ENIGMA Forums

General fluff => Announcements => Topic started by: Josh @ Dreamland on May 31, 2014, 11:45:32 AM

Title: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on May 31, 2014, 11:45:32 AM
I'm going to attempt once more to contact a third party for help with this licensing fiasco. I'm going to give everyone an opportunity to weigh in on what I'm sending before I send it; this is our official request for help.

I have sent a very similar letter to this one in the past, but I fear it did not adequately convey our issue, based on the response I received. Here is the text that will be sent this time:

Quote
Greetings,

I am writing on behalf of all contributing members of the ENIGMA Development Environment (http://enigma-dev.org/ , https://github.com/enigma-dev/). We maintain a free-software game development platform designed to simplify creation of various games while offering sufficient features to create games of any size.

Heretofore, all of the code in our project, including that in the game engine, has been GPL-licensed. Now, while our developer base is still relatively small, we are discussing a means by which our users could have more license freedom in the games they create. As our tools not only link against the GPL game engine code we provide, but in fact integrate segments of GPL code into their game code directly, all of our users are presently bound by the terms of the GPL, and so cannot release a closed-source version of their games.

What our team is looking for is a means of allowing our users to close-source their games in a way that no contributors biding by our license can take legal action against them, but to ensure that in all other cases, linking against our code causes the resulting module to use our license.

What we do not want is to become the next WINE vs CrossOver Office; that is, we do not want someone to exploit our license to maintain a closed-source version of our engine with exceptional improvements. If someone improves our engine, we want to be able to pull in those improvements, or at very least see how they did it and mimic.

The mantra of this operation is "Prohibit ENIGMA forks which prohibit ENIGMA forks." This "prohibiting" is supposed to be done by enforcing the full terms of the GNU General Public License. In short, we want the terms of the GPL to apply, but to allow users to choose their own license for their own games created in the engine.

The immediately obvious answer to our problem is to select a license such as the Mozilla Public License, which seems to allow just that. The issue is, this license would allow a third party to extend ENIGMA using their own proprietary code, which could then draw users away from ENIGMA, and get them hooked on these closed-source additions. We therefore want extensions to ENIGMA itself to be covered by this license/exception or by plain GPL, to ensure it remains free for everyone.

The crux of the problem is that the only time we do not want the GPL to apply is when a user actually releases a game made in this engine.

That said, which license/exceptions could we use? Would there be merit in a custom exception?

Thanks much,
Josh Ventura

If this request fails, I will embrace the MPL or a similar license for the sake of forward progress.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Goombert on May 31, 2014, 12:00:31 PM
I will reiterate my position on this.

1) I think you're all nuts and your whining about the licensing makes me ill.
2) You all complain about our licensing but I've never once heard any complaints about YYG licensing which you all seem to be submissive to.
3) So much focus being placed on this is detracting from the actual development.
4) I don't think it will really change anything once we do establish the official licensing, you'll all find something else to complain about.
5) I was perfectly happy with the GPL, and I myself would make a game and commercialize it under ENIGMA with this licensing.

I suppose I am also fine with the MPL, either way I don't give a shit.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Rusky on May 31, 2014, 12:04:38 PM
5) You can commercialize it but will be required to give out the source to anyone who buys it (who will then have the right to distribute it for free), which is the problem the license is trying to solve.

I'd add a direct question to that letter- "which license/exceptions could we use?" or something to that effect. Possibly with an analogy to other free software that does similar things, like GCC. Judging by their last response they may not have understood the goal. Otherwise it looks good.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Darkstar2 on May 31, 2014, 12:06:34 PM
Nice read, btw it's contributors binding not "biding".

Also mind you, all those years if people were really interested they could have done what they want, people in general tend to do that license or not. 

Personally I see where the developer team comes from, mind you most responsible for the project have quit and probably could care less, and only few, 1 or 2 active left.  Nobody wants to see someone use their hard work (meaning ENIGMA) and profit from something released close sourced.  But at the same time people developing games using ENIGMA who sweat their b***** off don't want to see others steal the source and close source / sell the game.   So allowing ENIGMA to be used to make closed sourced games that could be sold, without having to provide all the source code and assets along with your game is also important. 

