ShareAlike compatibility analysis: Open Game License

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The Open Game License 1.0 (OGL1.0) was published by Wizards of the Coast in 2000. OGL is a copyright license with Share-Alike type mechanism, and it can be argued to meet the definition of Free Cultural Licenses. Thus, it satisfies the minimum criteria for compatibility set forth in our ShareAlike compatibility criteria. While these licenses have many similarities licenses, and the effect of each license as applied to a creative work is quite different because oif the vastly different scope.

Summary of comparison: Open Game License 1.0 and BY-SA 4.0

  • The scope of the two licenses differs in several key regards. CC BY-SA licenses rights in copyright, neighboring rights, and sui generis database rights. The Open Game License is much more limited in scope, excluding many copyrightable elements that fall under the definition of “Product Identity”, such as characters, stories, storylines, artwork, and many other elements if identified as “Product Identity” by the licensor. The main purpose of the license appears to be the licensing of the “game mechanic” and “methods, processes, procedures, and routines”.

  • The attribution requirements are similar, but the Open Game License does not permit any marketing to use the name of the creator of remixed material.

  • The Open Game License does not mention technological protection measures, which CC BY-SA forbids placing on Shared/Adapted works.

  • The Open Game License requires derivatives to be shared under the same license and does not provide any provision for sharing under other similar or compatible licenses. Even if it were otherwise compatible, the license would need to be versioned to permit this.
Features BY-SA 4.0 Open Game License 1.0
License scope Copyright, neighboring rights and sui generis database rights (SGDRs) (Sec 1d) Game mechanic that does not embody the Product Identity (§1(d))
Attribution trigger If there is applicable copyright in work, then when work or adaptation of work is shared. (Sec 3a)

If there are applicable SGDRs in work, then when all or a substantial portion of database contents is shared. (Sec 4c)

Copying, modifying, or distributing (§6)
Attribution removal clause Yes (Sec 3a3) No, but marketing or advertising never permissible without written permission (§11)
Attribution elements
  1. creator and attribution parties
  2. copyright notice
  3. license notice
  4. disclaimer notice
  5. URI or link to the licensed material
  6. indicate and link to license

(Sec 3a1)

Provided copyright notice containing

  1. License name
  2. License copyright
  3. Title
  4. Copyright Date
  5. Copyright holder’s name


Special marking requirement if work is modified Yes (indicate if you modified and retain indication of previous modifications) (Sec 3a1B) No
ShareAlike trigger When adaptation is shared (Sec 3b) When Derivative Material is created (Sec 1g)
ShareAlike scope Must ShareAlike contributions to adaptations (Sec 3b);

Must ShareAlike database if it incorporates substantial portion of database contents (Sec 4b)

Must release under same license when you “use, distribute, copy, edit, format, modify, translate, and otherwise create Derivative Material”. (1(g))
Source requirement None None
Effective technological measures May not be applied by licensees if they restrict access to the work or adaptations (Sec 2a5C)

Licensees have express permission to circumvent if applied by licensor (Sec 2a4)

Not mentioned
Moral rights Waived only to the extent necessary to allow the license to function. (Sec 2b1) Not mentioned
Termination Automatic upon breach (Sec 6a) Automatically, upon awareness of breach and failure to cure within 30 days. Sublicenses survive termination.
Reinstatement after termination Requires express permission unless cured within 30 days of discovery of violation (Sec 6b) Not mentioned, but termination does not apply until 30 days until awareness of breach
Reps & warranties Expressly disclaimed (Sec 5) Licensors represent authority to license Contributions (sec. 5)
Choice of law None None
Option to comply with other license versions Yes, but limited. Licensees may choose to comply with a later version of BY-SA if such version is applied to an adaptation of the work.

(Secs 2a5B, 3b1)