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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 #41 Feb 5, 2008, 11:22 pm
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David Haley
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It seems "obvious" that by saying you need to be following the previous licenses, that you're also getting to distribute under those same terms. :shrug: The point is not whether or not the Diku license in isolation affects SMAUG: obviously, it doesn't. But you're forgetting that the SMAUG license adopts the Diku license explicitly as its parent license.

I still don't understand what criteron/a you're using to determine that one set of rights is "obviously implied" but not another. Frankly the whole thing is murky and poorly-worded enough that I hesitate to say whether anything, regarding what is and isn't implied, is obvious...
       
Post is unread #42 Feb 6, 2008, 12:05 am   Last edited Feb 6, 2008, 12:12 am by eldhamud
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eldhamud
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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.


Actually it can, If you agree with the terms of publishing, then you must license your work under the Diku license. This is exactly what the GPL does, it gives you the right to make derived works as long as it also made available as GPL.

You may wish to extend or enhance or make clearer the rights the Diku grants in your own license, but you cannot take away those rights.


Frankly the whole thing is murky and poorly-worded enough that I hesitate to say whether anything, regarding what is and isn't implied, is obvious...


I do agree with you, but the more i have thought on it, the more i see that this is a case of Engrish rather than a poorly written document. Anyone who is not from an english speaking background would relate to this sort of thing pretty well, where words and or ideas do not really make the transition well, now i don't know much about the original authors, have never met them, nor spoke with them, or corresponded with them enough to know how well their english is, but i have neibours who have been in australia for 40 years from finland who still use incorrect english words where to them it must be hard to process fin to english.

The words Profit and Income both can translate to the word ansio in fin which means
# earnings
# gain
# income
# merit
# profit
# qualification,

also the words Article and Object can be translated to the word esine which translates to
# article
# object
# thing

Does all this mean anything, HELL NO, but it has allowed me to see clearer the possible intent of those who created the licence. So what do i think this all means to me,

1. I can run free game that does receive any money
2. that i can create a derived work
3. that i can release a derived work that is subject to the terms of the diku
4. that i must give proper credit where it is due.

And while this might seem very clear to me, it does not mean that it is with others, so that Samson and I might just need to agree to disagree on this matter. At the end of the day no harm has been done, only that everyone has the interests of the original authors in mind. What i do have now is a really clear picture of what i would like to do with the next version of the Eldhamud license. I will post a draft for opions later if i get time.
       
Post is unread #43 Feb 6, 2008, 12:29 am
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David Haley
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The unfortunate thing about licenses is that it's not really meaningful to agree to disagree when people are trying to enforce the license with/upon other people. :wink: That's why all of this only comes up in the first place when people try to do something funny with the license, and other people express their disapproval...
       
Post is unread #44 Feb 6, 2008, 1:51 am
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eldhamud
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The unfortunate thing about licenses is that it's not really meaningful to agree to disagree when people are trying to enforce the license with/upon other people. :wink: That's why all of this only comes up in the first place when people try to do something funny with the license, and other people express their disapproval...


The only thing tho is in this case no one is trying to do anything funny or trying to find a loophole to do something that we all don't already do, many create derivative works and some of those release their work to the general public, in the way i understand the license we are all being lawful and under Samsons view we are all stand on perilous grounds of uncertainty.

Tho Samson has the Smaugs teams approval to create a derived work based on Smaug code, he does not have that or Merc nor Diku. If Thoric approached Merc to gain approval to create a derived work, those rights gained are to Thoric and the smaug team and are not transferable, what they would have is a Verbal Contract beween the 2 parties. Those rights are not inherited down the line.

This same principle would apply if Merc contacted Diku to get rights to produce a derivitive work, again you would have a verbal contract between Merc and Diku, which does not get inherited by anyone further down the line.

There is only one way i can see that we all gain the rights to make derived works and publish them and thats if each successive license grants the same rights as the Diku, which is what i believe is happening when Merc and Smaug say to follow the Diku license. I also think that it the Diku requires it, by demanding that if you publish any part of Diku that what you publish is bound by the terms of the Diku License.

