• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

[NEWS] (Scooped?) 2 settle lawsuits over Dungeons & Dragons handbook

Jason Sinclair

Baba Yaga's grandchild
Validated User
Via Seattle Times:

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.
No comment here. Just thought it was interesting.

-Gavel Bangin' J
 

Shining Dragon

Tough Tiger Fist
Validated User
Interesting.

I wonder. Is this the first successful prosecution for copyright infringement of roleplaying games?
 

Gordon Horne

Just the facts, Ma'am.
It's not a successful prosecution. It's a settlement. The prosecution has been set aside by the settlement.

The first successful outcome? Perhaps against an individual, but companies have been filing suit and getting settlements against each other for years.

Quick math, 2,600 copies at $40 a copy is roughly $100,000. Doesn't look like WotC is going for punitive damages. Of course, they'd be very unlikely to be awarded them against an individual.
 

Shining Dragon

Tough Tiger Fist
Validated User
It's not a successful prosecution. It's a settlement. The prosecution has been set aside by the settlement.

The first successful outcome? Perhaps against an individual, but companies have been filing suit and getting settlements against each other for years.

Quick math, 2,600 copies at $40 a copy is roughly $100,000. Doesn't look like WotC is going for punitive damages. Of course, they'd be very unlikely to be awarded them against an individual.
Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. WotC prosecution was successful even if it was settled.

And $40 a copy isn't the price lost by WotC - I would've thought at best they could claim the cost their distributor pays them.
 

Scoundrel

Go. Play. Trek.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
But they're the copyright holders. So when they do it, its legal.
Perhaps, but by doing so, they let the Djinn out of the bottle. Do we know exactly which ones they were accused of distributing? If any of those were the first three (PHB/DMG/MM), then it's really a case of "how much of the distrbution were those three books, which Wizards had already released into the wild?
 

Gordon Horne

Just the facts, Ma'am.
Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. WotC prosecution was successful even if it was settled.
Nope. A successful (or unsuccessful) prosecution is a matter of court record and therefore common law. A settlement is a private matter between parties and therefore has no standing in future cases. Po-tay-to, to-mah-to.

And $40 a copy isn't the price lost by WotC - I would've thought at best they could claim the cost their distributor pays them.
In the US, prosecution of violation of a registered copyright allows for punitive damages of 10 times the estimated lost value. Lost value is how much they could have sold it for—the cover price. Discounts to distributors are a separate matter not considered by the court. They best they could push for in court is 10 times the cover price.
 
Top Bottom