[RPG] What exactly does Paizo consider Product Identity


What I am trying to do:

I am building a character sheet application for use on my phone or tablet and would like to be able to make a few bucks off of it should it turn out handy during my own game play.
I would like to use Races and Classes in the application so certain attributes (racial ability bonuses/penalties, racial traits, spell-like abilities, spells per day, and anything else used to determine character sheet data) will auto populate. Can I use that much information in an application I plan to sell or am I stuck with mechanics only (calculating the abilities scores and HP for example but the user has to enter all info for these calculations)?

It would be nice to provide feats and spells list so the user does not have to type in the info (and to keep from too much data duplication in my database).

My plan at this point would be to allow PCs up to lvl 4 for free and charge a buck or two to lvl up past that. I will definitely provide all PRD information I use as reference for free in my application.

What my issue is:

I am having a hard time determining what Paizo considers to be Open Content and Product Identity.

I have read the OGL posted on Paizo website but am unsure what exactly is considered PI.

All trademarks, registered trademarks, proper names (characters, deities, etc.), dialogue, plots, storylines, locations, characters, artworks, and trade dress.

The PRD lists races and classes but not specific characters or deities so am I to assume if it is on the PRD it is Open Content?

The PRD included this text on their home page:

This compendium of rules, charts, and tables contains all of the open rules in the system

It says it contains all open rules but does not explicitly say that all the content is open.

I did see this question and the second answer seems to say that everything included in the PRD is OC, but I assume they mentioned PI on their OGL page because something in the PRD is not OC.

Am I making this too hard?

What I am unsure of:

What is "etc." in the Product Identity clause and why include it in the OGL definition page if all the PRD content is OC?

Can I use Race, Class, Spell, and Feat data in my application if is in the PRD?

Best Answer

(usual disclaimer that I'm not a professional lawyer and that you should consult one)

You're quite right to question the PRD as being 100% open content, as there are indeed some PI terms used within it. The PRD's Open Content declaration only specifies that rules included within are open (in similar wording to many printed products that state the same thing), at no point does it actually state the entire text of PRD is Open Content. In addition, PI falls under the implicit terms of the OGL as being protected in section 1(e) of the License. In that way, the PRD cannot be considered as 100% Open Content in the same way as the d20 SRD can.

Your best bet is to pick out those terms, and email Paizo directly to query whether it is okay to use them under the OGL.

One notable example is the Prestige Class "Pathfinder Chronicler", which is a specific term used within Paizo's Golarion setting background and not a generic name such as "Loremaster", "Wizard", or "Fighter", as well as containing the term "Pathfinder" which is protected as PI as the product name itself. In this example, you can create a prestige class in an OGL product using the rules of the Pathfinder Chronicler (or simply reproduce the class itself), but would have to call it something different. To borrow a little from Mxyzplk's answer, you could probably call it "PF Chronicler" ;)

Note that the advice I'm giving is based upon the interpretation of Paizo's OGC declaration, not the intent. It may well be that they intend all terms within the PRD to be Open, but they have not specifically said that in their declaration. Obtaining permission/clarification from Paizo is a simple matter of sending an email, so there's really no reason not to ask them to be 100% sure on the matter. Assuming it is okay because other products have used those terms (and they have) is not good practice - it only means you'll also be in violation if the OGL if they are.

Paizo contact emails can be found at http://paizo.com/paizo/about/contact - my guess is the Licensing Coordinator would be a good place to start asking.

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