Where does this leave people using ENIGMA to build non game apps, room/level editors, DLCs, mods, would there be exceptional provisions to that ? or would this alternative license only label ENIGMA as limited use and restrict what you can do with it ?  Because that alternative would not be too popular as well.

BTW, regardless of license to be used, a game developer would require to mention ENIGMA in their game user license as the IP holder.  Personally I have no problem doing so whatsoever.  Every commercial game out there mentions any 3rd party engines used in their games.  No problem giving credit even when it is not required.  This is also a requirement with GMS, but it looks nicer saying that your game is powered by the ENIGMA engine than saying that your game is powered by the YoYo Runner LOL!

@Robert: What about the YYG license ? They don't require you include your source code and all game resources, do they ? They require that you project their IP by mentioning the posh YOYO RUNNER and all the other 3rd parties mess they use alongside it.    Have you heard of YYG taking legal action against any developer since the Godforsaken day they acquired GM ??? 
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on May 31, 2014, 12:52:08 PM
@Rusky: Done. That look okay?

Also, redistributing someone's work for free just because they GPL'd it is dickish. But to quote the finest authority I know on the matter, "If I want your shit for free, I ain't gonna have to pay."

@Darkstar: "Biding" is correct. Most of the major contributors are still around, even if they are not still actively contributing. Level editors are a corner case that is outside the scope of this letter. I will discuss that with the concerned lawyer(s) after they reply. It wouldn't bother me if this use was not technically permitted outside of a game, as you are free to do this on your own machine and on machines inside your group, organization, or company by the terms of the GPL. Only when distributing this level editor as its own product would the GPL affect you. I am interested in not requiring any attribution.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Rusky on May 31, 2014, 01:05:27 PM
Looks fine.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: The 11th plague of Egypt on May 31, 2014, 05:00:55 PM
Very nicely put.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Rusky on May 31, 2014, 08:47:09 PM
The GPL currently applies to everything created with ENIGMA, because the engine is linked in and some code is generated, and both are GPL. That is the entire problem we're trying to solve.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on June 01, 2014, 08:39:14 PM
I've split the topic where the discussion started that ultimately derailed the original purpose of this thread; you can find it here (http://enigma-dev.org/forums/index.php?topic=1999.0).

Other relevant information: this letter has been sent. I will update this post/topic when I hear back.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on June 01, 2014, 09:00:09 PM
I kept the text in the original post current; that's what was sent, with one exception: I added the word "again" after "Greetings" in case they wondered why I wrote them twice without any acknowledgment of the first time.

Other than that, what you see is what I sent.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Sabriath on June 03, 2014, 02:55:20 AM
Well this is easy to figure out....

LGPL

...done.  "Limited" in the sense that it is GPL only for the primary piece of software, while all derivative works are owned by their individual creators.  Does no one read legalease anymore?
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: The 11th plague of Egypt on June 03, 2014, 03:29:02 AM
Well this is easy to figure out....

LGPL

...done.  "Limited" in the sense that it is GPL only for the primary piece of software, while all derivative works are owned by their individual creators.  Does no one read legalease anymore?
Hum, we read legalese, yes, maybe too much of it, even.

And that's why we figured out that LGPL is not enough already.
The final game code is too integrated with the engine code (i.e. not simply linked), so it would need to be LGPLed as well, so no closed source games would be possible that way.
One idea was using the MPL 2.0, which is GPL compatible but less strict (hint, it works "by file").

Old topic here (http://enigma-dev.org/forums/index.php?topic=1832.0).
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Sabriath on June 04, 2014, 12:52:33 AM
Hum, we read legalese, yes, maybe too much of it, even.

And that's why we figured out that LGPL is not enough already.
The final game code is too integrated with the engine code (i.e. not simply linked), so it would need to be LGPLed as well, so no closed source games would be possible that way.
One idea was using the MPL 2.0, which is GPL compatible but less strict (hint, it works "by file").

