OGL Legal Discussion of OGL 1.2

Matt Thomason

Adventurer
I'm not a lawyer, but to my untrained eye what you've done here is just repost the content, and haven't made it a separate work. What you should probably do is:
  • Go over the files and make sure there's nothing in them that the original publisher has called out as product identity. For example, I understand that there's a spell in the 3.5e SRD that uses umber hulk blood as a component, and you probably want to get rid of that.
  • Write your own legal statement with declarations of product identity and open game content. Look at the legal.rtf file in the 3.5e SRD for an example. You should almost certainly not copy their declaration verbatim, because in doing so you'd declare that the terms Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast, Forgotten Realms, etc. are your product identity, and that seems like a big no-no.
  • Update section 15 of the OGL in each of your publications.
That seems like a minimum you'd need to do, and I can't guarantee that that would be enough.

(edit: removed after seeing there was express permission to redistribute that file)
 
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For those interested, esp. the first 1:30 minutes or so… better yet the first 4
I mean that is just a brutal point, it really is, and it totally demonstrates how WotC are not "bargaining in good faith" here, but just trying to score a cheap win in the court of public opinion, but still apparently failing to do so lol

I still can't get over how they didn't think D&D players, of all people, wouldn't be ornery about this. Like, have you MET us? I mean according to DND Shorts video, no, Chris Cao has not met us lol but jeez.
 

I'd also add that the actual SRD PDF from WotC is not legally redistributable. You're entitled to copy the bits of text from it that the license specfies you can, but their layout is not included in the license. Of course, if you make the above changes, you're presumably making your own thing anyway. Just don't be tempted to use a PDF editor directly on it.

You can redistribute the exact file as WotC expressly provides you that permission in the first paragraph of the file: (WotC: Permission to copy, modify and distribute the files collectively known as the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD5”) is granted solely through the use of the Open Gaming License, Version 1.0a.).

joe b.
 

Matt Thomason

Adventurer
You can redistribute the exact file as WotC expressly provides you that permission in the first paragraph of the file: (WotC: Permission to copy, modify and distribute the files collectively known as the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD5”) is granted solely through the use of the Open Gaming License, Version 1.0a.).

joe b.
d'oh. Post edited - thanks :) I was making the assumption the only permission granted was via the OGL, which wouldn't have allowed it.
 


pemerton

Legend
You can redistribute the exact file as WotC expressly provides you that permission in the first paragraph of the file: (WotC: Permission to copy, modify and distribute the files collectively known as the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD5”) is granted solely through the use of the Open Gaming License, Version 1.0a.).
I am looking at this <https://media.wizards.com/2016/downloads/SRD-OGL_V1.1.pdf> and this <https://media.wizards.com/2016/downloads/DND/SRD-OGL_V5.1.pdf>.

Both open with the phrase you cite:

Permission to copy, modify and distribute the files collectively known as the System Reference Document 5.0 (“SRD5”) is granted solely through the use of the Open Gaming License, Version 1.0a.

Permission to copy, modify and distribute the files collectively known as the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD5”) is granted solely through the use of the Open Gaming License, Version 1.0a.​

The OGC - which sets out the conditions for copying, modifying and distributing - permits copying, modifying and distributing Open Gaming Content. Both the files I've linked to have statements of what is OGC in them - "All of the rest of the SRD5 is Open Game Content as described in Section 1(d) of the License."

So I don't think you can redistribute the exact file relying on the WotC licensing you under the OGL. The file contains material which is not OGC and hence is not licensed under the terms of the OGL. (There may be other permissions - express or implicitly granted by WotC, or under copyright law itself - which apply. I don't have a view on that.)

d'oh. Post edited - thanks :) I was making the assumption the only permission granted was via the OGL, which wouldn't have allowed it.
The only permission that I can see is granted "solely through the use of" the OGL, which as you say does not extend to the whole of the file.
 

mamba

Hero
I mean that is just a brutal point, it really is, and it totally demonstrates how WotC are not "bargaining in good faith" here, but just trying to score a cheap win in the court of public opinion, but still apparently failing to do so lol
if I look around here, then they mostly succeeded. Everyone is talking about what loopholes to close in 1.2 and miss the forest for the trees
 

if I look around here, then they mostly succeeded. Everyone is talking about what loopholes to close in 1.2 and miss the forest for the trees
I feel like that's reductive and misses the fact that as soon as they put out another version and it's also got big problems people will get mad again.

