IF library licence / game licence

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Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 30, 2002, 3:53:14 AM7/30/02
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On another thread I brought up the idea of making an open-source
oriented licence for libraries, one which would pressure library users
("game" writers) to make the sourcecode of their "games" available to
the public. There are several reasons why this availability would be a
good thing: it would aid library writers in making improvements, it
would provide a wider pool of resources for educating beginning (and
more advanced) coders, it would involve further development of
libraries, which might in turn be useful for other users who might
want develop the library in the same direction.

Without getting further into idealities and good reasons, let's admit
to the problems similar plans face, specifically the GNU GPL and the
GNU LGPL, when applied to interactive fiction. An idea which begins as
a drive towards opening up more sourcecode becomes a problem of rights
to modify individual art works, which further becomes a problem of
differentiating library modifications from the game itself. (Those of
you who are very familiar with the problems will perhaps skim the next
two paragraphs, to make sure I'm not missing or contorting anything. I
thought I had all this figured out, but I recently learned something
new about the LGPL, which I'm including here.)

Any GPL'd library requires that works which make use of the library
are likewise GPL'd. A game writer might have legitimate qualms giving
the game a GPL, since that would permit others to change it later,
however they want. (The changes would have to be GPL'd also, and could
be further changed, but that doesn't make the game writer feel any
better.) The GPL was designed to stop obstruction of development, but
artists may legitimately want to "finish" their piece as part of the
formal aesthetic, so blocking further development might be
artistically beneficial. (Also, it's probably humiliating for someone
to improve your work of art, though it's more often a compliment for
someone to imrpove or further develop your library.) So because GPL'd
libraries will require that games be GPL'd as well, the GPL is in most
cases aesthetically displeasing, if nothing else, since it destroys
the art's proper form; it effaces the painting's signature.

The LGPL goes some way to answer this major objection, but a game
derived from an LGPL'd library would still be required in turn to
carry an LGPL: development of a game based on an LGPL'd library could,
at the author's option, be closed, but only with some difficulty. Any
part of the game which is based on the library has to carry the LGPL;
any part which is not based on the library (the "transcript" part
shall we say, for example) can be closed. However, this requires that
the non-library part of the game be distributed seperately. If you
distribute a version of the library with the rest of the game, then
the whole thing has to be LGPL'd. (See LGPL section 2.) In all cases I
can think of, it would be difficult to extract the "truly original"
part of the work from the "derived" part of the work; a better word
might be impossible. This leads into the problem of differentiating
the two, the "original" part from the "derived" part.

According to the LGPL, "the difference between a 'work based on the
library' and a 'work that uses the library' [is this:] the former
contains code derived from the library, whereas the latter must be
combined with the library in order to run." I think this means that if
you have an object whose superclass list contains an object/class
defined by the library, that object is "based on" the library, and
hence is derived. Objects which are newly defined, that is, which do
not inherit from the library, are not derived from the library, and
can be free of the LGPL if distributed seperately.

The LGPL does what is intended (it opens up the library-oriented part
of the source for the game), but carries problems and complications. I
think if we could solve this problem with a new licence oriented
towards IF, library authors would pick it up, and there would follow a
number of benefits to the community.

I expect to repost on this thread, but I'm going to think about it
some more and see what others think in the meanwhile. Thanks for your
patience reading a longish and somewhat complicated message. Hopefully
this will be worth the trouble.

Kevin Forchione

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Jul 30, 2002, 1:55:31 AM7/30/02
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"Stephen L Breslin" <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote in message
news:3d4632e1....@news.buffalo.edu...

> I expect to repost on this thread, but I'm going to think about it
> some more and see what others think in the meanwhile. Thanks for your
> patience reading a longish and somewhat complicated message. Hopefully
> this will be worth the trouble.

Curiously, the idea of a "freedom" that connotes "pressuring", and
"compelling" an artist to in some manner relinquish control over his works
is repugnant to me. As a library extension author I would not want to coerce
an author into compromising his principles simply by incorporating a piece
of code that was meant to facilitate his artistic endeavors.

No, I have to respect the artist. I have no truck with any notion of freedom
that does not. It's the egoist in me. Licenses that allow another to slap on
a new title, or change a line or two of code, even where requiring that the
other cite the original only help to enforce an attitude that has become all
too common these days - that because you have created something, I have a
right to share in and profit from the fruits of your labor. That policy
leads to artistic bankruptcy.

The intention of an artistic creation cannot be divorced from its execution.

--Kevin


Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 30, 2002, 5:43:14 AM7/30/02
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On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 05:55:31 GMT, "Kevin Forchione"
<ke...@lysseus.com> wrote:

>Curiously, the idea of a "freedom" that connotes "pressuring", and
>"compelling" an artist to in some manner relinquish control over his works
>is repugnant to me. As a library extension author I would not want to coerce
>an author into compromising his principles simply by incorporating a piece
>of code that was meant to facilitate his artistic endeavors.

I agree. I didn't use the word "freedom" in my post, and I would like
to stay away from facile ideological diatribes which words like
"freedom" tend to encourage; indeed, I made a new thread, among
several reasons, so we could avoid the "freedom" tangent, which I
think is too ideological and irrelevant for our present purposes. I
used the word "free" once, I think to refer to an author being _free
from GPL_.

GPL and LGPL, with all its rhetoric about freedom, is actually much
too constricting for any reasonable purposes in IF licencing. The last
post attempted to explain the problems with applying GNU/FSF-style
licensing restrictions to IF. I'm more interested in gently pressuring
the users of libraries to give back to the community by publishing
their modifications of the libraries, and for various reasons which I
began to mention last post. I'm more interested in encouraging authors
to release their source code because this will inevitably help the
community. I'm especially interested in making a good, responsible
licence which people will want to use. Otherwise, what's the point?

Hence the problem with GNU/FSF licences. I don't like the GPL or the
LGPL for use with IF, as I explained last post; I expect that our
reasons are roughly the same. The goals of these two licences are
different from the goal I'm trying to present. The goals are similar
insofar as they provoke the release of derivitive source code for the
benefit of the community.

>No, I have to respect the artist. I have no truck with any notion of freedom
>that does not. It's the egoist in me. Licenses that allow another to slap on
>a new title, or change a line or two of code, even where requiring that the
>other cite the original only help to enforce an attitude that has become all
>too common these days - that because you have created something, I have a
>right to share in and profit from the fruits of your labor. That policy
>leads to artistic bankruptcy.

I agree again, but I'm not sure how this is a response to the thread.
Perhaps I'm confused because we're agreeing polemically. I'm not
talking about "freedom" at all. Perhaps you are responding to the last
somewhat related thread, "Question on Open Source IF," which dealt
with conflicting definitions of freedom, and which didn't end up
producing anything very useful.

>The intention of an artistic creation cannot be divorced from its execution.

I don't know how relevant that is to the discussion.... I guess the
intention is only realized in the execution, and is otherwise
impossible to measure. I'm not sure where that gets us as far as
talking about licences is concerned. Please explain if you care to.

Branko Collin

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Jul 30, 2002, 9:11:01 AM7/30/02
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"Kevin Forchione" <ke...@lysseus.com>, you wrote on Tue, 30 Jul 2002
05:55:31 GMT:

I looked at some of the libraries in the Inform directories at the IF
Archive, and it would seem that most of those cannot even legally be
distributed.

Your own license for timesys reads: "(c) Kevin Forchione, 1998, but
freely usable."

To me that means that it cannot be distributed either, nor can it be
used in any game, nor can it be modified. The only people who are safe
using your license would be the players of the game.

I hope you don't mind, but I'd rather take my luck with the idea of
freedom you so seem to hate.

1. Here's what copyright is: it's a big wall, that cannot be crossed.

2. Here's what a license is: it's a door in that wall, controlled by
the author.

3. Here's what copyleft is: it's turning the wall in a door that's
constantly wide open and forbidding anyone to close the door.

Obviously you don't want 1 or 3 for works of art, but I guess most
people would not want the door in 2 to be electrified or only very
slightly ajar so only certain people would fit through, or locked
every tuesday afternoon between 3 and 5 o' clock.

It is better to have licenses than no licenses at all, because the
latter would mean you are not allowed to do anything with the work.

And when you have licenses, you'd better have good licenses.

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Frank Otto

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Jul 30, 2002, 9:33:41 AM7/30/02
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It looks like Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote:
:
: The LGPL goes some way to answer this major objection, but a game

: derived from an LGPL'd library would still be required in turn to
: carry an LGPL: development of a game based on an LGPL'd library could,
: at the author's option, be closed, but only with some difficulty. Any
: part of the game which is based on the library has to carry the LGPL;
: any part which is not based on the library (the "transcript" part
: shall we say, for example) can be closed. However, this requires that
: the non-library part of the game be distributed seperately. If you
: distribute a version of the library with the rest of the game, then
: the whole thing has to be LGPL'd. (See LGPL section 2.) In all cases I
: can think of, it would be difficult to extract the "truly original"
: part of the work from the "derived" part of the work; a better word
: might be impossible. This leads into the problem of differentiating
: the two, the "original" part from the "derived" part.
:
: According to the LGPL, "the difference between a 'work based on the
: library' and a 'work that uses the library' [is this:] the former
: contains code derived from the library, whereas the latter must be
: combined with the library in order to run." I think this means that if
: you have an object whose superclass list contains an object/class
: defined by the library, that object is "based on" the library, and
: hence is derived. Objects which are newly defined, that is, which do
: not inherit from the library, are not derived from the library, and
: can be free of the LGPL if distributed seperately.

I agree that the LGPL is absolutely unsuited for IF development,
at least with the current development systems. In my opinion, the
LGPL is tailored towards situations where you are able to link your
code *dynamically* with the library. For today's IF systems, this is
not the case (TADS 3 may be an exception, I don't know.). For instance,
if you had an Inform game that #included an LGPL'ed library, the
result of compilation would be a Z-Code (or Glulx) story file that
contained both the library and the game itself. Now section 5 of the
LGPL clearly states:

> ...linking a "work that uses the Library" with the Library creates an
> executable that is a derivative of the Library (because it contains
> portions of the Library), rather than a "work that uses the library".
> The executable is therefore covered by this License. Section 6 states
> terms for distribution of such executables.

[Full text see here: http://www.opensource.org/licenses/lgpl-license.php]

And section 6 goes:

> As an exception to the Sections above, you may also combine or link a
> "work that uses the Library" with the Library to produce a work
> containing portions of the Library, and distribute that work under terms
> of your choice, _provided_that_the_terms_permit_modification_of_the_work_
> for the customer's own use and reverse engineering for debugging such
> modifications."
[ emphasis added by me ]

If I understand that right, this would require the game author to allow
players to modify the game (if only for their own use), and that is
obviously something that most game authors won't do.

