License question

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License question

Postby YetAnotherGameDev » May 24th, 2016, 12:57 am

Hello to everyone, Im game developer (mobile).

I've read stuff about GPL and things, so I want to clarify points for myself. Please correct me if I go wrong:
1. If im gonna use BfW art I must make whole game opensourced or send sources to any who asked for it.
2. I cant just say in credits - "Art are under GPL and hereis link to GPL license and BfW game", while leaving game close sourced.

If i undestand everything right, then I have another Q:
1. Can I leave source code closed, but donate 30% of income to BfW foundation?
OR
2. Make project opensourced, except multiplayer library and in-app purchasing module?

P.S. I dont mind making project opensourced, but I want to know all options.
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Re: License question

Postby iceiceice » May 24th, 2016, 1:21 am

1. You quite possibly can use GPL art in a closed source game.

It depends a bit on your use case. The important thing from copyright point of view is, does the combination of the art and the code form a "derivative work" under copyright law. If so, the GPL compels you to apply to apply the GPL to each part of the combined whole.
In many cases, a GPL engine does not depend essentially for its operation on any particular art assets. In that case it might not be a derivative work.

There is not much established case law here, which is unfortunate.

The FSF has advocated the following meaning for combining GPL code and non-GPL code -- they advocate that if two C programs are linked, then if one is GPL, so must the other be. But, if they aren't linked, perhaps they only communicate via system calls or sockets or something, then FSF advocates that GPL does not necessarily carry from one to the other.

For instance, if I am running linux, and I want to use a proprietary program which I paid for, I can launch that program from bash. Even though bash, some GPL software, is talking to the proprietary software, FSF says that this doesn't constitute a derivative work.
Another example is, if I really want to, I can use microsoft word to edit source code, even if that source code is GPL. Just because two pieces of software are talking to eachother in some sense, doesn't mean they form a derivative work, according to FSF.

If you are writing a proprietary program and want to use a GNU library though, that might not be okay. For instance, GNU readline is GPL, you can't link with it unless your whole program is GPL.

To highlight this, FSF also created the "lesser GPL" which is meant to be used with libraries. Lesser GPL has some of the copyleft aspect of GPL, but you are specifically allowed to link with it even if you are proprietary, so it is a bit less restrictive.

If you believe this view on the meaning of the GPL, then what does it say for art? Some programmers would say, you don't link with the art, so it's probably okay. It seems much closer to the "microsoft word editing a document which is licensed differently" case.

However, FSF is not a legal authority. Just because they wrote the license, courts and lawyers have the final say what it ultimately means. I'm not a lawyer either. So bear that in mind.

2. You should acknowledge wesnoth in the credits if you use the art, but nothing compels you to do that except courtesy.

3. "Can I leave source code closed, but donate 30% of income to BfW foundation?"

There is no "BfW foundation", so no, you can't really do that.
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Re: License question

Postby YetAnotherGameDev » May 24th, 2016, 2:05 am

Great Thanks for your detailed response!
I will use it in dev stage, and when(if) I'll have something to show I'll discuss it more extensively (or change art). :)

*gone to code
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Re: License question

Postby pauxlo » May 24th, 2016, 9:47 pm

iceiceice wrote:3. "Can I leave source code closed, but donate 30% of income to BfW foundation?"

There is no "BfW foundation", so no, you can't really do that.

Even if there were, that foundation doesn't own any exclusive copy right to whatever you are using, so it can't give you this permission.
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Re: License question

Postby shadowm » May 26th, 2016, 9:01 am

iceiceice wrote:There is no "BfW foundation", so no, you can't really do that.

Actually, there is a company that has a similar role finances-wise, but as pauxlo said, it doesn’t hold any rights to the code, music or visual artwork and therefore donating to/paying it isn’t an option.
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Re: License question

Postby iceiceice » May 26th, 2016, 3:06 pm

shadowm wrote:Actually, there is a company that has a similar role finances-wise, ....


Well, as you and I both know, I am well aware of that. But that company is not a charitable foundation, as OP wrote, nor can it accept tax-free donations. The words "foundation" and "donate" do not apply, even setting aside the issue of copyright holdings.
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Re: License question

Postby Shiki » May 26th, 2016, 8:22 pm

About which company are you talking?

