GSL questions for Scott Rouse and Mike Lescault

ZombieRoboNinja

First Post
Lizard said:
Necromancer (which owns the copyright on the OGL versions of the classic TSR monsters)

Um, I'm pretty sure this is incorrect. I think WotC owns those copyrights and (either through the OGL or through a special agreement with Necromancer) allowed Necromancer to use them in developing OGL products. And this is only to the degree that monster stat blocks are even copyrightable (since public domain, math, etc. can't be copyrighted), which is a point the OGL *intentionally* left open because it was a legal mess. (I think the explanation went something like, "Some of the stuff published under OGL may be copyrighted and some may not, but if it's under OGL you can definitely use it as a basis for further OGL products without fear of legal issues.")
 

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Orcus

First Post
Lizard said:
This is in reply to Orcus' comments about releasing existing OGC under the GSL:

We do know, I think very certainly, that the GSL cannot place material released under the OGL under itself without the consent of the copyright holder. It's not a new version of the OGL and thus can't 'cover' older material. Now, it might be that it's trivial to place OGL material under GSL and that there will be a reason to do so, in which case, Necromancer (which owns the copyright on the OGL versions of the classic TSR monsters) can rerelease them under the GSL, no problem, provided, of course, that the 3x SRD, from which the TOH critters are derived (mechanically, at least, and in terms of references to spells, onster types, and so on) is also placed under the GSL. If the 3x SRD is not re-released in some form under the GSL, I cannot see how any OGC derived from the SRD can be re-used without explicit permission. Books which draw from any sources and make use of other people's OGC will have a tangled mess of derivations to sort through.

The other issue is that while it might be possible to release existing OGC under the GSL easily, a lot of companies won't bother. For example, I have done a great deal of work for many publishers which is open content. While I don't own the copyright to that work, I can use the open version of it as legally as anyone else and republish or edit it as I see fit. What I can't do is update it for 4e unless the copyright holder (the publisher) re-releases it under the GSL.

If you think there's a legal way to make the GSL automagically incorporate other people's OGL-based OGC without a formal rerelease from the current copyright holders, well, you are cleverer than me (which may be to damn with faint praise). Feel free to PM me with your speculation.

I dont agree that we "know" that at all.

No one has seen the GSL.

We dont know what its terms will or wont be.

Frankly, my speculation is that some of what you say is correct. My guess is that the GSL will have restricitons on how it works with prior OGC. What those will be, I dont know. No one does, right now. You may wind up being right. But please stop saying it is known because it isnt at all. Not a single person outside WotC/Hasbro has seen the GSL.
 


Orcus

First Post
ZombieRoboNinja said:
Um, I'm pretty sure this is incorrect. I think WotC owns those copyrights and (either through the OGL or through a special agreement with Necromancer) allowed Necromancer to use them in developing OGL products. And this is only to the degree that monster stat blocks are even copyrightable (since public domain, math, etc. can't be copyrighted), which is a point the OGL *intentionally* left open because it was a legal mess. (I think the explanation went something like, "Some of the stuff published under OGL may be copyrighted and some may not, but if it's under OGL you can definitely use it as a basis for further OGL products without fear of legal issues.")

That wasnt the problem with the OGL at all. Your analysis is all wrong, respectfully. Of course stat blocks are copyrightable. And no the OGL didnt intentionally leave that issue open cause it was a legal mess. That is just a total misunderstanding of the license, its creation, its history and its use, I am sorry to say. I know that may be public sentiment, but I happen to know because I was there and I was part of it. I understand taht is a commonly held belief. This isnt the first time I've had to debunk this myth, so please know I am not criticizing you. I am just trying to debunk that notion.

As for what the new GSL will do with stuff like Tome, I dont know yet. Yes, that material is copyright Necro. We do hold the copyright to Tome1. But that doesnt answer the question. That content was also made into OGC, with WoptC's permssion, so long as the original authors were credited (whcih was our idea). And that content was used by us with permission. So depending on the terms of the GSL, its hard to say what we can do with that content. We'll have to wait and see.

Clark
 

Lizard

Explorer
Orcus said:
I dont agree that we "know" that at all.

No one has seen the GSL.

We dont know what its terms will or wont be.

Frankly, my speculation is that some of what you say is correct. My guess is that the GSL will have restricitons on how it works with prior OGC. What those will be, I dont know. No one does, right now. You may wind up being right. But please stop saying it is known because it isnt at all. Not a single person outside WotC/Hasbro has seen the GSL.

I think I am being unclear.

The GSL *cannot* (unless I am very, very, wrong) cover content released under the OGL, anymore than, say, the OGL could apply to content released under the GPL or the Creative Commons license. A copyright holder consented to place material under the OGL; this doesn't grant another party (WOTC) the right to create an unrelated license which still covers that content. The GSL is not a version of the OGL; if it were, it would be irrelevant, since all versions of the OGL are interchangeable and its more severe restrictions could be ignored. (This is why it's the GSL and not the OGL, and why it's almost three months from the announcement and no actual license yet...)

