I got a call from WotC ...

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
February 26, 2018 - 8:58pm
Not unexpected given everything that is happening but I was contacted last week by WotC relative to the permissions I have for the Star Frontiersman and Frontier Explorer magazines and their websites. I had a nice chat with my contact at WotC and I have been asked to take stuff off-line.

The exact details as of yet are still undetermined (I'm waiting to hear back from WotC on a few questions). That said, I will definitely be removing all of the remastered rules and modules from the Star Frontiersman site, along with any Star Frontiersman issues (quite a few) that have remastered Dragon magazine articles in them (we intentionally did not put any Dragon articles in the Frontier Explorer). This is WotC's intellectual property and as someone with a degree in Library Science (in addition to my astrophysics degrees), I can say that this is completely their right and they won't get any argument from me. It was this material that I had the permissions for in the first place.

If possible, those Star Frontiersman issues will go back up in the future with the Dragon articles redacted. Additionally, if I can, I may take all the optional rule material that Bill had put in the remastered rule sets and put those out as a stand-alone supplement.

What this means for the Frontier Explorer (and the other Star Fronteirsman issues) is uncertain. There are a number of possibilities depending on what WotC tells me in response to my questions:

1) I have to pull everything down - This is by far the most draconian option and while I hope it won't go this far, it is possible. We started the Frontier Explorer and (I believe) operated in a manner so that this won't be necessary (i.e. based on their fan site policies) but who knows what they will say. I'd say this has a moderate possibility of happening. With the exceptions of very general articles, a lot of stuff that was produced in the magazines could be considered derivative work and thus falls under their copyrights which protects against the creation of such works. So if they really want to, they could make the case that it all has to be removed. It would be a shame, but that's the way the law works.

2) Everything can stay on-line but no new issues of the magazines - They may allow us to keep up everything that was fan produced (not their original copyrighted work) but ask us to not produce any new issues of the magazine. This is actually the outcome that I'm expecting/hoping for based on everything else I know. This doesn't stop people from posting new material on their own sites (i.e. a fan site), just stops the Frontier Explorer from being a central clearing house.

3) Everything continues with some modifications - With the exception of removing their copyrighted materials, we can keep everything up and continue publishing new issues of the Frontier Explorer although possibly with some variation on what we can and can't publish. If I had to guess, I'd say this is very unlikely.

Given what I've seen, it's my opinion that WotC is doing something with Star Frontiers or at least taking interest in their IP that they've let lay fallow for a long time. I intend to stay on their good side so I'll be complying with whatever they ask, even if I don't agree with it or think it's a bit over the top. I'm not going to get into a legal battle with WotC over this.

For the most part, this doesn't affect the this site at all (nor the Facebook group or the G+ community). I specifically asked about these sites during our conversation. They had no issue with them staying on-line, However, to be completely safe, I am going to remove some files relative to their IP (such as any PDFs of rules or Dragon articles).  In my conversation with WotC they said there was a possibility that I'd be able to put it all back up at a later time.  In any case, I'll be putting some effort into updating and improving the site over the coming year. Especially if they exercise options 1 or 2 since I won't have to put any effort into the magazine publication.

With all that said, I'll be removing the remastered products sometime later this week after the first of the month. If you don't have a copy and would like one, get them now over at http://starfrontiersman.com.

I'll keep you updated as I learn more.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine
Comments:

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
February 27, 2018 - 4:55am
Bummer

 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 27, 2018 - 6:14am
I said it on Facebook and will repeat it here: Its been a pleasure working as part of a team with Tom S, Eric W, and Scott M as well as all our contributors. It was an honor to carry the torch for the SF community and keep this great game alive.

And in a way I got to live out my 13 year old self's dream of writing for Dragon magazine, although I do believe that dream actually had me getting paid for my work but you cant get everything. The past decade plus (has it really been a decade?) has been bittersweet in that it was a decade of intense personal trials with the magazines being a outlet for creativity and my fortress of solace. I have few regrets and would do it all again.

If WotC goes with the most draconian measures of take everything down then I will, as Laura put it be bummed. Having published somewhere in the neighborhood of 160-170 articles in three magazines I was starting to consider that a resume builder and it would be better for me, personally, if they remain on line and available, not with standing the fact I take a little fatherly pride in the Frontier Explorer.

