4e D&D GSL Live

Nellisir said:
I'm not WotC, and I only skimmed the license, but I believe it says if you enter into an agreement to update OGL content to 4e, you are considered the licensee for said content - which is a long way of saying, yes, WW would have to kill their pdf sales. That (white wolf's pdf) content would be considered your content, and you can't have the same content be both OGL and GSL simultaneously.
The interesting thing that for a product that is completely OGL (and there are only a few) that the original company couldn't publish the product after conversion but a third party could.

Because license grants the right to copy the OGL portions. So all new art will be needed but certain books could be preserved independently of what the Publisher decides.
 
The difference between copyright and patent.

I have a friend in law school...yea yea I know, my first mistake...but we were talking and there is one issue that I can't understand.

The 4E rules are governed by copyright. They are not patentable, and even if the rules were patentable there is no patent on/governing them (that I know of). Therefore the only legal mechanic governing them prevents nothing but their word-for-word reproduction. I/we can not publish a document re-describing the rules, but creating a software application that inherently uses those rules without re-publishing them is not prevented by a copyright. Copyrights do not do that. Only patents provide such action.

Therefore, unless the 4E rules are actually patented, then I see no legal action that can be taken against anyone for creating a software app that inherently uses those rules without re-publishing them.

A similar example are automated financial trading strategies (i.e., stock market trading bots). If I publish my trading algorithm in a book, I have no recourse against anyone who implements that strategy in their own software and then resells that software. I may be able to take action against someone who publishes the algorithm using words similar to my published description. But the algorithm is no more my property than the moon. I think the same applies to the 4E rules system (just as the trading algorithm).

Of course, a real IP attorney would need to address this. But perhaps there are those on this board who may have input. Am I completely missing something here, or what???
 

DiasExMachina

Villager
DanMcS said:
The parallel between "elf" and "cleric" in these examples should be pretty clear. No, you can't create a new cleric class, you'd be redefining a term from the SRD.
Ah, but the magic here is that nowhere in the SRD (at least so far) does it say you can't outright remove entries. If you had a low or non-magic setting, you could remove wizard and cleric (and any others you wish for that matter) and create variations totally original, naming them what you like. The same goes for races. They may have defined the name elf or dwarf but not, say, original elvish (fey) creatures that may populate your setting and go by different names, allowing a publisher to say, "No races printed in the 4ED Players Handbook are present."

I am really hoping I am right on this....
 
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FormerlyDickensC said:
Therefore, unless the 4E rules are actually patented, then I see no legal action that can be taken against anyone for creating a software app that inherently uses those rules without re-publishing them.
After thinking about it, I would guess that you could not use trademarked names/proper-nouns in the software application (names of monsters, races, powers, etc). But I'm pretty sure that as long as the names are not trademarked, then their use does not otherwise constitute a copyright violation if used in isolation.

How the app handled descriptive text (names and other identifiers) would seem to be the biggest issue.

Thoughts??
 

Jack99

Community Supporter
jmucchiello said:
More annoying is that the paragon paths and epic destinies are missing. So you can't include an NPC over 10th level without giving it a PP/ED of your own devising.
Yes you can, see page 22 of the SRD. (I think)
 
FormerlyDickensC said:
The 4E rules are governed by copyright. They are not patentable, and even if the rules were patentable there is no patent on/governing them (that I know of).
You forget about the derivative works portions of copyright law. Even if you avoid using the trademarks of Conan and Hyborian on your product's cover; the law restricts your ability to combine the elements of the original work into a new product that uses Conan, Hyboria, Turan, Shem, Stygia, etc.

The same with D&D computer products. Sure you could make a character generator but you have to change every power name, class name, etc to point that it is not D&D 4th anymore but some form of clone.

Now you could argue technicalities but the spirit of the law is that the author(s) of a original work gets to control it's reproduction and any derivative works. Go up against that you will run up into lawsuit territory.

The reason the retro-clones work is because the body of terms that make up d20 happens intersect very closely to those of previous editions. By Wizards radically altering the terms of the game that make up D&D 4th they have better control over the permissions they can license.

