A Mission College student is one of eight people facing accusations they illegally posted the newest handbook from the pioneering role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons for downloading online through the popular document-sharing web site Scribd.
Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., is seeking unspecified damages in three copyright-infringement lawsuits naming a total of eight defendants in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
More than 2,600 copes of "Player’s Handbook 2," released March 17 with a suggested retail price of $39.95 a copy, were downloaded from Scribd.com, and more than 4,200 copies were viewed online before the material was pulled from the document-sharing site at Wizards’ request, according to two of the lawsuits.
One of those cases, which names as defendants Thomas Patrick Nolan of Milton, Fla., and Stefan Osmena of the Philippines, is headed for mediation, according to a court filing.
Another case is against Mike Becker of Bartlesville, Okla., and Arthur Le of San Jose, Calif.
The third, filed against Krysztof Radzikowski of Poland and three people whose identities remain unknown, did not cite any numbers but asserted that unauthorized copies of that handbook and "Manual of the Planes," "Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead," and "Dungeon Delve," each retailing for $29.95, also were found on document-sharing web sites.
Tolena Thorburn, a Wizards spokeswoman, would not give the home towns or other personal or contact information for Osmena or Radzikowski.
Dungeons & Dragons handbooks sold online bear electronic watermarks that restrict use of the copyrighted material to a specific buyer or user.
Nolan, denying that he uploaded the handbook for public access or committed other wrongdoing, wrote personally to the court on May 20 that he lost his wallet with material showing his web site user names and passwords on a trip to Michigan in February.
"Any person who looked at my Scribd page could tell that I was an avid Dungeons & Dragons player and could use the page to post the file," he added.
Nolan, representing himself in the case, and Wizards have agreed to submit their dispute to mediation and to allow Osmena to be included in the mediation effort if he is formally served with the lawsuit by Dec. 4, according to the most recent filing.
According to the lawsuit against Becker, he was identified through investigation as "Humble Apostle," owner of another Scribd web page from which the handbook was viewed and downloaded by hundreds of people.
A micro-watermark indicated that the copy on the "Humble Apostle" site belonged to Le, who described himself in a letter to the court on May 11 as a 19-year-old unemployed student at Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif., whose parents recently were laid off.
Le acknowledged that he bought a copy of the handbook online but denied any association with Becker.
"I have made no profit off of this venture," he added. "I, however, deeply apologize for my actions and realize that I am in the wrong."