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spiffgq

Legal issues surrounding open source games

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I was wondering about the legal issues surrounding open source games. For example, if someone contributes something to an OSS project (code, media, etc), do they still retain the copyright for his or her work? If so, what rights does that give the person? Can he or she decide to remove his or her contribution from the project or does the project now own the work (so to speak)? What do you think about this and other legal issues surrounding open source software (and games in particular)?

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I'm not a lawyer, but if the person is not compensated for thier work, I believe they retain copyright entitlement to it. Copyright is not automatic, you have to apply for the copyright with the appro. government agency. If you do not protect your work, you lose your copyright entitlement. Giving it to an open souce community could easily be viewed as surrending your protection over it.

You could keep the source open but not the artwork.

I never visit the business forum, but someone there may know more.

[edited by - Magmai Kai Holmlor on April 20, 2003 1:44:40 AM]

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actually, there is such a thing as implied copyright, but I don''t know how it would apply to source, artwork etc.

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Most open source projects allow the contributor to retain their copyright. However, they've licensed their work under a certain license that gives the others certain rights. Exactly what rights depends on the license. Revocability depends upon the license, most (probably all, but I haven't really looked into it) real open source license agreements are not revocable.

quote:
Original post by Magmai Kai Holmlor
Copyright is not automatic, you have to apply for the copyright with the appro. government agency. If you do not protect your work, you lose your copyright entitlement.

If we're doing US law, that's trademarks, not copyright. Copyright is automatic, and you don't lose it by not enforcing it. To legally enforce your copyright in court with the best results, it's best to have it 'registered' though.

quote:
Original post by Magmai Kai Holmlor
You could keep the source open but not the artwork.

You can have the artwork be licensed such that it is "open source" too. With a commercial open source game, that's probably not advisable though.



[edited by - Null and Void on April 20, 2003 1:57:00 AM]

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My post is only for US ...

as stated, copyright is automatic, and is also not exclusive ... this is how companies like MySQL AB do business, they offer an version of their product with an open source license and certain restrictions, and another version with less restrictions, but not a typical open source license.

Basically, when you add code to a project with an open source license, you are granting to that project (and EVERYONE) at least those rights granted in the license. So if you add code to a BSD style project, they have the right to use your code any way they want, forever. However, them having rights to use and distribute your code does NOT prevent you from having rights to release your code with other licenses. You cannot take the license away from the project, or prevent anyone from getting a copy derived from the project (and therefore with all those rights), but you still own your copyright, and can release it any way you want as well.

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quote:
Original post by Null and Void
You can have the artwork be licensed such that it is "open source" too. With a commercial open source game, that''s probably not advisable though.



Why? What would be the hazards of "open source" media and artwork? What if the game was not a commercial project? Are there licenses for artwork and media that are compatible with the OSI?


quote:
Original post by Xai
My post is only for US ...

as stated, copyright is automatic, and is also not exclusive ... this is how companies like MySQL AB do business, they offer an version of their product with an open source license and certain restrictions, and another version with less restrictions, but not a typical open source license.

Basically, when you add code to a project with an open source license, you are granting to that project (and EVERYONE) at least those rights granted in the license. So if you add code to a BSD style project, they have the right to use your code any way they want, forever. However, them having rights to use and distribute your code does NOT prevent you from having rights to release your code with other licenses. You cannot take the license away from the project, or prevent anyone from getting a copy derived from the project (and therefore with all those rights), but you still own your copyright, and can release it any way you want as well.



I guess code could be comparable to the documentation of the game and the fiction (story, plot, characters), right? I know there are document licenses (like the GNU FDL) that are designed to complement OSI licenses. Are such licenses required to protect the literature of a game or is that covered with the same license that covers the actual program?

quote:
Original post by Magmai Kai Holmlor
I never visit the business forum, but someone there may know more.


Now that you mention it, the business forum seems like it may have been a better choice for the location of this forum.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by spiffgq



I guess code could be comparable to the documentation of the game and the fiction (story, plot, characters), right? I know there are document licenses (like the <a href="http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html">GNU FDL</a> that are designed to complement OSI licenses. Are such licenses required to protect the literature of a game or is that covered with the same license that covers the actual program?





The license that covers the program does not automatically cover the documentation. The program license covers only what it explicitly says it covers. If you look at a typical source file, there will usually be a copyright notice, and information about what license it falls under.

If there are no such notices in the documentation, the "copyright default" will apply, that is "All rights reserved".


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quote:
Original post by spiffgq
Why? What would be the hazards of "open source" media and artwork?

Under a decent open license, the media and artwork would be redistributable: your customers (if no one else) could give away or possibly resell the entire product. If you''re trying to sell the rights to use a product, this is undesirable. The easiest way to manage this for a game is to simply not license some part of the game''s content that way.

quote:
Original post by spiffgq
What if the game was not a commercial project? Are there licenses for artwork and media that are compatible with the OSI?

If you''re making a completely open project, then everything should go under an open source license. You can put almost any work under the "regular" source oriented licenses (with mild interpretation in some cases), but there are some official open source license aimed at being used for documents or other works.

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