Still as Tom S mentioned WotC is within their rights to take the most draconian measures with their IP although we hope they will at the very least allow the magazines, sans any Dragon mag content, remain on line and available. Either way I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of a great community of fans, to live out a dream, and work on a project that felt bigger than myself.

Again special thanks to Terl Obar our resident rocket scientist, Iggy our alien biologist, and AZ Gamer our fantastic digital artist.

Tom V- jedion357
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
February 27, 2018 - 8:46pm
I have enjoyed the writing for the mags. I want to thank everyone for your encouragement... I have even stuck my little toe into the net blog scene, I am a bit behind on that becuase of renewal of my cents, hubbies illness and work. I do hope the mags can come back as a fan resource for games like Star Frontiers, maybe even a few of the open rule sci-fi games even. I was just thinking a Frontier Space based article might be fun. Who knows what but sci-fi ideas for the great out black fly by your pants space settings are sort of our thing. In the mean time we can consider and chat about our RPG campaigns and so on. 

I am not willing to give up on the writing... 

It will be interesting to see what WoTC is up to. 

Hopefully the mags will be back.
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 27, 2018 - 10:30pm
I don't foresee WOTC shutting down the fanzines. Case in point: the Dragonsfoot forum publishes "Footprints" for D&D/AD&D and those have been actively published games by WOTC since they acquired TSR.

https://www.dragonsfoot.org/ft/
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

JCab747's picture
JCab747
February 28, 2018 - 10:09am
Shadow Shack wrote:
I don't foresee WOTC shutting down the fanzines. Case in point: the Dragonsfoot forum publishes "Footprints" for D&D/AD&D and those have been actively published games by WOTC since they acquired TSR.

https://www.dragonsfoot.org/ft/


Let us hope that WoTC will welcome fan support if they want to renew Star Frontiers. Hey, maybe they would take submissions and pay people for them? Oh, I must be dreaming...
Joe Cabadas

KRingway's picture
KRingway
March 3, 2018 - 1:37am
Yeah, I can't imagine that shutting down a magazine that publishes fan material would be at all productive, or necessary. I don't think WotC would really want to block the fan base from keeping up an interest in the RPG. If they're not rebooting it, it doesn't mess with their IP and if they are rebooting it, established fan material will just help things along.

That said, it's tricky to figure out if they are indeed planning a reboot. I guess possibly it might be an effort to have something in their catalogue as an alternative to Starfinder.

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
March 3, 2018 - 12:32pm
Star Frontiers isn't even really the target. Let's just say that there is a certain fan/critic of another one of WotC's properties that has irritated them recently and that is what set off the extremely broad fan crackdown.

ExileInParadise's picture
ExileInParadise
March 3, 2018 - 1:23pm
Seems like its just about time to make sure everything fits within this:
https://company.wizards.com/fancontentpolicy

JCab747's picture
JCab747
March 3, 2018 - 6:12pm
ExileInParadise wrote:
Seems like its just about time to make sure everything fits within this:
https://company.wizards.com/fancontentpolicy


This is pretty useful information.
Joe Cabadas

KRingway's picture
KRingway
March 4, 2018 - 1:16am
ChrisDonovan wrote:
Star Frontiers isn't even really the target. Let's just say that there is a certain fan/critic of another one of WotC's properties that has irritated them recently and that is what set off the extremely broad fan crackdown.


Seems to be a bit strange to spend all the time and effort just because of one person.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
March 4, 2018 - 2:54am
KRingway wrote:
ChrisDonovan wrote:
Star Frontiers isn't even really the target. Let's just say that there is a certain fan/critic of another one of WotC's properties that has irritated them recently and that is what set off the extremely broad fan crackdown.


Seems to be a bit strange to spend all the time and effort just because of one person.

What, is Whorraine Williams back in the driver's seat again?
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
March 4, 2018 - 9:01am
I'd be curious to know who/what this is?  Whatever it is has missed my radar completely although I'll admit I don't really pay attention to a lot of non-Star Frontiers stuff.
ChrisDonovan wrote:
Star Frontiers isn't even really the target. Let's just say that there is a certain fan/critic of another one of WotC's properties that has irritated them recently and that is what set off the extremely broad fan crackdown.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
March 4, 2018 - 9:03am
That (well, an earlier version that existed in 2012, is exactly what we used to set up the Frontier Explorer.  Which is why I'm hopeful they will let us keep it up.
ExileInParadise wrote:
Seems like its just about time to make sure everything fits within this:
https://company.wizards.com/fancontentpolicy
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
March 4, 2018 - 10:21am
Sorry about cross posting between here and the FB group guys. I just had a PM exchange with Tom explaining what i think is going on. Anyone wanting the same info can contact me by PM over there. I don't want to air it in public just in case.