Section 6 goes on with further requirements that IMO require the game
author to make the source code of the game accessible to players, and
that further require him (in the case of Inform) to distribute the
Inform compiler and library along with his game. That's were it becomes
ridiculous.


: The LGPL does what is intended (it opens up the library-oriented part


: of the source for the game), but carries problems and complications. I
: think if we could solve this problem with a new licence oriented
: towards IF, library authors would pick it up, and there would follow a
: number of benefits to the community.

Actually, I'm currently working on a library extension for Inform, and
already asked myself what license it should carry. My latest idea was
something like this:

Modification and distribution (in original or modified form) of the
library are allowed, provided that copyright notices and this license
are not changed.
Usage of the library (in original or modified form) for the purpose
of producing a compiled story file is unrestricted, i.e. the resulting
story file may be distributed under terms of the game author's choice.

These terms would assure that any improvements of the library would
still be open-source, while placing no restrictions on game authors
who would like to use the library.
I'd like to know what others, especially game authors, think about such
a license.

Bye,
Frank

--
Frank Otto pci uni heidelberg de
dot at dot dash dot

Dan Schmidt

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Jul 30, 2002, 9:28:55 AM7/30/02
to
Given that I've never heard of a copyright or licensing problem with
any of the hundreds of freely-available and non- or sloppily-licensed
libraries on ifarchive (a couple of which are mine), I just don't
worry about it.

(Games are another matter. I wouldn't want someone selling my game
without my permission.)

--
http://www.dfan.org

Stephen Cameron

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Jul 30, 2002, 10:23:07 AM7/30/02
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On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 07:53:14 GMT, Stephen L Breslin
<bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote:
[....]

>
>Any GPL'd library requires that works which make use of the library
>are likewise GPL'd. A game writer might have legitimate qualms giving
>the game a GPL, since that would permit others to change it later,
>however they want. (The changes would have to be GPL'd also, and could
>be further changed, but that doesn't make the game writer feel any
>better.) The GPL was designed to stop obstruction of development, but
>artists may legitimately want to "finish" their piece as part of the
>formal aesthetic, so blocking further development might be
>artistically beneficial. (Also, it's probably humiliating for someone
>to improve your work of art,

Is this really a real problem? I'm thinking of Collossal Cave Revisited,
for example, a GPL'ed game, whish says in the readme:

Colossal Cave Revisited isn't meant to be an unchanging mass of
archival source code. On the contrary, I hope that people will add
new features, objects and locations. If you do add things, please
let me know so I can incorporate the changes into the official
distribution.

I think people that release stuff under the GPL generally _want_
it to be modified, or else they wouldn't use the GPL.
The real problem, I suspect, is more that nobody _does_ modify what GPL'ed
IF that's out there, especially not in artistic ways. (Bug fixes, perhaps,
but probably not as much as you'd hope.)

It would be interesting to know what additions have been
contributed to CCR, if any. I'd guess not many, but that's just a guess.
I suspect most people with a bent towards writing IF aren't going to
want to graft onto CCR, they will want to make their own game.

I think worrying about somebody, say, completely rewriting the ending
to your GPL'ed masterpiece of IF is a bit like worrying about being
struck by lightning. Spend your time worrying about something with
better odds of actually happening.

A more likely outcome of GPL'ed code is that somebody says, "Hey, I
really like the way that subharmonic truamaphone (the deadliest
of musical instruments) worked in this game, my game needs one of
those, I can use that code." And so they take it.

Anyway, like Linus said, the person that writes the code gets to
decide the license and nobody else gets to complain.

-- steve

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 30, 2002, 1:46:23 PM7/30/02
to
Licences can be designed to do many things. Most commonly
(comercially) they protect the work from certain kinds of misuse, as
in selling without permission, or in other contexts, distributing
without permission, using without permission, using outside of a
certain location, and so on. Licences don't end there; I'm not talking
about a protective licence, and I agree with Dan Schmidt that IF
libraries are in no great danger of misuse (although they are indeed
misused, albeit indirectly, each time a game based on a library is
misused). A licence designed to protect libraries from misuse is
perhaps a silly idea.

Dan Schmidt <df...@dfan.org> wrote:

>Given that I've never heard of a copyright or licensing problem with
>any of the hundreds of freely-available and non- or sloppily-licensed
>libraries on ifarchive (a couple of which are mine), I just don't
>worry about it.

Agreed. There's little threat of copyright infringement. Let's not
worry a need for a licence designed to "protect" libraries. If we come
up with a useful licence, we might include this sort of protection as
an afterthought, or we might say that protectionism is downright
destructive and avoid writing this into a licence. That might be
interesting to discuss....

>(Games are another matter. I wouldn't want someone selling my game
>without my permission.)

Yes, we need to keep this in mind, and it's good you mentioned it. If
an IF library licence emerges, it should protect users of the library
from such exploitation as you describe. As you seem to imply, library
writers are often less emotionally attached to and protective of their
work than game writers. We're not talking about a protective licence
at the moment.

So anyway, let's instead discuss something much more interesting: a
licence to get more library users showing the community what they have
done with the library, how they have used it perhaps, or what
modifications they made. This would be a licence similar to the common
"If you make improvements, do tell me so I can incorporate them in
future versions," but even more useful to the community as a whole.

Perhaps the questions are these: what, if any, productive demands
could a library make on its users, with an eye to the general benefit
of the IF community, and with what limitations? What dangers, aside
from the obvious one that users would not want to cooperate with too
strict a licence, and would therefore avoid the library or break the
licence? What benefits are to be had from such a productive licence,
if we are to weigh benefit against negative?

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 30, 2002, 2:26:44 PM7/30/02
to
Stephen Cameron wrote:

[responding to a couple reasons why authors want to close development
of their games:]

>Is this really a real problem? I'm thinking of Collossal Cave Revisited,

>for example, a GPL'ed game, which [has a GPL type licence and
>encourages further development].

Sometimes games will not want to be closed-form. That's another
aesthetic, and rather still avant garde I think. Consevative writers
want their work protected from negative alteration.

>I think people that release stuff under the GPL generally _want_
>it to be modified, or else they wouldn't use the GPL.

Right. However, people in the IF community generally do not use the
GPL because they don't want their game to be further modified; this
closure is in some cases a part of and essential to the work. Among
all the things that the GPL speaks to, the main problem from a
conservative IF point of view is that the work, and all derivitive
works, are open to modification.

Anyway, for those avant garde writers who want to produce a work in
progress designed to become a work of the community as a whole, there
already exists the GPL.

>[...]


>I think worrying about somebody, say, completely rewriting the ending
>to your GPL'ed masterpiece of IF is a bit like worrying about being
>struck by lightning. Spend your time worrying about something with
>better odds of actually happening.

I wryly agree with your suggestion that this is an unlikely danger in
most cases. Still, it's probably worth protecting against this danger,
if only to make users feel more comfortable. Also, a licence that
permits further modification says something substantial about the
status of the work. We need a licence that will permit the formal
closure of the game's development, if only for aesthetic reasons.

>A more likely outcome of GPL'ed code is that somebody says, "Hey, I
>really like the way that subharmonic truamaphone (the deadliest
>of musical instruments) worked in this game, my game needs one of
>those, I can use that code." And so they take it.

I was thinking about this. This sounds nice, but we either need a
limiting licence that will protect against this sort of quotation, or
we need to work out a definition of quotation such that quotation can
be differentiated from "whole hog" modification.

>Anyway, like Linus said, the person that writes the code gets to
>decide the license and nobody else gets to complain.

Not necessarily. Any work that's based on a library is subject to the
licence of that library, although there can add further licences
added. The inherited licence wins when there's a conflict between
licences. If I use your library in my game, but I break your library's
licence, you get to complain.

The person who writes the library does get to choose, although I'm not
sure what sort of limitations a language or application (or Virtual
Machine) can make on a library, that is, what sort of licences a
library inherits.

I'm interested in working out a licence that library writers will want
to choose, and working out the complications so they no longer need be
thought through or forgotten each time a new library is written.

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 30, 2002, 2:35:02 PM7/30/02
to
On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 13:11:01 GMT, col...@xs4all.nl (Branko Collin)
wrote:

>"Kevin Forchione" <ke...@lysseus.com>, you wrote on Tue, 30 Jul 2002

>>Curiously, the idea of a "freedom" that connotes "pressuring", and
>>"compelling" an artist to in some manner relinquish control over his works
>>is repugnant to me. As a library extension author I would not want to coerce
>>an author into compromising his principles simply by incorporating a piece
>>of code that was meant to facilitate his artistic endeavors.
>>
>>No, I have to respect the artist. I have no truck with any notion of freedom
>>that does not. It's the egoist in me. Licenses that allow another to slap on
>>a new title, or change a line or two of code, even where requiring that the
>>other cite the original only help to enforce an attitude that has become all
>>too common these days - that because you have created something, I have a
>>right to share in and profit from the fruits of your labor. That policy
>>leads to artistic bankruptcy.
>>
>>The intention of an artistic creation cannot be divorced from its execution.
>
>I looked at some of the libraries in the Inform directories at the IF
>Archive, and it would seem that most of those cannot even legally be
>distributed.
>
>Your own license for timesys reads: "(c) Kevin Forchione, 1998, but
>freely usable."
>
>To me that means that it cannot be distributed either, nor can it be
>used in any game, nor can it be modified. The only people who are safe
>using your license would be the players of the game.

That's ludicrous. Don't be ridiculous. It's true the licence is not
very detailed, and open to interpretation, but come on pal.

>I hope you don't mind, but I'd rather take my luck with the idea of
>freedom you so seem to hate.

Nobody hates your idea of freedom. Quit being a drama queen.

>1. Here's what copyright is: it's a big wall, that cannot be crossed.
>
>2. Here's what a license is: it's a door in that wall, controlled by
>the author.
>
>3. Here's what copyleft is: it's turning the wall in a door that's
>constantly wide open and forbidding anyone to close the door.

Thanks for the info.

>Obviously you don't want 1 or 3 for works of art, but I guess most
>people would not want the door in 2 to be electrified or only very
>slightly ajar so only certain people would fit through, or locked
>every tuesday afternoon between 3 and 5 o' clock.

Can you speak in fewer inflamatory metaphors if you want to get
anything done please?

>It is better to have licenses than no licenses at all, because the
>latter would mean you are not allowed to do anything with the work.
>
>And when you have licenses, you'd better have good licenses.

I agree. That's what we're trying to productively work out on the
former thread.

Joe Mason

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Jul 30, 2002, 12:15:20 PM7/30/02
to
In article <uit2xl...@dfan.thecia.net>, Dan Schmidt wrote:
> Given that I've never heard of a copyright or licensing problem with
> any of the hundreds of freely-available and non- or sloppily-licensed
> libraries on ifarchive (a couple of which are mine), I just don't
> worry about it.

