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» SmaugMuds.org » General » General Discussions » A question on licensing
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A question on licensing
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Post is unread #21 Feb 4, 2008, 8:23 pm
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Samson
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Except it's not generally true that licenses *ARE* in fact contracts. There's still plenty of debate to be had over that, even with click-wrap licensing when installing full blown commercial software. So, no, I'm afraid copping out and calling it a contract isn't going to cut it.

Copyright is very clear on this issue. The holder of the copyright has exclusive rights to several things, one of which is distribution of the copyrighted work.

The only way another party can assume they have any rights at all is if the copyright holder provides a license detailing exactly what the party is allowed to do. In their roundabout way, the Diku authors have given their written consent to allow "publishing" which can loosely be interpreted to mean distribution of derived works.

However, to assume that Merc, Rom, Smaug, Circle, or any of the other intermediate foundation codebases most of us use today also grant these same rights is foolish. The text of the Smaug license does not explicitly grant you the right to redistribute a derived work. And the Smaug devs hold copyright over their portion of the combined derived work, so they must either say so in their license, or grant such rights individually - as they did with myself for both FUSS and AFKMud.

Snippets are an entirely separate beast since they're generally written by one person or a small team from one MUD. They get released, often with no license whatsoever. Technically, this would mean you don't even have the right to "perform the work" - one of the exclusive rights of copyright - without some kind of license saying so. You certainly cannot assume a blanket right to redistribute in another work without some kind of permission.

It's sad, but true, this is where we all find ourselves today. In a situation where theoretically we could all be branded as violators to one degree or another. Unless we've been extremely careful to secure permission and keep it documented somewhere.
       
Post is unread #22 Feb 4, 2008, 9:29 pm   Last edited Feb 4, 2008, 9:42 pm by eldhamud
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eldhamud
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However, to assume that Merc, Rom, Smaug, Circle, or any of the other intermediate foundation codebases most of us use today also grant these same rights is foolish. The text of the Smaug license does not explicitly grant you the right to redistribute a derived work. And the Smaug devs hold copyright over their portion of the combined derived work, so they must either say so in their license, or grant such rights individually - as they did with myself for both FUSS and AFKMud.


I have to disagree with you samson on this point, the Diku license itself says that if you publish any part of diku mud that what you publish must be licensed under the Diku license, which ensures then that any future derivative works grant the rights of publication.

So if your published derivative work is licensed under the Diku license, then all you can do is extend on the rights or restrictions that the diku license grants, you many in no way remove rights or restrictions. So to my way of thinking, if Diku says you can publish then any derivative work inherits that right to publish by default that the work must be licensed under the diku license.

The smaug license says you must follow the Diku license, if your to follow the diku license then you have rights to publish, by exercising their rights to publish, the smaug team have by default licensed their work under the diku license and through the smaug license have added extra elements ontop of the diku license.

I hope i make sence here, cause after reading over it 3 tmes i still don't know if im making sense.


The only way another party can assume they have any rights at all is if the copyright holder provides a license detailing exactly what the party is allowed to do. In their roundabout way, the Diku authors have given their written consent to allow "publishing" which can loosely be interpreted to mean distribution of derived works.


It is only my opinion here, but i think what we might have in regards to the word PUBLICATION and also to the word PROFIT in the Diku is some funny Finish to English translation. I would be interested to see how the diku team would have wrote this license in Finish and then have a few of my Fin friends translate it back to me. Because to me it would be funny to ask a newspaper to license the artical they write about DikuMUD to be licensed under the Diku license.
       
Post is unread #23 Feb 4, 2008, 10:33 pm
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Samson
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I have to disagree with you samson on this point, the Diku license itself says that if you publish any part of diku mud that what you publish must be licensed under the Diku license, which ensures then that any future derivative works grant the rights of publication.


No. That's not what it says at all.

If you publish *any* part of dikumud, we as creators must appear in the
article, and the article must be clearly copyrighted subject to this
license.


As stupid as it may seem now, this clearly means a published article in print, not a derived work for redistribution. The part I think you're looking at is this:
This license must *always* be included "as is" if you copy or give
away any part of DikuMud (which is to be done as described in this
document).


Which is stating only that a copy of the Diku license must be included. It is otherwise silent on the issue of distributing derived works. Which means you cannot assume you have such a right without it being granted to you via another means. We're essentially left to trust that the Merc team obtained the proper permission, and in turn the Smaug team as well. Just as I had to obtain proper permission for redistribution of FUSS and AFKMud.

