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Free Software Foundation advice on use of the GPL for Art

Contribute art for mainline Wesnoth.

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lwa
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Post by lwa »

turin wrote:
lwa wrote:Both. photoshop is required to use photoshop format. A script or a tool has to be released to compile from source on any supported OS.
First of all, that's not true. I'm pretty sure the GIMP can read .psd files. But, in any case, it shouldn't matter. If there are no compilers other than proprietary ones than can compile code written in Whatsome*, does that mean it is impossible to release programs written in Whatsome under the GPL? I don't think so!


*: A made up name, if you couldn't tell.
Yes it is. If PSD files are the sources, a tool to compile them to PNG should be released. The tool itself can be a script of a binary.

If that binary exist only on Windows and Mac OS (like photoshop), I'm unsure that game binaries for other OS can still be distributed.

Compilation from source must be an automatic stuff. It's not just "take this layer and draw a nice picture with".

If fact, you can also tell "the PNG files in the source archive are theyre own source" to avoid all the meaningless sentences above.
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xtifr
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Post by xtifr »

irrevenant wrote: By releasing the art under the GPL, you've agreed to provide the 'preferred form' on request.
NO! Once again, the copyright holder is not bound by the terms of the license! If I write a program, and release it under the terms of the GPL, but refuse to provide source, you're all just stuck! You can download the binaries (from me, and only from me) and use it, but cannot redistribute unless and until I decide to release the source to you. I am under no obligation to provide anything, because I own the copyrights and therefore do not need any extra permissions to distribute my own code!

(Note, obviously if I have incorporated someone else's code in my project, then I would be violating their copyrights, but if it's all my own code, I can do what I want with it.)

IANAL, but I think you are misinterpreting the legal basis for the GPL. The GPL is no more and no less than a defense against charges of copyright infringement. You cannot sue someone for violating the GPL, as the GPL is not statutory law. However, you can (if and only if you are the/a copyright holder) sue someone for copyright violation, and then it is up to them to proffer the GPL in their own defense, if they can. (This is why the GPL has basically never come up in court--the interested party has no motivation to bring it up, and the violating party can't.)

Since the GPL is a defense, the only thing you have to worry about, really, is the opinion of the copyright holders, who are the only people who can sue you. If Jetryl says the PNG is the source, you can take that statement, plus the text of the GPL, and feel reasonably secure that you would prevail in court if Jetryl were to attempt to sue you for copyright infringement!

In this case, since the declared source code for Wesnoth includes PNGs, it is reasonable to assume that the PNGs are the preferred format for modification. It doesn't matter what the format the original artist actually used, it only really matters whether the artist is likely to be able to win a suit for copyright infringment. And, though, again, I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, I personally think the chances are nil.
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Post by varradami »

zookeeper wrote:For portraits, I agree that I'd prefer to modify them in some sort of layered format, but they're still (usually?) 200x200, which I think is perfectly well modifiable in the final flat form.
You've put your finger precisely on the point of contention: It's modifiable in that form, but is it the 'preferred' form for modification (which is what is legally required).[/quote]

Again, the question here is the definition of "preferred". This is very subjective, because what is preferred by one person is not preferred by another person.

The best analogy I can think of in software terms is a basic text editor vs. an IDE. Some prefer text editor, some prefer IDE.

Either way there will be source code and people will use it. But suppose I write a Java program in the Eclipse IDE. Am I required to distribute the .classpath file which Eclipse makes with my program? No, I am not. Certainly, it would be convenient for those who prefer Eclipse, but it is not necessary, and not needed for those who don't.

On the other hand, very few people (probably no one) would prefer to write a Java program in bytecode. So distributing bytecode does not satisfy the GPL.

If editing a plain PNG is fine for a sizeable minority of people - and it seems it is - then I do not think it should be considered "preferred" under the GPL.

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think we should have to be lawyers. It seems to me that there is no definitive answer on this question. I think the developers should decide on a policy for the project and stick with it.
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Post by xtifr »

varradami wrote:Again, the question here is the definition of "preferred". This is very subjective, because what is preferred by one person is not preferred by another person.
No, it is not subjective, except that the only opinion that matters is the opinion of the copyright holder(s). If I distribute java bytecode (to which I own the complete copyright), and tell you it's the source, you have two options:
  1. you can decide not to distribute my code, in which case, the point is moot, or
  2. you can take me at my word and distribute the bytecode, secure in the knowledge that if I do happen to try and sue you, you'll be able to use my own words against me.
There are no other options, and no other considerations here!