Unfortunately, you really should. We've had several contributing
members of the group leave in a huff or descend into trollism in the
past. I hate to draw attention to the recent spamming of forged
insults, but the person who calls himself Jacek Pudlo was here
for years and seemed like an intelligent and helpful poster before going
off the deep end. And, in old news, the author of one of the better games
of the mid-90's stormed off and seemed to hold a grudge against the
whole group for a while. There may have been other, less spectacular
incidences.

Imagine if you were using a library contribution written by one of these
two people. If it had an ambiguous license, or none at all, this gives
them a great way to attack you using the letter of the law. Sure, you
could probably argue that the forum they were released (the fact that
most of them live in a directory called "contributions" is telling)
gives you an implicit license, and you'd probably win if it came to a
lawsuit, but that's still harrasment you don't want to have to worry
about.

That said, obviously nobody's going to pass up the library extension
that solves all their problems just because it has a sloppy license.
(If the license cleary says you can't use it, that's another story.)
The best way to make the situation clearer is for authors to get in the
habit of slapping a good license on their code.

Personally, I use the BSD license for library contributions. (Or I
would if I'd made any - I believe the few of mine on the archive are
from when I was young and foolish.) This means that people can do
pretty much anything with it, which is pretty much what I want in this
case.

Joe

Joe Mason

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Jul 30, 2002, 12:20:45 PM7/30/02
to
In article <3d46d170...@news.buffalo.edu>, Stephen L Breslin wrote:
>>I think worrying about somebody, say, completely rewriting the ending
>>to your GPL'ed masterpiece of IF is a bit like worrying about being
>>struck by lightning. Spend your time worrying about something with
>>better odds of actually happening.
>
> I wryly agree with your suggestion that this is an unlikely danger in
> most cases. Still, it's probably worth protecting against this danger,
> if only to make users feel more comfortable. Also, a licence that

Mind you, I seem to recall that for a long time the canonical version of
King Lear was the one with the happy ending...

>>A more likely outcome of GPL'ed code is that somebody says, "Hey, I
>>really like the way that subharmonic truamaphone (the deadliest
>>of musical instruments) worked in this game, my game needs one of
>>those, I can use that code." And so they take it.
>
> I was thinking about this. This sounds nice, but we either need a
> limiting licence that will protect against this sort of quotation, or
> we need to work out a definition of quotation such that quotation can
> be differentiated from "whole hog" modification.

Or you can always email the author and ask for permission. No matter
what the license says, the author can get around it whenever they want.

I don't think we need to bother working out the details of a whole new
license for this - the details are subtle. Just stick a note at the top
of your code, saying, "Permission to use this code in other works is
available by request. Email so-and-so."

Joe

Adam Thornton

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Jul 30, 2002, 12:21:42 PM7/30/02
to
In article <slrnakdes...@zork.plover.net>,
Joe Mason <j...@notcharles.ca> wrote:

[lots of thoughtful stuff; in reply to lots of thoughtful stuff]

We are drifting perilously close to the Copyright Thread again. I just
wanted everyone to be aware of that before a Certain Moustachioed
Someone feels the need to become involved.

Adam

Lucian P. Smith

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 1:46:49 PM7/30/02
to
Stephen Cameron <scam...@zuul.cca.cpqcorp.net> wrote in <slrnakd7pb....@zuul.cca.cpqcorp.net>:

: I think worrying about somebody, say, completely rewriting the ending


: to your GPL'ed masterpiece of IF is a bit like worrying about being
: struck by lightning.

While this is true, people still put lightning rods on their houses. And
if I recall correctly, someone *did* release their own version of
'Balances' a while back without even crediting Graham Nelson. 'Balances'
doesn't come with any license except to say "Copyright (c) 1994, 1995,
1996 by Graham Nelson." I don't think the person who released his own
version was being malicious--I think he was uninformed.

Licenses for IF are not useful for stopping the malicious. They are
useful for communicating to the uninformed, who probably don't know the
intricacies involved--people who might not even read the newsgroup. As IF
authors and writers, if we include some sort of license, think of it as an
educational tool, not a legal one.

And having some sort of simple, boilerplate license examples on the
archive and/or other places would help us do that. Hmm, maybe the FAQ?

-Lucian

Mike Roberts

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 1:55:49 PM7/30/02
to
"Stephen L Breslin" <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote:
> According to the LGPL, "the difference between a 'work
> based on the library' and a 'work that uses the library' [is
> this:] the former contains code derived from the library,
> whereas the latter must be combined with the library in
> order to run." I think this means that if you have an object
> whose superclass list contains an object/class defined by
> the library, that object is "based on" the library, and hence
> is derived.

I don't claim to know what the official gnu interpretation is, and my
intuition has contradicted the official gnu position on other questions, but
to my way of thinking, subclassing a class does not involve modifying the
original class; it's just a way of invoking the code defined in the base
class. It seems to me that the test for derived-from vs client-of is
simple: if you got out your text editor and changed the source files of the
original library, you've created a derived work; if not, not.

--Mike
mjr underscore at hotmail dot com

Stephen L Breslin

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 5:11:07 PM7/30/02
to
On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 16:20:45 -0000, Joe Mason <j...@notcharles.ca>
wrote:

>>>A more likely outcome of GPL'ed code is that somebody says, "Hey, I
>>>really like the way that subharmonic truamaphone (the deadliest
>>>of musical instruments) worked in this game, my game needs one of
>>>those, I can use that code." And so they take it.
>>
>> I was thinking about this. This sounds nice, but we either need a
>> limiting licence that will protect against this sort of quotation, or
>> we need to work out a definition of quotation such that quotation can
>> be differentiated from "whole hog" modification.
>
>Or you can always email the author and ask for permission. No matter
>what the license says, the author can get around it whenever they want.

That's true. The author can override the licence in and for specific
cases. However, if we're talking about a library license which
automatically gives everyone a right to use the game's modifications
of the library, the issue of asking the author for permission goes
back into play with the other issues we're discussing; so things
aren't so simple.

>I don't think we need to bother working out the details of a whole new
>license for this - the details are subtle. Just stick a note at the top
>of your code, saying, "Permission to use this code in other works is
>available by request. Email so-and-so."

That works most of the time for games, but not at all for libraries.
Also, such a note is not terribly useful or informative because it's
implicit anyhow. We may not need a "whole new license" for games; a
licence for libraries is the main topic here, although we need to keep
an eye on what the games based on libraries are going to have to
inherit licensing wise.

Stephen L Breslin

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 5:13:32 PM7/30/02
to
>Joe Mason <j...@notcharles.ca> wrote:
>
>[lots of thoughtful stuff; in reply to lots of thoughtful stuff]
>
>We are drifting perilously close to the Copyright Thread again.

Can you push us away from whatever danger spot you see, or clarify
what peril we're in? I don't think we're talking about copyright, but
if you think we are, or you think we shouldn't, or whatever, why don't
you explain? The warning by itself is not so helpful....

Stephen L Breslin

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 5:23:08 PM7/30/02
to

Thanks Mike. I'll try to verify this one way or another. I wonder what
about modifying and replacing classes defined by the library....

Stephen Cameron

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 2:46:07 PM7/30/02
to
On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 18:26:44 GMT,
Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>Stephen Cameron wrote:
[...]

>>Anyway, like Linus said, the person that writes the code gets to
>>decide the license and nobody else gets to complain.
>
>Not necessarily. Any work that's based on a library is subject to the
>licence of that library, although there can add further licences
>added. The inherited licence wins when there's a conflict between
>licences. If I use your library in my game, but I break your library's
>licence, you get to complain.

Didn't say the person who writes the code and decides the license
and has his license violated by somebody else doesn't get to complain.

You do get to choose what libraries and tools you use, and considering
their license implications is part of that decision. A library cannot
impose it's license on you unless you allow it. You always have the
choice of not using a library.

Ok, back to lurk mode, since I'm probably stating the obvious now.

-- steve

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 2:41:48 PM7/30/02
to
On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 13:11:01 GMT, Branko Collin <col...@xs4all.nl> wrote:

You seem to be intentionally inflamitory here, but I'll assume for the
moment that you're not just Trying To Start a Fight.

>
>I looked at some of the libraries in the Inform directories at the IF
>Archive, and it would seem that most of those cannot even legally be
>distributed.
>
>Your own license for timesys reads: "(c) Kevin Forchione, 1998, but
>freely usable."
>
>To me that means that it cannot be distributed either, nor can it be
>used in any game, nor can it be modified. The only people who are safe
>using your license would be the players of the game.

That's mad.

Seriously.

The license says "Freely usable" and your response is "THat means you
can't freely use it."

>
>I hope you don't mind, but I'd rather take my luck with the idea of
>freedom you so seem to hate.

Them's fighting words.

Will people please stop speaking of things like GPL in this
holier-than-thou "I support it because I like freedom, and anyone who
does not support it is an enemy of democracy" voice?


>
>1. Here's what copyright is: it's a big wall, that cannot be crossed.
>
>2. Here's what a license is: it's a door in that wall, controlled by
>the author.
>
>3. Here's what copyleft is: it's turning the wall in a door that's
>constantly wide open and forbidding anyone to close the door.
>

No, it's not. copylefting is still a wall, in that it prevents you
from taking anything outside it. It's also a virus.


>Obviously you don't want 1 or 3 for works of art, but I guess most
>people would not want the door in 2 to be electrified or only very
>slightly ajar so only certain people would fit through, or locked
>every tuesday afternoon between 3 and 5 o' clock.
>
>It is better to have licenses than no licenses at all, because the
>latter would mean you are not allowed to do anything with the work.
>
>And when you have licenses, you'd better have good licenses.
>

Um... so?

Adam Thornton

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 2:56:15 PM7/30/02
to
In article <3d4700f1...@news.buffalo.edu>,

Stephen L Breslin <bres...@Macsu.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>Can you push us away from whatever danger spot you see, or clarify
>what peril we're in? I don't think we're talking about copyright, but
>if you think we are, or you think we shouldn't, or whatever, why don't
>you explain? The warning by itself is not so helpful....

We're going around and around about "The GPL lets you do this/forces you
to do that" vs. "But I want to do THIS and don't want to have to do
THAT." From here it's a short step to the "But if it's up on the
IF-Archive then that's an implicit license to <foo>" and from there
you're off on the slippery slope of "Well, you have no leg to stand on
if someone starts burning and selling 'IF-Archive's Greatest Hits!!' on
Ebay."

And I don't need to go there again.

Adam

Adam Thornton

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 3:03:48 PM7/30/02
to
In article <M5B19.1346$Dw2...@nwrddc01.gnilink.net>,

L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>Will people please stop speaking of things like GPL in this
>holier-than-thou "I support it because I like freedom, and anyone who
>does not support it is an enemy of democracy" voice?

Why do you hate America so much?

If you don't love the GPL, the Terrorists have Already Won.

