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

J C Lawrence claw at cp.net
Mon Dec 20 18:31:24 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

Dennis: I've crossed your post to MUD-Dev:


> From: dennis towne <soda at xirr.com>

> 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.  

1) The Linux kernel as distributed by Linus is under the GPL.
Various common patches against the kernel are under various other
licenses and some Linus kernel components (may still be) under
non-GPL licenses that are compatible with the GPL and/or

2) The rest of the components that make up a working Linux system
are under a wide variety of licenses among which the GPL makes up a
decided minority.

3) Apache is not under the GPL.  It uses a BSD derived license.

The GPL is not even close to a silver bullet.

> 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.

Ahem.  The GPL is infectious on "transmission" be that of binaries
__or__ source code.  Its also probably worth specifically observing
the exceptions made for tools such as Bison and Flex that the
products of these tools are not under the license of the tools so
you can (for instance) produce a non-GPL parser with GPL tools.

You may also wish to examine the definitional basis on how we
(Project Trillian -- I was the project Manager) were and are able to
operate a multi-company multi-developer project to port Linux to
IA64/Merced/Itanium under NDA with no public disclosure of source
without invoking the GPL virus.

> 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.)

Translation: Enforced public speech.  To an extent you are demanding
that all efforts which touch this product are effectively done "in
the public interest" or at least, "freely available to public
scrutiny" at the source level.

  If you do anything, and you let anyone else see it, you *HAVE* to
let everyone see it.  

Outside of the fact that this violates the OpenSource definition (as
does the GPL arguably enough), many will find it excessively
invasive for development purposes, time-to-market, press control,
etc.  The 6 month time lag doesn't fix this as it merely attempts to
hide the problems by providing an alibi that most can escape under
without addressing the central concern.

My view?  I take the side of free speech.  A pivotal quality of
"free speech" is the freedom to communicate only when one wishes to.
(FWLIW reading the supreme court's arguments on the State's right to
mandate its citizen's speech is more than revealing) You are
suggesting the removal of that freedom by mandating compulsive
speech without giving anything back to me for the loss of that
"right" -- something not even the State (in most of the Western
World) does.

  Contracts, and licenses, need to practice fair exchange -- to give
  as much as they take.

My source is mine.  Period.  I choose the license I use for
releases.  (I presume that you've read Linus' statements on this
area?  If not see the Linux Kernel or BitKeeper License list
archives)  That license may be affected or even defined by the
license on the code I started with, but whether or not I release,
and when and how, are my decisions, and nobody elses.

> 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.  

For the purposes of this license, how do you distinguish between
server source (say socket handling) and softcode (defines the game
world)?  How about the case where there is no soft code -- the
entire MUD is written in the C/Java whatever and there is no
LPC/ColdC/TinyCode equivalent?  How about the other side, where the
hard coded kernel is very small, offering some basic network socket
handling and a soft-code langauge atop which everything else is
built (ala CoolMUD. PerlMOO, etc)?

> 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.

This is not even close to a given.  

> 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.

How about non-OSD compliant licenses like the SCPL?

> If a server were released under these conditions, do you think it
> would be successful?

Please define "success" first.

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

MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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