Pathfinder 2E By prohibiting ORC licensing on Pathfinder/Starfinder Infinite, Paizo is now a step closer to WotC's walled garden approach with dmsguild

AvtrSpirit

Villager
With the release of the remaster rules for PF2e, Paizo issued this announcement:

... as of the publication of this FAQ, you are expressly prohibited from releasing any content in your Pathfinder Infinite or Starfinder Infinite product as Licensed Material under the ORC.

This prevents any Infinite creator from using ORC licensed material in their products, and also from ORC licensed products from using any Infinite creations.

The reasons cited for this announcement include enforcing a closed ecosystem as required by the Infinite license, and avoiding confusion between ORC-licensed material and OGL-based Open Gaming Content.

While WotC's own storefront (dmsguild) has operated under a similarly closed license for years, this announcement marks a change for Infinite's effective openness. Prior to this, OGL content could be, and frequently was, published in Infinite, which allowed the Open Gaming Content parts of those product to be open to use by creators outside of the Infinite ecosystem. Creators on Infinite could also use the Open Gaming Content made by people outside of the Infinite ecosystem.

With this announcement, as more material trends away from the OGL, the system will approach parity with WotC's own fully closed ecosystem.

Some (including yours truly) have flagged this as a point of concern and a step (albeit a small step) away from open gaming for Paizo. The dissenting voices are in a minority though, as the majority has accepted this closed approach as standard industry practice. Some confusion remains on the specifics of the implementation of this announcement, including concerns about VTT integration. Paizo is currently seeking questions that creators may have about this announcement and will host a livestream on Nov 21st to answer these questions.

I'll end this post with a bit of editorializing: It's so ironic that after having championed the ORC license, Paizo makes it so that the only way to have open content on Pathfinder/Starfinder Infinite is via the OGL.
 

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Reynard

Legend
Infinite allows you to use material -- particularly IP -- that is not released under any license. This restriction is intended to protect their IP from getting accidentally released under the licenses. Surely you can't begrudge Paizo of wanting to protect the stories, characters and worlds they have created, especially in light of how much material they have otherwise made available?

If you want to create something using ORC, just use ORC. If you want to use Paizo's IP, you have to make concessions.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
This prevents any Infinite creator from using ORC licensed material in their products, and also from ORC licensed products from using any Infinite creations.
I'll note that their FAQ also says the following:

The ORC allows publishers to use material designated as Licensed Material in ORC-licensed Paizo publications in their own ORC publications. This is restricted to only Licensed Material, which is nearly always copyrighted expressions of game mechanics. While Paizo now releases game rules under the ORC, the Community Content Agreement for Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite already grants you the right to use this same content and more. As such, you do not need to cite the ORC when using any Paizo-owned material that was otherwise released under the ORC.​

That last sentence makes it very clear that you can use Paizo's PF2 Remastered material in Pathfinder Infinite, the same way you can for PF1, PF2 original, and Starfinder content that they've published.

From what I can tell (and I'm not at all sure that I'm correct about this), the only restriction seems to be that you can't designate Pathfinder Infinite or Starfinder Infinite materials that you put out as being usable by other publishers under the ORC License (i.e. they can't use part of your PF Infinite material in a non-Infinite ORC Licensed product) whereas you could designate Infinite products to have Open Game Content under the OGL.
 

Reynard

Legend
I'll note that their FAQ also says the following:

The ORC allows publishers to use material designated as Licensed Material in ORC-licensed Paizo publications in their own ORC publications. This is restricted to only Licensed Material, which is nearly always copyrighted expressions of game mechanics. While Paizo now releases game rules under the ORC, the Community Content Agreement for Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite already grants you the right to use this same content and more. As such, you do not need to cite the ORC when using any Paizo-owned material that was otherwise released under the ORC.​

That last sentence makes it very clear that you can use Paizo's PF2 Remastered material in Pathfinder Infinite, the same way you can for PF1, PF2 original, and Starfinder content that they've published.

From what I can tell (and I'm not at all sure that I'm correct about this), the only restriction seems to be that you can't designate Pathfinder Infinite or Starfinder Infinite materials that you put out as being usable by other publishers under the ORC License (i.e. they can't use part of your PF Infinite material in a non-Infinite ORC Licensed product) whereas you could designate Infinite products to have Open Game Content under the OGL.
Right. They are worried that some Pathfinder Infinite author will mudy the waters about whether this God or that location is now available via ORC. SO the solution is to not allow those authors to license it back out at all. It doesn't prohibit you from using anything in the books.
 

If you want to create something using ORC, just use ORC. If you want to use Paizo's IP, you have to make concessions.
I'm largely ignorant to how a lot of these licensing issues work but I'd think if you wanted to use ORC to make a PF2e compatible product, just publish it on DriveThruRPG. Jason Bulmahn has a few things on DriveThruRPG that use the PF2e rules under his Minotaur Games label, but he also doesn't use any of the Golarion IP. As you've stated, this should be obvious why and is why the minority of people taking issue are dismissed pretty quickly.
 