Ashcroft^WAdam

Stephen L Breslin

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 6:37:10 PM7/30/02
to
On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 18:56:15 +0000 (UTC), ad...@fsf.net (Adam Thornton)
wrote:

>We're going around and around about "The GPL lets you do this/forces you
>to do that" vs. "But I want to do THIS and don't want to have to do
>THAT."

I haven't gotten the sense that we're going "around and around," and I
hope the discussion doesn't start circling unfruitfully. I would hope
that something actually useful come out of this exchange. "Around and
around" implies stagnation and bickering. Let's certainly avoid that
sort of thing!

We are discussing what the GPL allows and does not, balancing that
against what sort of licence could be most useful for IF libraries, in
order to refine our ideas about the latter. We're discovering the
limitations and problems with the GPL when applied to IF because we
might learn how to make an even better licence, more suited to the
typical needs of IF library writers, game writers, and the community
at large.

>From here it's a short step to the "But if it's up on the
>IF-Archive then that's an implicit license to <foo>" and from there
>you're off on the slippery slope of "Well, you have no leg to stand on
>if someone starts burning and selling 'IF-Archive's Greatest Hits!!' on
>Ebay."

I would be interested in hearing from someone (who knows what they're
talking about) on the subject of implicit licences; in the meanwhile,
I'm taking the idea of productive licensing from the FSF and GNU.
People are going to make false presumptions whether you have a
beneficial licence or not. As another poster wrote, we're really more
interested in advancing the interests of the community; if we can make
a useful licence to this end, all the better.

Jason Etheridge

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 4:25:02 PM7/30/02
to
Adam Thornton wrote:
> Why do you hate America so much?
> If you don't love the GPL, the Terrorists have Already Won.

Good old red-blooded Microsoft told me that the GPL is communist
and unAmerican and a virus.

--
http://phasefx.home.mindspring.com/

David Picton

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 5:01:26 PM7/30/02
to
scam...@zuul.cca.cpqcorp.net (Stephen Cameron) wrote in message news:<slrnakd7pb....@zuul.cca.cpqcorp.net>...

> On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 07:53:14 GMT, Stephen L Breslin
> <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote:
> [....]
> >
> >Any GPL'd library requires that works which make use of the library
> >are likewise GPL'd. A game writer might have legitimate qualms giving
> >the game a GPL, since that would permit others to change it later,
> >however they want. (The changes would have to be GPL'd also, and could
> >be further changed, but that doesn't make the game writer feel any
> >better.) The GPL was designed to stop obstruction of development, but
> >artists may legitimately want to "finish" their piece as part of the
> >formal aesthetic, so blocking further development might be
> >artistically beneficial. (Also, it's probably humiliating for someone
> >to improve your work of art,
>
> Is this really a real problem? I'm thinking of Collossal Cave Revisited,
> for example, a GPL'ed game, whish says in the readme:
>
> Colossal Cave Revisited isn't meant to be an unchanging mass of
> archival source code. On the contrary, I hope that people will add
> new features, objects and locations. If you do add things, please
> let me know so I can incorporate the changes into the official
> distribution.

I think that it does need to be said that this is a special case;
Colossal Cave Revisited is a port of the original Adventure game, and
it has long been considered acceptable to produce new versions. This
is happening even today; Mike Arnautov is developing a new 770-point
version.

> I think people that release stuff under the GPL generally _want_
> it to be modified, or else they wouldn't use the GPL.
> The real problem, I suspect, is more that nobody _does_ modify what GPL'ed
> IF that's out there, especially not in artistic ways. (Bug fixes, perhaps,
> but probably not as much as you'd hope.)
>
> It would be interesting to know what additions have been
> contributed to CCR, if any. I'd guess not many, but that's just a guess.
> I suspect most people with a bent towards writing IF aren't going to
> want to graft onto CCR, they will want to make their own game.

CCR has been extensively developed to incorporate ports of extended
versions of the Adventure game. In its new incarnation (polyadv.gam)
the game can now be played in different 'modes'. By default, you play
the original 350-point game, but alternatively you may select the port
of the 551-point version (added by me), the 550-point version
(contributed by Bennett Standeven) or the 701-point version (developed
by me; this combines both game modes). When I have time,
I plan to add an extension to the 701-point game.

> I think worrying about somebody, say, completely rewriting the ending
> to your GPL'ed masterpiece of IF is a bit like worrying about being
> struck by lightning. Spend your time worrying about something with
> better odds of actually happening.

I agree with this. Is it likely that anyone would want to produce an
'improved' version of a modern IF game, such as a new version of SoFar
with more worlds to visit, or an extended version of Mulldoon II which
allows you to see more of the museum?



> A more likely outcome of GPL'ed code is that somebody says, "Hey, I
> really like the way that subharmonic truamaphone (the deadliest
> of musical instruments) worked in this game, my game needs one of
> those, I can use that code." And so they take it.

I think that authors will need to take care if they do this. Under
the terms of the GPL, the permission of the author is required if
sections of GPL'ed code are to be incorporated into a program with a
different license.

John Colagioia

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 5:01:30 PM7/30/02
to
I don't want to be here. Oh, well...

Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote:

>Licences can be designed to do many things. Most commonly
>(comercially) they protect the work from certain kinds of misuse, as
>in selling without permission, or in other contexts, distributing
>without permission, using without permission, using outside of a
>certain location, and so on.

Actually, that's an incorrect statement, which seems to
be perpetuated by groups like Microsoft. Licenses do not
protect the user, and they cannot grant rights to the
creator--mostly because there *are* no additional rights
to grant the author.

In the absence of a license, the author (copyright holder,
if you want to be technical) is the sole point of contact
and final arbiter of what uses a particular work can be
put to (ignoring Fair Use, Right of First Sale, and a few
other muddying things that don't quite apply, here).

The advantage of a license is that people don't have to
ask the explicit permission of the copyright holder for
each use; the license serves as a blanket statement of
permission granted by the copyright holder to designated
recipients (typically "everybody," when discussing Free
Software, and "customers" in commercial software).

The supposed protection (see the foregoing about
corporate redefinition) stems from the fact that the
license can be explictly revoked. For example, the GPL
loosely translates to, "you can read and modify this
[right granted], but if you try passing it off as your
own work [term of contract violation], I revoke that
right [what you refer to as protection, which really
just re-establishes the pre-licensed state]."

Though it's never phrased that way, the typical "assumes
no responsibility" clause similarly negates the license,
if the user tries to sue, rather than granting some
mystical protection from the law; if the license is
implicitly revoked, the user couldn't have been using
the software legally, which makes the lawsuit
groundless. The legal industry puts a different spin on
it, but that's more or less the concept.

[...]


>A licence designed to protect libraries from misuse is
>perhaps a silly idea.

I suspect a license of, "This library may be used, adapted,
and modified in any way without charge, so long as the
originating author remains credited," is all most people
around here *really* want. Maybe add a clause that the
licensee may not use the product for a commercial project,
for authors who care.

I've used a similar license, in the (non-IF) past, which
replaces the credit clause with feedback. I don't care if
someone's making money on something I gave away for free;
I don't care if I get credit for it. I am interested in
knowing what sorts of things people think they can use the
code for, however.

[...]

OK, I've now gone on far too long on a topic I find
uninteresting and in which have insufficient training...

Eytan Zweig

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 6:19:24 PM7/30/02
to

"L. Ross Raszewski" <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote in message
news:M5B19.1346$Dw2...@nwrddc01.gnilink.net...

> On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 13:11:01 GMT, Branko Collin <col...@xs4all.nl> wrote:
>
> You seem to be intentionally inflamitory here, but I'll assume for the
> moment that you're not just Trying To Start a Fight.
>
> >
> >I looked at some of the libraries in the Inform directories at the IF
> >Archive, and it would seem that most of those cannot even legally be
> >distributed.
> >
> >Your own license for timesys reads: "(c) Kevin Forchione, 1998, but
> >freely usable."
> >
> >To me that means that it cannot be distributed either, nor can it be
> >used in any game, nor can it be modified. The only people who are safe
> >using your license would be the players of the game.
>
> That's mad.
>
> Seriously.
>
> The license says "Freely usable" and your response is "THat means you
> can't freely use it."
>

Actually I think he has a point here, because "usable" is a very wide term
open to a lot of interpretation. Do you mean "you can use it whatever way
you wish and distribute it as long as you acknowledge me?" - probably,
considering your response. But this could also mean "you can use it for
personal use but not re-distibute it", or "you can use it as is but not
distribute modifications in any form", perhaps "you can use it and modify
it; and distribute compiled projects that feature it or its modifications,
but don't distribute modified versions of my code" all of these are valid
interpretations of your license, and anyone not familiar with you and your
intentions might not know which one is the correct one. And if you choose to
change your mind mid-way and prosecute someone who interpreted your license
in too wide a fashion, you could do so.

Remember, this is legality we're talking here, not common sense.

Eytan


Branko Collin

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 5:58:43 PM7/30/02
to
lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski), you wrote on Tue, 30 Jul
2002 18:41:48 GMT:

>On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 13:11:01 GMT, Branko Collin <col...@xs4all.nl> wrote:
>
>You seem to be intentionally inflamitory here, but I'll assume for the
>moment that you're not just Trying To Start a Fight.

I am not.

>>I looked at some of the libraries in the Inform directories at the IF
>>Archive, and it would seem that most of those cannot even legally be
>>distributed.
>>
>>Your own license for timesys reads: "(c) Kevin Forchione, 1998, but
>>freely usable."
>>
>>To me that means that it cannot be distributed either, nor can it be
>>used in any game, nor can it be modified. The only people who are safe
>>using your license would be the players of the game.
>
>That's mad.
>
>Seriously.
>
>The license says "Freely usable" and your response is "THat means you
>can't freely use it."

I have never liked the USE verb.

*> Use key on lock

(assuming you mean 'unlock door')
The door is now unlocked.

*> Use knife on thief

(assuming you mean 'kill thief')
The thief ducks aside, but you manage to scratch it with your knife.

IANAL, but I guess a copyright lawyer could make a good case that
'freely usable' does not mean you can distribute it freely, because
the author has not specifically granted that right. Etc. etc.

>>I hope you don't mind, but I'd rather take my luck with the idea of
>>freedom you so seem to hate.
>
>Them's fighting words.
>
>Will people please stop speaking of things like GPL in this
>holier-than-thou "I support it because I like freedom, and anyone who
>does not support it is an enemy of democracy" voice?

I mentioned my preference. How do you read fighting words in that? OK,
so there was some sarcasm in there, that does not mean I am trying to
push you to a certain side.

>>1. Here's what copyright is: it's a big wall, that cannot be crossed.
>>
>>2. Here's what a license is: it's a door in that wall, controlled by
>>the author.
>>
>>3. Here's what copyleft is: it's turning the wall in a door that's
>>constantly wide open and forbidding anyone to close the door.
>
>No, it's not. copylefting is still a wall, in that it prevents you
>from taking anything outside it. It's also a virus.

