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Re: Friking Shark videogame legal issues

On Thu, 18 Aug 2011 08:36:49 +0200 Cleto Martín Angelina wrote:

> Hi,

Hi Cleto,
thanks for addressing these legal issues seriously.

> I am studying to package Friking Shark, a remake of a retro videogame
> called Flying Shark[1].

Depending on what you mean by "remake", there can also be legal issues
related to the copyright of the old retro videogame Flying Shark.

Is Friking Shark just inspired by the old game (like, for instance,
Pingus is inspired by Lemmings)?
In that case, I am under the impression that the copyright of the old
game is irrelevant.

Or is Friking Shark a high fidelity reproduction of the old game
(graphics accurately recreated to be extremely similar to the original,
and so forth)?
If this is the case, the "remake" could be considered a derivative work
of the old game, and thus non-free or even undistributable (unless the
copyright holders of the old game have given permission to license
the derivative work under DFSG-free terms, or at least to redistribute

> In legal terms, source code is not a problem
> because is licensed under GLPv3.


> However, I do not know how I should
> consider the sound effects. "License.txt" talks about this:
> "Sounds effects are modified versions of sounds purchased at
> www.sound-effects-library.com. You can use these sounds for playing
> Friking Shark but if you plan to package and distribute the game you
> must replace them or contact www.sound-effects-library.com for explicit
> permission."
> IMHO, this is not DFSG compatible.

The sound effects seem to be definitely non-free.
Worse, they do not even seem to be redistributable, unless
additional permissions are granted by the copyright holders (that is to
say, sound-effects-library.com, if I understand correctly).

> However, this note was written by
> Friking Shark upstream author because he didn't know what kind of
> license should be set. In fact, he sent me some emails where sound
> effects author said that "there is not need to include license".

What does the sound effect author mean by "there is not need to include

Does (s)he mean that (s)he thinks the sound effects are not copyrighted?
Or does (s)he mean that (s)he is not granting any permissions to anyone
(that is to say: All Rights Reserved)?
Or does (s)he mean that (s)he is granting a license that does not
mandate the inclusion of the license text along with the sound effects?
May we see the license text, anyway?

> Obviously, sound-effects-library.com has a Terms of Use[2] where it is
> indicated that sound may be modified, but:
> "The audio samples shall remain the property of Sound Effects Library
> Limited or its Library partners and are licensed, not sold to you for
> use on your audio equipment."

I've taken a look at the Terms of Use[2]: they do not look anything
similar to a DFSG-free grant of permissions, unfortunately.
They seem to fail at least DFSG#1, DFSG#6, and DFSG#7.

> Also, clause 6 of these terms talks about sounds effects in video games.
> I am not sure what is the best solution to sound effects issues in
> Friking Shark. Thanks in advance for your help.

I think the possible solutions are:

 (a) contact the sound effect copyright holder and persuade them to
re-license the effects in a DFSG-free manner (recommended license:
GPLv3 as the remake game engine, for simplicity)

 (b) replace all the sound effects with DFSG-free effects

> [1] http://code.google.com/p/friking-shark/
> [2] http://www.sound-effects-library.com/terms.asp

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