Reynard

Legend
I'm largely ignorant to how a lot of these licensing issues work but I'd think if you wanted to use ORC to make a PF2e compatible product, just publish it on DriveThruRPG. Jason Bulmahn has a few things on DriveThruRPG that use the PF2e rules under his Minotaur Games label, but he also doesn't use any of the Golarion IP. As you've stated, this should be obvious why and is why the minority of people taking issue are dismissed pretty quickly.
I just saw a couple click bait rage videos on my YT feed, so this is apparently the outrage de jour. It will pass.
 

I just saw a couple click bait rage videos on my YT feed, so this is apparently the outrage de jour. It will pass.
I'm sure more channels will be added to my "do not suggest" list in the next few days. There's a few PF2e creators I like, so the algorithm will likely decide I'm not angry enough and could use my daily dose of outrage. lol
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Right. They are worried that some Pathfinder Infinite author will mudy the waters about whether this God or that location is now available via ORC. SO the solution is to not allow those authors to license it back out at all. It doesn't prohibit you from using anything in the books.
This is true, but strictly speaking (if I'm understanding @AvtrSpirit correctly), this is still more restrictive than what came before. It's just only a restriction for someone who wants to use PF2 Remastered content created by a third-party under Pathfinder Infinite in an ORC Licensed (i.e. non-Infinite) product.

Which might not sound like a big deal, but it's still less than what was allowed before:
  • Prior to now, if you made a product for Pathfinder Infinite or Starfinder Infinite, you had to use the OGL if you used any rules content that was Open Game Content (I suppose you wouldn't have if you wrote a pure text treatise on, say, the religious practices of the goddess Desna). That included new rules that you derived from existing OGC, i.e. new feats, spells, etc. That content could then be used by other publishers in non-Infinite products.
  • According to Paizo, this is not the case for PF2 Remastered material that you use in a Pathfinder Infinite product. Such material isn't designated as ORC Licensed material (i.e. the ORC version of OGC), and so can't be used by a third-party publisher in their own ORC Licensed product.
  • So whereas before Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite products that made use of PF1, PF2 original, and Starfinder were contributing to the overall OGL ecosystem, including for non-Infinite publishers, PF2 Remastered material published under the Infinite agreement will not contribute to the ORC License ecosystem of third-party publishers.
And really, that is a shame, as it does indeed take a step back from the open culture that Paizo helped to propagate for so long.
 

Reynard

Legend
This is true, but strictly speaking (if I'm understanding @AvtrSpirit correctly), this is still more restrictive than what came before. It's just only a restriction for someone who wants to use PF2 Remastered content created by a third-party under Pathfinder Infinite in an ORC Licensed (i.e. non-Infinite) product.

Which might not sound like a big deal, but it's still less than what was allowed before:
  • Prior to now, if you made a product for Pathfinder Infinite or Starfinder Infinite, you had to use the OGL if you used any rules content that was Open Game Content (I suppose you wouldn't have if you wrote a pure text treatise on, say, the religious practices of the goddess Desna). That included new rules that you derived from existing OGC, i.e. new feats, spells, etc. That content could then be used by other publishers in non-Infinite products.
  • According to Paizo, this is not the case for PF2 Remastered material that you use in a Pathfinder Infinite product. Such material isn't designated as ORC Licensed material (i.e. the ORC version of OGC), and so can't be used by a third-party publisher in their own ORC Licensed product.
  • So whereas before Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite products that made use of PF1, PF2 original, and Starfinder were contributing to the overall OGL ecosystem, including for non-Infinite publishers, PF2 Remastered material published under the Infinite agreement will not contribute to the ORC License ecosystem of third-party publishers.
And really, that is a shame, as it does indeed take a step back from the open culture that Paizo helped to propagate for so long.
The ORC license requires that derivative mechanics be released under ORC automatically, rather than designating content (If I understand it correctly). This was the original intent behind the OGL but many publishers (looking at you, Monet Cook) got around it by calling their mechanics Product Identity. So by codifying that intent in ORC, it probably means that the potential for confusion (in a legal sense) is higher. It makes sense just to remove that aspect in the context of Infinite.

Tangential: I wonder if the Remaster will see a higher degree of support for PF2 than we have seen. I don't think it will ever get back to PF1 levels but it would be nice if PF2 had a more robust 3PP support network.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
The ORC license requires that derivative mechanics be released under ORC automatically, rather than designating content (If I understand it correctly). This was the original intent behind the OGL but many publishers (looking at you, Monet Cook) got around it by calling their mechanics Product Identity.
To be clear, Monte Cook didn't "get around that" in any sense; while he had a lot of what the community referred to as "crippled content," that was with regard to how a monster's or spell's name and descriptive text wasn't declared OGC; you could still use the stat block and listed mechanical effects, regardless of declaration (the OGL explicitly disallowed making Open Game Content into Product Identity even if you tried to say it was).
 

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