SFAndroid's picture
SFAndroid
March 10, 2018 - 9:56pm
Ok, call me dumb, but to poke the white elephant in the room, why?

Short of the diehards here, who already have every book published, who do they think they can sell it to? No other gaming company would buy the rules, to the aforementioned everyone already having the books.

Reasserting control over a dead product and trying to sell the stuff seems desperate to me. Once something goes "abandonware", it's a bit late to close the barn door after all the horses have ran off.

Truth be told, everyone here who has added content and helped with rule clarifications have made this more than TSR ever made of it. If they try to re-publish/re-brand, how many ideas from here will "magically" appear in the new works? Of course, none. It would all be original ideas on their part.

This just seems crappy of WOTC, imo.  Yes, they didn't release the rights "on paper", but to let it be freely given for so long and then taking such an action is...irritatingly greedy. If you want something, maintain your copyright.  Look at Siembieda and Palladium. He's on people like a duck on a bug. He's controlling his IP.  WOTC didn't.

/soapbox off
You can't argue with the invincibly ignorant. - William F. Buckley

KRingway's picture
KRingway
March 11, 2018 - 12:29am
It may just be that SF went off their radar when they acquired TSR material. After all, D&D has no doubt been keeping them busy. Sometimes when you buy a job lot of things but are are only really interested in one thing from that lot, you can lose track of what else you have. Or maybe that's just me Wink Possibly they're trying to line all their IP up now because of the recent stuff about SF being acquired by a third party, even if in name only on that occasion.

Stormcrow's picture
Stormcrow
March 11, 2018 - 8:37am
Star Frontiers is not "ware," abandon or otherwise. It is intellectual property, and Wizards of the Coast paid for that property. It's theirs, whether they publish it or not. Starfrontiers.com got an amazing deal, being allowed to host PDFs on the web, the sort of deal that just isn't done. Now that Wizards of the Coast wants to sell PDFs of Star Frontiers, the deal with starfrontiers.com stipulates they have to remove the PDFs. It was a good run. Most out-of-print games don't get such an extra life.

Wizards is selling PDFs because it probably took minimal effort to prepare them. Since they don't have to print anything, it costs them very little to offer them for sale, and they make an easy, if small, profit. And Wizards isn't stopping the production of all fan works, just any that use their intellectual property inappropriately.

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
March 11, 2018 - 8:41am
Well let’s see the sold back MA to JW. This created all sorts of chaos... first new timeline for MA becuase of GW cross over, completely new game mechanics for MA probably because MA rules were the basis for GW Rules.... then JW had to go after all the fan sites for copyright trademark reasons. Things have mellowed a bit and James really is an okay guy, but not sure we’re we are with fan stuff I never had anything up on them, but was sad to see them shut down as a great resource for Mutant loving fans of old 70s games. I really think the legal advisory folks are the ones causing the chaos and stress more so than we realize. My guess based on WotC sudden behavior concerning SF is they had a huge hand in why James acted similarly, it is clear he had to do a bunch of things that WotC wanted... and we are watching the same pattern right now... legal at WotC maybe the problem more than anyone else for both old MA fans and old SF fans. I might just ask JW one of these days about the whole MA deal and what fans are now allowed to do, I keep my thoughts on old MA pretty vague for the reason I don’t want any legal stress. So what does this have to do with SF... WotC might be wanting to sell it for a pretty penny, so they have to prove to the legal sorts they own it... just a thought... if they sell it or keep it something is up. If they sell the game mechanics are unique so that actually might be okay... but seems to me some things got recycled from SF universe into Alternity, D&D and GW... so that might be an issue, based on what I observed on the MA chaos that means some of the races would stay potentially WotC property... I would hope not but it is a possibility. If on the other hand WotC suddenly has a bee in their bonnet to revive the game, we can only hope their redux is good... not everything they have done with games like D&D has been golden... nope they single handily lost my business for years no new D&D no new GW cause I hated those systems. Only picked up new D&D becuase I found it cheap... so far it’s okay but honestly I bet based on game play so far the group would prefer a more OD&D based on discussions and questions.

