Selling WAD files: the answers!

From time to time, the same questions pop up in the Doom editing forums (the doom-editing mailing list and the newsgroup). People ask if it is legal to sell WAD files or to release them as shareware and what would be the problems with the copyright laws. Very often, the answers to these questions are incomplete or incorrect and the debate goes on without any real answers. Here is a copy of an article that I posted in r.g.c.d.editing. This is my attempt at answering all these questions to the best of my knowledge.

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer and I could be wrong in some cases. I am not an employee of id Software or Raven Software (although I wish I was, sometimes...), so these opinions are my own and may differ from theirs.

From: (Raphaël Quinet)
Subject: *** Selling WAD files: the answers! ***
Date: 8 Dec 1995 14:32:52 GMT

I will try to explain the various points which are related to the copyright issue regarding WAD files. This will hopefully end the debate that has been going on in this newsgroup for some time...

But before that, I want to give three reasons why you should NOT sell any WAD files. I don't want to harm id Software or the Doom community by revealing the truth, so please consider this first:

After these warnings, here are the reasons why it would be legal to sell WAD files:

In summary, it is perfectly legal to sell WAD files under some conditions. And while I'm opening Pandora's box, I should also add that it is perfectly legal to create WAD files for the shareware version of Doom or Heretic, or for the demo version of Hexen. It is also legal to distribute (or sell) a brand new IWAD file created from scratch, which would have the effect of transforming any shareware version into the equivalent of the registered game. But this would not be an easy task because you have to create new levels and new textures, but also new color palettes, new fonts, etc. This means more than a Total Conversion, which is already very complex.

If you have other questions, I suggest that you read the Copyright FAQ first. I think you can find a copy of it in news.answers. I don't know if it is also available on WWW. Otherwise, get in touch with a lawyer, but think twice before posting a followup to this article if you don't know the law. Note: if tried to verify all these points to the best of my knowledge, but I may be wrong in some cases. Some countries or states have slightly different laws regarding copyrights and trademarks. Don't sue me for that.

Remember: even if you can sell a WAD file, DO NOT do it! This would:

You would gain a little, but everybody would loose on the long run (including yourself).


This article is Copyright (C) 1995 by Raphaël Quinet. You are allowed to distribute it outside the Usenet news group or the doom-editing mailing list, but only if it is distributed verbatim, including this copyright notice. Distribution of parts of this message outside these two forums require prior approval from the author.