OGL 95% of you didn't need the OGL and you don't need ORC


log in or register to remove this ad


HomegrownHydra

Adventurer
For software development, the point of open source licenses was that I could take someones entire lifes work, word for word, and reuse it in my project, under the conditions of the license.

The point of the original OGL was that someone could take the 3e D&D rules, reproduce them in their entirety, add their own content and sell that final product as their own.
Examples include Castles and Crusades, 13th age, most of the OSR, etc.

But for all these third-party products, supplements, home brew campaigns, new character classes, new settings... you didn't need the OGL, and you don't need OGL 1.1
nor, in fact, will you need the ORC.

The OGL was a trick to force you on DMSGuild to give away half your profits.

The rules lawyer addresses this specifically at around 11 mins.
Ben talked about this in the past as well.


Of course, if you write an adventure and don't create your own monsters, you just reproduce all the WOTC ones,
a) That is a little lazy.
b) You need the OGL/ORC.

When you realize all this, you also learn how disgusting OGL 1.1 was, trying to steal from prominent creators like Critical Role with no legal standing to do it.

D&D will return when they innovate a 6th edition, but we must teach the Microsoft Executives a lesson. Hopefully, they will be fired.
Here's the fundamental problem with your argument. If WotC is willing to try to steamroll people for using OGL 1.0(a), then they would be willing to steamroll people for not using using the OGL. And if people can't afford to defend themselves, then it doesn't matter if your argument would hold up in court, because they would be crushed before the case got that far and so their business would be ruined.
 


delericho

Legend
But for all these third-party products, supplements, home brew campaigns, new character classes, new settings... you didn't need the OGL, and you don't need OGL 1.1
nor, in fact, will you need the ORC.

It probably wasn't needed, but going around it meant you had to be extremely careful about all the PI stuff (copyrights, trademarks, and even patents if any exist). The value of the OGL was that it provided a safe harbour that allowed you to mostly not have to worry about that stuff.

The OGL was a trick to force you on DMSGuild to give away half your profits.

Given that the OGL predates the Guild by 20 years, that seems unlikely.
 

jeffh

Adventurer
I don't understand why you posted that.
For the same reason he produced the OP, which is, to be as charitable as possible, poor reading comprehension.

He was ostensibly responding to arguments against his take that the OGL was some kind of trick to drive people to DM's Guild. There are many reasons that have been brought up why this is not only wrong, but obviously wrong. (Morrus already knows all this, of course; this part isn't so much a response to him as an attempt to summarize as much of OP's almost fractal wrongness as possible in a single post.)
  1. It's chronologically impossible given that DM's Guild didn't exist at the time the OGL debuted and wouldn't for over 15 years.
  2. The DM's Guild doesn't even use the OGL, but a completely different license unique to itself.
  3. Ryan Dancey and others have been extremely clear about the purpose of the OGL both at the time of its creation and since, especially over the course of this month. It's been very consistent and no-one has given any specific, detailed reason to doubt the particulars of their accounts. The only objection to them seems to be that they don't fit the narrative certain people would like to push.
  4. The people responsible for the two are completely different; I can't think of anyone at a management level at WotC who would have been there in 2000, much less had any responsibility for the OGL in particular.
The OP seems to have read the various arguments to this effect, and somehow concluded that people were denying WotC had anything to do with DM's Guild at all, something nobody actually claimed.

Set aside, for the moment, the hundreds of pages of discussion on these topics, much of it among actual lawyers with relevant expertise. Let's even overlook that (contrary to OP's claims) a fair amount of that discussion does directly address the "you can't copyright game rules" point, and demonstrate that it's nowhere near as simple as OP thinks it is. After all, that's quite a slog to go through. I've read a lot of it, but probably less than a third of what exists. So I can't entirely blame OP for missing points buried deep in those threads.

But that doesn't cover the four points above. I don't understand how OP can consider himself in a position to make pronouncements like this while being ignorant of things this basic. The first two in particular pretty much drum him clean out of the "people who deserve to be taken seriously" category. I mean, I thought it was bad that there were people (plural) in the ORC thread who didn't understand the difference between a license and an SRD, but some of them were making good points in spite of this rather remarkable blind spot. But when someone with a list of blind spots like that also thinks that image is a good response to the points being raised in this thread?

Bleh. I've already put more effort into this than it's worth, and frankly, more effort than this person put into the OP. This is the last time I plan on acknowledging this particular poster's existence.
 

For software development, the point of open source licenses was that I could take someones entire lifes work, word for word, and reuse it in my project, under the conditions of the license.

The point of the original OGL was that someone could take the 3e D&D rules, reproduce them in their entirety, add their own content and sell that final product as their own.
Examples include Castles and Crusades, 13th age, most of the OSR, etc.

But for all these third-party products, supplements, home brew campaigns, new character classes, new settings... you didn't need the OGL, and you don't need OGL 1.1
nor, in fact, will you need the ORC.

The OGL was a trick to force you on DMSGuild to give away half your profits.

The rules lawyer addresses this specifically at around 11 mins.
Ben talked about this in the past as well.


