[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD source licensing: beyond GPL? (fwd)

J C Lawrence claw at cp.net
Mon Dec 20 17:23:06 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

------- Forwarded Message

From: Ilya <ilya at spam.free.gamecommandos.com>
Newsgroups: rec.games.mud.admin
Subject: Re: MUD source licensing: beyond GPL?

dennis towne wrote:
> 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.

Actually, some are, or have been distributed or sold in binary form
only.  I believe the Vortex driver, on which the dear lamented Orone
mud was based, was distributed this way.  I know for a fact that at
least one of the EmlenMUD servers provides the basis for Aturion
Dynasty in just this way.  It has been and can be done, all
depending on architectural considerations of course.

> I'd like to forward the idea of a license where making the mud publicly
> available for play requires the source code for the mud to be
> available.

Sounds good to me!  I'll put up a few dollars to pass this slight
amendment, along with the current GPL, to our lawyers here to see
what they can come up with.  They specialize in Intellectual
property and are apparently recognized in the field, so they should
be able to come up with something without too much trouble or
expense.  Perhaps others would like to put in a few dollars too, so
we could all benefit?

> Presumably a well-designed code base would allow the bulk of
> the game to reside in data files not covered by the license, which
> would prevent people from copying and stealing entirely someone else's
> game.

What of the other code bases such as Cold / ColdC with Genesis
Driver, where almost nothing resides in Genesis beyond the support
and language basics?  It's sort of a souped-up compiler/interpreter
with all sorts of facilities built in to support network connections
and an object-oriented database.  [Brandon et al feel free to jump
in and correct this admittedly sketchy distillation].  The MOO
family probably also falls into this category of driver.  MOO and
Cold are pretty closely related, or so I've heard.

Anyway, they aren't the only code bases which pretty much don't get
changed, and the implementation is everything.  Hmm, in a way
neither is LP-type coding.  The MudOS or DGD driver is not what you
hack up, it's the mudlib.  So the distinction is not exactly the
same here as, say, a DentinMUD or DIKU or Scry, all of which have a
much clearer separation between the driver and everything else.

> 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. <snip>

Interesting and not unreasonable idea.  Seems unlikely you'd be able
to make that stick, no matter how hard you tried, or how well the
license was written.

> 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.

If it works, or can be made to work, and if you address the issue of
the various driver code bases which do remain pretty much unchanged
(and could be distributed in binary form).  Might be hard to do, as
I noted above.

> 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?

Of course that depends on what you mean by successful!  But I think
you know that.  My first guess is that knowledgeable, honest people
would be hesitant to jump on the bandwagon because they wouldn't
want to have their work shown to the world; knowledgeable, dishonest
people would just take the license, make the changes, and not turn
them in, or would turn in earlier/non-working versions;
comparatively ignorant people would use it and not turn things in
because they didn't think it really applied to them.  Some might do
it though!

- -- 
Ilya (at) gamecommandos (dot) com      a mud list & review site
www.gamecommandos.com              for online roleplaying games

------- 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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