Wesnoth Music Source Files

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Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby daradib » April 24th, 2008, 2:21 am

This is an issue that has been stated several times before (mostly a couple of years ago). Battle for Wesnoth, including art and music, is licensed under the GPL (General Public Licence). Of course, the GPL is aimed at software, but one must interpret its meaning when used on music. The GPL requires one to be able to obtain the source files for a work (defined as the "preferred form of the work for making changes in it"). Therefore, the preferred form of the work for making changes would probably be the composition file used in the music software. Wesnoth, to the best of my knowledge, does not comply with this requirement and is in breach of the GPL by releasing music and art files without including information on how to obtain the source code. The music is stated as being released under the GPL, but no source files are provided (i.e. Cubase composition files).

If the GPL is used for art and music, these "source files" must be available. This could be beneficial, as it enables people to tweak and update the music (even if the composer has left). I could also imagine the score for the music alone qualifying as the source (although this can be difficult for some music which is never written, but only sequenced, and also might not be the "preferred form of the work for making changes in it"). Another benefit is that the score and resulting sheet music might be used for a professional orchestral performance, eliminating the use of a synthesizer (resulting in better quality music and more publicity for the composer). The strong copyleft of the GPL would probably require the orchestra to release sound recordings under the GPL, meaning that the recordings (if they would be of high quality) could be used in the game.

Another related issue is the use of proprietary samples. According to Brett Smith, from the Free Software Foundation Licensing Team:

The proprietary samples raise a separate issue, however: you need to be certain that you can distribute the music you create under the GPL at all. If the license prohibits you from creating modified versions of the samples, or from giving others permission to do so, you effectively can't distribute the music under the GNU GPL at all, since anyone with an GPL'ed Ogg of the song could do any of these things. You should check all the relevant licenses for your music software and samples to see whether or not they provide you with enough permission to release your music under the GPL.


A solution would be to release art and music under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike (by-sa) license (which doesn't solve the issue of unmodifiable samples) or the non-free/proprietary Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (by-nd) license.

My personal view is that maybe source files could be provided on a wiki page, at least to comply with the GPL. A possible side benefit would be the possible availability of sheet music, which might even be played by a professional ensemble or even orchestra in the future. The second issue regarding soundfonts and samples is relatively minor, and could be resolved later. It might even be inapplicable to music, or one could consider the samples to be a library (though this could be a stretch). As a last resort a Creative Commons license could be adopted.

Even music for other works, such as films (which are not as liberally licensed) have sheet music available. For example, you can buy Star Wars scores written by John Williams. It would be good to get the Wesnoth community to embrace the music beyond simply including it in the game. Even if Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (by-nd) is adopted for the music, non-modifiable sheet music can still be made available, but they could only be done by the composer.

Please realize that there are several issues here (maybe too many for one thread).

1. Source files to comply with GPL (major issue)
2. Modifying samples/soundfonts (relatively minor issue)
3. Sheet music for Wesnoth community to further embrace the music, for greater publicity, and the possibility of performance (which can be included in the game)

Previous threads:
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=14125
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=8112
Last edited by daradib on April 25th, 2008, 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby turin » April 24th, 2008, 6:59 am

1. Source files to comply with GPL (major issue)

Seems to me that the original person to release a work under the GPL can, in practice, define what "source" for that work means. I don't see any problem with saying that the .oggs themselves are the "source"... what, is someone going to come to the composer's house in a search for some alternative?
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby zookeeper » April 24th, 2008, 8:11 am

Yes, we know it's a problem and we're just hoping no one sues us for the missing sources (evident from the fact that during the past x years we have still done nothing about the issue).

turin wrote:
1. Source files to comply with GPL (major issue)

Seems to me that the original person to release a work under the GPL can, in practice, define what "source" for that work means. I don't see any problem with saying that the .oggs themselves are the "source"...