That's what I said: you are forbidden to close the door. More
specifically: you are hindered in being a parasite. If you don't want
to redistribute copylefted software, then please don't. But if you do,
don't be surprised when there are a few rules you have to live by.

Nobody is forcing you to use the GPL.

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Branko Collin

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 5:58:44 PM7/30/02
to
Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu>, you wrote on Tue, 30 Jul
2002 22:37:10 GMT:

>I would be interested in hearing from someone (who knows what they're
>talking about) on the subject of implicit licences;

That's what Google is for:

<http://groups.google.com/groups?q=implicit+license+group:rec.arts.int-fiction&num=50&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&sa=G&scoring=d>

Notice the length of the threads. Enjoy.

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Branko Collin

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 5:58:44 PM7/30/02
to
Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu>, you wrote on Tue, 30 Jul
2002 21:11:07 GMT:

>On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 16:20:45 -0000, Joe Mason <j...@notcharles.ca>
>wrote:

>>> I was thinking about this. This sounds nice, but we either need a


>>> limiting licence that will protect against this sort of quotation, or
>>> we need to work out a definition of quotation such that quotation can
>>> be differentiated from "whole hog" modification.

Since you only had one or two qualms with the LGPL, it might be an
idea to ask the FSF if we could modify the LGPL and publish it under a
different name.

>>Or you can always email the author and ask for permission. No matter
>>what the license says, the author can get around it whenever they want.
>
>That's true. The author can override the licence in and for specific
>cases. However, if we're talking about a library license which
>automatically gives everyone a right to use the game's modifications
>of the library, the issue of asking the author for permission goes
>back into play with the other issues we're discussing; so things
>aren't so simple.
>
>>I don't think we need to bother working out the details of a whole new
>>license for this - the details are subtle. Just stick a note at the top
>>of your code, saying, "Permission to use this code in other works is
>>available by request. Email so-and-so."
>
>That works most of the time for games, but not at all for libraries.

Why is that?

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Daniel Barkalow

unread,
Jul 30, 2002, 5:50:19 PM7/30/02
to
On Tue, 30 Jul 2002, Stephen L Breslin wrote:

> On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 18:56:15 +0000 (UTC), ad...@fsf.net (Adam Thornton)
> wrote:
>
> >We're going around and around about "The GPL lets you do this/forces you
> >to do that" vs. "But I want to do THIS and don't want to have to do
> >THAT."
>
> I haven't gotten the sense that we're going "around and around," and I
> hope the discussion doesn't start circling unfruitfully. I would hope
> that something actually useful come out of this exchange. "Around and
> around" implies stagnation and bickering. Let's certainly avoid that
> sort of thing!
>
> We are discussing what the GPL allows and does not, balancing that
> against what sort of licence could be most useful for IF libraries, in
> order to refine our ideas about the latter. We're discovering the
> limitations and problems with the GPL when applied to IF because we
> might learn how to make an even better licence, more suited to the
> typical needs of IF library writers, game writers, and the community
> at large.

I believe this has all been covered in the past. However, it seems not to
have appeared in the FAQ, so far as I can tell, so it is fair game for
rehashing, I guess.

The GPL exists to promote freedom for users of software, restricting the
freedom of authors of software, because authors of software presumably
have sufficient power due to actually having the software initially and
having legal rights to it that they can deal with some restriction of
their freedom.

The "users" of IF, however, are in a rather different position from the
users of the programs that the GPL was designed for. The GPL assumes that
the user is trying to do something which is generally assisted by the
software. The user may, however, need to make some changes to the software
to get exactly the desired effects. For this reason, the GPL gives the
user a license to make such changes.

Software is made up of, at a rather simplistic level, code and data. Most
programs are mostly code, and are thus intended to do a particular set of
things. IF, on the other hand, is mostly data, and is thus is intended to
be experienced. The freedom the GPL gives to the user is somewhat
inappropriate here; if the user wants a game that works differently,
that's just too bad. The point of the game is to go the way the game goes.

The "users" in the traditional sense are, if anyone, actually the game
authors, who are using a variety of tools to produce a result. The GPL's
intent would be to maximize their freedom; this is why the license
of emacs doesn't demand that your documents be modifiable by
others. However, the GPL doesn't have exemptions in the right places to
permit IF games to escape, because IF games contain library code, the code
of extensions, and their own code, and thus have a non-negligable
"code" component. The fact that the part that the author contributes is
mostly "data"-like is not accounted for by the GPL, because it would be
too hard to define in general.

It would be possible to have a GPL IF library, provided that it would be
associated with the game at runtime, and games were coded to the standard
behavior of the library rather than being integrated with the internals of
the implementation. We have just about all that you can do that way in the
existing interpreters, at least some of which are available under the GPL
(and others have more BSD-like licenses, which doesn't matter much, since
people aren't likely to be interested in making proprietary extensions to
interpreters).

-Iabervon
*This .sig unintentionally changed*

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 30, 2002, 8:56:03 PM7/30/02
to
On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 17:01:30 -0400, "John Colagioia"
<JCola...@csi.com> wrote:

>I don't want to be here. Oh, well...
>
>Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>>Licences can be designed to do many things. Most commonly
>>(comercially) they protect the work from certain kinds of misuse, as
>>in selling without permission, or in other contexts, distributing
>>without permission, using without permission, using outside of a
>>certain location, and so on.
>
>Actually, that's an incorrect statement, which seems to
>be perpetuated by groups like Microsoft. Licenses do not
>protect the user, and they cannot grant rights to the
>creator--mostly because there *are* no additional rights
>to grant the author.

It's good to hear that what I have been calling "protective" licences
make blanket limitations to use rather than offer extra protection,
strictly speaking. It's nice to be precise. Still, we're talking
mainly about an altogether differently motivated licence, a productive
licence akin to GPL or so, and we only mentioned the corporate style
licences to refer to what we're _not_ talking about. Someone was
confused and thought we were talking about obstructionist licences
instead.... Anyway, thanks for the elaborate commentary on the issue.

[...]
>>A licence designed to protect libraries from misuse is
>>perhaps a silly idea.
>
>I suspect a license of, "This library may be used, adapted,
>and modified in any way without charge, so long as the
>originating author remains credited," is all most people
>around here *really* want. Maybe add a clause that the
>licensee may not use the product for a commercial project,
>for authors who care.

Yes, that's what people normally use. The issue is whether or not this
can be improved upon with some work. Can we make a better library
licence which will provoke the users to make public their use of the
library? I think this would be useful and "*really* wanted," if it
were sufficiently worked out and made available.

>I've used a similar license, in the (non-IF) past, which
>replaces the credit clause with feedback. I don't care if
>someone's making money on something I gave away for free;
>I don't care if I get credit for it. I am interested in
>knowing what sorts of things people think they can use the
>code for, however.

That's a good idea, but that limits the benefit to the library writer;
it would be more generally useful if this "feedback" were addressed to
the community at large, rather than an individual.

Jim Fisher

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Jul 30, 2002, 9:19:28 PM7/30/02
to
"Stephen L Breslin" <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote in message
news:3d4632e1....@news.buffalo.edu...
> On another thread I brought up the idea of making an open-source
> oriented licence for libraries, one which would pressure library users
> ("game" writers) to make the sourcecode of their "games" available to
> the public.

I stopped reading this post at this point. We're making games here. Fun
stuff. No pressure. Just fun.

--
Jim (AT) OnyxRing (DOT) com
Visit "An Inform Developer's Guide" or browse the
"ORLibrary" extensions to the standard library at
www.OnyxRing.com
----------------------
Some days you eat the code; some days the code eats you.

Peter Seebach

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Jul 30, 2002, 9:37:43 PM7/30/02
to
In article <3d4632e1....@news.buffalo.edu>,

Stephen L Breslin <bres...@Macsu.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>On another thread I brought up the idea of making an open-source
>oriented licence for libraries, one which would pressure library users
>("game" writers) to make the sourcecode of their "games" available to
>the public. There are several reasons why this availability would be a
>good thing: it would aid library writers in making improvements, it
>would provide a wider pool of resources for educating beginning (and
>more advanced) coders, it would involve further development of
>libraries, which might in turn be useful for other users who might
>want develop the library in the same direction.

The best license, I think, would be Larry Wall's "Artistic License". It
leaves the pressure to share purely moral, as I think it should be, and it's
well-suited to art.

-s
--
Copyright 2002, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / se...@plethora.net
$ chmod a+x /bin/laden Please do not feed or harbor the terrorists.
C/Unix wizard, Pro-commerce radical, Spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Consulting, computers, web hosting, and shell access: http://www.plethora.net/

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 31, 2002, 12:51:56 AM7/31/02
to
On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 21:58:44 GMT, col...@xs4all.nl (Branko Collin)
wrote:

>Since you only had one or two qualms with the LGPL, it might be an


>idea to ask the FSF if we could modify the LGPL and publish it under a
>different name.

I'm not sure how many qualms I have with the LGPL, since I don't feel
I've totally thought through the problems and implications yet. But
yes, I think you're right; in fact I've already contacted GNU a couple
times. It would be nice if we could get a GNU or FSF lawyer to at
least look over whatever we come up with.

>>>I don't think we need to bother working out the details of a whole new
>>>license for this - the details are subtle. Just stick a note at the top
>>>of your code, saying, "Permission to use this code in other works is
>>>available by request. Email so-and-so."
>>
>>That works most of the time for games, but not at all for libraries.
>
>Why is that?

No library writer I know will want every time to give permission to
use the library to each and every user. A library is written for the
general user. Giving permission to use a library on a case by case
basis doesn't make sense.

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 31, 2002, 3:23:57 AM7/31/02
to
On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 21:58:44 GMT, col...@xs4all.nl (Branko Collin)
wrote:
>[Steve Breslin wrote:]

>>I would be interested in hearing from someone (who knows what they're
>>talking about) on the subject of implicit licences;
>
>That's what Google is for:
>
><http://groups.google.com/groups?q=implicit+license+group:rec.arts.int-fiction&num=50&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&sa=G&scoring=d>

Thanks much for the pointer. Actually it wasn't too difficult to find
something useful:

http://groups.google.com/groups?q=implicit+license+group:rec.arts.int-fiction&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&scoring=d&selm=_4668.40703%24XZ2.4049946778%40newssvr21.news.prodigy.com&rnum=3

and

http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/license.html

As I had hoped and expected, implicit licences are only effectual in
lieu of an explicit licence. Plus they're weak for other reasons. Good
thing, at least for the present project. I'm glad that the prospect of
implicit licences does not disrupt the task of coming up with a good
IF library licence. (Not that anyone was implying it would....)