I sincerely doubt they do more than cosmetic work on the morality clause, for example, and just doing that won't actually calm people down.
 


Saracenus

Always In School Gamer
Just a side note on the whole Microsoft Teams thing, the WotC employees should know better than to use any system that WotC controls. They should be setting up an encrypted messaging system like Signal on their cell phones so they can talk with each other without fear of WotC IT finding it. Even if IT somehow detects the encrypted messages passing across their LAN/WiFi they won't be able to crack them. For even more security, turn off WiFi on their phones and use Signal only when they are on their cell phone's carrier data.
Whoops, wrong thread…
 
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SoonRaccoon

Explorer
if I look around here, then they mostly succeeded. Everyone is talking about what loopholes to close in 1.2 and miss the forest for the trees
Well, I am happy to say I only partially fell for the trap. I did leave a detailed response about what I didn't like about 1.2, but only after a straightforward "All we want is 5e under 1.0a. Keep that and all this goes away. Do whatever you want with 6e." I also stressed how much trust WotC has lost, and it would take a pretty drastic U-turn to gain it back, like releasing the entire 5e SRD under CC-BY. :p But, I know there's a snowball's chance in hell of that happening.
 

SoonRaccoon

Explorer
Question about the following phrase.

irrevocable (meaning that content licensed under this license can never be withdrawn from the license)

I've seen different lawyers give different interpretations of this, depending what "content licensed under this license" means. Does that refer to Our Licensed Content or Your Content or both? Or would we need clarification?
 

mamba

Hero
Question about the following phrase.



I've seen different lawyers give different interpretations of this, depending what "content licensed under this license" means. Does that refer to Our Licensed Content or Your Content or both? Or would we need clarification?
Theirs, you can license yours (in which case it applies to yours as well), or not / under a different license
 

ValamirCleaver

Jäger aus Kurpfalz
I mean according to DND Shorts video, no, Chris Cao has not met us lol but jeez.
You mean this one where it seems that the Wizbro leadership thinks they can turn D&D into a billion (with a B) dollar property by nickel & diming all players through an MMO like VTT? :
9:04
'I believe Kale and team have a standing game of D&D every Friday night, but I don't believe Cao has ever attended.'

9:13
'Chris Cao is from a gaming background (almost every meeting with him includes him talking about this at some point). He doesn't play D&D, because according to him, he doesn't need to play it to understand what the community wants - he believes that his experience with MMO video games and mobile games is enough and it's all the same anyways.'

9:24
'This is true, he sees "gamers" as one homogeneous group.'

 
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Haplo781

Legend
So... I'm a bit confused. (Not a lawyer.)

They say 1.0a remains valid for already published material. But 1.0a both allows and requires the licensee to offer the same agreement (OGL 1.0a) for sublicensing. And it expressly forbids modifying its own terms. If any instance of 1.0a remains valid, then both those provisions would remain in force.

Can anyone versed in legal matters see any way that Wizards could legally prevent sublicensing from, say, d20srd.org? Or are they now relying entirely on fear and the cost of litigation?
"Because we have expensive lawyers on retainer and you don't."
 


Steel_Wind

Legend
You mean this one where it seems that the Wizbro leadership thinks they can turn D&D into a billion (with a B) dollar property by nickel & diming all players through an MMO like VTT? :
9:04
'I believe Kale and team have a standing game of D&D every Friday night, but I don't believe Cao has ever attended.'

9:13
'Chris Cao is from a gaming background (almost every meeting with him includes him talking about this at some point). He doesn't play D&D, because according to him, he doesn't need to play it understand what the community wants - he believes that his experience with MMO video games and mobile games is enough and it's all the same anyways.'

