[Your opinion?] Need for easy-to-use legal tools on the forums

Hi,

first of all I would like to say that this is an open discussion, and that my knowledges in licence terms and copyrights are limited. Also, I don’t speak english well : I still hope I can make myself clear. Please correct me if I’m telling nonsense.
Note :Those who don’t want to read the entire post can go directly to the “RESUME” section at the end of the post.

I feel that the community here needs a more organized (and professional) way of sharing scripts and assets.
The community is growing faster, there are more and more scripts available in the resource section, and it becomes hard to have a good understanding of the legal way it can be reused.
There is a part of the community who is interested in using the BGE for commercial projects, and there is a lack of proper licence terms for available resources provided on the forums.

I know almost nothing about copyrights, but I know that I can’t use a Mario Galaxy model to make my own game. It’s copyrighted.
But if I want, I can use a cube without a problem.

‘’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’
The problem
‘’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’
I have this problem with scripts :
are scripts copyrighted? A lot of scripts can be rewritten and nobody can claim to be the owner of print “hello” ,but on the other hand creating a script requires a lot of work and it can (should) be the property of the owner.
Can somebody explain what is the distinction about a script that “everybody can use” and the one that is “the property of the owner”?
When can you make a difference?
Is a camera collision script copyrighted? Is a portal script copyrighted? Is a game copyrighted “only” because it makes use of 2d and 3d art?
Are scripts considered like “art, work, property” too?
I know the answer, but I don’t know exactly where is the frontier.

Example :
in my template, I use a mouse script that was shared by cthames, with a contribution by B3D00. The script was brought to my template by PhilB.
The question is simple : Can I use that mouse script for commercial works?
I don’t think that the answer is easy.

This is the text displayed in the _ReadMe of my third person template :


TERMS OF USE

By using the 3rd Person Template you agree with:

  1. This 3rd Person Template is provided as is, entirely at your own risk.
  2. Developers don’t accept any claims regarding quality of the 3rd Person Template or any standards conformity.
  3. This 3rd Person Template may be used in any commercial way only if it is a part of artwork or project. Single reselling or redistribution of this 3rd Person Template is prohibited.
  4. This 3rd Person Template may be freely modified or elaborated.
Note : The character used in that template may not be used in any commercial way. It is available for educational purpose only.

I don’t know if it’s good enough, but at least it gives enough informations to the reader so he know what he can do with it, and what he can’t.

Another example :
I have used Wordpress before and created custom themes.
That’s not hard, and requires only few knowledges. But on the other hands, people that share their themes and basic users have a way to protect their work and choose a licence (llike CC by-sa).

‘’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’
A solution?
‘’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’
I think we should create a sticky thread where are well explained the different sharing methods (ex Creative Commons) and ask the user who share a script/a blend on the forums to choose one.
Also, if he doesn’t, should be displayed a default licence (cc by-sa) that would be applied to the file/script posted on the BA forums.
That default licence will be automatically applied to the resources already available in the resources section unless the opposite was specified in the thread. (I don’t know if that last suggestion is a good one though).

“Terms of use” for the beginners
It’s good that my understanding of copyrights is limited, then I can ask basic questions :
if I make a custom wordpress theme, I can choose myself to distribute it under CC.
How can we avoid the situation that somebody would come, copy/paste the mouse script (for ex), add a few lines and claim it his own?
Some of those questions should be part of the FAQ.

Open for commercial projects
That’s the situation we would have to face if we ask a licence for every work shared, but this is the way to go if we want to road to commercial games to be open.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

RESUME
I think we should create a sticky thread where are well explained the different sharing methods (ex Creative Commons) and ask the user who share a script/a blend on the forums to choose one.
Also, if he doesn’t, should be displayed a default licence (cc by-sa) that would be applied to the file/script posted on the BA forums.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My suggestion
‘’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’

  1. Creating the thread (who)
    I would like the community to provide a clear and complete documentation (sticky thread). For that, I think it would be good that a person who knows well about legal issues create that thread.
    He will have to use legal terms (I mean, official sources), and also be able to have a good understanding of the situation of game makers by providing examples, situations, to explain each licence. That would be useful for beginners.
    => Who is ready, motivated and competent for that?
    Please don’t hesitate, we need your help :slight_smile:

  2. FAQ (what)
    Please use the current thread to ask your own questions if there are things that remain uncertain to your understanding.
    The person who will create the thread will choose the most important ones and use it to fill the FAQ section in his thread.

