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OGL vs GFDL, possible multiple copyvios

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I would like to draw your attention to the suspected incompatibility between GFDL and the Open Gaming License (hereafter referred to as OGL). This might mean that we have a multitude of copyvios on Wikia and is, IMO, a huge matter. --TOR 19:28, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

What is OGL and what's it for

OGL is a license created by Wizards of the Coast, a producer of a number of Role-playing Games, most notably Dungeons & Dragons.

OGL allows companies and individuals to distribute and modify content released under the license and, therefore, to publish standalone gaming products using those game mechanics.

More information:

Compatibility issues

I am not a lawyer and may not be right about this, but after reading both documents it seems to me that they are incompatible.

Consider the following:

  1. There is no OGL → GFDL compatibility, because:
    OGL reads:
    2. The License: This License applies to any Open Game Content that contains a notice indicating that the Open Game Content may only be Used under and in terms of this License.
  2. There is no GFDL → OGL compatibility, because:
    GFDL reads:
    You may copy and distribute the Document in any medium, [...] provided that [...] you add no other conditions whatsoever to those of this License.
    OGL reads:
    10 Copy of this License: You MUST include a copy of this License with every copy of the Open Game Content You Distribute.
    (which seems to be an additional condition)

Wikias involved

Note: this list may be inconclusive.

Possible solutions

  • Closing the Wikias: A drastic, but clear and easy solution.
  • Deleting OGL content: It is possible that in some cases OGL content will not be the only thing on a wiki. The community might delete the offending pages and continue to develop the wiki without OGL content. This could save some Wikias but would require a lot of effort.
  • Allowing OGL: Allowing portions of articles to be licensed under OGL while the rest would be GFDL would solve the problem. However, this might open the way towards new licensed being introduced on Wikia, which would probably only confuse editors and hurt the projects.


Please discuss this issue below

Kernigh writes: It is good to acknowledge and discuss license-conflict issues. I am no expert on these issues, but I have made contributions to Wikia under the GFDL.

Issue One (OGL as GFDL) does not seem to present a conflict to me. One could could satisfy that clause of the OGL by following the conjunction (all the terms) of both the OGL and GFDL.

Issue Two (GFDL as OGL) argues that the requirement to include a copy of the OGL contradicts the GFDL. I believe that this is not a contradiction, and thus not a problem. Here is a similar situation:

GNU General Public License reads:
6. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.
Python 2.0.1 license reads:
2. [PSF grants a license] provided, however, that PSF's License Agreement and PSF's notice of copyright [...] are retained in Python 2.0.1 alone or in any derivative version prepared by Licensee.

However, the Python 2.0.1 license appears upon the FSF License List as being compatible with the GNU GPL. This either means that the requirement to include the Python license or OGL does not conflict with the GPL or GFDL, or that the Free Software Foundation (FSF), with all of its expertise concerning GNU licenses, has not noticed this problem (or possibly, though I think not, that the GPL allows a restriction that there be a copy of the Python license, but the GFDL does not allow such for the OGL).

Meanwhile, I think that I might have once noticed another incompatibility between the OGL and GFDL, but I do not now recall what that might have been. --Kernigh 02:08, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

OGL as embedded invariant section

I believe that kernight is correct, even though he quotes back the wrong licence. In reading the entire Text of the GNU Free Documentation License and being familiar with the OGL, I don't believe the conflict is a great as you think.

The important point here is that the GFDL acknowledges a "invariant section", which if you copy a text under the GFDL, you must include, and can not alter this, section of the text. This was included for copyright notices, references for the origninal papers, and additional licences like the OGL. Specifically quoting from Section 4, paragraph L:

Preserve all the Invariant Sections of the Document, unaltered in their text and in their titles. Section numbers or the equivalent are not considered part of the section titles.

From the perspective of the GFDL, the OGL does not impose any new restrictions on the text, the OGL text includes a one page "invariant section" (the text of the licence, including a list of copyright holders).

To be completely pendantic, the wiki authors posting OGL material should include a notice on every page similar to "This article is licenced under the terms of the OGL, and if you publish this text you must include a copy of the OGL per the Invariant Section requirement of the GFDL." (probably through a template). Tjoneslo 13:40, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

OK, this proves that OGL can be embedded into GFDL content in a way that can be pictured as follows:
This is GFDL (grey background): Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
This is OGL: Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor
in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.
This is fine. Shows that a 'merger' of the two licenses is doable. However, please not that OGL-content is still NOT allowed to be licensed under GFDL, and hence is an autonomous entity inside GFDL (as shown above).
Perhaps this is just my copyright paranoia, but I view this as a clear case of sneaking another license through the back door. Please see c:dnd:Dnd:General disclaimer. It states:
Permission to copy, modify and distribute the files collectively known as the System Reference Document (“SRD”) is granted solely through the use of the Open Gaming License, Version 1.0a.
So... I'm sorry, but I'm still not convinced that this is entirely OK. It might be (and I hope it will be), once there is an official approval from staff, but right now it's not.
If there's interest in hosting OGL-content on Wikia I might help write up a how-to that would tell users how to mark and use it properly. Right now we have a big mess here. :) --TOR 01:56, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
See Multi-licensing, and linked pages The Wikia people have already written policy regarding this issue. If people can resolve this argument regarding the GFDL vs. Creative Commons licence, I think we can add the OGL in there as well. Tjoneslo 13:38, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Nope, since this is not multi-licensing. OGL-material is not under OGL and GFDL (that would be multi-licensing), it's under OGL full stop (see above).
The normal deal with multi-licensing is that you have a gift (the content) and can choose to have it wrapped in two kinds of paper (either of the two licenses). Here we've got a gift that's already wrapped (GFDL content), and when you open it you see another gift, wrapped differently (OGL content).
I know I'm being a pain in the neck, and I'm sorry. I just want to make this issue clear here on Wikia, so please, bare with me. :) Thanks.
--TOR 17:02, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
The main problem of multi-licensing is handling different versions of a page, right? Well, D&D Wikia avoids this by making some OGL content not editable by regular users. (Usually by making a special template with the fixed text chunk so that the whole page can still be altered by anyone). Any OGL material besides that is indeed both OGL and GFDL licensed either by the author (contributor) self or by asking the author directly (I have not done so yet, but I definitely will in the future - there just has not yet been enough time for this since I adopted that wikia). I'll try to explain the reasons for having OGL content in a separate section below. --Radaghast 00:42, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
ps: it's "bear", not "bare" ;) --Radaghast 01:27, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

