Source code for Wesnoth music?

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Re: Source code for Wesnoth music?

Postby iceiceice » March 20th, 2014, 3:15 pm

I'm not a lawyer but...

xtifr wrote:Music (and art) are data! Not code. And Wesnoth is not unique. There are thousands of programs licensed under the GPL which treat images and sounds as data, not code, and do not include the "source". The GPL is very clear about code. It is not so clear about data. But the precedent of the thousands of other programs (including Emacs, the first program licensed under the GPL, created by the author of the GPL) is exactly the same as what Wesnoth does. Images and sound files are presented "as is". Almost universally.


This may represent how you (and some other software developers) wish GPL to be commonly understood. But in fact, the text of GNU GPL (any version) makes no distinction between data and code. And in fact, the idea that data can be code and code can be data is a cornerstone of modern computing. GNU GPL instead is based on a notion of "derivative work" from copyright law which focuses on the intellectual heritage of content rather than files. This "presented as is" standard has no obvious legal relevance.

Are you a lawyer? Did a lawyer tell you this, or do you have a citation? Did you just "deduce" this after thinking about other GPL programs that you use? If so then your post is potentially misleading to say the least.

Also, regarding "wesnoth as emacs": There's a pretty obvious difference between wesnoth and a mere content viewer from the point of view of copyright law. If I view an image of Mickey Mouse in my web browser, e.g. from a Walt Disney Studios website, that wouldn't be considered copyright violation. On the other hand, if I inserted Mickey Mouse images into wesnoth, for example in place of elf sprites, that is probably copyright infringement, technically speaking, whether I go on to distribute or not (c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_ ... ive_rights). There's a reason for the forum policy against posting copyrighted material, or even including it in UMC on the add-on server.

Edit: This is a slightly bad example. The point is, if you made any proprietary game which used Micky Mouse images, you would have to pay royalties to Disney, (unless for some reason they don't retain all rights. I don't know if they do or don't.) If the game could be viewed as a competitor to a hypothetical Disney product (almost surely it could be) then it is unlikely to fall under fair use (although again, IANAL). In wesnoth we have the added barrier that whatever license Disney would sell you isn't likely to be GPL compatible. But the point remains.

(Note that while with GNU GPL work you always have the right to create, modify, and run derivative works privately, and only distribution is regulated, with proprietary work you have none of these rights most likely. This is a major distinguishing feature of the GNU GPL.)

xtifr wrote:
The ultimate bottom line, though, is that nobody has any standing to complain about what's in Wesnoth or how it's provided except the copyright holders! You can shout all you want about how the "source" for this or that should be provided, but unless it's something you created, you have no basis for complaint. The GPL exists to protect you from being sued by the copyright holders, should you redistribute the work. It does not enable you to sue (or even give you a basis to whine at) the copyright holders for anything. If you somehow believe that Wesnoth is violating its own license, you have one recourse: you can refrain from redistributing it, so that you, personally, don't violate the license. That's it.



No one was suggesting to sue Wesnoth. Instead it was suggested that it may be illegal for Wesnoth to be distributed with e.g. major Linux distributions, which would be legitimate if we were violating the terms of the license (which we aren't.)

xtifr wrote:Just so we're really clear on this: if I write a program and distribute it under the terms of the GPL, and don't provide any source code at all, that's perfectly legal! Silly, but legal. Copyright holders don't need a license. The GPL doesn't mean you get to demand the source; it simply means you can't redistribute it without the source.


Sure but that has nothing to do with wesnoth.

1.) Wesnoth is not the copyright holder. The individual contributors retain copyright and merely license the work to the public under GPL. All the artistic contributions are individually licensed this way. All the source files have a copyright statement referring to whoever originally created them, and are similarly released to Wesnoth under GPL.

2.) If I modify a file in the source tree, that is *illegal* unless I agree that GNU GPL applies to the result, as per GNU GPLv2 point 5, regardless of whether or not I am considered to hold the copyright to the modified file. It is not possible for me (or anyone else) to legally distribute the results, or their compiled forms, under incompatible terms.
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Re: Source code for Wesnoth music?