Old topic here (http://enigma-dev.org/forums/index.php?topic=1832.0).

It's not up to you to protect future programmers' works....leave that to them.  If they want to have closed source, they can put their own license on their own software after compiling.  As for Enigma and engine, putting LGPL is good enough to protect the enigma team from having their code be used in another software base in a compiler position (meaning no copy-cat compilers from enigma).

However, the law in most countries are behind in the times when it comes to software anyway...you can pretty much put a "Please do not copy our stuff" and it's a good-enough license as anything.  Most of it cannot be held up in a court of law because software has no resource valuation on this planet, and it has to have at the very minimum of $1 in hard value in order to be an asset.  Majority of the times it is held up in litigation for years, and only when a crooked judge gets paid off does someone actually get what they want.

So why bother?  Free is free, the code is already fully available, and there is no way to 100% prove anyone stole it anyway, so moot.  Just because there's an "if then" structure, doesn't prove anything, same code does the same thing, so the code is going to look 99% compliant anyway.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Darkstar2 on June 04, 2014, 01:10:55 AM
Anybody with the right tools can figure out the EXE they are running was compiled with ENIGMA.
A 5 year old can figure it out, it's easy.

Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Rusky on June 04, 2014, 02:21:07 AM
No, Sabriath. They cannot put their own license on their own software if that software includes other software that is (L)GPL-licensed, without legal precedent allowing someone to force them to give out the source.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on June 05, 2014, 09:12:07 PM
If LGPL ENIGMA is not a separable piece of your application, you are breaking the license. As long as LGPL ENIGMA code is separate from the proprietary bits of your engine, you can market our free, continually updated code with your paid, proprietary, potentially malicious extensions that your users would come to rely on.

It is our job to ensure future users CAN choose their own license, and we would like to do so without allowing forks of ENIGMA to leverage proprietary extensions to "trap" users into their proprietary version. The LGPL accomplishes exactly zero of these two goals.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: lapingvino on July 03, 2014, 05:34:17 AM
There is a license out there under the name LGPL with Classpath-exception, I think you would like to model it like that: the goal of that exception is exactly what you want to achieve, I believe. Maybe you can even try to go for a kind of GPL with exception. You would have to draft it first and let people going over applicable code agree with it though, depending on how many third-party code is involved in the compiled-together code.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on July 03, 2014, 08:56:28 AM
I've read over the classpath exception. I even forged our own exception based off of it, inspired by another derivative of it someone was using in their library. Classpath itself was a little bare, so we focused on the augmented versions (mine and the one I referenced). People found issue with clauses in the two of them, such as the inability to create libraries using that library. TGMG argued that would be problematic on Android, where all apps are libraries. There was also difficulty defining what a "related program" is. We want to allow this special linking for games, not game engines. Game engines should only be able to preserve our license or switch to GPL. It's hard to write the legalese for these caveats, which is why I'm involving lawyers.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Rezolyze on August 31, 2014, 06:57:31 AM
Josh: Any updates concerning this official request for help? How long did it take for a response the last time you requested licensing advice?
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on August 31, 2014, 06:05:13 PM
I haven't heard back from them, which isn't really indicative of anything. I sent the email out June 1. Their system greeted me and gave the usual disclaimers on June 2. Last time I contacted them, I wrote them on July 1 and received a human reply Friday, September 13. The reply was very generic, however; I believe I shared it or the tone of it here at some point. It was not very inviting nor encouraging, which is why I opted to write them again. The fact that it's taking longer this time is probably a good thing.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Darkstar2 on August 31, 2014, 06:45:43 PM
You are overly optimistic Josh.

It is obvious you've just been brushed off.  I know that there is the saying no news good news, but in this case their lack of interest or response is indicative.  I honestly don't think they give two shits about this project or your situation.  I've dealt with people like that before, don't hold your breath on that one, you are not likely to hear from them.