Kevin Forchione

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Jul 31, 2002, 1:09:45 AM7/31/02
to
"Stephen L Breslin" <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote in message
news:3d465886....@news.buffalo.edu...
> On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 05:55:31 GMT, "Kevin Forchione"
> <ke...@lysseus.com> wrote:

> >The intention of an artistic creation cannot be divorced from its
execution.
>
> I don't know how relevant that is to the discussion.... I guess the
> intention is only realized in the execution, and is otherwise
> impossible to measure. I'm not sure where that gets us as far as
> talking about licences is concerned. Please explain if you care to.

Hmmm. A bit abstruse, I admit. Far too general for this thread.

My previous post was, as you point out, a general response to the thread on
open source.
An opinion was solicited, and my response was a general reaction, rather
than a technical or legal one.

My argument is not against the release of source code to the general
public, which has often proven to be highly instructive, but in the
insidious nature of a license that would force a game author to make public
the source of his code simply by virtue of having incorporated a library or
library extension, and the further liberties this license would grant to any
and all by the sole virtue of its incorporation into an author's story file.

--Kevin

Kevin Forchione

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Jul 31, 2002, 1:26:24 AM7/31/02
to
"Branko Collin" <col...@xs4all.nl> wrote in message
news:3d468d7e...@news.xs4all.nl...

> I looked at some of the libraries in the Inform directories at the IF
> Archive, and it would seem that most of those cannot even legally be
> distributed.
>
> Your own license for timesys reads: "(c) Kevin Forchione, 1998, but
> freely usable."
>
> To me that means that it cannot be distributed either, nor can it be
> used in any game, nor can it be modified. The only people who are safe
> using your license would be the players of the game.

The licenses I've employed in my library extensions have been based on the
examples of other licences used by our community. I trust the intentions of
this community, and agree with its mores and customs. Admittedly, the
legalese may be sadly deficient in protecting authors from unscrupulous
individuals.

(You will note, however, that deficient though they are, nowhere do they
dictate to an author what he can or cannot do with his source code, nor
require an author make his source code public simply by incorporation of the
library extension. That choice is the author's alone to decide.)

> I hope you don't mind, but I'd rather take my luck with the idea of
> freedom you so seem to hate.

My issue has been solely with the idea that compelling an author to make
public their source code would be in the best interests of the community.
The suggestion that GPL or any other copyleft approach should be adopted
with this motive in mind is not my idea of "freedom". The freedom of access
should not be allowed to supercede the right of an artist over the control
of the execution of his creation.

To employ this form of license in the lower levels of the library and its
extensions, while granting liberties to library authors, would in turn
curtail the very rights of game authors in the manner in which they may
present and govern the genius of their creation.

But we can agree that a better license may be desirable, one that protects
all parties involved, and at the same time observes and respects the
fundamental quixotic nature of the science and art of Interactive Fiction.

--Kevin


Kevin Forchione

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Jul 31, 2002, 1:53:37 AM7/31/02
to
"Stephen Cameron" <scam...@zuul.cca.cpqcorp.net> wrote in message
news:slrnakdn5k....@zuul.cca.cpqcorp.net...

> You do get to choose what libraries and tools you use, and considering
> their license implications is part of that decision. A library cannot
> impose it's license on you unless you allow it. You always have the
> choice of not using a library.

Heh. Try telling that to someone with hundreds of hours invested in one of
our development systems who suddenly discovers he's hit a deadend because he
can't accept the terms of the new licensing agreement. :)

--Kevin


John Colagioia

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Jul 31, 2002, 9:39:26 AM7/31/02
to
Stephen L Breslin wrote:
> On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 17:01:30 -0400, "John Colagioia"
> <JCola...@csi.com> wrote:
[...bunch of stuff I ranted about...]

> Still, we're talking
> mainly about an altogether differently motivated licence, a productive
> licence akin to GPL or so, and we only mentioned the corporate style
> licences to refer to what we're _not_ talking about.

But they're the same thing. A license of any sort extends rights to
the holder of the license. The question of "what license" is only
answered by deciding to whom which rights need to be granted.

Microsoft's EULA, for example, boils down to "if you paid a retailer
for this, you have the right to operate the software." The GPL, by
contrast, basically says that "anyone following the FSF rules can
treat the software, and its source code, as if it were in the Public
Domain."

> Someone was
> confused and thought we were talking about obstructionist licences
> instead....

My point is that no license is obstructionist. Without the license,
you are not legally permitted to use the software in any way.

There are some that make the software prohibitively expensive to use
for some purposes, and that includes the GPL in some cases.

[...]


>>I suspect a license of, "This library may be used, adapted,
>>and modified in any way without charge, so long as the
>>originating author remains credited," is all most people
>>around here *really* want. Maybe add a clause that the
>>licensee may not use the product for a commercial project,
>>for authors who care.
> Yes, that's what people normally use. The issue is whether or not this
> can be improved upon with some work.

Improved in what way? What rights that game programmers want is not
granted? What rights that library writers would normally like to
reserve is over-granted?

> Can we make a better library
> licence which will provoke the users to make public their use of the
> library?

Is this inherently desirable? More to the point, is this not
included in the above, concise statement?

> I think this would be useful and "*really* wanted," if it
> were sufficiently worked out and made available.

But *who* wants it? The FSF supporters? Game programmers? Library
programmers? Game players? If it isn't one of the central two, then
they have no business making requests, to be blunt.

>>I've used a similar license, in the (non-IF) past, which
>>replaces the credit clause with feedback. I don't care if
>>someone's making money on something I gave away for free;
>>I don't care if I get credit for it. I am interested in
>>knowing what sorts of things people think they can use the
>>code for, however.
> That's a good idea, but that limits the benefit to the library writer;

Again, if the library writer licenses his work, his beneits are
limited, by definition. This happens to be how I like to work, and
is probably not suited to many other programmers (most of whom, I've
found, like having their names plastered all over things; I don't).

The way this typically works is that people e-mail me saying, "I'm
planning to do this." If it sounds interesting, I'll offer to help
out or replicate the feature in the baseline, and then re-release.

I fail to see how having someone air their complaints publically
would make this better for me, up to the point where I don't care
about the product anymore (at which point, I typically release it
into the Public Domain).

> it would be more generally useful if this "feedback" were addressed to
> the community at large, rather than an individual.

The way to do this, then, is to essentially replicate the concept
behind the GPL in a more direct manner. You need to define "the
community at large," and pass all necessary rights to them.

But...since we've already talked about granted rights, who's in "the
community at large"? Me? That mysterious, evil Cabal that
whimsically controls our thoughts? Imaginary personages who post
messages? Anyone who happens to stumble on the IF Archive?

Again, GPL says, "anyone who publically gives proper credit and
offers source code" (since that's what the FSF requires), Microsoft
says, "the guy with the receipt," and Public Domain type licenses
say, "anyone who finds this." This community seems too diverse to be
able to unilaterally use any of these.

Note that I don't think I'm trying to be discouraging. What I am
definitely trying to do is show that the library writers and library
users are in the best position to judge licensing issues; anybody
else (including, perhaps, me, since I've only "published" one Inform
library, and have already made a licensing decision I'm happy with)
is just an idealist sticking his nose where it doesn't belong.

John Colagioia

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Jul 31, 2002, 9:45:07 AM7/31/02
to
Lucian P. Smith wrote:
> Stephen Cameron <scam...@zuul.cca.cpqcorp.net> wrote in <slrnakd7pb....@zuul.cca.cpqcorp.net>:
> : I think worrying about somebody, say, completely rewriting the ending

> : to your GPL'ed masterpiece of IF is a bit like worrying about being
> : struck by lightning.
> While this is true, people still put lightning rods on their houses. And
> if I recall correctly, someone *did* release their own version of
> 'Balances' a while back without even crediting Graham Nelson. 'Balances'
> doesn't come with any license except to say "Copyright (c) 1994, 1995,
> 1996 by Graham Nelson." I don't think the person who released his own
> version was being malicious--I think he was uninformed.

The banner from the game in question:

--------
Please Register.


The Dark Tower
This is an epic adventure of Fantasy and Magic.
The full registered version is only $10.00, make
checks payable to John Kless, 210 Hoyt Street,
Buffalo, NY 14213. Release 6 / Serial number 165342 / Inform v6.15
Library 6/7
--------

I thought it was on the Archive (I mean, *I* have a copy, and I don't
know where else I might have stumbled on it), but I don't see it
in the zcode directory.

Either way, I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader whether it
represents malice or ignorance.

[...]
> And having some sort of simple, boilerplate license examples on the
> archive and/or other places would help us do that. Hmm, maybe the FAQ?

Actually, it's probably a good idea to find some way of presenting
this sort of information to anyone trying to upload to the archive.
That's just a guess, though.

Richard Bos

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Jul 31, 2002, 10:15:21 AM7/31/02
to
John Colagioia <JCola...@csi.com> wrote:

> Stephen L Breslin wrote:
> > Still, we're talking
> > mainly about an altogether differently motivated licence, a productive
> > licence akin to GPL or so, and we only mentioned the corporate style
> > licences to refer to what we're _not_ talking about.
>
> But they're the same thing. A license of any sort extends rights to
> the holder of the license. The question of "what license" is only
> answered by deciding to whom which rights need to be granted.
>
> Microsoft's EULA, for example, boils down to "if you paid a retailer
> for this, you have the right to operate the software."

Actually, the _new_ M$ EULA boils down to "if you so much as look at
this software, _we_ have the right to completely fuck up your computer
whenever we want to, however we want to, without even telling you, so
shaft you, sucker". Whether they can legally get away with this is both
dubious and unfortunately immaterial :-(.

> The GPL, by contrast, basically says that "anyone following the FSF
> rules can treat the software, and its source code, as if it were in
> the Public Domain."

Erm, no. If it were in the PD, I could distribute it without source. The
major point of the GPL is that it is much more restrictive than a PD
license - and mainly to the programmer, not to the user.

> >>I suspect a license of, "This library may be used, adapted,
> >>and modified in any way without charge, so long as the
> >>originating author remains credited," is all most people
> >>around here *really* want. Maybe add a clause that the
> >>licensee may not use the product for a commercial project,
> >>for authors who care.
> > Yes, that's what people normally use. The issue is whether or not this
> > can be improved upon with some work.
>
> Improved in what way?

Well, it could be made more explicit, for one. It isn't a proper license
IF IT DOESN'T CONTAIN A WHOLE PAGE OR SO OF LEGAL BOILERPLATE ALL IN
IRRITATING FSCKING CAPITALS. Bonus points if the capitals are set in 4
pts. Times Condensed <g>.

