I was wondering, because I see this happening especially often on this Stack site.

Most recently I made the poster of this answer aware that by the License Blizzard is granting for their materials, you are not allowed to sublicense their material. And since posting something on the SE network the user agreeing to publish it under CC-BY-SA 3.0 and confirming having the right to do so is an act of sublicensing, that this possibly might be an copyright infringement.

Also, the source he got this modified arts of the Hearthstone cards from gives no copyright or license information at all, so there is no obvious evidence, that the author of the linked tool, has any additional grants from Blizzard to give others permission to sublicense or even was granted to alter original works of Blizzard, what Blizzard by the linked FAQ's is directly referring to as not being granted.

I made the answerer aware of it and they said they gonna change it. So far so well. They didn't yet, but that's not my business anymore. I made them aware that they possibly might be infringing copyright by sublicensing something they might not be allowed to and by publishing altered artwork of Blizzard that might have been altered without permission.

But what made me wonder was, my comments had been moved to chat. So I am asking now:
Aren't comments the way to address possible copyright infringement? And if they aren't, what is the way to address it? Or is it preferred to not be addressed at all?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Semi-related: What constitutes copyright infringement?, Whose Law do we follow? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 15 '19 at 5:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast: Yep, related to my question. But nothing I don't already know since I am professional involved in determining scopes of copyrights (IANAL, tho) :) \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Jul 15 '19 at 5:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just quickly; comments are the place to deal with this and I'm guessing you comment was moved to chat because there were a lot of other comments that needed to be moved. If you experience this you can generally notify one of our diamond mods (if you don't want to do it in those comments they can generally be found in chat). I don't actually speak for them, but they've been good about moving comments back in the past. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jul 15 '19 at 11:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil: Thanks for pointing it out. I just wasn't sure, so before requesting it being moved back, I wanted to be sure if it possibly was infact moved for a reason. In which case I find meta being the better place to find an factual answer rather than asking someone who acted opposing to my request (what implies inevitable criticsm). I hope my reasoning makes sense here. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Jul 15 '19 at 11:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zaibis After you pointed out the possible copyright issuse, I made it my plan to change the art on my answer to something of my own, but so far I wasn't able to sit and draw peacefully for a couple hours. I'll eventually get to it - I just need some time. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Jul 15 '19 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar: No worries, this whole meta is absolutely not about you. As I mentioned already, not my buisiness. I was more worried about the fact that my comment got moved and the stance this made me assume. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Jul 16 '19 at 4:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @zaibis Took me a bit but today I got that art done. I hope it is enough to remove the concerns. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Jul 25 '19 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar: I honestly appreciate the effort you did. I just want to point out again, especially since I learned here on this meta. You had no obligation to change it by the terms of this site, nor did I EXPECT you to do it. I just wanted to leave a heads up, in case you might just not have known and were exerted to respect such things on your own. So I just repeat, I really appreciate the effort you did. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Jul 26 '19 at 14:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar: And it looks great :) \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Jul 26 '19 at 14:51

It's not necessary for us to police copyright law to this degree. In this instance you're even policing Blizzard's copyright harder than Blizzard itself does.

The comments were removed and not acted on by moderators because the concern you were bringing up is actually something we'd prefer not be worried about.

Let's talk briefly about fansites and card generators

Every trading card game has card generator fansites nowadays. I know we're talking about a Hearthstone one, but let me talk about Magic: the Gathering for a moment because it's got both a longer history and a bigger custom card community. MTG has at least three extremely well known custom card generators: MTG Cardsmith, Magic Set Editor, and MTG.Design. One of those has existed for eight years at this point. These tools are part of a lively custom card creator community. Wizards of the Coast has never acted to shut these down because they embrace the custom card creator communities as a vitally important part of the game's social health, and because nobody is actually using them to damage Wizards's profitability off their intellectual property. In fact, custom card creators wind up being free marketing and increase community engagement with their game, leading to better profit. For the same reasons, Blizzard is never going to shut down Hearthcards.

Wizards has acted to shut down sites in the past that damage their IP or profitability by allowing people to make easily-printable card proxies on a large scale. One such recent site took a list of cards and generated dozens of pages of printable images so you could print your deck at home for free. These sites don't do that, haven't been shut down, and will never do that because the site owners know better. Hearthstone can't really be pirated this way, but the principle is the same and Hearthcards isn't a mass proxy site.

