Online Licensing and Policies
HERO GAMES ONLINE AND LICENSING POLICY
We get a lot of requests from fans who want to put up
Hero-related websites, create computer software to help them play HERO
System games, and things like that. We also get requests for information
from people who are interested in licensing the HERO System
from us to produce and sell their own gaming books and products.
To clarify our position on these matters, here's a statement of
our policies and positions on fan creations, licensing, and similar
issues. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to Steve
All of the policies and conditions set forth in this document are
subject to change or withdrawal at any time and without notice, as are
all grants of permission not formalized by a signed contract.
I. LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS
All of these matters relate to various legal issues surrounding intellectual
property law - copyright, trademark, trade dress, patents, and things
like that. Hero Games isn't in the business of practicing law or
offering legal advice, so we're not going to do that here. If you want
to learn more about the subject, there are lots of good references in
libraries, and even online - and of course you can always consult an
This policy document is simply meant to provide information about
(a) what we regard as violating the law and/or our intellectual property
rights; (b) what we regard as not violating either the law or our
rights; and (c) what we're willing to allow you to do, though it might
otherwise violate our rights, if you obtain permission from us.
Hero Games owns copyrights, trademarks, and/or other intellectual
property rights in the HERO System and many related terms (such
as "the HERO System" and "Fantasy Hero"). Intellectual property law
requires us to act to preserve and protect those rights (or at least
some of them). If we don't, we could lose them. So, we hope you'll
understand the necessity behind some of our policies. We want to work in
a polite and respectful manner with all of our loyal fans so they can
post what they want to on the web without harming our rights. We've
never had to take legal action before to protect our intellectual
property rights, and we hope we never will.
At the risk of offering a little legal advice, we do
want to make three things clear:
A. Money: Just because you're giving something
away for free, or not making a profit from it, does not mean
you're not violating Hero Games's rights. Generally speaking,
money/profit (or a lack thereof) isn't a major consideration when it
comes to determining what violates someone's intellectual property
B. Disclaimers: Just because you issue some sort
of "disclaimer" or acknowledgment of Hero Games's rights does
not mean you're not violating those rights. Saying you don't intend to
challenge or infringe Hero's rights has no legal effect. While we
appreciate that your intentions are innocent and you have plenty of
goodwill toward us, that really doesn't matter when it comes to
determining what violates our intellectual property rights.
C. Out Of Print Materials: Just because a
particular book or product isn't in print or available to consumers does
not mean you can post copies of it for others to download, or that
Hero's intellectual property rights in it have ended. After all, we
might want to reprint it or make some other use of it. Our rights
continue to exist in full strength, whether we choose to keep a product
in print or not.
II. WHAT YOU CAN DO
It's our opinion and policy that you may, without our permission
or approval, post the following to a website for free use:
-Your own characters, spells, gadgets, campaign
settings, scenarios, NPCs, and the like, written up using the HERO
-Your own alternate or "house" rules for HERO System
games, provided they don't reprint any text from our published works and
do not exceed 5,000 words in length.
-Your own discussion of HERO System rules issues,
philosophies, and ideas, provided you don't copy or reproduce text from
our books. For example, you could write an article about "Why I Think
Guns Don't Do Enough Damage In The HERO System," but you
couldn't reproduce one of our gun damage tables to go with it.
You must allow others to view and use these materials for free.
If you want to charge money for something related to the HERO
System, you need to follow the guidelines in Section V, below.
III. WHAT YOU CAN'T DO
It's our opinion and policy that you may
not post the following to a website:
-Text copied or reproduced from any Hero Games publication,
except for brief excerpts in the context of a review or similar "fair
-Characters, spells, gadgets, vehicles, and the like from any
Hero Games publication, even in your own "alternate," "variant," or
-Your own alternate or "house" rules of more than 5,000 words in
-Any text using Hero's trade dress, and/or formatted so it
resembles Hero Games product(s) to such an extent it's likely, in our
judgment, to cause confusion in the minds of the consumer. (You can
avoid confusion by clearly setting forth, on every
page of a document, the disclaimers in IV.A.6 and IV.C, below.) For
purposes of this clause, we don't consider the general formatting and
arrangement of our character sheets to be "trade dress"; if you want to
copy those, that's acceptable, though we would still appreciate the
inclusion of the disclaimer in the appropriate places.