Again, this doesn't prevent a copyright holder from releasing material under the GSL, but this can't apply to material to which they don't own the original copyright OR material derived from such -- such as anything derived from the SRd, *unless* the SRD is also released under the GSL -- something I very much doubt will happen. Most likely, there will be a 'gentleman's agreement' (much like in the early days of the OGL, before the SRd was finalized) which would allow companies to 'upgrade' material derived from the SRD but not to create new, 3x compatible material *under the GSL*. (They could, obviously, keep using the OGL)

This really has nothing to do with the content of the GSL or what it says; it has to do with the nature of licenses. As I said before, if WOTC could write a license which somehow covered content released under a *different* license, it would mean I could do so, too.

To be more clear:

I write a game supplement. I release it under the OGL. The copyright is mine and mine alone; other people can use the material according to the terms of the license *I* chose to release it under.

WOTC releases the GSL. I don't like the terms of the GSL; I choose not to release my material under it.

There is nothing anyone can do to "re open" my OGL content under the GSL. It is a different license and does not bind me in any way. If anyone attempted to use my content under the GSL, I could sue them and win handily. I cannot imagine *any* structuring of the license which would let it re-license *other people's copyrighted material* under itself[1], and the GSL *cannot* be a "version" of the OGL or the entire exercise becomes moot.

Further, if my material derives from any other OGL sources which are not, themselves, released under the GSL -- say I used Jubilex from the TOH -- even if I wished to re-license my material under the GSL, I could not, because it is 'contaminated' with material whose copyrights I do not own, and only THAT copyright holder can release it under the GSL.

By deciding to abandon the OGL in favor of a new license, WOTC has created a complicated legal nightmare for anyone seeking to edit or upgrade existing works. If we assume there's some way to still derive from the 3x SRD, that still means products which use OGC from multiple sources are screwed without a lot of explicit permission.

[1]Again, I must note that releasing material under the OGL doesn't in any way remove your copyright to it or place it into the public domain; the OGL is a license allowing re-use of copyrighted material under specific terms, it is not a waiver of copyright. I know you know this, but I think other people might be confused.
 

Lizard

Explorer
Orcus said:
As for what the new GSL will do with stuff like Tome, I dont know yet. Yes, that material is copyright Necro. We do hold the copyright to Tome1. But that doesnt answer the question. That content was also made into OGC, with WoptC's permssion, so long as the original authors were credited (whcih was our idea). And that content was used by us with permission. So depending on the terms of the GSL, its hard to say what we can do with that content. We'll have to wait and see.

Clark

Since you own the copyright to TOH, I suspect you'll be able to re-release it under the GSL, *provided* there's some way to include those portions of the TOH which derive from the SRD, which is, uhm, a whole lot of it. :) I'm certain WOTC will make some attempt to make this possible, but how convoluted and dependent on trust and goodwill it will be, I don't know.
 

Orcus

First Post
Lizard said:
I think I am being unclear.

The GSL *cannot* (unless I am very, very, wrong) cover content released under the OGL, anymore than, say, the OGL could apply to content released under the GPL or the Creative Commons license. A copyright holder consented to place material under the OGL; this doesn't grant another party (WOTC) the right to create an unrelated license which still covers that content. The GSL is not a version of the OGL; if it were, it would be irrelevant, since all versions of the OGL are interchangeable and its more severe restrictions could be ignored. (This is why it's the GSL and not the OGL, and why it's almost three months from the announcement and no actual license yet...)

Again, this doesn't prevent a copyright holder from releasing material under the GSL, but this can't apply to material to which they don't own the original copyright OR material derived from such -- such as anything derived from the SRd, *unless* the SRD is also released under the GSL -- something I very much doubt will happen. Most likely, there will be a 'gentleman's agreement' (much like in the early days of the OGL, before the SRd was finalized) which would allow companies to 'upgrade' material derived from the SRD but not to create new, 3x compatible material *under the GSL*. (They could, obviously, keep using the OGL)

This really has nothing to do with the content of the GSL or what it says; it has to do with the nature of licenses. As I said before, if WOTC could write a license which somehow covered content released under a *different* license, it would mean I could do so, too.

To be more clear:

I write a game supplement. I release it under the OGL. The copyright is mine and mine alone; other people can use the material according to the terms of the license *I* chose to release it under.

WOTC releases the GSL. I don't like the terms of the GSL; I choose not to release my material under it.

There is nothing anyone can do to "re open" my OGL content under the GSL. It is a different license and does not bind me in any way. If anyone attempted to use my content under the GSL, I could sue them and win handily. I cannot imagine *any* structuring of the license which would let it re-license *other people's copyrighted material* under itself[1], and the GSL *cannot* be a "version" of the OGL or the entire exercise becomes moot.