Your best bet is to keep in contact and pushing.....

no actually your best bet is to pay someone $500/hour for this sort of thing. :)


Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on September 24, 2014, 11:54:40 PM
I'm starting to think you're right. We're going to hit the half-year mark in short order without a reply. Even for free help, that's pretty abysmal. :P
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Darkstar2 on September 25, 2014, 12:37:53 AM
I'm starting to think you're right. We're going to hit the half-year mark in short order without a reply. Even for free help, that's pretty abysmal. :P

No kidding - They probably read the first words and tossed it in the bin :D

Some people have no netiquette though.  You'd think the least they could do is send a reply - how hard is it to say "we don't give a crap about your project and we are not interested" or "we cannot assist you".
Unless your e-mail got sent to their spam folder....  But hey, I'm a crowd sourcing contributor and I had to wait 2 whole fucking years for a company to fix their damn mistakes, so yeah, anything's possible.

Cheers.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on September 27, 2014, 12:41:31 PM
I doubt they went that far, but it's possible that since I ignored them last time due to their (still very late) but quite hasty negativity, they decided not to bother this time. Or there's a problem with the way GMail does quoting, because I had to agree to something their system sends out automatically. I'm going to investigate that, now.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Rezolyze on September 29, 2014, 07:46:57 PM
Or there's a problem with the way GMail does quoting, because I had to agree to something their system sends out automatically. I'm going to investigate that, now.

Any idea if something went wrong between Gmail and their automated system?

As for Darkstar2's pessimism, I think it's still too early to assume that they won't respond. It's been almost four months of waiting, but I wouldn't worry about it until the wait has been six months or more. They may be backed up with more requests than they were the last time.

I doubt they will be able to suggest a license that meets all your requirements any more than the people here can suggest one. However, waiting a couple more months to find out shouldn't hurt anything.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on September 29, 2014, 08:54:56 PM
I can't find any evidence of that from GMail, and I received no response when I asked on their IRC. I'm afraid I'll have to give up on them and ask someone else. So they basically have as long as it takes me to do that to zip us a reply.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Darkstar2 on September 29, 2014, 09:35:25 PM
I can't find any evidence of that from GMail, and I received no response when I asked on their IRC. I'm afraid I'll have to give up on them and ask someone else. So they basically have as long as it takes me to do that to zip us a reply.

I agree with that 100%.  Normally if you are backed up you get a form reply at least acknowledging that they received your request and will get it eventually, but absolutely no response whatsoever, that is not too professional.  I think it will be a long shot if Josh gets a reply.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: rodneylives on October 31, 2014, 12:18:47 PM
Hey, just browsing around, figured I'd ask --

I'm having difficulty seeing exactly what the situation is.  What is the outside GPL-licensed software that Enigma includes?  Is it a GNU compiler runtime?  If so, what do closed source projects that use those compilers do in this situation?
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on October 31, 2014, 11:01:02 PM
The problem is that ENIGMA's original license is GPL, Rodney; we can change it if we like, but the GPL offers us (ENIGMA developers) a degree of protection that other licenses do not. I'm trying to find a license that protects us as while allowing users to close-source their games.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: Josh @ Dreamland on November 02, 2014, 01:46:20 PM
I should point out that I got a reply from the SFLC about a week ago. It wasn't everything we'd hoped for in a reply, but it was something. I emailed back promptly thereafter and am now waiting for another reply.

Worst-case scenario, Google apparently provides employees with a number of legal perks, which includes quick access to lawyers for a nominal fee, and free access to lawyers for general consulting (which might at least point me in the direction of someone who can help). Not sure what it'll come down to, but most of you are remaining patient, so at least we have that.
Title: Re: Licensing, the ultimatum
Post by: The 11th plague of Egypt on November 05, 2014, 11:49:03 AM
I should point out that I got a reply from the SFLC about a week ago. It wasn't everything we'd hoped for in a reply, but it was something. I emailed back promptly thereafter and am now waiting for another reply.

Worst-case scenario, Google apparently provides employees with a number of legal perks, which includes quick access to lawyers for a nominal fee, and free access to lawyers for general consulting (which might at least point me in the direction of someone who can help). Not sure what it'll come down to, but most of you are remaining patient, so at least we have that.
Even the worst-case scenario sounds good :D

Good luck!