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Forums: Grand Lodge > OGL and permissions


Not to rain on anyone's parade but all place names, npc names, basically all proper nouns, are *NOT* open content. Doesn't that mean that this site is in violation of the OGL and therefore likely to receive a cease and desist letter at some point? The following quote is taken from here
Vic Wertz (Technical Director):
The OGL also allows us to specify which parts of each product are Open Game Content (stuff that we're allowing OGL publishers to use) and which are Product Identity (stuff that we're not allowing OGL publishers to use).
For our OGL products, we specify the following:
  • Product Identity: The following items are hereby identified as Product Identity, as defined in the Open Game License version 1.0a, Section 1(e), and are not Open Content: All trademarks, registered trademarks, proper names (characters, deities, artifacts, places, etc.), dialogue, plots, storylines, language, incidents, locations, characters, artwork, and trade dress.
  • Open Content: Except for material designated as Product Identity (see above), the contents of this Paizo Publishing game product are Open Game Content, as defined in the Open Gaming License version 1.0a Section 1(d).
In short, our setting is generally PI, and our rules are generally OGC.

So if I am correct, and this site is reproducing Paizo owned copyrighted material, that is *not* open content, without permission, then Paizo has a legal right to demand this site cease making such content freely available. Can someone explain if I am mistaken?

jreyst 11:58. 21 February 2009 (UTC)
Which is why

1.all information is cited 2.we do not include crunch 3. we do not try to make $ off of it

Therefore it is not a violation.

Also we have the blessings of the paizo staff, and even they use and many have contributed to the site

cpt_kirstov 12:34, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
cpt_kirstov wrote:
Which is why
1.all information is cited

Can you tell me where citing the source means something in terms of the OGL?

cpt_kirstov wrote:
2.we do not include crunch

But it is my understanding that "crunch" is what is open content, whereas flavor text, ie, not crunch, is NOT open content. Do I have this reversed somehow? Perhaps I have a complete misunderstanding of what is open content and what is not? It seems that you are saying that you do not post the part that is open content and you do post the part that is NOT open content?

cpt_kirstov wrote:
3. we do not try to make $ off of it

Again, it is my understanding that trying to make money off of it is beside the point. Posting the product of their labor for free for others to read without them getting paid for their efforts denies them a source of revenue. Personally if I spent hours and hours working on something, with the hope that my labor would result in a paycheck so I could afford groceries, and then I found everything I worked on posted for free on a website somewhere, I'd be pretty disappointed.

cpt_kirstov wrote:
Therefore it is not a violation. Also we have the blessings of the paizo staff, and even they use and many have contributed to the site

Could you point me to such a blessing in print or a contribution by a Paizo staff-person? I'll happily shut up and start contributing to this site if that is true.

jreyst 12:51, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
here it is
cpt_kirstov 12:59, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
Wow if that is true, and it appears to be real, then I'm all good. Apparently my understanding of Open Content is completely back-asswards or something. I thought proper nouns and such were closed content and were not to be posted freely on sites. Color me corrected (unless of course someone at Paizo other than Wes reverses that standpoint that is).
jreyst 13:12, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
jreyst wrote:
Wow if that is true, and it appears to be real, then I'm all good. Apparently my understanding of Open Content is completely back-asswards or something. I thought proper nouns and such were closed content and were not to be posted freely on sites. Color me corrected (unless of course someone at Paizo other than Wes reverses that standpoint that is).

Your understanding of OGC is correct. The wiki contains the OGL, but perhaps it shouldn't; only the conversion from 3.5 to PRPG are technically published under this license. In any case, there is clear precedent all over of similar wikis such as wookieepedia, memory alpha, wowwiki, etc which all use established IP. We also clearly state in numerous places that all material contained within is the property of Paizo Publishing, LLC. When the fan use policy is released we may need to make some minor adjustments, but Wes assured me in email that we had nothing to worry about. This isn't to say that other online sites have the same blessing, but Erik, Wes and other Paizo employees and freelancers have all stated on numerous occasions that they use the wiki when writing and that they want to see this resource succeed. It serves as advertising for Paizo's world and the hope is that people can see what the setting has to offer from the wiki and follow our numerous links to Paizo's site to purchase it. It should also be noted that when the site first started a year ago, we contacted Vic Wertz directly regarding what we could and could not include and were told, and I can't find the email now to quote directly, that the community use rules (which are coming soon) would cover that, but in the meantime, the only thing he specifically told us not to include was non-blog art. If it were Paizo's intention to make up cease and desist, I feel that they would have done so during any of our communications in the last year.

I'm getting the same feeling I used to get when someone was being a tattle-tale in grade school. What's with posting accusatorially on Paizo's boards? You state that you're good now that you've seen Paizo's blessing on the wiki. Were you not before?

Yoda8myhead 20:04, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
Yoda8myhead wrote:
Your understanding of OGC is correct.

