Author Topic: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?  (Read 42164 times)

Bear

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #45 on: August 14, 2014, 07:05:18 AM »

Ever worked in an open source team environment?  You need express permission from every contributor to change the license. 

As I said, you flatly own the code you wrote and you can later license it under any terms you want to use.  ie, it's code you wrote, so you do in fact have permission from every contributor (of which you are the only one).  I did not say you own or can change the license of any code other people wrote.  I do not understand how you could possibly have misunderstood me to have said so short of blatantly making stuff up.

Moreover, the license may limit what third party libraries you can use. 

Absolutely.  You own code you wrote and can relicense it in any way you want at any time.  You don't own any third party libraries, and if the license under which you include those libraries doesn't permit you to distribute them with your relicensed code, then you can't distribute those third-party libraries with your relicensed code. 

This is all really very straightforward. I don't understand why you're having so much trouble with it.  If you don't want to abide by the terms of the license of the third-party libraries, obviously, you can't use those third-party libraries.  There was never any pretense that the terms and conditions were any different from the moment you first started using them, so this cannot possibly come as a surprise to you when you have made the decision to relicense your code. 

Consider DC:SS, if the maintainer wants to change the license, they have to get all the contributors to agree.  Over the lifetime of any similar open source project, that can add up quickly to a large number of people and it may be difficult to even contact some contributors.

So no those aren't tautologies.

That isn't anything like the situation we were talking about, of someone deciding to relicense code that they wrote themselves.  That would be someone trying to relicense code that a lot of other people wrote.  OF COURSE you can't change the license on code that other people wrote: you don't own that code!  What the hell are you even bringing that up for? 

mushroom patch

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #46 on: August 14, 2014, 07:17:07 AM »
I've never seen my wife play a game less than ten years old on anything but a "thin client." Most people play facebook games, cell phone games, or no games.
You realize you're addressing a group of roguelike fans arguing about a software license right?  What about that makes you think ad populum is going to get you anywhere?  This is a group of people who at best* only check the state of the mainstream to check where NOT to go, and more likely simply ignore it.

I don't expect to get anywhere in an argument with crazy people. What I see here is one or more people (apparently including yourself) who ignore what works within the genre, preferring the state of the mainstream in the 90s -- isolated personal computers running binaries on Microsoft operating systems -- to the state of the roguelike mainstream in the 80s and to the state of the broader mainstream today.

The software license is a red herring. There are no GPL libraries that are going to help you so much on a roguelike project that you can't avoid them. Even if there were, you don't have to release your source unless you release your binary, which is unnecessary in the current computing climate.

If you want to write a Crawl, nethack, or Angband variant, you can't complain about their license anyway since they did all the work, so what is this discussion really about? The merits of the GPL in general? Go find a random Slashdot article circa 1999 and you can get your fill of all that's likely to transpire here.

Regarding this business about ownership of code upthread, it's not true that all contributors retain copyright to their code. That is a matter of project policy or can be negotiated on a case by case basis or left unaddressed. It's not true that accepting a patch makes its author a copyright holder in every instance and it does not necessarily prevent you from relicensing your project if you like.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 07:45:49 AM by mushroom patch »

Omnivore

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #47 on: August 14, 2014, 08:13:21 AM »
That isn't anything like the situation we were talking about, of someone deciding to relicense code that they wrote themselves.  That would be someone trying to relicense code that a lot of other people wrote.  OF COURSE you can't change the license on code that other people wrote: you don't own that code!  What the hell are you even bringing that up for?
What?  We obviously are not addressing the same scenarios.

My example is showing how you can legally and even ethically write software under GPL that remains under GPL even though you sell proprietary expansions to it without any change of license to the  software..

The base software starts out GPL, stays GPL, is forever GPL.  It can use any non-proprietary 3rd party libraries you want (practically speaking).  You can write and sell proprietary expansions to that base software as long as you do it in a decoupled manner through one or more public domain (or MIT, Apache, Boost, etc) licensed interface(s).


@mushroom patch: one word; Steam.


mushroom patch

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #48 on: August 14, 2014, 08:51:02 AM »
@mushroom patch: one word; Steam.

Good luck!

Bear

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #49 on: August 14, 2014, 04:29:02 PM »

If you write a stand alone program which is suitable for use and allow for expansion of capabilities in any manner by plugins, the fact that the stand alone program is GPL is absolutely no legal or ethical barrier to a future plugin being proprietary.

If you write a game in a manner similar to ToME for instance, you could easily slap a GPL on the engine part and distribute it with a playable 'coffee break' roguelike content plugin.   You can then write and sell a proprietary plugin that adds capability to and expands the GPL'd game.  You just can't distribute them together.*


Both of these are tautological.  What you have written, you can license in any way you darn well please at any time, whether you've put a license on it that permits those privileges to others or not. 

You can release something as GPL, then release the next version proprietary and closed-source if you want to.  You can't take back the release of the earlier version, but you aren't under any restrictions due to  your own license; you're not licensing the code from yourself, you flatly own it.