None of this is actually relevant to the issue at hand though. The rights of those who produce and distribute snippets. Even if the snippet can't stand on its own, the work is protected by copyright. Therefore one cannot simply assume "well, I downloaded it, it's mine to use however I please". One can infer that the download gives you the right to use it in your own work. But that does NOT mean you can assume redistribution rights unless there's a license saying you have that right. I suspect that hardly anyone involved in snippet releases has even begun to think about the actual legal problems this sort of thing can cause, especially for those who provide no license at all to go by.
       
Post is unread #24 Feb 4, 2008, 11:46 pm
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eldhamud
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If you publish *any* part of dikumud, we as creators must appear in the
article, and the article must be clearly copyrighted subject to this license.


Publishing and re-distribution i feel are pretty interchangeable in the essence of how we use it, print people say publish and software people say distribute, but the essence is the same, a method of passing on information to others, I may want to publish in print, the web or in binary code or source code package. The same goes for article, the word itself does not imply an article as in print media, an article can also be an object IE, An article of clothing.

I personally like clarity in what i can and cannot do, knowing i can create a derivitive work and also if i so choose to publish that work is important to all of us. While you Samson have an agreement with Thoric in regards to smaug code and the fuss and afk packages, that only covers code written by the smaug team and not anything written by Diku or Merc, unless there is some level of inheritance from Diku to Merc to Smaug and onwards with regard to publication. The smaug team cannot give or restrict rights that they do not already hold.

And as anyone who publishes Diku code, in part or in full, must also license what they release under the terms of the Diku license, which grants the rights for others to publish Diku code, Don't you feel that this gives everyone involved a little stability from unknowns and might actually be something clever in the license, by ensuring that anyone who publishes a derived work also grants the right to others to do the same.
       
Post is unread #25 Feb 5, 2008, 2:46 am
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David Haley
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I agree, I think it's rather odd to assume that "publishing" strictly refers to printed material. In fact, I've seen the term used time and time again to source code, e.g. "I published my source code on my website". The term "article" does lend a bit to confusion although I'm not sure what meaning it would have to publish a textual article under a software license. (They also cannot restrict your fair use rights on publishing representative portions for e.g. criticism, but that's a whole other story.)

The fact that they even mention what you must do if you copy and distribute the source seems like a pretty obvious indication that it is implied that you may copy and distribute the source and hence derived works.

I think you choose rather arbitrary lines for what is obviously implied and what isn't... At the least, the fact that people disagree about what is obvious is a fairly clear indicator that relying on what is "obviously implied" doesn't really work.

Regardless, the problem remains clear. Snippets are in a license limbo if they don't have a license. As I said, I think it should be a requirement that snippets have a license, and that anybody who uploads a snippet must either provide a license or agree to a site-wide default that says reasonable things (e.g. right to use, and right to redistribute in SMAUG derivs or whatever). It might even be reasonable to make the default license for SMAUG snippets be essentially the same as the SMAUG license.

This whole license discussion is a terrible PITA and only becomes relevant when people try to play funny games with licenses anyhow... :sigh:
       
Post is unread #26 Feb 5, 2008, 5:39 am
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Kayle
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Funny games? You mean like Cheezbrgr Tag? (find that picture why don't you. :P)

Anyway, I'm now suing the lot of you for Um.. Eating my Cheezbrgr. Good day. :P
       
Post is unread #27 Feb 5, 2008, 6:26 am   Last edited Feb 5, 2008, 6:28 am by Samson
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Samson
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eldhamud said:

While you Samson have an agreement with Thoric in regards to smaug code and the fuss and afk packages, that only covers code written by the smaug team and not anything written by Diku or Merc, unless there is some level of inheritance from Diku to Merc to Smaug and onwards with regard to publication. The smaug team cannot give or restrict rights that they do not already hold.


Herein lies the big problem. I know I got permission from the Smaug team to release a derived work based on Smaug. Copyright law basically says I had to since the license they issued did not specifically grant me that right. We are left to assume that the Smaug team in turn got permission from the Merc team to release a derivative of Merc 2.2. We are further left to assume the Merc team got permission from the Diku team to release Merc 1.0 as a derivative of DikuMUD.

The Diku team has copyright over their own work. Therefore their license applies to that work. They however do not hold copyright to the changes and additions the Merc team made, and cannot apply their license to that work as a result. They lack the authority. The same with Merc regarding Smaug. They can't exert authority over work they don't hold copyright on. Just as Thoric and the others can't exert authority over the additions we've made to FUSS and AFKMud over time. Derivative works seriously complicate matters in that you technically need permission from everyone in the chain to release something based on it.

None of the licenses Smaug is subject to specifically say you have the right to release derivative works. So it would be highly unlikely you could make the case in court that you do, based only on vague wording from the DikuMUD license.

