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Re: Alternatives to Creative Commons

Matthijs Kooijman <matthijs@stdin.nl> writes:

> We've had a better look at the GPL and it does seem quite suitable.

Thanks for progressing with this, and reporting your further thoughts
and questions.

> As some background, the works we are licensing are graphics for a
> game. These are mostly created through 3D modeling. For this, mostly
> Blender files are rendered into the pcx bitmap format. These pcx
> files are sometimes manually post processed, and sometimes pcx files
> are created directly.
> Now, we are considering GPLv2, since the game itself is licensed as
> such. In GPLv2, section 3 is the "if you distribute binary, you must
> also distribute source" clause. However, this is worded such that it
> is only applicable when distributing the work in "object code or
> executable form". Since we're working with graphics, it is higly
> unlikely that this will ever be the case, so section 3 will not be
> applicable to our case normally. Is this indeed correct?

This is one of the ambiguities in the GPLv2 as applied to software
that is not programs (and even some programs). As you note, it depends
on the interpretation of +IBw-object code+IB0-, which is never defined in the

The GPLv3 is much better on this point: its +AKc-1 clearly defines both
+IBw-source code+IB0- and +IBw-object code+IB0-:

    The +IBw-source code+IB0- for a work means the preferred form of the
    work for making modifications to it. +IBw-Object code+IB0- means any
    non-source form of a work.

The GPLv2, however, leaves the definition of +IBw-object code+IB0- open to
interpretation. It would be inconclusive in any given instance until a
court ruled on particular acts; not a desirable state of affairs.

It's interesting to note that, terminologically, the GPLv3
interpretation of these terms is not incompatible with the GPLv2; a
specific licensor could argue that what they mean by those terms in
the GPLv2 is what the GPLv3 explicitly defines them as.

> So, in effect this means that using the GPL for our graphics will
> ensure that the graphics will stay free and available form
> modification, in whatever format the original authors supplied them.
> It will not prevent possible misuse of the graphics, but that is not
> a real problem (and somewhat harder to prevent, thouh GPLv3 might do
> a decent job).

The GPLv3, with its explicit and clear deliniation of +IBw-source code+IB0-
and +IBw-object code+IB0- that would be easy to interpret for the graphic
files you're talking about, would be a much better fit.

I see two basic options for you to better use the GPL for the work.

Re-license the entire work under the GPLv2, and clarify your grant of
license to use the simple definition of terms from the GPLv3. This
would have a license grant something like:

    This work is free software: you may +ICY- under the terms of the GNU
    General Public License, as published by the Free Software
    Foundation; either version 2 of that license or, at your option,
    any later version.

    For the purpose of this grant of license under the GNU General
    Public License, the +IBw-source code+IB0- for a work means the preferred
    form of the work for making modifications to it; the +IBw-object code+IB0-
    means any non-source form of a work.

The other, simpler, option:

Re-license the entire work +IBQ- program, graphics, and all other
software +IBQ- under the GPLv3. This will benefit from better definitions
that can clearly apply to all software, without needing extra clauses
in the grant of license.

Hope that helps; thank you for wrestling with these important issues.

 +AFw-      +IBw-Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.+IB0- +IBQ-Henry |
  `+AFw-                                                        L. Mencken |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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