[MUD-Dev] Re: My vision for DevMUD

ApplePiMan at aol.com ApplePiMan at aol.com
Tue Nov 3 21:22:38 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998


At 11/3/98 12:45 PM Jon Leonard (jleonard at divcom.slimy.com) altered the 
fabric of reality by uttering:

>We've had at least one list member (ApplePiMan) state that anything stricter
>than PD would probably keep him from reusing the code.  He also said that
>if he's lucky, he may be able to assign some (paid!) programmers to help.

Please recall I also asked that no one count on that in making decisions. 
=) Things are still too much "up in the air" to say with any certainty 
that such a thing will happen.

>Even if his business ventures don't work out the way we'd like, I think
>that's still a good indication that stricter licences would limit the
>audience for our code.

Agreed.

>So I think the legalese should say "Steal this Code", but extra text should
>recommend (without legal force) that code modifications be contributed back
>to the project, attributions maintained, etc.

I think that's your best bet.

Please note that I have no problem whatsoever with maintaining 
attributions, nor even with contributing code back to the project to the 
degree that my company's modifications allow (that is, modifications that 
don't constitute the "essence" of what makes my commercial venture unique 
-- if a modification would allow any Joe to come along and easily "clone" 
what I'm doing, it doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of making it 
back to the project =) ). The problem is in having those things mandated, 
and beyond that, in having to use the code under any sort of license 
whatsoever.

Suppose, for instance, the DevMUD team dissolves under acrimonious 
circumstances. I don't anticipate that, but I don't think anyone could 
refute it's a possibility, either. Suppose there is feuding over who 
"owns" DevMUD then (and consequently, who administrates the license my 
commercial venture is using). Or even just suppose that at some point 
team consensus changes and it's decided that free commercial usage isn't 
such a good idea. The terms of my future usage of DevMUD could change so 
drastically that it was no longer feasible for me to use the code, 
leaving me up the proverbial creek. Such a change could effectively be 
forcing me out of business. The mere statistical possibility of that will 
scare off most, if not all, commercial users, I would think.

If John Q. Public owns the code, those issues are no longer a concern. 
Once it's PD, nothing you can do or say can alter my right to use it.

The alternative, which perhaps bears some consideration, is to explicitly 
charge a fee, from the outset, for commercial usage. I, personally, would 
still be too frightened to use DevMUD under those circumstances 
(considering the roots of the project and the fact that, as I say, team 
members could change); but at least it would give a commercial entity 
recourse to the courts if the license changed in the future in such a way 
as to effectively drive the entity out of business. That could tempt some 
commercial entities without the in-house talent to build a DevMUD of 
their own to license rather than hire the talent.

>Contributors are welcome to submit things under different licenses.  They
>just run the risk of having them rewritten, or possibly ignored if the
>license is obnoxious enough.

Nod. I imagine you'll find DevCore and a very small handful of modules 
(networking and such) to be about the only things with much commercial 
usage. If someone in my position can get those things PD, then WHY NOT 
use them? But beyond that, our (commercial users') individual visions had 
best be unique enough (or we won't have many customers) that we're better 
off "rolling our own".

However, I also suspect you'll find commercial users contributing back 
some really cool modules. Ethical commercial users will see that as "only 
fair." Ditto proper attribution of sources. Granted, you'll have some 
unethical folks abusing the system; but, generally speaking, the 
unethical won't be deterred by the existence of a license, either. =)

-Rick.


---------------------------------------------------------
Rick Buck, President and CEO  <mailto:rlb at big-i.com>
Beyond Infinity Games, Inc.
See you in The Metaverse! <http://www.big-i.com>





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