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Why the draconian copyright restrictions?


Orions_Stardom

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Out of curiousity what about modifications to the exe (e.g. tutu does that)? Where does it fall under current situation?

Anyway about that the point with "clones" of mod giving support trouble to writer of original mod, shouldn't it be that if someone takes mod made by X makes changes (ie. improvements according to his/her taste) and releases that then support for that release is the problem of the said person? Seems pretty straight forward to me.

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That should be the case, but as the repeated instances of people coming to the BG1NPC Project forum and asking for support for the BGT version of the mod have shown, mulitple variations of the same mod simply end up confusing a lot of people.

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Thanks for bringing up a very interesting topic--it's not something I've seen discussed before, and it's probably long overdue. As the aforementioned draconian copyright notice is boilerplate on my readmes I feel compelled to respond. :) I'll go ahead and state outright that I am, from a a perspective of ideals and especially their applications to software, more in line with O_S's point of view than anything.

Yay, someone agrees! :party:

 

 

The first concern is maintenance--this encompasses everything from timely and effective response for bugs to providing an outlet for criticism and feedback. Multiple, unknown hosts sow confusion in centralizing support. It's widely believed, and well supported, that readmes are typically ignored. This often results in players returning to the place of download for support. I think this is suboptimal. I feel the best way to provide these outlets to players is a centralized public forum. Players can see if others have experienced the same issues, if the devs have fixed it (or are even aware of it), and a place to debate the merits of the mod itself and try to improve upon it. Keeping these issues in one location, in a transparent and open fashion, benefits both the players and the devs immensely.

Which actually leads me into another issue, which I won't go into at length here (since it is more a matter of opinion and practicality than ideals), but this is where wikis and mailing lists are more effective than the site-and-forum setup that all of the various communities have now.

 

These are the reasons why I wish to have a copyright notice. From a practical standpoint, as O_S has already mentioned, the idea that I would actually try a legal challenge--much less prevail--is somewhere between laughable and ridiculous. I would love to know what sort of alternatives, provided I can still safeguard my concerns above, there are available.

For protecting it from those who would abuse the freedom, that is exactly why the GNU General Public License (or, more generally, copyleft) exists - it effectively says "you can do whatever you want with this, including redistribute it gratis or for profit, verbatim or modified, so long as you allow others that same freedom. This is infact exactly the reason NPC Tweak is under the GPL. The greedy people who try to charge more for this than they deserve would generally find it to be a bad business model, since someone else will be distributing the same thing for free.

For the maintanance concern, the main thing to rely on there is pure etiquette - it is long held in the Free Software community that it is extremely impolite to either a) not upstram patches that could help another project, or b) fork frivolously (this is only for publicly released things ofcourse) - that being, to fork because of a concern that wasn't voiced to upstream. Also, the various-versions-of-it problem wouldn't generally exist if they could all use each other's code, often they would either incorporate exactly the same fixes as each other, or they would move in entirely different directions (enough to be characterised as different mods, reducing the confusion).

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Which actually leads me into another issue, which I won't go into at length here (since it is more a matter of opinion and practicality than ideals), but this is where wikis and mailing lists are more effective than the site-and-forum setup that all of the various communities have now.

 

(Insert Studios Wiki joke here.)

 

For the maintanance concern, the main thing to rely on there is pure etiquette - it is long held in the Free Software community that it is extremely impolite to either a) not upstram patches that could help another project, or b) fork frivolously (this is only for publicly released things ofcourse) - that being, to fork because of a concern that wasn't voiced to upstream. Also, the various-versions-of-it problem wouldn't generally exist if they could all use each other's code, often they would either incorporate exactly the same fixes as each other, or they would move in entirely different directions (enough to be characterised as different mods, reducing the confusion).

 

Nightmare provided a concrete example of where this sort of behavior has pretty roundly failed to provide desirable results. So we're back to my question again, which is--what, precisely, do you see as the advantage to doing things differently than we're doing now?

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But if other people were free to make their own versions of Windows and sell them, that would greatly reduce's Microsoft's profit... and Microsoft being Microsoft, if they weren't making enough profit, they'd stop making new versions of Windows.  Depending on your point of view that could be a good thing or bad thing, but the point is that someone else's actions would be the direct cause of the original author no longer updating or creating "sequels" to his work.

For MS to loose any significant profit over that would rely on a) MS Windows being a complete and utter POS, b) the other implementation being better, and c) the other implementation being as well known as Windows. Why do you think they're so afraid of Linux and Firefox now? a. Is a given. b. Has been the case for a few years (especially with Linux distros like Ubuntu and SuSE coming into the picture). c. Is what is happening more and more as we speak (hell, it was my near computer-illerate great aunt who got *me* using Firefox!). But, neither of these share any of MS's code - and yet they are potentially equally disastrous for MS. The only thing that less stringent copyright measures would change would be it becoming slightly easier for this to happen, or by people reducing the vendor-lockinness while still using MS-originated technologies. The former makes no difference in the end, and the latter is a bad thing only for MS. :) And also, it might reduce MS's willingness to provide Windows - but if the marketplace chooses the other implementation over MS's, surely that doesn't matter? Because although MS might stop shipping it, others almost certainly would keep on earning money: the company might die, but the art would live on.