Further, if my material derives from any other OGL sources which are not, themselves, released under the GSL -- say I used Jubilex from the TOH -- even if I wished to re-license my material under the GSL, I could not, because it is 'contaminated' with material whose copyrights I do not own, and only THAT copyright holder can release it under the GSL.

By deciding to abandon the OGL in favor of a new license, WOTC has created a complicated legal nightmare for anyone seeking to edit or upgrade existing works. If we assume there's some way to still derive from the 3x SRD, that still means products which use OGC from multiple sources are screwed without a lot of explicit permission.

[1]Again, I must note that releasing material under the OGL doesn't in any way remove your copyright to it or place it into the public domain; the OGL is a license allowing re-use of copyrighted material under specific terms, it is not a waiver of copyright. I know you know this, but I think other people might be confused.

I agree with you in theory, but I see a possibility that you are not accounting for--that a product could be covered by BOTH the GSL and the OGL. I see that as a possibility. For instance, perhaps the GSL -ONLY- covers use of content from the 4E SRD. If that is the case, you could create a product that uses the GSL for the 4E parts and then also uses the OGL to pull from 3E/OGC sources. That would work nicely.

However, I happen to think that you are likely right. I think the GSL will likely preclude you from also using any other license in a product that also uses the GSL. Or, in the alternative, allows you to use OGC only so long as you have permission of the copyright holder. But I am not sure.

I think your stance comes from a belief that the GSL cannot work with the OGL and OGC in any way. I am not sure that is a certainty. Had I been consulted by WotC (which I wasnt, though I offered) this was exactly the problem I wanted to help with--how to intertwine 3E OGC with new 4E content under the GSL.

I also dont see it as a legal nightmare at all to upgrade existing works. If you were the creator of the intial work, even if under the OGL, you own the concepts and can easily do them in a new incarnation of the license.

Let me give you an example. I dont know if the GSL will work with the OGL in any way. But permission from the content owner is always a good way to go. For Tome 4E I wanted to include a few monsters from the old Creature Collection that I produced. I dont technically own that content. If the GSL works with the OGL then I can use it under that license. But I dont think it will. So I called Steve and Stew and got permission, in writing, to use the couple of monsters that I wanted to use. So I know, without almost any doubt, that I will be able to create those creatures for Tome 4E because I have the right to do so (unless the GSL has some wierd provision I havent envisioned, which I find hard to believe, but who knows).

I also do agree that one thing that is in question is downstream use of OGC. That issue you raise above I believe is very valid--for instance you create a work that includes someone elses OGC, you then release your work as OGC under the OGL. All good and appropriate. Now, however, if the new GSL doesnt work with the old OGL then if you want to redo that work you likely wont be able to use the content that you used that was prior OGC. But the rest of the work you could. So, depending on how much reuse you did, you may have an extra step.

This leads me back to something I was a HUGE advocate of under the OGL--asking permission even if you didnt have to. I always advocated that if you were going to reuse someone else's OGC that you give them the courtesy of asking permission. You didnt have to, of course. But this is a small industry. Professionalism is always the best way to go. Now, here we are. If you used someone's OGC previously for a product and want to use it again in updating that work under the GSL, guess what--if you asked permission the first time and got it, dont you think they would likely give it again when you ask for permission to use it under the GSL? It always pays to be nice... :)

I do agree with your important comment about copyright and how the OGL is not a waiver of copyright. I think that is an important comment to remind people about.

It is going to be intersting to see how this all plays out.

Clark
 

Ranger REG

Explorer
DaveMage said:
The irony to me is that 4E probably wouldn't exist without 3E and the OGL.
Heh. Trust me when I say, 4e would exist with or without the OGL. And since the license have been given an entirely different name, I'm guessing it's the latter.
 

GentleGiant

Explorer
Ranger REG said:
Heh. Trust me when I say, 4e would exist with or without the OGL. And since the license have been given an entirely different name, I'm guessing it's the latter.
I think DaveMage meant that it wouldn't exist in its current form (rules-wise) or designed by the people who did it (e.g. Mike Mearls).
 

GentleGiant

Explorer
A couple of other things that some people are curious about (at least some customers, not too much info on this from the various publishers) are these:
  • Will the GSL prevent a company from publishing OGL content alongside 4e products* (e.g. dual-statted books, a 3.x gameline/gameworld etc.)?
  • Will there be any clauses to prevent backward engineering from 4e to 3.x (even if it's kept within the other confines of the GSL)?
  • Will it be possible to release 3.x content under the GSL (similar to the above) or will it only cover the 4e SRD (thus making 3.x material that incorporates rules from the 4e SRD)?

* this could be by including a clause that basically says something to the affect of "if your company decides to release 4e products you will cease to produce 3.x products." Although you might still be able to upgrade existing 3.x products to 4e (as Clark has talked about further up the thread.
 

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