Postby xtifr » March 20th, 2014, 11:31 pm

iceiceice wrote:[T]he text of GNU GPL (any version) makes no distinction between data and code. And in fact, the idea that data can be code and code can be data is a cornerstone of modern computing. GNU GPL instead is based on a notion of "derivative work" from copyright law which focuses on the intellectual heritage of content rather than files. This "presented as is" standard has no obvious legal relevance.


I'm not a lawyer either, but I've been involved in the free software movement for (migod) nearly three decades, a member of the Debian project for over a decade, corresponded with RMS and others about the fine details of the GPL, and closely followed many lawsuits involving the GPL. The idea that data can be code is irrelevant, since this data isn't code. And while the notion of "derivative work" is from copyright law, the notion of "complete source code" is not. The law is whatever a judge says it is, and until a judge rules, the intent of the authors is the only safe guide, since no one else is in a position to "enforce"* the GPL.

In fact, neither "complete source code" nor "preferred form of the work for making modifications" are legal terms. They are terms of art, and a judge is most likely to consider how they are normally used and applied in the industry to determine how they should be understood. Which is why the example of thousands of other programs is relevant.

Also, regarding "wesnoth as emacs": There's a pretty obvious difference between wesnoth and a mere content viewer from the point of view of copyright law.

You're misunderstanding my point. Wesnoth, Emacs, and thousands of other programs licensed under the GPL come with images and (in many cases) sound files that are part of the program. Icons, logos, etc., are often created with a program like The GIMP, but are not delivered as .xcf files. The Debian main archives probably contains tens of thousands of such images, all licensed under the GPL. Likewise, many hundreds (if not thousands) of sound files that are treated similarly.

No one was suggesting to sue Wesnoth. Instead it was suggested that it may be illegal for Wesnoth to be distributed with e.g. major Linux distributions, which would be legitimate if we were violating the terms of the license (which we aren't.)

If you agree that we're not violating the terms of the license, I'm not sure why we're arguing.

Either you think that Debian has to remove all of Gnome and KDE and most other desktop applications from their archives, for not including the "source" to each and every image, or you don't have an argument for removing Wesnoth.

Wesnoth is not the copyright holder. The individual contributors retain copyright and merely license the work to the public under GPL. All the artistic contributions are individually licensed this way. All the source files have a copyright statement referring to whoever originally created them, and are similarly released to Wesnoth under GPL.

By "Wesnoth" I was referring to the individual contributors who collectively hold the copyright. No one but these people (hereinafter referred to as "Wesnoth") has a right to complain about theoretical violations of the license. In particular, no third party has a right to define "preferred format" for Wesnoth. Especially not when Wesnoth is using the term as it is commonly understood as a term of art in the industry.

* Strictly speaking, the GPL is never "enforced", and cannot be. What the GPL does is fail to apply, which allows the enforcement of standard copyright law.
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Re: Source code for Wesnoth music?

Postby iceiceice » March 21st, 2014, 4:01 am

I'm not interested in fighting with you, but I think it won't be difficult to resolve this. I'm going to have to skip around in your post a bit however -- this is not with the intention to be evasive.

xtifr wrote:You're misunderstanding my point. Wesnoth, Emacs, and thousands of other programs licensed under the GPL come with images and (in many cases) sound files that are part of the program. Icons, logos, etc., are often created with a program like The GIMP, but are not delivered as .xcf files. The Debian main archives probably contains tens of thousands of such images, all licensed under the GPL. Likewise, many hundreds (if not thousands) of sound files that are treated similarly.


You seem to imply that a preferred modifiable format of an image is an artist's project files. I make no such claim as to the correct interpretation of this, and for the purposes of this discussion, I think the interpretation stated in the wesnoth readme -- that the finished product is in fact the preferred modifiable form, or at least, that no other form is actually preferred over this -- is consistent with everything I know. This has been my position throughout the thread, so I'm not sure how there was confusion about this. And this would not require any change to Debian as you seem to argue, for any reason that I can see.

