(I posted this to the DnD subreddit also: link.)

The Open Gaming License fiasco with Dungeons & Dragons producer Wizards of the Coast is a symptom of a larger problem: our insane Intellectual Property system that currently protects material for the life of the author plus 70 years. As a comparison, patents generally only protect inventions for 20 years.

The purpose of intellectual property laws is to balance public and private interests. IP law is an agreement between society and creators: the creator is guaranteed an exclusive right to their creation for a period of time, and in exchange the public gets rights to the creation afterwards. It's intended to be a balance of interests, but the balance has gotten completely out of whack thanks to (obviously) lobbying throughout the 20th century by major copyright holders like Disney.

In my opinion, the current copyright term, life of the author plus 70 years, is grossly unfair to the public. I believe that the internet era has demonstrated that creators would be incentivized to create even without such a long period of exclusivity. Think about it: would you create less stuff if your great-grandkids didn't get exclusive rights? I doubt it.

Listen: creators should be able to make money from their work. I don't think copyright should go to zero, but why not bring it in line with patent protection with a 20-year term?

Disney, DnD, and many other creations are part of our generation's cultural legacy, part of a 10,000+ year inheritance that has been handed down through time to our grandparents, our parents, and now us. It's morally wrong for our ancestors and corporations to lock our inheritance away from us.

Copyright protections must be re-balanced to protect both creators and the public. This problem with WotC shouldn't be just about a license, it should be about the IP laws that grant them exclusive rights to creations that are over 50 years old. Our generation should re-open these negotiations and come up with a fair copyright term.

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