Keeping a company in business isn't a good reason to have a set of restrictions.:party:

 

Also, you seem to be forgetting that the majority of Infinity Engine mods involve the author doing far more than writing code; a large number of them (probably even the majority) involve vast quantities of written text as well.  Likening NPC and quest mods (and even item and spell mods, if the author put a lot of work into the descriptions) to novels is an entirely accurate and justifiable comparison, IMHO.

Haven't we already decided that copyright is more for the public than the author? :party:

But anyway, it's possible to argue that the text itself, and the text in the context of the mod, are entirely different issues - if the mod is under the GPL for example, those words could be incorporated into another mod, but not into a novel unless the author specifically allows it (unless the novel is also under the GPL, which wouldn't make all that much sense). Now, for incorporating it into another mod - it would, most probably, stick out like a sore thumb as not beloning there. Thus, practicality dictates that it would be changed, or that extra work be done specifically to work it in. There are some exceptions to this ofcourse (such as a description for the same item), but this I think is the general case.

 

The author isn't preventing anyone else from using the idea, he's preventing anyone else from using his code and text.  As I said, someone else could create their own mod which does pretty much the same thing, just so long as he wrote his own code and text from scratch.

Surely you've heard of "reinventing the wheel"? Having to recode something that has already been done leads to numerous conflicting implementations, and to slow-moving, non-small-grinding gears. This is a Bad Thing for the whole community. If instead things are open, these unmaintained mods can be taken up by someone else, and put back into the community. Noone seems to be complain that Kevin Dorner's fixes are being modernised, extended, and generally improved in this way (even though Baldurdas itself has a disclaimer in the install screen saying "don't do that").

 

See the edited post - it's what they do to earn a living.  If people are legally allowed to sell multiple copies of another person's work for their own personal profit, there wouldn't even be a point in new artists signing away their rights, so they would experience even greater difficulty finding someone to publish their work than they already do.  ..

 

Once such companies no longer existed, it would no longer be possible for anyone except the extremely rich (so rich they don't care about losing large amounts of their own money) to publish anything en-masse, other than via the internet.  This would obviously severely restrict authors/artists/etc in their ability to make profit, so professional authors, professional musicians, professional game developers, etc would also quickly cease to exist.  They'd be forced to get other, non-creative jobs in order to actually earn a living, since even the most creative person on the planet needs money in order to live.

Which is why copyright is still a good system in the physical world. It is hard for authors to self-publish because it is hard for anyone short of publishers to distribute physical work en masse. Thus, we make them ask the author's permission before they do this - and all it restricts is the publisher. It doesn't restrict the general public in practice, for the same reason it exists: because the general public can't create and distribute books en masse.

Over the internet, the story is different - publishers no longer need to exist. Self-publishing is incredibly easy. All that is needed is a place to put it. And the rights we give up in the name of copyright now make some difference for this same reason - it is possible to excercise them.

 

The only new books, films, games, pieces of music, etc that the general public would receive after all would be amateur creations made as a hobby.

That's a bad thing? Surely work that is done as a hobby - for the sheer enjoyment of doing it - is better than the work done purely to get money or fame from it?

 

Whatever the case, there would be far, far fewer new original works, and those which did get made would often be of average or low quality.  I'm not sure about you, but I for one would not wish to live in such a world... which sounds suspiciously like the pre-renaissance middle ages to me.

I disagree with this. I think the world companies like Microsoft and Intel sounds more like the Dark Ages - a world with DRM. A world where Microsoft can control what gets published. A world where these corporations can enforce monopolies, and stiffle the creativity coming from anyone outside them. The printing press ended the dark ages, now it's succcessor - the internet (both being a way of distributing information and knowledge en masse) - is being stiffled from doing this.

 

There seems to be an idea in many peoples minds that if a job involves a great deal of creativity, then it's not a proper job at all, and that if the person doing such a job is actually interested in earning money then he's evil, selfish, a sellout, etc.  I disagree with this entirely.  If only there were more jobs which involved creativity rather than mind-numbing repetition and tedious tasks, IMHO the world would be a far more enjoyable, far more intellectual place.

