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 Post subject: Licensing OXPs
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 8:23 pm 
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About three years ago, we had an extensive and quite unpleasant fight on this board about people distributing bits of OXPs and entire OXPs in ways their authors disagreed with. (I’m being vague here partly because I don’t remember the details, and partly because they don’t matter.) It’s now happening again, albeit on a smaller scale so far.

As I pointed out then, the solution to this is very simple: regardless of whether you want to place restrictions on how your OXP is used or want it to be used without restriction; regardless of how obvious you think this is – you must specify a license when you release an OXP, or any other work. This is not optional.

If you don’t, people cannot know how they’re allowed to use the work, and in what context. Any use – including downloading it and using it in Oolite – is somewhere between “legally murky” and “illegal”. In practical terms, people will have to guess what your intentions are. When you find out, three months or three years later, that someone’s guessed wrong, nastiness ensues.

You should not try to craft licensing terms yourself, because they are likely to be vague and invalid. This includes statements like “anyone can do whatever they want” or “this is in the public domain”. In most countries, you cannot legally give your work away with no restrictions.

Recommendations
  • If your OXP contains models, textures or scripts wholly or primarily copied from Oolite, it must be distributed under the GNU General Public License version 2 or later, the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license or both. Of these, the CC license is more appropriate for OXPs. If you’re not sure whether your OXP falls under this requirement, ask.
  • If your OXP copies data or designs from other sources, the licensing requirements are up to that source.
  • If you upload your OXP to EliteWiki (not just if you have a page about it there), you agree in the process of uploading to license it under the GNU Free Documentation License version 1.2. (This is an awful license for an OXP and a pretty bad one for a wiki, but that’s the way EliteWiki is configured, and it can’t be changed without getting the permission of everyone who’s ever contributed to the wiki or rewriting the MediaWiki software.)
  •  If you want an absolute minimum of restrictions, as close to “giving it away” as possible, I suggest the CC0 waiver. Note that this permanently waives all control and right of attribution. Don’t take it lightly.
  • Otherwise, I suggest the Creative Commons license chooser. There are many other existing licenses you might want to consider, though.
When you’ve selected a license, it should be specified in a Read Me file included with the OXP, as well as download locations such as wiki pages and “official” links from the forum.

Note that a license that permits derivative works also allows someone else to pick up your OXP and maintain it should you disappear from the Oolite community at some point in future. It’s been known to happen.

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Last edited by JensAyton on Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 8:56 pm 
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Three small questions:

  • Re the license chooser, can I presume that we would select their our home country? From a quick scan there's no "worldwide" in the list, and of course Oolite is rather multi-national.

    So if I select a UK license for example, how would that be applied to for example yourself, Frame or Eric (to pick three random people who I know are overseas from me)?
  • If a license is taken that would impact an existing OXP (not just O(S)E), do I presume that this wouldn't be retrospective but would apply from this point onwards?
  • I think you might have answered this elsewhere (but my brain hurts at the moment as I'm sick, so I'll ask again), am I correct that "If your OXP contains models, textures or scripts wholly or primarily copied from Oolite" would mean physical inclusion (as in files) rather than referencing (like_ship or other plist keys or scripts calling trunk scripts/textures/models for example).
[/color]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:54 pm 
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Quote:
  • If a license is taken that would impact an existing OXP (not just O(S)E), do I presume that this wouldn't be retrospective but would apply from this point onwards?
That's right. What you licenced under a gpl or a creative commons licence 2 years or 2 hours ago is still under that licence. However, you can make a new release under a new licence and withdraw the previous version(s) from download.
Over time the older copied of your oxps will be quite outdated, and won't work with the latest version of Oolite. Oof course, other oxps derived from the original cc licenced ones can still be maintained & developed by other people.

This is what happened when the XFree86 project changed its licence from gnu gpl to XFree86 licence. X.org forked the project, using the last gnu gpl source as a starting point.
Quote:
  • I think you might have answered this elsewhere (but my brain hurts at the moment as I'm sick, so I'll ask again), am I correct that "If your OXP contains models, textures or scripts wholly or primarily copied from Oolite" would mean physical inclusion (as in files) rather than referencing (like_ship or other plist keys or scripts calling trunk scripts/textures/models for example).
Yep, in the OE thread. Specifically, like_ship, and using scripting guidelines & suggestions found on the wiki and board, including the api and .plist structures does not constitute copy as such.

Of course I'm not a lawyer either, but I believe that's what Ahruman said previously.

Hope this helps! :)

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Hey, free OXPs: farsun v1.05 & tty v0.5! :0)


Last edited by Kaks on Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:59 pm 
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It does in part. For the first point I was thinking of what is now inevitably going to happen - a previously "unlicensed" OXP gets a license that will preclude its inclusion in OSE (as the obvious example, but there could be others).

Must the older version of that OXP already included also be removed, or is that still valid but any update being included would not be?

Not that I'm planning on creating this situation with mine, but it's the relevant question to ask at this point.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:01 pm 
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Quote:
Three small questions:

  • If a license is taken that would impact an existing OXP (not just O(S)E), do I presume that this wouldn't be retrospective but would apply from this point onwards?
[/color]
The point is that you need a license to use an OXP. In many cases OXPs do not say what their license is, but one is still required.

So I think strictly, anyone using an OXP that they dont have a license for is not legal. The easiest way to fix it is to get a license now, by asking the author.

I guess (not a lawyer, etc.) that many people may have assumed that OXPs are automatically covered by the same license as Oolite. It is possible that many OXPs do need to have the same licenses due to what Ahruman said.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:17 pm 
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From a legal point of view, the older version doesn't have to be removed at all.

However, copying the changes from the newer, restricted licence version can only be allowed according to the parameters set within the new licence.