If you have any other suggestion, please participate in that thread.
This is completely open to discussion.
I don’t know much more. Creating that current thread was my contribution :slight_smile:

[Argh, my poll was deleted / “too much chars” / but the field was not full yet…]

I strongly second this. Far too often have I worked on a project only to see it die as the cornerstone of the programming was copyrighted.

My two cents.

Firstly: I am not a legal professional and nothing that I say here should be taken to be legal advice. (Ok, now I think I’m indemnified… I hate legal stuff.)

I think that scripting for BGE has really taken off after the Apricot project and there does seem to be a need for script writers to make it clearer what usage terms they wish to put on their scripts.

From the little I understand about copright laws, the creation of licensing terms such as GPL and CC and the DWTFYL license was to avoid falling foul of the nasty laws that were introduced that say anyone can copyright anything that isn’t already covered by copyright. As far as I can make out, if a person releases a script without specifying a license then anyone can copyright that script and then restrict the usage of it. Yup, another person can copyright your script and stop you from using it. :eek:

It would be nice to have a more structured way of organising scripts that makes clear what license they are released under. 3d assets are often listed on sites with tags that indicate the license, and the assets can be organised by license, certain licenses excluded from search results, etc. Such a facility such as this would be very useful.

I’m not certain though if having a sticky thread would be such a good way of achieving this. I’m all for clarity, but stickies seem to have a way of becoming clogged with off-topic posts and confusion. Also, without tags, searching a sticky thread would become a long trawl through every little script that has been released.

I hope this doesn’t sound negative, I’m just trying to put forward a few suggestions as to how this could be approached.

Edit: I’d just like to highlight that BGE is not only for games, many people use it for for architectural visualisation to demo projects and provide a walkthrough of buildings/gardens that they have designed for clients etc. A clearer explanation of legal uses for scripts would also be useful for these projects. Although they are often less logic-intensive than games, they may include mouselook scripts, LOD, etc.

Personally, I just avoid all the copyright / legal issues by writing everything from scratch. =P

Anyways, I recommend that anyone who makes a script should include some information on how the script should be used. For example:


TERMS OF USE

Name(s) of the original creator(s) of the script.
Name(s) of the people who modified to script (if any)

This is what you can and can’t do with the script


END TERMS OF USE

my code, etc…
A header like the one above should be include in ever single one of your scripts.

Before people start jumping to conclusions,
Here are some useful links about copyright.
http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/When is my work protected?

How much of someone else’s work can I use without getting permission?

How much do I have to change in order to claim copyright in someone else’s work?

How do I get permission to use somebody else’s work?PDF file: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf
Good information on what can and cannot be copyrighted.

computer programs and most “compilations” may be registered as “literary works”
http://www.blender.org/education-help/faq/gpl-for-artists/
Very good info regarding blender specifically.

Anything you create with Blender - whether it’s graphics, movies, scripts, exported 3d files or the .blend files themselves - is your sole property, and can be licensed or sold under any conditions you prefer.
I’m not a lawyer, I don’t have the authority to offer legal advise, so take the following information for what its worth.
These are my own personal guidelines regarding copyright and blend files.