Why do we need OGL content

First, let me introduce myself: I am the currently most active administrator on the D&D Wikia and by no means a lawyer. I don't read and compare licenses on a daily basis and I don't enjoy this kind of conversation. Yet the matter is important for the Wikia I'm responsible of, so I'll try to present my point of view on this case.

Second, some background for the reasons of having OGC (= OGL content). Why bother with OGC at all? Well, the Open Gaming License is a very well-known and widely used standard in the gaming world. In plain words, it states that anyone can use that stuff while gaming, but you can't go and write a book about a character mentioned there just because its name is not open game content - on the other hand, the game rules themselves are OGC, so you can go and write a book that uses them. It's common practice, and there are portions of OGC in almost any rpg book. The OGC portions of the core rulebooks are called SRD (available on various places on the net), they form the kernel of D&D (as well as some other role-playing systems, but let's not get too deep into details). This gives us one reason to use it: in order for D&D Wikia to work, we need to let people bracket the terms everyone use, the words from the system. Those terms are defined in OGL content, so we make them immutable (but actually no-one will ever even try to edit them). It makes no sense to reformulate them just to overcome the license trouble, it's just quoting someone else's standardised words. This core definitions from SRD are OGL content, and any other additional material (fixes, discussions, variations, proposed changes, criticism) is GFDL.

This also works the other way around: when people write something in their blogs, websites, forums or boards, they also tend to say "this is OGC, use it as you please". That kind of texts can also find eventually their way into the D&D Wikia, and - more importantly - people contributing to the D&D Wikia directly will certainly appreciate it if they can mark their contributions not only as usual GFDL, but also as OGL, so that other people from the OGL world will have no problem using it. This is not quoting, this is multi-licensing, discussed above.

Third, considering the solutions. Removing the content, closing the wikias, executing the guilty contributors and burning all the backups in the holy fire of true licensing does not seem to be the only solution for me. Actually, OGL is copyrighted by one easily contacted company. If you believe it is an important matter which might lead to future problems, I can get in touch with them directly and ask what they think. I seriously doubt that they are gonna sue us for all this advertising and promoting, but if you need an official answer to believe it, why the hell not.

And the last issue: I am (re)writing the special pages for D&D Wikia (well, not the last month while being on holidays, but otherwise I am), but a lot of things still remain from the previous admins who are no longer with us and whose thoughts will forever remain a mystery. dnd:Dnd:General disclaimer (quoted in the discussion above) is one of those pages. If you think this issue can be fixed just by putting a couple of sentences there, fine, just tell me what should they look like and consider it done.

I hope this clarifies the situation and helps us reach an agreement and find a suitable solution. Sorry for being so verbose. --Radaghast 01:27, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

After reading the flamewars that have erupted between the FSF supporters and other in discussing the GFDL vs. the Creative Commons Licene, I'm not sure we can resolve this issue here. Radagast, the best thing I can think of is to ensure that all the requirements of the OGL are met for any OGC content posted to your wiki. This includes three things: first, mark any OGC text (you have an {{ogc}} template). Second, include a copy of the OGL (Have the text "Open Game Licence" in the template link to the licence article). Third, include the copyright information per the license. That is, if an article is OGC but copyright by somone other than Wizards of the Coast, you will need to include that in the article. Tjoneslo 17:13, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

d20npcs Wikia

Speaking for the d20 NPCs Wikia, we have listed under our w:c:d20npcs:NPC_Policies_and_Help Policies and Help page that we follow the WotC Online Policy rather than the Open Gaming requirements, since we are publishing online (rather than printed material). Does that change anyone's opinions on this matter? --MidnightLightning 15:24, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Looks like this conversation has stagnated quite a bit. Does lack of further discussion indicate a lack of further issues with this topic? --MidnightLightning 14:01, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
As long as you are aware that your policy w:c:d20npcs:NPC Policies and Help isn't based upon any official Wizards online policy, but rather based upon the best guess of a now ex-employee of Wizards of the Coast (now Hasbro), and is subject to change with no notice and the potential new policy may require removal of some or all of your Wiki's content.
There is no difference between publishing on-line and publishing printed material, they're both publishing.
The fact that the D20 NPCs wiki is publishing unique fan work rather than (usually) republishing existing material makes those articles not as subject to the discussion above. Tjoneslo 20:29, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
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