Wizards of the Coast and their confusing legal policies

  • As many of you may already know, Axis & Allies is owned by Avalon Hill, which is owned by Wizards of the Coast, which is owned by Hasbro. Wizards of the Coast has a very strange fan content policy. It says…

    We (that’s Wizards of the Coast) are continuously amazed at our Community’s creativity and engagement. We love that you enjoy creating and sharing Fan Content (that’s the stuff you make) and we want to encourage you to continue to create and share your stuff!

    You probably have a lot of questions about what you can and can’t do with Wizards’ intellectual property (IP), so we summoned our law mages to put together this Fan Content Policy and FAQ. We hope that you understand that any restrictions in this Fan Content Policy are intended to protect Wizards and its games. We’ve got to protect our IP if we want to keep the lights on!

    In short, your use of Wizards’ IP in your Fan Content is governed by the same rules you learned on the playground: share freely, keep it clean, and don’t hurt others.

    That means we ask you follow these rules:

    One word: F-R-E-E. You can use Wizards’ IP (except for the restrictions listed in #3) to make Fan Content that you share with the community for free. Free means FREE:
    You can’t require payments, surveys, downloads, subscriptions, or email registration to access your Fan Content;
    You can’t sell or license your Fan Content to any third parties for any type of compensation; and
    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.
    You can, however, subsidize your Fan Content by taking advantage of sponsorships, ad revenue, and donations—so long as it doesn’t interfere with the Community’s access to your Fan Content.

    Tell the Community it’s unofficial. Make it clear that your Fan Content is not endorsed or sponsored by Wizards—i.e., unofficial. Please include a note with your Fan Content explaining that:
    “[Title of your Fan Content] is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.”

    Don’t hurt others. Please respect other people’s IP. If you don’t have the rights to use another person’s stuff in your Fan Content—don’t. If we learn that your Fan Content also includes other people’s IP (e.g., crossovers/mashups) without their permission, we may ask you to take it down.
    Don’t hurt Wizards. We ask that you refrain from doing any of the following:
    Don’t use Wizards’ logos and trademarks. We’ve included a list of our most frequently asked-about trademarks in the FAQ;
    Don’t mess with the legal notices in our stuff. If the Wizards IP you are incorporating into your Fan Content already has copyright notices, logos, trademarks, or other notices existing within it, don’t remove them;
    Don’t use Wizards’ IP in other games. This includes your own or other people’s games or game components (e.g., rule books, tokens, figures), regardless of whether it is distributed for free;
    Don’t use Wizards’ Video or Music in your Fan Content. We know our video trailers are awesome, but use of our videos and music are governed by contracts with third parties. Please don’t use any of our video or music content, unless you’re embedding a video from an authorized third-party’s website (e.g., Twitch or YouTube);
    No bad stuff. We have the right to stop or restrict your use of Wizards’ IP at any time—for any reason or no reason—including when we think your use is inappropriate, offensive, damaging, or disparaging (and we’ll make that call in our sole discretion). If this happens, you must immediately take down your Fan Content or face the Demogorgon (yeah, the big bad is back from being on loan).
    Practice safe sponsorship. We understand that great Fan Content can sometimes require special equipment (e.g., videos, podcasts, prop fabrication). We are OK with you using third-party sponsors to subsidize costs if you follow a few rules:
    Don’t use a sponsor that would be harmful to Wizards. Please don’t promote our competitors or endorse inappropriate or offensive sponsors;
    Make it clear (verbally or visually) that they are acting as a sponsor only;
    Keep any shout-outs, mentions, and credits to a reasonable length; and
    Do not associate Wizards with your sponsor in any way.
    Follow the law of the land. It’s your Fan Content, so you are solely responsible for ensuring that your creations don’t violate the laws of your region, country, plane, or dimension. In addition to this Policy, your use of any Wizards’ IP must also comply with Wizards’ Terms of Use and Code of Conduct (together, the “Wizards Terms”). If there’s a conflict between anything in this Policy and the Wizards Terms, the Wizards Terms win. Those agreements include important legal terms (such as limitations of lability, indemnification, and dispute resolution), so please review them carefully.
    One last thing—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.

    Here’s a link to the full article: Fan Content Policy

    In this document, they specifically mention A&A as one of their trademarks, which they say we cannot use. So how am I supposed to make A&A fan content without that trademark? Do I have to call it some wierd and obscure name and hope people will just innately know it’s supposed to be A&A? Can I use the name A&A as long as I don’t break any of those other rules?

    As we all know, Hasbro, which owns Wizards of the Coast, which owns Avalon Hill, which owns A&A is a ruthless company which will sue the heck out of you, or force u to settle out of court and agree to terms that include selling your soul to the devil. I like my soul and would prefer not to have to part with it, so could someone please explain to me how I can make A&A fan content, specifically my Cold War game that many of you may know about, without having to face legal action?

  • Like even Axis&Allies.org, how is it that you got the ability to call if Axis&Allies, not like, Dictator Coalition & Democracy Alliance.org?

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