Of course, it gets more tricky if there are multiple contributors/copyright holders, as they would all, more or less, have to agree. But again, the presense of a tarball labelled as the source for Wesnoth provides a strong, and probably legally binding, claim that the contents of that tarball are the source for Wesnoth! :)

edited to clarify the bytecode example.
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Post by varradami »

xtifr wrote:
varradami wrote:Again, the question here is the definition of "preferred". This is very subjective, because what is preferred by one person is not preferred by another person.
No, it is not subjective, except that the only opinion that matters is the opinion of the copyright holder(s). If I distribute java bytecode (to which I own the complete copyright), and tell you it's the source, you have two options:
  1. you can decide not to distribute my code, in which case, the point is moot, or
  2. you can take me at my word and distribute the bytecode, secure in the knowledge that if I do happen to try and sue you, you'll be able to use my own words against me.
There are no other options, and no other considerations here!

Of course, it gets more tricky if there are multiple contributors/copyright holders, as they would all, more or less, have to agree. But again, the presense of a tarball labelled as the source for Wesnoth provides a strong, and probably legally binding, claim that the contents of that tarball are the source for Wesnoth! :)

edited to clarify the bytecode example.
I think it's rather more complicated than that. It is not the opinion of the copyright holder(s) which matters, because the issue goes beyond the copyright holder. Yes, if the copyright holder tells you that you can do something, they can't change their mind later and sue you (I think there's a specific legal term for that, don't remember it).

However, lets suppose I contribute some artwork to the project. I'm kind enough to provide all the material I worked with, as well as the finished artwork (the PNG). The question is, what are you *legally* required to include if you redistribute my work?

If I post on this forum, saying you only have to include the PNG file, then certainly you're in the clear. Assuming, of course, that if I do turn around and sue you five years later you can dig up that forum post and prove I posted it.

What if I don't say that? What if I don't say one way or the other? I post my materials and then disappear. Maybe I lost interest, or died, or got abducted by aliens; whatever, I'm suddenly no longer around to ask. What is Wesnoth legally required to distribute, assuming they distribute any of my works? Must they distribute everything I provided, or simply that PNG file? I'm not around to ask, and the developers probably don't want to risk me reappearing 5 years from now and suing them for copyright infringement.

Maybe I intended everything to be distributed. Or maybe I don't care if anything other than the PNG is distributed, I just provided the rest for convenience. To go back to my analogy, if I released some code under the GPL which I wrote in Eclipse, I might provide the Eclipse files as a convenience for others - but that doesn't mean I would require others to include it. Hell, I could include some object diagrams and such as well - would you have to distribute that with the source?

Furthermore, I think it benefits the project to have a consistent policy. There's a reason why everything is under one license. Otherwise you suddenly have to keep track of exactly what was contributed by whom and how they chose to interpret the GPL. Sounds like a mess to me.

Anyone could throw together a license. But the GPL was carefully constructed, by lawyers, to meet specific legal requirements. It is unfortunate that, being intended primarily for computer programs, the GPL is rather fuzzy on how other materials are to be handled.

Personally I think the project is fine just distributing the PNG files. I don't think the GPL gives any clear indication that anything more would be required. Of course, IANAL or a Wesnoth developer, so my opinion probably doesn't count for much. :)
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turin
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Post by turin »

IMHO, it should be interpreted like this; when someone contributes artwork to Wesnoth, they not only distribute it under the GPL, but they give us the copyright to the work. That would eliminate any problems with them coming back 5 years later and suing us, since when they gave us the copyright they allowed us to distribute it interpreting what the source code is whatever way we like...
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Post by scott »

We could put art work in the public domain. That would solve a lot of problems.
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zookeeper
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Post by zookeeper »

scott wrote:We could put art work in the public domain. That would solve a lot of problems.
That would be good. It's just that usually people want to place at least some restrictions on the usage of their work, so it could be that some contributors wouldn't want to release their work into the public domain (hopefully I'm wrong, though).
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Post by irrevenant »

All this disagreement shows that the GPL is ambiguous at best when applied to artworks (and probably worse when applied to music using proprietary samples).

That's why I believe Wesnoth would be better off releasing its art and music under a sharealike licence that is art-oriented and doesn't have that ambiguity.

I recommend use of a sharealike licence rather than the public domain so that derivative works remain Free. This would be consistent with Wesnoth's initial choice of the GPL (which is a sharealike licence), only better suited to artworks.

That's how I see it, and I've done my best to convince you. I hope you agree with me, but if not, I won't pursue the matter further.


P.S. I personally think that there would be benefit to keeping an archive of art 'source code', but that should be a matter of project policy and not a legal requirement.

P.P.S. Xtifr is absolutely right: the GPL imposes restrictions on the licencee and not on the copyright holder. Thus any problems only kick in when the art is distributed by another party (such as it is on the Wesnoth website).
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Post by lwa »

varradami wrote: Again, the question here is the definition of "preferred". This is very subjective, because what is preferred by one person is not preferred by another person.
There is no point about that. Wesnoth developpers will probably accept modified PNG images but reject modified Linux binaries without the C++ patch.

