OGL WotC Talks OGL... Again! Draft Coming Jan 20th With Feedback Survey; v1 De-Auth Still On

Following last week's partial walk-back on the upcoming Open Game Licence terms, WotC has posted another update about the way forward.

Screen Shot 2023-01-09 at 10.45.12 AM.png

The new update begins with another apology and a promise to be more transparent. To that end, WotC proposes to release the draft of the new OGL this week, with a two-week survey feedback period following it.


They also list a number of points of clarity --
  • Videos, accessories, VTT content, DMs Guild will not be affected by the new license, none of which is related to the OGL
  • The royalties and ownership rights clauses are, as previously noted, going away
OGL v1 Still Being 'De-Authorized'
However, OGL v1.0a still looks like it's being de-authorized. As with the previous announcement, that specific term is carefully avoided, and like that announcement it states that previously published OGL v1 content will continue to be valid; however it notably doesn't mention that the OGL v1 can be used for content going forward, which is a de-authorization.

The phrase used is "Nothing will impact any content you have published under OGL 1.0a. That will always be licensed under OGL 1.0a." -- as noted, this does not make any mention of future content. If you can't publish future content under OGL 1.0a, then it has been de-authorized. The architect of the OGL, Ryan Dancey, along with WotC itself at the time, clearly indicated that the license could not be revoked or de-authorized.

While the royalty and ownership clauses were, indeed, important to OGL content creators and publishers such as myself and many others, it is also very important not to let that overshadow the main goal: the OGL v1.0a.

Per Ryan Dancey in response this announcement: "They must not. They can only stop the bleeding by making a clear and simple statement that they cannot and will not deauthorize or revoke v1.0a".


Amend At-Will
Also not mentioned is the leaked draft's ability to be amended at-will by WotC. An agreement which can be unilaterally changed in any way by one party is not an agreement, it's a blank cheque. They could simply add the royalties or ownership clauses back in at any time, or add even more onerous clauses.

All-in-all this is mainly just a rephrasing of last week's announcement addressing some of the tonal criticisms widely made about it. However, it will be interesting to see the new draft later this week. I would encourage people to take the feedback survey and clearly indicate that the OGL v1.0a must be left intact.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Scribe

Legend
Man it would be super hilarious if WotC took some small time publisher to court and in the end lost their copyright claims to any D&D mechanics claims because they have failed to defend them in the video game space for, oh, 40 years or so.

Honestly, this is my hope at this point. I want Wizards to go nuclear, trigger some lawsuit, and then have everyone under the sun absolutely naughty word slam them as the generic white bread toast option that they are.

When GW tried this, they couldnt even definitely win against some tiny outfit.

Wizards cannot defend the SRD. Not only have they made no claims to protect their 'IP' (as they call it) but its so derivative, so WILLFULLY generic...good naughty word LUCK.

Absolute CLOWNS.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to play Wrath of the Righteous, as my Halfling Cavalier (cannot protect either WIZARDS) who rides a Wolf through the Abyss (OOPS AGAIN WIZARDS) fighting Demons (OOPS OPPS) and Demon Lords (OH NO) with his friends a Paladin (lul) a Succubus (NOPE) a Witch who is an Elf, a Wizard Kitsune (NOPE F OFF WIZARDS) and a Fighter!

Please, let it go to court. I need the entertainment watching Wizbro getting absolutely bodied.
 


eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
When GW tried this, they couldnt even definitely win against some tiny outfit.
And because they couldn't crush a tiny resin model company they decided to rename a bunch of stuff with really stupid names in 40K and in the case of the Old World, get rid of it entirely (only to then backtrack on it when nobody was playing Age of Sigmar licensed videogames).
 




Honestly, this is my hope at this point. I want Wizards to go nuclear, trigger some lawsuit, and then have everyone under the sun absolutely naughty word slam them as the generic white bread toast option that they are.

When GW tried this, they couldnt even definitely win against some tiny outfit.

Wizards cannot defend the SRD. Not only have they made no claims to protect their 'IP' (as they call it) but its so derivative, so WILLFULLY generic...good naughty word LUCK.

Absolute CLOWNS.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to play Wrath of the Righteous, as my Halfling Cavalier (cannot protect either WIZARDS) who rides a Wolf through the Abyss (OOPS AGAIN WIZARDS) fighting Demons (OOPS OPPS) and Demon Lords (OH NO) with his friends a Paladin (lul) a Succubus (NOPE) a Witch who is an Elf, a Wizard Kitsune (NOPE F OFF WIZARDS) and a Fighter!

