D&D 5th Edition OGL


5th Edition (And Beyond)

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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

It's also, no doubt, a work-in-progress. Eldritch blast's exclusion has already apparently been identified by WotC as an oversight. Presumably things will be added as time passes.

I suspect it won't be long before we start seeing compilation documents - a list of feats including the strangely familiar "Sharpshooting" feat (for example). Leaving stuff out isn't as awkward as declaring stuff closed content.


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Steve Geddes wrote:

Looks like the commission on Dungeon Master Guild products is 50% (split somehow between OneBookShelf and WotC). How does that compare if you want to distribute a self-published PDF through the various sites?

It also seems to be limited to solely Forgotten Realms stuff at the moment.

"At this time, the Guild is only accepting Forgotten Realms material that uses the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons rules."

I think Morrus from Enworld mentioned at some point that the split isn't too favourable. I'll have to try and find the reference, but I remember it being quite a low percentage that you got after OBS took their commission.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

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Steve Geddes wrote:
Leaving stuff out isn't as awkward as declaring stuff closed content.

I don't know. Leaving out a bunch of feats is rather awkward.

This leads to a situation where the only complete, "try it before you buy it" SRD is going to be a third-party website with a bunch of designer-impostor feats (and clones of other official D&D character options like archetypes and backgrounds). Wouldn't it be better for D&D if the game's most comprehensive online reference tool was a site that listed the official wording of the game's most common character options instead of listing a bunch of third-party workarounds?


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The more I look at it the more I think the reason behind this SRD is not for players to have access for free to the rules, it's for 3rd parties to have a basis to refer when creating new content.
You see, when creating new material a developper can create new sub-races for each races of the PHB, same goes for classes archetype, background and feats. When creating an adventure, you have access to pretty much all monsters and have good example on how creating your own.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Epic Meepo wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Leaving stuff out isn't as awkward as declaring stuff closed content.

I don't know. Leaving out a bunch of feats is rather awkward.

This leads to a situation where the only complete, "try it before you buy it" SRD is going to be a third-party website with a bunch of designer-impostor feats (and clones of other official D&D character options like archetypes and backgrounds). Wouldn't it be better for D&D if the game's most comprehensive online reference tool was a site that listed the official wording of the game's most common character options instead of listing a bunch of third-party workarounds?

Maybe. I kind of think of the SRD as a way for publishers to produce compatible content without fear of legal action, not as a player resource. Given they don't even provide PDFs of the core rules, it doesn't surprise me that they're not rushing to provide an electronic, online version beyond the basic rules.

Irrespective, I still think leaving feats out of the SRD altogether is better than declaring them closed content.


Steve Geddes wrote:
Irrespective, I still think leaving feats out of the SRD altogether is better than declaring them closed content.

What do you mean by "declaring them closed content"?

Is there any difference between declaring them closed content and leaving them out, that is not releasing them under the OGL?

The Exchange

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A new SRD website for 5th Edition is now live at http://www.5eSRD.com!

Check it out NOW!!!

Oh and it's made/maintained by yours truly. If you'd like to help edit it email me at jreyst@gmail.com!

Liberty's Edge

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I believe they learned from their mistake with the 3.x OGL. The SRD is for people that would like to publish material for 5e, not for cheapskates that want to play the game without paying up.

People complained there wasn't an OGL for 5e, now they're complaining that too much was left out. What a sense of entitlement people have these days.

Liberty's Edge

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And, before anyone says 'but Paizo!", it would have been really crappy of them to close off much more than Golarion specific content, since their game only exists because of the 3.x OGL.


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As I posted in a separate thread I found in Rules Questions (?!?) that asked how this would affect Paizo:

Oceanshieldwolf wrote:

Hopefully it strengthens the hobby by creating more freelancers with merit.

Check out this page:

SRD and options

With specific reference to the options that come under the DMGuild as opposed to the OGL
- there are distinct advantages for creators who make quality stuff based (currently, only) in the Forgotten Realms - like being considered to create further stuff for WotC. Or have their content included in future digital releases, of whatever format.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, hopefully they open up more of their interesting, non color by numbers Campaign Settings.


