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

SodaPop soda at dmi.xirr.com
Tue Dec 21 11:27:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


J C Lawrence <claw at cp.net> wrote:

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

My mistake, you are correct.

>The GPL is not even close to a silver bullet.

That is the reason I have been tossing this idea around.  The GPL
does not do what I would have liked it to do.


>> 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.

I am fully aware of all the above. I have worked on similar projects.
Additionally, the special exceptions made for bison/flex that you
mention here have implications later in this post.


>> 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.

No, you are perfectly free to take the code, make your own changes,
and play it all by yourself in your own home.  You can make whatever
changes you like to it, so long as you dont release the game for
others to play.  You open it for others?  You release your changes.
                                                                   
(Note that a more solid definition of publicly available would have
to be made here, to allow teams of developers to develop in private,
and to prevent people from saying 'Its a private club, that means   
not publicly available'.)                                           
                                                                 
>  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.                                                             
                                                                  
Why would this liscense be invasive for any of the above reasons?
You don't need to release it until it's public, if its not public,
you can sit on it for all eternity if you like.                   
                                                                  
>  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.                           
                                                                   
What is your central concern here?  Or do you just hate the idea of
GPL style liscenses in general?                                    
                                                                   
The six month time lag was intended to give those who add to the
base something a little like patent protection - you make the
modification, you get to use it exclusively for a short period of
time.  I am not convinced the 6 month lag is a good idea for a   
variety of reasons, but I felt it was appropriate to bring up.   
                                                              
                                                              
>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.                                                   
                                                                
I am suggesting nothing of the sort.  You have the perfect right to
sit on your changes for as long as you want.  You additionally have
the right to write your own code base, or use one without this form
of liscensing.                                                     
                                                                   
However, if you make the game public, you make the source for that
game available.  If your modifications went into the code base for
that game, those must be made available as well.                  
                                                                  
I really see this as being very similar to the GPL, with the only
real difference being the definition of distribution:  in this case,
distribution also includes making the game publicly available.      
                                                                    

>  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.            
                                                                  
If I release a code base under this liscense, it will be a very
long time before I get as much back as I put into the original 
base.  That is the fair exchange issue I was talking about.    
                                                              
And yes, you are perfectly welcome to take your changes and do
whatever you like with them.  But if you make changes to a base
covered by this liscense, you are bound by that liscense.  This
is no different from the GPL.                                  
                                                               
                             
>> 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)?                                 
                                                                
You distinguish the same way that bison/flex do.  Data files created
independent of the code base are not covered by the liscense.  Data 
files created by the code base are also not covered.  A small amount
of work could make proper definitions which would allow this.       
                                                                    
                                                             
>> 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.
                                   
Depends on the code base.  Even on a diku, however, custom areas
can mean a lot.                                                 
                                                                
               
>> 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?
                                                    
No, I fully believe in liscenses like the GPL, because if I want to
release something to the world, I don't want anyone to have the    
right to take it away.  If you want to use GPL code as a base, you 
GPL your changes.  If not, go elsewhere.                          
                                                                  
You claim that this is a free speech problem - well, I claim
otherwise.  As a developer, if I have put a number of years into
a code base, I get to decide the liscensing.  I get to declare what
is proper use of the code, and what is not - and I get to set said 
restrictions on its use.                                           
                                                                  
In this case I would attempt to set the restrictions such that the
code could never be taken away from the community, or blatantly   
abused by someone who does not care about the community.  A viral 
liscense, like the GPL, does what I would want - but because of the
way mud servers are used, a few modifications would have to be made
concerning what constitutes distribution.                          
                                                                   
I sense a GPL/BSD holy war coming up, so let me attempt to head it
off at the pass:  I don't care which is more or less free/open.  I
do, however, care that certain things not happen to code I write, 
and in this case a viral liscense is what I wish to discuss.      
                                                                 
-dennis towne



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