  • Any file (blend, python script, whatever) posted on the internet belongs(is copyright) to the creator, (as long as they are not violating other people’s copyrights.) Even if they do not include a copyright notice. (According to blender.org and the U.S. Copyright Office)
  • A file (blend, python script, whatever) posted on this site, including the resource section, belongs to the creator (as long as they are not violating other people’s copyrights.) And should not be used, modified or redistributed in any way with out the author’s permission. Even if they do not include a copyright notice. (According to blender.org and the U.S. Copyright Office)
  • If you’re working on a commercial project, the safest thing would be to make sure you have permission to use whatever does not belong to you, then give credit according to the author’s request.
  • If someone does not include a Terms-Of-Use or License; Ask for permission, a License, or don’t use it.
  • if you are unsure of the original author; The safest thing would be to not use it.
  • You can’t copyright ideas, everyone can make a mouselook script, just like everyone can paint a picture of the same tree.
  • An “everybody can use” script is one where the author says everyone can use it, Otherwise it is “the property of the owner”.

Fortunately, you are very wrong about this, Unless its different in the UK.
[U]10 Big Myths about copyright explained[/U]

I agree with that, we should encourage people to choose a license or include a Terms of Use. And remind the mods and everyone to ask the poster for a Terms-of-Use or license if one isn’t given.

I disagree with you here. It’s impossible to do this with out the original authors consent.

Most people do not understand or respect copyright or licenses. And copyrighting may also be different in other countries.
So if you really want to protect your work, don’t post it.

FunkyWurm,

As far as I can make out, if a person releases a script without specifying a license then anyone can copyright that script and then restrict the usage of it. Yup, another person can copyright your script and stop you from using it. :eek:

You are wrong in your understanding.

First copyright law depends on the country, in the US there is an automatic grant of copyright once you create a ‘creative work’ that meets the requirements for copyright (must have a creative aspect, etc.)

Second, the reason for the GPL was a response to university software going from completely open to completely closed.

The authors of the other licenses created their own licenses for their own reasons.

Regarding what is copyrightable,

unfortunately there is no clear cut bright line ‘this script is copyrightable in the US’, ‘this script is not copyrightable in the US’. It depends on a couple of things,

see these articles which sheds a bit of light

http://www.iusmentis.com/copyright/software/protection/

http://www.scottandscottllp.com/main/is_your_software_copyrightable.aspx

A lot of the code snippets are functional, thus going through and changing the variable names (and not necessarily even doing that) would likely render the usage noninfringing. However for a commercial venture you should really cross your p’s and q’s and have a coder do an independent implementation (common method for this is the ‘clean room’ implementation, one coder reads the code and generates a description of the algorithm, then a second coder takes the description and writes a new piece of code that does the same thing).

Artists tend to have a really poor understanding of copyright law (so do coders for that matter). So I’m all for improving understanding.

LetterRip

Nice links there,

thanks for the info, :yes:

also take a look there :

http://www.blendenzo.com/faqMakeExe.html

Regarding the statement about making something into a runtime and the license,

it is basically a great big grey area, the Blender Foundation thinks that makes your work GPL (which is wrong, even if you were violating the GPL, it would not change the license of your content), however it appears that what happens when you ‘make a runtime’ binary is that it just tars your software with the blender executable, so it almost certainly would not constitute a derivative work.

There are also oddball interpretations I’ve heard about scripts (ie using a GPLed API makes the script GPL), this is something that is claimed by the FSF, but again is a grey area, and would probably be interpreted contrary to the FSF claim (I can write a piece of software to an API, and regardless of the license of the software the API belongs to it will still run, so if there are two implementations of an API and one is GPLed and one is BSD licensed, running it against the GPL implementation would make it GPLed according to the FSF which is of course nonsense.)

Just thought I’d mention those two fun issues as well :slight_smile:

LetterRip

It’s a relatively good method, but beware the NIH syndrome

beware the NIH syndrome
Say what you like, but making code from scratch has it’s advantages:

  1. You don’t have to waste time reverse engineering the api.
  2. Since you know exactly how it works, you can optimize it to it’s full potential.
  3. Your only coding what you need, therefor you can make light weight libraries.
  4. You avoid copyright / legal issues.

I don’t see anything wrong with that? The only disadvantage is that it takes extra time to write the libraries.

Anyways, back on topic.

I’m glad to have that supposition of mine rebutted. :smiley:

It makes publishing a lot less scary, like… If I forget to specify a script or portion of code or library as specifically my work then I do have rights to claim it as my work still.

Thanks for confirming this.