RE: Snippets:

SmaugMuds.org lacks any authority to impose license terms on things which are uploaded here, other than a non-exclusive right to distribute a copy of the code which is agreed to by the act of uploading it here for people to get. Beyond that the only thing we have the authority to do is refuse to host something if it contains terms we don't find acceptable.
       
Post is unread #28 Feb 5, 2008, 11:39 am
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eldhamud
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A software publisher is a publishing company in the software industry between the developer and the distributor. In some companies, two or all three of these roles may be combined (and indeed, may reside in a single person, especially in the case of shareware).

Software publishers often license software from developers with specific limitations, such as a time limit or geographical region. The terms of licensing vary enormously, and are typically secret.

This is the very essense of what we do, and it fits nicely into the wording of the Diku license. As the developer of the Eldhamud codebase, i have a right to publish my work under the Diku license, which the Merc and Smaug licenses inherited because the Diku says that anything published must be licensed under the Diku license, The GPL can make future works GPL, i dont see a problem with Diku making future works Diku also.

The only real problem then license wise are the distribution sites who do not have permission from the publisher to distribute the work.

Im sorry to anyone who cannot see how simple and eloquent some aspects of the Diku seem to be, because to me, it says that we can make derivitive works and we can publish them.
       
Post is unread #29 Feb 5, 2008, 11:58 am   Last edited Feb 5, 2008, 12:00 pm by Kayle
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Kayle
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But that's not what it says.

It says the license must be included AS IS with any redistribution. No where in there does it say that you can release derivative works. In the case of MUDs, publishing refers to that act of compiling and running the server. By compiling, you are creating an executable. You then run that executable. The act of creating said executable is the publishing the source into a usable format.

Also, are you sure you meant eloquent?
Webster said:

1. having or exercising the power of fluent, forceful, and appropriate speech: an eloquent orator.
2. characterized by forceful and appropriate expression: an eloquent speech.
3. movingly expressive: looks eloquent of disgust.

None of those appear to apply.
       
Post is unread #30 Feb 5, 2008, 2:18 pm   Last edited Feb 5, 2008, 2:34 pm by Quixadhal
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Quixadhal
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Kayle said:

But that's not what it says.


Actually...
It says the license must be included AS IS with any redistribution. No where in there does it say that you can release derivative works.


Note the change of emphasis. As I recall, the Diku authors wanted to ensure that you could change anything in the codebase EXCEPT the license, which was meant to be binding as it was written. You can add your own license to further extend rights granted to your additions, or to restrict your additions in ways that don't conflict with the original Diku license.

The actual text is:
license.diku said:

This license must *always* be included "as is" if you copy or give away any part of DikuMud (which is to be done as described in this document).

and further down:
license.diku said:

You are allowed to alter DikuMud, source and documentation as long as you do not violate any of the above stated rules.


Kayle said:

In the case of MUDs, publishing refers to that act of compiling and running the server. By compiling, you are creating an executable. You then run that executable. The act of creating said executable is the publishing the source into a usable format.


Not sure where that idea came from. In the case of any kind of media, publishing refers to the act of distributing property or (in the case of intellectual property) copies of property. That can be through point of sale, through free distribution, or through just making it available (which is what typically applies here).

IANAL, but to say publishing is compiling is rather like saying publishing music is the act of recording it onto media so one can then play it back. To whit, I can take your sheet music and play it (badly!) with an instrument into a microphone and create a recording. That's the same as compiling source code to an executable. However, I'm not publishing anything unless I then start selling tapes, or encode it as an mp3 and put it on my web server... at that point, I'm publishing my interpretation of your work and if your sheet music license said I have to send you a fried cheese stick whenever I re-published it, I'd have to start up the fryer.
       
Post is unread #31 Feb 5, 2008, 4:18 pm   Last edited Feb 5, 2008, 4:18 pm by Kayle
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Kayle
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Quixadhal said:

Not sure where that idea came from.


From the same place all my other ideas so far in this thread have come from, empty space. :D
I'm just trying to keep this oh so interesting thread alive, so I have something good to read in the mornings. XD
       
Post is unread #32 Feb 5, 2008, 8:36 pm
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Samson
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eldhamud said:

Im sorry to anyone who cannot see how simple and eloquent some aspects of the Diku seem to be, because to me, it says that we can make derivitive works and we can publish them.