I know i personally do not like having someone trying to enforce their view of things on me as fact when its only an opinion. Something that might be helpful would be to create a FAQ or Standard that is a consensus view of the Smaug community of what is FACT about the license that leaves out all the contested or controversial materials, which can be used as a baseline for anything to do with license adherence or violator bashing.
       
Post is unread #45 Feb 6, 2008, 2:04 am
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David Haley
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I was referring to the various threats of revocation that have been passed around (have they been enacted? let's hope not), and the question that started this thread, when I was referring to people doing funny things with licenses. :wink:

eldhamud said:

Something that might be helpful would be to create a FAQ or Standard that is a consensus view of the Smaug community of what is FACT about the license

Oh sure -- because there is clearly a consensus as to what is fact about the license. :lol: No, don't get me wrong, I agree that this would be a wonderful thing to have, it's just that I don't think we'll get there without somebody or several somebodies imposing at some point their own opinion on the issue.

I agree though that it's kind of annoying to have somebody slam somebody else for a perceived license violation when that is just under one interpretation of the license that isn't necessarily a good one. Fortunately though we have not seen that here -- actually I haven't seen it in a while, which is a good thing...
       
Post is unread #46 Feb 6, 2008, 2:23 am   Last edited Feb 6, 2008, 2:27 am by eldhamud
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eldhamud
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Oh sure -- because there is clearly a consensus as to what is fact about the license. :lol: No, don't get me wrong, I agree that this would be a wonderful thing to have, it's just that I don't think we'll get there without somebody or several somebodies imposing at some point their own opinion on the issue.


It does not have to be as hard as it sounds, if the process was open, with clearly defined goals and terms of reference and what would constitute a consensus on any singular point, then leaving it to the vote of the community at large would allow for an easy informed consensus to be formed.

Allowing input into the forming of the questions would allow Mr Radical to pose his question, but if that is not the opinion of the majority then it would never be part of what would become the Standard.

Some like the idea of self policing, where usually it ends up with the biggest ego or bully winning or those who can muster the most support for said idea. I much prefer the self regulation approach, where the community at large decides what it sees as right and wrong based on the licenses, giving itself a yard stick to compare too.

In the future this might become much more of a necessity as even now, its hard to impossible to get some of the authors to come out of hiding to clarify some of the questions we have in regards to their license, work and intended meanings. And it is us who currently work with this code and license that could use a standard the most.
       
Post is unread #47 Feb 6, 2008, 2:40 am
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David Haley
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Well, to achieve this, first we'd all have to agree on what it means to have consensus; we'd have to agree on who gets a vote; we'd have to agree on how long to leave the discussion open; etc. The question about who gets to vote is harder than it sounds, IMO: which community are we talking about? A forum's membership? If so, then how long do you have to have been a member to get a vote? We wouldn't want newbies voting because that could give people a mechanism to cheat the vote by creating new accounts, and so forth.

Really, I think that the community does have a broad consensus on what may be done on the simple points. I'm very surprised to see the distribution point even questioned in this thread because that calls into question a huge portion of the MUD community's existence. Samson never did say what it means about all FUSS derivatives, which technically would have no right to be distributed if we follow his reasoning about distribution. But really, as a community what we've done until now is to assume that all derivatives follow the same licenses, and therefore all derivatives bestow the same rights and restrictions and all parent licenses.

We've also seen that the SMAUG copyright holders implicitly agree with this because they surely know all about the fact that there are tons of derivatives, and yet they have done nothing to stop them as long as they follow the license. (In fact, I'm not sure they've done anything to stop them even when they did violate the license.)

Shrug. This whole question seems like a storm in a teacup. As a community I figure that we might as well keep doing what we've always done, which is assume right to redistribute SMAUG derivatives. Assuming otherwise would mean that almost the entire community is a massive license violation...
       
