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Frylock on the ‘Ineffectual OGL’

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So, his very first paragraphs has an astounding error:

"WotC introduced the OGL and the System Reference Document 5.0 (“SRD5”) for the noble cause of telling the public which of the material they published was, in their opinion, protected work (i.e., work only they could publish), and which was public domain (i.e., freely useable by everyone without restriction)."
No, the OGL and SRD tell the public what material was protected under normal copyright, and what was usable under the OGL,which does have some restrictions. It says so, right on WotC's SRD page. There is no public domain involved at all.

This phenomenally large error indicates to me... that we really shouldn't be paying attention to this person. Why are we reading what this guy writes?
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I remember one time, having to grade 1L papers..... it's just painful after a while. It's like that; I mean, he doesn't even correctly cite the (Learned) Hand formula, which isn't about applying Law & Economics to criminal law, but just basic negligence (you know, B < PL).
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Also, as a person who has received C&D requests from WotC, Frylock is hardly an unbiased analyst who's thoughts on the matter should be trusted, hm?

"I was asked to stop, so here is a public post of my reasons why I don't have to," is not so much a presentation of analysis as it is trying the case in the court of public opinion.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Also, as a person who has received C&D requests from WotC, Frylock is hardly an unbiased analyst who's thoughts on the matter should be trusted, hm?

"I was asked to stop, so here is a public post of my reasons why I don't have to," is not so much a presentation of analysis as it is trying the case in the court of public opinion.
I'm not sure he's helping himself in the court of public opinion.

I feel like he only opens his mouth to change feet.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Explorer
The really important thing is our money will be for the original creators and not for pirates. We aren't not only players, but also collectors. We will buy books because later these will become our threasure.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I'm not sure he's helping himself in the court of public opinion.
Probably not. But he wishes it otherwise.

If his case was so rock-solid, rather than blather at us, he should flagrantly violate the license, have WotC come after him, and actually win in court. Instead, he's setting out every one of his arguments in the public ahead of time, giving his eventual opponent tons of time to construct their counter-arguments. That seems... just poor tactics. The only rational reason to take this approach is to try to win the market to his side, so that WotC leaves him the heck alone.

But, as you say, I think most of us are looking forward to him being shown the error of his thought process.
 

Jer

Adventurer
This phenomenally large error indicates to me... that we really shouldn't be paying attention to this person. Why are we reading what this guy writes?
Mostly I'm rubbernecking, tbh. He's decided to pick a fight intentionally with WotC over this because he thinks he has a point to make. He's not a small company getting thrown up against the wall by a big corporation, just a lawyer who thinks he's going to prove a point in court about how Wizards can't possibly own the copyright to the rules they publish. That makes this "fun" to watch instead of angrifying - if he loses, well, he should have had a bit more humility and maybe hired another lawyer to check his work. If he wins then we may see fallout all over the game industry as well as in the software industry. The OGL was specifically modeled after open source software licenses, and as IANAL I have no idea how much fallout there might be if there is some declaration that even expressions of game rules can't be copywritten - which is what my non-lawyerly eyes read him as saying.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
So, his very first paragraphs has an astounding error:



No, the OGL and SRD tell the public what material was protected under normal copyright, and what was usable under the OGL,which does have some restrictions. It says so, right on WotC's SRD page. There is no public domain involved at all.

This phenomenally large error indicates to me... that we really shouldn't be paying attention to this person. Why are we reading what this guy writes?
He's claiming the OGL is an unenforceable document -that bears watching. Especially as he seems to be an experienced IP attorney and looks to be throwing bombs at WoTC.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
He's claiming the OGL is an unenforceable document -that bears watching. Especially as he seems to be an experienced IP attorney and looks to be throwing bombs at WoTC.
Claims that it is unenforceable do not bear watching. Court cases to that effect do.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
Claims that it is unenforceable do not bear watching. Court cases to that effect do.
Well he's also claiming to be an authority on the matter.

But mostly it's just because the subject is interesting and interesting to see what, if anything, develops.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Also, as a person who has received C&D requests from WotC, Frylock is hardly an unbiased analyst who's thoughts on the matter should be trusted, hm?

"I was asked to stop, so here is a public post of my reasons why I don't have to," is not so much a presentation of analysis as it is trying the case in the court of public opinion.
Why does it seem like you are soo against the guy?
 
Mostly I'm rubbernecking, tbh. He's decided to pick a fight intentionally with WotC over this because he thinks he has a point to make. He's not a small company getting thrown up against the wall by a big corporation, just a lawyer who thinks he's going to prove a point in court about how Wizards can't possibly own the copyright to the rules they publish. That makes this "fun" to watch instead of angrifying - if he loses, well, he should have had a bit more humility and maybe hired another lawyer to check his work. If he wins then we may see fallout all over the game industry as well as in the software industry. The OGL was specifically modeled after open source software licenses, and as IANAL I have no idea how much fallout there might be if there is some declaration that even expressions of game rules can't be copywritten - which is what my non-lawyerly eyes read him as saying.
The OGL and Open Source software licenses are superficially similar but fundamentally different. By accepting the OGL you gain permission to use some of WotC's copyrightet material in exchange for not doing certain other things which you'd normally have the right to do, such as using a name that WotC deems "product identity"

Open Source licenses on the other hand do not ask you to restrict excising your rights , they let you use certain copyrighted material in exchange for explicitly taking certain action, usually sharing any modifications you make to the software and/or giving credit to the original creator.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
The OGL and Open Source software licenses are superficially similar but fundamentally different. By accepting the OGL you gain permission to use some of WotC's copyrightet material in exchange for not doing certain other things which you'd normally have the right to do, such as using a name that WotC deems "product identity"
It does a bit more than that, it lets you reproduce the SRD whole cloth, as written. You know, WotC's copyrightable document that they are letting you use in exchange for following a set of rules, some of which are you have to share some of your toys too (or at least indicate which parts are your toys you aren't sharing). Basically it saves you the trouble of having to come up with new wording for literally every single rule in document. Most of them are complex enough you'd have to if Frylock is right.

Open Source licenses on the other hand do not ask you to restrict excising your rights , they let you use certain copyrighted material in exchange for explicitly taking certain action, usually sharing any modifications you make to the software and/or giving credit to the original creator.
Sure they do, you don't own the copyright on your new additions. You can't patent any sufficiently novel add-ons to the software. A whole bunch of stuff you could do you now can't. But again, in exchange you don't have to develop your software from square one, saving you time and effort in doing so.

As a thought though, if Frylock is right and the OGL is garbage, doesn't that mean that any company that use it and produced material based on it, like say Green Ronin, would be in for a problem since a huge portion of their material is derived fro the SRD?

And what about companies that sue the OGL but not the SRD? I've seen a few RPGs that like the idea, they copied the OGL and basically said this whole book, use according to the OGL rules. What does that do?
 

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