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Re: Alternatives to Creative Commons

(Please note I'm only subscribed to debian-devel-games)

On Wed, 2008-09-17 at 15:43 -0400, Arc Riley wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 17, 2008 at 3:21 PM, Miriam Ruiz <miriam@debian.org>
> wrote:
>         This might be really relevant for us, the Games Team, as there
>         seem to
>         be quite a lot of games that have a different license for the
>         engine
>         and the game data, and the combination of GPL and CC-by-sa
>         seems to be
>         getting more and more popular.
> And that is fine, so long as the game data is /also/ available under
> the GPL.
> Note that it is not just games that have this problem, nor is this a
> problem specific to "content" vs "code".  Many projects have
> incompatible licenses applied to different components or dependencies.
> Copyright holders often just need to be made aware of this legally
> makes the work undistributable as it cannot be distributed while in
> compliance with both licenses.

Multiple tar.gz files could probably fix that - or requiring users to
checkout from the revision control system. That may very well mean the
data will be in non-free and the game in contrib, but that is not unlike
GFDL licensed documentation that isn't free enough for main.

>         On the other hand, for some games (and theoretically for most
>         of
>         them), the same game engine can be used with different data,
>         and some
>         times vice-versa. If this is the case, the situation might be
>         similar
>         to a media player and media data, or to a word processor and
>         the
>         document.
> The case where the same game content can be used in a different engine
> +code verbatim is exceedingly rare.

I would disagree that it is exceeding rare in practice, I can see it's
rare in the Debian archive as no one has packaged the multitude of games
that can do this (which are generally first person shooters). I slowly
work on a project of my own that runs (or rather will run) with data
packs from other games (both proprietary and open source data).

> As I understand the situation, what makes the game one copyrighted
> work is that the content is not generic, application-agnostic software
> as an image in the GIMP or a text document in a word processor.  While
> the technical process that these are loaded may be very similar, this
> is an issue of legal judgement, not technical process.  That the code
> and content is both software and is utilized as a single work is what
> makes them one work.

I really don't think telling the copyright holder their data is software
and as such is a single work under the license of the code, is going to
go too well. I know I'd laugh at anyone that said that to me about my
data. If I were to change the word content to firmware in your sentence
I'd swear I have a copy of another long running debate.

> One could likely argue that if the game content were in a standard
> format and displayed/interacted with much like a web browser displays
> HTML/CSS/Javascript that the content would be considered a separate
> copyrightable work.  An example of this may be ScrummVM.  I'm not
> aware of any modern system like this, however.
> Note that the conflict that's arisen with incompatible licensing is
> due to poor education on the GPL.  Many people are under the false
> impression that the GPL only applies to executable code or that there
> is some problem with licensing content under the GPL.  In truth, those
> looking for their work to be under the strong copyleft effect of the
> GPL are best not separating their work's copyright artificially as it
> may open a loophole for 3rd parties to release proprietary replacement
> game content.

I'm certainly familiar with the GPL and know you could apply it to code
and data, but, you need to consider - 1) people will make replacement
game data anyway regardless of license (and that isn't necessarily a bad
thing) - 2) We may not wish the data to be as "free" as the code.
Perhaps we want to have our names attributed to our work on a prominent
place (eg it could help with our careers to be known for "awesome game
data" in "cool opensource game"), perhaps we don't want it to be
commercially distributed by non-copyright holders, perhaps we don't want
it to be modified.

If you really want to change these license on the data files, I'd
strongly suggest you contact the copyright holders (and there may be
many of them in some projects) and find out why they picked the license
they did, and once you have done that, see if they would be interested
in relicensing it to match the code.

Presenting the argument it is a single copyrighted work so you must
release it under the codes license, is not likely to help your case, and
is likely to antagonise the copyright holder.

Jamie Jones
Email: jamie_jones_au@yahoo.com.au

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