Sunday, January 29, 2023

Hasbro Surrenders

Those of you who enjoyed my rant about the perfidy of Hasbro revoking the meant-to-be-irrevocable Open Game License two weeks ago may be curious regarding what craziness has happened since then. 

As it turns out, it was the craziest thing of all: Hasbro has surrendered.

Even though this story broke on Friday, I waited to talk about this because at this point I no longer trust Hasbro to tell me that the sky is blue; I figured this could just as easily have been the Placate before the Assassin Strike. But my favorite gaming lawyer Ian Runkle looked at it and gave it his seal of approval:


I don't know how you feel, but that's good enough for me. It remains to be seen if this is enough to restore good will and trust, or if the damage is done. Personally, I think it's the latter, especially since Paizo et all are still going to create their ORC license. This just seems like good business sense to me; who knows what the next 2, 5, 10, or 20 years will bring. 

I'm also willing to wager fairly heavily that 6e D&D will not be published under any form of OGL, and that people who wish to publish 6e compatible material will have to sign a license even more Draconian (heh) that what Hasbro tried to push with OGL 1.1. 

For those curious about the difference between OGL 1.0a and Creative Commons, the short answer is "not much". There's (currently) only one OGL, which means it's easy to find the terms by which you must abide if you want to publish under it. Creative Commons, however, is a suite of licenses with different modules that can be used, or not, as the licensor desires. 

For example, I publish this blog under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License. This means the following:
  1. You are free to copy and redistribute (i.e., share) the material in any medium or format. 
  2. But to do that, you must do so under these conditions:
    • Attribution: You must give me appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the I endorse you or your use.
    • NonCommercial: You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
    • NoDerivatives: If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.
  3. Creative Commons also has the No Additional Restrictions clause, which means that you may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
There are of course variations on this license which don't allow sharing and/or which allow commercial uses. The version under which Hasbro published the 5e SRD is much more complicated than the version I use. Since I have no plans to publish anything commercially for 5e, I'm not even going to read it. If you want to do so, knock yourselves out

For a more in-depth explanation of the OGL vs. CC, I direct you to this 90 minute video in which the host talks to Dr. Bob Tarantino, a man who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the (OGL) for his Ph.D. in IP law. 

And with that, I'm going to close with one of my favorite Firefly quotes:

We've done the impossible, and that makes us mighty. 

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