The point of copyright is, yes, to let authors make a living from what they do - and thus have time to do more of it. This encourages more unique works, because we reward the authors who we like. The internet provides other ways of doing this, other ways of allowing those authors to dedicate their lives to this - to quote again from gnu.org:

Eventually, when computer networks provide an easy way to send someone a small amount of money, the whole rationale for restricting verbatim copying will go away. If you like a book, and a box pops up on your computer saying "Click here to give the author one dollar", wouldn't you click? Copyright for books and music, as it applies to distributing verbatim unmodified copies, will be entirely obsolete. And not a moment too soon!
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Which actually leads me into another issue, which I won't go into at length here (since it is more a matter of opinion and practicality than ideals), but this is where wikis and mailing lists are more effective than the site-and-forum setup that all of the various communities have now.

 

(Insert Studios Wiki joke here.)

That is also part of why I'm not going to discuss that idea at length here - the Studios Wiki is set up in a realy bad way, and almost undermines the point of itself.

 

Nightmare provided a concrete example of where this sort of behavior has pretty roundly failed to provide desirable results. So we're back to my question again, which is--what, precisely, do you see as the advantage to doing things differently than we're doing now?

1. More rights to the people. :)

2. It's not so much "it would be better", as "this way is worse, and has potential to stiffle creativity in the way copyright was originally designed to promote it".

 

And I honestly believe that the situation with the different BGT versions had potential to sort itself out early on, and may still have some small chance of doing so (with the right prodding). In larger communities based around these ideals (Linux. Mozilla. GNOME. *BSD. etc), utter disasters like this are the exception rather than the rule, and a thankfully rare exception at that.

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Nightmare provided a concrete example of where this sort of behavior has pretty roundly failed to provide desirable results. So we're back to my question again, which is--what, precisely, do you see as the advantage to doing things differently than we're doing now?

1. More rights to the people. :)

 

Well, sorry, but with my tiny fists balled up as tight, I bang my desk and deny the people the right to take Kelsey, change his name to "Jimbo", and try to sell him at a swap meet for $15. Whether or not they'd make a dime is immaterial to me (although it may well be material to Bioware and the two guys at the tiny Interplay office these days--another good reason to try to discourage this sort of behavior before it crops up.)

 

On the other hand, "the people" seem in the past to have exercised their ability to lift substantial chunks of my code, documentation formatting style, and even in some cases my writing and the worst I've ever done is say, "Hey. That's my writing, you know." I think you grossly overestimate the chilling effect, and the forced reinvention-of-wheels, of putting the terms which I happen to find rather reasonable and fair on my mods. Modders are forever encouraging other modders to look at real code. With the expectation that it will be taken and altered as needed.

 

2. It's not so much "it would be better", as "this way is worse, and has potential to stiffle creativity in the way copyright was originally designed to promote it".

 

If something is "worse", it follows that something else should be "better." And I'm singularly uninterested in being part of Stallman's ideological campaign, which seems to be the only real "better" you're offering me.

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Well, sorry, but with my tiny fists balled up as tight, I bang my desk and deny the people the right to take Kelsey, change his name to "Jimbo", and try to sell him at a swap meet for $15.

Well, yeah, ofcourse the *author* doesn't want that - but there's more of 'the people' than there are of 'the author'. :)

 

Whether or not they'd make a dime is immaterial to me (although it may well be material to Bioware and the two guys at the tiny Interplay office these days--another good reason to try to discourage this sort of behavior before it crops up.)

http://www.the-underdogs.org/scratch.php

 

On the other hand, "the people" seem in the past to have exercised their ability to lift substantial chunks of my code, documentation formatting style, and even in some cases my writing and the worst I've ever done is say, "Hey. That's my writing, you know." I think you grossly overestimate the chilling effect, and the forced reinvention-of-wheels, of putting the terms which I happen to find rather reasonable and fair on my mods. Modders are forever encouraging other modders to look at real code. With the expectation that it will be taken and altered as needed.

 

If something is "worse", it follows that something else should be "better."

Not in quite the way you seem to expect, though Unfortunately, my attempts to put it clearly have failed spectacularly... (perhaps there is a language barrier between Australian and American? That would explain a lot.. or maybe I'm just not good at this stuff? That would also explain alot... )

 

EDIT: Is it just me, or are the quotes not working in this one post? :|

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Well, yeah, ofcourse the *author* doesn't want that - but there's more of 'the people' than there are of 'the author'.

Of course, generally speaking, "the people" do not get together as a unit to pinch someone's idea. It's one person, author vs. author.

 

 

I personally would find it aggravating in the extreme that someone would take something I'd written, modify it a little (or not at all) and sell/present it as their own work. If they were to ask me first, I would have no problem with that at all (subject to what they're going to do with it mind you). Likewise, were someone to, say, write fan-fic based on my work and identify that they were not the author of the original idea/character, I wouldn't have a problem with that either, because it doesn't reflect on me or my work.

