log in or register to remove this ad

 

Cortex Fan License Published

The fan license which allows you to create free material for Cortex Prime was announced by Fandom yesterday.

cl.jpg


Fandom acquired the Cortex Prime system recently, and is also the owner of D&D Beyond.

The announcement was greeted with negative feedback about its restrictions by the community. The Community License grants ownership of any mechanics created under the license (but not 'lore' such as names, art, fiction, etc.) Additionally, Fandom can terminate the license at any time. The usage of the Cortex Prime mechanics is limited in that fans cannot "decompile, disassemble, or reverse engineer the Cortex System, or any component thereof, by any means whatsoever."

In the comments under the announcement, Fandom confirmed that fan creations could not be distributed via DriveThruRPG or Itch.io because those platforms "grants them rights to specific parts of the content, including content that the community license does not grant you the rights to." I'm not familiar with Itch's terms, but DTRPG doesn't acquire any rights to content distributed on the platform.

Fandom does confirm in the comments that people can create their own versions of the Cortex mechanics without using the license; but by doing so you can't call it Cortex or use the resources Fandom provides. Mechanics in themselves cannot be copyrighted, but the expression (the text used) to describe them can.

Those wishing to sell their work will be able to use the Cortex Creator Studio, which will become available at a later date. The commercial license requires an application.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey



Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
But if I were to use the fan license they then would get ownership of any mechanics? By agreement?
That's the weird bit. The terms say yes, but you can't give them something that neither you not they can legally own. Nobody can own the mechanics. I assume they must have meant the text which expresses the mechanics.
 


eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
I could go into detail how this is dumb on several levels.

Instead, I will just repost the top reply in that Twitter thread. It really is thorough and encapsulates everything wrong with this license.
Mod Edit:

Removed screenshot containing profanity.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Grantypants

Explorer
But if I were to use the fan license they then would get ownership of any mechanics? By agreement?
Kind of. Under US Intellectual Property law, "systems" (including game mechanics) are not protected by copyright, but the specific wording of those mechanics can be. So you could publish a book with an original dice pool mechanic, and the text of your book would be under copyright, but someone else could still write their own book and incorporate your dice pool system, as long as they phrased your system in their own words. And if there is not another way to explain your rule, other people can use your original wording, even though your book remains under copyright.
Is Cortex not OGL?
No. The OGL is specific to Wizards of the Coast and D&D. Edit: Turns out I was wrong. The OGL was written by Wizards of the Coast for D&D but has been used by other publishers for games not based on D&D. However, Cortex is not one of them.

That said, there are other considerations besides what the law says. If Fandom sues you for violating this license, sure, you might eventually win the case, but you still have to spend months or even years going to court and paying for your lawyers. That's money and time you won't get back, even if the court rules in your favor. If you have that kind of free time and cash to burn, good for you, but nobody making third party supplements for Cortex games is making enough money from them to make fighting this sort of case worthwhile.
 
Last edited:

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
...fans cannot "decompile, disassemble, or reverse engineer the Cortex System, or any component thereof, by any means whatsoever.

I mean, they don't have to, because the mechanics are right there, in the book, and not in themselves covered by copyright.

Unless they are considering this to cover their electronic tools, in which case this is not remarkable in any way.
 



darjr

I crit!
Wow, I remember when this was funded. It seemed like such a huge deal back then. But looking now, yea it’s got over 2000 backers, but it’s well under $100 grand, which seems small now for an entire rpg system. Certainly not as big as I remember. Just a side effect of how much the hobby on Kickstarter has grown from just 2017.
 

Could Fandom publish in the wikis the stats of the characters as (n)PC with the Cortex System?

What about publishing things from public domain? For example forgotten superheroes from the golden age.

The future "Legends of Grayskull" will be with Cortex System.

I don't know the relation between Hasbro and Fandom. Is it good?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Wow, I remember when this was funded. It seemed like such a huge deal back then. But looking now, yea it’s got over 2000 backers, but it’s well under $100 grand, which seems small now for an entire rpg system. Certainly not as big as I remember. Just a side effect of how much the hobby on Kickstarter has grown from just 2017.
If you look at all the 1M+ Kickstarters, they’re nearly all this year.
 

timbannock

Adventurer
That is incorrect. Evil Hat Games has released several non-d20 titles under the OGL, for example.
Correct! The OGL started with Wizards/D20 but has long since been expanded to cover many other systems and circumstances. Evil Hat specifically uses it and Creative Commons for Fate.

What I don't follow is why people feel they are owed every system and/or license as is if it is OGL/CC? My reading is that Fandom "gets the mechanics" when you publish on their as-of-yet unreleased Creator Studio ecosystem, or if you publish your thing somewhere with all their licensing branding assets, not if you just make a Google Doc without their branding and post it on your website or social media, etc.
 


Bravesteel25

Baronet of Gaming
The Community License grants ownership of any mechanics created under the license (but not 'lore' such as names, art, fiction, etc.)
So, Cortex, a generic RPG system, owns a licensee's lore, art, fiction under this agreement? Am I reading that part correctly? If so, that is some utter nonsense. Cortex isn't Traveller, where there is a very good reason to have such safeguards regarding lore in the Travellers' Aid Society Creator's Program terms.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
My reading is that Fandom "gets the mechanics" when you publish on their as-of-yet unreleased Creator Studio ecosystem, or if you publish your thing somewhere with all their licensing branding assets, not if you just make a Google Doc without their branding and post it on your website or social media, etc.

It seems like boilerplate stuff, honestly. The idea that, if you publish stuff based on their work, you cannot them hold them hostage if they develop something similar in the future, is pretty basic.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Wow, I remember when this was funded. It seemed like such a huge deal back then. But looking now, yea it’s got over 2000 backers, but it’s well under $100 grand, which seems small now for an entire rpg system. Certainly not as big as I remember. Just a side effect of how much the hobby on Kickstarter has grown from just 2017.
If you look at all the 1M+ Kickstarters, they’re nearly all this year.
I think they just picked the wrong year to run their Kickstarter. It also got caught up in development-Hades until Fandom came in.
 



Visit Our Sponsor

Latest threads

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top