I didn't knew that there is a company associated with wesnoth.
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Re: License question

Postby iceiceice » May 27th, 2016, 7:36 pm

shadowm seemed to object to how I characterized the situation, so I'll let him explain.
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Re: License question

Postby Pentarctagon » May 27th, 2016, 10:23 pm

I know that at least one of the iPhone ports, and I think the Android port as well, give back some percentage of the sales they make to the Wesnoth project. Donate may not be the best word I suppose, but it's not unprecedented.
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Re: License question

Postby shadowm » May 28th, 2016, 12:03 am

To cut a long story short, Wesnoth Inc is the company in charge of managing our finances, which at this time means it’s in charge of paying for wesnoth.org’s hosting* and art commissions for mainline. A percentage of the iOS port revenue is assigned to it, as well as the mentoring organization stipends from Google back when we had the ability to participate in its Summer of Code program (2008–2014). There is no such deal in place for the Android port, which is actually available for free these days anyway, to my knowledge. There’s not much else to say about it, really.
* DNS registration, server2.wesnoth.org, and server3.wesnoth.org are sponsored by generous third-parties, so those aren’t considered part of wesnoth.org for this statement.

it’s not legally a non-profit foundation, but as I said above it more or less serves the same purpose because all that money goes into expenses that don’t directly make a profit in the short term. And I believe being a bit more specific about the matter is more beneficial to the community than a blanket statement that will be inevitably taken out of context and misquoted by people in the future.

EDIT: And no, it doesn’t take “donations” from third parties. I forgot to state this explicitly.

Also, for the sake of transparency, I’m not involved in that business (no pun intended) so I can’t answer most of your questions regarding it. However, you are more than welcome to PM Dave if there is anything I didn’t cover that you want to know about.
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Re: License question

Postby iceiceice » May 28th, 2016, 11:35 pm

Pent:

The reason I said what I said was, there have been some discussions in the past and recently among developers that maybe there should be a proper Wesnoth foundation that people can donate to. Then we could put a big "donate" button on the website, and we might be able to get more money to try to keep the game alive.

As it is, "Wesnoth Inc.", the company that Dave owns that receives the Iphone sales, has very little actual involvement in day-to-day development of Wesnoth, and they didn't make any art commissions for Wesnoth in almost three years. They seem to be spending a lot of money on art commissions for Argentum Age though, although those art commissions are not licensed under copyleft licenses like GPL or CC BY SA, and Wesnoth Inc. does retain copyright to those assets, in contrast to the situation for Wesnoth. I don't know exactly how much money they are spending on the two projects and what the split is, Dave considers the finances to be a secret basically. But you can easily make some ball-park estimates.

The only recent art commission for Wesnoth is Lord Bob's UTBS portraits, but even that seems to be on hold. I noticed a lot of his art that you can see on the Argentum Age twitter though. (Not being critical of the artist here, I think this speaks more to the organizational priorities of Wesnoth Inc.)

So Pent, when shadowm more or less says that there already is a Wesnoth foundation that you can donate to, what I dislike about that is that it preempts some discussions that developers have had in the past, that I think may become even more relevant today. I'm not simply trying to quibble about some corporate registration issue.
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Re: License question

Postby Pentarctagon » May 29th, 2016, 4:18 pm

That's kind of a shame then, actually. Portraits and animations are, I think, the only place where Wesnoth is outright incomplete. I'm a bit surprised that Dave is in charge of "Wesnoth, Inc." still though, and that the finances are secret, given that (as far as I know) it seems like he's got almost nothing to do with Wesnoth anymore.

In any case, I'd be supportive of establishing some sort of Wesnoth Foundation, though I'm not sure what obstacles there would be. It doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to be unable to commission art because Dave has lost interest in Wesnoth. It would also probably be convenient to have a Wesnoth Foundation around if getting the art re-licensed under a CC license ever ends up happening.
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Re: License question

Postby Dave » May 29th, 2016, 6:59 pm

iceiceice wrote:As it is, "Wesnoth Inc.", the company that Dave owns that receives the Iphone sales, has very little actual involvement in day-to-day development of Wesnoth, and they didn't make any art commissions for Wesnoth in almost three years. They seem to be spending a lot of money on art commissions for Argentum Age though, although those art commissions are not licensed under copyleft licenses like GPL or CC BY SA, and Wesnoth Inc. does retain copyright to those assets, in contrast to the situation for Wesnoth.