Of course, if you write an adventure and don't create your own monsters, you just reproduce all the WOTC ones,
a) That is a little lazy.
b) You need the OGL/ORC.

When you realize all this, you also learn how disgusting OGL 1.1 was, trying to steal from prominent creators like Critical Role with no legal standing to do it.

D&D will return when they innovate a 6th edition, but we must teach the Microsoft Executives a lesson. Hopefully, they will be fired.
Good way to spread your own misunderstandings and confusion about the issue OP.

You shouldn't have posted this thread, frankly, because it just contains bad advice and shows you do not understand the issue.

Legal Eagle himself doesn't fully understand the issue (which is fine, it's not his job to), and I don't say that in a sneering way, but he's clearly not really au fait with the whole "share-alike" aspect of things enabled by the OGL - he doesn't refer to it in his video (or very briefly), and all his references are to using the SRD.

Further, the ORC won't help you if you're publishing WotC-SRD-based product, despite you claiming it would. Just add this to the pile of misunderstandings I guess.

The point of the ORC is to enable a legal safe harbour for sharing content with others, not just borrowing from one company. That was also the point of the OGL. The thing people focus on, slightly mistakenly, with the OGL, was the aspect of sharing WotC content, via the SRD, but that's just one way it could be used. That's why it was an OGL, not a GSL. The OGL 1.1/2.0 is called OGL, but it's just a lie, intentionally misleading, because it's actually an equivalent to the GSL. It doesn't have the same legal safe harbour for sharing content.

You'll use the ORC if you want other companies and individuals to be able to create and sell content for your game. Because you're giving them a legal safe harbour to do so.
 

Staffan

Legend
My statement or theirs? I got it from here:

"(36) The "First Aid" skill in MYTHUS (pages 28 and 165) is
derived from the AD&D "Cure Light Wounds" spell in the AD&D 1st ed. PHB
(page 43) and the AD&D OA (page 57)."

Yeah, they didn't want a Gygaxian rival game, but the methods they used weren't really nice. I don't know how the case law in the last 30 years since that has moved on, but I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of the lawfare stick. Which is why I'm always a bit wary when it comes to "this clearly can't be copyrighted".
The Mythus lawsuit was clearly at least 95% BS. It had a list of hundreds of "violations" on par with the above. The problem is that you still have to convince the court on each and every one of those points that the complaint has no merit.
While a lawyer could certainly point to many elements of the SRD or what have you that are definitely copyright protected, and could point to a few things that are definitely not, there is a vast amount of rules content that falls into a gray area of legal status too unknown to adopt or adapt with confidence that a court would not only find in your favor but refuse to enjoin you from using while the matter is being decided, and this, in fact, covers much of the exact sort of stuff that someone trying to create compatible content would want to adopt.
Right. As a non-lawyer, I'm almost certain you can't copyright "roll d20+attack bonus above or equal to the target's armor class to hit." I am also almost certain that you can copyright "Xorn" as a trilaterally symmetrical creature mainly composed of elemental stone and that can swim through earth and stone as easily as a fish can swim through water. Somewhere between these two there is a line defining what can and can't be copyrighted, but I would not take my chances as to where that line is.
 

mhd

Adventurer
Somewhere between these two there is a line defining what can and can't be copyrighted, but I would not take my chances as to where that line is.
A few years ago, there was a lawsuit about Tetris, and I would say that if we get 20 people to divide its features between "mechanics" and "presentation", we'd get 20 results (more if lawyers in that group), and probably none would match with the distinction made in the case.
 

Somewhere between these two there is a line defining what can and can't be copyrighted, but I would not take my chances as to where that line is.
The thing that's worth noting here is that this very much a double-edged sword. Both parties are at risk.

A company who comes in claiming a huge number of things are copyright and/or trademark infringement (you'd be looking at both), is taking a big risk.

Because it's almost certain that, if they claim a large number of things, they're going to be judged to be wrong on quite a lot of them. And a lot of companies (and apparently the lawyers they employ/hire) don't really realize this.

A case I've mentioned a few times which is relevant is Games Workshop vs Chapter House Studios LLC. Chapter House (CHS) were a company which makes minis, mini bits, and so on. They were particularly offering a ton of mini parts to customize GW 40K models, as well as quite a number of straight-up alternative models for 40K vehicles, which you could clearly recognise as 40K vehicles.

Games Workshop tried to body them by just dropping literally hundreds of copyright or trademark (which in the US very much includes "trade dress" i.e. stuff that looks like it's yours) infringement claims. Presumably they expected CHS to just buckle, but they didn't, even though they're tiny and GW are pretty huge. This was a US case (Illinois I believe).

They did indeed go through every claim, and found in the vast majority of them (about 60-70%) that CHS was either not infringing, or arguably infringing but it was fair use (don't ask me about that subtle distinction but the end result is it's fine). I don't think there's a detailed list of what they won/lost on, but for example, GW were claiming that really big shoulderpads were basically part of the GW IP, and they lost on that, but GW won on for example, some kind of fancy Eldar Jetbike. Overall though, GW lost more than it won - a bunch of stuff it could previously have threatened people about with C&Ds and the like, it could no longer claim.