9:24
'This is true, he sees "gamers" as one homogeneous group.'

Yes, that's the one he means.

And yes, this video pretty much confirms most of everything many of us had discerned from their prior moves that emerged over the past few weeks.

Yanno, if they had just amended the OGL 1.0a to remove interactive software from it, and had de-authorized the 1.0a, but left everything else in the 1.0a INTACT in 1.0(b) -- and not strapped a frikkin BOMB to their chest with this nonsensical 3pp royalty crap back in December?

They would have pretty much gotten away with it. Their core commercial concern would have been met, no D&D drama stories in The Guardian and other mainstream newspapers, no real threats of a fork in 5e, no ORC, no PR carpet-bombs for 2 weeks, no mass cancellations of DDB (well , apart from Foundry users when it stops working, that is) -- no nothing, really. Dungeons & Drama would not have become a meme. The de-authorization bit would not have mattered if they made it clear this was not in any way an attack on 3pp and they can go right on publishing; affirming all 1.0(a) works to date in 1.0(b) and their explicit right to continue with it.

Go that route? In the end, all that would have produced is just some upset Foundry VTT users. We would have been vocal, sure, but that would have ebbed away in a month or four - and on its own? Not much of consequence, save for some temporary smoke and noise over Foundry. The vast majority of D&D players would never have even heard about it or seen so much a tweet, let alone a headline on Facebook. Some Foundry users would have grumpily moved on to a 6e 3d vtt in a year or two, and most of the rest who didn't to PF2. Can WotC afford to lose 20-50k customers? No problem. Drop in the bucket, really at WotC's current scale with 5e. Barely a quarter's normal market churn.

Which tells you that WotC is being mismanaged -- and whoever did this (it seems it was Chris Cao) was DUMB and did not understand what he was doing at all. Which means it is likely that he still doesn't.

Is that the sort of leadership and judgment you are putting faith in? Good luck with all of that.
 

ValamirCleaver

Jäger aus Kurpfalz
Yanno, if they had just amended the OGL 1.0a to remove interactive software from it, and had de-authorized the 1.0a, but left everything else in the 1.0a INTACT in 1.0(b) -- and not strapped a frikkin BOMB to their chest with this nonsensical 3pp royalty crap back in December?
I still think there would have been a large outcry (probably not as large as it was, but still a large one) even if they did unilaterally changed just that. What would stop Wizbro from unilaterally changing it again (or even completely abrogating it) in the future? Wizbro should have waited closer to the 2024 release & announced that the 1D&D reference document, made available for 3pp use, was going to use a new & different license (one that did not use the term "open" in the name) & that previous SRDs were not for use with the new licensing regime. Then those that were not interested in 1D&D could continue as they had in the past because nothing else changed because 22½ years of Open Game Content has not been destroyed.
 

Haplo781

Legend
Yes, that's the one he means.

And yes, this video pretty much confirms most of everything many of us had discerned from their prior moves that emerged over the past few weeks.

Yanno, if they had just amended the OGL 1.0a to remove interactive software from it, and had de-authorized the 1.0a, but left everything else in the 1.0a INTACT in 1.0(b) -- and not strapped a frikkin BOMB to their chest with this nonsensical 3pp royalty crap back in December?

They would have pretty much gotten away with it. Their core commercial concern would have been met, no D&D drama stories in The Guardian and other mainstream newspapers, no real threats of a fork in 5e, no ORC, no PR carpet-bombs for 2 weeks, no mass cancellations of DDB (well , apart from Foundry users when it stops working, that is) -- no nothing, really. Dungeons & Drama would not have become a meme. The de-authorization bit would not have mattered if they made it clear this was not in any way an attack on 3pp and they can go right on publishing; affirming all 1.0(a) works to date in 1.0(b) and their explicit right to continue with it.

