Is OGL 1.2 really about eliminating hate?

Wizards of the Coast (WotC) stated eliminating hateful language constitutes a major factor in the deauthorization of OGL 1.0 a. That sounds like a noble goal, but is it true? Could there be another motive behind the OGL 2.1 and it’s stance on harmful words? Can wizards of the Coast be trusted?

I am not going to mince my words here. This is a heavy and often polarizing topic. Some people will disagree with me. I respect anyone offering a thorough and dignified rebuttal to my argument. In fact, I actively request anyone who disagrees with any of my points to leave a comment at the end of this post or email me if you do not feel comfortable making a public statement. If you can correct a misunderstanding or a logical fallacy I hold, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.

I do not believe the goal of OGL 1.2 is to restrict hateful rhetoric. I do not believe the executives controlling Wizards of the Coast or the D&D brand actually care about that topic. I intend to support tmy cynicism through logical deduction and a deconstruction of OGL 1.2.

This is a tough subject, but hiding from it will only make it tougher.

What did WotC actually say?

On Thursday, January 18, 2003, Wizards of the Coast released a statement announcing a “draft” of their new OGL 1.2. In this announcement, they also apologize for their conduct after the “leak” of an earlier “draft”. The next day, OGL 1.2 dropped in a blog summarizing key points found in the new document. WotC also detailed their motivation for making each changed.

WotC claimed they set out to eliminate hateful content with this new Open Gaming License. The original OGL did not give them the power to control third-party content, but OGL 1.2 does.

Does the actual document support that claim?

What does OGL 1.2 actually say?

Article 6 (warranties and disclaimers) section (f) deals with hateful content. It states…

“No Hateful Content or Conduct. You will not include content in Your Licensed Works that is harmful, discriminatory, illegal, obscene, or harassing, or engage in conduct that is harmful, discriminatory, illegal, obscene, or harassing. We have the sole right to decide what conduct or content is hateful, and you covenant that you will not contest any such determination via any suit or other legal action.”

At first glance, this seems to be an altruistic and noble goal, yet I see two major flaws with this approach. Flaws that indicate an unsettling alternative motivation. First, WotC offers absolutely no definition of what they consider to be inappropriate conduct or content. Second, this article forces third-party content creators to waive their right to protection under the law.

Defining hate.

Offering a paragraph or two defining what constitutes “hatful content” and how it may and may not be judged is a prerequisite for a fair system. While claiming total moral authority over the quality of speech enacts tyranny akin to that of theocratic dictators. The innate hypocrisy in this clause encapsulates the importance of an unambiguous definition.

WotC enjoys it’s status as a multimillion-dollar company owned by a billion-dollar corporation. As a company, it possesses no permanent ethical code of conduct. It wields legal and financial power that no third-party content creator could ever contend with. And it possesses no soul because it’s a business. People have souls, companies do not.

Some may argue that creating a clear definition inevitably allows the exploitation of loopholes. Bad actors will find a way around the rules. That may be true, so provide previsions within the clause allowing for the inclusion of new definitions. However, these additions must posses a safeguard; a clear set of stipulations designed to protect against misuse.

Something needs to be in place that would prevent them from adding any definition of “harmful content” they like. WotC must prove these serious claims.

Anyone attempting to seize the power to define right and wrong for everyone should be met with more than simply suspicion. They must be stopped.

Oh, but it gets worse, so much worse…

Never waive your right to a lawyer.

Not only does this version of the OGL give Wizards of the Coast unbound power to determine the difference between right and wrong, but it also strips you of your legal protection against tyranny. By agreeing to these terms, content creators waive the right to contest Wizards of the Coast’s decision by lawsuit or legal action.

“you will not contest any such determination via any suit or other legal action.”

OGL 1.2

Asking someone to give up their right to take legal action is unethical. The law exists to provide an impartial arbiter of the truth. This clause places that power in the hands of wealthy business executives.  They become your judge. Setting aside the ease with which this could be abused, the very act of forcing someone to sacrifice their rights is wrong.

Wizards of the Coast demonstrates unscrupulous behavior in the very article in which they are claiming the privilege and right to act as a judge of morality. In this one paragraph, we see two examples of utter hypocrisy. The notion that an entity capable of such duplicity could be an adequate judge of ethical conduct is absurd. It’s almost comical.

Wizards of the Coast exhibits poor moral character in the very paragraph they claim the right to judge other people! I would be laughing if I wasn’t too busy throwing up.

If you are a content creator… No, this is good advice for everyone in every situation, ever. Never waive your rights. Never give up your rights. Never allow your rights to be ignored. Because if you do, you’ll never get them back.

My take

My assessment may not be a popular one with activists. I endorse and support actions taken to protect marginalized and vulnerable individuals, but not at the cost and suffering of others. I do not believe it is right to harm one in order to help another. And I’m just one person with a voice and a blog.

A multimillion-dollar corporation should not dictate what people believe in or say. Their bias prohibits them from the power to eliminate the voice of individual content creators. Wizards of the Coast, of course, is free to make public statements condemning any actions or political opinions they feel are unethical. However, giving themselves the power to silence those that disagree with them is wrong.

The power dynamic in this relationship is terribly unbalanced. Content creators do not have the same lawyers, expensive marketing campaigns, or the full attention of thousands. The indie game developer cannot decide to change aspects of the OGL if Wizards of the Coast acts unethically. And under OGL 1.2, they don’t even have protection under the law.

We have rights for a reason. Please don’t let wizards of the Coast strip them away from you.

Wizard Respite Regulars


This is only one of many glaring issues with the new OGL 1.2. I intend to do a deep-dive examination of each. If you would like to stay up to date with these topics, follow me on Twitter or sign up for my newsletter.

Also, I truly want to hear your opinion on these matters. If you feel I’ve misinterpreted or misunderstood something, I would greatly value the opportunity to better myself and understanding of these topics. I only asked that we do so in a respectful manner. Change rarely happens from people screaming at each other.

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