 

Even among the modders here, if someone has a good idea that someone else wants to use, that person asks first. Universally, the answer is "sure, go ahead"

 

 

Sure any copyright we have is probably not legally enforcable, but it's a courtesy to ask someone if you can use their material, and I'd rather someone be courteous to me than legally perfect.

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Of course, generally speaking, "the people" do not get together as a unit to pinch someone's idea. It's one person, author vs. author.
He who receives an idea from me receives it without lessening me, as who who lights his candle at mine receives light without darkening me.
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It doesn't hurt to mention that you didn't have the idea in the first place. :)

 

 

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.
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Whatever the case, there would be far, far fewer new original works, and those which did get made would often be of average or low quality.  I'm not sure about you, but I for one would not wish to live in such a world... which sounds suspiciously like the pre-renaissance middle ages to me.

To straight things out - rights to intellectual creations were an alien concept to the renaissance. Shakespear "stole" ideas even whole pages word by word from others' work and it was a common pratice, e.g. if a play was succesful the competion came to see it, wrote it down and used this material. Now are you saying that English renaissance drama was devoid of originality? This argument reminds of MS representatives saying "Windows is better then Linux because it has a closed code", well I'd rather believe the exact opposite.

 

PS. Out of curiousity a question to those who believe in "this is my work and I forbid using it", Let's say somebody releases your work as their mod, what then? Surely you can state your displeasure but it won't change a thing, will it?

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To straight things out - rights to intellectual creations were an alien concept to the renaissance. Shakespear "stole" ideas even whole pages word by word from others' work and it was a common pratice, e.g. if a play was succesful the competion came to see it, wrote it down and used this material. Now are you saying that English renaissance drama was devoid of originality?

 

I am saying: "Let's be better than Shakespear, shall we?"

 

This argument reminds of MS representatives saying "Windows is better then Linux because it has a closed code", well I'd rather believe the exact opposite.

 

I've used BSD for a year, and Linux for another year(was forced to use it would be more accurate). Nobody, never, will convince me it's better than Windows.

 

PS. Out of curiousity a question to those who believe in "this is my work and I forbid using it", Let's say somebody releases your work as their mod, what then? Surely you can state your displeasure but it won't change a thing, will it?

 

If somebody writes interjections/conflicts with my (future?) mod, I have no problems with it. If someone writes a fanfic based on it, I have no problems with it.

 

But if somebody tries to take my zip/exe I (will) distribute, and change it, either to incorporate into his mod, or prove it as his own, I will do everything in my power to stop him, first by asking him not to do that, then applying to the web forum where he gets hosting, then asking the community in general and some prominent members in particular for help, and then, if these steps get no result, I might consider calling a friend at former KGB. The last step is extreme, of course, but I may just get very angry.

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To straight things out - rights to intellectual creations were an alien concept to the renaissance. Shakespear "stole" ideas even whole pages word by word from others' work

 

Correction: some people *believe* Shakespear stole other people's work. However, theory and fact are two very different things.

 

 

But anyway, what no-one has mentioned so far is that all authors have a choice. If an author wants other people to be able to modify his work without even giving credit or asking for permission, there are numerous licenses he can use which will allow him to do precisely that. If an author doesn't want other people to steal his work, there are numerous other licenses which allow for that too. We're talking about things that are draconian or morally dubious, but forcing an author to do things in a way he doesn't want to is one of the most draconian and morally dubious things I can think of. As I said, it'd just encourage many people not to release their mods to the public it at all.

 

If the reader is really that desperate to take someone else's hard work and modify it for his own purposes, he has many choices:

 

1) Ask permission. As I said, what's a 30 second e-mail compared to dozens, hundreds or perhaps thousands of hours of work?

2) Modify the work but don't publically release it. This isn't illegal, and it does no harm to the author.

3) Find a similar work that's under a less restrictive license, and modify that instead.

4) Create his own, similar but new work from scratch. Personally I prefer this option, since it actually encourages creativity and innovation - never a bad thing.

 

On the other hand, if an author is forced to release his work under a license he doesn't like, what choice does he have? None, other than to not release it to the public.

 

Of course, you can tell authors who prefer the more restrictive arguments that they're somehow "wrong", "selfish", "evil" or whatever until you're blue in the face, but since you're not going to change their minds, what exactly is the point? This thread already contains numerous reasons why authors shouldn't be *forced* to work under less restrictive licenses, and the entire point is that it is - and should always remain - a choice. We all (well, most of us) live in a democratic society, and I'm sure most of us would agree that restricting peoples' rights is never a good idea. In a case like this where the rights of two people conflict, the one which would do the least harm to both people should have the priority; and in this case, that's allowing the author the right to do with his work as he sees fit, not the reader... especially as it inspires prospective authors to be inventive and original, rather than unimaginative and clichéd.

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