Corporate America, and Slaughtering the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg

The Story of the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg

Once there was a farmer who lived on a very small old farm with his wife and a few animals. After a particularly harsh winter, on the first day of spring, he went to retrieve eggs from his laying hens, just a few chickens and geese, and found to his surprise a golden egg. Surprised and joyous, he ran into the house to show his wife, and after trying to crack it open they found that it was indeed gold.

The farmer and his wife journeyed to town that very day, selling the egg and buying nails, tools, equipment, and other things that would repair the farm. Thanking God, they even gave to the old church just outside the town before returning home and working on repairing and improving their old farm.

And this continued: when the goose would lay a golden egg, the farmer and his wife would improve their farm, eventually buying large tracts of land surrounding the farm, enlarging their property, and hiring men to help in the work. But one day when he came back from getting the eggs and the goose hadn’t lain a golden egg that day, the wife suggested killing the goose and taking the gold immediately, the farmer did so, but found only the feathers, flesh, and offal — the remains of any slaughtered goose.

Hasbro’s Dungeons & Dragons Controversy

The mega-corporation Hasbro owns Wizards of The Coast which, in turn, owns both Magic the Gathering (MtG) and Dungeons & Dragons (D&D); in their 2022/Q3 investor meeting phonecall they described Dungeons and Dragons as “undermonetized”, signaling that they wished to move to a more “pay-to-play” or subscription model. — Then, in early January (2023), a draft license was leaked and this license, which was very close to complete, was a grab at everything.

 

dnd-ogl-master-license

A. You agree that nothing prohibits Us from developing, distributing, selling, or promoting something that is substantially similar to a Licensed Work.
B. You own the new and original content You create. You agree to give Us a  nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, sub-licensable, royalty-free license to use that content for any  purpose.
[…]
G. Governing Law/Jurisdiction/Class Action Waiver. This agreement and all matters relating to its interpretation and enforcement will be governed by the laws of the State of Washington, and any disputes arising out of or relating to this agreement will be resolved solely and exclusively through individual litigation, and each party hereto irrevocably waives the right to participate in any class, collective, or other joint action with respect to such a dispute. You consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the federal and state courts located in King County, Washington for the resolution of any dispute arising out of or relating to this agreement.
H. Waiver of Jury Trial. We and You each waive any right to a jury trial of any dispute, claim or cause of action related to or arising out of this agreement.

Open Game License 1.1 (PDF)

You see, for the past 20 years, Dungeons & Dragons has been under something known as the Open Gaming License (OGL1.0a) —this license was put in place to allow and encourage ‘homebrewing’ and the publishing of modules and scenarios using D&D’s system, thereby entrenching it and incentivizing its use, increasing D&D’s market share… a win-win for everybody— but the capture of the market and more main-stream appearances of D&D in popular culture fueled their corporate greed and Hasbro decided that it was time to put an ‘update’ into place. — An update which tried to not only grab all the “pieces of pie” but also “deauthorize” the OGL1.0a with an OGL1.1 version.

Among the provisions in the updated OGL (see left) were:

  1. WOTC can use anything you create under OGL 1.1, without paying royalties, forever;
  2. WOTC is not prohibited from  making anything “substantially similar” — which is a large factor in copyright cases;
  3. Class-action and other group-litigation is prohibited;
  4. the right of Jury trial is waived.
Hi,
I’m an employee at WotC currently working on D&Dbeyond(DDB) and with D&D business leaders on the health of the product line. If you want I can provide proof of this.
I’m sending this message because I fear for the health of a community I love. and I know what the leaders at WOTC are looking at:
– They are briefly delaying rollout of OGL changes due to the backlash
– Their decision making is based entirely on the provable impact to their bottom line.
– Specifically they are looking at DDB subscriptions and cancellations as it is the quickest financial data they currently have.
– They are still hoping the community forgets. moves on, and they can still push this through.
I have decided to reach out because at my time in WotC I have never once heard management refer to customers in a positive manner, their communication gives me the impression they see customers as obstacles between them and their money, the DDB team was first told to prepare to support the new OGL changes and online portal when they got back from the holidays, and leadership doesn’t take any responsibility for the pain and stress they cause others. Leadership’s first communication to the rank and file on the OGL was 30 minutes on 1/11/23, This was the first time they even tried to communicate their intentions about the OGL to employees, and even in this meeting they blamed the community for over-reacting. I will repeat, the main thing this leadership is looking at is DDB subscription cancelations.
Hope your day goes well.
P.S. I will be copying and pasting this message to other community leaders.

