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Open Game License: Leaks and Course Corrections

January 7th 2023 confirmed a bunch of rumors that had been floating around the RPG community of creators when the new version of the Open Game License was leaked to the public. A lot of creators worst fears were confirmed. Royalty payments, financial reporting, a irrevocable license-back, registration of usage of OGL were all in the draft version that was leaked.

"I was disappointed. I had been hearing rumors of them pulling back for a year." Sigfried Trent

Lets take a step back and take a look at what the Open Gaming License is? Its a license that allows creative people make content for and featuring the core systems and content from the Roll20 and Dungeons and Dragons world and the largest example is Pathfinder. This includes things like Critical Role content, Content made for D&D, published adventure books by third parties. In order to publish and sell this content you would abide by the OGL.


The draft OGL caused a huge uproar in the community. Content creators, bloggers and live play streamers were all using their platforms to let WoTC/Hasbro know that they were prepared to move on and find different directions and that the draft of OGL1.1 would not be acceptable. On January 18th Kyle Brink Executive Producer of D&D put out a statement on dndbeyond.com The statement pulled back on some of the contentious points that were in the new OGL draft. They also put forth that they will be working more collaboratively with the community to develop the next OGL.


On January 20th the next statement from Kyle Brink came out announcing the new draft of OGL and that it would actually be through a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons is a non profit that "helps overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity". The new proposal put Creative Commons in the drivers seat for licensing. The new draft of OGL1.2 has dropped the royalties, irrevocable license-back, and the financial reporting.


I spoke with Sigfried Trent a long time game designer (including Everyday Heros)about his feelings on the new OGL. He said "OGL 1.0 was a true copy-left license that created a common pool of game content for any company to draw from and contribute to. This new license is strictly a one-to-one license where WOTC allows other publishers to use the SRD content in their works. It might have been seen as generous 23 years ago, but after all this time of publishers sharing content, it feels like a significant step backward."


The OGL is still in the request for comment phase for the next 2 weeks. I recommend that you have a look over it and send your feedback to WotC and let them know what you think of the new OGL and how they can improve it for the community.



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