[MUD-Dev] Re: Moral license (Re: [MUD-Dev] Re: My vision for DevMUD)

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Thu Nov 5 14:34:47 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

ApplePiMan at aol.com wrote:
> At 11/4/98 8:12 AM Ola Fosheim Gr~stad (olag at ifi.uio.no) altered the
> fabric of reality by uttering:
> >An alternative would be to stuff in a semi-legal license agreement,
> >basically stating that it is free for any use, but you have to register all
> >derived works, what it is used for, and your contributions on some website
> >or with the maintainer or something.  Then you have an additional non-legal
> >moral license saying that developers are encouraged and expected to
> >contribute according to their ability.   The register should be open to
> >anybody wanting to look and should contain actual contributions.  That way
> >you would have a reward/pressure mechanism as well as a communitybuilding
> >mechanism.  It would look bad for MegaBucksCorp if they didn't contribute
> >anything, and TeenageJoe would be paid in perceived fame and glory...
> It seems to me that would be a severe pain in the rumpus to administer
> for very limited (if any) gains.

No pain. Just a web-script. Has been done for Linux, but they just encourage
registry, which isn't sufficient.

> I think this would probably end up
> *encouraging* the looking at the source and re-engineering you refer to.

I think it would be cheaper for MegaBucksCorp to just submit noncritical
improvements to the networking code and be a good guy.

> And unless or until players started a mass exodus over it, MegaBucksCorp
> wouldn't *care* if it looked bad in the eyes of the developers visiting
> your Web page.

If they are professional then they care about things that _could_ make the
headlines, and simply choose the path of least resistance.  I don't see a
commercial entity submit improvements at all if they don't get a benefit
with submitting.  Good image is perhaps a benefit?

> Unless we have the means and intention of actually taking MegaBucksCorp
> to the courts for not abiding by the terms of the license, it's just
> plain silly to impose a license in the first place.

No, as I said image is important.  You want to create a moral, not legal,

> Unless we very visibly have a fund set up for such contingencies,
> MegaBucksCorp, if it's looking to rip us off, will most likely see we
> don't have the means of enforcing the license and go ahead and do as they
> please anyway.

Uhu, but if they do, then the devmud team can use that as an option for a
marketing campaign!  The press loves scandals, especially if the "good ones"
are suffering.  Just leak the story to the major game mags and you can
create interest among other developers for your own project.


I don't see this as a legal problem, I see this as an issue about marketing
and community building. As this thread proves, developers care about what
happens to their code. If they are unhappy, the project will be at loss. 
Even if that unhappiness is purely emotional, it doesn't make it less
important.  I think a lot of free software projects has become successes
because there has been a major "screw the corporations" factor in them.

Basically I see 3 important issues:

1. you need a vision which developers WANT to believe in
2. you need convincing arguments to attract more real talent
3. you need marketing channels

Clearly, you don't want the knowledge about DevCore (or any other component)
being used in a commercial project to be under NDA. If it is made NDA
anyway, you want to give pissed off or fired employers a good moral reason
to leak the news. Commercial MUDs is an emerging field and there are
programmers entering the field in large numbers, I think.  Just take a look
at UO, former players are starting freeware mud projects.  You want to
attract those.  Players care and talk about the technology that runs the
game they are playing.  You want them to talk about DevCore :), spread the
word so to say.  Linux had a problem by not being able to show to sales
figures, pointing to commercial enterprises using their software
definitively creates interest outside the existing community.

I think the DevCore team should look into future marketing prospects and
keeping developers happy rather than commercial interests or even rational
arguments.  A company that isn't willing to acknowledge the origin of the
underlying code is clearly of no value to the project at all... 

Commercial software projects are having unnecessarily many secrets.

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list