I wrote recently, right here, about Paizo updating its Community Use Policy (or CUP). This is the policy that lets fans use their rules and their intellectual property, so long as the end user isn't charged for them. Functionally, it's about giving guidelines and comfort to creators of fan-made websites and videos (and other content, but this seems to be their new thrust).

They've made some further changes to it, although the specifics are tucked into a forum post. I want to walk through these changes, but if you don't want to bear with me on this analysis, here's my takeaway: the CUP is still just about as bad as it was, and I still won't be using it.

Here's what Paizo had to say about what changed and why:

1.) Further detailed the annoyance restrictions, especially as they relate to product downloads.

"a. Free doesn’t just mean free from payment, it also means free from hassle. You can’t require survey completions, gate access behind downloads of unrelated products, require opting in to email lists (unless the entirety of your project is only available in email form), or other unnecessary annoyances as a requirement to access your project. You can’t lock your content behind a paywall of any sort."

2.) A slight rewording around crediting authors and artists.

"If the Paizo Material you're using clearly credits its authors or artists, you must reproduce that credit."

3.) A more explicit callout granting permission to use Paizo products in your livestreams and performances.

"● You may use artwork and maps from Paizo products listed in Section 1 of our Community Use Approved Product List on Twitch, YouTube, and similar platforms during performances and live streams of adventures, scenarios, and Adventure Paths."

As these have been conveniently numbered, I'll use the same numbers in my analysis!

1) Downloads Are Now Okay. This seemed to be the biggest stumbling block, and as far as I could tell it got the most attention on social media. As written, you couldn't require end users to download your products at all. I opined that almost certainly wasn't the intent, and it turned out it wasn't. You can proceed with .pdfs under the CUP again. In that this puts the most vocal concern with this new policy to rest, this is a great change.

2) Credits Name Blocks Are Still Required. The change here is subtle: from "When known, you should include artist and author credits from the Paizo Material used in your project (including materials from blogs)." with "If the Paizo Material you're using clearly credits its authors or artists, you must reproduce that credit." I talked about how copying an entire author/artist block is cumbersome, and this new language doesn't really change that--those materials do "clearly credit" its authors and artists. Maybe it's better for single-author things, like blog fiction or organized play scenarios or blog images. But that's not a lot of improvement.

3) Maps and Art from Products Okay (During On-Line "Performances"). This is the most surprising change; there's an express right to use all maps and art from products when you're doing on-line play. This doesn't mean just maps and art from adventures; it's maps and art from any product you use in running your on-line play. That opens things very wide. It's also not, strictly speaking, on-line play; it's for any "performances," which can be very widely interpreted. Reading a product out loud in a storybook way, for example, lets you drop in all the art and maps in your on-line product. That can make for a lot of fun options. This is nice to have.

So, these are incremental changes that are, on balance, for the better, but I think the CUP has a long way to go.