OGL So, who can 'authorize' and 'de-authorize' the OGL?

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. This is just for fun.

The only reference to authorisation in the OGL v1.0a is in s9:

9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.

  • The word 'authorized' appears nowhere else in the document, not even in the 'Definitions' section.
  • Nowhere does it say who can authorize the license, or how that is accomplished.
  • Therefore, there is no way in the license to de-authorize it. BUT --
  • If we accept the premise that 'de-authorization' exists (and we don't), then absent any other information, anybody can 'de-authorize' it.
  • And therefore anybody can authorize it.
If WotC 'de-authorizes' the OGL v1.0a, I hereby re-authorize it. According to the license, I have exactly as much ability to do so as WotC has. So do you.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Tazawa

Adventurer
This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. This is just for fun.

The only reference to authorisation in the OGL v1.0a is in s9:

9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.

  • The word 'authorized' appears nowhere else in the document, not even in the 'Definitions' section.
  • Nowhere does it say who can authorize the license, or how that is accomplished.
  • Therefore, there is no way to de-authorize it. BUT --
  • If we accept the premise that 'de-authorization' exists, then absent any other information, anybody can 'de-authorize' it.
  • And therefore anybody can authorize it.
If WotC 'de-authorizes' the OGL v1.0a, I hereby re-authorize it. According to the license, I have exactly as much ability to do so as WotC has. So do you.

If you look at the archive of the OGL on the Open Gaming Foundation website, you see that there is a version .02 that was for comment and critique and could not be used at that time. It was not approved.


The next version, 1.0, has a statement that Wizards has approved this version. The same statement is used for 1.0a later.


Neither are statements that the license is authorized, but I think the correct interpretation is that Wizards authorized 1.0 and 1.0a but did not authorize .02.

But the point remains that there is no language in the 1.0(a) licenses that covers de-authorization of a version of the license.
 

Kinematics

Adventurer
My view is that "authorization" can only be considered a positive action. As @Tazawa pointed out, draft versions were not authorized. Only when an acceptable version was written was it deemed authorized.

So "authorized" means, "We accepted this as a valid license that we were willing to mark as legitimate." Every license so accepted would be authorized.

De-authorization would basically mean going back in time and changing your mind about accepting a given license draft. It's like saying, "I went to Walmart today" after having gone to Walmart, and then tomorrow saying, "I changed my mind; I didn't go to Walmart yesterday." It's nonsensical, because it already happened; it's an objective fact.

So WotC can authorize a version of the OGL by explicitly stating such (because they're the ones with the copyright on the license), but no one can de-authorize a version of the OGL because authorization isn't a "state" (ie: a value that can be changed back and forth), but instead is an event marker (ie: this was a thing that happened).
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
My view is that "authorization" can only be considered a positive action. As @Tazawa pointed out, draft versions were not authorized. Only when an acceptable version was written was it deemed authorized.
Well, they weren't 'approved'.

De-authorization would basically mean going back in time and changing your mind about accepting a given license draft. It's like saying, "I went to Walmart today" after having gone to Walmart, and then tomorrow saying, "I changed my mind; I didn't go to Walmart yesterday." It's nonsensical, because it already happened; it's an objective fact.

That's my take. It's a binary state -- a license that as been authorized.
Assuming we accept 'approved' and 'authorized' as legally identical. Otherwise.... nothing was ever authorized anyway?
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. This is just for fun.

The only reference to authorisation in the OGL v1.0a is in s9:

9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.

  • The word 'authorized' appears nowhere else in the document, not even in the 'Definitions' section.
  • Nowhere does it say who can authorize the license, or how that is accomplished.
  • Therefore, there is no way in the license to de-authorize it. BUT --
  • If we accept the premise that 'de-authorization' exists (and we don't), then absent any other information, anybody can 'de-authorize' it.
  • And therefore anybody can authorize it.
If WotC 'de-authorizes' the OGL v1.0a, I hereby re-authorize it. According to the license, I have exactly as much ability to do so as WotC has. So do you.
Your logic is sound.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
This is the thing, isn't it? Does anyone actually want to go ahead and produce a new product under the 1.0a OGL as they ever did and force WotC to sue them? Not just send a C&D but actually take the person to court?

