What is copyleft, the open source and viral copyright alternative and how does it work? And why the new role-playing game by Asterisco Edizioni, Dura-Lande, did you adopt it?

Crowdfunding of Dura-Lande, a role playing game eco-punk set on Earth, 300 years after an almost total annihilation of civilization.

Using an original game system, the PLOT System, this role-playing game aims to investigate the conflict between capitalism and anticapitalism in a dystopian future: some of the new societies will have freed themselves from sexism, homobitransphobia and exploitation, but others will not. And from the conflict between these worldviews, the stories of the characters will be born. To know more about Dura-Lande, we interviewed for you one of the creators of the game, Marta Palvarini, Thu!

Dura-Lande is edited by Editions asterisk and has chosen the crowdfunding platform to finance itself Productions from below. You can find crowdfunding for Dura-Lande a this link: support it, it's worth it! Also because, when it is published, Dura-Lande will be subject not to a copyright, but to a copyleft.

What is a copyleft? How does it differ from copyright? And what will change for those who buy Dura-Lande? Let's find out by interviewing (again!) Marta Palvarini!

We also remind you that Marta will be our guest for the project Master the Master, mastering cyberpunk 2020 in the one-shot of March!

First, what is copyleft?

In Italian, it can be translated as "author's permission", and indicates a type of license that allows you to share, modify, rework and republish a specific commercial product.
Copyleft was born as an alternative to the restrictive copyright rules on the computer code. It has its roots in the culture and hacker ethics of the 90s.
With the creation of the license Creative Commons, in 2002, by the American professor Lawrence Lessig, the concept of copy-left is further elaborated, creating a hybrid between copy-right and copyleft. The Creative Commons license bases its structure on the claim "some rights reserved", that is "some rights reserved" chosen by the author or author.

How does copyleft differ from copyright?

Copyright is based on the concept of "All rights reserved", nothing of the original work can be affected, distributed, sold.
Copyleft, in its "purest" version, is based instead on the concept of "No rights reserved”, In other words, those who come into contact with the work can do whatever they want, even if they often cannot profit from it unless they pay contributions to the original authors.
Further, copyleft is divided into two macro categories: strong copyleft, and weak copyleft.
Il strong copyleft it pushes to the "virality" of the license, that is every derivative work is also in copyleft.
Il weak copyleft tends to reduce virality, meaning that any derivative work may not have a copyleft license.
Almost always in the copyleft there is a clause called "Attribution": the shared, remodeled, rewritten product must mention the authorship of the original product.

Presentation of the Creative Commons license of Dura-Lande on Produzioni dal Basso
Presentation of the Creative Commons license (which is copyleft) of Dura-Lande on Productions from below

What are the positive effects of copyleft? Are there, however, contraindications? To your knowledge, are there other RPGs distributed according to copyleft?

Let's focus for a moment on copyleft publishing products.
Copyleft allows one free use of the product, first of all.
When a product is in copyleft we are free to share it with whoever we want, thus increasing the knowledge of the product itself. The more people who know the otherwise obscured content of the product, the more they will be brought to purchase it to support those who created it. It's always nice to be able to touch something before deciding whether to invest your money.

The distribution of the game system

Moving the focus instead on role-playing games, but also video games, we must ask ourselves what is at the root of a game.
One of the possible answers is: the game system, or in a video game "the code".
Un game systemexactly like a code, it is a set of numerical components suitable for the representation of something alive, components necessary for interaction with the game world.
By making the system under copyleft license you can grow the system itself by feeding its changes, variants, and variables written and published by its gaming community.
A game system under absolute copyright has the great limitation of remaining crystallized over time, not even giving the possibility of creating changes except in domestic spaces.

Positive examples of copy-left: the FATE System and the D20 System

We see positive examples of copyleft for role playing in the FATE system for example, and, in the form of "weak" copyleft, in the D20 System. FATE it remains a copyleft system through a Creative Commons license. You can even market a derivative product through the license chosen by Evil Hat Productions, the parent company of FATE.

Il D20 System instead, thanks to the Open Gaming License, it is an "open source" product, a "weak" form of copyleft, which makes the game system available but without any reference to Dungeons & Dragons (equipment, class names and any reference to setting included).

Contraindications of the copy-left

The contraindications of copyleft are not contraindications of the form of license itself, as much as of the market in which the copyleft product is placed.
Copyleft is a useful tool in counteract certain mechanics of the capitalist market that do not safeguard a community that produces and develops as much as (if not more at times) the authors of the product. On the other hand, copyleft does not eradicate the problem at the root and pushes on a (unfortunately still) utopian vision in which those who share the product and use it at a certain point also support those who have developed it.
In short, the copyleft it's a little too "good" when applied to today's publishing market, but remains a viable prospect to aspire to. 

Banner of Dura-Lande
Banner of Dura-Lande

Dura-Lande will be distributed under a copyleft license. I notice that there are different types of copyleft, so which one will you join?

Dura-Lande adheres to a Creative Commons license with the following conditions of use.

1) Attribution: Allow others to copy, distribute, display and make copies of Dura-Lande to and the works derived from this as long as the authorship of the work is indicated, citing the names of those who developed it and the name of Asterisco Edizioni.

2) Non-commercial: Allow others to copy, distribute, display and make copies of Dura-Lande and works derived from it or its reworkings, only for non-commercial purposes. If you want to commercialize a derivative work it is necessary to contact the authorship.

3) Share in the same mods: Allows others to distribute derivative works from the work only under the same Creative Commons license. In this way Dura-Lande it connotes itself as a "strong" copyleft, leading to the virality of the license.

What consequences do you think the decision to distribute Dura-Lande with copy-left will have?

First of all it is a stance: we think that a game system such as the PLOT System must be free to be applied to other settings, or new settings, and that all the work done by those who work to modify, change and adapt it can and should be published online.

Hopefully thanks to a copyleft license Dura-Lande can be played, read and modified more and more.

Could the Italian GDR market benefit from licenses of this type?

The market in general could certainly benefit greatly from this type of license.
Italian companies are rightly still small when compared to the Wizard of the Coast, and we don't think that at this stage a small company can really benefit from it in terms of profits.
A company like the WizardInstead, may decide to use a license of this type on the basic manuals for example, allowing the maximum usability of content without suffering damage in economic terms (or rather, suffering an initial drop in profits to the full benefit of the international gambling community).

The new capitalists in Dura-Lande certainly don't like copyleft!
To the new capitalists in Dura-Lande copyleft certainly does not like!

An interesting idea, to be taken into consideration!

We thank Marta for the precise and punctual answers and wish to Dura-Lande all the luck in the world. Personally, I've already made my pledge and can't wait to have the print edition in my hands!

The copy-left idea is certainly interesting. It may be difficult to fully apply for Italian publishers, but making your game system available could actually prove to be a great way to increase your players and make yourself known to everyone.

We will see if this practice takes hold!