• Advertisement

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

legality issues regarding the use of "free" source (HL SDK)

This topic is 5547 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Is it illegal to use someone else''s code in my program during development, then slowly phase it out during my development cycle? I''ve written a small C++ class that uses source from the Half-Life SDK, specifically the .mdl loading and rendering routines. I''ve basically written my code to interface with it then disposed of each function, rewriting it with my own, oftentimes changing the interface to suit my purposes. I''m down to around three or four functions, two of which will be removed soon and the others which are fairly trivial (4-5 lines) Does this make the code I''ve written a derivative work and therefore I cannot distribute it by law? The SDK was very clear on the point that I was to only use the source "to make a mod". I might have some excuse through an interoperability clause of some sort (making my engine to be "compatible" with their models) but I''m pretty sure that what I did doesn''t fit in the typical "clean-room" reverse engineering techniques which I know are legal. Any advice would be appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
If the code is phased out in the final release it''s not like anyone will ever know about it .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It might be problematic, as you have based your code's design on the SDK's design. Although, I don't think that should be a problem as the design isn't patented (it isn't, right?).

You should talk to a lawer, or someone who really knows this stuff before you release anything. Espacially now, when you have announced your pending illegal activities to the world .




[edited by - CWizard on December 1, 2002 1:01:12 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
I'm down to around three or four functions, two of which will be removed soon and the others which are fairly trivial (4-5 lines)
That's 4-5 lines of someone else's property. If those lines are so trivial write your own. If you can't then they're obviously not trivial.

As for the rest is certainly sounds like you have reverse engineered their code and you most certainly have not used it for the purpose allowed in the license so I would say you are on very shaky ground.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions

[edited by - obscure on December 2, 2002 8:39:05 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Use_less
Is it illegal to use someone else''s code in my program during development, then slowly phase it out during my development cycle?

I''ve written a small C++ class that uses source from the Half-Life SDK, specifically the .mdl loading and rendering routines. I''ve basically written my code to interface with it then disposed of each function, rewriting it with my own, oftentimes changing the interface to suit my purposes. I''m down to around three or four functions, two of which will be removed soon and the others which are fairly trivial (4-5 lines)

Does this make the code I''ve written a derivative work and therefore I cannot distribute it by law? The SDK was very clear on the point that I was to only use the source "to make a mod". I might have some excuse through an interoperability clause of some sort (making my engine to be "compatible" with their models) but I''m pretty sure that what I did doesn''t fit in the typical "clean-room" reverse engineering techniques which I know are legal.

Any advice would be appreciated.



Based on your statements here, your lawyer bait if anyone decides to prosecute. They will be able to take your for everything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You''ve got some very tough issues to deal with here, but there are some elements working to your advantage.

1)In the eyes of the law you would be considered "sophisticated." This could work to your advantage.

2)No lawyer, including myself, should give advice over a forum board. Doing so could create an attorney-client relationship, and lead to problems for both parties. It is good that your peers are attempting to help you work through the question, however, given your level of sophistication, the specificity of your question and the level of investment/potential for profit you should consult a lawyer.

3) *THIS IS NOT ADVICE* :-) Part of the problem may arise in how the object code became source code. While I believe I have a bottom line answer to your question, and case law to support it, I cannot lay that out here for numerous reasons. See Number 6, below.

4) I am not aware of a statute that makes your activities illegal per se. There may be, however, case law (prior court cases that establish precedent in federal copyright law), that interprets the copyright act in a manner that makes your activity an infringement. If not, then it would constitute an issue for trial, where the burden would be on you (and your lawyer) to prove a fair use defense to copyright infringement.

5) The SDK is an important piece of the situation, but given the scope of the activity in question I don''t think it would be the only thing considered in a legality/infringement analysis.

6) The bottom line is that your issue/question really needs to be answered by a lawyer you have hired. Why? So that you understand the risk, have weighed it against your potential profit, and so it can be defended by the lawyer who gave you the advice.

I know you were seeking a specific answer, sorry that can''t be given by me in this forum, but I hope this information helps you some.



Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I''m a bit of a noob so I was wondering how Sierra would actually notice that you''ve borrowed their techniques when the final .exe product is complete.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well it probably wouldn''t happen but would you want to bet your home on it? I know of a case of a developer spotting one of their sound effects in a demo from another developer. The guilty party had to pay thousands in "royalties/penalties" and that was just a demo!

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If it''s gone before release, why are you whining about it? If it''s gone, it''s gone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
No, it is NOT illegal. It may violate the license agreement, and you could be sued in civil court for that, but it is not a crime.

It all depends on what the license says, *exactly*. If the license for the HL SDK prohibits commercial use, then you''re fine. Why? Because you haven''t sold anything yet. It''s still just a hobby or a free mod until you actually sell it. As long as the infringing code is out by that time, you are still complying with the license.

Besides, do you really think Sierra is going to waste their time on this? At most, their law-bots will send you a nasty letter asking you to...remove the infringing code, and not do it again.

Still...this is shaky ground at best, and you would probably be best off to:
a) not do it,
b) not talk about it if you do it, and
c) talk to a lawyer, who will simply repeat all of this advice, but for $180/hour.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Advertisement