Author Topic: Publishing, Distributing & Selling Custom Cards & Sets  (Read 478 times)

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Publishing, Distributing & Selling Custom Cards & Sets
« on: January 03, 2016, 09:26:11 AM »
Publishing, Distributing & Selling Custom Cards & Sets

Premise: Discuss the legality and ramifications of publishing, distributing, and selling third-party designed cards and sets which are compatible with Magic: the Gathering rules.

You may be enticed to design and sell your own cards and sets if you are not happy with Wizards direction or if you prefer themes and genres that Wizards would never foray in the Magic universe (e.g. sci-fi theme).

The major hurdles are probably the fear of infringing on laws regarding copyright, trademarks, and patents. Copyright and trademarks infringements can be easily avoided, as detailed below. However, many people may be cautious of infringing on the patents owned by Wizards pertaining to Magic and CCGs (collectible card games) in general. Fortunately, all of these patents have expired on or before 2015. Regardless, creating similar games with similar rules are legal, as long as you don't reuse someone else's art and trademarks. Read more about these issues at https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/493249/mythbusting-game-design-and-copyright-trademarks-a .

Avoiding Copyright and Trademarks

There are simple guidelines to avoid infringing on copyrights and trademarks.
1. Don't copy the look of the cards, including the frames and border styles.
2. Don't reuse any illustrations and symbols, including mana symbols and tap symbol.
3. Avoid reusing the same card names and keywords for abilities. (e.g. Haste can be renamed as Celerity.)
4. Avoid remaking existing cards with exactly the same names, cost, abilities, and P/T.
5. Preferably consider different themes and genres (e.g. sci-fi, modern earth, cyberpunk). This is very much recommended and favorable to your product.
6. You may not market the game saying it is "like" or "similar" to another. You may not put Magic and other Wizards' brands and trademarks anywhere on your products and packaging.
7. You may not copy Magic comprehensive rules verbatim. You must rewrite the rules in your own words.

Distribution Models

The most common distribution models for card games are CCG and LCG. CCG (collectible card game) or TCG (trading card game) is what Magic uses. Packs are inserted with cards randomly, and cards of various rarities are inserted at different rates. LCG (Living Card Game) is a newer model by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). (They also trademarked this term.) New sets and expansions are sold in boxed sets such that cards are packaged in known, nonrandom quantities. Whereas in a CCG you never know what cards you'll get in a random pack, LCG packs from the same expansion have identical cards and amounts. In addition, FFG also sells random packs for the purpose of drafting.

Also consider print-on-demand or selling singles directly to the player.

Ramifications

By incentivizing third-party cards and sets compatible with Magic's rules, we'll see more interesting cards and mechanics not limited by Wizards' schedule and direction. We'll see more complete sets and worlds by custom card creators that will be played openly in stores and casually. Also when Wizards no longer has a monopoly, we may see improvements on official Magic sets.

Please debate whether you like the idea of buying and playing with third-party sets (custom cards). What additional legal hurdles to avoid. What the landscape of Magic would be with compatible sets featuring different genres and mechanics.

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