In general games have a fansite policy. They enforce it loosely, allowing fan communities to use even unlicensed intellectual property as long as they're doing it in capacity as a fansite. For example, MTG sites aren't technically permitted to use the game's mana symbols, but loads of the largest MTG sites do it anyway and you're not going to find Wizards sending out a cease & desist about it. Intellectual property law is an imperfect system and this is one of those areas where companies like Wizards and Blizzard choose not to enforce them and prefer to just quietly allow fans to do their thing.

The use of the fansite is integral to the answer and its usage is fine

Our primary official reason to not link to pirate sites on here is because the links are guaranteed to go dead (sooner than links might otherwise) and we don't want guaranteed link rot on our site. There's other good pragmatic concerns too, for example we want to maintain a good-faith relationship with publishers and we don't want our site to become a hive of scum and villainy.

The custom card generator probably won't go dead though, at least not sooner than any other site might. It's not going to damage our relationship with any third party. It's not going to turn our site into a hive of scum and villainy either.

The answer also does no harm. The legal concerns are literally Blizzard's business and Blizzard is fine with it; this is the opposite of a problem to them. These are obviously Hearthstone cards and nobody's doing anything to damage Blizzard's IP or its sales. Nobody's being exploitative here or doing any damage to anybody.

The only thing that the answer is doing with the card generator recommendation and images is providing people a cool way to solve a problem in their games. It's a good answer, it makes a good recommendation, and it stands to improve the quality of peoples' games at no cost to anyone. Worrying about the state of copyright here stands to do the community a disservice for no reason and no benefit.

Everything is OK. We should leave it be.

We'd ask that you highlight when an RPG piracy reference site is being used, but this specific case doesn't warrant action.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am fine with what you say. Except for your claim that noone is compromising Blizzards IP. We can't actually know(Or if you can, please provide the source of that grant). If there is any source available outweighting the license I linked, you might be right but from the info available to me their IP IS compromised. Just because they decide to take no actions doesn't mean they allow it. And I am not here cause I want to stand in for Blizzard, I am here cause the SE policy says users have to take care of having the rights to license the material they post under CC-BY-SA 3.0 . \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Jul 15 '19 at 13:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ And by the license I linked this sublicensing as I understand it is prohibited. So I am less worried about blizzard but about what could happen to SE if now someone takes such material and assumes he can use it by the grant of the CCSA (which isnt excluding commercial use) and then things go down the rabbit hole. As said I primarily wanted to know how to address it. And if the official statement is, possible copy right infringement is preferable not being addressed at all. That confuses me but I am just gonna act according to that and don't mind noting on infringements I see anymore at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Jul 15 '19 at 13:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've replaced “compromise” with “damage” since that's the sense of compromise I meant. See the part where intellectual law isn't perfect: the intent of copyright law is being served here even if the letter of may be broken, which is why these companies prefer to do nothing. We don't need to worry about it in their stead when they're not. Stack Exchange will be fine—if Blizzard sends them a strongly worded letter they'll take down one answer and that will be the end of it. We'd ask that you highlight when an RPG piracy reference site is being used, but this specific case doesn't warrant action. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 15 '19 at 13:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ok, fair call. Added. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 15 '19 at 13:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also I'll be frank with you: material that cannot actually get released into CC gets reproduced on Stack Exchange a lot. For example, any D&D reference image at all. Note the network is still alive and functioning fine. This gets resolved pretty simply legally: the person can't actually release the material into CC, so it doesn't actually get CC licensed, despite the claim in our site footer. Stack Exchange does receive copyright claims from time to time and handles them calmly—but I'm not aware of RPG.SE ever receiving any such claim in its history. (1/2) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 15 '19 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ The community doesn't have an obligation to police copyright to the letter, we just maintain health of the site. We're not equipped to handle the situation comprehensively and correctly anyway. This means by default we're reactive, not proactive, when it comes to matters of copyright—we wait until someone makes a copyright claim. The exception is we chose to be proactive about piracy reference sites at a time when they were becoming really common to see them linked. It's a very visible exception but shouldn't be seen as redefining our default. (2/2) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 15 '19 at 14:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ For what it’s worth, this is probably not an example of Fair Use—if you actually got a C&D, ignored it, and went to court over this, the court would most likely say “you could have used your own card design and lost absolutely nothing of educational value, so it isn’t Fair Use.” (I am not a lawyer and even if I was I couldn’t guarantee the way a judge would rule in any given case, but I’m reasonably confident that this prediction is reasonably likely.) I agree, though, that it’s Blizzard’s business to enforce it and their choice not to matters. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 15 '19 at 14:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Fully agree, it's not Fair Use whatsoever. It's just an odd space of copyright where the letter of the law is not serving the intent of the law so companies like Blizzard typically overlook the letter of the law and permit this stuff through inaction because in their view it's beneficial to do so. And like you said, their choice to handle it that way matters. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 15 '19 at 14:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tiggerous I'm not sure off-hand. Even if D&D 5e is selling a spell card product, fans are OK to create their own free alternatives if they're not otherwise infringing on D&D 5e. So we'd need to check that: (1) Is this somehow identically reproducing an otherwise paid product? Are these basically PDF scans of cards Wizards made? (2) Is this reproducing non-SRD content en masse such that one could use lots of content from not-for-free books without ever needing to pay for those books? (That first one is proxying, the second one makes this an elaborate member of the dndtools family.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 15 '19 at 17:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tiggerous: I've removed the comment - because of criterion #2 that doppelgreener mentions. The site you linked does indeed reproduce non-SRD content en masse; it includes the description of every spell (including the non-SRD ones from the PHB, all the ones from XGTE, and the cantrips from SCAG). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 15 '19 at 19:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zaibis Moderators aren’t employees of SE and don’t have that kind of information. You’d have to use the contact form to ask company staff instead. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 16 '19 at 7:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zaibis Mods don’t have any information on copyright claims that come in. But that aside, not thinking about copyright and licensing while using the site is the wrong conclusion to draw. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 16 '19 at 7:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tuskiomi I’m not a lawyer either, but I am absolutely confident it is not parody. Fair Use requires parodies to be really obvious about being parodies or they won’t fly. There is no attempt at humor or satire here, which is required for a parody. It’s simply not Fair Use, of any flavor. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 24 '19 at 17:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar As doppelgreener has said, that’s probably overkill—after all, Blizzard themselves doesn’t seem to care—but nice, well done. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 26 '19 at 0:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Thanks. I know it was probably overkill, but this whole discussion about copyright was stuck on my mind since day 1. I couldn't really forget this thing XD \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Jul 26 '19 at 1:25

