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Community Guidelines for IP Usage

August 24, 2015 12:00 AM

Hey there! So you like Pillars of Eternity and you want to show it through your creativity? We absolutely love that! Due to this, we figure you probably would like to know what it is you can and can't do with our Intellectual Property, or "IP" as people in the biz say it. That's right, the biz. We're fancy.

Well look no further! We're here to fill you in on our guidelines and conditions in which we're generally, although not always, willing to let you, the awesome fans, use the Pillars IP in creating fantastic stuff! Don't worry, there won't be a test at the end, we'll have a FAQ for, well, frequently asked questions at the bottom. Think of all of this as a cheat sheet to use when expressing your fandom.

So what's the gist? What's the easy answer? We don't really have one, actually. Not that we don't want one, it's just that our lawyers said it needs to be explained. So read along while we do random legal spot checks. We bet you thought you'd get out of this without some light role-playing. Come on. It's us.

Although we have a Rule Set to follow that will be explained in a bit (patience, young Padawan), we do have a simple rule of thumb. Think of it as the One Rule to Rule Them All, but it won't bind anything in darkness because you couldn't read it then. That's just silly.

Our Main Rule

Our main rule: you want to make something awesome based on the Pillars of Eternity IP for a fan project? A fan project that you want to give away to other fans, showing the appreciation you have for the IP and our studio? Something that, at most, will only generate ad revenue? The kind of fan project that, for ease of not having to write (or for you to have to read) that much we'll just call simply, "Fan Project" (because your work is so awesome to us, it's now a proper noun). Anyway, back to that rule, you want to make a Fan Project? Sweet! You can as long as you, the creator of the Fan Project comply with our guidelines (henceforth known as "Rule Set") that we'll go into below.

That's the big rule. It's really a rule that has you follow other rules, but such is life anyway and we all are awesome at role-playing that, right? That said, if you want to Fan Projects for Pillars of Eternity that are free to the masses, we absolutely, 100% fully endorse it... within the parameters of the Rule Set.

Charging for your Fan Project

Now charging for your Fan Project, that's something else entirely. If you want to ask other Pillars fans to give you money for something that's based on our IP, you'll need to get our written consent saying that we've rolled a 20 on your choice and are cool with it. All requests for consent can be submitted by contacting us at We'll want to see what your Fan Project is and we'll decide from there if we'll allow it. Our ability to roll saving throws on choices like this is very slim though, and as such we usually will not allow such Fan Projects.

For any and all Fan Projects we reserve the right to deny the use of our IP at any time, for any or no reason. This includes us thinking our property is being used inappropriately and we can do so at our sole discretion. If we deny you the right to use our IP, you will need to cease and desist any and all use and distribution of your Fan Project that uses or might use our IP. Inappropriate usage covers a broad spectrum of reasons, most grounded in a realm of common sense, which we believe doesn't fit our IP or our core values, or that we believe is just plain old bad manners. If your Fan Project does not infringe on anyone else's rights in any way, is not done in bad taste or make us look bad, and is free for your fellow Pillars fans, you are likely on the right track. It's pretty easy like that. On the other hand, if your Fan Project or something within your Fan Project could end up having a negative impact on Obsidian Entertainment, Pillars of Eternity or our community of fans in any way, that is just bad form. Don't be those people. Bummer yes, but as Curtis Blow once said, "These are the breaks."

The Rule Set

"Well, Obsidian, what is this 'Rule Set' you've mentioned previously?" Glad you asked! Without further ado, let's get into it!

