It’s been a month, and I’ve been remiss in updating (again).
Wizards of the Coast put out a questionnaire about their proposed changes to the OGL, which they soon abandoned after they received over 15,000 responses, with over 80% disapproval of what they were attempting to pull.
In response, they announced:
1) That they were going to leave the OGL 1.0a untouched and intact, and
2) They were placing the 5th edition SRD into Creative Commons — which is irrevocable.
Interesting times, indeed.
The question remains what sort of corporate fuckery will be coming down the pike with the forthcoming new edition of D&D, but honestly, that’s a bit outside of my concern, as I’m not entirely sure we’ll be producing any D&D material. I was more concerned about the continuation of the original OGL framework for what it meant for other systems released under it, such as the D6 system and FATE.
For now, it appears we can continue as before. I’ll call that a win.
As I expected, the tabletop games industry has entered Interesting Times (in the Chinese proverb meaning of the phrase).
Gamers collectively began to unsubscribe from D&D Beyond — the online tool set for Dungeons & Dragons, to send a message to WOTC/Hasbro. This was, apparently, not a small amount of lost revenue.
Yesterday, Paizo (publishers of Pathfinder), along with a still-growing number of other publishers announced that they’re developing a system-agnostic irrevocable license which will be called the Open RPG Creative (ORC) License. (Click through to read the announcement.)
Today, WOTC released their statement, which was basically: “Uh… oops. My bad. More info coming later.” They attempt to address some concerns, but spin-doctor their way around the major issue — the attempted “de-authorization” of OGL1.0a. I suspect they’re still going to try to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
This is not an abstract issue for me. My FAR WEST game uses OGL1.0a, in the form of the Open D6 rules which were released as open content by the previous owners of West End Games, as well as some elements of the FATE system, also released under OGL1.0a. I’ve struggled for a decade to get that game finally released, and I’ll be damned if I am going to have the rug pulled out from under me when the finish line is in sight.
I’m certain that I could release under existing US Copyright Law, which specifies that systems and processes are not protected content — but whether the courts feel that includes RPG systems is not a matter of settled law. I’m certain that it could be proven to be so in court, but would require expensive litigation against a massive corporation. OGL1.0a offer a ‘safe harbor’ that would prevent that litigation.
I’m hoping that the forthcoming ORC license includes language that grandfathers in material that was opened under OGL 1.0a. I’ve signed up to the mailing list, and will be doing what I can to offer suggestion in that direction.
I suspect there will be further updates to this story.
According to a story at io9, it looks as though WOTC is trying to put the OGL genie back into the bottle: https://gizmodo.com/dnd-wizards-of-the-coast-ogl-1-1-open-gaming-license-1849950634
The biggest (and most egregious) change — it claims to “de-authorize” the previous version of the OGL (something which goes against the original language of the OGL, which is perpetual).
I wonder what “unauthorizing” the OGL 1.0 will mean for the non-WOTC-derived content — since other rules systems were released under it, by other companies. (D6, FATE, Runequest, Traveller, etc.). I suspect that the “unauthorization” (on it’s face a violation of the original terms of the OGL) will only apply to D&D content, so if you’re producing D&D material you MUST use 1.1.
Funny thing, WOTC originally addressed the question of changes to the OGL back in 2004 (from the internet archive): https://web.archive.org/web/20040307094152/http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20/oglfaq/20040123f
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.
I suppose we’ll wait and see, but one thing is for sure — the tabletop games industry is about to experience some Interesting Times.