I thank you for taking the time to read this post. This hobby is supposed to be a fun pastime even when it is part of one's livelihood. The past two weeks have been anything but fun. So I appreciate the time you spent reading this post amid the many outraged voices making themselves heard.
The OGL 1.2
Today Wizards finally laid some of their cards on the table and offered a proposed OGL 1.2.
Starting the OGL "Playtest"
As an OSR publisher, several things stand out to me.
DnD and Creative Commons License
The core D&D mechanics, which are located at pages 56-104, 254-260, and 358-359 of this System Reference Document 5.1 (but not the examples used on those pages), are licensed to you under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). This means that Wizards is not placing any limitations at all on how you use that content.
I edited the D&D 5.1 SRD into three sections corresponding to the page numbers above. You can browse through at this link.
Proposed Creative Common DnD mechanics
What they didn't release is most of the "lists" that comprise DnD 5e. Only the Equipment List is part of the CC-BY content they plan to release. Classes, Spells, Monsters, and Magic Items are not.
Overall this is a positive step. If nothing else is gained and they follow through on this, then moving away from the OGL becomes that much easier for the OSR. It would make what I need to do with the Majestic Fantasy RPG a lot more straightforward.
They also planning to add a notice deauthorizing the OGL 1.0a
NOTICE OF DEAUTHORIZATION OF OGL 1.0a. The Open Game License 1.0a is no longer an authorized license. This means that you may not use that version of the OGL, or any prior version, to publish SRD content after (effective date). It does not mean that any content previously published under that version needs to update to this license. Any previously published content remains licensed under whichever version of the OGL was in effect when you published that content.
Note the after (effective date), the intent here is to allow folks to continue selling or offering what has been previously released under the OGL 1.0a. Unfortunately, it cuts us off from building on or continuing the work we have been doing for the past 23 years.
Current authors and publishers can change the license on their original content, but for those who moved on to other pursuits or are no longer with us, this is not an option. Their work will remain unavailable to use until they enter the public domain decades from now.
I consider this unacceptable.
The D20 SRD
The D20 SRD is gone as a result of this section. Wizards wants to change the license for the 5.1 SRD and remove access to the d20 SRD THIS YEAR. This is not a "wait until OneDnD is released" proposal. Although they might build in a grace period. This section is from the actual license.
(a) Content Covered
(i) Our Licensed Content. This license covers any content in the SRD 5.1 (or any subsequent version of the SRD we release under this license) that is not licensed to you under Creative Commons. You may use that content in your own works on the terms of this license.
(ii) Our Unlicensed Content. Only Our Licensed Content is licensed under this license. Any other content we release or have released is not licensed to you under this license.
(iii) Your Content. This is your creative contribution to your works that are not Our Licensed Content or Our Unlicensed Content. This license permits you to combine Your Content with Our Licensed Content and distribute the resulting works as authorized by this license.
Likewise I consider this unacceptable for anything other than future Wizard's content.
Rob's Note: While the OSR relied on a stripped-down version of the D20 SRD, the same "hack" applies to the CC-BY content they plan to release although some spell names and monster names will have to change.
I did not touch on other areas as they don't impact my work as a OSR publisher. I do not plan ever to use the OGL 1.2 for my creative works. I recommend looking to others for more details on those clauses. However, one clause needs to be addressed.
The Morality Clause
The proposed OGL 1.2 license contains the following provision
No Hateful Content or Conduct. You will not include content in Your Licensed Works that is harmful, discriminatory, illegal, obscene, or harassing, or engage in conduct that is harmful, discriminatory, illegal, obscene, or harassing. We have the sole right to decide what conduct or content is hateful, and you covenant that you will not contest any such determination via any suit or other legal action.
This to me is unacceptable. I want to be clear about where I am coming from. A few years back I had to deal with racism, anti-Semitism, and hate speech from an individual I licensed IP from. I paid the price for my principles as well. Seeing my income from RPG material dropping from hundreds of dollars per month to tens of dollars per month.
Surrendering freedom, creative or otherwise, to an oligarchy like Wizards of the Coast will not solve the problems of racism and hate. Instead, their bias and their prejudices are substituted for your own moral compass. By agreeing to the OGL 1.2, you surrender your moral authority to them.
More importantly, you surrender it to their successors. Unknown individuals who may not share your ideals, and your belief in what is right, just, and fair.
Each of you reading this will have to decide for yourself what is the right course of action. For myself, I will not surrender my right to act in the manner I see fit, in the form I see fit. I have done so in the past, and I will do it again as circumstances dictate. I am not special in this, each of you reading this has the power to do the same.
For more a detailed essay on the problems of morality clauses and conduct codes, I recommend this guest essay by James Raggi on the Tenkar's Tavern blog. Also look up the details on the following: The Hays Code, and the Comic Code Authority. Each was born of a generation's belief in what was right, just, and decent.
Then ask yourself as James Raggi said, were the marginalized served by these codes? Will the marginalized be served by the code as set forth by Chris Cocks CEO of Hasbro, Cynthia Williams CEO of WoTC, and their successors? Or are you the better judge of these matters?
What is Victory?
We won a battle but not the war for our creative legacy. In the words of Churchill,
Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
I realize for some of you these are not the words you want to hear. You want the hobby to be fun again. Publishers are grasping for any type of certainty for their livelihood. You want this to end sooner than later.
So how does this end for me?
- Wizards acknowledge OGL 1.0a as an authorized irrevocable license.
- That all past open content remains open content under the OGL 1.0a and free to be used as they have been for the past 23 years. Works like the D20 3.0 and 3.5 SRD. The 5e 5.1 SRD as well remains under the OGL 1a.
- In turn, I will acknowledge they have the right to license OneDnD any way they like. However, I reserve the right to make critical comments about their creative and legal choices.
- The plan to release various sections under the CC-BY 4.0 license be followed through.
- That Chris Cocks, CEO of Hasbro, and Cynthia William, CEO of Wizards of the Coast, each write and sign individual formal apologies to all the publishers impacted by their overreach and inept handling of the situation such as Paizo, Kobold Press, Troll Lord Games, Green Ronin, Gaming Ballistic, Frog God Games, and many others.