Hasbro Insider Leak Tweet.

All of that is horrendous, but the icing on the cake of contempt for the law here: the attempt to establish “deauthorize” as a concept. You see, “deauthorize” simply doesn’t exist: either you are authorized to do something, that is operating under the authority in question, or you are not: an act that is done under the authority of someone cannot be made to not be under that authority, especially retroactively! — Consider the King James Version bible; its production was commissioned and authorized by King James which is why it is the “Authorized Version” — and if the King had suddenly become Catholic, and then decided that the Authorized Version was no longer tolerated, to be burned and destroyed, he could not “deauthorize” it precisely because it had already been commissioned and published under his authority!

Lastly, we saw the confirmation of the attitudes of WOTC/Hasbro —proving 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”— with the leak that the executives view the customers as obstacles between them and their money.

Stephen Crowder’s Daily Wire Controversy

Another recent point of interest is the contract Stephen Crowder leaked, claiming that it is proof that Conservative Inc.™ is more about controlling the narrative, “playing ball” with ‘Big Tech’, and suppressing any actual change/momentum among those who ascribe to conservative thought —a prospect that, now, appears to be quite the real conspiracy… but all that is a topic for another time: right now, we’re concentrating on the contract itself and the mentality behind it— and Crowder did this all without revealing who the contract was from.

Jeremy Boring, of The Daily Wire, then made an appearance to try to “get ahead of the story”, going over the contract (actually a “terms sheet,” which is the initial offer for the contract) and putting out a reasonable-sounding explanation; Shad of Shadiversity went through the whole video and ripped the proffered explanation to shreds in this 3–hour long video. In summary:

  • Just because it’s “industry standard” doesn’t mean it’s moral/good;
  • All production-costs would be borne by Crowder;
  • Rights to all Crowder back-content during the term of the contract;
  • The Daily Wire would maintain exclusive right to create and sell Crowder- and Crowder related merchandise, with no mention of expiry or limitation… meaning that the Daily Wire would own the Crowder brand in perpetuity;
  • All payment for the license and exploitation if these merchandising rights is “included in the Fee”… meaning that Crowder could not claim royalties or any other revenue-sharing; and
  • The Term Sheet’s only binding section held that the terms of the Term Sheet were under non-disclosure.

Steven Crowder then released this clip of a phone-call he recorded with Jeremy Boring wherein Jeremy says of hypothetical new-talent: “They can be wage slaves for a little bit, come over and make a salary and grow their brand.” — And then, in response to this, Ben Shapiro made a response tearing into Steven, which Shad tears apart in this 2 hour video.

All of these terms and behaviors have been presented as “Good Faith” by The Daily Wire, which shows just how horribly exploitative, arrogant, entitled, and out-of-touch that they are… and this is “industry standard” for employers (in that sector).

“But Two Data-points Isn’t a Trend!”

Yes, it is true that two data-points isn’t enough to establish a trend —precisely because you can pick any two points from a function and have no clue whether it is linear, quadratic, sinusoidal, or any other property— but we have enough context here that it’s not just two data-points: that such insulting contracts are called “standard” indicates widespread usage and acceptance of similar terms, and that Hasbro/WotC thought that it was at all appropriate to include clauses of what are essentially “anything you make, we can use, forever, without credit or payment” and “you have no right to jury trial”, are indicative of a huge problem in the mental-space of Corporate America.

During essentially all of my professional career, I have seen the degradation of how employees, or even applicants, are treated; especially with respect to intellectual property: most of my prospective contracts had a clause similar to “anything you create belongs to the company”, with the more generous contracts qualifying it with “while on the clock.”