Does anyone dare to make WotC have to defend the reading of the OGL that says they are the ones that can authorize or de-authorize it because they are the ones who wrote it originally?

It is a risk to do so, sure... but then again, if the only other result is the person doesn't sell any new products anyway... then maybe they should just do it? The whole "Ask for forgiveness rather than permission" thing. For all we know... WotC's all-new VTT and products do well enough that they end up being fine with letting people splash around in that one small end of the pool because it's not worth their time to try and get them to stop?
 

Smackpixi

Adventurer
Seems like the license applies individually to each work it is used/accepted for. Also seems like there’s no provision, other than violation of its terms, for revoking it. So once a work is published under it, it’s fine and may be reprinted in perpetuity.

It also seems reasonable though that Wizards can cease making it available for use. That the document exists, matters little, what matters is that both parties are offering and accepting for each new work. One side no longer wants to offer it.

Not a lawyer, but that makes logical sense to me.
 

delericho

Legend
Sadly, it wasn't locked down in the text of the license, but the intent was clearly that once a version was authorized (as with 1.0 and 1.0a) it was authorized perpetually. De-authorization was not intended to be possible.

WotC have managed a de facto deauthorization, however - unless there's a challenge and they lose, everyone will either shift to 1.1/2.0 (if they're mad) or away from the OGL entirely. And with each big player who moves away, the chances of that challenge grow smaller.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Sadly, it wasn't locked down in the text of the license, but the intent was clearly that once a version was authorized (as with 1.0 and 1.0a) it was authorized perpetually. De-authorization was not intended to be possible.

WotC have managed a de facto deauthorization, however - unless there's a challenge and they lose, everyone will either shift to 1.1/2.0 (if they're mad) or away from the OGL entirely. And with each big player who moves away, the chances of that challenge grow smaller.
Yep. Someone is gonna have to step up to the plate and really challenge WotC on their ability to de-authorize 1.0a.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. This is just for fun.

The only reference to authorisation in the OGL v1.0a is in s9:

9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.

  • The word 'authorized' appears nowhere else in the document, not even in the 'Definitions' section.
  • Nowhere does it say who can authorize the license, or how that is accomplished.
  • Therefore, there is no way in the license to de-authorize it. BUT --
  • If we accept the premise that 'de-authorization' exists (and we don't), then absent any other information, anybody can 'de-authorize' it.
  • And therefore anybody can authorize it.
If WotC 'de-authorizes' the OGL v1.0a, I hereby re-authorize it. According to the license, I have exactly as much ability to do so as WotC has. So do you.
:)
I had admittedly been wondering about this (specifically, whether all participants in the OGL 1.0a have the same rights as its creator), but then, the bit of the OGL where you can use it to license non-d20-SRD-based systems has always evaded my understanding. Would it be possible to maybe get an article on how that works, and why prevailing wisdom is that Wizards' say-so is still binding on such products?

I understand that it does, and is; I would just like it explained to me like I'm 8 years old.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
:)
I had admittedly been wondering about this (specifically, whether all participants in the OGL 1.0a have the same rights as its creator), but then, the bit of the OGL where you can use it to license non-d20-SRD-based systems has always evaded my understanding. Would it be possible to maybe get an article on how that works, and why prevailing wisdom is that Wizards' say-so is still binding on such products?

I understand that it does, and is; I would just like it explained to me like I'm 8 years old.
We disagree that it is.
 



I authorize the OGL for all who wish to use it, but only on business days between the hours of 7:35am and 4:00pm Tokyo time. After that, I only authorize for people who buy me a beer first.
 


This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. This is just for fun.

The only reference to authorisation in the OGL v1.0a is in s9:

9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.

  • The word 'authorized' appears nowhere else in the document, not even in the 'Definitions' section.
  • Nowhere does it say who can authorize the license, or how that is accomplished.
  • Therefore, there is no way in the license to de-authorize it. BUT --
  • If we accept the premise that 'de-authorization' exists (and we don't), then absent any other information, anybody can 'de-authorize' it.
  • And therefore anybody can authorize it.
If WotC 'de-authorizes' the OGL v1.0a, I hereby re-authorize it. According to the license, I have exactly as much ability to do so as WotC has. So do you.

I too re-authorize this license
 



An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top