In fact my position is that in a project like a game distributed as a whole under GPL, it is *necessary* that such images are distributed under GPL, because as you seem to agree, it appears that the images are *part* of the game, and so the language in GNU GPL v2 point 2 ("in whole or in part") applies.

What I sought to argue with my Mickey Mouse example was that the converse is also true: a game which uses e.g. GPL sprites for characters must be GPL'd as a whole, as it is a derivative work of GPL content in the sense of copyright law (and therefore is literally a "work based on the Program" in the context of the license for those images -- see GNU GPLv2 point 0.)

You no longer seem to be arguing the second point either, so as far as I'm concerned we already agree on all issues of substance.

xtifr wrote:If you agree that we're not violating the terms of the license, I'm not sure why we're arguing.

Either you think that Debian has to remove all of Gnome and KDE and most other desktop applications from their archives, for not including the "source" to each and every image, or you don't have an argument for removing Wesnoth.


Let me paraphrase myself: 'If a program violates the terms of the license [for distribution, as this is the activity GNU GPL v2 regulates ], then it may not be distributed legally (e.g. with a linux distribution).' The statement is tautological. I'm not claiming that wesnoth violates the license, rather the opposite...

iceiceice wrote:(which we aren't.)


I must not have written very clearly... I'm simply restating the tactic employed in this post, which you might have missed:
mgoetze wrote:1. I don't believe this to be true.
2. Even if it is true in some jurisdictions, it may not be true in others.
3. Even if it is true in your jurisdiction, it clearly violates the spirit of the GPL.
4. According to this stance your software would have to be removed from Debian and some other Linux distributions.


Actually in the FSF literature, you'll find that Eben Moglen explains that this tactic is actually the main method to enforce GPL in the event of a recalcitrant developer -- threaten to raise the legal issue with their distributors.

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/enforcing-gpl.html

I brought this up because your paragraph "you don't have the [legal standing] to demand the source code" seemed to be irrelevant, as no one was doing that.

===

Let me go back to the part I objected to which was your original paragraph about "code" vs "data". It may be that we are using terms imprecisely here, and that is the source of confusion. For instance, it may be that to you actually basically think of "data" as "any content which is currently in (one of) its preferred form(s) of modification." or something like this. If so then I think we may actually agree on everything.

But there's also a more common / naive interpretation of "data": all programs on my computer are either "source", "object code / binaries", or "stuff that is acted on by binaries" i.e. "data". Then based on this, people argue that "data" isn't subject to GPL, because after all, I don't have to GPL text files I write with emacs. (Never mind that this fact has nothing to do with GPL -- it has to do with copyright law! It's not as if Microsoft could get all their lawyers together and write a license for Microsoft Word which retains intellectual property over any files anyone writes with Microsoft Word. That doesn't work because courts don't acknowledge that documents merely written with Microsoft Word derive intellectually from the source code / binaries of Microsoft Word, and hence the *content* of a word document is not a derivative work of Microsoft's intellectual property.) Based on my reading, this interpretation of GPL has thin / no support. But again, IANAL.

If you look on other threads on this forum, you will find other examples where people nevertheless argue that they don't have to GPL a game which uses GPL art content, or apply GPL to art content used essentially by their GPL'd game, because "GPL doesn't apply to data". Now, I can't claim that this interpretation is certainly inaccurate. But based on my limited understanding, I consider it unlikely at best. At worst I consider it possible misinformation that may harm the free software movement. (A joke from a presentation at the 2005 ACI Conference on Software License Agreements: "What do you get if you combine the Godfather and the GPL? An offer you can't understand.")

When you wrote your original post I interpreted it as yet another naive code/data post, except with far more gusto and confidence than usual. Let me quote your first paragraph again.

xtifr wrote:Music (and art) are data! Not code. And Wesnoth is not unique. There are thousands of programs licensed under the GPL which treat images and sounds as data, not code, and do not include the "source". The GPL is very clear about code. It is not so clear about data. But the precedent of the thousands of other programs (including Emacs, the first program licensed under the GPL, created by the author of the GPL) is exactly the same as what Wesnoth does. Images and sound files are presented "as is". Almost universally.