I think a problem with saying the .oggs are the source would be the fact that it'd be a blatantly obvious lie. Roughly comparable to one only releasing compiled binaries of a GPL program and saying "hey, I decided that the binaries are the source".
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby West » April 24th, 2008, 10:39 am

I can only speak for myself, but I would not be willing to release the project files. Mainly because they wouldn't be of use to anyone else unless they have the exact same samples as me (which I'm 100% sure no one has, as I'm using a custom library). We're not exactly talking about midi files here. You can't just hook it up to any midi sound source and expect it to sound good, and thus "[...] enables people to tweak and update the music (even if the composer has left)" falls flat on its face. There is simply too many things that could go wrong (mix levels, ranges, keyboard mapping etc). It would most likely be far less work to write entirely new music than to "update" someone else's. In fact, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that anyone who thinks a music project file can be successfully used and tweaked by anyone who has the same DAW lacks an understanding of how crazily complex and fiddly orchestral sequencing is.

Sheet music is another matter, but I have neither the time, interest nor know-how to turn my music into proper scores. As a sampled orchestra is not the same thing as a real orchestra, it would likely be a lot of work transcribing a DAW project file into something that could be useable by real musicians.

File formats is third matter. I use Cubase, for example. Far from everyone does, and I don't know of any way to convert a proprietary song format to another. If the GPL is going to be strictly applied to the music, we would have to make it a requirement that all contributors use 1) the same DAW, 2) the same library (a GPL one!). That would mean we wouldn't have any music whatsoever as there are no GPL'd orchestral libraries, and no musician in his right mind would start using a DAW s/he isn't familiar with for a single project. Unless s/he is getting paid.

Simply put, I would rather have my music removed from the project than release the "source" files. Changing the music license would be the sanest route IMO.
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby torangan » April 24th, 2008, 1:57 pm

I think the "source" of music would be note sheets, what you're doing with your samples and settings is a kind of compiling. Therefore the answer would be: there is no source written onto any other medium then in the brain of the composer. Obviously one can't demand a copy of that data. If someone would write note sheets and work from them, then the reuse aspect would come into play. Arranging the same notes with different orchester, samples etc. would be possible.
Compared to code this would be like people writing binaries. There are lots of variations which could be generated from the same source code but if this code was never written you can't get it.
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby daradib » April 24th, 2008, 7:31 pm

The first decision that will probably need to be made is if the music is going to be kept under the GPL or licensed under CC-BY-SA instead (or even possibly the more restrictive CC-BY-ND). If the music is kept the way it is (licensed under GPL), some kind of source files will need to be provided. The ogg vorbis files are obviously not the source files, unless no other file is available. That would make the ogg vorbis files the "preferred form of the work for making changes in it"-- but this is probably as bad as calling binary executables source files, as zookeeper said.

I understand that the Cubase source files might not be very useful for tweaking/updating music, but they can still be considered source files because they provide functionally the same music (yes, in music, functionally same is different then sounding the same). The source files could still probably be used to create sheet music, but creating sheet music from something like Cubase source files is still not an easy task.

One could argue that sheet music, if available, can be considered a source file. Obviously, there can be opposing arguments as well, but the composer could take a loose interpretation of what source files are. Even so, source files are definitely not the "rendered/compiled" ogg vorbis files, but rather files used by the sequencer (i.e. Cubase files or MIDI) and/or sheet music. The point is, if GPL is used, the Wesnoth project should make some effort to provide some kind of source file.

The issue of proprietary samples and soundfonts is a relatively minor one in comparison. If comparing with software, one could make the argument that a program is free (as in freedom) even when there is no way to compile the source files for the specific architecture, for example if a free compiler for the platform is not available. Wesnoth probably has some leeway and can take a loose interpretation regarding file formats, so composers could use the sequencer of their choice.

Now, as said before, the other option is to license the music under the CC-BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike) license or the more restrictive CC-BY-ND (Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives) license. Source files would no longer be required.

However, it may still be useful to provide sheet music, which might even be played by a professional ensemble or even orchestra in the future (and provide higher quality music). Of course this would be optional, and could only be provided by the composer if the CC-BY-ND (which does not allow derivatives) license is used or could be made by someone other than the composer (based on a sequencer source file) if the GPL or CC-BY-SA license is used. If a composer does not want derivatives (no modifications to the sheet music) then he/she could license the sheet music itself under the CC-BY-ND license. I do believe some Wesnoth composers do write scores for the music in addition to sequencing; the only way to make sheet music for other kinds of music is if someone with the appropriate knowledge and software would make a score based on a sequencer source file (not possible if CC-BY-ND is used).

