Today Wizards of the Coast on DnD Beyond released an article called OGLs, SRDs, & One D&D. It talks about Wizards plans for a new version of the OGL.
The recap the OGL stands for the Open Game License. According to Creative Commons, an open license means the content is free to use how you want it. In practice, this has meant that content was shared to let people use the content in any way, including commercially, the main requirements being that there is proper attribution of the original content used, and that any modifications are released under the same license. With the author listed as the creator of the modification.
The current two versions of the OGL v1.0 (3.X) and v1.0a meet the above criteria except for specific elements.
- You are allowed to designate part of the work as product identity which basically saying I am not releasing this part of my book as open content. This is often used for licensed IP like Lord of the Rings or Star Trek. It is sometimes used when the author doesn't want to share their setting but wants to use and modify a popular system.
- You also explicitly agree to give up your right to cite compatibility to a trademarked product. This is something that you normally have the right to do when releasing a work when it is your content. I could have done this with Blackmarsh as I mostly used common monster names rather than anything specific out of the DnD editions.
So what are the proposed changes?
First, we’re making sure that OGL 1.1 is clear about what it covers and what it doesn’t.
What OGL 1.1 will cover are electronic files like PDF, and printed books this right off mean that OGL 1.1 is no longer an open license as it restricts how you can use the open content. As the definition of open content means you can use it in the manner you see fit.
The next change
Second, we’re updating the OGL to offer different terms to creators who choose to make free, share-alike content and creators who want to sell their products.
They list a number of requirements that amount to you having to report any sales of any products licensed under the OGL 1.1 as well as a description of what it is you are selling. And if you make over a threshold ($750,000) then you will be expected to pay royalties by 2024.
Wrapping it up
This will further bifurcate the third party publisher market. OGL 1.0 and OGL 1.0a content can't be used with OGL 1.1 content as a result of Section 12 of the current OGL.
12. Inability to Comply: If it is impossible for You to comply with any of the terms of this License with respect to some or all of the Open Game Content due to statute, judicial order, or governmental regulation then You may not Use any Open Game Material so affected.
Right now the world of 3PP is divided into those who use open content like Pathfinder, Cepheus, OSRIC, Old School Essentials, and those who publish in community content programs like the DM's Guild. In fact, I predict there will be three major 3PP communities for Dungeons and Dragons, the ones that continue to use the OGL 1.0a license, those who use the OGL 1.1 license, and those who use community content programs.
I realize there is a lot of speculation and criticism out there that are made because OneDnD is the news of the days. I limited myself to what the article said. At various times in the history of open source and creative commons, unscrupulous companies and individuals tried to put out their own licenses including ones with terms very much like the above. Each and every time this has not ended well for the bad actors and their licenses. Either they reverted back to a traditional commercial license and ceased their use of the open content. Or they came into compliance.
If you value your freedom to produce and more commonly share the content you create for Dungeons and Dragons then let Wizards know that you find these proposed terms unacceptable. Let them know that the community has the tools right now to fix the issue on their own and will do so as shown by what happen with DnD 4e, the GSL, and Pathfinder.
This is your hobby and your game now. Don't let Hasbro try to take that away from you.
I added some comments on Section 9 of the OGL which appears to be a point of attack by the Wizards' legal team to shut down the OGL.
For those who are new.
I have long been an advocate of open content released under the open license. Blackmarsh is free for any of use in any manner you see if. Likely the entire content of the Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG is open content.
Some past posts.
Finally some practical effects of making Blackmarsh open content. I would not have had the time or skills to do any of these projects but now folks who read Spanish, French, Italian and Hungarian can enjoy Blackmarsh in their languages as well as fans of Heroes and Other Worlds.
And because these were solely the work of their respective author who put the work into making a version of Blackmarsh, they get to reap 100% of the financial rewards. Something I am fine with when I shared Blackmarsh as open content.