The parts that stand out to me is that you make a bright-line distinction between data and code, and you say that GPL programs which "treat images and sounds as data" don't have to "include the 'source'" of these images.

Note that I still can't reconcile this with your later statements:
xtifr wrote:Wesnoth, Emacs, and thousands of other programs licensed under the GPL come with images and (in many cases) sound files that are part of the program. Icons, logos, etc., are often created with a program like The GIMP, but are not delivered as .xcf files. The Debian main archives probably contains tens of thousands of such images, all licensed under the GPL.


If the images are licensed under GPL surely you agree that you are obligated to release the "source". That's the whole point of section 3 in GNU GPLv2. Otherwise, you must be arguing that GPL cannot apply to images? Which clearly is false. So you must agree with me in some sense that the GNU GPLv2 can apply to simple image files, and that in that case the images themselves are the "source". Or at least that this is a valid interpretation.

But anyways it seems I can't really know what you meant exactly. Regardless, I'm still not really happy that in the context of GPL you would emphasize a bright-line distinction between data and code, suggest that GPL is "not clear about data", and seem to suggest that if images and sound files are presented "as is" by the program then GPL may not apply, as afaict many readers may interpret this in a way that is potentially highly inaccurate up to the legal uncertainty, and you make no acknowledgment of this.

My viewpoint is that most of the time when people come here asking about licenses, they are asking members of a well-known free software project for "basic" legal advice, hoping for the best without asking a lawyer. Under US law, GNU GPL v2 as applied to the wesnoth project is a contract between the developers and the recipients, and as such it means what we "agreed" that it means, that is, what a reasonable layperson in our position thinks it would mean. At least, in a jury trial that is how a Judge would instruct a jury to interpret such a contract. So in the context, working through the text of the license, looking up bits of relevant law along the way, is probably the best guess we can give without consulting a lawyer. If your advice to these people is to give an unreserved endorsement of this naive "data vs code" interpretation I've described, which seems to have thin / no support in the text of the license, using legal terms like "precedent" and "as is" in your presentation, and you don't have any citation or reference of any kind from an actual lawyer, then I think you do them a serious disservice. And if you really don't have any such references to support what you say, I will make no bones about criticizing your position, regardless of what free software pedigree you consider yourself to have.

But again, based on your second post, I'm really not sure any more what exactly you were trying to say in your first post, and I may have jumped to conclusions based on past experience.

If in your three decades of free software experience / personal communications with RMS, you can point to an actual document from a lawyer supporting the language you used in your first post, or alternatively if you could clarify the language used in your first post since I likely seriously misunderstood you, (and likely others will as well IMO), I would appreciate it.
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Re: Source code for Wesnoth music?

Postby aquileia » March 22nd, 2014, 12:56 pm

May I call your attention to a quote from the topic I linked to earlier?
pyrophorus wrote:I just want to say I'm deeply wounded by this discussion. I feel like if some cops were searching my home to find I don't know why, when I was only trying to share an idea.

Please keep in mind that this forum is primarily for developing music, and for this aspect I think everyone agrees that composers don't have to supply additional 'source' files. Your discussion on the redistribution of Wesnoth isn't the main concern of musicians and artists... perhaps another forum would be more suitable for this.
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Re: Source code for Wesnoth music?

Postby xtifr » March 22nd, 2014, 9:47 pm

Yes, we mostly seem to be in violent agreement. Just a couple of minor points:

iceiceice wrote:I brought this up because your paragraph "you don't have the [legal standing] to demand the source code" seemed to be irrelevant, as no one was doing that.

The original post that started this thread seemed to be doing exactly that, which is what motivated me to post at all. Maybe it was more of a request than a demand, but the suggestion of legal impropriety seemed to me to be vaguely threatening.

You seem to imply that a preferred modifiable format of an image is an artist's project files.

No, that was what the original poster (OP) seemed to be implying. The problem is that I'm not sure I have a rebuttal for the claim, so I was pointing out the ample precedent for treating data specially in GPL'd programs. In other words, telling the guy, "this is not just a Wesnoth thing; apply to the wider community if you think everyone-but-you is wrong.

