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October 19, 2009

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Wizards settles 2 copyright lawsuits

TWO of eight people accused in lawsuits of illegally distributing Dungeons & Dragons handbooks over the Internet have settled, and the maker of the pioneering role-playing game is seeking a default judgment against a third.

In one of three lawsuits brought by Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc, United States District Judge Thomas S. Zilly on Friday accepted a settlement in which Thomas Patrick Nolan of Milton, Florida, agreed to a judgment against him of US$125,000.

In a settlement accepted by Zilly in July in a second Wizards lawsuit, Arthur Le of San Jose, California, agreed to pay US$100,000 to the Hasbro Inc subsidiary.

Wizards has asked the judge to order that Le's co-defendant, Mike Becker of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, pay US$30,000 in damages and US$14,616.75 in legal fees and costs. Becker has not responded to the lawsuit and was found in default in July, court filings show.

Still pending

Still pending are actions against Nolan's co-defendant, Stefan Osmena of the Philippines, and, in the third case, Krysztof Radzikowski of Poland and three people whose identities remain unknown. A Wizards spokeswoman, Tolena Thorburn, has declined to give home towns or other personal or contact information for Osmena or Radzikowski.

All three copyright infringement lawsuits were filed on April 6 and concern "Player's Handbook 2," the newest handbook for Dungeons & Dragons, released on March 17 with a suggested retail price of US$39.95 a copy. The handbook, which includes 242 pages of rules, and manuals sold online bear electronic watermarks that restrict copyright material to a specific buyer or user.

According to court filings, more than 2,600 copies of the handbook were downloaded from, and more than 4,200 copies were viewed online before the material was pulled from the document-sharing site at Wizards' request.

Dungeons & Dragons, created in 1974 and described in the lawsuit as "the first role-playing game," involves the use of pen, paper and dice to create imaginary characters of varying attributes and randomly determined levels of skill as players search for treasure and battle monsters in magical lands.


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