licenses for RPGs

Ken Arromdee arromdee at
Wed Mar 21 05:46:08 UTC 2001

The Open Gaming License isn't quite what it seems.

The difference between that license and the GPL is that without the GPL, you
can't distribute copies at all, and the GPL gives you the right to distribute
copies under some conditions--that is, it adds rights.

The Open Gaming license is closer to extortion.  The key is that game rules
are not copyrightable, and normally you'd have complete rights to create
D20-compatible material.  However, TSR threatens to sue people who do that.
Since nobody can afford the cost of a lawsuit from TSR, TSR can prevent
perfectly legal activity this way.

What the Open Gaming License says "if you adhere to these conditions, we
promise not to sue you for something that you really have the right to do
anyway".  Without the license you have *more* rights--just less freedom from
being bankrupted by frivolous lawsuits.

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