OGL Closely reading the OGL statement by Hasbro-WotC

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The lawyers of Hasbro-WotC made a statement (Jan 13 2023) about its OGL 1.1. It is the response to a quick and widespread protest.

In sum, the statement is mostly damage control and spin, without any change of heart. Much of the statement is either irrelevant, deceptive, or untrue. In some ways, this is typical corporate noncommunication, but its untrue claims lean into fabulism.

Below, the text of the statement itself appears in bold font. The running commentary is normal font.




An Update on the Open Game License (OGL)
by DND Beyond Staff


The textual characteristics indicate that the same Hasbro-WotC lawyers who wrote the leaked OGL 1.1 also wrote this public statement. However, deceptively, the authorship is instead ascribed to the "DND Beyond Staff". As if! the DnDBeyond staff have anything to with this corporate fiasco that the executives caused.

DnDBeyond as the place for damage control signals how Hasbro-WotC is vulnerable to boycotts against DnDBeyond. This digital site is a center piece for future plans of monetization.

To cancel paid subscriptions at DnDBeyond and to cancel the account itself are effective means to voice protest against the unethical and legally dubious business practices of Hasbro-WotC.


When we initially conceived of revising the OGL,
it was with three major goals in mind.
First,
we wanted the ability to prevent the use of D&D content
from being included in hateful and discriminatory products.


The above is misleading.

It seems unlikely Hasbro-WotC would decide to unilaterally kill the original OGL 1.0a "to prevent hateful products". More plausibly, Hasbro-WotC seeks to kill the OGL 1.0a in order to destroy all competition in the digital markets of the new millennium. Hasbro-WotC culturally appropriates an important social concern, to disguise their the unethical business practices.

Decent people oppose hatespeech against minority identity groups.

At the same time, like the earlier leaked OGL 1.1, any promise in the license by Hasbro-WotC to protect, can "terminate" "in any moment". Thus the "next OGL" fails to provide any reliable, enduring, protections for minority groups. A capricious whim is a nonprotection.


Second,
we wanted to address those attempting to use D&D in
web3, blockchain games, and NFTs
by making clear that
OGL content
is limited to
tabletop roleplaying content
like campaigns, modules, and supplements.


The above is almost the truth. Hasbro-WotC seeks to kill the OGL 1.0a − because − it gives legal permission for other publishing corporations to create content for digital markets. This original OGL is working as intended, as a corporate strategy that recognizes the value of "network externality". The benefit of "a rising tide lifts all ships" increases the value of the D&D game and Hasbro-WotC profits. Since the year 2000, the original Open Gaming License made it possible for the D&D brand to become a popculture phenomenon with wide recognition and more than ever gamers purchasing D&D products.

The rather obscure references to "web3, blockchain, and NFTs" generally signal an awareness that the world is entering a new digital age, where the future profits will come from, and Hasbro-WotC seeks to control every possible monetization of digital D&D.

Hasbro-WotC seems uninterested in gamers who play on table tops with paper books and pencils. Their envy-eyes are on the digital marketplace. At least for now.


And third,
we wanted to ensure that
the OGL is for the content creator,


The above phrasing is misleading. Paizo is a content creator. And so on. Hasbro-WotC demonstrated zero ensurance for actual content creators.


the homebrewer,
the aspiring designer,
our players,
and the community


The above comes across as "douchie", acting as if friendly and concerned when actually aggressive and seeking to harm.

The leaks show even the pencil-and-paper games would be under the capricious whim of Hasbro-WotC, as all future products for pencil-and-paper would only be purchasable from a future DnDBeyond-DMsGuild-OneD&D market entity. Likewise, the "aspiring designer" who sought to monetize the effort would be forced to use this market entity under its draconian contract.


− not major corporations
to use for their own commercial and promotional purpose.


Indeed, the central motive of the "next" OGL 1.1 is anti-competitive behavior.

