OGL The OGL: Why is this really happening, and what to do now...

ilgatto

How inconvenient
No, it does not. OGL 1.0(a) is not irrevocable and does not include the legal language that makes it irrevocable under the law as it has evolved since its original creation. It includes language that can be interpreted to mean it can be deauthorized, which in effect revokes the license. And this is exactly how WOTC is interpreting that language. These flaws are precisely why the current situation is even possible. Finally, OGL 1.0(a) is written and copyrighted by WOTC. A truly open license would be maintained and enforced by an independent 3rd party, usually a non-profit or law firm. This is how Creative Commons works, and how the proposed ORC license will work.
Well, I was going to ask to what "language that can be interpreted to mean it can be deauthorized" you were referring to, but then I happened to stumble upon this little nugget, so now I no longer need to.
That does rather clarify your point as far as I'm concerned.
 

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Festus

Villager
Indeed. If the OGL 1.0(a) isn't watertight in the way it was intended to be, that would at the very least harm the professional reputation of Brian E. Lewis, the lawyer who drafted it. He currently works at Azora Law and is involved in the ORC.

I imagine that Bob Tarantino too, an IP lawyer who wrote a dissertation on the virtues of the OGL, would also consider it a professional setback if his assessments turned out to be all wrong.
And yet ~1500 3rd party publishers feel the need to sign onto a project to create a replacement, and companies like Kobold Press and MCDM announced or accelerated plans to move away from WOTC and create their own games. There's the academic question of OGL1.0(a)'s revocability/deauthorization, and then there's the practical matter of having the money and risk tolerance to litigate the issue against a billion dollar company. You might win. You might not. Are you able to spend 6 or 7 figures to find out?

As a practical matter not only is 1.0(a) revocable, it may as well already be revoked for projects that aren't already published or substantially underway. Previously published projects should be fine under the doctrine of estoppel. Given their most recent statements WOTC seem to have conceded that ground. But they're still intent on deauthorization and 3rd party publishers are acting as if that's a given.
 

Well, I was going to ask to what "language that can be interpreted to mean it can be deauthorized" you were referring to, but then I happened to stumble upon this little nugget, so now I no longer need to.
That does rather clarify your point as far as I'm concerned.
They've previously admitted to Section 9 meaning the exact opposite though, in their FAQs:

Q: Can't Wizards of the Coast change the License in a way that I wouldn't like?

A: Yes, it could. However, the License already defines what will happen to content that has been previously distributed using an earlier version, in Section 9. As a result, even if Wizards made a change you disagreed with, you could continue to use an earlier, acceptable version at your option. In other words, there's no reason for Wizards to ever make a change that the community of people using the Open Gaming License would object to, because the community would just ignore the change anyway.

This carries some legal weight.
 

Festus

Villager
They've previously admitted to Section 9 meaning the exact opposite though, in their FAQs:

Q: Can't Wizards of the Coast change the License in a way that I wouldn't like?

A: Yes, it could. However, the License already defines what will happen to content that has been previously distributed using an earlier version, in Section 9. As a result, even if Wizards made a change you disagreed with, you could continue to use an earlier, acceptable version at your option. In other words, there's no reason for Wizards to ever make a change that the community of people using the Open Gaming License would object to, because the community would just ignore the change anyway.

This carries some legal weight.
It might. But you don't see the likes of Matt Colville betting their future livelihoods on it, do you?
 

It might. But you don't see the likes of Matt Colville betting their future livelihoods on it, do you?
I don't presume to speak for anyone else, much less as to their business decisions. But with the conduct on display from WotC in general, I'd personally be wary of going into business with them under any terms going forward.

My personal interests in this debate are to a much greater extent non-commercial and principled. They center on the need to preserve the 20+ years of cultural works as Open Game Content licensed under the aegis of OGL 1.0(a) as a common pool of available expression for adaptation, modification and re-expression.

This collective body of works emphatically includes the likes of owlbears and magic missiles, so WotC's current ideas about the extent of their presumed exclusive intellectual property is an attack on these "commons". And agreements ought to be kept, as a basic moral principle and maxim of law.
 

Festus

Villager
I don't presume to speak for anyone else, much less as to their business decisions. But with the conduct on display from WotC in general, I'd personally be wary of going into business with them under any terms going forward.

My personal interests in this debate are to a much greater extent non-commercial and principled. They center on the need to preserve the 20+ years of cultural works as Open Game Content licensed under the aegis of OGL 1.0(a) as a common pool of available expression for adaptation, modification and re-expression.

This collective body of works emphatically includes the likes of owlbears and magic missiles, so WotC's current ideas about the extent of their presumed exclusive intellectual property is an attack on these "commons". And agreements ought to be kept, as a basic moral principle and maxim of law.
I 100% agree with you on all of that.
 

ThorinTeague

Explorer
No, it does not. OGL 1.0(a) is not irrevocable
Wizards of the Coast disagrees.

wuzards.jpg
 

ThorinTeague

Explorer
then there's the practical matter of having the money and risk tolerance to litigate the issue against a billion dollar company. You might win. You might not. Are you able to spend 6 or 7 figures to find out?
100% correct, which is why there are some 3pps and interested parties gathering to form a unified group preparing corporately for a potential future legal battle.
 




TheSword

Legend
Even if only 1 out of every 10 players have decided that they will have nothing to do with WotC going forward, that's huge. The majority of these would GMs, the primary consumers of so-called 3PP content in the first place.

I get that if you're not a GM, you may well like whatever it is WotC wants to do with D&D going forward. But in all honesty, wouldn't it be better if they were incentivized to just make a great product instead of hobbling the competition in the VTT space?
10%, not even close.

Only 25,000 people cared enough to sign a petition… not to boycott, just to click a link and tick a box indicating disapproval.

What is that? One 5th of 1% of D&D players at most. What we’re seeing here is a very vocal minority…. And then only because we are on the boards that specifically caters to 3pp.

The only people who miss out here are those boycotting. Who are effectively hurting themselves twice. C’est la vie.
 





TheSword

Legend
I haven't bought anything from this company in about a decade. Why do you think I'm hurting myself by doing so?
By the same token, you’re not making a difference to them either…
… to be clear if you don’t buy their stuff anyway it’s not a boycott.
I don’t like Stilton cheese so I don’t buy it. I’m not boycotting it though.

On the other hand, every time someone makes a statement like this it undermine the case that 3pp is good for WOtC and strengthens their justification for revocation.

It baffles me.
 


To be fair, it's not really a boycott if you're not buying something you were going to not buy anyway.
I might've considered buying movie tickets to their upcoming film. Now I'm definitely not. My behavior over the last decade or so isn't really predictive of my future actions. I could have bought a Player's Handbook tomorrow, but now I really, really don't want to. Are you sure you want to start a debate over the semantics of that?
 


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