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Author Topic: Licensing Question  (Read 661 times)

Zachary The First

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Licensing Question
« on: July 23, 2008, 07:56:02 am »
As sort of a spinoff from the d6 discussion, I had a question.

If someone wanted to keep a ruleset open but keep setting information propietary or keep the rights w/ the creator, what would be the best license for this?  Is it simply the OGL, or is there something that would work better in ensuring IP protection while also ensuring free system usage?
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Blackleaf

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Licensing Question
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2008, 09:12:22 am »
From the outset... you can't copyright the rules of a game anyway. ;)

If it was up to me, and I had to do it as quickly, hassle-free, and easy to use as possible, I'd release the book under regular copyright.

Then I'd make the open portion available as a separate document on my website.  I'd put the open document under either a Creative Commons license, or release it directly into the public domain.

GPL and OGL are too confusing for the average person, and I don't think they offer anything that you couldn't get with the setup I just outlined. :)

dindenver

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Licensing Question
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2008, 09:29:32 am »
Stuart is dead on the money!
Yeah, OGL doesn't mean anything, unless yo want to copy wotc's old license. And GPL has weird quirks. CC is probably the best way to go. If you don't like CC, I would talk to a lawyer about wording a OGL-like license to say what you want others to be able to do...
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Mcrow

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Licensing Question
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2008, 09:32:09 am »
The OGL seems pretty simple to me. "X,Y, & Z are IPs of company K and are not open content, everything else is open content."

Just about as simple as that when using the OGL document.

Blackleaf

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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2008, 09:48:38 am »
I can't see how this is as easy:

Quote from: Wikipedia
The OGL describes two forms of content: Open Game Content (or OGC) and "Product identity" - that is content covered by normal copyright, commonly referred to as "closed content". The OGL permits the inclusion of both OGC - or "open game content" - and Product Identity within a single work. Publishers are required to "clearly indicate" those parts of a work that are OGC.

The OGL defines the concept of Product Identity (or PI) as:

Quote
   ...product and product line names, logos and identifying marks including trade dress; artifacts; creatures characters; stories, storylines, plots, thematic elements, dialogue, incidents, language, artwork, symbols, designs, depictions, likenesses, formats, poses, concepts, themes and graphic, photographic and other visual or audio representations; names and descriptions of characters, spells, enchantments, personalities, teams, personas, likenesses and special abilities; places, locations, environments, creatures, equipment, magical or supernatural abilities or effects, logos, symbols, or graphic designs; and any other trademark or registered trademark...


PI must be clearly defined by the publisher and, by using the OGL, licensees are prevented from distributing, copying or modifying PI and claiming "compatibility or co-adaptability" with PI trademarks unless permission is acquired through a separate license or agreement with the holders of the PI.

Finally, the OGL requires attribution be maintained by the copying of all copyright notices from OGC a licensee is copying, modifying or distributing. Unlike other open source licenses, this requires that the license notice itself must be altered by adding all copyright notices to the Section 15 part of the license.


I think that "PI" is basically everything covered by regular copyright, and about 90% of what you see as "OGC" is stuff that's not protected by copyright anyway.  (If I'm wrong about this, I'd be interested in examples)

Other than letting you do a copy-and-paste job on the actual text (copyrightable) for the game rules (non-copyrightable), I'm not sure I see the merits in using the OGL.  

It also takes up at least an entire page in a book, where copyright, public domain, and creative commons do not...

Mcrow

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Licensing Question
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2008, 10:17:13 am »
Quote from: Stuart;227459
I can't see how this is as easy:



I think that "PI" is basically everything covered by regular copyright, and about 90% of what you see as "OGC" is stuff that's not protected by copyright anyway.  (If I'm wrong about this, I'd be interested in examples)

Other than letting you do a copy-and-paste job on the actual text (copyrightable) for the game rules (non-copyrightable), I'm not sure I see the merits in using the OGL.  

It also takes up at least an entire page in a book, where copyright, public domain, and creative commons do not...


Yes, OGL takes a littl more work and space in a book. No, you can't copyright mechanics (which is why mechanics endup being OGC anyway) and yes "PI" or "IPs" are already protected under copyright law.

If you think of it that way you don't really need anything other than to release it to the public domain because rules essentially are public domain.

Under these assumptions CC, OGL and any other similar license is pointless.

Blackleaf

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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2008, 10:50:32 am »
Quote from: Mcrow;227467
Yes, OGL takes a littl more work and space in a book. No, you can't copyright mechanics (which is why mechanics endup being OGC anyway) and yes "PI" or "IPs" are already protected under copyright law.

If you think of it that way you don't really need anything other than to release it to the public domain because rules essentially are public domain.

Under these assumptions CC, OGL and any other similar license is pointless.


So choose the option that's faster, easier, and more useful. :)

HinterWelt

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Licensing Question
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2008, 05:26:08 pm »
I really can't comment on CC. It was a long time ago that I looked at it. I can speak to OGL. It is simple for what it does.