Additionally, you may not:
-Sell anything associated with Hero Games or the HERO
System (except where you follow our policy; see Section V, below).
A. Exemptions: If you feel you have a special
case and deserve an exemption from this restriction, get in touch with
us and we'll see what we can do. We're not unreasonable folks. We want
to help our fans help us. :)
If you have something cool you'd like to give away to Hero fans -
say, a great group of NPCs, a Hero-oriented desktop theme, or a
dice-rolling program - but you don't have a website for it, or you're
concerned about the legal implications, let us know. We can probably
work something out. Perhaps we can arrange to post it on our own
Downloads page, or you can post it on the message boards. That way,
IV. WHAT YOU CAN DO IF WE GIVE YOU PERMISSION
It's our opinion and policy that you may, with our
direct permission and approval, and according to these guidelines and
restrictions, post the following to a website:
A. Logos and Marks: You may use our trademarks
and logos, if you do the following:
1. You use them only in conjunction with discussions of the HERO
System or the properties they represent.
2. You don't alter them, other than changing their colors to
better suit the appearance of your site.
3. You don't use them in such a way as to, in our judgment,
diminish their value, or otherwise damage them.
4. For the first use of any logo or mark on any page, you have to
properly designate them as the trademarks (TM) or registered trademarks
(?) of DOJ, Inc. d/b/a Hero Games. Check the legal text at the front of
the latest Hero Games books to see which terms we have trademarks or
registered trademarks for; contact us if you have any questions.
5. For the first use of any logo or mark on any page, you
establish a hyperlink back to the Hero Games webpage
(www.herogames.com), and to any page on our website that's directly
related to any specific product you reference. You can establish other
hyperlinks back to our page if you want, but we insist on at least one
prominent link, and one per product mentioned. Contact us if you have
6. You place, in the appropriate section(s) of your webpage, the
following disclaimer text:
[Name(s) of product(s)] is (are) a trademark(s) of DOJ, Inc.,
used by permission. All rights reserved.
The HERO System TM ? is DOJ, Inc.'s trademark for its
roleplaying system. See www.herogames.com for more information.
The HERO System and all associated games, game products,
terms, and images are copyright ? [Year] by DOJ, Inc. This webpage
includes copyrighted material, which is used by permission of DOJ, Inc.
All rights reserved.
B. Artwork: You may use up to five pieces of
artwork (total) from Hero Games products, if you follow the same
restrictions and requirements outlined for logos and marks above. But
all of your uses of our artwork must be, in our judgment,
This same policy applies to things like convention programs, game
club announcements, and so forth. However, you may
not put our logo on t-shirts, caps, backpacks, or other apparel or
C. Disclaimer: All websites, webpages,
documents, and other publications using Hero Games materials with
permission from us must include the following disclaimer:
The original material presented here is my own creation,
intended for use with the HERO System and/or other products of DOJ, Inc.
d/b/a Hero Games. This material is not official, and has not been
approved or endorsed by DOJ, Inc.
D. Obtaining Permission: To obtain permission,
contact HERO System Line Developer Steven S. Long through our
page. We'll review your request and get back to you as soon as we can.
E. Revocation Of Permission: Because our
publishing strategy and plans change from time to time, we can't
permanently grant anyone the permission to post anything. There may come
a time when, for whatever reason, we have to revoke our permission and
ask you to take down whatever we granted permission for. All of our
policies and permissions not formalized by a signed contract are subject
to withdrawal or change without notice. Our grants of permission are
contingent upon your acceptance of this condition.