Ok good, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't completely crazy. In the past I have understood the concept of IP to relate to a companies specific creations, such as place names, monster names, NPC names etc, and those were all property of the company in question. In most cases other sites have to have express written permission to use that companies IP otherwise they risk C&D orders etc. I came upon this site yesterday and wanted to help contribute, but was concerned that perhaps the site violated Paizo's IP and ultimately would run the risk of major alterations if not outright being shut down.

Yoda8myhead wrote:
In any case, there is clear precedent all over of similar wikis such as wookieepedia, memory alpha, wowwiki, etc which all use established IP.

But do those sites have permission from the publishers to use that content or do they surreptitiously operate under the IP owners radar? Do those sites technically violate the IP laws and if the publishers pushed the matter those sites would have to make major changes, or, is there a real rule that allows them to publish such content? I'm not trying to be snarky or anything as I am sincerely confused how these sites operate.

Yoda8myhead wrote:
We also clearly state in numerous places that all material contained within is the property of Paizo Publishing, LLC.

And that's fine, and apparently you have the permission (or some semblance thereof) in order to function. But just because someone says that something is the property of someone else I don't think that makes it officially legal. For instance, I could scan in all of Stephen Kings books and then make them available on a popular Wiki. I could then say "This book and all characters in it are the property of Stephen King". However, I really don't think Mr. Kings publishing company would go for that.

Yoda8myhead wrote:
When the fan use policy is released we may need to make some minor adjustments, but Wes assured me in email that we had nothing to worry about.

That part is awesome. Its extremely refreshing to see a company treat fan sites with such respect and courtesy, not to mention apparent cooperation.

Yoda8myhead wrote:
This isn't to say that other online sites have the same blessing, but Erik, Wes and other Paizo employees and freelancers have all stated on numerous occasions that they use the wiki when writing and that they want to see this resource succeed.

Now here is an interesting point. Let's say I copy and paste everything you have done here onto my own Wiki (which I don't really have, I'm just making an example). Let's say I add tons of content to it. Let's say I have 90 of my friends dedicate 1000 hours to making it really nice. Would Paizo smile upon my labors as well, or, does this Wiki in particular have some special permission and rights that others do not have, and if so, what really ARE the rules either allowing or prohibiting such behavior? Keep in mind I am not really talking about doing something like that, as I have neither the time nor desire to take your efforts away from you, I am just trying to illustrate a point that without something officially printed/stated, you might run into issues like this.

Yoda8myhead wrote:
It serves as advertising for Paizo's world and the hope is that people can see what the setting has to offer from the wiki and follow our numerous links to Paizo's site to purchase it.

You don't have to sell me on this. I am already in that camp. I just want to make sure everything is on the up-and-up so that Paizo is protected and so that if I decide (and am allowed to) contribute, I don't want that effort to be wasted.

Yoda8myhead wrote:
It should also be noted that when the site first started a year ago, we contacted Vic Wertz directly regarding what we could and could not include and were told, and I can't find the email now to quote directly, that the community use rules (which are coming soon) would cover that, but in the meantime, the only thing he specifically told us not to include was non-blog art. If it were Paizo's intention to make up cease and desist, I feel that they would have done so during any of our communications in the last year.

Again, that is awesome. I love Paizo's reaction to this.

Yoda8myhead wrote:
I'm getting the same feeling I used to get when someone was being a tattle-tale in grade school. What's with posting accusatorially on Paizo's boards? You state that you're good now that you've seen Paizo's blessing on the wiki. Were you not before?

Sigh. It's not like that at all. I want to contribute effort and time and want to make sure that my efforts are not going to be wasted. No, I was not ok before because in all previous cases I can recall (mostly dealing with that OTHER RPG company which shall remain nameless but whose initials start with a W and end with a C) the original publishers (probably their lawyers actually) take a really dim view to others copying and pasting their IP all over the web. If Paizo is going to be different then that's one more major PLUS for me. I am a major Pathfinder fan and am anxiously awaiting the final rules in August. I want Paizo to succeed and I want their fan base to grow and I want Paizo to make a ton of $ off of their incredible efforts. I hope my intentions are more clear now.

jreyst 22:16, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
jreyst wrote:
In most cases other sites have to have express written permission to use that companies IP otherwise they risk C&D orders etc. I came upon this site yesterday and wanted to help contribute, but was concerned that perhaps the site violated Paizo's IP and ultimately would run the risk of major alterations if not outright being shut down.

Technically Paizo could make us take everything down at any time and we would comply. But they haven't yet and have given us the opposite impression. It's a risk we take, but we were in contact with them about the wiki from very early on.

jreyst wrote:
But do those sites have permission from the publishers to use that content or do they surreptitiously operate under the IP owners radar? Do those sites technically violate the IP laws and if the publishers pushed the matter those sites would have to make major changes, or, is there a real rule that allows them to publish such content? I'm not trying to be snarky or anything as I am sincerely confused how these sites operate.