We hear the authors of the original OGL 1.0a speak out. When major corporations use the OGL 1.0a for their own commercial purpose, the OGL 1.0a is working as intended. The strategy is to encourage "network externality", where the value of a product depends on the number of people that use it, rather than the product itself. For example, if only one person has a telephone, then it lacks value. But the more people who have a telephone, the more value a telephone gains. The OGL 1.0a intentionally employs this corporate strategy of "a rising tide lifts all ships". The more people who play a roleplaying game, the more value the roleplaying game gains. More people become aware of the D&D brand. More creators make the D&D game more appealing by creating more adventures for DMs, more character options for players, more topics that reflect current interests and shifting sensibilities, and so on. Even those who dont play D&D directly become aware of the D&D brand. Hasbro-WotC benefits from the Open Gaming community, such as the billions of dollars of advertising, including infomercials for how to play this kind of game, that the Open Gaming community supplies for free.


Driving these goals were two simple principles:
(1) Our job is to be good stewards of the game, and


The above is almost humorous in its transparent dishonesty.

Rather, Hasbro-WotC sees as its highest priority, the monetization of the D&D brand, even if it might destroy the gaming community.

Hasbro-WotC behaves more like wolves than shepherds − more like vandals than stewards.


(2) the OGL exists for the benefit of the fans.

If the above statement by Hasbro-WotC were true, Hasbro-WotC would champion the original OGL 1.0a, since clearly, the OGL 1.0a "exists for the benefit of the fans".

These two socalled "principles" − pretending to being stewards and pretending to benefit fans − indicate that the Hasbro-WotC moves beyond obfuscation into fraudulent fabulism.

These "two principles" never happened during the new OGL 1.1.


Nothing about those principles has wavered for a second.

The above comes across as a casualness that is meaninglessly "douchie".

Under scrutiny, those socalled "principles" not only "wavered" but seem to manifest out of thin air without any history or substance.


That was why our early drafts of the new OGL included the provisions they did.

LOL. "Drafts".

Recipients of the leaked new OGL 1.1 emphasized, it was sent out to be signed − under high pressure. The recepients even anticipated that Hasbro-WotC might try to mischaracterize the contract as a "draft", and explicitly rejected such a revisionist history.

The OGL 1.1 that was sent out under the cover of darkness, under NDAs, was very much real. The leak only happened because of an ethical whistleblower calling attention to how unethical the new OGL is.


That draft language was provided to content creators and publishers so their feedback could be considered before anything was finalized.

If it were true that Hasbro-WotC sought "feedback",

all of us would be discussing the terms of the "new" OGL publically

− like playtesting the new OGL.

Any new OGL would deeply affect the millions of members of the gaming community around the planet.

Instead, Hasbro-WotC keeps the socalled "Open" Gaming License the opposite of "open".

Hasbro-WotC made (and continues to make) extreme efforts to avoid disclosure and prevent "feedback".

In any case, the new OGL 1.1 contract came in a context of secrecy, scare tactics, hurried pressure over the holiday season, while misrepresenting the original OGL 1.0a, in order to entrap those who would sign it.

The next OGL 1.1 is very much real.


In addition to language allowing us
to address discriminatory and hateful conduct


Unfortunately, the above statement comes across as a disingenuous attempt to disguise the primary unethical purpose of the new OGL 1.1.


and clarifying what types of products the OGL covers,

Hasbro-WotC seeks to control the monetization of all products, thus restricts and "closes" the original Open Gaming Content.


our drafts included royalty language

LOL! "Drafts".


designed to apply
to large corporations
attempting to use OGL content.


The central motive of the "new" OGL 1.1 is to destroy the OGL 1.0a.

Hasbro-WotC makes an extreme effort to destroy all other "large corporations" that rely on the OGL 1.0a.

Other statements in the "next" OGL appear peripheral at best, or a disguise or untrue.


It was never our intent to impact the vast majority of the community.

The above statement fails to be true. Rather, Hasbro-WotC clearly seeks to "impact" the "vast majority of the community", by making them customers who have little or no choice to go anywhere else except thru Hasbro-WotC and its whims.


However, it’s clear from the reaction that we rolled a 1.

More telltale "douchie" casualness that pretends to be playful and friendly while transparently aggressive and predatory.


It has become clear that
it is no longer possible
to fully achieve
all three goals
while still staying true to our principles.


These fabulist "principles" that never happened are somehow preventing Hasbro-WotC from achieving their "three goals" ... "fully".

The "goals" themselves are mostly dubious anyway.

However, there is one "goal" that is transparently true.

