Licensing (Part Two)

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Can other people use our code?

Poll ended at 11 Jul 2006 06:06

Yes, and they can even profit from it too
1
7%
Yes, but they must not profit from it
12
86%
No, lets not release the source code
0
No votes
Only if they buy the rights
0
No votes
I don't really care
1
7%
 
Total votes: 14

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aarona
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Licensing (Part Two)

Post by aarona » 07 Jul 2006 06:06

The results of the first poll are in and the results are as follows.

Should TE be for profit?
Yes - 8
No - 15

If it really wasn't too hard to organise, should TE have the option of donating money for server costs, etc, with any leftovers to be distributed to the developers/artists as fair compensation?
Yes - 15
No - 8

[Note: Although one may interpret the results in another fashion, this seems to be an appropriate solution to the problem]

In summary: TE will be "free as in beer" however if users would like to financially support the development (by donation) of the game, then they are more than welcome to.

Now we need to focus on what other people are allowed to do with the code that we release.

The legal side of things state that if we release the source code then people are free to do with it as they like, but we must decide (by the license) if people are then allowed to distribute any changes to the source code and if they are allowed to make money from it.

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Post by Hyronymus » 07 Jul 2006 08:36

My opinion on this:
  • Everyone is free to modify the TE sourcecode for private use without prior permission from the TE developers. Distributing any changed versions of the TE sourcecode to the public, in whatever shape, needs explicit prior permission from the TE developers. Approved modified sourcecode distributions should always be available free for download.
I wonder, do we need to say anything about distributing the unmodified, original sourcecode too?

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Post by WWTBAM » 07 Jul 2006 08:59

Hyronymus wrote:My opinion on this:
  • Everyone is free to modify the TE sourcecode for private use without prior permission from the TE developers. Distributing any changed versions of the TE sourcecode to the public, in whatever shape, needs explicit prior permission from the TE developers. Approved modified sourcecode distributions should always be available free for download.
I wonder, do we need to say anything about distributing the unmodified, original sourcecode too?
i agree, i think we should just have a note somewhere about sharring of unmodified versions.
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Post by Steve » 07 Jul 2006 10:23

Hyronymus wrote:
  • Everyone is free to modify the TE sourcecode for private use without prior permission from the TE developers. Distributing any changed versions of the TE sourcecode to the public, in whatever shape, needs explicit prior permission from the TE developers. Approved modified sourcecode distributions should always be available free for download.
That's pretty much hitting the nail on the head. I'd only query whether they could release the code with permission, or they can only release it through us, so it'd be part of our project.
For someone to be distributing the unmodified code.. there would be no difference than downloading it from our website, so in effect, they are a mirror to our download service. I don't think we need to discourage un-official mirroring, but of course official mirroring is always cool.
The only drawback I see is that you don't have a complete download counter.

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Post by Hyronymus » 07 Jul 2006 10:54

Is releasing modified sourcecode through us something we can "demand" then, because I agree that that will be even better than just approving requests.

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Post by Purno » 07 Jul 2006 11:12

Well, it would be nice if modifications go via us, or otherwise you could get multiple different and perhaps incompatible versions of TE available around the web. I guess that has some disadvantages.
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Post by Hellfire » 07 Jul 2006 13:36

My € 0.02:

Transport Empire should be free to download, free to contribute to and free to play.

Multiplayer servers should be able to charge a small fee for use of the server.

Also, we should be able to charge for a retail version of the game, featuring a nice printed box, manuals and stuff like that.

I don't have any objections against third parties releasing the game, but they should (financially) contribute to the project.
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Post by DominionSpy » 07 Jul 2006 15:11

I vote for the second option.

However, it is not so clear-cut. If a developer contributes code, are they now not allowed to use their own code in some other project for profit?

I think I remember Patchman being concerned with some of these issues but maybe for slightly different reasons. For example, he might want to contribute code from TTDPatch but then what is the status of that code?
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Post by aarona » 07 Jul 2006 16:12

Hyronymus wrote:Is releasing modified sourcecode through us something we can "demand" then, because I agree that that will be even better than just approving requests.
Absolutely! Its a question of reputation. If someone decides to modify our code to embed some trojan or spyware then we would be seen as the bad guys infecting peoples computers. We own the copyright to any code we produce and can demand whatever we like.

Modifying source code or even commercial programs is legal for personal use, so long as you do not distribute it, this is a law-given right. In fact, its legal to distribute patches without breaking any laws providing no part of the original code accompanies any distribution (i.e. TTDPatch can only be given to add to someones legally purchased copy of TTD)

As for distributing the unmodified, original sourcecode, I'm not sure what the issue is? Isn't spreading any server load a good thing? One issue I can see is if someone did modify the code, but we were not aware of it until it was too late. As for monitoring of download counts, can you really trust them :wink:
Hellfire wrote:My € 0.02:
<harsh>Yes Hellfire, we are aware of your thoughts from the previous thread but please keep up and stay on topic :wink: </harsh>
Hellfire wrote:I don't have any objections against third parties releasing the game, but they should (financially) contribute to the project.
Do you mean releasing the game modified or unmodified, selling or just distributing? These are important issues which need to be clarified, hence the reason why we are going through the issues piece by piece.
DominionSpy wrote:However, it is not so clear-cut. If a developer contributes code, are they now not allowed to use their own code in some other project for profit?
Ugh this can be an ugly subject. Ideas can be patented, IBM has used this sucessfully to patent things like DOS blinking cursors to squeeze money out of people.