Bear

Ever worked in an open source team environment?  You need express permission from every contributor to change the license.  Moreover, the license may limit what third party libraries you can use.  Consider DC:SS, if the maintainer wants to change the license, they have to get all the contributors to agree.  Over the lifetime of any similar open source project, that can add up quickly to a large number of people and it may be difficult to even contact some contributors.


Okay, here is the conversation so far.  I responded to these two paragraphs, where you specifically talk about licensing code that YOU WROTE - and my point was that this is completely unnecessary because if you wrote it, then you own it.  You don't need to license your code from yourself.  You responded by talking about code written IN A TEAM ENVIRONMENT - which has absolutely nothing to do with that point. 

You're making a good point about plugins written to a publicly documented interface not being constrained by the license of the program that they are plugins for.  If someone (or somefifty) creates a GPL game and it takes plugins, the plugins themselves don't have to be GPL.  I can license that game via GPL and distribute proprietary non-GPL plugins that use the documented interface of that program to present the user running it with a modified game - maybe my plugin adds a playable race or a set of in-game items or whatever. 

I was pointing out that your point about plugins has nothing to do with these two cases you were using to illustrate it. If you wrote the game program in the first place, then making that game program available to others via the GPL places absolutely no restriction on you.  As the author of the game, you don't have to abide by any license because you are not a licensee; you are the owner.  These are not examples of what the GPL allows you to do unless you're talking about code that you have to license. 

Bear

I am tired of talking about licenses now.  This is all straightforward and obvious, and the so-called 'misunderstandings' seem to me increasingly contrived and deliberate.

Aukustus

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #50 on: August 14, 2014, 07:06:22 PM »
I've been thinking about making my game's code free so that I could make a linux version (I can't get freezes working). My idea is that it could be run from sources on linux.

None of the licenses make me happy since I do not want people to make money from my code since open source basically permits that.

Any ideas for my options?

AgingMinotaur

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #51 on: August 14, 2014, 07:27:05 PM »
There may be some CC license that fits the bill – they have some variants that don't permit commercial use, although I think CC in general is less aimed at software. Also, "non-commercial" clauses may not be valid in every jurisdiction. A solution might be to put out the source code with a regular, non-free copyright notice that forbids people to redistribute the source or compiled versions without your express permission. Just because you open the source to being downloaded doesn't mean it automatically must be free. Then, nice people in the community might well provide you with compiled versions that you can release under a similarly restrictive license.

As always,
Minotauros
This matir, as laborintus, Dedalus hous, hath many halkes and hurnes ... wyndynges and wrynkelynges.

Omnivore

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #52 on: August 14, 2014, 08:00:01 PM »
I've been thinking about making my game's code free so that I could make a linux version (I can't get freezes working). My idea is that it could be run from sources on linux.

None of the licenses make me happy since I do not want people to make money from my code since open source basically permits that.

Any ideas for my options?

GPLv3.  https://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html

If you want to take a step further to strengthen it, you could at the same time assign your copyright to the FSF (Free Software Foundation).  It is at best a keep honest people honest protection, but given your stated purpose it is, to the best of my knowledge, a good solution.

Please don't be confused by the earlier explanations of holes in the GPL, while they exist, they must either be designed in, or consume quite a bit of time to implement, or both. 


Aukustus

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #53 on: August 14, 2014, 09:14:25 PM »
There may be some CC license that fits the bill – they have some variants that don't permit commercial use, although I think CC in general is less aimed at software. Also, "non-commercial" clauses may not be valid in every jurisdiction. A solution might be to put out the source code with a regular, non-free copyright notice that forbids people to redistribute the source or compiled versions without your express permission. Just because you open the source to being downloaded doesn't mean it automatically must be free. Then, nice people in the community might well provide you with compiled versions that you can release under a similarly restrictive license.

As always,
Minotauros

What I'd really love to do is to put a CC license, I fail to see why it isn't recommended for softwares. Other thing would be to add a LICENSE.txt that would contain one line "YOU MAY ONLY USE THIS SOURCE CODE TO RUN AND PLAY THE GAME". I have no idea would it be valid license then.

GPLv3.  https://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html

If you want to take a step further to strengthen it, you could at the same time assign your copyright to the FSF (Free Software Foundation).  It is at best a keep honest people honest protection, but given your stated purpose it is, to the best of my knowledge, a good solution.

Please don't be confused by the earlier explanations of holes in the GPL, while they exist, they must either be designed in, or consume quite a bit of time to implement, or both.

I thought that GPL licenses are meant for commercial use too http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#DoesTheGPLAllowMoney


Omnivore

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #54 on: August 14, 2014, 09:41:01 PM »
I thought that GPL licenses are meant for commercial use too http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#DoesTheGPLAllowMoney

Yes and no, yes someone could sell binaries + source legally.  What they can't do is take your GPL'd source and make it their own proprietary source.  Any modification they would do to the source would need to be distributed in source form along with any binaries. 

In the practical sense, why would anyone buy the product that you are giving away for free?  Any attempt, using a modified codebase, could simply be countered by incorporating the modifications into your codebase that you continue to give away for free. 