With the power system any clone of D&D 4th will have come up with a complete new set of powers greatly increasing the work of a clone maker. Start throwing in the ritual elements the skill elements the closer the end result looks to be a derivative work.

I am sure you get a lawyer to tell you how you could get close but then you going to need invest some $$$ or have connections. Even then there is nothing to stop a lawsuit and the matter resolved in court. The GSL is Wizards telling how we can use their material without being sued automatically.
 

BSF

Villager
Section 6.1 is interesting. Am I understanding this correctly?

Publishers are free to convert OGL material to GSL material.

This was expected.

Once they convert a product, or a product line, from OGL to GSL, they can sell old physical stock, but must cease sales of non-physical stock (electronic I presume) and must prevent third party affiliates from selling old product.

Some of this was certainly expected. It looks like it also prevents spin off companies from selling the old OGL products as well.

OGL products, from the same company, that are not converted (or part of a converted product line), can still be sold.

So this isn't a whole cloth conversion clause for a given company. Any given company can convert some products and keep selling some unconverted products.

And this entire section will survive termination of the agreement.

This, I think, is one of the more thought provoking clauses. If a publisher converts a product line from OGL to GSL, and then the agreement is terminated - for whatever reason - then section 6.1 will still be in effect. So the publisher could not then revert a GSL converted product line back to the OGL.

This section may add fuel to the conspiracy theories. But this section may also be one that holds some third party publishers back. If there is a successful brand that the publisher has already built, will they want to tie that brand into 4E? Because once they do, they can't fall back to the strength of that brand if the agreement is terminated for any reason.

A lot has been said about the strength of tying into the D&D product line. Publishers might want to consider new brands to do that with if they are hedging their bets.

I also expect that some publishers will hold off for a couple of days, in the very least, before really commenting. They will want to consider carefully how they will proceed.

Still, the agreement looks pretty standard in a lot of ways. Well, as standard as you can expect for something pretty singular in a niche market. :) But there are a couple of points that I think should give any publisher some serious food for thought before signing on. Yes, before agreeing to any license, you should put some serious thought into it. I know! But just think what this would have meant if similar language had been in the OGL. We probably wouldn't have seen companies like AEG flirt with the idea of using d20 to model Seven Seas (via Swashbuckling Adventures) if they couldn't fall back to their original game to begin with. Now that we have successful OGL brands, maybe we will see those converted, or maybe the OGL brands will continue forward and new brands from successful companies will be created for the GSL.

It should be interesting to see what products are announced in the next several months.
 

Orcus

Villager
Admiral Caine said:
I am curious as to what Mr. Clark Peterson's comment will be.
Still digesting.

It seems far less clear than I hoped, thats for sure. It also doesnt have that "safe harbor" feel. It has that "there are lots of ways for you to screw up and then we terminate you" feel.

My initial reaction: Not as clear or friendly as I wanted. In fact, it feels like "we want you to support 4E but we dont really want you doing anything interesting or being too successful." Which smacks more of corporate fear than it does of vision.

More later.

Clark
 

Orcus

Villager
FormerlyDickensC said:
I have a friend in law school...yea yea I know, my first mistake...but we were talking and there is one issue that I can't understand.

The 4E rules are governed by copyright. They are not patentable, and even if the rules were patentable there is no patent on/governing them (that I know of). Therefore the only legal mechanic governing them prevents nothing but their word-for-word reproduction. I/we can not publish a document re-describing the rules, but creating a software application that inherently uses those rules without re-publishing them is not prevented by a copyright. Copyrights do not do that. Only patents provide such action.

Therefore, unless the 4E rules are actually patented, then I see no legal action that can be taken against anyone for creating a software app that inherently uses those rules without re-publishing them.

A similar example are automated financial trading strategies (i.e., stock market trading bots). If I publish my trading algorithm in a book, I have no recourse against anyone who implements that strategy in their own software and then resells that software. I may be able to take action against someone who publishes the algorithm using words similar to my published description. But the algorithm is no more my property than the moon. I think the same applies to the 4E rules system (just as the trading algorithm).