The Hasbro-WotC executives remain full-speed-ahead, to kill the OGL 1.0a at any cost.

No other goals matter to the Hasbro-WotC executives or to their lawyers of the new OGL 1.1.

So, here is what we are doing.

Everything the Hasbro-WotC lawyers stated in the lines above, is noncommitable corporate nonspeak.

"Here", be on the lookout for a possibility of at least a few facts that reveal what Hasbro-WotC is actually "doing".


The next OGL

The "next OGL" − namely the one that seeks to destroy the actual OGL 1.0a.

Hasbro-WotC remains unrepentant.

Hasbro-WotC is obsessed with destroying the OGL 1.0a and subjugating its vast gaming community.


will contain the provisions that
allow us
to protect and cultivate the inclusive environment
we are trying to build


The above comes close to culturally appropriating the reallife minority groups, in order to disguise the unethical and legally doubtful Hasbro-WotC business practices.

We see employees of WotC, such as designers, who deeply care about cultivating an inclusive environment.

Sadly, this new OGL 1.1 is a less ethical business motive. It means to harm the gaming community, including harming gamers who are minorities.

The new OGL makes it difficult or impossible for minority groups to create and monetize their own digital content.

Meanwhile, a megacorporation such as Hasbro-WotC is less likely to risk profit on behalf of minority groups.

Hasbro-WotC and its "next OGL" effectively harms and takes away the voices of minority groups.


and specify that
it covers only content for TTRPGs.


The above statement is closer to the truth. The new OGL would only allow able top games, but even then only under certain restrictions and conditions.

In other words, Hasbro-WotC seeks to destroy any member of the gaming community who seeks to monetize digital content for roleplaying games.


That means that
other expressions,
such as
educational
and charitable
campaigns,
livestreams,
cosplay,
VTT-uses,
etc.,
will remain unaffected by any OGL update.


The only thing that is clear about the above statement is:

the boycott of DnDBeyond via mass cancellations is effective and working.

DnDBeyond is clearly a centerpiece of future Hasbro-WotC machinations.

Reading the Hasbro-WotC lawyers here requires caution.

These are in fact meaningless assurances.

The "campaigns" and "livestreams" were part of Fan Content and not part of the new OGL 1.1 anyway.

It is unlikely that any of these fans will be able to "monetize" their campaigns and streams.

Notice, the earlier new OGL 1.1 actually did seek to forbid "cosplay" under the legal copyright term of "pantomime". Likely, Hasbro-WotC is still trying to scheme up a way to monetize cosplay. In any case, Hasbro-WotC wants cosplay fans under its thumb and under its capricious whims.

The "VTT-uses" refers to virtual tabletops. These are impossible to legally prevent anyway, since concepts, processes, computer codes, systems, and game rules cannot be copyrighted in the first place. Hasbro-WotC has neither the right nor the ability to take down virtual table tops.

Generally, these pretended "walk-backs" are nothing but distraction, seeking to disinform the masses of the gaming community.

There is no change of heart.

Hasbro-WotC seeks to destroy the original OGL 1.0a at any cost.


Content already released under 1.0a will also remain unaffected.

Notice. Any content that has "already" been released under 1.0a is grandfathered in.

There is no way the Hasbro-WotC lawyers would win that in court anyway.

However, the new OGL 1.1 continues to seek to "de-authorize" the original OGL 1.0a.

Thus Hasbro-WotC seeks to forbid all future content, including any new content for the earlier SRDs.

Remarkably, Hasbro-WotC even forbids any content for 6e (aka 5.5). Hasbro-WotC will never contribute to the Open Gaming Content ever again.

If Hasbro-WotC would get its way, there would never again be an Open Gaming community.

As one ENWorlder phrased it, Hasbro-WotC is declaring: "All your bases are belong to us!"


What it will not contain is any royalty structure.

The refinement of the new OGL 1.1 would lack a tiered "structure". But it would probably still impose a royalty. The royalty would be either in the new OGL itself, or more likely, be one of the conditions of using the future DnDBeyond-DMsGuild-VTT-OneD&D market entity.


It also will not include the license back provision
that some people were afraid was a means for us to steal work.


The term "license back" is a euphamism for "theft".

The lawyers are rethinking how to control your property without actually saying Hasbro-WotC can steal it.


