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Rhialto

Possible Legal Issues with Purple Wizards of Thei?

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Firstly, I am not a lawyer, nor qualified to give legal advice. But I have read much about legal matters.

Dungeons and Dragons includes in its Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting an organization of evil magic users called the Red Wizards of Thay.

Academagia, as it has currently developed, has an organization of evil magic users called the Purple Wizards of Thei.

There is the possibility that the owners of the intellectual property associated with Dungeons and Dragons might take legal action against Black Chicken Studios for using the term Purple Wizards of Thei, arguing that it is too similar in name and concept to the Red Wizards of Thay.

@Schwarzbart's writings on this issue would in this context be alarming, since they reveal that he originally named them the Red Wizards of Thei, strongly suggesting that he was inspired by the Red Wizards of Thay.

As a way to avoid this type of legal risk, maybe Black Chicken Studios should rename the organization of evil magic users from Thei to be less similar to Dungeons and Dragons's organization of evil magic users from Thay. As a suggestion, maybe they could be called the Purple Sorcerers of Thei, or perhaps the Purple Mages of Thei.

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Rhialto;

The organization is very definitely different, now that the Team has had their say. Although Schwarzbart's intentions may have been to a parallel or similar organization, the Team has certainly adapted it and made it their own. ;)

We're not concerned, but thank you!

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Will this change include a change to the organization's name? because the name is the issue that most concerns me.

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No there wont be a change of the school name as it is already a player background in year 1 and yes there is already a Barony of Thei in the map we have for years! Also the writing it just leaned on the Red Wizard of Thay but the structure, background and even teaching is quite different.  So in short its more in direction of a parody then a copy of the decades old writings of TSR (we talk about something that was written around 30 years ago).

Sure if Wizard of the Coast who current hold the rights to D&D start to act like Apple who sue even companies who name something pear just because it similar to apple then there might be a problem but then you soon will have problems with all kind of writing.

Edit: Beside TSR copied many things nearly 1 to 1 from other writings of fiction into their books.

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I fondly remember what some copyright activists have been saying for a while now. "Disney will extend copyright to infinity if they can because they do not want people to do to Disney, that which Disney has done to the brothers Grimm."

When Copyright was still being established, it was designed to protect the originator for a much, much smaller period of time than today. I think somewhere around 20 years or so. I think that's a pretty fair time, but sadly throughout the 20th century and on to today it's continually being extended to ridiculous levels, to allow not just the original creators, but the companies and families to control their works with an iron fist for ridiculous periods of time. People should be allowed to freely copy and use ideas once they've hit an expiration point. I still think that 20-30 years is more than enough time to start putting things into the public domain.

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To put it more blunt most books, films and other mass produced creative work hardly sell after 5 year any more and it's not unusual that you can no longer buy them after this time.

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It's a different name, you could see it as a homage to other great fantasy settings, but with a twist of it's own. It's not the same name, they wont be all the same and it's only inspired by. Being inspired by something isn't illegal, people draw inspiration from everywhere in the real world and literature all the time. That's also what entertainment and books are supposed to do, entertain and inspire people.

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11 hours ago, Jazerus said:

More pertinently, parody is a legally protected use in the US.

Good thing for that. There wouldn't be much done otherwise.

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On 6/3/2017 at 4:05 AM, freespace2dotcom said:

I fondly remember what some copyright activists have been saying for a while now. "Disney will extend copyright to infinity if they can because they do not want people to do to Disney, that which Disney has done to the brothers Grimm."

When Copyright was still being established, it was designed to protect the originator for a much, much smaller period of time than today. I think somewhere around 20 years or so. I think that's a pretty fair time, but sadly throughout the 20th century and on to today it's continually being extended to ridiculous levels, to allow not just the original creators, but the companies and families to control their works with an iron fist for ridiculous periods of time. People should be allowed to freely copy and use ideas once they've hit an expiration point. I still think that 20-30 years is more than enough time to start putting things into the public domain.

Putting a setting in Public Domain would ruin the setting.  Think of how many low budget crappy movies or books would come out if the setting was not protected for more than 30 years.  Star Wars.  Star Trek.  Terminator.  Alien.  Every superhero ever.  Heck, even Harry Potter turns 20 this year.  Personally, while I don't always agree with the direction they go, having one entity in control does keep the line from degrading, generally speaking.

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11 hours ago, edgookin said:

Putting a setting in Public Domain would ruin the setting.  Think of how many low budget crappy movies or books would come out if the setting was not protected for more than 30 years.  Star Wars.  Star Trek.  Terminator.  Alien.  Every superhero ever.  Heck, even Harry Potter turns 20 this year.  Personally, while I don't always agree with the direction they go, having one entity in control does keep the line from degrading, generally speaking.

