A thought on licensing (updated)

… Licenses …

Thanks to Jonathan of The Core Mechanic I read a nice link to an article of livingdice.com stating that Kenzer (Producer of Kingdom of Kalamar) is launching a frontal ass

ault at the GSL (license of the 4th edition D&D). With a copyright lawyer in the real world as president, I keep my fingers crossed that the GSL will fall before it causes any serious harm.

Besides of all things that I like and don’t like with the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons, their new license was one of the things that just make me shrug and shake-head… Honestly, I think one of the main keys to success of the 3rd edition was their open policy – the open readable SRD enabled everyone to take a look at the rules and more importantly the OGL enabled dozens of other companies to release products for the d20 system.

Maybe there is someone among you, that knows why they changed this open and (journalists would probably call it Web 2.0 approaches) friendly license to the GSL type of license that bans almost everyone from releasing new material in this regard, unless they wait for quite some time.

I really don’t get the point of this – maybe you can help me.

Update: Looks like I’m not the only one thinking about the licensing of the 4th edition lately. A few hours before this posting was online, Critical Hits put their own comprehensive posting on different companies and their licensing strategy online. It gives a general overview on different companies, whether they stay with the OGL (3rd edition), go for the 4th edition GSL or try a fair-use copyright approach – but have a read yourself.

4 thoughts on “A thought on licensing (updated)

  1. From what I can put together, the OGL didn’t work out as planned. It was intended to do 2 things:
    1) Get people to incrementally improve the core system. So, if I came up with a cool stealth subsystem, for example, then maybe WotC would incorporate it in their revisions/new products. Everyone’s work was supposed to hone the released system. In practice, everyone used the core system without much in the way of tweaks (for compatibility/ease of introducing new systems).
    2) WotC was supposed to produce the “profitable for a big company” books, like new character options, while everyone else was supposed to do minor support. Instead, they produced where the demand was… so you had WotC competing with the people they expected to make their adventures.

  2. Ye, you’re probably right about working / not working Scott. Still I think they will loose a lot with their new policy.
    But we’ll find out ;).

  3. @Lemming : Hah! I’ve finally tracked you down! thanks to technorati.com, hehe! Thanks for the backtrack links!

    I expect the new GSL will die if actually tested in court. But, then again, I’m not a lawyer. Certainly there will be much less 3rd party development for 4E than their had been for 3E/d20; i just wonder in the long term if this is the beginning of the end. I mean, the RPG market is already so fragmented, the GSL seems like it is only going to make things worse.

  4. @Jonathan:
    Am I really so hard to track down? 🙂 –
    Yes, probably it is at least a little beginning of the end. The problem is, I doubt the GSL itself is the problem here – I think the “geek/nerd” audience of D&D likes the open-source -> open-gaming thought behind the 3rd edition very much. So even if they improve the 4th edition with the new license, I doubt they will ever put a nice SRD up again, one of the best inventions ever in my opinion. Really a pity :(.

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