I'm not too hot on the legal phrasing, but if the new licence contains something like 'the author reserves the right to waive permission for this product to be included in derivative works, with no prejudice' that tends to mean 'guys, use this as much as you like, but I might change my mind about it at any time in the future, and you'll have to remove my new code'. At that point the author(s) of derivative works would have to retrace their steps and try to recreate the new functionality on top of the latest GPL/CC licenced version.

And they'll have to do that without copying the new code you wrote. Which is slightly impossible, since to do so would imply a clean room approach: the person reimplementing the new functionality shouldn't have seen the way you implemented it, so any vague similarity can only be ascribed to chance. Or they use your new code to see exactly what they don't want to write inside their version... This isn't going to help your hurting brain, is it?

Anyway, as Ahruman said, the best approach is to find a licence amongst the many free & open source licences that exactly fits with what you wish for your creations. Please don't actually use the phrase I used above as it's very likely wrong in many, many different ways.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:22 pm 
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<Quantum_Leap_Mode>Oh Boy</Quantum_Leap_Mode>

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:27 pm 
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Quote:
From a legal point of view, the older version doesn't have to be removed at all.
In the case that you dont have a license for it, yes it does have to be removed.

In the case that there was a license and it is now changed, you can continue to use the old license.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:39 pm 
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Quote:
In the case that you dont have a license for it, yes it does have to be removed.
Fair enough.

Luckily something like 'yes, I released it under the same licence as the Oolite one' is usually enough.

PS to DH: Ah, the memories - I quite liked Quantum Leap! :)

But yes, it can get 'a bit' too much...

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Hey, free OXPs: farsun v1.05 & tty v0.5! :0)


Last edited by Kaks on Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:40 pm 
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Quote:
This isn't going to help your hurting brain, is it?
No. But somehow I think writing of such licenses is going to need a clearer brain than mine is at the moment anyway. Fortunately all of mine should end up under the same license (although as one or two are co-authors some input will be needed).

But a job for tomorrow, or maybe next week.

Also as a thought, might it be worthwhile having a sticky thread here where OXP writers post their "generic" licenses for their OXPs (if they wish to have them) in addition to including them in the distributions of course. For ease of reference and simplicity?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:17 am 
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Quote:
Quote:
  • I think you might have answered this elsewhere (but my brain hurts at the moment as I'm sick, so I'll ask again), am I correct that "If your OXP contains models, textures or scripts wholly or primarily copied from Oolite" would mean physical inclusion (as in files) rather than referencing (like_ship or other plist keys or scripts calling trunk scripts/textures/models for example).
Yep, in the OE thread. Specifically, like_ship, and using scripting guidelines & suggestions found on the wiki and board, including the api and .plist structures does not constitute copy as such.

Of course I'm not a lawyer either, but I believe that's what Ahruman said previously.
A general clarification here: nobody in the comoonity is going to start waving lawyers about (you there! Put down Littlebear at once!). Precise details of law aren’t actually the most important thing. What matters in practical terms is that a license grant is an explicit statement of intent.

For instance, if you use a license that doesn’t permit derivative works, and someone tries to determine how far they can go while not quite being derivative, then it’s clear that person is acting in bad faith; whether they would “get away with it” in court is little more than a thought experiment. Likewise, if you use a license that does permit derivative works, and your OXP ends up orphaned and buggy, there’s no ethical concern in someone else releasing a fixed version.

One reason I keep suggesting Creative Commons licenses is that they’re a quite flexible set of licenses which use a simple set of concepts. It’s far easier to reason about statements of intent when they consist of a few basic building blocks, like “attribution” and “noncommercial”, than it is to compare the dozens of open source licenses. Using a plethora of different licenses also introduces a risk of conflicting licenses, where it would be possible to use aspects of OXP A or OXP B, but not both, because of some silly unintentional detail.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:00 am 
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Split OE-oriented discussion off to Licensing OXPs – Discission.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:57 pm 
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A quote from the Master and Commander:
Quote:
I'm going to leap in here and set out the legal terms of this as I see them (IANAL - but my wife, is and she advises me on where to look most of this stuff up).
  • Oolite's licensing terms DO NOT extend to its expansion packs. (This has been tested in law before now.) They were never intended to either.
  • OXPs are the work of groups or individuals. They are free to license them for others to use under any terms. (Yes, that does mean that packaged OXPs could be sold commercially, but really, who's gonna?)
  • Groups or individuals who want to reuse the content of any OXP, or any other protected intellectual property, should respect the terms of any license under which that content was released. If this prevents them from modifying, or reusing any of the content, then they absolutely should not do so - although they are free to ask the authors to relicense the content under more free conditions if they wish.
  • Where reused or modified, it should be indicated what license the content was issued under so that others can do the same.
  • If an OXP has been issued with no indication of a license or intentions of the author then the strictest degree of licensing should be assumed, ie. no copying, no reuse, ask the authors before doing anything with it.
I think that about covers it. Yes, this is meant to be the definitive word on the subject.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:35 am 
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---- E L I T E ----
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Quote:
If you’re not sure whether your OXP falls under this requirement, ask.
My OXP adds Kuiper Belt objects (small, remote, low albedo planetoids without stations having very specific "position" and "orientation" together with "texture" PNG's that I have originated)

Not knowing how such objects were added, I looked at the "Config" folders of a couple of other OXP's. I could see what was necessary immediately.

It works fine on my computer

In making this available as an AddOn I will not compromise anyone's wishes or transgress lincences

have I written enough here to constitute "asking" :?:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:48 am 
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Im not sure what question you are asking :)

You want to know if you [bold]must[/bold] release under CC/GPL? Do you want to use something different?


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