All three of the examples I gave are pretty well-known. I'm not a member of any of those communities so I don't know if they have written consent, but I know they've been around for years and have tens of thousands of articles. I can't believe that Blizzard, Lucasfilm or Paramount aren't aware of them, but their decisions not to make them stop are their own. They might even have permission.

jreyst wrote:
And that's fine, and apparently you have the permission (or some semblance thereof) in order to function. But just because someone says that something is the property of someone else I don't think that makes it officially legal. For instance, I could scan in all of Stephen Kings books and then make them available on a popular Wiki. I could then say "This book and all characters in it are the property of Stephen King". However, I really don't think Mr. Kings publishing company would go for that.

We make a point of not copying anything word for word. The same way someone can write a wiki article about just about anything as a journalistic reference and be pretty safe from prosecution. No one is going after wikipedia's article about Batman or Cujo. Jut because we choose to write "in-world" doesn't mean that the collection of information from a number of published sources isn't on par with these other projects.

jreyst wrote:
Now here is an interesting point. Let's say I copy and paste everything you have done here onto my own Wiki (which I don't really have, I'm just making an example). Let's say I add tons of content to it. Let's say I have 90 of my friends dedicate 1000 hours to making it really nice. Would Paizo smile upon my labors as well, or, does this Wiki in particular have some special permission and rights that others do not have, and if so, what really ARE the rules either allowing or prohibiting such behavior? Keep in mind I am not really talking about doing something like that, as I have neither the time nor desire to take your efforts away from you, I am just trying to illustrate a point that without something officially printed/stated, you might run into issues like this.

Technically nothing stops someone from doing this and it would between that site and Paizo what happened. It seems unlinkely that this would happen, however, as the collaborative and open nature of the Golariopedia allows anyone to contribute to this site. Why someone would wish to compete with a resource they could already be a part of I don't know, but it is a possibility. We may need to remove the GNU license from the page since everything written isn't our IP to grant that license to. I might make this change this weekend, now that I think of it.

jreyst wrote:
I just want to make sure everything is on the up-and-up so that Paizo is protected and so that if I decide (and am allowed to) contribute, I don't want that effort to be wasted.

You ARE allowed! Now get started!

jreyst wrote:
Sigh. It's not like that at all. I want to contribute effort and time and want to make sure that my efforts are not going to be wasted. No, I was not ok before because in all previous cases I can recall (mostly dealing with that OTHER RPG company which shall remain nameless but whose initials start with a W and end with a C) the original publishers (probably their lawyers actually) take a really dim view to others copying and pasting their IP all over the web. If Paizo is going to be different then that's one more major PLUS for me. I am a major Pathfinder fan and am anxiously awaiting the final rules in August. I want Paizo to succeed and I want their fan base to grow and I want Paizo to make a ton of $ off of their incredible efforts. I hope my intentions are more clear now.

I'm sorry if I came off as defensive. I guess I sort of was. I know where you're coming from, and since I've invested hundreds of hours in the wiki in the last year, I would be devastated if Paizo turned all Lorraine Williams on us, but I don't think they will. I do just want to note that we're not just copy and pasting anything, and everything is cited as being Paizo's content, multiple times per page.

Again, sorry if I came off antagonistically. Feel free to add content to the wiki. And welcome to the community! I'm sure we can make it an even better resource for fans of the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting. Let me know if you have any questions about policies or procedures.

User:Yoda8myhead:Yoda8myhead 23:26, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
No harm no foul. I probably came off more accusatory than I intended and after your response I feared I may have burned a bridge I hadn't even stepped onto yet. I'm glad we have moved past this initial misunderstanding and I look forward to both reading, and when time allows, contributing content on/to this Wiki.

Thanks again for clarifying things for me!

jreyst 23:37, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
To reiterate Yoda8myhead's comments, welcome to the project and feel free to ask any questions you may have, even the tough ones; if we couldn't answer them when needed, we wouldn't be properly doing our job around here.

As an aside, you strike me as an individual that has a talent for working on matters of policy. We should be looking at our policies, rewriting some to be more clear, establishing some that we are in need of having, as well as creating a method of proposing new policies, in the near future. We probably won't look too closely at the matter until we finish our move to Wikia, most likely sometime next week, but if it's something you'd be interested in helping out with consider this a notice of what's to come. And if not, well you can avoid those discussions like a plague if you'd rather not deal with them.

Heaven's Agent 1:12, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Well I'm not sure if that's true or not but I am at least aware of these issues and would certainly volunteer to help out in any way you think may be helpful. I think I do have an eye for looking at things in different ways/angles so maybe that could be useful when you begin crafting policies more clearly.

On a different side note, I think I also have an ability to do general editing, not specifically on content so much as grammar and spelling. I quickly started poking around the site to see if there were any areas I could touch up or correct misspellings but ran into some permissions issues. I'd be happy to get started doing some of that grunt work whenever I'm not working on my own campaign so long as the permissions issues are able to be gotten past.

jreyst 1:23, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

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