James over at the Underdark Gazette has posted on a topic several people emailed me about earlier today. Follow the link to get the basic facts of the situation, along with some interesting commentary.
As I see it, Die Cast Games is either extremely brave or extremely stupid. I don't think adopting TSR's mid to late-80s trade dress is that big of a deal. As I recall, others have already done it without any negative consequences. What no one has done, however, is use the name "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" in order to promote an old school product. It's true that the module doesn't reproduce the AD&D logo from the same era, but it does imitate it, in addition to using the code "TSR1" to identify it.
Taken together, using all these elements in a single cover design strikes me as foolhardy in the extreme, practically daring Wizards of the Coast to take legal action against Die Cast Games. I'm no fan of what WotC has done to D&D in recent years, but I don't think any reasonable person could argue that they can just ignore a product like this.
Honestly, I don't really care what happens to this module or to Die Cast Games. However, I do think there's an off-chance that this foolishness could have negative repercussions for the whole old school scene. Let's face it: on some level, everything we do is at the sufferance of WotC, who, if they wanted to do so, could probably make enough hay of this and other violations or near-violations of their trademarks and/or IP to put a stop to it. That they've never done so to date speaks well of them, regardless of my feelings about other aspects of their business. Die Cast Games might well have just poked a finger into the eye of a sleeping giant that none of us want awakened. There's the potential for great harm here.
Maybe I'm paranoid; I don't know. But I guess, given the great care to which folks like Stuart Marshall, Matt Finch, and Dan Proctor have gone to in order to avoid infringing on WotC's trademarks and IP, I'm more than a little miffed that Die Cast Games seems to have thrown caution -- and common sense -- to the wind with this release. Like I said, I could care less what happens to them, but I don't want to see anyone else suffer as a result of their reckless behavior.