TSR

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Name: TSR: Tactical Studies Rules
Date(s): 1972-200?
Profit/Nonprofit: For-profit company
Country based in: US
Focus: Games, especially role-playing games
External Links: WotC's History of TSR page
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TSR was the game company that created Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. They also published several licensed games (Indiana Jones, Buck Rogers) and other unique games with different themes (Gamma World, Boot Hill, Star Frontiers).

TSR dominated the RPG industry for the first twenty years of its existence.

Wizards of the Coast acquired TSR in 1997, and later allowed the trademark to expire.

Crackdown

In 1994, TSR sent out Cease and Desist notices to several ftp sites with gaming (RPG) materials, insisting that any of their materials be removed, and later announced that D&D-related content could only be hosted at single company-approved site.

The initial takedown letter:[1]

Date: Thu, 28 Jul 94 17:28:59 -0400

From: TSRInc@aol.com
To: postmaster@rigel.cs.pdx.edu
Subject: TSR Copyrighted Material

SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR:

Your site was recently included in a list of noted FTP sites for DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS and ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS gaming material. You should be aware that DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS and all related marks and properties are copyrighted by TSR, Inc. of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

You should also be aware that any items created without a specific license are infringements of TSR copyrights. Such items include (but are not limited to) any software, net.books, modules, tables, stories, or rules modifications which contain elements from our copyrighted properties, including characters, settings, realm names, noted magic items, spells, elements of the gaming system, such as ARMOR CLASS, HIT DICE, and so forth. To date, TSR has not licensed any of these net publications.

On behalf of TSR, Inc. I ask that you examine your public net sites at this time and remove any material which infringes on TSR copyrights.

Our intention is to find a way to license these and future creative efforts. In the meantime, remove them from your sites without delay.

Please feel free to contact me with comments or questions. I will refer any pertinent queries to our legal department as soon as I receive them.

Rob Repp | InterNet: tsrinc@aol.com
Manager, Digital Projects Group | InterNet: mobius@mercury.mcs.com
TSR, Inc. | CompuServe: 76217,761
__________________________________ | GEnie: TSR.Online AOL: TSR Inc

All opinions are my own, not TSR's | 414-248-3625 Fax 414-248-0389

A month and a half later, they announced their solution for gamers who wanted online content relating to TSR games, mostly D&D:

From: mobius@Mercury.mcs.com (Rob Repp)

Newsgroups: rec.games.frp.announce
Subject: GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENT
Date: Tue, 06 Sep 1994 16:15:40 –0500
Organization: TSR, Inc.

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR GENERAL DISTRIBUTION - PLEASE REPOST

Recently, TSR, Inc. issued a policy statement regarding the unlicensed use of TSR owned trademarks and copyrights in several creative efforts published on the Internet. TSR’s policy remains unchanged regarding these infringements. We generally ask that you do not publish materials which incorporate our trademarks and copyrights. However, we believe we have a working solution for gamers who wish to exchange via the Internet any gaming material they have created.

TSR is pleased to announce a licensed Internet FTP file server. MPGNet’s site (ftp to ftp.mpgn.com) will carry a license that allows your creations to be shared with the world via the Internet. In order to distribute your texts, software and message digests via this server, you must include the following disclaimer:

This item incorporates or is based on or derived from copyrighted material of TSR, Inc. and may contain trademarks of TSR. The item is made available by MPGNet under license from TSR, but is not authorized or endorsed by TSR. The item is for personal use only and may not be published or distributed except through MPGNet or SR.[2]

The end result: online D&D activity came to a halt just as the internet started to get really active, and other games rushed in to fill the void. The resulting boycott is rumoured to have hit TSR harder than they were willing to admit.[3] and may have The crackdown is remembered as one of the early intellectual-property scuffles in online fandom and is referred to in the article Fan Fiction on the Line.

References

  1. TSR's Letters to One of Many Anonymous FTP Sites, accessed Apr 17 2011
  2. The Guildsman newsletter #7, PDF file
  3. Why are DRM ebooks evil discussion at Mobileread.com, accessed Apr 17 2011