That thought never crossed our minds.
Under any new OGL, you will own the content you create.
We won’t.


More "douchie" fast-talking: pretending to be friendly and concerned while hostile and predatory.


Any language we put down will be crystal clear and unequivocal on that point.

The Hasbro-WotC lawyers are thinking carefully about how Hasbro-WotC can get away with removing your legal rights and controlling your property.


The license back language was intended to protect us and our partners
from creators who incorrectly allege that
we steal their work
simply because of coincidental similarities.


Entertainment industries sometimes protect themselves contractually.

However, lawyers emphasize, this theft of all of your property via "license back" is outrageous. This is beyond the pale of any "boiler plate" standard contractual agreement. Nobody should ever sign this OGL 1.1 or anything like this. Ever.


As we continue to invest in the game that we love

"Douchie".


and move forward with partnerships
in film, television, and digital games,
that risk is simply too great to ignore.


Hasbro-WotC cares about averting its own risks, yet rushes to put other corporations at risk, as well as putting anyone else in the gaming community at risk.

Hasbro-WotC seeks to destroy the original OGL 1.0a.


The new OGL will contain provisions to address that risk,
but we will do it without a license back
and without suggesting we have rights to the content you create.


Whatever provisions Hasbro-WotC comes up with, they are in bad faith.

Hasbro-WotC unilaterally violated the terms of the original OGL 1.0a contract, demonstrating disregard for the law, bad faith, and contempt for their contractual partners.

To sign a contract that gave Hasbro-WotC limitless permission to change the contract "at any moment", would be monstrous.

Dont take anything from Hasbro-WotC at face value. It would be the proverbial "devils contract". Actively investigate how Hasbro-WotC would twist any term of the contract.

Hasbro-WotC in the same way continues to twist outrageously the meaning of "authorized".


Your ideas and imagination are what makes this game special,
and that belongs to you.


More douchiness.

A couple of last thoughts.
First,
we won’t be able to release the new OGL today,
because we need to make sure we get it right,


LOL! Allegedly, Hasbro-WotC failed to release the "new OGL" because they want to "get it right".

The bad faith by Hasbro-WotC that sparked outrage by the gaming communities across the planet, the mass cancellations of DnDBeyond, and the newssources of different nations turning their eyes toward Hasbro-WotC and calling attention to the protests by the gaming community. This protest that threatens the profit of the Hasbro-WotC megacorp is the only thing that might prevent an OGL 1.1.

Also, if Hasbro-WotC tries to "de-authorize" the OGL 1.0a, that breach of contract can spark a class-action lawsuit against Hasbro-WotC.


but it is coming.

Hasbro-WotC doesnt give an F!

Hasbro-WotC seeks to destroy the OGL 1.0a at any price!


Second,
you’re going to hear people say that they won,
and we lost
because making your voices heard
forced us to change our plans.
Those people will only be half right.


More "douchiness". Pretending to be friendly while predatory.

In fact, so far, the protests so far are failing.

Hasbro-WotC still plans to kill the OGL 1.0a.

Nothing has changed.


They won—and so did we.

Hasbro-WotC continuously strives to stab the heart of the gaming community.

The OGL 1.0a is the heart.

Everything that matters that relates to the gaming community, depends on the original OGL 1.0a.


Our plan was always to solicit the input of our community

Secrecy, threats, NDAs, behind "closed" doors − demonstrates Hasbro-WotC lacks concern for the Open Gaming community.


before any update to the OGL;
the drafts you’ve seen were attempting to do just that.


LOL! "Drafts". Heh, maybe in the coercive military sense?

Hasbro-WotC sent the new OGL 1.1 with scare tactics, high pressure, disinformation, under the cover of darkness, to coerce signatures with real documents to be signed.


We want to always delight fans
and create experiences together
that everyone loves.


LOL!


We realize we did not do that this time and we are sorry for that.

Hasbro-WotC is deeply sorry that they got caught

and failed to destroy the gaming community.


Our goal was to get exactly the type of feedback
on which provisions worked and which did not
– which we ultimately got from you.


Hasbro-WotC claims to have caused this s***storm around the planet, on purpose, because it wants "feedback" ... on this ultra-secret document.