  • We don't endorse your Fan Project. It's not you, it's us. If you share your Fan Project with other fans, then you will need to include the following notice so it is easy for people to see - such as the app/web page where your Fan Project can be downloaded:
    [The title of your fan project] isn't endorsed by Obsidian Entertainment, Inc. and doesn't reflect the views or opinions of Obsidian Entertainment, Inc. or anyone officially involved with making Pillars of Eternity. Pillars of Eternity and Obsidian Entertainment and all related logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Obsidian Entertainment, Inc. Pillars of Eternity © 2015 Obsidian Entertainment, Inc.
  • Don't mix and match IPs. You might like that song, or piece of artwork, or just other cool thing that someone else made, but you cannot mix it with the Pillars of Eternity IP in your Fan Project without the creator of that cool song, art, cool thing's permission. If you do use totally awesome art, cool thing, song without the creator's permission and we find out about it, we may require you to take down and stop distributing your Fan Project completely.
  • We know you can make cool things. In fact, this whole page wouldn't exist without you being able to do such cool things. That said, all of your cool things should be shared with others so they can share if possible! We want to be able to bring attention to the cool things that you do as well so other fans can see your Fan Project and not be sued. Random spot check on our legal skill time... 20! Okay, so: by making a Fan Project using our IP you agree that we can use, copy, modify, distribute, and make derivative works of your Fan Project in any form, on a royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide basis, for any purpose and without having to pay you anything, obtain your approval, or give you credit.
  • You like our logos, well, so do we! Unfortunately, unless you have written consent from us (remember, consent comes from mailing us at, you cannot use our logos. What does this mean? The Obsidian Entertainment and the Pillars of Eternity logo cannot appear in your Fan Project, website, advertising material, video or other publication.
  • Now we're going to get fancy. There is a term known as, "Indemnification." It's a fancy lawyer associated term that we have to use, but we'll need to run that legal skill check again. Our modifier will certainly help with getting this correct, too. What our lawyers don't want is for us to get sued or to be put at risk by your Fan Project. Makes sense, right? If we have any kind of legal claim or lawsuit brought against us due to your Fan Project or anything you do in regard to your Fan Project, you will be the one responsible for paying our legal fees and costs related to said lawsuit. Formally speaking, this means you agree to defend, indemnify, and hold Obsidian, as well as all of Obsidian’s partners, and all of the employees, officers, directors, or other representatives of either harmless from all liabilities, costs, or other fees associated with or arising from any act or omission on your part, especially with regard to your Fan Project.This includes our attorneys’ fees or expert witness’ fees and any settlement or judgement amount that we have to pay as a result.
  • EULA. Last, except as we’ve allowed here, you also agree to comply with the End User License Agreement for Pillars of Eternity; as well as any other Terms of Use or other legal terms as might apply to any source you use to obtain materials used in your Fan Project.

If there’s ever a dispute over this Rule Set, we’re going to play according to the laws of the State of California, our home state, in deciding what this stuff says and means. If any part of this Rule Set is found to be unlawful or unenforceable for any reason, then we’ll pretend that part doesn’t exist but all other part of the Rule Set will remain unaffected.

Finally, we might change this Rule Set occasionally. It’s our playground and we make the rules. You will be bound by any such changes as of the date we post them.


You've Got Some Questions (Pretty Frequently Even), We Got Answers!

Q: I want to make super awesome things based on Pillars of Eternity! It's going to be the coolest video/book/art/t-shirt/plush/space ship you ever did see! How does Obsidian feel about this?
A: We can't wait to see it! Especially that space ship. We fully endorse you creating stuff as long as you provide that stuff for free, and don’t use Pillars of Eternity content in an inappropriate manner (as discussed above). As with all Fan Projects, though, we can ask that they stopped being distributed at any time.
Q: What about Let's Play videos that I will generate ad revenue on? Are you cool with that?
A: We are totally fine with you doing Let's Play videos for Pillars of Eternity and generating ad revenue from the video. Just know that we reserve the right to revoke said privilege at any time per our guidelines above. For any of our other games, we don't own the IP for those and any request for Let's Play videos of those games would have be through the consent of our publishing partners.
Q: What about music? In particular, I’d like to use your music for a roleplaying podcast or stream!
A: As fans of Justin’s music ourselves, we certainly know the urge to use it for our tabletop games! Unfortunately, while we have an ongoing partnership with a certain nerdy group of voice actors to use our music for projects that fall outside of the scope of what constitutes a “Fan Project” above, that was a rare exception we made. At this time, we are not permitting use of music that is outside the scope of a Fan Project, including, but not limited to, using said music to play in the background of a stream or any third-party game. That being said, if you are planning on doing a podcast or stream of project relating to the Pillars of Eternity franchise, such as Josh’s Pillars of Eternity tabletop ruleset, please reach out to us and we can talk it through!
Q: So what actually constitutes as "prior written consent" from Obsidian Entertainment?
A: As stated above, the way to go with this can only be started by contacting us at We're Big Brother when it comes to this and need to follow the Rule Set. Consent must come from someone who’s authorized by Obsidian Entertainment and from there you'll be good to go!
Q: I asked permission as nicely as I could and sent you emails but I never got a response. What should I do?
A: Maybe we never got it or maybe we did and lost it in an avalanche of fan requests or maybe we just haven’t gotten to it yet? Please send it again! Our email server doesn’t mind. We try the best we can to respond to every message within three days, but if your question is handled by the Rule Set or the answer is obvious, we might not respond at all. We're not trying to be rude, we just figure this is here for a reason so might as well use it! Just remember, until we say yes in writing, our lawyer says the answer is “no” (and, more importantly, blame him not us).