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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessOpen-sourcing games, copyleft, and the rest
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Author Topic: Open-sourcing games, copyleft, and the rest  (Read 10639 times)
increpare
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« on: August 19, 2008, 01:49:16 pm »

Given that I don't have any big interest in making money from my games, I see no harm in making them open-source. 

I always feel a twinge of jealousy whenever anybody asks to use or reproduce my material on their own sites.  I'm pretty sure that it's in my best interests to resist this urge and to just set a policy of distributing all my stuff with a creative-commons or GPL licence or whatever, and hope that my gut will get used to the feeling.

I like the idea of restrictive licences that stop people distributing my stuff for money, say (GNU doesn't do this).  And I'd certainly like any distributions of my stuff to come with back-links to a place* where the most up-to-date version is kept (I don't know which licences might require people to do this).

Have any other peeps about here had a good look at the various options available for opensource/copyleft licences, and how they apply in particular to games and the games industry?
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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2008, 02:48:27 pm »

Unless your stuff doesn't have the following four freedoms:
Quote
   1. the freedom to use and study the work,
   2. the freedom to copy and share the work with others,
   3. the freedom to modify the work,
   4. and the freedom to distribute modified and therefore derivative works.
it isn't copyleft nor open source. If you want to restrict distribution, you don't provide point #2. No open source license will give up the above freedoms.

For a list of open source licenses check http://www.opensource.org/
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increpare
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2008, 03:11:28 pm »

You username strikes terror into me dude every time I see it.   Shocked Shocked Shocked


Unless your stuff doesn't have the following four freedoms:
Quote
   1. the freedom to use and study the work,
   2. the freedom to copy and share the work with others,
   3. the freedom to modify the work,
   4. and the freedom to distribute modified and therefore derivative works.
it isn't copyleft nor open source.
Open source is different to copyleft.  Oh wait, it seems I'm wrong.  I wasn't aware of this meaning of the term 'open source'.

Quote
If you want to restrict distribution, you don't provide point #2. No open source license will give up the above freedoms.
But something like creative commons would.  Or maybe I should just let it go without an explicit licence and be happy with what copyright entitles me to.

Or maybe I should be cool like the Passage guy and just let it all hang out, public domain-style.

I've checked out that site already, but think I'll need to check out more...
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Terry
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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2008, 03:48:27 pm »

Or maybe I should be cool like the Passage guy and just let it all hang out, public domain-style.

I love the way you phrased that :D

I think there's a lot to be said for going public domain, in general (it's what I've done in the past) - though I can sympathise with your concerns about not wanting people to charge or make money off your work.

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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2008, 04:07:32 pm »

I like the idea of restrictive licences that stop people distributing my stuff for money, say (GNU doesn't do this).  And I'd certainly like any distributions of my stuff to come with back-links to a place* where the most up-to-date version is kept (I don't know which licences might require people to do this).

Well, there's the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike License, which I think does what you want?  Either that or the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives License;  you didn't specify your preference about whether or not you'd like to allow people to modify your work. 

The "Attribution" licenses let you require distributors to include a web link to your site, or anything else that you want to require as attribution.

The "Non-Commercial" licenses let you restrict people from making money from distributing your work.

The "Share-Alike" licenses allow people to modify your work and redistribute, as long as they redistribute under this same license.

The "No-Derivatives" licenses disallow people from modifying your work and redistributing.


But there's a whole heap of Creative Commons licenses, all made up of various combinations of these types of clauses, and there's sure to be one that does exactly what you intend.  (They even have a simple web form to help direct you to the specific one you want)
« Last Edit: August 19, 2008, 04:12:18 pm by mewse » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2008, 04:45:29 pm »

For the record, I personally like the ISC license, which is a cleaned up version of the MIT license. It's no-frills, readable even to non-lawyers, and as permissive as they come. That means that it does allow commercial use of the code (though the copyright statement has to remain in place, so you at least get credited), but I've convinced myself that I should stop worrying about that a while back. Maybe that's a mistake, but it's much easier this way.

I also don't like the viral licenses (GPL and its ilk) so much anymore, they just feel terribly restrictive as soon as you want to incorporate some of that stuff into your own code, so I don't inflict upon others what I don't want to suffer myself.
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2008, 05:12:19 pm »

For the record, I personally like the ISC license, which is a cleaned up version of the MIT license.

I like that one;  hadn't seen it before!

All my code is currently under the GPLv3, but I've been thinking about changing to something more permissive.  I'd been considering the ZLib license, but ISC seems to have basically the same requirements while being more comprehensibly written.
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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2008, 05:16:28 pm »

I realize this discussion is legal, but my response is going to be more philosophical.

I understand the desire to hold on to what you've created. Fear of putting something you consider your where you can't control it is very real. There is a time and a place for the sort of restrictive protection on ones work. But generally I think it's better to let go, especially of the sort of little projects that built up the greater things.

You hold on to something too tight and no one will see it. I know because a little project that I was proud of some years back I lost because I held on to it so tight I didn't want anyone else to see it where I couldn't control it.

On the other hand, you let it go and it will come back to you greater than you imagined.

I think the real fear is that someone else will benefit financially from your work. Now there are those who take open source project, rename them, and sell them for a buck without the consent of anyone who worked on the project until they discover the site from a forum link, a perfectly legal if immoral practice. But if someone does make a buck from something that you probably would have never made anything from, what have you lost?

