Quick Question - re Licensing

What is the rule or legal standing for folks creating modules and charging for them?
Is that allowed?
i.e. can a publisher of boardgames create modules and charge for them, making them only available on their website.?

The only question to consider w/r/t distributing or charging for a module is whether you have the rights to do that with the material you put into the module.

This situation is the same as with, say, an image editor. Editing an image in an image editor doesn’t give the creators of the image editor any rights over your image.

FWIW - there is a legal doctrine called “Fair Use” that may apply…

If I own a game and make “player aids” to help me play the game with friends, I haven’t done “harm” to the publisher of the game. However, the intellectual property of the original game remains with the publisher/author.

However, if I turn around and sell those player aids without permission of the IP owner, they could potentially argue in court that I have infringed their IP.

As soon as you sell something (without permission), you have potentially inflicted economic harm… I’ve seen this happen for a game used to play extensively and it destroyed relationships, harmed the gaming community, etc.

If I create unique material (e.g., an expansion scenario), then I probably own the IP to that scenario (only) and could sell it… (but note it’s worthless without the original material)

The Vassal paradigm works because players are presumed to own a physical copy of the game and thus the Vassal “player aid” doesn’t harm the publisher (i.e., cut into their sales).

FWIW - I would be very cautious (and consider seeking legal advice), both from a personal liability standpoint AND if game companies start to view Vassal as a threat and explicitly rescind permission to create modules for their games, then it hurts the entire Vassal Community.

My opinion for what it’s worth…

I took the question to be asking if I (the “publisher”) own the rights to a game, can I create a Vassal module, make it only available on my site and sell it?

Absolutely you have total ownership of all IP involved and can ask other sites not to publish the module.

If the question was can I create a Vassal module for a game that I do not have the rights to and then sell that module? The answer is almost certainly no.