Post is unread #48 Feb 6, 2008, 7:00 am
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Samson
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eldhamud said:

I also think that it the Diku requires it, by demanding that if you publish any part of Diku that what you publish is bound by the terms of the Diku License.


You aren't reading things carefully enough. They tell you what your expectations are *IF* you publish. They don't explicitly say you *CAN* publish though. Nowhere do they have language that comes close to saying "you can make derivative works based on this code and distribute them". It might seem like nitpickyness but that's exactly what lawyers get paid to do is nitpick.

On the issue of permission, The Merc team would have had to get permission from the Diku team to distribute. Just as Thoric would have needed permission from the Merc team. Though we have no ironclad proof saying everything here is all great and wonderful, we also don't have widespread hostility and complaints about Smaug raping Merc by distributing to the masses. While not a legal conclusion, it's pretty good evidence that nobody disapproves.

And David, as uncool as it sounds, there's some truth to the argument that the entire community may well be in violation of a number of provisions of copyright. We all use rather poorly worded licenses to govern our contributions and we all more or less take it on faith that we have the right to distribute the continued results of that work. But when it all comes down to the dirty details of a court case, we could all get whacked badly if someone chose to assert their letter of the law rights. We've all established a de-facto standard because there are no court cases to guide things, and the licensing is practically worthless.

I admit, I'm among the more aggressive defenders of my work. I tend to be very intolerant of people distributing it outside of those places I've personally offered my code for download. I have pursued enforcement action against people when I find them. And I've made clarifications to the text of the AFKMud license in the past when issues have arisen that need to be dealt with. I didn't sit on my ass for 15 years and watch things turn to shit, then complain about it when they did. Yet, despite all this, the law says you can bring your case and win even if you've never done a thing to defend your copyright in the past. This isn't like trademark where failure to defend causes forfeiture.

Implicit agreement with anything isn't enough. There needs to be explicit agreement. As a derived work, AFKMud has been permitted to be distributed by the Smaug team. I personally contacted Thoric and Nivek and got approval from both of them. I did the same when it became clear FUSS was going to be a viable continuation of Smaug. Neither of these dealings happened in public. They don't need to in order to be valid. Just as we are left to assume Thoric and Nivek got permission in some was from the Merc team to distribute Smaug, and in turn the Merc team secured the same from the Diku team. If this actually did not happen then yes, the entire Smaug and/or Merc community could be sitting atop a house of cards.
       
Post is unread #49 Feb 6, 2008, 7:06 am
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David Haley
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My point was just that the only reasonable assumption on which to base our existence is that it's ok for us to distribute. Otherwise, the consequence is that we're all in violation and might as well stop. Either that, or stop giving license violators trouble... :wink: More seriously though, it comes down to this:
Samson said:

While not a legal conclusion, it's pretty good evidence that nobody disapproves.

Basically, that's the end of it unless it's brought to court. It's the most reasonable assumption to continue working off of.
       
Post is unread #50 Feb 6, 2008, 10:11 am
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Kayle
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This has all made me realize one thing. I'm going to have to hire a copyright lawyer and have them write all my software licenses from now on.

And boy, I never expected on bogus request like appending something to the eldhamud license would blossom into such a fun read.

I guess I should clarify now though, I didn't actually expect that one to be followed there Eldhamud. :P It was more to stress how picky I will be when you add the weather to Eldhamud. If the comments aren't there, you would be in violation of the snippet terms, and then through that in violation of our agreement for you to redistribute the snippet in your code.

And David, I'm suing you for dodging the issue. kthx. :lol:
       
Post is unread #51 Feb 6, 2008, 11:55 am
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eldhamud
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I guess I should clarify now though, I didn't actually expect that one to be followed there Eldhamud. :P It was more to stress how picky I will be when you add the weather to Eldhamud. If the comments aren't there, you would be in violation of the snippet terms, and then through that in violation of our agreement for you to redistribute the snippet in your code.


Well seeing that you wish to let everyone know it was your code i was referring to i will respond, i was very happy to leave out details of who and what i was talking about.