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The best part of this news is now someone can create a Pathfinder/5E hybrid that takes the best from both systems and makes my perfect game.

:)


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First of all, credit where credit is due: This is a big step in the right direction. Maybe they're learning.

Personally, however, I will not be moving to 5E until a complete, non-proprietary digital version of the rules is available. I'm simply unwilling to hitch my wagon to a system that could go out-of-print at any time. I'm done putting myself at the mercy of publisher whims as to how/when I can view what I've purchased....especially in a world in which pretty much every other publisher routinely offers digital versions.

If/when they wise up and offer PDFs (or equivalent), I would be hard pressed to not jump. I like the system itself quite a bit.

Sovereign Court

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I have a strange feeling in my gut that pdfs are coming. They basically have no reason whatsoever not to, at this point


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Norman Osborne wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Except that you can use any names that were released in SRDs for earlier editions and the rules can't be copyrighted anyway, so it should be pretty trivial to recreate most of the missing content.

Yeah, combine the 5E SRD with the 3.5 SRD, and suddenly the vast majority of the names you can't reference using the 5E SRD alone become available.

Most of what's left is stuff that was excluded from the 3.5 SRD anyway, so you couldn't use it even if you published for 3.5 or Pathfinder.

Through the transitive property of the OGL, you can now start converting Pathfinder material too. 5th edition summoner anyone? The possibilities for 3PP, especially ones with a library of existing OGL material, are endless.


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Lorathorn wrote:
I have a strange feeling in my gut that pdfs are coming. They basically have no reason whatsoever not to, at this point

I thought the same thing, until I realized the SRD is incomplete. But I hope you're right! At that point they'll instantly earn a few hundred dollars from me. :-)

Sovereign Court

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deinol wrote:


Through the transitive property of the OGL, you can now start converting Pathfinder material too. 5th edition summoner anyone? The possibilities for 3PP, especially ones with a library of existing OGL material, are endless.

Quick, someone tell Smilodan!!


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Huh...so Dragonborn are now OGL under 5E? That's different than the earlier SRD which did not include them. I wonder now if someone could legally do a straight up adaptation of them for Pathfinder and use the same name?

Same goes with Warlock as a class.

Sovereign Court

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Yeah, this kind of opens up some interesting questions about potential for Pathfinder or PF 3pp to make use of these things. It's more iffy than 5e 3pp ever was, but has some interesting merits.

Liberty's Edge

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Lorathorn wrote:
I have a strange feeling in my gut that pdfs are coming. They basically have no reason whatsoever not to, at this point

They're waiting for hardcover sales to slow down. You can't sell a PDF for $50, and the FLGS can't stock them. Hasbro is about physical products on shelves, after all.


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MMCJawa wrote:

Huh...so Dragonborn are now OGL under 5E? That's different than the earlier SRD which did not include them. I wonder now if someone could legally do a straight up adaptation of them for Pathfinder and use the same name?

Same goes with Warlock as a class.

The "earlier SRD" you refer to is the free Basic Rules, which you still couldn't do anything with publishing-wise. This does open up a bit for people to use in their "basic rules" games, though.

My guess, is that you could publish "Dragonborn" for Pathfinder, converting the 5th edition ones to Pathfinder, and call them Dragonborn. Just as it seems you can now take all those Pathfinder things and convert and publish them to 5th edition. All those advanced classes, hybrid classes, uncommon and rare races, the occult classes (I am assuming, I haven't really touched or looked into Pathfinder since the ACG came out). Anything on the pfsrd could be free game to convert and publish to 5th edition.

Tose are just my guesses. It looks like you can now legally make a 5th edition ACG and turn all those hybrid classes into either base classes (like fighter, rogue, etc) or turn them into archetypes (like eldritch knight, oath of devotion, etc), publish and then make money from it.

Could something like Pathfinder happen when WotC inevitably abandons 5th edition for 6th edition? I am going to assume yes, just not to the full extent where Pathfinder started out as a near carbon copy of the 3.5 PHB, because not every subrace, archetype, spell, and feat was added to the SRD, so you couldn't get beastmaster rangers, light domain clerics, eldritch knight fighters, mountain dwarves, drow elves, etc.