Please, let it go to court. I need the entertainment watching Wizbro getting absolutely bodied.
This is the exact reason I'll still buy the next 2 Dragonlance books that Weis and Hickman release, even if WotC gets any money from the sale. Those books are a monument to WotC being beatable legally.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Honestly, this is my hope at this point. I want Wizards to go nuclear, trigger some lawsuit, and then have everyone under the sun absolutely naughty word slam them as the generic white bread toast option that they are.

When GW tried this, they couldnt even definitely win against some tiny outfit.

Wizards cannot defend the SRD. Not only have they made no claims to protect their 'IP' (as they call it) but its so derivative, so WILLFULLY generic...good naughty word LUCK.

Absolute CLOWNS.
I just wish one of WotC's in-house lawyers would explain that to them so they drop all this OGL nonsense and let small devs breathe easy.
I mean all the real "proper name" D&D IP is protected just fine - Drizzt and Ravenloft and Xanathar and Neverwinter and all that. They can get by just fine without owlbears and flame tongue blades. They just need to do something interesting to attract eyeballs and dollars.
But I guess innovation is more difficult than just letting the veiled threat of a frivolous lawsuits hang over everyone.
 

Scribe

Legend
But I guess innovation is more difficult than just letting the veiled threat of a frivolous lawsuits hang over everyone.

Actually taking a risk, actually developing the IP through lore, and content, and art direction and a STYLE that actually has some kind of meat on the bones?

That run's 100% the opposite of Wizards direction the last 5 or 6 years.

Thats what makes this all so funny.

Planescape has more IP and soul, in one book, than all of 5e.
 

Emrico

Adventurer
Man it would be super hilarious if WotC took some small time publisher to court and in the end lost their copyright claims to any D&D mechanics claims because they have failed to defend them in the video game space for, oh, 40 years or so.

Here is how that would go.

Hasbro: "We are suing you (Disney) over the D&D references you put in Onward".

Disney: "OK, that's fine. By the way, when does your licensing agreement for Star Wars toys and games come up for renewal? Because we are considering a large increase to the cost of the license and also have some other companies interested."

Hasbro: "Never mind. Please feel free to include as many D&D references as you'd like in Onward 2."
 


Scottius

Explorer
All the talk of Hasbro/WOTC being worried about some major company making a movie using the OGL/SRD doesn't have any basis in reality. The only way a studio/streaming service/large corporation would want to make a film using all that D&D affiliated content is if they were also getting the D&D name, settings, etc...

If a studio wanted to make a fantasy film that wasn't an officially licenses D&D film then they would be making based on some other existing book or videogame. Studios are notoriously risk adverse and they're not going to want to make something expensive like a film or tv series unless there is already some built in fanbase/name cache. The only exception to this would be something like Critical Role's cartoon on Amazon where they aren't using the OGL and the draw is the IP created by CR and not D&D IP.
 


The Scythian

Explorer
When GW tried this, they couldnt even definitely win against some tiny outfit.
To be fair, Chapterhouse Studios ended up with pro bono representation from Winston & Strawn, a high-powered white-shoe law firm that's like a century and a half old and may be bigger than Games Workshop. GW had a weak case to begin with in many respects (they hilariously claimed a copyright on piles of skulls and a trademark on depictions of wings), but their attempt at lawfare would have been a lot more effective if not for Winston & Strawn unexpectedly coming in off the top rope.

With that being said, it didn't help Chapterhouse much. If I recall correctly, they were denied the ability to sell their products until after the trial, and I think they only lasted a year or two after that. However, the lawsuit did open up a lot of space for people making miniatures and accessories that are compatible with GW products.
 

Scribe

Legend
To be fair, Chapterhouse Studios ended up with pro bono representation from Winston & Strawn, a high-powered white-shoe law firm that's like a century and a half old and may be bigger than Games Workshop. GW had a weak case to begin with in many respects (they hilariously claimed a copyright on piles of skulls and a trademark on depictions of wings), but their attempt at lawfare would have been a lot more effective if not for Winston & Strawn unexpectedly coming in off the top rope.

With that being said, it didn't help Chapterhouse much. If I recall correctly, they were denied the ability to sell their products until after the trial, and I think they only lasted a year or two after that. However, the lawsuit did open up a lot of space for people making miniatures and accessories that are compatible with GW products.