Go that route? In the end, all that would have produced is just some upset Foundry VTT users. We would have been vocal, sure, but that would have ebbed away in a month or four - and on its own? Not much of consequence, save for some temporary smoke and noise over Foundry. The vast majority of D&D players would never have even heard about it or seen so much a tweet, let alone a headline on Facebook. Some Foundry users would have grumpily moved on to a 6e 3d vtt in a year or two, and most of the rest who didn't to PF2. Can WotC afford to lose 20-50k customers? No problem. Drop in the bucket, really at WotC's current scale with 5e. Barely a quarter's normal market churn.

Which tells you that WotC is being mismanaged -- and whoever did this (it seems it was Chris Cao) was DUMB and did not understand what he was doing at all. Which means it is likely that he still doesn't.

Is that the sort of leadership and judgment you are putting faith in? Good luck with all of that.
Hence my insistence that Cao be fired.

It's not about appeasement or wanting blood. It's about preventing further harm.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
I still think there would have been a large outcry (probably not as large as it was, but still a large one) even if they did unilaterally changed just that. What would stop Wizbro from unilaterally changing it again (or even completely abrogating it) in the future? Wizbro should have waited closer to the 2024 release & announced that the 1D&D reference document, made available for 3pp use, was going to use a new & different license (one that did not use the term "open" in the name) & that previous SRDs were not for use with the new licensing regime. Then those that were not interested in 1D&D could continue as they had in the past because nothing else changed because 22½ years of Open Game Content has not been destroyed.
A calm and reasoned discussion. No surprise, no back-room deals under NDA. Critically, it would have had none of the stink of skullduggery. It would instead have been presented not in the shadows, but under the noon-day Sun.

"We are doing this for two principal reasons:

1. We see the D&D brand going forward as principally a digital game in the decades to come. The pandemic has certainly taught us that the importance of VTT gaming to the D&D brand is critical in a way we never foresaw in 2000. We previously were not directly in that business and we have confined ourselves to licensing others to make computer games and video games for us. Now that we are focusing efforts on Triple A VTT development, we need to protect that critical aspect of our market for ourselves. As you know, we have made a significant investment into DDB and those financial efforts continue with the development of OneD&D and our forthcoming online play experience - which we believe gamers will LOVE. We would be negligent and poor custodians of the brand if we did not take these modest steps at this time.

We wish to assure all our 3pp publishing partners that their core business model remains intact. We have co-existed for 23 years publishing alongside one another and this decision was made only with difficulty, after consulting with our publishing partners -- and only after making a significant investment in DDB itself.

This continuing reassurance is provided both to those who have used our IP to compliment our products -- and for those who have used it in the past (and present) to compete against us in the marketplace. Competition is good for us all and helps keep the hobby vibrant. It also provides important career opportunities for those who choose RPG game development as a career. We have no interest in closing or disrupting a business model under which we have operated successfully for 23 years. We fully expect it to continue for another 23 years without any significant change, too.

2. As for computer games themselves, we believed that our interests as licensors could accommodate an OGL based game, for those who dared to try making one. As we suspected at the time in 2000, few would (or did). Recently, however, one company did so with development of a significant PC games title based on the OGL 1.0a. Our licensees in the computer games business expressed to us great unhappiness with their facing another CRPG game, developed and released without our input -- and more importantly, without the benefit of our licensee knowing about that product's release schedule so that their development and marketing campaigns could take that into account. Because of that very real marketing concern, and the very real impact on development schedules and income for licensees and licensors both, we felt we have to make this minor change. The publisher of the OGL game in question is now under license and this decision will not affect their products going forward or materially reduce product selection or choice for all gamers in the future. We do think it wise, however, to close that door now while we can before any further mischief and disruption should happen again. Computer gaming is simply too important to leave such matters to the vagaries of chance. We trust you will understand that our focus is both reasonable and narrow and, to our knowledge, will not bring harm to anyone currently at work on a major OGL based title.

Yours in Gaming,
XXX OOO
Chris Cao"

Had they said this? They would TOTALLY have gotten away with it, imo.
 

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