Maybe someone should ask other Wesnoth composers what their opinions are (maybe private message). I'll await the comments before I start contacting them myself.

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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby Aleksi » April 25th, 2008, 3:46 pm

I agree with West.

I don't want to give my source files because:

-I also have some custom sound bank,
-I don't want other people changing my music,
-I write my scores on paper, and i don't have time to copy it on computer. Plus if an orchestra would really play the music (i doubt it) it would take a lot of time creating good anotations. Plus, most of Wesnoth's music wouldn't sound good at all with a real orchestra...

I prefer that every composer protects his own music under adequate licences and give authorization to the game
for the use of the music
. Yes, then it brakes the rule and fun of GPL and sharing stuff, but it can always be done if the composer is ok to share it. Which i assume he/she is, because then we wouldn't compose music for this game.

I would rather have my music taken out of the game if i had to submit source files.

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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby daradib » April 25th, 2008, 4:09 pm

I suppose the CC-BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike) license would be the most practical license for composers who don't want to give any kind of source files, and the GPL would be the best for composers who give any kind of source files (scores, MIDI, sequencer source files, etc.).

It is true that CC-BY-SA allows modifications, but only non-musical changes (i.e. a filename change, volume change, change metadata tags) are practical if one does not have source files-- changes which might be necessary for technical reasons.

If this is the plan the Wesnoth project wants to take, then the Wesnoth composers should be contacted and asked to provide any kind of source file (scores, MIDI, sequencer source files, etc.) or release music under the CC-BY-SA license instead. If possible, I would recommend going the GPL route (with sources), but I realize this is not always practical.

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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby Rhonda » April 25th, 2008, 9:51 pm

Aleksi wrote:I agree with West.

I don't want to give my source files because:

-I also have some custom sound bank,
-I don't want other people changing my music,
-I write my scores on paper, and i don't have time to copy it on computer. Plus if an orchestra would really play the music (i doubt it) it would take a lot of time creating good anotations. Plus, most of Wesnoth's music wouldn't sound good at all with a real orchestra...

I prefer that every composer protects his own music under adequate licences and give authorization to the game
for the use of the music
. Yes, then it brakes the rule and fun of GPL and sharing stuff, but it can always be done if the composer is ok to share it. Which i assume he/she is, because then we wouldn't compose music for this game.

I would rather have my music taken out of the game if i had to submit source files.

Aleksi.


Aleksi, by originally submitting your music to wesnoth you agreed to have it shared under the same terms as wesnoth, that is the GPL. That is, you can't really take back that offer because you already submitted it. So if you want to change your licensing the wesnoth project is still allowed to use your music under these terms. If you don't like modifications that's fine but you allowed that by originally submitting your music to the project and can't take that back at a later time. You can change the license of your music that you distribute to new people, but those who have received your music under the terms of the GPL are still (and always will be) allowed to use, distribute and modify them under that same terms.

Said that, there seems to be a misunderstanding here. Your score on paper is not interesting for fulfilling the GPL. It isn't the preferred form of modification. And what that preferred form is is a pretty tricky topic with respect to music (or images, FWIW). Depending on how you brought your score on paper to the computer, it might be some midi file and sound bank, it might though also be that the ogg files you submitted are the preferred form of modifications. Though it sounds strange, but often the latter seems to be the only way of compromise to make.

About CC(3.0)-BY-SA, there shouldn't be much problem with using that (from my side, it's "free enough"). The music isn't explicitly required by wesnoth, it doesn't directly "link" it in - though at least that should be the point to split the distribution in two seperate tarballs to make it clear for people downloading the stuff what they get and don't stumble into false assumptions.

Hope that helps, a bit.
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby Rhonda » April 25th, 2008, 10:10 pm

daradib wrote:A solution would be to release art and music under a proprietary license, including the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike (by-sa) license (which doesn't solve the issue of unmodifiable samples) or Attribution No Derivatives (by-nd), both of which are nonfree according to debian-legal based on the DFSG (Debian Free Software Guidelines). This is the main reason I am not enthusiastic about a Creative Commons license, especially if one considers the result it will have on free software distributions (Debian) and related ones (Ubuntu).


