Quick thoughts on the Dungeon Masters Guild

The good people at Wizards of the Coast yesterday revealed the DMs Guild, a place where people like me can share and sell our D&D content. Yes, I’m planning to release an adventure or two. When? No idea. Although I have some almost finished, getting them to the quality I’d like will still take time.

I think this is all sorts of awesome, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what people release. Reviews? I’ll likely write one or two.

However, it’s really worth noting that you’re basically giving away a significant portion of the rights to your products. I’m still not sure of the exact level of this – it hinges around what “derivative” means in this context – but you should probably treat it as a “work for hire” situation where another company pays you for your work and gains the rights. (This isn’t actually the situation, but it’s a good way to approach it). For the products I’ll be releasing, I’m fine with this. If you want to keep control of your IP, I strongly suggest you investigate the new SRD and the OGL and how they interact.

The other issue – and I really can’t stress this enough – is that artwork is going to get a lot of people kicked off the service, and possibly embroiled in court cases. When you submit a work to the DMs Guild, you assert you own all the rights. This is rarely the case with artwork you haven’t created yourself. Typically, you just license a particular usage of it (rights for a particular publication). You need more than that with the DMs Guild, because you’re also allowing the artwork to be reused within the Guild, assuming I’m reading the agreement correctly.

Here’s the line:

You represent and warrant that:
(c) Excluding the Owner’s IP and Program IP which we license to you, you are the sole owner of all rights in your Work.

(Owner’s IP=Wizards of the Coast’s IP, by the way).

And if you use art you just found on the ‘net or ripped from a computer game? You’re entering very dangerous waters there.

Good luck to everyone submitting to the Guild! But keep in mind that there are legal issues to consider – we’ll learn more at the AMA on Friday!

UPDATE: The license has been updated to specifically exclude artwork and maps; they aren’t considered User Generated Content, and so you can use artwork you don’t have full rights to, although you still need to have an agreement to use it in a commercial product!

 

4 comments

  1. Scott Carter

    Perhaps at first. But they have already provided art that will serve, and as the community produces more then more will available within the guild. But yes, someone is going to step in some legal hole before long.

    Like

    • MerricB

      Yes, there’s some limited artwork there. It doesn’t negate the point that if you commission art from other people, you might not be able to use it without securing full rights (which can be rather expensive).

      Liked by 2 people

      • jamesintrocaso

        I agree and think it will be an issue, but it’s kind of them to provide a bunch of art so that there aren’t too many folks getting caught in that trap. It certainly will be interesting to see how it shakes out!

        Like

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