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You are most welcome! - Eds.
A bientôt !
Thanks for writing in. Would you mind telling us to which article you are referring so we can pass your comments on to the author?
However, from reading this article, however many good points it may bring up, i realize now that such a style of writing should be used mainly for what I mentioned above: catharsis. That said, do not think that i write this out of disagreement with the author. No, i write it out of a concern for the future of my own writing. I think it would be best if part of the editing process included the removal of the "rant" element to articles, excepting of course those articles that are specifically intended to rant.
That said, I would like to include that I find your publication, overall, to be quite possibly the best gaming magazine, electronic or otherwise, I have ever read.
Enjoy the new year,
We're glad you enjoy the zine and we're really flattered that you enjoy it so much. We've tried to carry the Arcane torch.
Nick is writing mostly tongue in cheek, as you point out, but I think this will be the last for a while of what some might perceive as anti-d20 articles. We don't want to be seen as anti any part of the gaming world in particular, although we are happy to carry various points of view. We would be more than happy to publish a pro-d20 piece. -- Eds.
I'm pleased to see people voicing their opinions about games in particular and about gaming in general. It is a small community that needs its pundits to help stimulate new ideas and rehash old ones. I found your analysis of high-level D&D gaming to be dead on, as well as the simplistic nature of Hasbro/WotC-published settings. The game is what it is, a high-fantasy game with heroes that are larger than life and tougher than tanks. It is not easy to make it into anything else, and I too question the wisdom of trying.
I was a bit disturbed however to find some inaccuracies and misleading information in the section titled "the licensing menace". I've been involved with Open Gaming for about 2 1/2 years now, and know the two licenses as well as any layman can.
The first is that there are in fact two licenses from Hasbro/WotC, a copyright license and a trademark license. The copyright license (the Open Gaming License) is immutable and irrevocable. A clause in the OGL itself makes it extremely unlikely that Hasbro/WotC will ever revise it - Users of Open Gaming Content are free to chose any version of the license, so it is virtually impossible to enforce a policy change through revision. No party who uses this license need have any fear of future legal action from Hasbro/WotC so long as it obeys its terms. They aren't difficult terms to comply with, but they are easy to misinterpret if you are not versed in the relevant law. While it is possible that Hasbro/WotC will choose to interpret this license differently in the future, it would be extremely difficult to successfully pursue legal action against anyone who uses this license correctly.
The second (the d20 System Trademark License) license is more like what you describe, but it only covers the use of Hasbro/WotC trademarks. To lump them together is to do a disservice to your readers, since it gives the erroneous impression that Open Gaming is a mockery of the term and exists solely at the whim of Hasbro/WotC. This simply isn't true. Open Gaming exists whether one uses material produced by Hasbro/WotC or solely by a third party. It is not D&D specific, it isn't even RPG-specific. I know of one author who released a table-top game similar to Go under it. What is true is that through the trademark license Hasbro/WotC sees Open Gaming as a means of expanding its sales of core game products, making those products more profitable through economy of scale. It would be naive to see the trademark license in any other light, but that does not detract from the unprecedented opportunity it presents to third parties. It is not all things to all people, but it certainly has room for mutual benefit.
I was also concerned with your emphasis on how publishers are employing legal counsel to assist them with the development of their products. While it may be true that groups like Palladium and Steve Jackson have gone to great lengths to avoid legal entanglements with Hasbro/WotC, others like White Wolf have embraced the opportunity and created an entirely new division to publish d20-compatible products (Sword & Sorcery Studios). Both groups have used attorneys to their advantage, both in order to avoid trademark issues and to protect their valuable IP. Viral licenses like the GNU General Public License and the Open Gaming Licenses are very complex beasts, and until you understand EXACTLY what rights you have and do not have you are opening yourself to anything from litigation to a total loss of control over you hard work. It is nothing to take lightly. I would suggest that anyone interested in Open Gaming on more than the most casual level should consult with a knowledgeable IP attorney when developing their product.
Lastly, I find it disheartening when people compare copyright or trademark issues to patent issues. Though the three similar in purpose the laws and precedents governing their use are very different. In your example, IC engine manufacturers might have been enjoined from building such engines, which would have forced costly retooling at the very least, and likely would have driven them out of business. In the Open Gaming world, the only thing that can be held hostage is the Hasbro/WotC trademarks (specifically, the d20 logo and mark). A company can still use the Open Gaming material without the d20 logo and there is nothing that Hasbro/WotC can do about it. While that might make it harder for fans to recognize compatible products, in a small community where word-of-mouth is worth a hundred times any other marketing method it makes little real difference. Of course, such a company must still abide by the terms of the Open Gaming License, but that is true no matter what Hasbro/WotC does with their logo.
I respect your right to your own opinion, and I hope you find my words informative. If you wish to discuss these issues in greater depth I invite you to join the Open Gaming mail list. It is composed mostly of fans and publishers who hash through these sorts of issues on a regular basis. You can find the list at www.opengamingfoundation.org Thank you for your time.
Thank you for such an enlightening letter! It definitely sounds like there is an article in there waiting to get out :-). Nick's response appears below:
Thanks so far,
Sorry, we do not know. But we will be sure to pass on your question to Steve Darlington who was the interviewer for that article — can any of our readers enlighten us?
Your comments encourage authors and editors alike. Please keep them coming in!
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