So either way a new version might be coming... just my gut based on what happened with the MA sale.
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 11, 2018 - 1:18pm
What facts do we have?

There was a company enquiring about the Star Frontiers trade mark.

Suddenly WotC was putting up product for sale, POD and PDF download on Drivethru.
This simple fact almost certainly meant changes for the fan licenses out there offering competing copies of those product.

And not surprisingly the fan licenses have been revoked.

Without a doubt they have not looked at SF as valuable property for decades. recent inquiries cause a re-evaluation and the success of the fan magazines and the thriving fan community certainly helped to convince them they had something of value and they began to take steps to enhance its value much like you might slap a fresh coat of paint on a house you are trying to sell.

I think we can expect more developments in the future. but clearly we're in a transition period and after we're through that it may be possible for fan licenses to be issued. We'll have to see.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

KRingway's picture
KRingway
March 11, 2018 - 1:51pm
From what I was told some years ago (back in 2012/2013) when I created some artwork for Gygax magazine, the SF product name had lapsed. Not the RPG, but the name. It may be that the recent events about acquiring that name has caused WotC to make a bit more of a concerted effort with their IP. It does seem that they've taken their eye off the ball - or at least not really given much thought about SF until now-ish.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
March 11, 2018 - 4:42pm
Lorraine Williams killed SF. WotC ensured it remained dead. I'm confused about what they have up their sleeve now.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
March 11, 2018 - 6:21pm
Just wait and see i guess... 
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

JCab747's picture
JCab747
March 11, 2018 - 8:10pm
Evil Hat's effort started this off.
Joe Cabadas

Stormcrow's picture
Stormcrow
March 12, 2018 - 6:35am
I don't think Wizards of the Coast has put Star Frontiers PDFs on the market to enforce their license. You can do that without publishing. I think Wizards has simply jumped on the PDF bandwagon. They're putting nearly all their old products into PDFs for sale, and print on demand is quickly becoming a thing too.

For all those who are seeing conspiracies, I think you're blowing up nothing.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 12, 2018 - 8:15am
Stormcrow wrote:
I don't think Wizards of the Coast has put Star Frontiers PDFs on the market to enforce their license. You can do that without publishing. I think Wizards has simply jumped on the PDF bandwagon. They're putting nearly all their old products into PDFs for sale, and print on demand is quickly becoming a thing too.

For all those who are seeing conspiracies, I think you're blowing up nothing.


Clearly its because of Trump!
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
JCab747
March 12, 2018 - 8:35am
jedion357 wrote:
Stormcrow wrote:
I don't think Wizards of the Coast has put Star Frontiers PDFs on the market to enforce their license. You can do that without publishing. I think Wizards has simply jumped on the PDF bandwagon. They're putting nearly all their old products into PDFs for sale, and print on demand is quickly becoming a thing too.

For all those who are seeing conspiracies, I think you're blowing up nothing.


Clearly its because of Trump!

Nah, it's Putin and the Russian conspiracy movement... Or perhaps the Clintons are involved... or Mitt Romney has a hand in it... or it's because of Ophra Winfrey's goal to run for president... or the grassy knoll shot JFK... or Bush lied and Star Frontiers died... or Big Foot had to stomp down on us or...

There, I think that's enough conspiracy theories to cover the left-right-and tin-foil hat sides...

Does Evil Hat = Tin foil hat?
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 12, 2018 - 9:23am
Come to think of it doesn't Oprah own the company that owns WotC?

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
JCab747
March 12, 2018 - 9:59am
jedion357 wrote:
Come to think of it doesn't Oprah own the company that owns WotC?


You got me there. I'd have to look it up.


Joe Cabadas

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
March 12, 2018 - 10:07am
Cattle mutilations and crop circles are on the rise again.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Stormcrow's picture
Stormcrow
March 12, 2018 - 1:12pm
jedion357 wrote:
Come to think of it doesn't Oprah own the company that owns WotC?

You get a Star Frontiers! And you get a Star Frontiers! And you get a Star Frontiers! Everyone gets a Star Frontiers!