That's actually quite a serious problem. You can't send out a proper C&D or DMCA if you KNOW you don't own that thing, the lawyer sending it will end getting in serious trouble with the bar if a complaint is made (which is not unlikely), even potentially disbarred if they had previous examples of doing it or it was egregious.

So the end result for WotC in such a case could easily be that stuff they've long-regarded as being owned by them, IP-wise, suddenly becomes free for anyone to use.

EDIT - Looks like Chapter House did shut down five or six years later, but if you want an example of the sort of stuff you can get away with thanks to their court case:


LEGALLY NOT A SPACE MARINE LAND SPEEDER lol.
 
Last edited:

Reynard

Legend
That only means it uses the license, not that it is derived from the SRD
There is a lot of new stuff in Starfinder, certainly, but it's foundation is the 3.5 SRD. You can see it in the ability scores and the feats and the saves and such. Whether that is enough for a judge is another matter, of course, and we can't really know.
 



Sir Brennen

Legend
There is a lot of new stuff in Starfinder, certainly, but it's foundation is the 3.5 SRD. You can see it in the ability scores and the feats and the saves and such. Whether that is enough for a judge is another matter, of course, and we can't really know.
Is its foundation the 3.5 SRD though? I thought SF was based on PF2, which is not based on the 3.5 SRD as PF 1E is.

(I’m fully prepared to be proven wrong on this point. I haven’t followed Paizo products close enough to be sure of the timeline.)

Including the OGL for PF2, to my understanding, was basically a CYA move, as it couldn’t hurt. The license is perpetual, right? Plus it then allows people to create content based on their own PF2 SRD.

Now even if SF is 3.5 SRD derived (and therefore using the OGL 1.0), Paizo could still remove the license from it, establish the ORC license, then create their own SF SRD and offer it using the new license.

It’s possible WotCbro might go after them for copyright infringement at that point (or maybe breach of contract if the OGL 1.0 is still standing then? I dunno, IANL), which might get interesting.
 


Is its foundation the 3.5 SRD though? I thought SF was based on PF2, which is not based on the 3.5 SRD as PF 1E is.

(I’m fully prepared to be proven wrong on this point. I haven’t followed Paizo products close enough to be sure of the timeline.)

Including the OGL for PF2, to my understanding, was basically a CYA move, as it couldn’t hurt. The license is perpetual, right? Plus it then allows people to create content based on their own PF2 SRD.

Now even if SF is 3.5 SRD derived (and therefore using the OGL 1.0), Paizo could still remove the license from it, establish the ORC license, then create their own SF SRD and offer it using the new license.

It’s possible WotCbro might go after them for copyright infringement at that point (or maybe breach of contract if the OGL 1.0 is still standing then? I dunno, IANL), which might get interesting.
Nothing is as simple as you want to believe unfortunately. You have to remember that an SRD included rules mechanics (not copyright able) and expressions (copyright able). The OGL allows you to use both. PF, SF, and PF2 all have some items that could potentially infringe on WotC’s expressions.

However, they could all likely be revised to exist without the OGL, but it would take some work (more for PF1 and much less for PF2 with SF likely somewhere between). Then only these revised versions could be made ORC I think.

This of course also depends on a court (if it goes to court) determining what is and is not a game mechanic, which hasn’t been done for an RPG yet. They could decide that rolling dice are the only “mechanics” and everything else is an expression and therefor copyright of WotC. We don’t know. That is why the OGL was a safe harbor as we don’t know what lurks in the dark and dangerous waters without it.

Also, SF predates PF2 by a few years.
 


Staffan

Legend
Is its foundation the 3.5 SRD though? I thought SF was based on PF2, which is not based on the 3.5 SRD as PF 1E is.
Starfinder is, I believe, in a situation similar to Star Wars SAGA edition. SWSaga was based on 3e (or more properly, d20 Modern), but explored some areas of game design that were considered for 4e, and some of those got included in 4e as well (e.g. static defenses instead of saves). Similarly, Starfinder explored some game design paths that got included in PF2, such as backgrounds and class talents/feats. But it's still rooted in PF1, which in turn is rooted in 3.5e.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Just a quick follow up. I mentioned previously my current attempt at publishing a series of custom Spelljammer ships, a couple monster races and Wild Space System that I planned to offer at the Dungeon Master's Guild. I read over what is allowed and disallowed from WotC regarding anything sold at the DMG - my stuff seems to fall between the cracks. So I contacted DM's Guild support last night, got a response this morning...

"For what you've described I don't believe you should have any issues publishing on DMsGuild, your product sounds like it should fall within our guidelines."


So it looks like I'm good to go, now I need to wrap up the stat blocks and do the final layout and release this thing!

arcane-armada.jpg
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Telling people they never needed OGL and they can do whatever they want as long as they don't reproduce word for word is dangerous advice. It completely ignores just how much of something can be called derivative work (which is mentioned in the very video you link but seem to have forgotten about).
I agree with you. Whether a court will judge a work is derivative or not seems to me hard to predict. Adventures and bestiaries that invoke the D&D mechanics seem particularly at risk.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top