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WotC Walks Back Some OGL Changes, But Not All

Wizards of the Coast has finally made a statement regarding the OGL. The statement says that the leaked version was a draft designed to solicit feedback and that they are walking back some problematic elements, but don't address others--most notably that the current OGL v1.0a is still being deauthorized. Non-TTRPG mediums such as "educational and charitable campaigns, livestreams, cosplay...

Wizards of the Coast has finally made a statement regarding the OGL. The statement says that the leaked version was a draft designed to solicit feedback and that they are walking back some problematic elements, but don't address others--most notably that the current OGL v1.0a is still being deauthorized.
  • Non-TTRPG mediums such as "educational and charitable campaigns, livestreams, cosplay, VTT-uses" are unaffected by the new license.
  • The 'we can use your content for any reason' provision is going away
  • The royalties aspect is also being removed
  • Content previously released under OGL v1.0a can still be sold, but the statement on that is very short and seems to imply that new content must still use OGL v1.1. This is still a 'de-authorization' of the current OGL.
  • They don't mention the 'reporting revenue' aspect, or the 'we can change this in any way at 30 days notice' provision; of course nobody can sign a contract which can be unilaterally changed by one party.
  • There's still no mention of the 'share-a-like' aspect which defines an 'open' license.
The statement can be read below. While it does roll back some elements, the fact remains that the OGL v1.0a is still being de-authorized.

D&D historian Benn Riggs (author of Slaying the Dragon) made some comments on WotC's declared intentions -- "This is a radical change of the original intention of the OGL. The point of the OGL was to get companies to stop making their own games and start making products for D&D. WoTC execs spent a ton of time convincing companies like White Wolf to make OGL products."

Linda Codega on Gizmodo said "For all intents and purposes, the OGL 1.1 that was leaked to the press was supposed to go forward. Wizards has realized that they made a mistake and they are walking back numerous parts of the leaked OGL 1.1..."

Ryan Dancey, architect of the original OGL commented "They made an announcement today that they're altering their trajectory based on pressure from the community. This is still not what we want. We want Hasbro to agree not to ever attempt to deauthorize v1.0a of the #OGL. Your voices are being heard, and they matter. We're providing visible encouragement and support to everyone inside Wizards of the Coast fighting for v1.0a. It matters. Knowing we're here for them matters. Keep fighting!"

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When we initially conceived of revising the OGL, it was with three major goals in mind. First, we wanted the ability to prevent the use of D&D content from being included in hateful and discriminatory products. Second, we wanted to address those attempting to use D&D in web3, blockchain games, and NFTs by making clear that OGL content is limited to tabletop roleplaying content like campaigns, modules, and supplements. And third, we wanted to ensure that the OGL is for the content creator, the homebrewer, the aspiring designer, our players, and the community—not major corporations to use for their own commercial and promotional purpose.

Driving these goals were two simple principles: (1) Our job is to be good stewards of the game, and (2) the OGL exists for the benefit of the fans. Nothing about those principles has wavered for a second.

That was why our early drafts of the new OGL included the provisions they did. That draft language was provided to content creators and publishers so their feedback could be considered before anything was finalized. In addition to language allowing us to address discriminatory and hateful conduct and clarifying what types of products the OGL covers, our drafts included royalty language designed to apply to large corporations attempting to use OGL content. It was never our intent to impact the vast majority of the community.

However, it’s clear from the reaction that we rolled a 1. It has become clear that it is no longer possible to fully achieve all three goals while still staying true to our principles. So, here is what we are doing.

The next OGL will contain the provisions that allow us to protect and cultivate the inclusive environment we are trying to build and specify that it covers only content for TTRPGs. That means that other expressions, such as educational and charitable campaigns, livestreams, cosplay, VTT-uses, etc., will remain unaffected by any OGL update. Content already released under 1.0a will also remain unaffected.

What it will not contain is any royalty structure. It also will not include the license back provision that some people were afraid was a means for us to steal work. That thought never crossed our minds. Under any new OGL, you will own the content you create. We won’t. Any language we put down will be crystal clear and unequivocal on that point. The license back language was intended to protect us and our partners from creators who incorrectly allege that we steal their work simply because of coincidental similarities . As we continue to invest in the game that we love and move forward with partnerships in film, television, and digital games, that risk is simply too great to ignore. The new OGL will contain provisions to address that risk, but we will do it without a license back and without suggesting we have rights to the content you create. Your ideas and imagination are what makes this game special, and that belongs to you.

A couple of last thoughts. First, we won’t be able to release the new OGL today, because we need to make sure we get it right, but it is coming. Second, you’re going to hear people say that they won, and we lost because making your voices heard forced us to change our plans. Those people will only be half right. They won—and so did we.