Maybe now we can hopefully get some decent player options from 3pp, instead of a slow trickle of nothing but adventures from WotC (which are "outsourced" to 3pp anyway). I just wonder how this will affect homebrew on sites like here (as sparse as it may be here), reddit, enworld, GitP, and anywhere else it might have shown up before.


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Mordo wrote:
The more I look at it the more I think the reason behind this SRD is not for players to have access for free to the rules, it's for 3rd parties to have a basis to refer when creating new content.

That's always been the case, with the 3.5, Pathfinder, and 5e SRDs. The whole free rules thing has always been a side effect, not a purpose.


Adjule wrote:
Maybe now we can hopefully get some decent player options from 3pp, instead of a slow trickle of nothing but adventures from WotC (which are "outsourced" to 3pp anyway).

There's already been hundreds of 3PP products for 5e, by using the v3.5 SRD.


houstonderek wrote:
Lorathorn wrote:
I have a strange feeling in my gut that pdfs are coming. They basically have no reason whatsoever not to, at this point
They're waiting for hardcover sales to slow down. You can't sell a PDF for $50, and the FLGS can't stock them. Hasbro is about physical products on shelves, after all.

I myself prefer physical copies, not just for books, but for movies and video games as well. If there were reliable CD players, and if I enjoyed the majority of songs on a CD, instead of 1 or 2, I would go for physical music. As that is, I prefer digital music as $15+ for 1 or 2 songs on a CD is absurd.

Legal pdfs for 5th edition would be alright, since I know there are people who only go for pdfs (bugleyman being one), and getting those people to play the game would be great. But I can see them charging full price ($50) for a pdf, which to me is absurd. Full price for a digital movie, or a digital video game, to me, is absurd as well. But that's just me. I know there are people who pay the full $60 for a digital video game, $20 for digital HD movie, so I am sure there are people who would pay the full $50 for digital D&D books. I am not one of them.

FLGS seem to prosper on MTG card sales, tournaments, etc. more than D&D book sales. But I guess since they have the AL and Encounters being played in FLGS, they feel they gotta supply them with the physical books, though I am sure most people just go to amazon and pay 28-30 bucks for the books instead of the $50 they would pay at a FLGS.


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Adjule wrote:
houstonderek wrote:
Lorathorn wrote:
I have a strange feeling in my gut that pdfs are coming. They basically have no reason whatsoever not to, at this point
They're waiting for hardcover sales to slow down. You can't sell a PDF for $50, and the FLGS can't stock them. Hasbro is about physical products on shelves, after all.

I myself prefer physical copies, not just for books, but for movies and video games as well. If there were reliable CD players, and if I enjoyed the majority of songs on a CD, instead of 1 or 2, I would go for physical music. As that is, I prefer digital music as $15+ for 1 or 2 songs on a CD is absurd.

Legal pdfs for 5th edition would be alright, since I know there are people who only go for pdfs (bugleyman being one), and getting those people to play the game would be great. But I can see them charging full price ($50) for a pdf, which to me is absurd. Full price for a digital movie, or a digital video game, to me, is absurd as well. But that's just me. I know there are people who pay the full $60 for a digital video game, $20 for digital HD movie, so I am sure there are people who would pay the full $50 for digital D&D books. I am not one of them.

FLGS seem to prosper on MTG card sales, tournaments, etc. more than D&D book sales. But I guess since they have the AL and Encounters being played in FLGS, they feel they gotta supply them with the physical books, though I am sure most people just go to amazon and pay 28-30 bucks for the books instead of the $50 they would pay at a FLGS.

They could sell the PDF for enough to make the same return they get on the physical copy. Without printing & shipment costs or the portion of the price that goes to the retailer, you're already at a substantial discount.


In this case I'd pay $50 for a PDF, because it's time to put my $$ where my mouth is. I also want to encourage WotC to release PDFs.

However, I agree that isn't a optimal pricing strategy (though it might make gaming stores happy). I think ~$30 -- roughly the price for which you can get the book from Amazon -- would ultimately be more realistic.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Steve Geddes wrote:
I wonder if there's any vetting process.

