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Author Topic: Licensing, the ultimatum  (Read 9006 times)
Offline (Male) Josh @ Dreamland
Posted on: May 31, 2014, 11:45:32 AM

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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.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2014, 12:47:13 PM by Josh @ Dreamland » Logged
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Offline (Male) Goombert
Reply #1 Posted on: May 31, 2014, 12:00:31 PM

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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.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2014, 12:03:11 PM by Robert B Colton » Logged
Welcome to ENIGMO, the game engine built by fucking aliens.

Offline (Male) Rusky
Reply #2 Posted on: May 31, 2014, 12:04:38 PM

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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.
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Offline (Unknown gender) Darkstar2
Reply #3 Posted on: May 31, 2014, 12:06:34 PM
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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 ??? 
« Last Edit: May 31, 2014, 12:12:29 PM by Darkstar2 » Logged
Offline (Male) Josh @ Dreamland
Reply #4 Posted on: May 31, 2014, 12:52:08 PM

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@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.
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"That is the single most cryptic piece of code I have ever seen." -Master PobbleWobble
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -Evelyn Beatrice Hall, Friends of Voltaire
Offline (Male) Rusky
Reply #5 Posted on: May 31, 2014, 01:05:27 PM

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Looks fine.
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Offline (Unknown gender) The 11th plague of Egypt
Reply #6 Posted on: May 31, 2014, 05:00:55 PM
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Very nicely put.
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Offline (Male) Rusky
Reply #7 Posted on: May 31, 2014, 08:47:09 PM

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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.
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Offline (Male) Josh @ Dreamland
Reply #8 Posted on: June 01, 2014, 08:39:14 PM

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I've split the topic where the discussion started that ultimately derailed the original purpose of this thread; you can find it here.

Other relevant information: this letter has been sent. I will update this post/topic when I hear back.
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"That is the single most cryptic piece of code I have ever seen." -Master PobbleWobble
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -Evelyn Beatrice Hall, Friends of Voltaire
Offline (Male) Josh @ Dreamland
Reply #9 Posted on: June 01, 2014, 09:00:09 PM

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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.
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"That is the single most cryptic piece of code I have ever seen." -Master PobbleWobble
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -Evelyn Beatrice Hall, Friends of Voltaire
Offline (Unknown gender) Sabriath
Reply #10 Posted on: June 03, 2014, 02:55:20 AM
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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?
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Offline (Unknown gender) The 11th plague of Egypt
Reply #11 Posted on: June 03, 2014, 03:29:02 AM
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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.
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Offline (Unknown gender) Sabriath
Reply #12 Posted on: June 04, 2014, 12:52:33 AM
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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.

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.
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Offline (Unknown gender) Darkstar2
Reply #13 Posted on: June 04, 2014, 01:10:55 AM
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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.

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Offline (Male) Rusky
Reply #14 Posted on: June 04, 2014, 02:21:07 AM

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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.
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