Richard

Joe Mason

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Jul 31, 2002, 12:01:01 PM7/31/02
to
In article <EoA19.10$ZS6...@news.oracle.com>, Mike Roberts wrote:
> "Stephen L Breslin" <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu> wrote:
>> According to the LGPL, "the difference between a 'work
>> based on the library' and a 'work that uses the library' [is
>> this:] the former contains code derived from the library,
>> whereas the latter must be combined with the library in
>> order to run." I think this means that if you have an object
>> whose superclass list contains an object/class defined by
>> the library, that object is "based on" the library, and hence
>> is derived.
>
> I don't claim to know what the official gnu interpretation is, and my
> intuition has contradicted the official gnu position on other questions, but
> to my way of thinking, subclassing a class does not involve modifying the
> original class; it's just a way of invoking the code defined in the base
> class. It seems to me that the test for derived-from vs client-of is
> simple: if you got out your text editor and changed the source files of the
> original library, you've created a derived work; if not, not.

As an aside, this is why I don't like the GPL/LGPL - although I like the
idea of a copyleft, they were written for the case of C and C linking,
and don't handle cases like plug-in modules or object oriented systems
at all well. And because the text says it's interoperable only with
'the GPL' and not with 'a copyleft license approved by the FSF' or
something like that, you can't easily make a license which does the same
things from a copyright standpoint but addresses different technical
issues.

(Actually, you could, but it's not as easy as it could be.)

Joe

Joe Mason

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Jul 31, 2002, 12:10:01 PM7/31/02
to
In article <3d46fe85...@news.buffalo.edu>, Stephen L Breslin wrote:
> On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 16:20:45 -0000, Joe Mason <j...@notcharles.ca>
> wrote:
>>>>A more likely outcome of GPL'ed code is that somebody says, "Hey, I
>>>>really like the way that subharmonic truamaphone (the deadliest
>>>>of musical instruments) worked in this game, my game needs one of
>>>>those, I can use that code." And so they take it.
>>>
>>> I was thinking about this. This sounds nice, but we either need a
>>> limiting licence that will protect against this sort of quotation, or
>>> we need to work out a definition of quotation such that quotation can
>>> be differentiated from "whole hog" modification.
>>
>>Or you can always email the author and ask for permission. No matter
>>what the license says, the author can get around it whenever they want.

Yes, I was talking about the case above where the author releases the
game source, but doesn't actually let you use it.

>>I don't think we need to bother working out the details of a whole new
>>license for this - the details are subtle. Just stick a note at the top
>>of your code, saying, "Permission to use this code in other works is
>>available by request. Email so-and-so."
>
> That works most of the time for games, but not at all for libraries.

> Also, such a note is not terribly useful or informative because it's
> implicit anyhow. We may not need a "whole new license" for games; a

Yes, but as someone said just a minute ago, licensing is about making
things clear for people who didn't think about it, not about making the
malicious obey the letter of the law.

> licence for libraries is the main topic here, although we need to keep
> an eye on what the games based on libraries are going to have to
> inherit licensing wise.

Yes, I was just pointing out that we don't have to spend any time at all
worrying about games.

Anyway, I'm gonna more or less drop out now, because the BSD license for
libraries is good enough for me. Have fun.

Joe

Joe Mason

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Jul 31, 2002, 12:14:08 PM7/31/02
to
In article <3d4700f1...@news.buffalo.edu>, Stephen L Breslin wrote:
>>Joe Mason <j...@notcharles.ca> wrote:
>>
>>[lots of thoughtful stuff; in reply to lots of thoughtful stuff]
>>
>>We are drifting perilously close to the Copyright Thread again.

>
> Can you push us away from whatever danger spot you see, or clarify
> what peril we're in? I don't think we're talking about copyright, but
> if you think we are, or you think we shouldn't, or whatever, why don't
> you explain? The warning by itself is not so helpful....

Just that sooner or later somebody who knows nothing at all about
copyright is going to post something completely misinformed, and then
there'll be a huge temptation to explain copyright to them from scratch,
leading to a flamewar as people pop up and argue about every little
point.

This is the Copyright Thread, and it is Banned. (It usually starts when
somebody posts something stupid like, "The source is on the archive, so
therefore it's in the public domain!")

The Licensing Thread is a similar beast, but unlike Copyright, which you
can just go look up, there are actually issues to be debated. If it
degenerates to the same people posting the same arguments at each other
in circles, I'm sure the Bandit will step in.

Joe

Joe Mason

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Jul 31, 2002, 12:19:55 PM7/31/02
to
In article <3d47ef0e....@news.tiscali.nl>, Richard Bos wrote:
>> Microsoft's EULA, for example, boils down to "if you paid a retailer
>> for this, you have the right to operate the software."
>
> Actually, the _new_ M$ EULA boils down to "if you so much as look at
> this software, _we_ have the right to completely fuck up your computer
> whenever we want to, however we want to, without even telling you, so
> shaft you, sucker". Whether they can legally get away with this is both
> dubious and unfortunately immaterial :-(.

Um. If you're talking about the one that came with my OEM copy of XP, I
read it when I reinstalled after partitioning my hard drive. It says no
such thing. The closest it says is that *if* you use it to play media
with digital-rights management stuff, *then* they can install new
digitial-rights management stuff without telling you. One more reason
not to use DRM.

Joe

Timothy Partridge

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Jul 30, 2002, 3:52:54 PM7/30/02
to
In article <slrnakd5dl...@goedel.pci.uni-heidelberg.de>,
Frank Otto wrote:

> Actually, I'm currently working on a library extension for Inform, and
> already asked myself what license it should carry. My latest idea was
> something like this:
>
> Modification and distribution (in original or modified form) of the
> library are allowed, provided that copyright notices and this license
> are not changed.

Are you really sure about this? There is a danger that some well meaning
person decides to release an extended version of your library, but their
changes are full of bugs. Your library could then obtain an unwanted
reputation, and uninformed people might even think think that you were
responsible for the bugs. I would suggest that you insist that any
modifications are clearly marked. You might also like to consider what file
name a modified version can have. Can someone upload a modified version of
your library to the archive with the same or similar name as your original
without asking you first?

You could also ask people to send you a copy of any modifications that they
are going to distribute. That would give you an opportunity to comment, and
if needed to, publicly disown. If you hope that your library will become a
joint work it is helpful to have a central point coordinating changes so
that there aren't several competing versions on release. (Or several people
working on the same idea not knowing of each other.)

> Usage of the library (in original or modified form) for the purpose
> of producing a compiled story file is unrestricted, i.e. the resulting
> story file may be distributed under terms of the game author's choice.

That's most generous of you. Thanks.

Tim


--
Tim Partridge. Any opinions expressed are mine only and not those of my employer

Branko Collin

unread,
Jul 31, 2002, 4:45:02 PM7/31/02
to
Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu>, you wrote on Wed, 31 Jul
2002 04:51:56 GMT:

>On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 21:58:44 GMT, col...@xs4all.nl (Branko Collin)
>wrote:
>
>>>>I don't think we need to bother working out the details of a whole new
>>>>license for this - the details are subtle. Just stick a note at the top
>>>>of your code, saying, "Permission to use this code in other works is
>>>>available by request. Email so-and-so."
>>>
>>>That works most of the time for games, but not at all for libraries.
>>
>>Why is that?
>
>No library writer I know will want every time to give permission to
>use the library to each and every user. A library is written for the
>general user. Giving permission to use a library on a case by case
>basis doesn't make sense.

I don't know how often a library will be used, but let's assume a
'worst' case scenario: the most popular library for the most popular
language will be used 50 times in a published game this year.

That's 50 e-mails saying yes or no. True, that's a lot, but that's
also a lot of e-mail. The library author could use this feedback loop
to find out how their library will be used, if it is appreciated, if
it lacks functions, etc. etc.

Over time, the library authors learn which license their users need
and can then write or commission such a license.

Perhaps I am a bit optimistic here, but it could be educational of a
library author tried out such a license.

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Branko Collin

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Jul 31, 2002, 5:42:31 PM7/31/02
to
col...@xs4all.nl (Branko Collin), you wrote on Wed, 31 Jul 2002
20:45:02 GMT:

>That's 50 e-mails saying yes or no. True, that's a lot, but that's
>also a lot of e-mail.

ITIM 'a lot of _feedback_'

>Perhaps I am a bit optimistic here, but it could be educational of a
>library author tried out such a license.

IMHM 'educational _if_ a library author'

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 31, 2002, 10:02:26 PM7/31/02
to
On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 05:09:45 GMT, "Kevin Forchione"
<ke...@lysseus.com> wrote:

>My previous post was, as you point out, a general response to the thread on
>open source.

That leaves me guessing whether or not you're responding to the
message which began this thread. From the below, you seem to be,
althouh I'm still finding the polemical tone a bit puzzling. Maybe the
polemical tone is spilling over from that previous, relatively
unproductive and sometimes name-calling thread.

>[...]


>My argument is not against the release of source code to the general
>public, which has often proven to be highly instructive,

If anyone were foolish enough to say you _were_ making such a
ridiculous argument, they should probably be ignored. Yes, open source
is good in itself, although when we involve other factors, things get
tricky....

>but in the
>insidious nature of a license that would force a game author to make public
>the source of his code simply by virtue of having incorporated a library or
>library extension,

I'm appreciate that a licence can come by suprise, even one announced
clearly ahead of time. Who reads those things anyway? ;)

And if by "make public" you mean "make modifiable by others in the
future," I certainly agree with you, although I wouldn't call a bad
but well intentioned license "insidious." But what conditions can a
library writer legitimately set? I appreciate the argument that any
conditions are bad, and that libraries should be released with
absolutely no condition placed on the user; but such an argument does
not address the needs of the community. Perhaps a licence that demands
the user do what is best for the community is even more benevolent
than a free ticket(?) I'm still thinking about it.

>and the further liberties this license would grant to any
>and all by the sole virtue of its incorporation into an author's story file.

Ya, that's dangerous terrain. If a game author want to permit other
people to modify his game, that should be up to him. (As I agreed
elsewhere.) However, some parts of the game, parts which derive from a
library, might-should be open to further use and modification.
Andrew's mini-licence he quoted on the other thread is pretty
intriguing. He allows everything except the text to be borrowed.
Perhaps a library's licence can put such a demand on the game based on
the library without threatening the game writer's artistic authority.

I'm going to repost within the next couple of days, after I think a
bit more on these issues.

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 31, 2002, 10:07:09 PM7/31/02
to
On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 09:45:07 -0400, John Colagioia
<JCola...@csi.com> wrote:

>Lucian P. Smith wrote:
[...]
>> And having some sort of simple, boilerplate license examples on the
>> archive and/or other places would help us do that. Hmm, maybe the FAQ?
>
>Actually, it's probably a good idea to find some way of presenting
>this sort of information to anyone trying to upload to the archive.

I might be writing something within the next couple of days that could
be used for this purpose, unless I get further discouraged. ;)

There are several useful licenses, and a nice summary of what it means
to apply each of them to libraries and games would be good, even if no
additional licenses are introduced.

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 31, 2002, 10:13:08 PM7/31/02
to
Branko,

You're right, granting permission to use a library on a case-by-case
basis is possible. Most library writers would find this inconvenient,
but it is certainly possible.

