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David Burford

Legal what rights do you retain / what is allowed AFTER open sourcing a project?

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Hi all, hope this is okay to post here.

There seems to be a myriad of open source licenses these days and then multiple versions of each one so it begins to become confusing as to which you should use and when.

My scenario is I have been working for some time on a rogueish engine that I've always intended to open source when the base engine is finished and release to whomever is interested in it. People would be welcome to use it to make their own (non-commercial) games out of it as per the norm. The engine is very modable before you even get to the source so its flexible for multiple types of project.

To that end, in the back of my head I'm thinking one day I could REALLY polish it up and make something commercial with it as the base engine. But do I lose my right to do that if I've given away the source as "open" for other peoples non-commercial ventures? Would I be obliged to share my changes, if any, to the base engine? It seems obvious that if someone else submitted code to the open source public repository that i COULDNT use that without permission and thats fine.

But what if someone contact me and said hey I really like the work, could I license this to do something commercial? I'm guessing I could license *my* version of the source as long as it had no one elses contributions included? This project is not in the wild yet for what its worth, I'm just trying to get a more solid understanding of what actually happens to your rights as author after you've declared "open source". 

 

Thanks for your time! :) 

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In most countries on the planet you can not give up your natural rights in your creation, not even if you sign a contract. There are some significant exception to that, including some in North America.

You'll notice that most "open source" software licenses are licenses (permissions) to use and possibly distribute a work derived from copyrighted code.  Some licenses require that you distribute a copy of the sources wit the derived work, but not all do. All of the licenses work by having you, the creator of the work, maintain the original copyright and as the creator, you can continue to distribute the work under any license you please.  That includes a license involving the exchange of funds or the acceptance of liability, or dropping a condition of making the code available.  Your choice.

Keep in mind there are billion-dollar multinational corporations that do nothing but distribute Free software.  Being commercial and being "open source" are orthogonal concepts.

Also keep in mind that enforcing your copyright and asserting control of your code is done through tort law.  That means you have to pay lawyers and stuff even in the event of a dispute.

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Ooooh  ooooh. I wrote a couple of pieces on this.

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/2008/03/open-source-faq/

 

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/2008/03/open-source-f-1/

 

I should probably update these, to be honest, but reasons. I have a couple of clients who have "open-sourced" certain components of their game, but generally I've advised them to simply open source the mod tool and not the game itself. Ping me directly for specific questions. 

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That was literally perfect. Very detailed and everything I wanted to know, thanks!

I may have some more specific questions in future - when you say "ping" do you mean pm? (Sorry I'm clearly not down with the cool kids anymore :p)

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That was literally perfect. Very detailed and everything I wanted to know, thanks!

I may have some more specific questions in future - when you say "ping" do you mean pm? (Sorry I'm clearly not down with the cool kids anymore :P)

 

yup, just shoot me a PM on here or on Discord, (Cherished#9159), or shoot me an e-mail. 

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