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TOPIC: OGL Changes

OGL Changes 2 months 2 weeks ago #1

Io9 broke news with leaks from inside WoTC that WoTC plans to try and void the old OGL and replace it with a far more limiting one.

Under the new OGL, companies would be required to pay 25% of all revenue (not profits - straight revenue) over the first $750K as a royalty to Wizards of the Coast. It grants IP rights to all derivative creations to WoTC and forbids the use of the OGL for anything but printed and static digital copies of games. Anything digital and interactive or not otherwise static print would require prior permission from WoTC.

According to the Io9 story, the voiding of the old OGL and the new one would go into effect this minth with virtually no time given for moving away from the OGL.

It is legally questionable if the “irrevocable” ogl currently in effect can be voided. They are trying to “deauthorize” the old OGL instead.

If they move forward with it, it would likely blow up Paizo, Green Ronin, Kobold Press, Fantasygrounds, Rolld20, Critical Role, and might be bad for TD as well.

Hopefully WoTC reverses course on this. If not, I definitely recommend supporting the companies in legal fights to keep operating either to give them time to switch systems or defend the original rights granted under the OGL.

The third party companies publishing under OGL kept D&D afloat and dramatically grew the audiences. They profited tremendously off it.

It is unfortunate to see WoTC try this move. After all the companies they stole IP from without paying to build themselves up, promising an evergreen OGL then reneging on it when they get pressure from Hasbro to increase revenue is more than disappointing.

I09’s story about it can be found here…
gizmodo.com/dnd-wizards-of-the-coast-ogl-1-1-open-gaming-license-1849950634
What do we want? Evidence based science! When do we want it? After peer review!

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Last edit: by Fred K.

OGL Changes 2 months 2 weeks ago #2

One question. Why do you think changes to the OGL would have any impact on TD?

I think it is a false assumption. None of TD's material includes the OGL license. I admit I only checked the PHD, DMG, and coach guide, so maybe it is somewhere else. But none of those have the license in them. The OGL license has to be included in anything that relies on it. And if those 3 documents aren't using it, I'm not sure what else in TD would be.

I suspect that if TD relies on a license with WotC, it is something separate from the OGL. Keep in mind that Peter Adkinson was part of getting Jeff to start TD when GenCon moved to Indy. While he had left WotC by that time, he likely still had many connections to help Jeff with getting any licenses needed.

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OGL Changes 2 months 2 weeks ago #3

Fiddy wrote: One question. Why do you think changes to the OGL would have any impact on TD?

I think it is a false assumption. None of TD's material includes the OGL license. I admit I only checked the PHD, DMG, and coach guide, so maybe it is somewhere else. But none of those have the license in them. The OGL license has to be included in anything that relies on it. And if those 3 documents aren't using it, I'm not sure what else in TD would be.

I suspect that if TD relies on a license with WotC, it is something separate from the OGL. Keep in mind that Peter Adkinson was part of getting Jeff to start TD when GenCon moved to Indy. While he had left WotC by that time, he likely still had many connections to help Jeff with getting any licenses needed.


If Jeff has a separate deal to use D&D IP for 3rd edition, that's fantastic. He would avoid the problems the VTT and 3rd party publishers would have. I seemed to recall seeing a reference to OGL before but can't find it in current documents. Because the OGL covers such broad items like saving throws mechanics, attack calculation methodology, spells, many monster names, etc - it will impact a significant number of companies.

Hopefully WoTC realizes how negative the backlash is for this and backs off to a more reasonable position of "the old OGL applies up through 3.5 - anything newer like 5th edition should be in the new OGL."

My note wasn't just for TD (though I was concerned there as well) - other companies a lot of us like are likely to be impacted. Paizo and the VTT companies being the most significant. Quite a few people with a passion for the industry got involved in companies dependent on the old OGL and they've created great products and should probably be allowed to keep doing so.
What do we want? Evidence based science! When do we want it? After peer review!

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OGL Changes 2 months 2 weeks ago #4

On the plus side, there's a lot of precedent to look at in the Open Source community. I don't think Hasbro doesn't have real legal ground here, other than bullying companies in lawsuits (even if they eventually lose.) Given the relative size of companies though, that pressure could get people to capitulate.

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OGL Changes 2 months 2 weeks ago #5

There's a LOT of commentary and contention surround these leaks and rumors over the last couple months, and I want to urge people to consider the information carefully - otherwise we're just tilting at windmills.

We haven't seen the full document, and we've only been told about the contents. There may be more to this story, and Wizards may ultimately revise the document (lightly? significantly? who knows) prior to its public release.

In full disclosure, I work in the industry as does my partner. We're watching this very, very carefully as it's potentially extremely dangerous for us.

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OGL Changes 2 months 2 weeks ago #6

ini wrote: On the plus side, there's a lot of precedent to look at in the Open Source community. I don't think Hasbro doesn't have real legal ground here, other than bullying companies in lawsuits (even if they eventually lose.) Given the relative size of companies though, that pressure could get people to capitulate.

To see an example of this, look into the FASA vs Harmony Gold lawsuits. Based on later law suites, FASA probably could have won, but they were a small company and ended up folding to the pressure and settling out of court.