I feel I should clarify some points here. Firstly, the company is not 'owned' by me -- in that I do not and never have derived a salary/royalties/any other personal compensation from it. It is a foundation that has myself, noy, and Turuk on the board of directors. We set it up as a company so money could be managed without it being considered personal income to any person upon the advice of accountants.

I would say that personally I have not been involved with the development of Wesnoth for a number of years, but definitely still love it as a game and importantly want its community to continue to feel well-supported with funds from Wesnoth, Inc.

The most important thing Wesnoth, inc does is keep the Wesnoth servers running. We also take requests from committed developers who need new equipment/software/etc to continue doing work on Wesnoth. And of course we commission artwork from time to time.

Additionally, while I am not developing Wesnoth day-to-day at the moment, I have been working on a new game engine, called Anura. This engine is Open Source and has several games on it already -- Frogatto and Argentum Age (and some others in development) and there has been some preliminary talk about the possibilities of re-writing Wesnoth on it eventually which I think could be very exciting for Wesnoth.

I do think some of the money from Wesnoth, Inc should be spent on "R&D" type projects like this, so some money from Wesnoth, Inc has been spent on server infrastructure for this and for some art for Argentum Age. But any R&D type expenses like this have accounted for only perhaps 10% of Wesnoth Inc expenses.

Regarding transparency, at one time we did post fully detailed income/expenses for Wesnoth, Inc, but I found that it didn't spark very constructive discussion among the community.

Pentarctagon wrote:In any case, I'd be supportive of establishing some sort of Wesnoth Foundation, though I'm not sure what obstacles there would be. It doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to be unable to commission art because Dave has lost interest in Wesnoth. It would also probably be convenient to have a Wesnoth Foundation around if getting the art re-licensed under a CC license ever ends up happening


To be clear the only reason why Wesnoth, Inc isn't a "foundation" is because when we took advice on it we were advised that it was unlikely that anything we were doing (supporting development of an open source game) would be considered "charitable" so legally we are not considered a "foundation". But I would classify Wesnoth, Inc as the "Wesnoth Foundation".

To be honest it's really a bit of a pain to deal with managing a foundation (doing taxes, filing corporate paperwork, dealing with accountants, and whatnot) so if someone is an adult, has a long history of commitment to Wesnoth, and is interested in being involved with managing this, please let me know. :) If someone is enthusiastic about this stuff I would love to be able to abdicate responsibility for it to them. ;)

Hope this all clears some things up. Feel free to ask me any questions.

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Re: License question

Postby Pentarctagon » May 29th, 2016, 7:51 pm

Neat. Thanks for posting that :)

I do have two questions though:

1) Would it be possible to (re)start getting art done via commission?

2) If Wesnoth does end up getting re-written with Anura, I'm assuming WML/lua would be replaced by FML/FFL?
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Re: License question

Postby Dave » May 29th, 2016, 9:43 pm

Pentarctagon wrote:1) Would it be possible to (re)start getting art done via commission?


We never really stopped as such. It works the way it always has -- Jetrel, the head of art, approaches me when he wants something commissioned and we review if we have the finances to sustain it. FWIW I don't think we've ever had a discussion of "no we can't do this commission", most likely because Jetrel is very sensible with spending and always wants to ensure we have good value.

If you have specific suggestions as to what should be commissioned I am happy to hear them.

That said we are having a problem with our main revenue steam from the app store right now, meaning we haven't seen any revenue for almost a year now. We still have plenty in savings, but for now we are not going to spend any money on anything non-essential (i.e. only servers and administrative) until that is resolved. I am working on it now though.

Pentarctagon wrote:2) If Wesnoth does end up getting re-written with Anura, I'm assuming WML/lua would be replaced by FML/FFL?


Maybe. Anura does also support Lua. We would try to get rid of some of the older, cruftier aspects of Wesnoth during the transition and this would include a bunch of older and cruftier WML stuff in favor of better approaches we've developed.
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