From their FAQ: "There will not be an approval process by Wizards or OneBookShelf per se. However, if you’re found to be breaking our content guidelines, there will be repercussions. For example, your content can be pulled from the site, you might be ejected from the Dungeon Masters Guild as a content creator, and you would receive no payment for copies sold."

Steve Geddes wrote:
Or if you give up any rights by using it.

You retain ownership of the content you create, but you give them "the exclusive, irrevocable license for the full term of copyright protection available (including renewals), to develop, license, reproduce, print, publish, distribute, translate, display, publicly perform and transmit your Work, in whole and in part, in each country in the world, in all languages and formats, and by all means now known or later developed, and the right to prepare derivative works of your Work."

Note that word "exclusive" in there—that means that you are giving up the right to do those things yourself, as well as the right to authorize anybody else to do so. So once you publish a work there, you can't publish it or sell it anywhere else.

You also give them "the exclusive, irrevocable license for the full term of copyright protection available (including renewals), to all User Generated Content included in your Work. You agree that the User Generated Content is available for unrestricted use by us without any additional compensation, notification or attribution, including that we may allow other Program authors, the Owner and other third parties to use the User Generated Content."

Which means they can do whatever they want with whatever you create. And because you also "expressly agree that your User Generated Content, once submitted to the Program will become Program IP and useable by other members of the Program as well as the Owner as described in this Agreement," it also means that anybody else using the program can do whatever they like with your work, within the guidelines of the program.

So if you create an NPC, or a town (or whatever) under the program, technically, you can't use that NPC or town in anything that isn't part of the program. Anybody in the program can do whatever they like with your NPC or town, and Wizards can put your NPC or town into anything they like without compensation or credit to you (though, outside the actual agreement, they do say "if your work merits incorporation into 'canon,' Wizards will contact you about purchasing your IP outright").


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Thanks for doing my research for me, Vic! Appreciated. :)

I'm not surprised you give up rights in that way, using their IP. I'm surprised the vetting is kind of "retrospective".

Cheers

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

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Vic Wertz wrote:
You retain ownership of the content you create, but you give them "the exclusive, irrevocable license for the full term of copyright protection available (including renewals), to develop, license, reproduce, print, publish, distribute, translate, display, publicly perform and transmit your Work, in whole and in part, in each country in the world, in all languages and formats, and by all means now known or later developed, and the right to prepare derivative works of your Work."

You retain ownership of your house, you just can't live in your house, rent it out, modify it, sell it, or tear it down. Also, we can move into, rent out, modify, sell, or tear down your house whenever we want.

(Which is why you should never build a house on land you don't own.)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Steve Geddes wrote:
I'm surprised the vetting is kind of "retrospective".

Vetting things takes time and people, and gives you very little return for your effort. It's way easier to let the audience identify the problem children for you. Same reason our Compatibility License and Community Use Policy don't have a vetting process.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
I'm surprised the vetting is kind of "retrospective".
Vetting things takes time and people, and gives you very little return for your effort. It's way easier to let the audience identify the problem children for you. Same reason our Compatibility License and Community Use Policy don't have a vetting process.

That makes sense, of course. I'm just surprised wotc are willing to take the risk.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Epic Meepo wrote:
(Which is why you should never build a house on land you don't own.)

I actually think it's a pretty reasonable program, as things like this go. I just hope the participants realize what they're getting into when they agree to it.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, we're talking American jurisdiction here, where frequently a lawsuit fired after the offender does damage nets you a better ROI than preventive measures.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Ha. One of my favorite statements in the agreement is this (the all-caps is theirs, not mine):

"IN NO EVENT WILL OUR (OR OWNER) LIABILITY UNDER THIS AGREEMENT EXCEED THE GREATER OF (I) THE AMOUNT OF FEES DUE AND PAYABLE BY US TO YOU UNDER THIS AGREEMENT FOR THE TWELVE-MONTH PERIOD PRECEDING THE CLAIM AND (II) FIFTY DOLLARS ($50.00)."