Of course, a real IP attorney would need to address this. But perhaps there are those on this board who may have input. Am I completely missing something here, or what???
There is some merit to this position. Similarly, you could use fair use to make compatible products for D&D. Wizards has always known that, which is why Ryan was so smart to make the OGL friendly and safe. But if you do that, you better talk to an attorney first.

The real genius of the OGL movement was getting people to play in the safe harbor and NOT simply try to make fair use/compatible products thumbing their nose at any attempt by Wizards to license the game content. IN co-opting everyone into the safe harbor with a friendly "use it our way and we will help you" approach saved alot of litigation for Wizards.

I'm not sure simply ignorning the license and making compatible products consistent with valid, current copyright law isnt a viable approach at this point. But you better talk to a lawyer first. I tried to remind Wizards of this and they thought I was making a threat. I wasnt. I was trying to remind them to not lose sight of this issue. I wasnt very successful in conveying that message.

I'm not trying to start trouble with this. This is not a threat. I am just discussing the very valid fact (that Wizards seems to have forgotten) that copyright law on this point is interesting.
 
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Orcus

Villager
My adoption is going to depend on the answers to a few questions I am still formulating. Which troubles me, 'cause I wanted very badly to be in with both feet on this.
 

pemerton

Legend
FormerlyDickensC said:
I have a friend in law school

<snip>

The 4E rules are governed by copyright. They are not patentable

<snip>

Therefore, unless the 4E rules are actually patented, then I see no legal action that can be taken against anyone for creating a software app that inherently uses those rules without re-publishing them.
FormerlyDickensC said:
After thinking about it, I would guess that you could not use trademarked names/proper-nouns in the software application (names of monsters, races, powers, etc). But I'm pretty sure that as long as the names are not trademarked, then their use does not otherwise constitute a copyright violation if used in isolation.

How the app handled descriptive text (names and other identifiers) would seem to be the biggest issue.
I teach in a law school (in Australia, not the US) but not in IP. Nevertheless, I'll give you some thoughts.

In the second quoted paragraph you don't take your thought quite far enough: as Robertsconley pointed out above, the issue would as much be the extent to which that text breached copyright as opposed to simply wrongly used WoTC's trademarks.

Furthermore, I don't know that it's true that the 4e rules can't be patented although, as far as I know, they have not been.

But in any event, it seems possible that one might design an application that could run a 4e game (though even then the code might potentially be derivative of WoTC's copyrighted text - I don't know enough about either coding or the US law of derivative works) but be extremely constrained in the permissible textual output that it might give: character sheets, power descriptions, monster statblocks etc would all at least potentially be in breach of WoTC's copyright.
 

Orcus

Villager
BSF said:
If a publisher converts a product line from OGL to GSL, and then the agreement is terminated - for whatever reason - then section 6.1 will still be in effect. So the publisher could not then revert a GSL converted product line back to the OGL.

This section may add fuel to the conspiracy theories. But this section may also be one that holds some third party publishers back. If there is a successful brand that the publisher has already built, will they want to tie that brand into 4E? Because once they do, they can't fall back to the strength of that brand if the agreement is terminated for any reason.

...

But there are a couple of points that I think should give any publisher some serious food for thought before signing on.

...

It should be interesting to see what products are announced in the next several months.
That first issue you raise of converting and not being able to convert back is one I am reviewing myself.

That is one of the questions I want to make sure to have a CLEAR and PUBLIC answer on.

If Wizards wants us to use this license then they should (and I suspect will) provide answers to many of these questions.

Clark
 

Orcus

Villager
I dont want too sound too grouchy on this. I believe we were close to having NO third party support for 4E, so the fact Scott and Linae and others got the GSL done at all is awesome. I am thrilled to have the chance to support 4E. Now I have to decide if the license provided will do the job I want it to do.

Many, I'm sure, will misinterpret this evaluation and question process we are all going to go through as complaining and looking a gift horse in the mouth. That, of course, is not the case at all. Third party support has an awesome heritage of community discussion and dissection of licenses and changes.

So none of my comments or thoughts about what is or isnt or should have been or shouldnt have been in the license or calls for clarification or answers to questions should be considered as criticism or negativity. This is just the process of community discussion of this public license.