While you may think its funny to make as you call them BOGUS requests, some of us actually take these matters very serious and work very hard to fulfill requests by any requirements that the snippet author has and to fully credit them for their work and contribution.
       
Post is unread #52 Feb 6, 2008, 1:28 pm
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Kayle
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Well, I was hoping you'd have been smart enough to actually talk to ME about that, instead of making apublic discussion out of it, but meh. This turned out to be way more fun.
       
Post is unread #53 Feb 8, 2008, 6:14 pm
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eldhamud
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Just a little update, i managed to run the Diku past my solicitor, her response was, "What sort of monkeys wrote this garbage."

I asked the following questions on the license, the answers are in my own words, as this discussion was done quickly on the mobile phone while i was driving to the airport, and well as you know, legal types wont put anything in writing.

Q.1. can i make a derivitive work.
A. Yes, by giving you the right to modify the source, means you can make a derivitive work.

2. can i release the derivitive work.
A. Yes, it gives you the right to publish, it could be argued that article means in print, but i doubt that would actually hold.

3. are there any license restrictions would be put on the derivitive work.
A. Yes, a published derived work would have to give the same rights as contained in this license.

4. what meaning would you give to this
In order to use SMAUG you must follow the Diku license and our license. The exact terms of the Diku license are in the file 'license.diku'. A summary of these terms is:

A. That the smaug license is giving you the rights contained within the diku license.

5. Would i need to see permission from anyone to make or distribute a derived work.
A. No, as long as your in compliance with the terms of the licenses there would be no need as the license grants you the rights to do so.

Again i will mention the answers are in my words and have been shortened and do not contain all the argument and reasoning for the answers.
       
Post is unread #54 Feb 8, 2008, 8:39 pm
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Kayle
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Except none of that matters, because it's as you said, your words. Your words are not the words of a lawyer. Nor can any of us take the words of an Australian Lawyer, Because, we're not Australian, we're American, and Smaug was filed for copyright in the US, making it fall under US Copyright law. Not Australian, no matter how close they are because of free trade.
       
Post is unread #55 Feb 8, 2008, 9:10 pm
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Samson
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eldhamud said:

5. Would i need to see permission from anyone to make or distribute a derived work.
A. No, as long as your in compliance with the terms of the licenses there would be no need as the license grants you the rights to do so.


You do realize of course that even if we buy the "I spoke to my lawyer" BS, that your stated #5 here means you had no authority to revoke the license to distribute Eldhamud 1.0.04 here and at MudBytes, right? You should be careful about taking up unsubstantiated positions like that lest they possibly be used against you by someone else in the future. Might want to keep that in mind the next time you decide to run your mouth off about revoking someone's license to distribute your own work that's based on DikuMUD.

For the record, I don't buy this position one bit and will continue to defend my own rights where necessary. I also doubt you'll find a sane judge who would be willing to say a license that has no scope over your own work can alter your own rights under copyright law.
       
Post is unread #56 Feb 8, 2008, 9:24 pm
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David Haley
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Samson, you have to either buy the position and tell him he can't revoke it, or not buy it and tell him it's ok for him to revoke... you can't tell him his position is bogus and then say that his position proves that he can't revoke. :wink:

BTW I find it plausible that he spoke to a lawyer about it, not sure why it has to be made into such a contentious issue.
       
Post is unread #57 Feb 8, 2008, 9:39 pm
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Samson
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I see my attempt at pointing out the hypocrisy in a sarcastic way has utterly failed. So I shall be plain and obvious about it.

Eldhamud revoked our license to distribute his codebase. He then took up the position in the last few pages of posts that the DikuMUD license governs us all, that it gives us the right to create and distribute derived works stemming from it. If that's the case, it's my contention he lacks the authority to revoke rights the DikuMUD license grants. He's even trotted out the argument from authority defense to back himself up, even though we have no way to prove one way or the other if he spoke to a real lawyer or is talking out his ass. He can't have it both ways. Either he has rights to control his works based on DikuMUD or he doesn't. And by extension, either *I* have rights to protect my own works based on DikuMUD or I don't. Either we all have those rights or we don't.

