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Wizards scores partial victory in copyright lawsuit

October 19th, 2009: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Wizards scores partial victory in copyright lawsuit

So, you may recall how Wizards of the Coast had taken the seemingly extreme step of removing its PDF products from the internet, and then sued eight people for copyright infringement, back in April. Well, two of those defendants have settled, and agreed to pay Wizards damages totaling $225,000 (also copied below). Is that really how much WotC would’ve made selling electronic copies of D&D 4e? If so, can they really afford not to get the PDF products back up and running? I mean, it’s not like pirates can’t scan books to make their own PDF copies. The pulled products still look like an overreaction mandated from on high at Hasbro.

2 settle lawsuits over Dungeons & Dragons handbook

Two of eight people accused in lawsuits of illegally distributing Dungeons & Dragons handbooks over the Internet have settled, and the maker of the pioneering role-playing game is seeking a default judgment against a third.

By Tim Klass
Associated Press Writer

SEATTLE — Two of eight people accused in lawsuits of illegally distributing Dungeons & Dragons handbooks over the Internet have settled, and the maker of the pioneering role-playing game is seeking a default judgment against a third.

In one of three lawsuits brought by Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly on Friday accepted a settlement in which Thomas Patrick Nolan of Milton, Fla., agreed to a judgment against him of $125,000.

In a settlement accepted by Zilly in July in a second Wizards lawsuit, Arthur Le of San Jose, Calif., agreed to pay $100,000 to the Hasbro Inc. subsidiary.

Wizards has asked the judge to order that Le’s co-defendant, Mike Becker of Bartlesville, Okla., pay $30,000 in damages and $14,616.75 in legal fees and costs. Becker has not responded to the lawsuit and was found in default in July, court filings show.

Still pending are actions against Nolan’s co-defendant, Stefan Osmena of the Philippines, and, in the third case, Krysztof Radzikowski of Poland and three people whose identities remain unknown. A Wizards spokeswoman, Tolena Thorburn, has declined to give home towns or other personal or contact information for Osmena or Radzikowski.

All three copyright infringement lawsuits were filed on April 6 and concern “Player’s Handbook 2,” the newest handbook for Dungeons & Dragons, released on March 17 with a suggested retail price of $39.95 a copy. The handbook, which includes 242 pages of rules, and manuals sold online bear electronic watermarks that restrict use of copyright material to a specific buyer or user.

According to court filings, more than 2,600 copies of the handbook were downloaded from Scribd.com, and more than 4,200 copies were viewed online before the material was pulled from the document-sharing site at Wizards’ request.

Dungeons & Dragons, created in 1974 and described in the lawsuit as “the first role-playing game,” involves the use of pen, paper and dice to create imaginary characters of varying attributes and randomly determined levels of skill as players search for treasure and battle monsters in magical lands.

According to the lawsuits, about 20 million people worldwide are believed to have played the game, including 6 million at present.

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