"They finally really did it..."
A while back I wrote my breakup letter to Traveller as a third party publisher and gave my reasons why. Today, I have to honestly say I'm glad I walked when I did. John Watts, head of Gypsy Knights Games, recently announced that he had major issues with the new Travellers' Aid Society terms and conditions, which you can't see until you go to upload something on DriveThruRPG. The terms state:
"'User Generated Content' shall be defined as the copyrightable elements included in your Work, such as original characters, scenes, locations and events. User Generated content shall not include the illustrations and cartographic artwork included in your work. Per the terms of this Agreement, you expressly agree that your User Generated Content, once submitted to the Program will become Program IP and useable by other members of the Program as well as the Owner as described in this Agreement."...and furthermore:
No Reversion. Due to our licensing arrangement with the Owner and the collaborative nature of the Program, you are granting us broad licenses in your Work and your User Generated Content included in your Work, and the rights to your Work will not be reverted once it is published in the Program. You will have the ability through online tools at OBS websites to stop public display and sale of your Work on OBS marketplaces, but not to stop the sale of works of other authors in the Program even when such works use your User Generated Content that you originally created in your Work and thereby became part of the Program IP for other authors to use.In short, surprise! You've just lost control of your intellectual property! Now, I don't have a problem with the way the original OGL states things - namely, if you clearly specify what material in your product is Open Game Content, as well as acknowledge the copyrights of the authors whose OGC you use in Section 15 of the OGL, you're fine. However, this - at least to me - implies the need for professional courtesy, namely, asking the author of the material you want to use for their consent. What the Mongoose TAS "program" does is eliminate the professional courtesy aspect of things and allows anybody who is part of "the program" to have their way with your material, even if you've taken your product off the market after another person makes use of the material in their product.
Further clouding the waters is the fact that now people can publish material for ANY part of the Third Imperium, including the Spinward Marches, which has long been a historical landmark for Traveller. The original licenses restricted OTU publications to the Foreven Sector, which was a player/GM reservation of sorts. Now it would seem nothing is holy to Mongoose Publishing. How Marc Miller let this slide is beyond me.
Overall, trading the freedom to write material for all of the OTU in exchange for giving up your IP rights is a bad trade - a very bad trade. With the Traveller and Foreven Sector licenses, there was still enough freedom in exchange for maintaining control over one's intellectual property. The choices were simple - you could write your own setting for Traveller under the Traveller license, or you could publish material for the OTU set in the Foreven Sector. The only checks and balances were that the writers had to ensure their products trade dress was significantly distinguishable from that of MgT or any other previous Traveller product (CT, MT, TNE, etc).
At any rate, there's discussion of the matter on the CotI boards and Mongoose forums. You'll have to log in to comment at either place, but given Mongoose's track record of a barely-supported SRD, a failed attempt at Traveller organized play, and running with bad ideas while ignoring playtest feedback, I'm not holding my breath for change.
EDIT: As I reflected upon what I wrote today, I felt it was a good idea to further explain why the TAS offer is such a bad deal as compared to the original Traveller/Foreven OGL. Additionally, I thought I was a bit misleading and hyperbolic regarding the discussion of the matter elsewhere online. While it has remained fairly civilized at both forums, Mongoose has been very quiet with regard to the concerns voiced by third-party publishers; meanwhile, general questions regarding Marc Miller's control over the OTU have been quickly answered... Make of that what you will...
EDIT #2: Some of you may have noticed all of my Foreven material has disappeared from my old Forge of Foreven blog. I purposely reverted everything to draft in order to prevent any "misunderstandings" between me and Mongoose Publishing. That being said, if any of it does see the light of day again, it will most likely be under the FFE Fair Use Policy. Meanwhile, John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games was kind enough to post the full language of the TAS "agreement" to the MgT 3pp group on Facebook. I'm providing it here for those of you who are masochistic enough to wade through a bunch of legalese. TL;DR version: "All your Traveller are belong to us. Good day."
This Community Content Agreement (this “Agreement”) is a binding agreement between you, the individual identified by your customer account on this website or the legal entity you represent, and OneBookShelf, Inc. (“OBS”) the parent company of website marketplaces including DriveThruRPG, RPGNow and more.
This Agreement covers your participation in and use of The Travellers' Aid Society and the OBS websites that administer it, (the “Program”).
You accept this Agreement by clicking “I Agree” to set up and submit a new title (the “Work”) to OBS.
2. Intellectual Property Definitions
(a) Mongoose Publishing (collectively, the “Owner”) has granted OBS the right to use elements of Owner’s Traveller game (“Owner’s IP”) and sublicense certain limited rights to you under the terms of this Agreement.
Owner’s IP includes any and all Traveller tabletop roleplaying materials and content made available to you through the Program including, but not limited to:
Traveller rule sets
Portions and elements of Traveller campaign setting(s)
Artwork and other graphic templates and materials
Owner’s IP may be amended at any time and for any reason whatsoever without liability to you. However, any Work published in the Program prior to the removal of Owner’s IP will not require the removal or amendment of that Work.
(b) “Program IP” shall be defined as any User Generated Content (defined, below) distributed by the Program.
(c) “User Generated Content” shall be defined as the copyrightable elements included in your Work, such as original characters, scenes, locations and events. User Generated content shall not include the illustrations and cartographic artwork included in your work. Per the terms of this Agreement, you expressly agree that your User Generated Content, once submitted to the Program will become Program IP and useable by other members of the Program as well as the Owner as described in this Agreement.
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(a) No Reversion. Due to our licensing arrangement with the Owner and the collaborative nature of the Program, you are granting us broad licenses in your Work and your User Generated Content included in your Work, and the rights to your Work will not be reverted once it is published in the Program. You will have the ability through online tools at OBS websites to stop public display and sale of your Work on OBS marketplaces, but not to stop the sale of works of other authors in the Program even when such works use your User Generated Content that you originally created in your Work and thereby became part of the Program IP for other authors to use.
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In order to prevent legal claims that could be disruptive to the Program participants or impede the ability of you and other Program authors to participate in the Program, you irrevocably waive any legal claim you may have under any theory of law in any territory that your rights were infringed due to any use of your User Generated Content by us, the Owner or its affiliates, licensees and sublicensees, and/or any other Program authors, including copyright infringement. This waiver does not apply to royalty payments we may owe you under Section 7. You also irrevocably waive any moral rights in your Work and agree not to assert any moral rights in your Work against us, the Owner, and/or other Program authors. If, under any applicable law, this waiver of moral rights is not effective, you acknowledge that your Work is subject to the licenses you grant in Section 4 without any credit obligation, that you intend for your Work to be used in this way, and that this form of use will not be contrary to your moral rights.
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