Dungeons and Dragons Fans Outraged by Wizards of the Coast's Revised Open Gaming License

2023.01.08 - Dungeons and Dragons Fans Outraged by Wizards of the Coast's Revised Open Gaming ...jpgDungeons and Dragons (D&D) fans are expressing concern over what appears to be an effort by Wizards of the Coast (WoC) to increase its control over licensed content through a revised Open Gaming License (OGL). The OGL has historically allowed content creators to make D&D products, retain full ownership, and profit independently. However, the revised OGL appears to give WoC the ability to claim these creations as its own.

In December, rumors of changes to the OGL circulated, prompting an official response from WoC. At the time, it was rumored that the OGL would be eliminated entirely. WoC confirmed that the OGL would remain in place, including through the release of One D&D, the next iteration of Dungeons and Dragons. The company also acknowledged that it planned to update the OGL, but stated that the changes were intended to prevent things like third-party "D&D NFTs" and exploitation by large businesses.

A leaked report revealing the potential changes to the OGL, however, seems to do much more than what WoC previously stated. One change in particular has caused significant backlash. It states that creators grant WoC a "nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, sub-licensable, royalty-free license to use that content for any purpose." This gives WoC the ability to use, sublicense, and profit from others' work, even though it does not grant outright ownership.

Another section of the updated OGL allows WoC to "terminate" the license agreement with anyone, anywhere, for any reason. If the license is terminated, the licensee must not only stop using licensed materials but also "destroy all inventory and marketing materials bearing the Compatibility Logo." This means that products bearing licensed D&D branding must be destroyed if the license is terminated. WoC can do this for any reason.

These changes to the OGL are causing various reactions within the D&D creator community. Some believe it is just legal language and nothing will change, while others have threatened legal action if the updated OGL is issued. The possibility of WoC using a creator's products for their own benefit, or forcing a partner to destroy all their work, is a significant concern for many in the community. The third-party market for D&D products has thrived for over 20 years thanks to the OGL, and any significant changes to the OGL could threaten that economy and community. It remains to be seen whether WoC will address the concerns of the D&D community.

In the meantime, it is important for content creators to stay informed about the potential changes to the OGL and to carefully consider the risks and benefits of creating and licensing D&D content. While the OGL has historically provided a great opportunity for independent creators to monetize their work, the revised OGL could significantly alter the terms of that agreement. As with any investment, it is important to do your own research and make informed decisions.

From Uncrowned Addiction: Click Here For Original Article
 

Tiffany

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My daughter's childhood friend is a dungeon master and has been hosting D&D for years, even took it virtual during the pandemic. Good memories for my daughter who met her now boyfriend of almost 4 years through her friends D&D group. I can see why there's great concern for content orgininality challenges and possible legal action with the new OGL.
 

Retro

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That's a nasty power and money grab there. It would be like XenForo (the makers of this forum software (also called XenForo) for those who don't know) to make such a license change for add-on developers, of which there's currently a thriving market. At the moment, anyone can write an add-on and charge what they like for it, or give it away for free with XF charging for the privilege. On top of that, they can advertise their products on xenforo.com too. Just imagine what such a power grab would do to that eco system.

@AndyB you're a developer, so how would you feel if such a change were to be made to XenForo?

@Uncrowned thanks for publishing an article, really appreciate it. :cool:
 

Arantor

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It's like Blizzard and Warcraft 3 Reforged all over again, Blizzard saw the modding scene that happened and what came of it (like, say, DOTA) and decided that next time around they wanted that action. It doesn't bode well.

Part of the problem is that there are complicated lines between fan material and official material. I'd suggest reading up on Marion Bradley and the situation with her novel that had to be thrown out because it was too close to some fan-written material that had been seen and that the fan in question was... proving awkward about licensing it. So to avoid being sued, the entire novel and its year plus worth of work had to be scrapped.

Given that people are making content with the OGL, and WoC (and others, but I think I'm right in saying that WoC is the main entity involved) selling content, you gotta imagine their lawyers are twitchy about a repeat of that.

This is sadly not a hypothetical situation; I know several authors who are in the 'don't send me story material of any kind' camp just because they know only too well how it bites them.
 
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