The code and data structures in TE will be vastly different than TTDPatch, hence I doubt you could produce the same code for both. (To do so may even be counter-productive) Unless someone can come up with an example to the contrary.

After all, if this really was the case then I will go through each open-source project on the web and find any code which matches code with what I have already written in the past and become a very rich man...(Actually I believe this whole subject is a grey area, and some companies such as M$ are planning to use it to their financial benefit.)

Usual disclaimer applies - I'm not a lawyer and nothing here represents legal advice, just one man's opinions formed from websites which may or may not be legally correct convoluted with the minds ability to skew information for its own purpose :wink:

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Post by Steve » 07 Jul 2006 18:38

aarona wrote: Unless someone can come up with an example to the contrary.
Lets say TEmpire needs a revolutionary database system to store the track. I, by myself, invent a fantastic new way of doing things and create a fast efficient system for the purpose. It goes in TEmpire and is released as usual.
I realise my wonderful code can actually be applied to real world problems and set up a business to make myself rich. But wait, can I use my own code? Did I just give it away to TEmpire and I can never use it again?

As unlikely as that may be, it could be an issue. We can't just say the writer of each bit of code has rights over it, as it undermines the point of a Transport Empire group and it could mean to people withdrawing their code, which would be very problematic. On the other side, in the above situation, I should in some way have every right to use the code.

If we make re-use of code to be on a permission basis, I could always ask myself and the rest of the group if I can use my code again. If I had realised my solution has other uses before giving to TEmpire, I could have licensed it myself and then allow TEmpire to use it, which somehow would have no issues.

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Post by DominionSpy » 07 Jul 2006 21:52

aarona wrote:The code and data structures in TE will be vastly different than TTDPatch, hence I doubt you could produce the same code for both. (To do so may even be counter-productive) Unless someone can come up with an example to the contrary.
I said contributing code from the TTDPatch, however I meant not using it directly but to study the algorithms used etc.
It's all just an example any way and Steve's was much better.
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Post by aarona » 08 Jul 2006 05:38

Steve wrote:Lets say TEmpire needs a revolutionary database system to store the track. I, by myself, invent a fantastic new way of doing things and create a fast efficient system for the purpose. It goes in TEmpire and is released as usual.
I realise my wonderful code can actually be applied to real world problems and set up a business to make myself rich. But wait, can I use my own code? Did I just give it away to TEmpire and I can never use it again?
The solution is rather quite simple and extends to even the TRoS engine. If you set up your database in a way that TE only interfaces with a DLL, (dynamic linking/not a derivative work) then you can get around any issues by claiming that this library (which it will in effect be) goes under your own license and the we the TE team have permission to use it, but that you can then go away and make money off of it. (After all, its your library and your code)

Any derivative code (made by the team) must belong to TE and falls under whatever license we are using at the time. So if you are unsure if your super useful code could be used in other situations, then it makes sense to make it into a library. (Be careful it can't be tuned up, or have any bugs which someone else fixes...) Any dynamic libraries can use whatever license they like and what we use will depend on the license in question. (Thus we don't allow people to take away parts of the code for no good reason)

So thus the dependancies would be as follows...
TRoS engine - LGPL (or whatever they use in the end)
Raknet - their own license
libPNG - their license
zlib - their license
Lua - the Lua license
Steve's ubercool database - Steve's ubercool license (which allows TE unlimited access to the library)
etc...

This does mean looking at each license and seeing whats compatible, and whats not.

If your code is too embedded in the TE implementation (and thus too specific), then I bet you could get away with doing it again, but making it as extensible as possible and then releasing this as your own product. (eg GTK+ versus any other persons specific windowing release) However you would probably be wise to start the project over again without copying too much of the original code.

If you code is not too embedded but is still part of the code proper then I bet you are doing something wrong with your code structure. (Again, if someone could come up with a counter-example, that would be great)

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Post by Hyronymus » 08 Jul 2006 06:40

Aren't these examples obscuring the real issue here: the TE license. At the risk of sounding rude: I don't give a damn about the licenses of "third party software" that we'll be using. We need to know what type of license TE should have. If we know that, Steve and other ubercool parties can consider how to release their code for use in TE. If these ubercool parties refuse to limit their code to TE then they have to propose a license that fits their intentions.

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Post by aarona » 08 Jul 2006 06:50

Read the GPL license then you will understand why this is an important issue.
Or better yet, read the Wikipedia article.