Option 1: It's your copyright

Contact Stack Exchange. Except the link about notifying copyright infringement goes to the terms of service which don't tell you how to do it. So I would contact their legal team.

Option 2: It's not your copyright

If you are a law enforcement officer specifically charged with seeking out and prosecuting copyright infringement: do that.

If you aren't, leave it to the copyright owner to look after their own property. If you like, you can let them know of the alleged infringement.

Fair Use/Dealing

Almost all uses of copyright material on Stack Exchange sites are likely to be fair use/dealing in any event.


Obviously, if the post is infringing it can't be sub-licenced. However, the onus is always on a person who wants to use potentially copyrighted material that they have a clean licence all the way back to the copyright holder. You cannot rely on the fact that Stack Exchange releases data under a licence because you cannot confirm that the original post to Stack Exchange was legitimate.

That's just the way copyright works, I'm afraid.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I am very well aware of all this. And I at no point wanted to enforce anything. I was just informing the person who made that post about the given licenses by the material they were using in their post (If they were not accepting that, I saw my comment at least as a help for those who care, to be informed of the problem I was seeing, making it easier to track the path to the IP holder). By the comment being moved that got obsolete and I was wondering how to approach this, hence I asked how to give such a note. I didn't ask how to enforce it or how to reach out to mods so they can enforce it. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Jul 17 '19 at 5:26

'Moved to Chat' isn't bad.

So, it sounds like you are confusing 'my comments were deleted or moved' with 'my comments were deemed unuseful'. Those aren't the same thing. Your comment, presuming it was basically what you said it was in your question, while fundamentally wrong (as doppelgreener explains in more detail), was the right way to deal with it. Then the comments got moved (not sure why they weren't just deleted-- were there a lot of them and an ongoing discussion or something?), because nobody needs your old comments and the posted had clearly already read them. That doesn't mean your comments weren't good to post, it means your comments didn't need to be taking up space on the answer page anymore.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "(not sure why they weren't just deleted-- were there a lot of them and an ongoing discussion or something?)" - Yes, there were 20 moved comments (all but doppelgreener's last message in the chat were previously comments). Generally speaking, unless the comment suggests an improvement that's been acted upon/rejected, or asks a clarifying question that's been addressed in the answer itself, we prefer to simply let the conversation continue in a more appropriate place. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 17 '19 at 3:53

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