Up to a point. Look at Sherlock Holmes. Believe it or not, but the first stories about him were written in the 1870's, If I recall correctly. Yet the estate guarding the intellectual property once tried to claim that since they were putting out a new story every now and again the character was 'constantly evolving' and thus the copyright over him should be upheld. Thankfully that was thrown out.

In any case, derivative works by others can indeed be great, if not superior to the source material. Think about Arsene Lupin, who occasionally had bouts with Sherlock (against copyright even! For shame...!)

Disney is one of the greater examples of taking stuff in the public domain and then making it theirs to great success. Even to the point that in the public mind when one thinks of some famous fairy tales the Disney version often comes to mind. I am not anti-copyright, but I am firm in the belief that 30 years is more than enough time for an original work to be protected, and that any longer than that, you start to do more damage than good.

According to US law, in 2019, things will finally start falling in the public domain again, after an extremely long extension in the late 90s. This means that stuff made nearly a century ago in 1921 will (hopefully) finally fall in the public domain. How many silent films from that era are profitable? How many books made by HG wells are commonly read outside of the fandom? Hell, there is material from the 1980s that is nearly abandoned, and if a derivative work made by someone else isn't any good, people won't care about it anyway and it will fall by the wayside.

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Lets put it from a other perspective someone who craft a piece of art get a one time payment, many times not even bigger then the used resources, for the art that (s)he crafted and that is it. And now why should other arts have the right to earn money for 30 year after the creation or even depending on the country 50 years after the death of the artist from other people who want to make something similar? This get even worse when as it is today the actual person who came up with the new piece of music, literature or movie not earn from the sales anything and instead a company take all the money.(In the last 2 months I heard the story of a band that filled stadium with 50k paid watcher but the very next day their singer had to go to the social security office because he not even got enough from this to live for a week at low cost). Also how many times is the "new" work just a slight variation of a older work but still get the full copyright force on their side? (look up what Warner Bros did with the Happy Birthday song) 

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I don't think a copyright was ever meant to be owned by a corporation, Which is part of the problem. A long time ago, Corporations did not have the rights of a person.

Copyrights as used today don't really protect the most creative of folks, it protects entities which accumulate intellectual property as a source of free income. I forget the details, but I remember that the "intellectual property" of some Beatles songs have repeatedly changed hands over the decades. I think one of the last folks to have them was Michael Jackson. As if he had anything to do with those songs. If copyright was limited to the actual creative people involved in the work, and couldn't be extended past their lives, I would have a lot less of a problem with copyright lasting 50 years or so. But honestly, that will never happen. Even reducing the copyright time is unlikely at best. I expect next year Disney and all the corporate conglomerates to lobby congress for yet another 20 year extension, and in all likelyhood they'll get it.

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To preface, I do not have legal experience, so I'm not sure if this is actually a problem or not, but because people are talking about legal matters of intellectual property, there's something I think I might mention as well. There might be some questionable dialogue in the "Carnage on the Fields" adventure.  

It was just a small thing really, but the ogre in "Carnage on the Fields" says "Loktar" and "Dabu" at some point. The reason this might be concerning, is these words are from the Orcish language of World of Warcraft. The use doesn't seem to be a parody, so if this counts as intellectual property of Blizzard Entertainment there could be a problem. Emphasis on "could" because once again, I don't really know. 

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"Dabu" could also refer to three different locations in China (and one in Taiwan, depending on what language you use), a Papuan language, a minor planet discovered in 1981, or possibly a hot and spicy condiment found in the cuisine of Manado, North Sulawesi (technically called Dabu-dabu).

In other words, if uses like that were a problem than literally no one could make language-based anything anymore since every unique combination of letters and punctuation that's even remotely pronounceable would have already been used by someone else previously.

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6 hours ago, Metis said:

"Dabu" could also refer to three different locations in China (and one in Taiwan, depending on what language you use), a Papuan language, a minor planet discovered in 1981, or possibly a hot and spicy condiment found in the cuisine of Manado, North Sulawesi (technically called Dabu-dabu).

In other words, if uses like that were a problem than literally no one could make language-based anything anymore since every unique combination of letters and punctuation that's even remotely pronounceable would have already been used by someone else previously.

I see what you mean, but it's not quite as simple as that. An argument that could be made is that it would be pretty much inconceivable for two of the most commonly heard words of one game's race to be coincidentally used with similar meanings by a similar race in another game. I'm not sure how much ground that would hold legally, but it's not just a matter of a couple words spelt the same being used in two different games. 

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Fair enough. As for how much ground it'd hold legally, in practice it doesn't really matter. If Blizzard says it's a problem, then it's a problem. And if Blizzard never realizes or cares, as I imagine they would given how niche a game Academagia is and how far away it is from any kind of market they'd ever care about, than similarly, it's not a problem.

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Hence why how much legal ground a claim has doesn't matter as much as how many lawyers the offended (imagined or otherwise) party can throw at the offender.

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And that's why Steamboat Willy remains under Disney's thumb. Nobody wants to piss off the dragon.

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