Questions about Open Source Licensing

Member
Posts: 44
Joined: 2008.12
Post: #1
Hi all, I had a question about the Open Source licenses for this contest.

There are a number of different open source licenses to choose from, but they are all in legalese (which I find hard to read), and I wanted people's advice.

I am happy if someone can learn from my code or make some use of snippets for an original project, but I hope to continue to develop and perhaps sell my game after the contest is over and want to protect myself from someone else just slapping their name on it and selling it themselves. Given that, can someone recommend a good license for me to release my code under?

This is the first time I have tried releasing any software publicly and I
would appreciate some guidelines.

Thanks,

Matt
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Moderator
Posts: 680
Joined: 2002.11
Post: #2
You want the BSD license, same as gw0rp.

Quote:Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

* Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
* Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
* Neither the name 'gw0rp' nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

My web site - Games, music, Python stuff
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Post: #3
MIT license would also work well.

Kyle Richter
DragonForged.com
Twitter: @kylerichter
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Post: #4
That's nonsense, neither MIT or BSD protect you at all. Infact, they allow anyone to completely rip off your work, sell it, do anything they want, as long as they put a small copyright notice that it's based on your work.

Your best bet is using the GPL version 3.0 license, which makes it practically impossible for people to commercially use your code (they can still use all your code to make a free product that competes with yours though). If you make new versions of you game, the new versions can be closed source-proprietary, but people can still use your old code.

©h€ck øut µy stuƒƒ åt ragdollsoft.com
New game in development Rubber Ninjas - Mac Games Downloads
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Post: #5
Yikes,

I was just taking another look at the Open source website, and it sounds like there is a lengthy approval process for all of the license types. I didn't realize you had to apply. I thought including a license was just like putting a copyright notice on your software. Is this something I should have been doing months ago, and dropped the ball on? Can code be released under a "pending" license and still be protected? I'm not even quite sure how to apply. Sorry I'm causing so much trouble. This is my first time dealing with this sort of thing.

-Matt
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Post: #6
Najdorf Wrote:That's nonsense, neither MIT or BSD protect you at all. Infact, they allow anyone to completely rip off your work, sell it, do anything they want, as long as they put a small copyright notice that it's based on your work.

Yes you are correct and I apologize for misreading the question. MIT and BSD licenses allow anyone to use your code for anything and basically just insure that you can't be held liable if your code crashes some bank software or such. GPL will in fact prevent people from putting your code into non-open-source projects. However these open source projects may still be sold commercially. There is not a lot that prevents dishonest people from using your code and selling it and you will be the sole protector and end chasing these people in court if it comes to that. The simple matter is anything that is availably publicly has a chance of being used in pretty much anything.

I have seen a number of people use things like, "This code is licensed under the following terms.", then they list the terms of the license that they want to adhere to. These licenses are widely available and you can easily modify and attach them to your source files.

However at this point you are getting into more legal information then is safe to get from an online forum. I would recommend consulting with a lawyer to be safest. Granted it is probably hard to get sued for something like this, but if you have interest in protecting your work it may be in your best interest.

As Steve Jobs said best "Good artist copy, great artist steal." Of course it is a line he stole from Picasso.

Kyle Richter
DragonForged.com
Twitter: @kylerichter
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DoG
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Post: #7
This article might give you an idea, but personally, I'd recommend the permissive BSD/MIT/Apache/Zlib type licenses over the GPL. The likelyhood of someone being able to continue development on your game and competing with you are very very slim, and neither license protects you from somebody just selling the app without any changes under his own name.

Also, licensing your code under an open source license doesn't mean you lose copyright on it. You can continue to work on the code after the contest, and you aren't obliged to release the changes, as the license only applies to other people, not the original author.

And last, the license must be one of the ones listed at http://www.opensource.org/licenses/, as per the udg08 rules, so you can't just make up one of your own for the contest.
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Post: #8
mattness Wrote:Yikes,

I was just taking another look at the Open source website, and it sounds like there is a lengthy approval process for all of the license types. I didn't realize you had to apply. I thought including a license was just like putting a copyright notice on your software. Is this something I should have been doing months ago, and dropped the ball on? Can code be released under a "pending" license and still be protected? I'm not even quite sure how to apply. Sorry I'm causing so much trouble. This is my first time dealing with this sort of thing.

-Matt

Don't panic! ;-)

The "approval process" is only if you want to submit a NEW license to them, you just need to chose one of the pre-existing ones, slap it in your project and you're fine, you dont need them to approve you.

If you want to be generous use BSD/MIT.
If you want to protect your code (limitedly to using an open source license) use GPL.

GPL in theory allows others to sell an app based on your code commercially, but it also requires them to share all the code for their app as GPL, which in turn allows anyone to freely distribute their app, so it's commercially weak.

For instance the Quake 3 engine was released by id software under GPL, still they sold licenses to use it in "commercial" projects under a non-GPL license.

Then again don't worry about it too much, there are many great open source apps and they don't usually get "commercially exploited", so the chance of your incomplete first game getting ripped off are very very low to none.

Of course if you intend to sell it and think your game is ALREADY in a sellable state, you shouldn't release it under any open source license (nor as freeware for that matter).

©h€ck øut µy stuƒƒ åt ragdollsoft.com
New game in development Rubber Ninjas - Mac Games Downloads
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Post: #9
And remember that only the code is released under the open source license. The art and sound assets still belong to you. So anyone using your code would still have to make all their own art/sounds for their own projects.

Unless, of course, you *want* to release your assets to the public. Creative Commons is good for that: http://creativecommons.org/
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Post: #10
Thanks guys. It sound's like I'll probably go with the GPL. My wife's better at reading these things that I, and she said she'd take a look at it tonight. Do I just include the license in a text file with my code? Should I comment my code in some way to refer to the license? Do I have to modify the license file in any way to insert my name and the games name into it? I didn't see any insert name here sections, but diordna quotes his gw0rp name in his quote from the BSD license.

Thanks,

-Matt
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Post: #11
The original BSD license is here. Notice the spaces for various names and such.

Beyond that, everyone else has nailed it as far as I can see.

My web site - Games, music, Python stuff
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