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Epic Meepo wrote:

You retain ownership of your house, you just can't live in your house, rent it out, modify it, sell it, or tear it down. Also, we can move into, rent out, modify, sell, or tear down your house whenever we want.

(Which is why you should never build a house on land you don't own.)

To be fair, though, you can make money off of your "house" (read: your work), and the "land" in this case is the RPG IP equivalent of Upper East Side Manhattan.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

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Steve Geddes wrote:
I kind of think of the SRD as a way for publishers to produce compatible content without fear of legal action, not as a player resource.

The SRD 5.0 is obviously a publisher resource, not a player resource. On behalf of third party publishers everywhere, I thank WotC for publishing it.

On the other hand, I think the current version of the SRD is a poorly-executed business strategy. Within 12 hours of the SRD's release, a third-party publisher created a 5e SRD website intended for use as a player (not publisher) resource. Third parties are already discussing the best way to populate the 5e SRD site with clones of the content excluded from the official SRD, and those clones will be reiterated by numerous 3pp products drawing upon the 5e SRD site. Based on the history of third-party publishing, none of this should surprise anyone.

Essentially, WotC just outsourced the online gateway to the 5e rules. Except, instead of allowing the online gatekeeper to promote the actual 5e rules, it has incentivized the gatekeeper to create a competing edition of the 5e rules (one which renames and rewords most of the core character options). WotC now suffers all of the drawbacks of the OGL (3pp products can ride WotC's coattails and/or create competing game systems) with none of benefits of the OGL (3pp products can do nothing to introduce new players to the character options appearing in the PHB, and thus generate limited interest in official 5e products).

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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I think the problem here is that they left a "content gap"—that is, anything that isn't in the SRD and isn't also in the statement of Product Identity is currently not covered under the OGL (as I understand it), so it is protected only inasmuch as copyright law protects it—meaning the ideas can be used, though not the actual words.

If Wizards were to include the OGL in future printings of their core rules, and state that anything in those books that isn't in the SRD is Product Identity—or just add a statement equivalent to that to the PRD—then I believe no content gap would exist; that is, anybody using the OGL would be unable to include derivations of that content. I'm not clear on whether or not "closing" that content could trigger retroactive effects, though.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:

I think the problem here is that they left a "content gap"—that is, anything that isn't in the SRD and isn't also in the statement of Product Identity is currently not covered under the OGL (as I understand it), so it is protected only inasmuch as copyright law protects it—meaning the ideas can be used, though not the actually words.

If Wizards were to include the OGL in future printings of their core rules, and state that anything in those books that isn't in the SRD is Product Identity—or just add a statement equivalent to that to the PRD—then I believe no content gap would exist; that is, anybody using the OGL would be unable to include derivations of that content. I'm not clear on whether or not "closing" that content could trigger retroactive effects, though.

Yeah, this is what I was referring to before ( I should break the habit of using the term 'closed content'). I don't see it as a bad thing though.

What I like about the gap is that it leaves the option open for them to include it in the SRD later without the confusion of the same content being inconsistently labeled).

EDIT: So, for example, if they'd published the PH under the OGL and declared some archetype product identity, they are left with a confusing situation should they subsequently decide to include it in the SRD.

I don't see the gap as being a problem since the conservative publisher has no issue. They just treat anything not in the SRD as product identity whether it is or not - exactly the situation as if Wizards had published the core books under the OGL with a "everything but the SRD is product identity" clause. A boundary-pushing publisher can step outside the PI-Open Content dichotomy and use the "unclassified material" under usual copyright laws, but they can do that anyway.


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Epic Meepo wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
You retain ownership of the content you create, but you give them "the exclusive, irrevocable license for the full term of copyright protection available (including renewals), to develop, license, reproduce, print, publish, distribute, translate, display, publicly perform and transmit your Work, in whole and in part, in each country in the world, in all languages and formats, and by all means now known or later developed, and the right to prepare derivative works of your Work."

You retain ownership of your house, you just can't live in your house, rent it out, modify it, sell it, or tear it down. Also, we can move into, rent out, modify, sell, or tear down your house whenever we want.

(Which is why you should never build a house on land you don't own.)

