WotC Backs Down: Original OGL To Be Left Untouched; Whole 5E Rules Released as Creative Commons

Hundreds of game publishers sigh in relief as, after extensive pressure exerted by the entire open gaming community, WotC has agreed to leave the original Open Gaming License untouched and put the whole of the 5E rules into Creative Commons. So, what's happened? The Open Gaming Licence v1.0a which most of the D&D third party industry relies on, will be left untouched for now. The whole of...

Hundreds of game publishers sigh in relief as, after extensive pressure exerted by the entire open gaming community, WotC has agreed to leave the original Open Gaming License untouched and put the whole of the 5E rules into Creative Commons.

So, what's happened?
  • The Open Gaming Licence v1.0a which most of the D&D third party industry relies on, will be left untouched for now.
  • The whole of the D&D 5E SRD (ie the rules of the game less the fluff text) has been released under a Creative Commons license.

WotC has a history of 'disappearing' inconvenient FAQs and stuff, such as those where they themselves state that the OGL is irrevocable, so I'll copy this here for posterity.

When you give us playtest feedback, we take it seriously.

Already more than 15,000 of you have filled out the survey. Here's what you said:
  • 88% do not want to publish TTRPG content under OGL 1.2.
  • 90% would have to change some aspect of their business to accommodate OGL 1.2.
  • 89% are dissatisfied with deauthorizing OGL 1.0a.
  • 86% are dissatisfied with the draft VTT policy.
  • 62% are satisfied with including Systems Reference Document (SRD) content in Creative Commons, and the majority of those who were dissatisfied asked for more SRD content in Creative Commons.
These live survey results are clear. You want OGL 1.0a. You want irrevocability. You like Creative Commons.
The feedback is in such high volume and its direction is so plain that we're acting now.
  1. We are leaving OGL 1.0a in place, as is. Untouched.
  2. We are also making the entire SRD 5.1 available under a Creative Commons license.
  3. You choose which you prefer to use.
This Creative Commons license makes the content freely available for any use. We don't control that license and cannot alter or revoke it. It's open and irrevocable in a way that doesn't require you to take our word for it. And its openness means there's no need for a VTT policy. Placing the SRD under a Creative Commons license is a one-way door. There's no going back.

Our goal here is to deliver on what you wanted.

So, what about the goals that drove us when we started this process?

We wanted to protect the D&D play experience into the future. We still want to do that with your help. We're grateful that this community is passionate and active because we'll need your help protecting the game's inclusive and welcoming nature.

We wanted to limit the OGL to TTRPGs. With this new approach, we are setting that aside and counting on your choices to define the future of play.
Here's a PDF of SRD 5.1 with the Creative Commons license. By simply publishing it, we place it under an irrevocable Creative Commons license. We'll get it hosted in a more convenient place next week. It was important that we take this step now, so there's no question.
We'll be closing the OGL 1.2 survey now.

We'll keep talking with you about how we can better support our players and creators. Thanks as always for continuing to share your thoughts.

Kyle Brink
Executive Producer, Dungeons & Dragons


What does this mean?

The original OGL sounds safe for now, but WotC has not admitted that they cannot revoke it. That's less of an issue now the 5E System Reference Document is now released to Creative Commons (although those using the 3E SRD or any third party SRDs still have issues as WotC still hasn't revoked the incorrect claim that they can revoke access to those at-will).

At this point, if WotC wants anybody to use whatever their new OGL v1.x turns out to be, there needs to be one heck of a carrot. What that might be remains to be seen.

Pathfinder publlsher Paizo has also commented on the latest developments.

We welcome today’s news from Wizards of the Coast regarding their intention not to de-authorize OGL 1.0a. We still believe there is a powerful need for an irrevocable, perpetual independent system-neutral open license that will serve the tabletop community via nonprofit stewardship. Work on the ORC license will continue, with an expected first draft to release for comment to participating publishers in February.


 

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UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
:ROFLMAO:

Wait...you think they took a beating? How much money did they lose?

What they did was plumb the waters. They determined who stood where. And it didn't cost them anything.

Having accumulated data, they have chosen the path they will take going forward. With a definite roster of who their enemies are.

