[MUD-Dev] Proper liscense for MUD source? Perhaps not GPL... (fwd)

J C Lawrence claw at cp.net
Mon Dec 20 17:22:17 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


------- Forwarded Message

From: dennis towne <soda at xirr.com>
Newsgroups: rec.games.mud.admin
Subject: Proper liscense for MUD source?  Perhaps not GPL...
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 18:27:25 +0000

I have been thinking about liscense issues for a while now, and after
looking at the GPL I'm not sure it is the right liscense to use for mud
server code.

The GPL works for linux and apache by guaranteeing that anyone who sells
thier version of the code has to provide the source along with any
changes they make.  Since binaries are the most widely used/distributed
form, anyone intending to sell anything would likely be selling the
binaries.  The GPL guarantees that the source is available along with
the binaries.

The issue I see is that mud servers are not like this - binaries for the
server are not distributed or sold, so there is no need to release any
changes you might make to the server.  Any additions to the server
source that are made may be kept private, and withheld from the
development community.  As such, the GPL would not work well on mud
servers.

So what is distributed?  The game itself, which people connect to.  I
believe this should be the condition for releasing source, not the
distribution of binaries.  (Yes, it's probably on questionable legal
grounds.  No, for the sake of this discussion, I do not care.)

I'd like to forward the idea of a liscense where making the mud publicly
available for play requires the source code for the mud to be
available.  Presumably a well designed code base would allow the bulk of
the game to reside in data files not covered by the liscense, which
would prevent people from copying and stealing entirely someone else's
game.

It might also be appropriate to require changes to be released within a
certain time frame, so that creators of changes could reap the rewards
of thier development efforts for a while.  I see six months as a
reasonable time frame to bask in the glory of some new feature before
releasing the source code.  A reasonable delay would also help mitigate
the constant effort of keeping cur-level source available, as muds
typically use a very incremental approach.

This seems to me like an appropriate way to release source.  It allows
people to collect money for the game, even make it pay-for-play if they
desire - but it forces anyone who does so to give thier changes back to
the community.

Any comments on this, other than most admins out there would hate it? 
If a server were released under these conditions, do you think it would
be successful?

- -dennis towne


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Alter Aeon Multiclass MUD - Beware the Hill Giants!
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telnet://dentinmud.org:3000

------- End of Forwarded Message

--
J C Lawrence                              Internet: claw at kanga.nu
----------(*)                            Internet: coder at kanga.nu
...Honorary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...


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