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OGL Changes 2 months 2 weeks ago #7

AlanP wrote: There's a LOT of commentary and contention surround these leaks and rumors over the last couple months, and I want to urge people to consider the information carefully - otherwise we're just tilting at windmills.

We haven't seen the full document, and we've only been told about the contents. There may be more to this story, and Wizards may ultimately revise the document (lightly? significantly? who knows) prior to its public release.

In full disclosure, I work in the industry as does my partner. We're watching this very, very carefully as it's potentially extremely dangerous for us.


I completely agree here. The final version isn't out yet. I wanted to bring this onto the radar of people to watch for as it could impact game companies many of us are fond of (or, in some cases, work for). This was originally supposed to be released this week but got delayed due to the leak.

Paizo finally commented on it saying it would be very bad if released as-is and they hope that the final version isn't what was leaked. They were careful to be measured in their response but encouraged everyone to watch for it and let WoTC know their thoughts when it does get released.
What do we want? Evidence based science! When do we want it? After peer review!

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OGL Changes 2 months 2 weeks ago #8

I'm honestly not too worried even if OGL 1.1 is bad. OGL 1.0a Section 9 gives you permission to use whatever version of the OGL you like best, Section 4 gives you a never-ending license to 1.0a so long as you agree to it, and the only way they enumerate a right to terminate your 1.0a license is if you violate the terms of the OGL. It seems like the most they could do is to ensure that 1.1 includes language that excludes it's content from 1.0A Section 9's rules. In short, I expect WotC to attempt to sue people for money once they release OGL 1.1, but unless those people specifically agree to give up their right to OGL 1.0a in some way it seems pretty cut and dry to the point where WotC might even run up against some Anti-SLAPP laws if they aren't careful.

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OGL Changes 2 months 2 weeks ago #9

Corbin Waters wrote: I'm honestly not too worried even if OGL 1.1 is bad. OGL 1.0a Section 9 gives you permission to use whatever version of the OGL you like best, Section 4 gives you a never-ending license to 1.0a so long as you agree to it, and the only way they enumerate a right to terminate your 1.0a license is if you violate the terms of the OGL. It seems like the most they could do is to ensure that 1.1 includes language that excludes it's content from 1.0A Section 9's rules. In short, I expect WotC to attempt to sue people for money once they release OGL 1.1, but unless those people specifically agree to give up their right to OGL 1.0a in some way it seems pretty cut and dry to the point where WotC might even run up against some Anti-SLAPP laws if they aren't careful.


The challenge is their claim to be able to “deauthorize” ogl 1.0. I agree it is shaky legal grounds but they don’t need an airtight case to crush companies - just enough of one to avoid summary dismissal (which they have.) Federal court cases are very expensive. It costs about $10K to reach the stage where you say hello to the judge. Seeing one through to its conclusion is, best case, many tens of thousands of dollars. Worst case is extended discovery costing millions. If you lose, you rarely get to recover legal costs unless you are fighting over a contract that specifies “winner take all” legal expenses or if a party is found to have a grossly negligent claim (incredibly unusual.)

The best way to fight it is to have a public outcry if this is implemented that catches the ears of their activist investors. Those same investors have pushed for cleaning house in the C suite of Hasbro in addition to selling WoTC. Management at WoTC really doesn’t have an appetite for big public fights when Hasbro’s CEO could get canned opportunistically by votes from Alta Fox (investor group that has been pushing for a board shake up as recently as last summer) if Fox can get the ear of any other investor group to join them.

We’ll see how this plays out. I hope it ends with the OGL 1.0 is for pre 5th edition and OGL 1.1 is for future stuff and 5e. Even that isn’t great as it ruins the business model for 3rd party publishers using the OGL. 25% royalties off revenue rather than EBITA is absurd in this industry. Add giving away your IP to WoTC for free and you will stop anyone generating $750K or more in revenue from working with them. 25% net margins is rare and almost unheard of in publishing.
What do we want? Evidence based science! When do we want it? After peer review!

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Last edit: by Fred K.

OGL Changes 2 months 2 weeks ago #10

Someone brought up a good point today: Disney's "Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic" is built on the OGL 1.0. I'm sure they'll be super happy to give up their Star Wars IP to Wizards of the Coast.

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OGL Changes 2 months 1 week ago #11

AlanP wrote: Someone brought up a good point today: Disney's "Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic" is built on the OGL 1.0. I'm sure they'll be super happy to give up their Star Wars IP to Wizards of the Coast.


My guess is Disney counsel would just call Hasbro and remind them of who owns the IP to virtually all of their most popular toy lines followed by a waiver from WoTC the next day.
What do we want? Evidence based science! When do we want it? After peer review!

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OGL Changes 2 months 1 week ago #12

Paramount (with its upcoming D&D movie and TV series) would lose significant revenue if the new OGL is implemented, given the fan reaction (boycotts, 66k fans signing letters, etc.).

A polite and short letter to the Paramount CEO’s office pointing out that fact might help convince the head of that $28.6 billion company to join the opposition to the new OGL.

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