Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Retroactive work for hire?

I read these two posts by Rob Conley and Douglas Cole with interest:

OBS Content Program is terrible and it is now not just an opinion.

Not Opinion Anymore: Clarifications on the terms of DM’s Guild

So it seems like One Bookshelf's "DM's Guild" effectively works out to be work for hire - retroactive, if you've already done it.

Work for hire means what you produce belongs to the company, not you. That's how I work for SJG. It's fine, because my contract said that plainly and it's what I agreed to. A flat fee or a set percentage of the sales, but then the work belonged to them. If I reuse it on my next book, I technically need to account for that as it comes it out of the pay for the next book - they already paid for it. If someone else uses it, I get a piece or a paycheck.

But if you wrote with the expectation that you'd be producing a book and could re-use your own words and ideas later . . . it sounds like you are out of luck. And it took some clarifications to make that clear.


  1. I don't see how they can retroactively change a contract. Or impose ownership if you did not sign a contract yet.

  2. There probably isn't even enough money here for a class action lawsuit. Maybe someone will file pro bono but we are probably SOL.

  3. Just to clarify, the way the license read for the DM's Guild and other OBS community content programs that the terms apply to everything including OBS and Wizards. The license is a copyright grant by you to the program not a sale. So when they say that for Wizards to use anything outside of the program it true. Wizards will have to enter into a separate agreement with the author for that to happen.

    What I have a problem with is the inherent fairness of the original deal. That anything an author places within the program can't be used for the basis of a separate product outside of the program. If I make a Spear of Night I can't use it even stripped of all the publisher's IP. It is particularly problematic when it comes to those programs offering only rules as the IP.

  4. This is not the sort of press I would want if I were trying to get people to put content on my platform.


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