Dungeons 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.
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