Frankly, you'd be wrong then and could be potentially opening yourself up for a world of hurt by adopting that viewpoint. The Diku license, in its uniquely awful way, reasonably allows derivative works of DikuMUD, such as Circle, Merc, Copper, SillyMUD, and any of the other 2nd generation codebases that sprang from it. It however cannot extend its entire scope to 3rd generation codebases that sprang from the 2nd generations, such as DaleMUD, Smaug, Rom, Envy, and tbaMUD. The Diku team does not hold copyright on the CircleMUD team's additions to the codebase. They do not hold copyright on the Merc team's additions to the codebase. They don't hold copyright on the SillyMUD or Copper codebases or anything else derived from it either.

I'm sorry to say, but it really is this simple. The only sure and safe bet is to obtain permission first. Then there can be no doubts. Or file a lawsuit, spend an assload of money, and get a judge to side with you. Which seems easier to pull off?
       
Post is unread #33 Feb 5, 2008, 9:08 pm
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eldhamud
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Frankly, you'd be wrong then and could be potentially opening yourself up for a world of hurt by adopting that viewpoint.


Not if any derived published work is also subject to the Diku License, which is what it says must happen if you publish any part of dikumud, and if publishing refers to, in our case the release of source or binary code.

If i get some time this week i will run this all past my solicitor and see what she has to say on the matter. Not that she is an expert in this stuff, but atleast it is someone who understand a little more on matter of law than either of us.
       
Post is unread #34 Feb 5, 2008, 9:20 pm
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David Haley
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Except that by even mentioning "solicitor" you are showing that any information you obtain will be almost irrelevant for US folks, since we don't have "solicitors" here. :wink:

Samson said:

The only sure and safe bet is to obtain permission first.

Well, I'll agree that that's a very safe bet. But the SMAUG license does say that you must follow the Diku license, meaning that the Diku license's grants transfer to SMAUG. Of course, the point is irrelevant because the Diku license also says that if you publish you must notify them, so we're not talking about free redistribution anyhow...

Sigh. This license question really is a mess. It'd be easier if they just came along and relicensed it; I doubt they really even care anymore...
       
Post is unread #35 Feb 5, 2008, 9:27 pm
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Samson
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An Australian legal opinion isn't going to be worth a great deal with regard to a registered US copyright. It might shed some light on how things would go where you are, eldhamud, but up here it isn't going to fly. :)
       
Post is unread #36 Feb 5, 2008, 10:08 pm
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eldhamud
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Australian copyright laws were brought into alignment with US copyright laws as a part of the US-Australian Free Trade Agreement Bush and Howard forced on us all, so the opinion would be a good indicator of relevance to both countries, and again it would only be the opinion of 1 person who deals with contract law and is hardly an expert in matters of mud licensing.

What i want to know is, what rights does the publish passage grant me, and to than end i think that is irrespective of the laws of any specific country.
       
Post is unread #37 Feb 5, 2008, 10:12 pm
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David Haley
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Oh, the rights the license grants you are very relevant to what country you're talking about. In some countries, some rights may not be given; in other countries, some rights may not be taken away; in yet other countries, nobody really gives a hoot either way. (Let's think about China, for instance...)
       
Post is unread #38 Feb 5, 2008, 10:31 pm
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eldhamud
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Oh, the rights the license grants you are very relevant to what country you're talking about. In some countries, some rights may not be given; in other countries, some rights may not be taken away; in yet other countries, nobody really gives a hoot either way. (Let's think about China, for instance...)


LOL, ok point taken, thanks for adding another reason why i hate licenses so much. ;)
       
Post is unread #39 Feb 5, 2008, 10:55 pm
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eldhamud
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You may under no circumstances charge money for
distributing any part of dikumud - this includes the usual $5 charge
for "sending the disk" or "just for the disk" etc.


This would imply that you are allowed to distribute also, just not charge for it. If it wasn't implied that you were allowed to distribute there would be no point in stopping anyone from charing for doing so, they would just say you cannot distribute.

So again, as the smaug license defers to diku, it would mean that you can distribute their work also without seeking any extra permissions to do so. In your case Samson i don't see that what you did is required, but it does add an extra layer of indemnity and it shows respect for the people whose work you have used.

I myself have followed the license requirements to email everyone that asks for it, and i think i may have also emailed Thoric letting him know i was releasing Eldhamud, tho i know i didn't ask for permission to do so.
       
Post is unread #40 Feb 5, 2008, 11:16 pm
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Samson
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Again, the point you both seem to be missing: The Diku license covers Diku. It does not cover Merc additions, nor does it cover Smaug additions. Those are derived works covered by a separate copyright which is licensed under its own terms. That they say you must follow the terms of the underlying derivative is logical, you are building upon 3 layers of code beneath and you'd need to have those rights conferred somehow. But again, the copyright for the derived works is beyond the scope of the original license. The Diku team cannot control the release of that work any more than they can control the release of snippets of code which clearly depend on Smaug to operate.
       
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