It's not that far from freelance writing for publishers, except in the later case you don't get to keep formal "ownership" at all... Just the money they pay/paid you and the bragging right listing your creation in CV/portfolio.


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thejeff wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Irrespective, I still think leaving feats out of the SRD altogether is better than declaring them closed content.

What do you mean by "declaring them closed content"?

Is there any difference between declaring them closed content and leaving them out, that is not releasing them under the OGL?

I mean product identity - "closed content" is a bad habit of mine.

The difference is one of certainty. If you divide your work into open content and product identity, someone can reference that by publishing under the OGL and using the former whilst avoiding the latter and they know they're safe from legal action. If there's a third category, the OGL is silent on how to treat it - leaving you at the mercy of copyright law.

The reason I think it's superior, is that Wizards don't have to make a choice. They inadvertently left out Eldritch Blast (for example) however they haven't declared it Product Identity* hence they can now port it into the SRD without any conflicting declarations floating around.

*:
There's probably an OGL version of Eldritch Blast for a different edition/game, so that's a complication in this specific case, but hopefully you see what I mean...


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Vic Wertz wrote:

I think the problem here is that they left a "content gap"—that is, anything that isn't in the SRD and isn't also in the statement of Product Identity is currently not covered under the OGL (as I understand it), so it is protected only inasmuch as copyright law protects it—meaning the ideas can be used, though not the actually words.

If Wizards were to include the OGL in future printings of their core rules, and state that anything in those books that isn't in the SRD is Product Identity—or just add a statement equivalent to that to the PRD—then I believe no content gap would exist; that is, anybody using the OGL would be unable to include derivations of that content. I'm not clear on whether or not "closing" that content could trigger retroactive effects, though.

I could wrong, but I don't think they can do that. They can't just arbitrarily claim things are product identity. Fictional creations - setting, adventures, even invented monsters are protected under copyright law, not just the actual words, but the basic concept. You can't use them without permission, just like you can't sell a story set in Middle-Earth, even if you don't quote Tolkien.

Game mechanics on the other hand aren't copyrightable - beyond the actual expression. Saying something is Product Identity doesn't change that in the slightest.

The only protection they have here is copyright law. Everything else derives from that. The OGL loosens that protection, letting others use content that would otherwise be protected. But it can't go past that and limit anything beyond what would normally be allowed. As I understand it, there is no gap.

At least that's my understanding. I'm not a copyright lawyer. Standard disclaimers apply.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Drejk wrote:
Epic Meepo wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
You retain ownership of the content you create, but you give them "the exclusive, irrevocable license for the full term of copyright protection available (including renewals), to develop, license, reproduce, print, publish, distribute, translate, display, publicly perform and transmit your Work, in whole and in part, in each country in the world, in all languages and formats, and by all means now known or later developed, and the right to prepare derivative works of your Work."

You retain ownership of your house, you just can't live in your house, rent it out, modify it, sell it, or tear it down. Also, we can move into, rent out, modify, sell, or tear down your house whenever we want.

(Which is why you should never build a house on land you don't own.)

It's not that far from freelance writing for publishers, except in the later case you don't get to keep formal "ownership" at all... Just the money they pay/paid you and the bragging right listing your creation in CV/portfolio.

Yeah, it's worth remembering that the DM's Guild is additive. The OGL still exists and you can publish stuff using that without giving up any rights beyond what you need to to comply with the license.

It's only if you want access to the Forgotten Realms IP and the distribution network provided that you need to hand over any ownership.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:

I think the problem here is that they left a "content gap"—that is, anything that isn't in the SRD and isn't also in the statement of Product Identity is currently not covered under the OGL (as I understand it), so it is protected only inasmuch as copyright law protects it—meaning the ideas can be used, though not the actually words.

If Wizards were to include the OGL in future printings of their core rules, and state that anything in those books that isn't in the SRD is Product Identity—or just add a statement equivalent to that to the PRD—then I believe no content gap would exist; that is, anybody using the OGL would be unable to include derivations of that content. I'm not clear on whether or not "closing" that content could trigger retroactive effects, though.

