Fan Art Policy
Updated August 29, 2005
I. Some Vocabulary
COPYRIGHT: Copyrights are the way that authors protect their creative efforts from being duplicated by others without permission. A copyright is indicated by the © mark. They can be bought, sold, rented, or abandoned. All Wyrmkeep Entertainment releases are protected by the copyright laws of the United States and some foreign countries by treaties like the Berne Convention.
TRADEMARK: Trademarks are names or symbols that identify a particular product or maker. They are designed in part to protect consumers from imitations. Most unique product-related terms (and all product names) used Wyrmkeep Entertainment are trademarked. Trademarks are indicated by the symbol. The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co., for example, is a trademark. When we use it to identify one of our products, it means not only that the product was produced by us, but that it meets our standards for quality. It is polite to place all trademarks in bold or italic type.
REGISTERED TRADEMARK: These are special cases: trademarks which have been specifically registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They are always accompanied by the ® symbol. Although none or our product titles are currently registered trademarks, we expect that will change in the future. Registered trademarks are protected by a special set of laws, here in the U.S. as well as many foreign countries. Among other things, these laws allow a trademark holder to lose his exclusive rights if he fails to protect them.
PATENT: Patents are for novel and non-obvious inventions and are designed to protect the inventor and reward him for his work by preventing other people from using the invention without permission for a limited period.
TRADE SECRET: A Trade Secret is any information that a company has which gives it a competitive advantage over its rivals. Some examples could be lists of suppliers, information about customers, or a special manufacturing process. Wyrmkeep Entertainment may or may not own any Trade Secrets; that's a secret too.
LOGO: Short for "logotype," a word which nobody uses any more. A logo is a company or product name (which may itself be a trademark) in a distinctive typeface. A symbol may also be a logo. Wyrmkeep Entertainment's Wyrm in a Keep mark is a trademark and a company logo.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: Intellectual Property is the "catch-all" term for certain types of non-tangible property, including (but not limited to) Trademarks, Copyrights, Patents, Trade Secrets and Logos. For more information, see Brad Templeton's 10 Big Myths of Copyright Explained.
II. Some General Principles
Wyrmkeep Entertainment will allow fans and others to use its trademarks and product logos, if and only if certain conditions are met:
They must be used in connection with discussions of the products they represent;
They must be used in a manner that will enhance (that is, not damage) the reputation of the mark;
They must be properly designated as trademarks or registered trademarks ( or ® respectively) of The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co.
Finally, the first use of a product logo on any page (and, preferably, all uses) must link back to our official page for that product, and any use of our company logo must link back to our home page.
If you are just looking for a banner or button to link to us from, then you use the following:
Copyrighted text (like manual text or in-game dialogue) may not be used without special permission of Wyrmkeep Entertainment. To get this permission, write to General Support.
You may use a reasonable amount of our art (no more than 10 pieces) on your web pages, convention program books, and similar fan applications, provided that the art is used in connection with the product that it is drawn from, and its use is appropriate, credits the artist, is legal, and otherwise complies with this policy. Please copy any graphics you wish to display on your site to your server and link to the html page for the associated product (or our home page). We may update or move graphics from time to time, so linking directly to graphics may leave you with a broken link or page.
In general, if you use any of our intellectual property online, you must mark it appropriately, and link back to either our home page or the web page of the product that the material is drawn from.
It is not necessary to mark each use of a trademark with the or ® symbol. If you're planning on using a trademark more than once, simply mark the first occurrence and put the appropriate line in your credits box. However, we do ask that you emphasize each trademark with bold, italic or colored type every time you use it . . . you should do this with any trademark, not just ours!
This policy, the permissions it gives, and any similar permissions given under other circumstances, are subject to change or withdrawal at any time without notice.
III. Fair Use
There is a principle of law called "fair use." It protects the press by expressly allowing writers to use a short amount of copyrighted material or a trademark in the course of review or commentary about the product. The copyright or trademark holder may not block this use, as long as the use is otherwise legal (that is, not libelous, for example).
IV. Notices and Disclaimers
Many people think that they can "borrow" any material they want, if they post some kind of a "disclaimer" saying, for instance, "No challenge to the rights of so-and-so is intended." However, that has no legal effect. Try publishing your own Star Trek novel, with a note in the front that you really love Gene Roddenberry's universe and no challenge to his rights is intended, and see how far you get.
Nevertheless, notices and disclaimers do have a purpose, and you should include appropriate ones in your site.
The purpose of a disclaimer is to notify readers that your work is not "official" or produced under license (unless it is). An appropriate disclaimer for a fan page is:
"The material presented here is my original creation based on Inherit the Earth. This material is not official and is not endorsed The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co."
(Of course, you would change out the Inherit the Earth name to whatever was appropriate.) Note also that both the game name and "The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co." contain embedded links to our site. Please include this feature in your disclaimer!
The purpose of a notice is to tell your readers who the trademarks, copyrights, etc., belong to. An appropriate notice for a fan site is:
"Inherit the Earth is a trademark of The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co., and the art here is copyrighted The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co. All rights are reserved by The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co. This material is used here in accordance with the Wyrmkeep Entertainment Fan Art Policy."
Note again that the game name contains a link to our site, and the mention of the fan art policy links to this page... so your readers can easily see the policy for themselves. Please include these links in your disclaimer!
V. So, does that mean that I can ...
Put some of your art on my home page or other web page?
Yes, as long as its use complies with the terms of this policy (that is, links back to us, is used tastefully, and so on).
Use the logos and art on the website for my retail store (online or otherwise) or distribution company?
Yes, as long as you are a bona fide retailer or distributor and you are actually selling the products in question.
Reprint some of your products that are out of print?
NO. Absolutely not. These games might be out of print, but they still belong to us, and we have to protect our rights and the rights of the creators. And it's quite likely that they might come back into print some day, in some form.
If you find one of our games online, please notify our online enforcement team and we'll deal with it.
Create a fan page about your games?
Yes. We love it! Just follow the policies outlined here.
Put a logo or art on a t-shirt or hat?
Nope. You need a license from us for those activities. If you have a suggestion for a product, or if you would like to become a Wyrmkeep Entertainment licensee, contact General Support.
Use some of your art as wallpaper or icons on my desktop?
Sure. Just don't distribute it without permission. If you feel that you've come up with a great set of wallpaper and icons (like a complete Desktop Theme), send it to us. Some of us around the office would like those, and other fans might like to use them.
VI. The Most Common Misconception
You may have noticed that none of these provisions discuss money. That is at the heart of the biggest misconception about licensing. Many people believe that if no money changes hands it's legal to violate others' intellectual property rights. This is, at best, wrong. At worst, it's a crime. Copyrights, trademarks, and patents are not about money. They are about the creators' right to control their creations. Federal law gives us not only the right, but also the obligation, to prevent people from misusing our intellectual property, whether or not we're being paid. Don't violate our rights and we can all stay friends.
VII. A Nice Thing to Do
If you have a Wyrmkeep Entertainment related page, please tell us about it. We'll check it out; if we think that your original content is especially interesting, we may add links from the appropriate pages on our site. We can't link to EVERY site that mentions our games, but we do try to showcase some of the best ones!
VIII. The Final Words
Use your head. If you don't think we'd allow it, we probably won't. When in doubt, ask.