Any change this major
could only have been done well
if we were willing to take that feedback,
no matter how it was provided –
so we are.


Here is the "feedback":

The gaming community around the planet wants the OGL 1.0a to continue as intended

− for all D&D SRDs that have already been contributed to its Open Gaming Content,
− so that future content can continue to derive from these SRDs
− and for non-D&D roleplaying games that relied on the OGL 1.0a as an Open Gaming legal contract.


Thank you for caring enough
to let us know
what works and what doesn’t,
what you need
and what scares you.


"Douchie" − and flagrantly dishonest.


Without knowing that,
we can’t do our part
to make the new OGL
match our principles.


These fabulist two "principles" that never happened.


Finally, we’d appreciate the chance to make this right.
We love D&D’s devoted players
and the creators
who take them on so many incredible adventures.


In other words, Hasbro-WotC hates the devoted players and the creators who try to monetize their own efforts and gain sustenance by their own creativity and talent.


We won’t let you down.

Hasbro-WotC already let down the gaming communities around the planet.


Here is the "feedback":

the gaming community wants the OGL 1.0a to continue as intended − as is − irrevocably.


Hasbro-WotC appears to prefer to destroy itself, rather than listen to the "feedback" form the gaming community.
 
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aco175

Legend
More will come out over the next weeks until they release the new OGL. Most seem to think the reasons they put out about VTTs and racism and such does not pass the smell test and that the suspicions of grabbing money and forcing things online through their platform has more to do with things.

I think they know all eyes are on the new OGL they put out and that they have work to do.
 

The thing with the "racism" part is, that I've pointed out repeatedly, is that unless the conditions by which WotC can revoke a license for any kind of "bigoted" content is that it can be so open-ended that someone can find fault with anything.

If it's purely at WotC's discretion. . .it's meaningless.

WotC has already said, before the OGL debacle, that they were moving away from calling character races "races" and giving character races alignments all out of racism concerns. . .so using common gaming terminology and concepts from almost 50 years of D&D could be called "racist".

One college banned the use of the word "field" in its curriculum, so there could be no "field tests" or "field offices". . .because slaves worked in fields and they were concerned the use of the word "field" by the school could be racially offensive (https://www.npr.org/2023/01/14/1148470571/usc-office-removes-field-from-curriculum-racist)

This editorial from 2020 argues that most of the tropes and conventions that underlie the entire fantasy genre are racist, that the fantasy genre as we know it is inherently racist. By the definitions of this editorial writer, almost any traditional D&D adventure or campaign setting would be "racist". (It’s time for fantasy fiction and role-playing games to shed their racist history)

Then there's the amount of well established D&D content that some people complain about. Remember in 2020 when someone complained that the 1e Oriental Adventures was racist (and the reasons included PC races in that book having ability score penalties. . .which was normal in 1e and didn't reflect specifically on Asian-themed characters)? Remember the people who get upset about Vistani. . .never mind that Vistani were created to have a way for the traditional literary depictions of "gypsies" from fiction to show up in D&D without applying those stereotypes to any human characters, to distinguish that stereotypical literary "gypsies" weren't any actual human racial or ethnic group?

That's with racism alone, before you get into sexism, ableism, and every other "ism". Imagine them complaining your adventure is ableist because your dungeons aren't wheelchair accessible. Imagine them saying your campaign setting is misogynistic because the big bad villain is an evil Empress.

They can find a token excuse to allege bigotry in anything. Without a crystal clear standard that goes beyond WotC's own discretion, any kind of content clause in the new OGL is nothing more than a backdoor way to let WotC censor anything for any reason.

. . .and if you think they won't do that, and think they won't abuse that power, that's the same kind of thinking that had people thinking they wouldn't try to "de authorize" the OGL 1.0a. WotC cannot be trusted now, they've permanently broken that kind of trust.
 



ValamirCleaver

Jäger aus Kurpfalz
Notice, the earlier new OGL 1.1 actually did seek to forbid "cosplay" under the legal copyright term of "pantomime". Likely, Hasbro-WotC is still trying to scheme up a way to monetize cosplay. In any case, Hasbro-WotC wants cosplay fans under its thumb and under its capricious whims.
Not going to stop me from cosplaying!
IMG_20190623_110503148.png
Though what I do is technically historical recreation...
 

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