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Post by eis_os » 08 Jul 2006 07:31

My two cents about the GPL

If I release a code part for TEmpire (under the special license aswell, dual licensed), someone improves the GPL version, I can't use the improvements or I have to specific ask the Author of the improvments to dual license it aswell. (Yes you can always change the license of your work and even make it non-free, if the old/other release stays intact.)

Resulting sometimes in the need of such constructs:
http://www.fltk.org/COPYING.php

One other aspect I really dislike a about GPL code is it can use any software it likes (even commercial non-free, non-public accessable code). While for API and OS calls it is ok, I sometimes see software that haveily depend on non-free software but it's GPL...

Ohh and if you go open source you can't surpress modifications that you don't like.

One thing the license needs to really state that it isn't allowed to use code from sources that can create problems (sample TTDPatch, OTTD, SimCity files (copying the lua concepts, graphics) or code that violates patents.
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Post by Archonix » 08 Jul 2006 10:36

eis_os wrote:My two cents about the GPL

If I release a code part for TEmpire (under the special license aswell, dual licensed), someone improves the GPL version, I can't use the improvements or I have to specific ask the Author of the improvments to dual license it aswell. (Yes you can always change the license of your work and even make it non-free, if the old/other release stays intact.)

Resulting sometimes in the need of such constructs:
http://www.fltk.org/COPYING.php

One other aspect I really dislike a about GPL code is it can use any software it likes (even commercial non-free, non-public accessable code). While for API and OS calls it is ok, I sometimes see software that haveily depend on non-free software but it's GPL...
If it depends on it so heavily then it's probably a breach of the GPL.

GPL can't use any code it likes. There's a list of licenses that are compatible with the GPL and those that aren't here. The use of unlicensed code is a breach of copyright law and carries civil and criminal penalties depending on how severe it is.
Ohh and if you go open source you can't surpress modifications that you don't like.
Isn't that rather the point of open source? It's about freedom, after all...
One thing the license needs to really state that it isn't allowed to use code from sources that can create problems (sample TTDPatch, OTTD, SimCity files (copying the lua concepts, graphics) or code that violates patents.
Well, disregarding software patents, which are only really enforced against other big companies, I think you've missed the point of the entire license with this. These things don't need to be spelled out in your hypothetical license because all of the above is already covered by copyright law and, to a lesser extent, patent law. The use of a work or portion thereof without a suitable license is a breach of copyright; you don't need to write that down in order to refuse the use of such things, and anyone trying to incorporate work in to TE without a suitable license would be breaking the law. It's that simple. So there's no need for it to be spelled out in any license whatsoever.

Also, another more general point I'd like to make. A couple of eople have expressed worries about whether they can use their own code in othe projects after submitting it to TE, whatever license it might have. I wouldn't see any problem with it. Remmeber, you wrote it, so that means you can license it however you like, whenever you like. You can license it under the GPL, and again as BSD, and again under the Super Deluxe I Want Your Money Now license that microsoft likes to use without any conflict, because it's your code. You own it, you can do what you want with it, and any license you've put on it only applies to other people. Of course their modifications to yoru code, if you allow such things, are another matter entirely...
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Post by eis_os » 08 Jul 2006 11:23

To clarify what I mean in my last point, I don't mean useing non-compatible license code, I mean non-compatible dlls as example, aka GPL software can dynamic link to non-gpl, the other way around is not true. Aka dynamic link to GPL software (or you have LGPL then it's ok)

I guess most people know the problem with ReactOS... (A reason I don't want to work on the TEmpire Code)

About your last paragraph I think I was clear already on the point of dual licenseing and the improve code problem.
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Post by Archonix » 08 Jul 2006 14:26

eis_os wrote:To clarify what I mean in my last point, I don't mean useing non-compatible license code, I mean non-compatible dlls as example, aka GPL software can dynamic link to non-gpl, the other way around is not true. Aka dynamic link to GPL software (or you have LGPL then it's ok)
Well I think that rather depends on the license of the libraries in question, doesn't it? And, again, I'm not sure what the problem with that is. The GPL is a license that people choose to distribute their work. If peole want to link to that library then they have to abide by the terms that the creator of the work has chosen.
I guess most people know the problem with ReactOS... (A reason I don't want to work on the TEmpire Code)
I knwo that there was some trouble with the exact meaning of reverse engineering, but that's nothing to do with the license they're using. They've audited it out, anyway.
About your last paragraph I think I was clear already on the point of dual licenseing and the improve code problem.
Well I don't really see the problem with that. The GPL lets you use his improvements as long as they stay GPL, or you can ask him for a special license to use them otherwise. It would be no different to any other license because, fundamentally, that code still belongs to the person that wrote it. If you want to use his code without having to ask, write yourself a license that says as much. Just don't expect to find a lot of people wiling to work under those terms without some serious compensation. In the case of the GPL the compensation for coders is that their work won't get taken and put in to closed software without their consent, and that they have access to any code released under the GPL as long as they abide by the terms of the GPL and keep it open.
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Post by charlieg » 11 Jul 2006 00:31

#2... GPL it. KISS!

Topic locked, read the Licensing - overview topic for the latest developments (09112006).
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