[Cc-bizcom] The Open Gaming License
robmyers at mac.com
Wed Sep 8 11:08:45 EDT 2004
On Wednesday, September 08, 2004, at 03:20PM, Marshall Van Alstyne <marshall at MIT.EDU> wrote:
>The interview with Dancy (VP of WoTC) also points out that it's possible to sell your own product based on the D20, without paying royalties to WoTC. They really rely on network effects to boost sales of their core products. <More to say on this in a moment...>
Yes you don't have to pay for d20, you just have to follow the terms of the license.
Politically within the industry there's been some concern at the license termination clauses and at recent d20 license changes that exclude obscene (etc.) content. Some publishers now publish just "OGL" content or avoid the OGL and d20 altogether. But on balance it's created a boom (a bubble, according to some).
>2 - The next section is a direct quote from the Open Gaming FAQ put out by WoTC. It notes that in practice WoTC could sell 3rd party open content and remarks on the fairness of this effect. Actually, there should be an economic way to achieve the right result.
The license isn't like CC-NC, so you can sell or give away content as you see fit. WoTC have released some books using content that was OGL but that they have re-licensed from the author for closed use. Again some controversy in the community over this, but it's something you can do with CC or GPL just as easily.
>A: If you don't like the terms of the Open Game License, don't publish Open Game Content. Since the terms of the License are public knowledge, and they apply to everyone equally, including commercial publishers like Wizards of the Coast, your decision to use the Open Game License means that you consent to abide by its terms freely and without coercion. That's about as fair as anything ever gets.
That is disingenious on WoTC's part: this is just how Free licenses work. They should explain the flipside: yes, they can use your web article for free, but you can use their entire game system and brand for free (excluding "character creation" under d20).
>WoTC may have a stronger argument than they actually make. With the right licensing terms, it should be possible to achieve fairness as well. If the licensing terms commit (i) the standards or platform author (i.e. the 1st developer of Open Game Content) to leave that code as Open Content into perpetuity and (ii) users can gain access to both original and subsequent open content from numerous alternative sources, then in economic terms, WoTC can't really charge for the value of 3rd party contributions.
Apart from not allowing character creation, d20 is largely fair. I do wonder who required that clause. OGL is pretty much fair IMHO. As you mention, you can't close OGL content, although WoTC have effectively got dual licensing from some authors.
I agree that WoTC can't really charge for the value of 3rd party content per se, but they can charge for the (physical) book they print. Nice glossy hardbacks with colorful art and full-on graphic design. :-)
>This means a user has a choice not to pay for that specific content simply by going elsewhere.
One publisher (Mongoose Publishing) has printed the entire SRD (the D&D rules sans the D&D brand) as a "quick reference" book, under the OGL rather than d20 so they can include character creation. The door swings both ways.
>What WoTC can charge for is convenience of bundling disparate parts together and for compatibility assurance. They can also charge for indispensable parts of a program that are required to run the entire program.
Yes, absolutely (the program being the written rules in this case...). This is like the "editorial" value mentioned in the Sun interview, although with an added impediment to competition if you want to use the d20 brand (no character creation).
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