Paizo Posts New Draft of ORC License

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A second draft of the Open RPG Creative (ORC) license has been posted by Paizo, incorporating changes based on feedback on the first draft.

This second draft incorporates changes and suggestions from hundreds of participating publishers on the ORC License Discord community, adds significant clarity to key terms and definitions, substantially increases the size and scope of the project’s official FAQ, and introduces several basic quality-of-life improvements across the board.

You can download a copy of the ORC license and its associated FAQ/AxE (Answers and Explanations) document below. Our intention is to solicit “final” feedback on the ORC License Discord until the end of the day NEXT Monday, May 22nd. We intend for this wave of commentary to be the last round before presenting the truly final version of the license, which we plan to release by the end of May.

Our deepest thanks to all project participants. Your feedback has been invaluable in making the ORC License an ideal open gaming license that will serve the community long into the future.

A new era of open gaming is nearly here!
 

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Now industry leaders like MCDM have declarations like in their Arcadia magazines, or Monte Cook Games with their 5e stuff, that contribute zero OGC whatsoever and close off every thing they create including derived content. 20 years ago, they would have been publicly roasted for declarations like that.

That's not really something new for Monte Cook though. Malhavoc Press had a reputation back in the day of producing "crippled OGC".
 

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dbolack

Adventurer
Now industry leaders like MCDM have declarations like in their Arcadia magazines, or Monte Cook Games with their 5e stuff, that contribute zero OGC whatsoever and close off every thing they create including derived content. 20 years ago, they would have been publicly roasted for declarations like that. Now, I just see resigned grumbling on industry Discords and lamenting that (regardless of everything else MCDM does great because they are a great company) this sort of approach is only helping to accelerate the death of the OGL.
I don't have anywhere near encyclopedic knowledge here, but I have to wonder if this is a change in behavior or if more products that have this happen in them are being produced now. Curious.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
But to know what's open, you also need the OGC declaration
The OGL defines OGC as:

(d) "Open Game Content" means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Product Identity.​

That seems to say OGC is mechanics and content identified as OGC. This came up in discussion with @pemerton during the OGL revision mess in January. I think it could be argued that the mechanics even with restrictive PI declarations are OGC, but it’s not clear, and it would likely require gambling that a judge would rule favorably to clarify.

The current ORC license draft, however, makes it clear that this is the intended interpretation:

Licensed Material means (1) any material contained in a Work that would otherwise constitute Reserved Material but that has been expressly designated as Licensed Material by that material’s Licensor, and (2) those expressions reasonably necessary to convey functional ideas and methods of operation of a game that are contained in a Work that are comprised of systems, procedures, processes, rules, laws, instructions, heuristics, routines, functional elements, commands, structures, principles, methodologies, operations, devices, and concepts of play, and the limitations, restraints, constraints, allowances, and affordances inherent in gameplay, including but not limited to expressions describing the function of or providing instructions as to the following: (omitted)​

Followed by (in the list of required notices):

Reserved Material Notice. A statement based on reasonable, good-faith efforts that identifies the elements of Your Reserved Material, if any, contained in the Derivative Work in which You Use the Licensed Material. For avoidance of doubt, such designation neither limits Your rights in Your Reserved Material nor limits any downstream licensee’s Use of the Adapted Licensed Material. In the event of a conflict between Your designation of Reserved Material and the definition of Licensed Material, the definition shall control.​
It’s that clarification that’s under contention. The reason why I am unsympathetic to those who don’t like it is because I am not willing to prioritize their interests over those who don’t want their content used that way. I assume the expansive definition of OGC is probably the correct reading, but it’s ambiguous, and settling what it means would be costly. (I would also not want to use the OGL for that reason.)
 

The OGL defines OGC as:

(d) "Open Game Content" means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Product Identity.​

That seems to say OGC is mechanics and content identified as OGC. This came up in discussion with @pemerton during the OGL revision mess in January. I think it could be argued that the mechanics even with restrictive PI declarations are OGC, but it’s not clear, and it would likely require gambling that a judge would rule favorably to clarify.

The current ORC license draft, however, makes it clear that this is the intended interpretation:

Licensed Material means (1) any material contained in a Work that would otherwise constitute Reserved Material but that has been expressly designated as Licensed Material by that material’s Licensor, and (2) those expressions reasonably necessary to convey functional ideas and methods of operation of a game that are contained in a Work that are comprised of systems, procedures, processes, rules, laws, instructions, heuristics, routines, functional elements, commands, structures, principles, methodologies, operations, devices, and concepts of play, and the limitations, restraints, constraints, allowances, and affordances inherent in gameplay, including but not limited to expressions describing the function of or providing instructions as to the following: (omitted)​

Followed by (in the list of required notices):

Reserved Material Notice. A statement based on reasonable, good-faith efforts that identifies the elements of Your Reserved Material, if any, contained in the Derivative Work in which You Use the Licensed Material. For avoidance of doubt, such designation neither limits Your rights in Your Reserved Material nor limits any downstream licensee’s Use of the Adapted Licensed Material. In the event of a conflict between Your designation of Reserved Material and the definition of Licensed Material, the definition shall control.​
It’s that clarification that’s under contention. The reason why I am unsympathetic to those who don’t like it is because I am not willing to prioritize their interests over those who don’t want their content used that way. I assume the expansive definition of OGC is probably the correct reading, but it’s ambiguous, and settling what it means would be costly. (I would also not want to use the OGL for that reason.)
Oh, exactly, I agree! But with OGL usage in practice, even 23 years ago, you need the OGC declaration to understand what is open. You could never just check the PI declaration (which is actually optional) and then presume about the rest. That was never accepted industry practice even back in the day when being more open was the norm.

Sure, I agree that at least all derived mechanics should be automatically open, but historically no one ever tried pushing that to my knowledge. As far as I recall, bad OGC/PI declarations were still respected, just shamed. ;)

But I am happy with ORC and its improvements over the OGL especially in this regard and am planning on using it myself. So no arguments here. Just saying that regardless of any thoughts on OGL-in-theory, OGL-in-practice has always been "you need to check the OGC declaration."
 


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