(I was also hoping that some of the other people who seem to think that the GPL is somehow "wrong" for Wesnoth's music would take note of that last bit.)

I think the interpretation stated in the wesnoth readme -- that the finished product is in fact the preferred modifiable form, or at least, that no other form is actually preferred over this -- is consistent with everything I know.

This may be our primary point of disagreement. And probably not worth a lengthy discussion, especially on this forum, but I will at least try to make my position a little more clear before toddling off into the sunset.

If I were to create a binary-only AI module for Wesnoth, distribute all of Wesnoth with that module linked in, and claim that "the finished product is in fact the preferred modifiable form", nobody would accept that. I'd be subject to widespread condemnation, and the devs might actually sue me if I didn't stop distribution.

On the other hand, if I were to replace the audio files with my own, without "something like a Sibelius/Finale file" (to quote OP), nobody would object.

And this doesn't just apply to Wesnoth. It's not some special-case derived from Wesnoth's README. This is how the GPL is generally seen to operate (creating precedent for those terms of art). Not providing the source for executable files/libraries is considered a license violation; not providing what could be called the source for images and sound (data) files is not.

If you have a better theory, I'd love to hear it, but this forum is probably not the place, since I think we've beaten the Wesnoth-music related bits into the ground.
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Re: Source code for Wesnoth music?

Postby iceiceice » March 22nd, 2014, 11:49 pm

xtifr wrote:This may be our primary point of disagreement.


If you think that our organizational stance is not legally valid, that would be a problem that we would have to take seriously if supported.
If you don't think this, but you simply favor an alternative interpretation... maybe you can chat on IRC with someone about it. But to be frank I doubt we would change our organizational stance unless we have to.

Lest anyone is still confused: The GPL v2 is not very long, you can read the whole thing in less than 5 minutes. Even a casual reader will agree that anyone who distributes any GPL content has a potential legal obligation under section three to "provide the source code". Section three explains: "The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications." Section three further clarifies this for "executable" works. However the lack of a clarification for other kinds of work isn't an exception to the requirement. Rather, the fact that this is worded as a clarification may suggest that the requirement also applies to other kinds of work. However, there is also nothing that states that the clarification should be understood by analogy for other kinds of works. My understanding is essentially that the requirement may exist but is satisfied vacuously in the case at hand in practice (and not just for certain images and sounds but also other some other kinds of files). I am not a lawyer, and as I understand, no court has ever interpreted this specific passage.

Fortunately for us, those who came before us took this matter seriously. Let me be totally clear -- I don't agree with mgoetze that the readme looks like a bad-faith attempt to escape our contractual obligations. I won't discuss at length but I think we have good reasons to see the readme as a good-faith attempt to clarify the meaning of a license which is hotly debated and commonly misunderstood.

I'm not here to tell anyone what's right or wrong or how they should conduct their business. And I don't doubt that you (xtifr) know what you are talking about, or that you are basically right that Wesnoth may satisfy its license in a way similar to however it is that Debian does. But as far as the first paragraph of your first post, for the benefit of anyone in this organization / anyone seeking basic legal information on this forum, let me put it this way. If I ever had a lawyer who told me,

"Well, it looks like we may be contractually obligated to do X. And there are no explicit exceptions in the contract. And I don't know of any special exceptions in any of the relevant laws. And I can't think of any relevant legal precedent, any established case law where a Judge for some reason told someone they didn't have to do X. But these other guys don't seem to do X, although I can't speak to their exact legal rationale. And anyways, I'm best friends with the guy who wrote the contract, and he told me personally he never intended for us to have to do X! So I think we can just forget about it."

I would get a new lawyer. Fast.

Hopefully if you have read this far, you have some confidence that we have taken the legal matters seriously and are doing the right thing.

If anyone has further comments that are not immediately relevant to the original topic of the thread, please let this thread die. If you just want to dispute something I said or some detail, please PM me or find me on IRC -- if we find that I have said something here that is way off the mark and has the potential to mislead then we can of course amend this later.
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