Having said this, I can’t see any reason why I’d restrict my work at the moment (nothing world-shattering has been achieved by me to date) so I intend that all the scripts I produce will be free to use for everyone for any purpose for the foreseeable future.

Glad that the community took part in that discussion :slight_smile:
Thank you for the links, and your participation.

I wanted to quote that, from LetterRip:

A lot of the code snippets are functional, thus going through and changing the variable names (and not necessarily even doing that) would likely render the usage noninfringing. However for a commercial venture you should really cross your p’s and q’s and have a coder do an independent implementation (common method for this is the ‘clean room’ implementation, one coder reads the code and generates a description of the algorithm, then a second coder takes the description and writes a new piece of code that does the same thing).
I like that block of text, but I don’t know much.

What do you think about it? Do you confirm or disagree with it? Is that enough to protect your business?

PhilB,

if you are unsure of the original author; The safest thing would be to not use it.
I understand that. But, let’s say that a software (Blender in that case) allows only one or few ways to make a mouse script (due to a lack of access to some functions, for ex).
Even if you make your own script, most of the times you will end up rewriting the same lines of code (even using the same variables names).

Is that enough to make it your own?
Regarding the quote from LetterRip, I would say “yes”. But is that official enough?

---------
Also, is a logic bricks setup copyrightable?
What makes a difference between a Keyboard sensor attached to a AND controller attached to a Motion actuator (not copyrightable, right?) and a more complex setup (copyrightable?)

I have started to read the links provided in that thread, but I think it’s not a bad idea to answer directly to those simple questions. For beginners. For all.

FunkyWyrm

Having said this, I can’t see any reason why I’d restrict my work at the moment (nothing world-shattering has been achieved by me to date) so I intend that all the scripts I produce will be free to use for everyone for any purpose for the foreseeable future.
Yep, and we will all have to specify it clearly soon, I guess.

Anyway, I can see that there is a grey area and that some things remain uncertain.
I have no doubt now that the idea to display clean and understandable terms of use for everything shared on the forums was a good one, and I’m happŷ the community responded in that way.

just to make a note here, unless noted otherwise, all scripts i post here are absolutely free for use with any purpose, attribution is appreciated but not required, just don’t claim you wrote it.

@cyborg_ar: +1 to that, it’s my sentiments exactly. :wink:

This could be specified as the default license for scripts posted on blenderartists to avoid new user confusion?

In a community such as this, given the architecture of the app we’re using (Blender–GPL) I think it’s inherently rude to release a script and promptly state that it cannot be re-used.

If you want to protect your code, but want to share (or flaunt) your knowledge, write a tutorial on “how to code this” and copyright that instead.

Anything I’ve released to the Internet over 15 years, I’ve released GPL and freeware.
Models, meshes, applications, midi (yes, I’m that old, I said 15 years!)

One backfired: I released a '69 Pontiac Lemans for need for speed 3. Later, released it again for NFS4. 6 months later, EA released Motorcity (a failure). They used my car as a GTO Judge in their game, copyrighted it, and informed all of the sites that had my car to cease and desist. It was removed from the internet and I can no longer share it. :mad:

How do I know it was mine? NFS used a triangle-fan method for fast rendering. Each triangle is declared by 3 vertices, each consecutive triangle uses the last vertice declared in the last triangle. This reduces traffic in the render pipeline. My car had a flaw, an overlapping triangle on the passenger-side rear, causing a crease in the shading. Easy for me to see, because I own the real car and modelled it while staring at it in my driveway. It couldn’t be fixed without blowing away the whole rear half of the car. They used it. My flaw was on there car.

It’s rude, but it happens. Count on it. Don’t be sad. Try not to do this to others, mention contribution where contribution was made. The Blender community was founded on these old-fashoined values. Share the wealth, that’s all.

Azure, please, for the love of all things awesome, find a way to prove that.

If I post anything, it comes with a free license note in the file. Free as in I won’t charge you for it. :wink:

azure_infinity,

you could send a letter to them. I’m sure some compensation would go to you for it.

LetterRip