that date could have entered the public domain in the United States, the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) restores copyright in certain foreign works originally published without notice. For further information about copyright amendments in the URAA, request Circular 38b http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ38b.pdf.

The Copyright Office does not take a position on whether copies of works first published with notice before March 1, 1989, which are distributed on or after March 1, 1989, must bear the copyright notice.

Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant’s interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in section 504(c)(2) http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#504 of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected.

The use of the copyright notice is the responsibility of the copyright owner and does not require advance permission from, or registration with, the Copyright Office.

Short version:
You hold the copyright upon creation whether you put a notification on it or not. However, your sheet is very close to Wizard's sheets and so it is up to the courts to decide if you have made an "innocent infringement", you will want to make sure that you state you assumed that a) the character sheet owned by wizard's is protected under an open license and so you can modify and redistribute as long as you don't ask for money and b) that you assumed your modifications were significant enough to merit a separate copyright. The worst they can do is say it was an innocent infringement and keep the status-quo.


I was planing on following directions, but reading what it asks of me I do not even know what it wants.. Without completely co-operation with WoTC I can not get this reversed, and doesn't that defeat the point?

From 17 U.S.C. Section 512 (http://www.bitlaw.com/source/17usc/512.html)
The relevant paragraph (3) under subsection (g)

(3)
Contents of counter notification. To be effective under this subsection, a counter notification must be a written communication provided to the service provider's designated agent that includes substantially the following:

(A)
A physical or electronic signature of the subscriber.
(B)
Identification of the material that has been removed or to which access has been disabled and the location at which the material appeared before it was removed or access to it was disabled.
(C)
A statement under penalty of perjury that the subscriber has a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.
(D)
The subscriber's name, address, and telephone number, and a statement that the subscriber consents to the jurisdiction of Federal District Court for the judicial district in which the address is located, or if the subscriber's address is outside of the United States, for any judicial district in which the service provider may be found, and that the subscriber will accept service of process from the person who provided notification under subsection (c)(1)(C) or an agent of such person.

(All the above courtesy of Rosemary Pike Patent Agent, Saile Ackerman LLC (http://www.saileackerman.com/) - she is just a personal friend who knew this stuff, but will unlikely be able to help further)

I don't know if you want to go through all that, especially with WotC, but if you can hold your own at court, you might be able to assert your copyright without a lawyer. Good luck on whatever you choose to do.