Is it clear enough now? I sure hope so.

The reason this is such a contentious issue is because situations like this always arise out of license parsing. Without pointing any fingers at anyone about their intentions, I find that it's almost always related to someone looking to exploit a loophole and digging up arguments to support that. It's just so much easier to look at what you've been given and go by what it says. Not by what 50 wannabe forum lawyers all say should happen. Read the license. The language of it does not explicitly grant derivative work distribution rights. That's all.
       
Post is unread #58 Feb 8, 2008, 9:50 pm
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eldhamud
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They are my words yes, because i did not have a dictation machine with me at the time to be able to give you a quote, but what i wrote is an accurate representation of the words given to me, so don't try and allude to them being fudged.


Smaug was filed for copyright in the US, making it fall under US Copyright law. Not Australian, no matter how close they are because of free trade.


Copyright is one of the best examples of law that can for most intents and purpose be looked at without the worry of jurisdictional boundaries. The reason is most western countries are signatories to a number of important treaties and agreements that guarantee all fundamental principles of copyright are the same in each country.

For example the Berne Convention means Smaug is also covered by Australian Copyright Law even tho is was never filed here, giving the Smaug team legal recourse in this country for any infringements upon its copyright. The only way that things like that can be achieved is if the fundamental principles are the same in each country that signs to that convention.

The FTD extended Australian laws to include the aspects of US law that were not currently present. Mostly this was all about digital rights management.

And while you might like to go this means nothing its not US law, if you don't like the opinions of an Aussie then get some legal opinion in the US and post here what they tell you. There are plenty of free legal centers about the place and if not there, ask some law student at your uni to look into it, or speak to one of the law lecturers and ask them for an opinion.

For me, well im pretty happy and safe in the knowledge that as far as i can tell i am operating well within the bounds of the law here.
       
Post is unread #59 Feb 8, 2008, 10:01 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.


Here is something that was just pointed out to me, in the Copyright Legislation it refers to articles or things to do with software, and in the case of copyright and in the above mentioned excerpt from the Diku article in that instance is NOT to do with newspapers, so anyone the argument that article is print is pretty much MooT.


Presumptions relating to computer programs

(1)Â This section applies to an action under this Part relating to copyright in a literary work that is a computer program if:
(a)Â articles or things embodying all or part of the program have been supplied (by sale or otherwise) to the public; and
(b) at the time of the supply, the articles or things, or their containers, bore a label or other mark consisting of the letter “C” in a circle accompanied by a specified year and the name of a person.

(2)Â It is presumed that:
(a)Â the computer program is an original literary work; and
(b)Â the computer program was first published in the year; and
(c)Â the person was the owner of copyright in the program when and where the articles, things or containers were labelled or marked; unless the contrary is established.

(3)Â A presumption about a person under subsection (2) does not imply that the person was the only owner of copyright in the program when and where the articles, things or containers were labelled or marked.


So when you publish any part of Diku Mud, even a derived work, what you publish must be covered by the Diku License.
       
Post is unread #60 Feb 8, 2008, 10:16 pm
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Samson
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I for one am sick to death of all this back and forth speculation based on crap. So I'm going to see how much, if anything, it will cost to have the following answered:

1. Does the license grant the right to distribute copies of the work?

2. Does the license grant the right to compile, modify, and use the work?

3. Does the license grant the right to create derivative works, and distribute those works?

4. Does the license grant the right to charge a fee for use of or access to a game based on the work?

5. Does the license extend its reach to substantial additions as a derived work?

6. Does the license extend its reach to patches, snippets, and other
code written by 3rd parties intended to be used with the work?


I've sent an inquiry to Software Freedom Law Center to see if they'd be willing to answer those questions, and give a general feel for exactly what the license allows and doesn't allow. Since these guys are heavily involved in software rights issues, and specifically with GPL related issues, they should be well qualified to render an opinion.
       
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