Continuing the trend of drawing on previously published content to support the backwards-compatible latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons, every issue of Dragon Magazine and Polyhedron Magazine are now available online. The only question is if it's actually an official release from Wizards of the Coast and Paizo Publishing.
A little history: The Dragon Magazine Archive was originally released in 1999 by TSR, detailing all the issues of Dragon Magazine from the first seven issues of The Strategic Review up through issue 250 in text-searchable PDF format. However, according to Wikipedia:
Because of a conflict regarding the reprint rights for the Knights of the Dinner Table comic strips printed in Dragon for many years, the Dragon Magazine Archive is out of print and very hard to find.
The bone of contention seems to be over the rights that the authors of earlier issues signed with Dragon Magazine when they agreed to write for the publication. At the time, digital rights were not even considered and the contracts the authors signed were not inclusive of these rights. As a result, the legitimacy of publishing any product was an open question – each author would have to renegotiate their contract with TSR, making the publication of any compilation precarious to say the least. The compilation currently retails for over $220 on Amazon,
If the top tier games are selling at these levels, then something is seriously wonky in the market…On the other hand, RPG sales among PDFs, spearheaded by DrivethruRPG.com, are fairly booming. Which, of course, brings us to the inevitable question; is digital taking over?
This shift to digital from print was the driving force behind Wizards of the Coast taking Dragon Magazine online in 2007. Scott Rouse, Senior Brand Manager of Dungeons & Dragons at the time, said:
Today the internet is where people go to get this kind of information. By moving to an online model we are using a delivery system that broadens our reach to fans around the world.
Polyheron, on the other hand, was the primary publication for the Role-Playing Game Association (RPGA) from 1981 to 2002. In 2002 the magazine shifted to Paizo Publishing, who transformed the publication into a d20-focused series that released mini-games with each issue. The publication was eventually cancelled in 2004.
So it's quite surprising to hear that after all the legal hurdles facing the Dragon Magazine Archive, every issue of Dragon Magazine and Polyhedron have been released online at the Internet Archive. The publications are available online in the following formats:
- Full Text
I checked in with Wizards of the Coast and the response was that they "were looking into it." In other words, the downloads have not been reviewed by Wizards of the Coast, which makes it unlikely that Paizo Publishing has been consulted either. This means that the listing of these issues will likely be taken down, as per the Internet Archive's Copyright Policy:
The Internet Archive respects the intellectual property rights and other proprietary rights of others. The Internet Archive may, in appropriate circumstances and at its discretion, remove certain content or disable access to content that appears to infringe the copyright or other intellectual property rights of others.
This is not the first time a magazine has been put on Internet Archive without contributor or publisher permission:
In a story at his Web site headed "What the heck is going on at Internet Archive?", author Steven Saylor noted, “Sometime in 2012, the entire run of Omni magazine was uploaded (and made downloadable) at Internet Archive.... Since those old issues must contain hundreds of works still under copyright by numerous contributors, how is this legal?" At least one contributor to the magazine, author Steve Perry, has publicly complained that he never gave permission for his work to be uploaded ("they didn't say a word in my direction"), and it has been noted that all issues containing the work of Harlan Ellison have apparently been taken down.
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