An honest person has no need to pay, and a dishonest person has no desire.  So technically yes, practically no.

Note that this is the flip side of the 'using GPL for commercial software' situation.  In that situation, the only reason you get income is because you are the author.  That is similar to a shareware type of situation, or even a 'donation' situation.  Simply honest people doing the honest thing.

PS: Don't fall into the trap of trying to protect your code and binaries from dishonest people, you can't.  Even closed source commercial efforts are subject to piracy and reverse engineering.

PS 2: CC BY-NC-ND license may possibly be applicable, but I hesitate to recommend it for three reasons; it is not intended for software, it rests upon public domain as a foundation, and finally, as far as I'm aware, it hasn't been subjected to the same degree of legal tests as GPL thus I don't place quite as much confidence in it.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 10:04:33 PM by Omnivore »

Kevin Granade

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #55 on: August 15, 2014, 01:25:32 AM »
One thing to note about CC licenses and software, the copyleft 'share-alike' version has a critical flaw with regard to software, they don't require distribution of source code, so it simply does not work, because someone can release binaries without source, effectively defeating the purpose of copyleft.

If you want to use one of the 'noncomercial' variants, that should more or less do what you want, though I'm personally not a fan of that clause, I treat it as simply 'non free' and generally ignore anything with this license (like I do with most commercial works).

CC 'by attribution' is also unaffected by being applied to software, modifiers and redistributors are prohibited from removing attribution present in the work.

CC-ND is dead to me, it might as well be all rights reserved.

Writing your own license merely indicates intent, they will generally not hold up in court.  You may or may not care.

Krice

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #56 on: August 15, 2014, 06:43:38 AM »
None of the licenses make me happy since I do not want people to make money from my code since open source basically permits that.

I think the fear of getting ripped off is not very likely these days. Unless your source code is extremely easy to re-use. For example all, I mean totally all roguelike source codes I've seen are either bad or really bad examples of programming. Well, except Teemu (my small roguelike-ish game), but even it could be better. Add to that the fact that it's easier to write your own engine/whatever from the scratch than try to understand some mongoloid's ideas of programming.

What is important is the gameplay content, but it should be copyrighted, especially if you are using your own role-playing system and other content. It's not ok to simply copy that with small changes and sell the game.

Aukustus

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #57 on: August 15, 2014, 07:23:17 AM »
None of the licenses make me happy since I do not want people to make money from my code since open source basically permits that.

I think the fear of getting ripped off is not very likely these days. Unless your source code is extremely easy to re-use. For example all, I mean totally all roguelike source codes I've seen are either bad or really bad examples of programming. Well, except Teemu (my small roguelike-ish game), but even it could be better. Add to that the fact that it's easier to write your own engine/whatever from the scratch than try to understand some mongoloid's ideas of programming.

What is important is the gameplay content, but it should be copyrighted, especially if you are using your own role-playing system and other content. It's not ok to simply copy that with small changes and sell the game.

Yeah. I'm just thinking about what if -scenarios and my principles. My code is probably the very definition of spaghetti code plus it's totally without comments as I understand and remember everything.

Content and my rules however I'm not interested in copyrighting. Just the code since I do mind if someone makes a total conversion.

Krice

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #58 on: August 15, 2014, 09:37:33 AM »
My code is probably the very definition of spaghetti code plus it's totally without comments as I understand and remember everything.

If it's ascii roguelike then it's even more unlikely that someone is seeing any commercial potential in it. Usually commercial game developers already know what they are doing, especially when developing complex games which roguelikes are. Even open source developers can reject the code if it's bad, because better source codes are available. If you look at variant development it's pretty obvious that Angband is a winner, because it is easier to fork than other games. Nethack is an example from the other extreme, very few programmers even want to touch it. I think serious programmers are proud kind of people and most often want to do things their way, because managing a big source code is way easier when it's written in your own coding style.

chooseusername

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Re: Copyright and Licensing: Nothing to fear but fear itself?
« Reply #59 on: August 18, 2014, 12:43:01 AM »
Please don't be confused by the earlier explanations of holes in the GPL, while they exist, they must either be designed in, or consume quite a bit of time to implement, or both.
Please stop pushing the GPL and tellling people it's their solution, and not to worry, because things will be okay.  It's wrong.  Because you are not offering a guarantee that your claims are correct, just assurances.

Aukustus, if you want to be sure the GPL offers you the protections you want for your code, ignore all of Omnivore's posts.  He has continually been giving flawed advice.  Read the GPL.  Consider how you could use someone else's code, in different ways, were it licensed that way.  Consider how you don't want your code used, and how the license prevents or allows that.  It should be very clear that it either protects you enough, or it doesn't.  If it isn't clear enough, then GPL is not for you.  Anyone who offers any other advice, likely has an agenda like Omnivore.

There are too many people who believe in the cause.  Who push the GPL.  Who wave aside any problems, and questions of unsuitability, without guarantees.  But they assure you, yes the GPL is the one for you.  Maybe it is, but the fact they present it this way is a bad sign that something smells.  Read the license, decide for yourself.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2014, 12:45:45 AM by chooseusername »