I could wrong, but I don't think they can do that. They can't just arbitrarily claim things are product identity. Fictional creations - setting, adventures, even invented monsters are protected under copyright law, not just the actual words, but the basic concept. You can't use them without permission, just like you can't sell a story set in Middle-Earth, even if you don't quote Tolkien.

Game mechanics on the other hand aren't copyrightable - beyond the actual expression. Saying something is Product Identity doesn't change that in the slightest.

The only protection they have here is copyright law. Everything else derives from that. The OGL loosens that protection, letting others use content that would otherwise be protected. But it can't go past that and limit anything beyond what would normally be allowed. As I understand it, there is no gap.

At least that's my understanding. I'm not a copyright lawyer. Standard disclaimers apply.

The benefit of the OGL isn't really that it allows you to do stuff. A lot of it you rightly point out could be done anyway.

The advantage of the OGL is that it provides a simple, clearly delineated area to play in without having to know much about copyright. What's declared Open Content is usable, what's declared product identity isn't.

You can't utilise the OGL if you don't respect that distinction (as per clause 7) - regardless of whether you are legally entitled to publish the resultant work, you aren't entitled to do so within the safety of the OGL.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
The only protection they have here is copyright law. Everything else derives from that. The OGL loosens that protection, letting others use content that would otherwise be protected. But it can't go past that and limit anything beyond what would normally be allowed.

I think the point is not that Product Identity is somehow granted "extra copyright protection". It's that, in order to use the OGL, you must comply with it's terms. Clause 7 states that you agree not to use anything which has been declared Product Identity.

You might be able to reference product identity under copyright laws, but you are no longer publishing under the OGL, so you lose all the protection and security it offers.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

So, lack of full content kind of puts a big stopper in Lonewolf's plans to include D&D 5e in Hero Lab ... or so it would seem, but here's a notice that both Hero Lab and Realmworks will support 5E


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
RyanH wrote:

So, lack of full content kind of puts a big stopper in Lonewolf's plans to include D&D 5e in Hero Lab.

Don't you need a special license anyway for software?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I edited my above comment... looks like Lonewolf is adding them.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Ah. Yeah, I always thought Herolab needed more than just the OGL anyhow for some complicated legal reason about licenses or somesuch.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
thejeff wrote:
The only protection they have here is copyright law. Everything else derives from that. The OGL loosens that protection, letting others use content that would otherwise be protected. But it can't go past that and limit anything beyond what would normally be allowed.

I think the point is not that Product Identity is somehow granted "extra copyright protection". It's that, in order to use the OGL, you must comply with it's terms. Clause 7 states that you agree not to use anything which has been declared Product Identity.

You might be able to reference product identity under copyright laws, but you are no longer publishing under the OGL, so you lose all the protection and security it offers.

Possible. In the past though, they've limited Product Identity to things that would normally be protected by copyright - the various 3.x rulebooks not included in the 3.x SRDs weren't identified as Product Identity, as I understand it.

They seem to following a similar route here.

It's not at all clear to me that they could twist the OGL to limit use of things you normally could use freely. In any case, since they haven't it leaves that open for those who want to test the limits.
The rest can happily use the Open Content.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
Ah. Yeah, I always thought Herolab needed more than just the OGL anyhow for some complicated legal reason about licenses or somesuch.

Much like you can't make computer games using OGL material - which keeps Paizo from licensing a computer game that actually uses the PF rules.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
thejeff wrote:

It's not at all clear to me that they could twist the OGL to limit use of things you normally could use freely. In any case, since they haven't it leaves that open for those who want to test the limits.

The rest can happily use the Open Content.

I agree that it's something of a non-issue here. Nonetheless, I don't think it's right to label it "twisting" if someone declares something Product Identity which would not usually be protected by copyright. The only limitation I can see on such a declaration is that you can't declare something Product Identity if it's previously been declared Open Content - I'm no expert on the OGL, but I don't recall any reference to general copyright law.

The OGL provides protection in both directions - you can safely publish under the license, provided you agree not to use anyone else's Product Identity. You can also quarantine some of your work (via a declaration of Product Identity), whilst leaving the rest of it open to others to play with.

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