Fix Wizards of the Coast's treatment of content creating fans
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Wizards of the Coast produces some of the best known tabletop games in existence, including the end-all-be-all of nerdiness, Dungeons and Dragons. These games, by their very nature, encourage the fans and player base to create their own content for them, down the the Wizards of the Coast run Dungeon Masters' Guild, a website on which individuals can publish and share their Dungeons and Dragons 5e content.
However, behind the seeming benevolence are policies that short these content creators. If you publish character options, stories, or anything else that is D&D related on the DM's Guild, for example, you lose the ability to publish that same content anywhere else - ever - AND anything that anyone else creates that is inspired by that work is also immediately owned by WotC as well.
While that might be understandable in spite of how frustrating it is, this just recently came to my attention.
While that article is a bit of a monster to read, the important line is this: "Your Fan Content must be free for others (including Wizards) to view, access, share, and use without paying you anything, obtaining your approval, or giving you credit."
On the one hand, that initially seems like it might be good. Better art and rules for everyone, right?
Except that it screws over the people who create that content. People who depend on the profit that stems from their creation, or who are seeking to increase their name recognition in the industry, essentially have all of the value of their work stolen from them by this single sentence.
What this means, assuming that I understand it correctly, is that anyone who has ever published content on the DM's Guild not only can not publish their work where they want, but WotC can publish it whenever and wherever they want, without giving credit - thereby denying us even the ability to have credibility and viability within the industry.
Things look even worse for artists. Commissions of D&D characters are basically illegal, or are at best an immense pain to handle without fees and issues. Anything that uses Wizard's intellectual property is equally inaccessible. For some, this undermines their entire creative platform; for others, it renders fan favorite content such as Matthew Mercer's Blood Hunter a tantalizing but off limits treat.
All this might still make sense, given that Wizards of the Coast owns the game, except that it violates copyright law. Under copyright law, individuals have the right to create derivative works - things such as fan art and house rules - and have ownership of those works. Not only is WotC outright ignoring this, they make it incredibly oppressive for an individual to call them on it. Quoting the article linked above, "Please don’t pull us into any legal battles! Our lawyers are busy enough. If Wizards of the Coast, our partners, affiliates, or employees get hit with any legal claims, fees, or expenses related to your Fan Content, you’re responsible for paying all of our costs (including attorney’s fees) and any resulting judgment or settlement."
That's right, if you call them on this, they make you pay them for it.
The long and the short of it is that this needs to stop. People are getting their hard work taken from them, and none of us is individually powerful enough to force a solution for the problem.
However, if there's one thing Dungeons and Dragons has taught me, it's that even the smallest heroes can slay dragons when they have time and allies. We can overcome this.
Join with me, and let's go slay a dragon.
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