Update: One-Stop Stat Blocks and the #WotC Complaint #DnD #5e #RPG #copyright

I just wanted to give an update on the situation with Wizards of the Coast and my one-stop stat blocks. To review, I created stat blocks that were stand-alone. When using them at the table, you have no need to reference the Player’s Handbook (or others) when using spells with your NPCs. The entire spell description is contained in the stat block, but expressed as concisely as possible.

WotC contacted me through their paralegal, Martin Durham (who apparently has a history of making inappropriate demands), and instructed that I take down the project. In Mr. Durham’s words:

Hi – I’m with the Wizards of the Coast legal team – we recently became  aware of your project.
It looks like you’ve basically copied the text from our books, added check boxes and spell descriptions, and then placed your own copyright notice on the bottom. I am curious what is transformative enough to warrant the notice. Also, how does this infringing material fill a “hole” in Wizards product offerings.
Wizards realizes that the Dungeons & Dragons books are more than just “rules” or “instructions.” The text is highly descriptive, and as such, is inherently copyrightable.
Wizards requests that you remove your stat blocks, or create your own material under the Open Game License.

Within this single, six-sentence email, there is a glaring mischaracterization of the project, an attempt to use legalese to confuse me, and a stunning display of willful ignorance. I’m assuming the ignorance is willful because the alternative assumption would be quite insulting to Mr. Dunham. He then mischaracterizes the nature of stat blocks (in the context of copyright law) recklessly makes two unlawful demands. In truth, the only sentence without an error in it is the first one. I’m sure he indeed works for WotC and only recently learned of the project.

I know I promised a quick response and republication, but good work takes time. My response is coming soon, and it’ll be a doozy. I’ve drafted three articles that will expose WotC’s conduct over the last 10-15 years. They’re currently being reviewed by other attorneys — some that focus on intellectual property, and some that don’t — and I’m reaching the finish line. The third article will link to the one-stop stat blocks, which have been expanded upon quite a bit. If you’re a fan of them, you’ll be floored by what’s coming. WotC, not so much, but that’ll be the least of their problems.

In the meantime, I again provide you with a copy of the template so that you can easily create your own one-stop stat blocks. Happy gaming!

One-Stop Stat Block for 5th Edition DnD TEMPLATE

Follow me on Twitter @GSLLC

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Author: Frylock

Robert E. Bodine, Esq. is an attorney in Virginia focusing his practice on real estate and intellectual property law. He is one of the founding members of the Gamers’ Syndicate, a Washington, DC-based gaming club. He was the author of the Loremaster.org article series, Protection from Chaos, dealing with intellectual property law matters as they relate to the gaming industry, and has represented several game designers on intellectual property matters. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertEBodine for politics, @PropertyAtty for legal matters, @GSLLC for gaming matters, and if you’re a sports fan, @MMADork.

2 thoughts on “Update: One-Stop Stat Blocks and the #WotC Complaint #DnD #5e #RPG #copyright”

  1. Were the statblocks in questions taken from the SRD or another source? I thought the point of the SRD was that it was scrubbed of all ‘creative’ content and was free to use as long as the OGL was included?

    1. Thanks for your question. I address the OGL and SRD in part 3, so you’ll have to wait for that answer. I’ll say this: No, not all of these were OGL/SRD monsters, and the OGL wasn’t published alongside them. However, that doesn’t matter regardless of what WotC claims. More on that in part 3 on Monday.

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