Recently, I asked “Will WotC Close You Down Next?” in response to them sending a cease & desist letter resulting in the closure of Ema’s Character Sheet website. All the usual Wizards apologists came out of the woodwork with excuses. “Well, Ema was charging for storage.” “Well, this is probably a one time thing, it’s not like they’ve declared war on fansites.”
Wrong! Site #2 goes down little more than a week later, and this time it’s not a paysite. RIP 4epowercards.com. The message they have up reads:
4epowercards.com is going down
Unfortunately, the people at Wizards of the Coast have served me with a Cease and Desist letter. While I respect Wizards, and love almost all of their products, I am still disappointed. We can only hope Wizards will offer a service simliar to that provided by 4epowercards.com.
In the near future, once I’m done clearing out all the offending copyrighted materials, I will provide the source code used to drive this site. I hope it can be of benefit to someone out there.
Thanks to the ever vigilant ENWorld community for the scoop.
Was this site reprinting some WotC intellectual property? Yes, totally. However, so are most fansites. “Fair use” is a diminishing safe harbor, between aggressive copyright and trademark laws.
But that’s the system we have. The real crime here on WotC’s part is that they want *some* fansites. They want people to use thepower of Internet community to innovate with their games and spread the word. So they want that, but are unwilling to publish a fansite policy that says what is OK to do. So they discriminate by shutting down sites that happen to have innovated something that conflicts with, say, whatever piece of DDI they finally managed to get running. And that’s just not fair.
If you are a fansite, you’re not safe. No amount of head-in-the-sand excuses you put forth on forums will change the fact that WotC is trying to have their cake and eat it too; and by leaving the community without a fansite policy can (try, and unless you have a lawyer on call will) shut you down for anything they don’t like. Because pretty much everything violates IP, legally. Have a character sheet posted for your new fighter with the text of his powers on it? Illegal.
Who can really be this naive? You have seen all the other companies that have tried, and in some cases succeeded, to quash critics right? Kmart sues “Kmartsucks.com” for trademark infringement, etc.