Clark
 

Ydars

Villager
I am a little disappointed with the language some of this is written in; it is quite defensive and, as Clark says, about as welcoming as a man wielding a big stick. Welcome to legalise I guess.

It will also annoy many people that WoTC think they have the right and need to put "d4" and "d20" into the SRD; I mean COME ON!!

Looks to me like alot of the "interesting" bits of 4E have not made it into the SRD; no Feywild, no Shadowfell, no beholders etc. This is a shame as it will actually hinder compatibility with 3PP products; very short-sighted in my view, but I guess I understand why (sigh).

I think the most problematic thing is this clause about "once its GSL you can't go back to OGL" for a particular product line coupled with the "we can pull the plug when we feel like it" bit of this license. I REALLY can't see many 3PPs who are doing well now going for this.
 

Ydars

Villager
I don't mean to seem annoyed either; it is a step forward that this is out-there and we can ask questions. Some of it is very positive, but I do feel sorry for the people hoping to make computer products for 4E; and yet this was SO predictable.
 

see

Villager
robertsconley said:
The interesting thing that for a product that is completely OGL (and there are only a few) that the original company couldn't publish the product after conversion but a third party could.
Yes. First thing I thought on reading this was:

"Wow. So, if Necromancer Games makes a Tome 4e, they have to permanently withdraw the OGL version. But, that won't make it unavailable; since it's basically all Open Game Content, anybody could publish and sell their own."
 

BSF

Villager
Orcus said:
I dont want too sound too grouchy on this. I believe we were close to having NO third party support for 4E, so the fact Scott and Linae and others got the GSL done at all is awesome. I am thrilled to have the chance to support 4E. Now I have to decide if the license provided will do the job I want it to do.

Many, I'm sure, will misinterpret this evaluation and question process we are all going to go through as complaining and looking a gift horse in the mouth. That, of course, is not the case at all. Third party support has an awesome heritage of community discussion and dissection of licenses and changes.

So none of my comments or thoughts about what is or isnt or should have been or shouldnt have been in the license or calls for clarification or answers to questions should be considered as criticism or negativity. This is just the process of community discussion of this public license.

Clark
Hey Clark,
I just want to say thank you for all of your forthright postings. I hope your statements won't be misconstrued, though I fear you may be correct.

I don't like the GSL the way I liked the OGL. But I am just a customer, not a publisher. I can imagine where some of the changes and clauses might have grown from within WotC. But it feels kind of weird. More like they want to protect themselves from the community rather than embracing the community.

Maybe I will feel differently after more discussion has occurred? *shrug* Even if I don't, it should still be interesting to see what comes of all this.

But still, I wanted to thank you for facilitating as much discussion as you have over the years. As a guy that has played D&D for a could of decades, I appreciate what you have done. :)
 

Orcus

Villager
Ydars said:
I don't mean to seem annoyed either; it is a step forward that this is out-there and we can ask questions. Some of it is very positive, but I do feel sorry for the people hoping to make computer products for 4E; and yet this was SO predictable.
I'm not sure that there was actually anyone mainstream that had any reasonable belief they would be able to make computer products for 4E.

That was a no brainer in my mind.
 

HyrumOWC

Villager
Orcus said:
I'm not sure that there was actually anyone mainstream that had any reasonable belief they would be able to make computer products for 4E.

That was a no brainer in my mind.
Hey Clark,

What are your thoughts on section 11.4? To me it looks like WotC can sue you for any reason, and whether or not they win, or the suit is dismissed, you still pay for their costs, which are solely determined by them.

Is this a correct reading?

Hyrum.
 

Angellis_ater

Villager
I was sceptical to begin with, but the 6.1 clause (no GSL->OGL reversion even if the license is revoked or terminated) is the big break for me. At this point, I am NOT feeling confident that Dreamscarred Press will be able to release ANY material for 4E, since we never know when WotC will pull the plug on us and we have a shitload of useless PDFs/Books.

Unless my partner comes up with an awesome scheme, all I can say is that I am, personally, disappointed.
 

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