Our plan was always to solicit the input of our community before any update to the OGL; the drafts you’ve seen were attempting to do just that. We want to always delight fans and create experiences together that everyone loves. We realize we did not do that this time and we are sorry for that. Our goal was to get exactly the type of feedback on which provisions worked and which did not–which we ultimately got from you. Any change this major could only have been done well if we were willing to take that feedback, no matter how it was provided–so we are. Thank you for caring enough to let us know what works and what doesn’t, what you need and what scares you. Without knowing that, we can’t do our part to make the new OGL match our principles. Finally, we’d appreciate the chance to make this right. We love D&D’s devoted players and the creators who take them on so many incredible adventures. We won’t let you down.

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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
They unlocked the one thread they allow recently. The current theory du jour is WotC is trying acquire CR and that's why CR are quiet, because they're all about to be pretty rich lol.
Who decided that there should be an open bar in the Critical Role subreddit?

WotC isn't going to buy them and Critical Role isn't going to sell.


I mean, you don't have to buy it, but I'd characterise it as ignorance re: the law to have that belief.


That's not really a huge amount.

And overall the case was productive, because it drew some lines on what could/couldn't be used, where GW were making frankly insane overreach claims on what they owned. That's why GW lost on the vast majority of points. CHS didn't just win some - it won most.

Because it's a copyright issue, losing any means you'll probably pay something. As it was it was quite a small amount.

If WotC to mess around and find out, shall we say, about WotC actually owns, that'll be a good thing for the industry, and WotC better watch their back if they do that, because much bigger boys than them will be watching very closely about what they win and lose on. They've got far, far more to lose in a copyright case than Pathfinder or the like, who are already close to legally distinct. PF would suffer much less from renaming some monsters than WotC's D&D would suffer from having to make a GW-type move where it has to decide to rename Goblins to GOBLINAREAAAE or whatever.

Bring it on it. WotC need to be careful what they not only wish but ASK for!

That's what they're doing anyway!

Did you not follow? You don't seem to understand the issue saying that lol. WotC are the aggressors here. Any court will be theirs, suing Paizo etc. WotC are the ones saying this is invalid. Paizo are merely saying they'll fight.
Well I think for a small design studio $25k is quite a chunk of money but your point only makes my case that this could easily end up going in front of the courts - which is a high risk for both parties and more importantly for the community. I think in your “bring it on”, “watch the world burn” approach you’re missing the point.

We benefit from a successful D&D brand that is supported by 3pp. That’s the whole reason why the OGL was put out there. Quality content, plenty of people to play D&D with, and cool ways to play it. If D&D gets spun off into its own orbit and drags 70% of content with it as the reaction to a court case, we all lose. Those that like D&D now miss out on 3pp content. Those that like 3pp now miss out on the stuff the main brand does.

You might say bring it on, because you have nothing to risk and everything to gain. Not everyone is so blazé and disdainful.

The inability to consider the viewpoint of the other folks at the table means that the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater. Portraying WotC as an aggressor, evil or greedy is myopic. Instead of acknowledging that any company that is looking to invest and secure investment of millions in film, media and digital (which is good for the community) needs to have some control over their IP in order to secure that investment. Any successful brand also becomes a target for bad actors like NuTSR so they also need to control who and what can be published else their brand isn’t really their own. At this stage in WotC’s cycle not fixing these two problems becomes an existential issue for them.

Claiming that 3pp are being destroyed is nonsense. Folks can continue to publish without royalties, without theft of their work, pdfs and books under the OGL2.0. That in itself is extremely generous for any company who’s game is so popular. It seems people have lost sight of that in the desire hold onto the past.

If folks become so attached to a legally dubious 20 year old license and a court case is forced, either way it’s bad for the community - win or lose. The sad thing is, driven by the mob, several 3pp who have otherwise worked well in past with D&D have now shown their cards and are potentially being encouraged down a road that wouldn’t be good for them or the hobby. I don’t want to see a proliferation of d6 systems that will just fade into obscurity.

The Thousand Flowers Blooming idea is bunkum. They will get trodden on and forgotten. Give me a couple of trees instead please.


That presumes 5e would have flourished to the degree it has if not in the OGL.

I’m leaning more and more toward the OGL being integral to 5e’s success.
Possibly. It might have worked out well if 5e had a version of the GSL and the DMsGuild. To me, DMsGuild was the big 3PP push. I am not so interested in customized games and settings from 3PP and really have not idea how popular they are. I don't support many of them, but I know they exist.

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