Time will tell who benefits from happened in these last weeks. This is going to be interesting to watch.
Some where between $40k and $8mill per annum, depending on which 5 digit number describes the number of subscribers that cancelled. Assuming all cancelled subscribers had a paid account.
I would guess, enough to notice.
 

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
So... I'm making a dungeon for the #23 challenge on here, and in some cases have made new things. Some of the new things clearly involve shuffling things in the SRD 5.1.

The SRD says they want:

This work includes material taken from the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD 5.1”) by Wizards of the Coast LLC and available at Systems Reference Document | Dungeons & Dragons. The SRD 5.1 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License available at Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0

but it feels like the following would be more accurate:

The description of Grandma below is an adaptation of material taken from the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD 5.1”) by Wizards of the Coast LLC and available at Systems Reference Document | Dungeons & Dragons. The SRD 5.1 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License available at Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0 .

Is it ok to just use the later? (Can WotC even specify the exact phrasing around an attribution beyond the product name and where it's found and what license?).

If I don't want to claim any other rights to it, could I just add. "No additional rights reserved by the adapter." Or is it cleaner to tack on my own CC-BY statement?
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
So... I'm making a dungeon for the #23 challenge on here, and in some cases have made new things. Some of the new things clearly involve shuffling things in the SRD 5.1.

The SRD says they want:

This work includes material taken from the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD 5.1”) by Wizards of the Coast LLC and available at Systems Reference Document | Dungeons & Dragons. The SRD 5.1 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License available at Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0

but it feels like the following would be more accurate:

The description of Grandma below is an adaptation of material taken from the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD 5.1”) by Wizards of the Coast LLC and available at Systems Reference Document | Dungeons & Dragons. The SRD 5.1 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License available at Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0 .

Is it ok to just use the later? (Can WotC even specify the exact phrasing around an attribution beyond the product name and where it's found and what license?).

If I don't want to claim any other rights to it, could I just add. "No additional rights reserved by the adapter." Or is it cleaner to tack on my own CC-BY statement?
The CC people have a wiki page about attributions.

 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
The CC people have a wiki page about attributions.


Thanks for the link!

It just felt odd that WotC asked for a particular phrasing... that wasn't really appropriate for adaptations.

And then I was waffling on what an adequate description of an adaptation was if I spliced together parts of five monsters and two few spells, for example, all from the same source. Is "an adaptation of material taken from" enough? It kind of felt skimpy, doing more felt overkill.

Finally, I'm pretty sure I know how to say it if I wanted to make my new creation CC-BY with me getting attribution. I wasn't sure how to say it was ok to steal it without attribution to me, but you still need to say WotC needed to get attribution (if I want to do that).
 



Ondath

Hero
WotC updated their SRD page, with a new FAQ for the Creative Commons, as well as an updated FAQ for the OGL.

I think these parts are quite relevant:

What does Creative Commons do? Creative Commons writes open-source licenses. These licenses are standardized, well-written, widely accepted, and trusted around the world. The CC-BY-4.0 license we chose to use is also irrevocable and Wizards can’t modify it.

How is this different from the OGL? The OGL places more requirements on creators and contains more restrictions on what they are permitted to do. Creative Commons provides a more modern license, more freedom for creators, and more certainty that the content released under the license will remain available under those terms forever. We put the SRD 5.1 under Creative Commons license in January 2023 so that creators have certainty that Wizards can never revoke or deauthorize SRD 5.1 content.
(italics mine)
The parts in italics show that the current administration in Wizards clearly believes the SRD 5.1-CC cannot be revoked by them any more. Granted, WotC in 2000 thought the same for the OGL, but the notable difference is that they control the OGL, but they also admit themselves that they do not control the CC license. What do you think, @pemerton?

However, there's also this bit in the new OGL FAQ that I'm not a big fan of:

What is OGL 1.0a? Open Game License (OGL) 1.0a is a license agreement between you and Wizards of the Coast to access the core rules of Dungeons & Dragons through an SRD. This license agreement was created by Wizards in 2000 and has been used by the creator community since then to develop their D&D compatible products.