On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 20:45:02 GMT, col...@xs4all.nl (Branko Collin)
wrote:

>Stephen L Breslin <bre...@acsu.buffalo.edu>:


>>No library writer I know will want every time to give permission to
>>use the library to each and every user. A library is written for the
>>general user. Giving permission to use a library on a case by case
>>basis doesn't make sense.
>
>I don't know how often a library will be used, but let's assume a
>'worst' case scenario: the most popular library for the most popular
>language will be used 50 times in a published game this year.
>
>That's 50 e-mails saying yes or no. True, that's a lot, but that's

>also a lot of [feedback]. The library author could use this feedback


>loop to find out how their library will be used, if it is appreciated, if
>it lacks functions, etc. etc.
>
>Over time, the library authors learn which license their users need
>and can then write or commission such a license.
>

>Perhaps I am a bit optimistic here, but it could be educational [if] a

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 31, 2002, 10:22:12 PM7/31/02
to
On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 05:53:37 GMT, "Kevin Forchione"
<ke...@lysseus.com> wrote:

>> You do get to choose what libraries and tools you use, and considering
>> their license implications is part of that decision. A library cannot
>> impose it's license on you unless you allow it. You always have the
>> choice of not using a library.
>
>Heh. Try telling that to someone with hundreds of hours invested in one of
>our development systems who suddenly discovers he's hit a deadend because he
>can't accept the terms of the new licensing agreement. :)

I'm trying to figure out the limits to what is acceptable, and what
threatens the integrity of the game or art. I think releasing the
code, under certain conditions, is never truly unacceptable, although
it might be unwanted for various reasons. I'll repost on this on a
more central subthread.

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 31, 2002, 10:19:24 PM7/31/02
to
On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 16:10:01 -0000, Joe Mason <j...@notcharles.ca>
wrote:

>>>I don't think we need to bother working out the details of a whole new
>>>license for [games] - the details are subtle. Just stick a note at the top


>>>of your code, saying, "Permission to use this code in other works is
>>>available by request. Email so-and-so."
>>
>> That works most of the time for games, but not at all for libraries.
>> Also, such a note is not terribly useful or informative because it's
>> implicit anyhow. We may not need a "whole new license" for games; a
>
>Yes, but as someone said just a minute ago, licensing is about making
>things clear for people who didn't think about it, not about making the
>malicious obey the letter of the law.

Good point. It is actually informative, since most people walk around
not knowing what a licence is legally, anyway. And also it's warm and
inviting and nice that way too.

>> licence for libraries is the main topic here, although we need to keep
>> an eye on what the games based on libraries are going to have to
>> inherit licensing wise.
>
>Yes, I was just pointing out that we don't have to spend any time at all

>worrying about [writing a seperate licence for] games.

Good point.

>Anyway, I'm gonna more or less drop out now, because the BSD license for
>libraries is good enough for me. Have fun.

Thanks for the input. Maybe if another licence specially tailored to
IF becomes available, your interest will be reactivated.

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 31, 2002, 10:59:26 PM7/31/02
to
On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 09:39:26 -0400, John Colagioia
<JCola...@csi.com> wrote:

>Stephen L Breslin wrote:
>> On Tue, 30 Jul 2002 17:01:30 -0400, "John Colagioia"
>> <JCola...@csi.com> wrote:
>[...bunch of stuff I ranted about...]
>> Still, we're talking
>> mainly about an altogether differently motivated licence, a productive
>> licence akin to GPL or so, and we only mentioned the corporate style
>> licences to refer to what we're _not_ talking about.
>
>But they're the same thing. A license of any sort extends rights to
>the holder of the license. The question of "what license" is only
>answered by deciding to whom which rights need to be granted.

Point taken. I think this line began with an error about what licences
actually do, which has been cleared up (in my mind) by this point.

>> Someone was
>> confused and thought we were talking about obstructionist licences
>> instead....
>
>My point is that no license is obstructionist. Without the license,
>you are not legally permitted to use the software in any way.

Point taken.

>[...]
>>>I suspect a license of, "This library may be used, adapted,
>>>and modified in any way without charge, so long as the
>>>originating author remains credited," is all most people
>>>around here *really* want. Maybe add a clause that the
>>>licensee may not use the product for a commercial project,
>>>for authors who care.
>> Yes, that's what people normally use. The issue is whether or not this
>> can be improved upon with some work.
>
>Improved in what way? What rights that game programmers want is not
>granted? What rights that library writers would normally like to
>reserve is over-granted?

To answer the middle question, "none." An analysis of the first and
third questions is the project of this thread. Briefly:

>> Can we make a better library
>> licence which will provoke the users to make public their use of the
>> library?
>
>Is this inherently desirable?

Yes. Well, not always. Sometimes it's neither desirable nor
indesirable. I think it's desirable to provoke all authors to publish
their source code (with certain reservations attached), but what they
publish will of course not _always_ be useful to the community. Do you
think this is sometimes a bad thing?

>More to the point, is this not
>included in the above, concise statement?

No, I don't think it is, if the above concise statement you refer to
is your: "This library may be used, adapted, and modified in any way
without charge, so long as the originating author remains credited."
This doesn't appear to do anything to provoke users of a library to
publish their source code.

>> I think this would be useful and "*really* wanted," if it
>> were sufficiently worked out and made available.
>
>But *who* wants it? The FSF supporters? Game programmers? Library
>programmers? Game players? If it isn't one of the central two, then
>they have no business making requests, to be blunt.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. (But with specific reservations for each.) FSF
supporters will like this to the extent that the goals are similar: a
GNU LGPL tailored to the needs of the IF community would be
appreciated by FSF of course, although they probably won't care all
that much. The game programmers will have a much wider range of
examples and better libraries to work with, and although they might
initially feel embarassed that their code is not as beautiful as
Kevin's, Mike's, or Dan's, there would be safety in numbers and they'd
be sufficiently distracted by the benefits. Library writers would have
more material to draw on: they would for example have useful instances
of how their library was used, so they could see how it could be
improved; they would occasionally have at their disposal other
implementations of the same task, making life much easier. Game
players would benefit from better games, where less work was required
of the game writer, who could then spend more energy on making the
game beuatifully written, intriguing, and whatnot.

>>[Replacing the credit clause with a request for feedback] is a


>>good idea, but that limits the benefit to the library writer;
>
>Again, if the library writer licenses his work, his beneits are
>limited, by definition.

I mean, the benefit of feedback is limited to the writer. Suppose a
writer has lost interest in the project, and the feedback falls on
deaf ears? Suppose the writer reads and enjoys the feedback, but never
becomes motivated to produce anything as a result of it, so it in the
end isn't remotely useful to the community. If the feedback, however
defined, were addressed to the community rather than the individual,
there would be no such losses. An author might want to save himself
the trouble with a licence that is designed to make the community, not
himself, the beneficiary of his library's use.

[...]


>The way this typically works is that people e-mail me saying, "I'm
>planning to do this." If it sounds interesting, I'll offer to help
>out or replicate the feature in the baseline, and then re-release.
>
>I fail to see how having someone air their complaints publically
>would make this better for me, up to the point where I don't care
>about the product anymore (at which point, I typically release it
>into the Public Domain).

I don't know why you're coloring it that way. Someone can make public
requests that a thing be done by someone else who knows how. That
happens all the time in this forum. Anyway, I'm not just talking about
feedback; we can also consider sourcecode.

> > it would be more generally useful if this "feedback" were addressed to
> > the community at large, rather than an individual.
>
>The way to do this, then, is to essentially replicate the concept
>behind the GPL in a more direct manner. You need to define "the
>community at large," and pass all necessary rights to them.

I think the GPL gets the community about right. The main problems with
the GPL licenses were summarized in the bit that began this thread.

>But...since we've already talked about granted rights, who's in "the
>community at large"? Me? That mysterious, evil Cabal that
>whimsically controls our thoughts? Imaginary personages who post
>messages? Anyone who happens to stumble on the IF Archive?

Yes. Don't be ridiculous. Imaginary people don't post messages. Yes.

>Again, GPL says, "anyone who publically gives proper credit and
>offers source code" (since that's what the FSF requires), Microsoft
>says, "the guy with the receipt," and Public Domain type licenses
>say, "anyone who finds this." This community seems too diverse to be
>able to unilaterally use any of these.

I think that the GPL addresses a wider body than programmers; it
addresses users. I appreciate your wry tone, but I'm not sure how
helpful these distinctions are. The identity of the IF community seems
pretty clear.

>Note that I don't think I'm trying to be discouraging. What I am
>definitely trying to do is show that the library writers and library

>users are in the best position to judge licensing issues.

Yes, of course. Showing that should be effortless. Plus, why do you
think I'm addressing this group?

Stephen L Breslin

unread,
Jul 31, 2002, 11:17:34 PM7/31/02
to
On Wed, 31 Jul 2002 05:26:24 GMT, "Kevin Forchione"
<ke...@lysseus.com> wrote:

[...]


>My issue has been solely with the idea that compelling an author to make
>public their source code would be in the best interests of the community.

A few days ago, I wouldn't have considered this, but there are several
kinds of publications of code which could be called "making public."
One is the making public which permits (indeed invites and encourages)
further modification, _a la_ GPL/LGPL. I think we unanimously agree
that this is not useful for most libraries and games -- hence this
thread in the first place. Another sort of publication of source code
makes the code, as another poster wrote, "transparent," but still
closed in the sense that it cannot be borrowed or modified. A third
type of publication of source code would be Andrew's licence, which
permits borrowing and modification of the code itself, but not the
text of the game.

Could you be more detailed in your objection?

>The suggestion that GPL or any other copyleft approach should be adopted
>with this motive in mind is not my idea of "freedom". The freedom of access
>should not be allowed to supercede the right of an artist over the control
>of the execution of his creation.

(Steering away from freedom.) I'm not sure what you mean by "control
of execution." Are you objecting to the prospect that a game might be
modified by someone else, and then would execute differently? Would a
licence which forbade such alteration be okay with you? (Say, a
library licence which required a game writer to publish his code, but
permitted the game writer to forbid that the code be modified.)

>To employ this form of license in the lower levels of the library and its
>extensions, while granting liberties to library authors, would in turn
>curtail the very rights of game authors in the manner in which they may
>present and govern the genius of their creation.

I'm interested in getting into the aesthetic implications of this, but
I'm going to take another day or two to think on it.

>But we can agree that a better license may be desirable, one that protects
>all parties involved, and at the same time observes and respects the
>fundamental quixotic nature of the science and art of Interactive Fiction.

I'm very glad we can agree on that. Hopefully you'll keep up with the
good input, even if in the end you still prefer your "free ticket"
licence. I do want to make sure I don't write anything destructive;
that would go totally against my intention. You're certainly helping.

Stephen L Breslin

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Jul 31, 2002, 11:38:20 PM7/31/02
to
On 31 Jul 2002 01:37:43 GMT,