1. Desi9gnating OGC: "All mechanics in this book are Open Game Content" or "Chapters 1,3,5 and appendix II are Open Game Content".

2. Product Identity statement: "Chapters 2, 4, 6, and 7 and Appendix I are closed and considered Product Identity".

3. Add your copyright notifications to your section 15.

I find that very easy but others might not. If you are declaring it all open, it is even easier.

So, if you do not wish to split books (I tend to like selling all-in-one books) this is a good way to handle it. The common person does not need to understand this. It is a common misconception that consumers need to understand the OGL. If they are publishing material then yes, but then they become publishers.

Now, as to copyrighting rules, yes, but only the implementation. So, if someone wants to retype all my Roma material then there is not copyright violation.

Oh, and just to disclose, ,my SRD document is a separate system doc for Iridium. It is open but uses the OGL. This allows me to put art I do not have the right to transfer into the document then exclude art rights transfer (in other words, you can copy the text not the art).

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Mcrow

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« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2008, 10:24:56 am »
Quote from: HinterWelt;227586
I really can't comment on CC. It was a long time ago that I looked at it. I can speak to OGL. It is simple for what it does.

1. Desi9gnating OGC: "All mechanics in this book are Open Game Content" or "Chapters 1,3,5 and appendix II are Open Game Content".

2. Product Identity statement: "Chapters 2, 4, 6, and 7 and Appendix I are closed and considered Product Identity".

3. Add your copyright notifications to your section 15.

I find that very easy but others might not. If you are declaring it all open, it is even easier.

So, if you do not wish to split books (I tend to like selling all-in-one books) this is a good way to handle it. The common person does not need to understand this. It is a common misconception that consumers need to understand the OGL. If they are publishing material then yes, but then they become publishers.

Now, as to copyrighting rules, yes, but only the implementation. So, if someone wants to retype all my Roma material then there is not copyright violation.

Oh, and just to disclose, ,my SRD document is a separate system doc for Iridium. It is open but uses the OGL. This allows me to put art I do not have the right to transfer into the document then exclude art rights transfer (in other words, you can copy the text not the art).

Bill


Yeah, IMO, it's not that hard. A few short statements of what is or isn't OGC does not seem all that difficult.

GameDaddy

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Licensing Question
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2008, 02:56:24 pm »
Quote from: Stuart;227459
I can't see how this is as easy:

I think that "PI" is basically everything covered by regular copyright, and about 90% of what you see as "OGC" is stuff that's not protected by copyright anyway.  (If I'm wrong about this, I'd be interested in examples)


Uhhh. yeah. I'm not an IP attorney, and this isn't legal advice, However here is my take on IP.

PI and regular copyright are not even close to the same. You have to define Product Identity in the OGL, and generally the more vague you are with your definition of PI, the more vague the intrepretation of your PI becomes. Meaning... if you define a whole chapter as PI, and the court finds any elements of that chapter that don't constitute PI, they could easily throw out the whole chapter. Not a good place to be.

Games are defined by rules and mechanics, both of which are not subject to copyright or PI (unless your rules are in fact unique and original which most aren't, and remember any derivative works based on previously existing games do not constitute PI). The Artistic and Intrepretive elements of the game that do comprise PI create a theme, a mood, or a unique playing environment that is not featured in previously existing games.

Examples of PI include setting unique weapons and equipment, thusly;

Mygamian Serrated Long Scimitar 2d6+2
Mygamian Wizaldry Helm - A helm any character can wear that grants one additional spell per day per character level...

and so forth... You have to define this as PI in the OGL, that way, if someone does want to use the OGL, they know they can't include your Mygamian Serrated Long Scimitar in their publications or rules. Setting unique features such as calenders, timelines, notable personalities, locales, geography, weather, document layout and style can all constitute PI.

Artworks are generally protected under copyright, and you should always obtain a written agreement specifying your ownership rights or right to use the artwork in your gaming publication. Most OGL's clearly define which chapters or subject headings constitute PI and are unavailable for reuse by a 3rd party.

Then there are Trademarks... A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods. In short, a trademark is a brand name. Trademarks currently cost $325 and can be filed Here to protect your Product Identity.


References
United States Patent And Trademark Office
http://www.uspto.gov/index.html
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Levi Kornelsen

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Licensing Question
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2008, 04:46:03 pm »
Quote from: Zachary The First;227441
As sort of a spinoff from the d6 discussion, I had a question.

If someone wanted to keep a ruleset open but keep setting information propietary or keep the rights w/ the creator, what would be the best license for this?  Is it simply the OGL, or is there something that would work better in ensuring IP protection while also ensuring free system usage?


Copy out the rules, alter the expression of those rules (rewrite the phrases which express them), release as a secondary document, and declare that specific expression to be open under whatever license (or to be public) as desired.

Basically?  Make a "lite" version, and declare that to be open.  It's the most certainly rights-protective method from most legal standpoints I've read (though I'm not a lawyer, obviously); most of the others methods (including the tenability of the OGL) are court-questionable at best.