Then is there any benefit to publish my content under OGL 1.0a v Creative Commons? We expect most creators will start using Creative Commons due to its benefits. Still, OGL 1.0a has been the means by which creators have published their D&D compatible works since 2000. We want you to have the choice on which license to use.
(again, italics mine)

It's evident that WotC still treats OGL as a D&D-only license, and ignores the dozens of different systems (not only D&D-adjacent ones but completely unrelated ones like FATE, Gumshoe and Basic d6) that were also using the OGL. I feel like someone in the company is still not getting that the OGL was way bigger than D&D, and this wasn't only about them.

Oh well.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
The parts in italics show that the current administration in Wizards clearly believes the SRD 5.1-CC cannot be revoked by them any more. Granted, WotC in 2000 thought the same for the OGL, but the notable difference is that they control the OGL, but they also admit themselves that they do not control the CC license. What do you think, @pemerton?
I know I wasn't the one asked, but I think that pemerton's post over here is a particularly penetrating insight in that regard.
 

pemerton

Legend
It's evident that WotC still treats OGL as a D&D-only license, and ignores the dozens of different systems (not only D&D-adjacent ones but completely unrelated ones like FATE, Gumshoe and Basic d6) that were also using the OGL. I feel like someone in the company is still not getting that the OGL was way bigger than D&D, and this wasn't only about them.
Why would WotC advertise their commercial competitors in their FAQ?

Do those other publishers advertise WotC and/or D&D on their licensing pages?

The parts in italics show that the current administration in Wizards clearly believes the SRD 5.1-CC cannot be revoked by them any more. Granted, WotC in 2000 thought the same for the OGL, but the notable difference is that they control the OGL, but they also admit themselves that they do not control the CC license. What do you think, @pemerton?
I continue to think that the notion of "control" is a red herring. CC does not control any of WotC's IP, or any of its business decisions, or have any power in relation to its contracts. And WotC does not control anyone else's IP, nor anyone else's business decisions. And as I've frequently posted, the only power it has in relation to anyone else's contracts resides in (i) its copyright over the text of the OGL, should those parties choose to license to one another on the OGL terms, and (ii) its power to issue OGL variants, which parties who have chosen to license to one another on the OGL terms have agreed to in their dealings with one another.

As far as the remarks in the WotC FAQ, I believe it's true that WotC cannot revoke or modify the terms of any licence granted using CC-BY. (I think it's also true it can't revoke licences granted using the OGL. And WotC has still never clearly claimed to enjoy that power.)

As to whether the endurance of the CC-licensed content is more certain than the endurance of the OGL-licensed content, should WotC change its mind, I don't know. If they mean legal certainty, I personally find the OGL easier to understand. If they mean mental states of certainty among licensees and potential licensees, maybe they're correct.
 

Ondath

Hero
Why would WotC advertise their commercial competitors in their FAQ?

Do those other publishers advertise WotC and/or D&D on their licensing pages?
Well, they do need to say you have to start the license with "C.right WotC" since the OGL requires them to, but that's not the point! :D Even saying that the OGL was designed as a license for TTRPGs in general (and not just D&D) without naming names would've been better, IMO.
I continue to think that the notion of "control" is a red herring. CC does not control any of WotC's IP, or any of its business decisions, or have any power in relation to its contracts. And WotC does not control anyone else's IP, nor anyone else's business decisions. And as I've frequently posted, the only power it has in relation to anyone else's contracts resides in (i) its copyright over the text of the OGL, should those parties choose to license to one another on the OGL terms, and (ii) its power to issue OGL variants, which parties who have chosen to license to one another on the OGL terms have agreed to in their dealings with one another.

As far as the remarks in the WotC FAQ, I believe it's true that WotC cannot revoke or modify the terms of any licence granted using CC-BY. (I think it's also true it can't revoke licences granted using the OGL. And WotC has still never clearly claimed to enjoy that power.)

As to whether the endurance of the CC-licensed content is more certain than the endurance of the OGL-licensed content, should WotC change its mind, I don't know. If they mean legal certainty, I personally find the OGL easier to understand. If they mean mental states of certainty among licensees and potential licensees, maybe they're correct.
Thank you for the analysis! I really appreciate your insight into this.
 

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