Today I am going to take a few minutes to talk about License, Franchising, and IP in relation to design work and world materials for Dystopia Rising.
So, for those new to the conversation, I am the creator of Dystopia Rising. The initial world concept, the oversight on the project writing, and the vast majority of the game design (in particular when it comes to the LARP) come from me. In addition, I create the mythology for the Strains, the faiths, and the Dystopia Rising world as a whole. What isn’t directly written by myself is produced by a handful of contracted freelancers who work under my supervision.
On paper, I own the materials that make up Dystopia Rising. I, in turn, either license or franchise contract my creation out to other individuals or companies to use. In the instance there are creators who want to make officially licensed products, they enter a licensing agreement. This licensing agreement projects my ownership of the Dystopia Rising IP while ensuring that the people doing crafting using the resources I created do so in a way that represents the intellectual property and published content well.
For the LARPs, the DR LARP Network franchises the business model out to local business owners who own and operate their own local business. This introduces franchise laws, which not only are complex on a federal level, but in addition to the federal complexity there are state based requirements that need to be followed. Some states are friendlier to franchises opening than others (and really, most franchise laws have the business model of a food chain or a business with many store fronts in mind as their law focus).
What does this mean for design work as one of the nerds that makes things that change the network?
It means that how we implement change sadly goes at a slower rate than many of us creatives would like. Roughly five months ago the Dystopia Rising LARP Network Franchisors (parent company that sells franchises to local businesses) started working on creating new Story Telling and Coordination guides for our Directors. As part of the franchise contract Directors agree to abide by business guidelines that do not interfere with state or federal guidelines for fair business. When it comes to local refusal of service, writing materials for support becomes tricky. Every chapter already has guidelines for how to refuse service provided by federal and state outlines. The choice for a local business to refuse service is something that is overseen by state and federal guideline, so there is little that we can provide in direction or instruction in regards to what most people see as a “local ban”. To even outline how it works could accidentally overstep where the franchise company should (or could) engage in local business operation.
This means to release a new document for Directors to use, we need to pass our writing through our legal team to ensure that everything we want to do is acceptable. This adds delays of design, writes, and rewrites with the delay on review process each time it goes to legal review.
So, let me say with no uncertain or mixed terms, we are working on a review process for network wide refusal of services (bans) so that there is a check and balances between Directors in regards to refusal of service. We are also looking into how a person can request their ban status to be reviewed. It is a project we had already been working on for months, however, regardless of how much of a desire we have to have a solution out and in the field… we have to operate at the speed of business. We have presented initial changes to the Directors after having initially reviewed them, and now the business owners (directors) will have a chance for feedback and discussion before we bring whatever revisions are needed back to review.
And then, when this is all said and done, we still need to put together the finalized documentation for both the network to use as well as a public addendum/clarification for the community to look at as well. So I guess this update is to let you all know that yes, we are (and have been) working on options and potential directions to make DR and the DR LARP Network function better in its different means of provision. However, it takes time. We’re working on it, and once there is something that we can actually show that is worth talking about, without a doubt everyone will know.