[nbos] [Inspiration Pad] Copyright QuestionsExile In Paradise Wed Nov 1st, 2006
Recently, someone was looking for "lists" of RPG
related things, so naturally, I pointed them to
They were interested in the tool, and the tables,
but raised several intellectual property questions.
One item that came up is that if someone uses
the online generators, all output from them is
marked "Copyright (c) 2003,2006 NBOS Software"
This does not pose a problem for table gamers,
but might pose problems for other authors or end
Also, would it be possible to ask the table submitters
for clear designations of the rights they wish to
retain over their tables themselves, as well as what
rights they are claiming over the output of those
For example, a table of NPC names might include
made-up names that the table author might not want
freely reprinted. Its fine for someone to use their
favorite NPC name at their game table, but what if
it appeared in a print novel? 100,000 times?
There are a ton of options out there that give the
author as much or as little control over their creation
as they like:
1. Grant the table and its output to the public domain.
2. License the table/output for "Free" use
There are many GNU, BSD, and Creative Commons licenses
that can be used to retain ownership but grant people
"free-as-in-speech" freedoms to the table files and
the output. http://freeroleplay.org is a great
resource for this. Also (in no particular order):
3. The Wizards Open Game License or on of the other
variants of the same. Some of the table or output is
Open Game Content and can be re-used, and other parts
are "Product Identity" and can only be re-used with
a separate license with the author.
http://wizards.com/d20 under Official Licenses
The table submission page says that all submitted
tables must be compatible with the Open Game License
v1.0a and marked as such, already, but the tables
online do *not* display that notice in the header
or footer, and the site copyright at the bottom of
all online generated pages seems to be in conflict
with the assertion that everything is OGL.
Also, the text of the OGL is not present or linked.
Some free RPG advocates have issues with terms
of the OGL. Are tables licensed under non-OGL
4. Retain traditional copyright over the table file,
and possibly its output. Copyright over the output
might be automatic in the U.S. anyway, unless the
table author clearly designates its not!
Every IPT file I have checked says nothing about
the rights the author wishes to retain. This means,
in the U.S. at least, all tables remain copyright
the original author, and the output is either
copyright NBOS (if the generator was used through
the website) or unspecified, which may leave end
users in a precarious or exposed position.
Most "free and open" advocates default to a "if its
closed or unclear, DON'T USE IT" stance to prevent
any possible repercussions down the line.
I hate to be the one to bring all this up, because
I despise what we have let the lawyers do to the
creative world, but I thought it would be something
for everyone to think about before posting IPT files
for download or adding tables to the online generator.
To prevent misunderstandings and what seems to be a
mismatch between the spirit and intent of Inspiration
Pad and the "letter of the law" it would be nice if
the table authors that have already contributed tables
to rpginspiration.com or the NOX download site could
include a header that explains which rights they were
retaining and which (if any) they are releasing?
Exile In Paradise
"Ubi non accusator, ibi non judex."
(Where there is no police, there is no speed limit.)
-- Roman Law, trans. Petr Beckmann (1971)
Nbossoftware mailing list