V. SELLING HERO GAMES MATERIALS - LICENSING
The issue of selling materials related to Hero Games products -
such as your own book of HERO System characters, an e-zine
devoted to Hero Games products, or a software program designed to make
playing the HERO System easier - is a special one.
Generally speaking, we consider any effort by anyone other than
DOJ, Inc. to make money by producing HERO System books,
materials, or gaming aids to be a direct challenge to and violation of
our intellectual property rights, unless you have received a license
from us to do so.
A. Licensing The HERO System: We're willing to
consider licensing the HERO System to talented and responsible
individuals who want to produce books, computer programs, and similar
products with it. We have six general rules for all licenses:
1. Money: You have to pay for the license. In most
cases, you'll have to pay us a royalty on all sales of your product. The
amount of the royalty depends on the nature of the project, our
knowledge of and confidence in you, and other factors like that.
Typically it's at least Five Percent (5%) of the retail price, and
sometimes higher. In some cases, we may negotiate advance payments or
2. Approval: We must have a right of approval over
everything you intend to publish, and that includes packaging and
advertising. The goodwill and respect associated with Hero Games and the
HERO System in the minds of the consuming public are one of our
most important assets, and we don't want to tarnish our reputation by
allowing a lot of poor-quality products to be sold under our banner.
3. Format: If you want to create a book or similar
printed (or electronic) product with our rules, you have to write it to
conform to the most recent version of the HERO System Style &
Formatting Guidelines, available as part of our
4. Noncompetitiveness: We're not going to grant any
licenses for other persons or firms to compete with us directly. That
mainly means two things:
a. We won't grant you a license to produce books for product
lines we have not yet established by publishing a genre book. For
example, as of February 2008 we haven't yet published Cyber
Hero, so we're not willing to grant you a license that would allow you
to publish a Cyberpunk-oriented HERO System product.
b. We won't grant a license to produce a product substantially
similar to a book we plan to produce ourselves. For example, we've got a
book called The Ultimate Weapon in our plans, so we won't grant
anyone a license to produce a book full of weapon statistics and
5. Other Rules Systems: Generally speaking, we prefer
not to grant a license for anyone to put HERO System rules or
character write-ups in a book featuring rules or character write-ups for
other rules systems, though we're willing to discuss exceptions.
6. Professionalism: We'll only grant licenses to people
with whom we think we can establish and maintain a good working
relationship, and who will produce quality HERO System
products. If we've never heard of or worked with you before, we're not
as likely to grant you a license. If you've never published game
products before, or been involved in the creation of game products
before, we're not as likely to grant you a license. If you can't show us
some comparative work to demonstrate the quality of the HERO
System product you want to create, we're not as likely to grant you a
If you have any questions, please contact Line Developer Steven
S. Long through our
We reserve the right to refuse to grant a license to anyone for
any reason, or even for no reason at all.
B. If We Grant You A License: If we enter into a
licensing agreement with you, you're going to have to sign a contract
establishing all the details of our arrangement. We'll draft the
contract, and then you can discuss specific terms with us when you've
had a chance to review it.
Once we've granted you a license, and approved your product,
we'll assist you by advertising your product on our website and making
it available through our online store (assuming you want us to).
C. Alternatives To Licensing: If you're not
interested in a license, you can try to sell your product to us. Make us
a proposal, following the format in our
We might like your idea enough to produce it for you, so that we both
come out ahead. That would mean giving up your rights to the work, but
if what you really want to do is get it in front of other Hero gamers,
it can't hurt to try.
VI. REGISTERING YOUR WEBSITE
We'd like to keep track of all the HERO System-oriented
websites and pages we can, since that helps both us and our fans. If
you'd like us to list your page on our "Links" page, please send the
following to us through our
-the name of the site as you want it to appear on our page
-a brief (no more than one short paragraph) description of your
site and its Hero-related contents
-a suggestion about which of our links pages you consider the
most appropriate place to post a link to your site
You can also e-mail us with updates about your linked website and
other suggestions or ideas.