Yeah it didnt go great for CH, but frankly they were 100% ripping off GW designs and IP. Not names like 'Space Marine' that GW rightfully got slammed for, but the art style, the 'design language' and all that.

God bless Jes Goodwin, he's got all the receipts for his work in the various art books.

Now lets see Wizbro try and pull the same regarding Magic Missile and Fighter.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
so basically WotC ‘owns’ stuff they took from others and now want to keep it
Of course. D&D is built on generic fantasy tropes and those tropes come from various places, including authors who never worked for TSR or Wizards (cough Tolkein cough) and stuff in the public domain (like myths, legends, folklore, fairy tales, or the works of Charles Dodgson or L Frank Baum). Edit - Forgot about Moorcock, without whom we likely wouldn't have the language of alignment. But I don't blame him for that.

The OGL/SRD was always an agreement that worked for both Wizards and for the community as a whole. Wizards got to restrict the usage of some "Product Identity" that they normally wouldn't be able to restrict via basic copyright laws, and the community got to make D&D compatible work with a safe harbor that Wizards wasn't going to sue them into oblivion like TSR might have.
 

ValamirCleaver

Jäger aus Kurpfalz
Planescape has more IP and soul, in one book, than all of 5e.
Which is a years long extrapolation of a short article Gygax wrote in the July 1977 issue of Dragon Magazine #8, page 4.
so basically WotC ‘owns’ stuff they took from others and now want to keep it
I addressed this issue in part in a post I made in another thread regarding monsters Wizbros claims as so-called IP.

if not for Winston & Strawn unexpectedly coming in off the top rope
Like Jimmy "Superfly"?! I wish I could have seen that.
 

ilgatto

How inconvenient
No. You're not.
You're planning your heels and going "nuh-uh!!" And WotC will just walk around you.
The cancelled subs gave WotC pause. But if they can't win those subs back or find a compromise, they'll consider them acceptable losses and do whatever the hell they want.
While I do think that you're right that certain high-ups currently at WotC probably won't give a fig about losing some subscriptions, that doesn't necessarily mean that they can do whatever the hell lamp they want and that they won't try to limit the damage done to their "brand" on some level.

WotC is off balance and willing to listen. Now is the time to actually TALK to them and have something to say.
If you are referring to their recent statement, this may, indeed, give the impression that they "are willing to listen". However, so far, it appears that they are only going to do so in the form of a questionnaire, of which we know nothing. Much will depend on the questions in this questionnaire, their wording, what WotC is going to do with the information they get, and how they are going to react to it.

But so far all everyone wants to say is "No."
I think that this "No" is for a large part the result of WotC still having said absolutely nothing about the possibility of allowing future 3PP publications to operate under the OGL 1.0/1.0a, which is a major - if not actually the main - concern for many of these 3PPs.
And however people express themselves here - in anger, frustration, with reason, sarcasm, cynicism, or a sense of humor - I do believe that the gut-feeling many have that WotC is not going to back down where their statements on the OGL 1.0/1.0a so far are concerned, is correct.

Which gets us nowhere.
That remains to be seen. As far I have come to understand it, it would seem that there is a good case to be made against WotC killing the OGL 1.0/1.0a unilaterally, also in light of what seems to have been their intent (under different rule) at the time the original OGL was issued.
As to the argument that 3PPs are going to lose that fight because money, I would hope that this will not affect a judge. Where you're right is that money can buy lawyers perhaps not very interested in the moral aspect of the case but in winning it at all costs.

Cynicism is often realistic.

Lawyers can do a lot. They just need to as for an injunction or pause of the old license or both licenses until a ruling, which cuts off their opposition from funding.
This is also presuming it even goes to trial. That's bad publicity WotC doesn't want. They're much more likely to just sit down with Paizo and the leaders of the opposition and strike a deal. Paizo isn't some benevolent entity: they're a business as well. And right now, it's good marketing to stand up to WotC. But if it makes them more money to strike and deal and back down (rather than fight for months and potentially lose), they will.

Logic also comes into play.
There's two outcomes of any legal fight. WotC wins and WotC loses. That's out of our control. But we can decide what the community does. We can either negotiate with WotC or not.
Which creates four possible outcomes. We "win" if WotC loses, regardless of whether or not the community finds a compromise. But if WotC wins in court, we lose completely. Unless we negotiate. Logically, the negotiating and finding a compromise with this new OGL is the most productive thing the community can do.

For now, I guess we'll have to wait for the questionnaire and see whether that allows for any kind of "talking to them".
 

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