VFX Artists Dropping Disney as a Client

An additional data-point is the recent news that visual effects artists/studios are trapped in an industry that “is a machine designed to destroy artists. And it’s working perfectly.” And whether or not you’re of the opinion that visual effects are overused, it’s hardly the fault of the visual effects artists when they’re being interrupted with concept pieces at the last minute… “It’s kind of like putting the last coat of paint on a car, and while you’re putting on this last coat, you’re trying to decide what color you want.

The abuse suffered by these artists is pretty incredible: not only are such extreme demands made of them, but those demanding act like they’re doing you a favor while simultaneously both disregarding the effort and displaying an arrogant sense of entitlement.

And it’s this third data-point which illustrates the diffused de-personalization, disrespect, and disregard that has crept into corporate culture — the attitude which I’ve been illustrating in this article, at all levels: from the company to the employee, from the company to the subcontractor, from the company to the customer.

An Interlude: COVID–19, Corporations, and Coercion

Now, I’ve made a pretty big claim in the last section: that corporations are de-personalizing employees and customers — but the mandates illustrate this very clearly: weren’t there many corporations which forbade doing business unless you submitted to the mask-mandate? the absurd 5 foot rule? and weren’t the corporations the ones who were threatening to terminate their employees over refusing to countenance the gene-therapy injections?

Yes! and to make matters worse, such a demand implicitly asserted two things (1) that the company could retroactively alter the conditions of employment, and (2) that the company had the ownership over your body — the first is obvious in that this mandate was the first one where large segments of the population was threatened with job-loss over some new vaccine (the only other time that comes to mind was the military’s Anthrax vaccine which, incidentally, the courts ruled illegitimate) and the second requires a bit of explanation: the demand that you take gene-therapy must mean that your body is theirs, for the ‘vaccines’ were touted as “giving your cells the instructions to make the spike-protein”, which is obviously altering the functionality of your cells at a very basic level.

Now there are some who will say “But the mandates were never absolute, you could have done weekly testing!” or “There were religious exemptions!” — but that ignores several facts: (1) the testing was itself coercive; (2) the religious ‘exemptions’ were framed in a manner that bureaucrats would be evaluating and judging its merits; and (3) the coercive testing, along with incentives for the gene-therapy, were applied especially if you claimed a religious exemption.

And who was held to account for these corporate abuses of power? Nobody, as if magically any responsibility is suddenly dissipated; instead of “the buck stops here”, those in leadership positions take a “I was only following orders!” stance.

IrresponsibilityAll of these serve to illustrate how “big, faceless corporations” are being used to evade accountability — after all, no one raindrop blames itself for the flood.

The Corporate View of Intellectual Property

Lastly, touching on the corruption and arrogance, RJ of The Fourth Age explains in this 30–minute talk how D&D’s OGL debacle is merely the forefront of the clash of ideals and how it’s a rehashing of the American versus English way of thinking of property rights: that is to say the American mode of thought is you can own property, in England it’s the monarch that owns everything and grants license — and how the ‘modern’ lawyers and judges in America are pushing toward the English mindset.

As I mentioned previously, most of the contracts I’ve had in a creative position (such as programming) contain clauses of “whatever you make belongs to us”, which really does put a dampener on creativity and innovation: after all, would your company bother to pay you anything extra for a wildly innovative and/or successful product? No! They already own it, as per the terms of the contract. — And, strictly speaking, even an endeavor such as, say, writing a novel could be realized only to have the technical terms of the contract enforced, should it become popular, or should the employer wish to screw you, personally, over.

So, what we have with respect to intellectual property is a mess of corporate entitlement, arrogance, and utter greed — just like Hasbro showed regarding D&D.

The Goose is Cooked

Along with the Hasbro-esque IP-avarice that Corporate America displays, the same disregard that Disney is showing visual-effects studios they show to their employees. Sure, it might not be as large in scale, but the difference is only in the quantity, not the quality. And considering all this… is it any wonder that, in conjunction with the utter disloyalty the demands and enforcement of the mask & gene-therapy mandates, Corporate America has killed loyalty from its employees? has killed off incentive to innovate?

Just look at the indignation and outrage over the concept of “Quiet Quitting” — literally just doing your job and not putting in the extra effort of “going above and beyond”, something that now is only taken advantage of by employers, not rewarded.

Congratulations Corporate America, you killed and cooked the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg… now choke on it.

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