The user don't decide what is the prefered form. You can't ask for wesnoth sources written in Java because you prefer Java.
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Post by xtifr »

irrevenant wrote:All this disagreement shows that the GPL is ambiguous at best when applied to artworks (and probably worse when applied to music using proprietary samples).

That's why I believe Wesnoth would be better off releasing its art and music under a sharealike licence that is art-oriented and doesn't have that ambiguity.
But that doesn't help because Wesnoth as a whole is licensed under the GPL, which means that all of its subcomponents are either licensed or sublicensed under the GPL, and thus these (incredibly hypothetical) "problems" you keep raising would not go away. (And, by the way, the CC-SA license forbids sublicensing, so CC-SA licensed artwork could not be included as part of the official sources for Wesnoth.)

The spectre of some idiot coming back after 10 years and suing the project is silly, there is a thing called "laches" which would prevent that. Worst case, we'd have to remove the idiot's artwork from the project and replace it. IANAL, but I am a regular reader of both Groklaw and debian-legal, and I believe there is no danger here. Certainly there is a far greater danger that Wesnoth is violating numerous patents, and again, I think it's a non-issue unless and until someone actually turns up threatening to sue.

Frankly, I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. There are thousands of GPL'd projects which include artwork, and nobody is worrying about it. Why should Wesnoth take the lead in worrying about such nonsense? Again, I say, let's not borrow trouble. The artwork is fine!
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Post by irrevenant »

xtifr wrote:
irrevenant wrote:I believe Wesnoth would be better off releasing its art and music under a sharealike licence that is art-oriented and doesn't have that ambiguity.
But that doesn't help because Wesnoth as a whole is licensed under the GPL, which means that all of its subcomponents are either licensed or sublicensed under the GPL
Like I said, I'm not going to advocate further, but this requires clarification: Under the GPL the art and music are not 'subcomponents' of the software. That is 'mere aggregation' and means that code+art+music is considered 'a whole' even though they're all under the GPL. They're not sublicenced, each artwork is independently licenced under the GPL.

Every other point you brought up has already been addressed in this thread.
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Post by Xan »

Those posts about the Java bytecode... :)

I could easily say the same thing about x86 machine code. (which is indeed one of my preferred programming languages...)
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xtifr
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Post by xtifr »

irrevenant wrote:Like I said, I'm not going to advocate further, but this requires clarification: Under the GPL the art and music are not 'subcomponents' of the software.
Where does it say that? I realize it's possible to possible to carefully arrange things so that's true, but I don't see where it says that's true by default. In fact, I don't see anything about art and music in the GPL! :) By defauilt, all components of "the work" must be licensed (or sublicensed) under the GPL. To have it work any other way would take careful planning. We'd have to make "the Wesnoth engine" a separate, standalone package, much as the Quake engine is. Then we could talk about "mere aggregation." It's doable, but it's not inherently the case.

Anyway, we've got huge piles of art and music that have already been licensed under the GPL. Trying to relicense it at this late date seems like a huge and possibly futile task. And for what? Because you're phobic about the GPL? I think your fears are silly and wholly without foundation, and there are thousands of projects out there to help prove me right.

If this had been the plan at the very beginning, I wouldn't object, but at this point, after the 1.0 release has already been made, I simply don't see the point.

Note to Xan: yes, the same argument could apply to x86 machine code--if it's your code, you set the rules. However, it seems unlikely that you'd get a lot of helpful contributors if your "source" was bytecode or machine code, so there wouldn't seem to be much point in the exercise. While a PNG is a format that pretty much anyone can readily edit.
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Post by Doros »

turin wrote:IMHO, it should be interpreted like this; when someone contributes artwork to Wesnoth, they not only distribute it under the GPL, but they give us the copyright to the work. That would eliminate any problems with them coming back 5 years later and suing us, since when they gave us the copyright they allowed us to distribute it interpreting what the source code is whatever way we like...
This is the way the FSF recommends you do things:
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.htm ... nCopyright
I think it simplifies things a lot.

Also, there is a lot of confusion about source and binaries and the GPL. If Jetryl gives us PNG images and he licenses them to Wesnoth under the GPL, he is not required to give the PDFs to anybody. However, if he gave Wesnoth PDFs, and we changed them and distributed them as PNGs, Wesnoth would be required to send the PDFs to anyone that asked, by mail. Similarly, if Wesnoth decided not to distributed the PNGs anymore, but instead compiled them into C++ header files, Wesnoth would be required to give the original PNGs to anyone that asked for them.
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