Now I've got this little project and am starting to solicit for other's contributions. But I would never use someone's work without their consent and making sure to credit them. So there you go. Your little game that may end up forgotten on your hard drive or residing on some server until it's lost in a purge is now associated distributed to an even larger audience with your name on it. How is that a bad thing for you?
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Movius
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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2008, 07:23:10 am »

You could always write your own license to fit your specific needs. Though there are probably well-known licenses that are sufficient (the Creative-commons non-commercial share-alike license mentioned earlier sounds like what you want) and most-likely more thorough.

Keep in mind that if you want people to be able to modify your work, then under the license you want, they won't be able to link to or incorporate any GPL libraries or code.
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« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2008, 07:51:25 am »

I chose GLP because, apparently, I was stupid.I take it back. I actually used Open Source. Guess I'm smarter than I thought.

Basically I want a license that says there's no license. Do whatever you want with it, you're free to manipulated it for your own ends. Becasue quite frankly that's going to happen any time you release the source code and I don't want to end up being like Compuserve that hijacked Gif once everyone was using it. That's just jerky.

Is OpenSource a better license?
« Last Edit: August 20, 2008, 01:08:20 pm by guesst » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2008, 09:13:44 am »

Basically I want a license that says there's no license. Do whatever you want with it, you're free to manipulated it for your own ends.

Have you looked at the ISC license I linked to above? It's extremely permissive.

Quote
Is OpenSource a better license?

Open source is not a license, it's... well actually it means different things to different people. But there are various "open-source approved" licenses, see http://www.opensource.org/licenses/category.
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« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2008, 09:55:16 am »

Sometimes ISC isn't free enough. For example when i made my Flash MOD player and wanted to license it in a way that was usable for others' flash games, i chose ISC. However someone pointed out that this part:
Quote
provided that the above copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies.
wasn't easy to be met in a flash game, especially if said flash game is to be licensed to some portals which dislike anything more than "Made by XYZ" or "Copyright XYZ" (fear of losing traffic, etc). So i looked around and found that zlib license is more liberal on that front, because it simply says:
Quote
  This software is provided 'as-is', without any express or implied
  warranty.  In no event will the authors be held liable for any damages
  arising from the use of this software.

  Permission is granted to anyone to use this software for any purpose,
  including commercial applications, and to alter it and redistribute it
  freely, subject to the following restrictions:

  1. The origin of this software must not be misrepresented; you must not
     claim that you wrote the original software. If you use this software
     in a product, an acknowledgment in the product documentation would be
     appreciated but is not required.
  2. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be
     misrepresented as being the original software.
  3. This notice may not be removed or altered from any source distribution.

This boils down to "do whatever you want without obligations to me, don't hold me responsible for whatever happens and if you feel like it put me in your credits". Also "if you do any kind of modification, make sure your users know its a modification and not the original thing so if you break it it wont affect my reputation" :-P.
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« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2008, 10:04:38 am »

Sometimes ISC isn't free enough. For example when i made my Flash MOD player and wanted to license it in a way that was usable for others' flash games, i chose ISC. However someone pointed out that this part:
Quote
provided that the above copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies.

Point taken. Though, most games have a credits screen, the notice can be put there. I think being at least credited for your work is not too much to ask.
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« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2008, 04:10:24 pm »

The license doesnt ask about credit but the copyright information (basically, the license itself) be included with the game/program. That isn't an issue with downloadable games because you can just drop the license file in there or put it in documentation (like many retail games do - check the manuals that come with it or the splash screens... most of them mention some of the libs they use). However it is an issue with online content like a flash game because there isn't a browsable directory to put the files in and the only options are to put the copyright info in the host page where the game is or in the game itself. Putting it in the host page is almost always impractical (and imho, ugly) when it comes to flash games while putting it in the game itself may not be desirable by a lot of people who otherwise wish to license your game.

When it comes to credit, zlib actually puts it more clearly although it doesnt require it (but a lot of people give it anyway).
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« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2008, 06:44:21 pm »

The license doesnt ask about credit but the copyright information (basically, the license itself) be included with the game/program.

Both, in fact: the first line of the ISC license contains the name of the creator of the software.

Quote
while putting it in the game itself may not be desirable by a lot of people who otherwise wish to license your game.

I don't understand this complaint. What problem can inserting the license into a credits screen cause?
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« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2008, 07:03:28 pm »

Its not really a complaint, but mostly a "common practice". I haven't seen a popular (in portals) game to put a license somewhere in the game so people prefer to steer clear from it. In practice it adds nothing and helps nowhere.

IMHO credits are different things than license requirements. This is why i used zlib which asks for an optional credit but doesn't demand it.
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« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2008, 07:47:49 pm »

I don't understand this complaint. What problem can inserting the license into a credits screen cause?

Lots of people are very precious about their credits screens.

Personally, I figure that the credits screen is an awesome way to thank people, and it doesn't cost you a penny.  So I tend to credit early and credit often, whether or not crediting is a license requirement for something I've used.  That's why my freeware games tend to have credit scrolls that last for at least a minute or two. 

But lots of people feel differently, and make decisions about what libraries or assets to use based upon whether or not they'd have to give credit for them.
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« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2008, 04:21:03 am »

Basically I want a license that says there's no license. Do whatever you want with it, you're free to manipulated it for your own ends.

You could use the WTFPL.
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« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2008, 08:04:25 am »

Basically I want a license that says there's no license. Do whatever you want with it, you're free to manipulated it for your own ends.

You could use the WTFPL.
Ya, except that I'm trying to run a site sans profanity. I think I'll stick with open-source and just not hire a lawyer.
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« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2008, 01:11:56 pm »

Basically I want a license that says there's no license. Do whatever you want with it, you're free to manipulated it for your own ends.

Sounds like you want to release it into the Public Domain.
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