Just for the record, the CC 3.0 version of BY-SA is considered to be compatible with the DFSG and there are some packages using that specific license in Debian main. There were quite some investment on both sides to get at least that options in the new version compatible. The ND (no derivatives - no modifications) is quite obviously not, but that shouldn't be any surprise at all and shouldn't matter.
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby daradib » April 25th, 2008, 10:27 pm

Rhonda wrote:Depending on how you brought your score on paper to the computer, it might be some midi file and sound bank, it might though also be that the ogg files you submitted are the preferred form of modifications. Though it sounds strange, but often the latter seems to be the only way of compromise to make.


I don't understand how the ogg vorbis files are the "preferred form of the work for making changes in it," though that is my opinion. I suppose, however, that one can make the argument that it is too difficult to make changes to the sequencer source files anyway. If sheet music cannot be considered the "preferred form of the work for making changes in it," then maybe the ogg vorbis files are the the source files. However, this might be as bad as calling binary executables source files, as zookeeper said.

Rhonda wrote:Just for the record, the CC 3.0 version of BY-SA is considered to be compatible with the DFSG and there are some packages using that specific license in Debian main. There were quite some investment on both sides to get at least that options in the new version compatible. The ND (no derivatives - no modifications) is quite obviously not, but that shouldn't be any surprise at all and shouldn't matter.


Thanks for the clarification. I wasn't previously aware that CC-BY-SA 3.0 was compatible with the DFSG. I based my information on debian-legal analysis of Creative Commons 2.0, but didn't read the Debian background to Creative Commons version 3.0.

Does this mean we must assume the ogg vorbis files are the "preferred form of the work for making changes in it" and therefore the source files for the music?
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby zookeeper » April 25th, 2008, 11:07 pm

daradib wrote:Does this mean we must assume the ogg vorbis files are the "preferred form of the work for making changes in it" and therefore the source files for the music?

AFAIK you can't interpret the "preferred form" to only mean some people; like those other than the author for instance. Would any of our composers consider the .ogg to be the preferred form of their own contributions? Certainly not. But one could say that for the average person, the .ogg would be the preferred form, since the actual source would be useless to him (since he wouldn't have the samples and such).

However, I'm pretty sure you can't just mangle the meaning of the "preferred form" like that and say "since I can't or won't give you the source, the .ogg is the only thing you can get, so it's going to have to be your preferred form". AFAIK you can't GPL something that you cannot provide the source for (provided one exists), but I'm not a GPL expert.

Anyways, relicensing the music with some license not requiring distribution of the sources seems like the only viable option for us (besides just claiming the music is GPL and hoping no one asks for the sources), but luckily I doubt our music contributors would have anything against licensing their works under for example some CC license as well.
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby Kestenvarn » April 25th, 2008, 11:19 pm

daradib wrote:Aleksi Aubry-Carlson (hi Aleksi)
Mattias Westlund (hi West)
Timothy Pinkham (username: TimothyP)
Ryan Reilly (username: ?)
Doug Kaufman (username: dkaufman)
Jospeh G. Toscano, a.k.a. Zhaytee (username: ZhayTee)
Jeremy Nicoll (username: jeremy2)

I don't think some of these people have been around for years...
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby Sapient » April 26th, 2008, 6:16 am

daradib wrote:I don't understand how the ogg vorbis files are the "preferred form of the work for making changes in it," though that is my opinion. I suppose, however, that one can make the argument that it is too difficult to make changes to the sequencer source files anyway. If sheet music cannot be considered the "preferred form of the work for making changes in it," then maybe the ogg vorbis files are the the source files. However, this might be as bad as calling binary executables source files, as zookeeper said.


No, it is not "as bad as calling binary executables source files"

With an ogg file I can easily playback the sound and modify many aspects of it, although I may not possess the individual sound samples. If the musician did provide the samples, he/she would be breaking the agreement that allowed the use of them in the first place (unless they were already Free... unlikely).

With a binary executable, I can record video of what is occurring on my computer screen, but how can I easily modify its behavior? I'd have to be quite a hacker.

So it is not "as bad" as you say.
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Re: Wesnoth Music Source Files

Postby Aleksi » April 26th, 2008, 9:15 am

Rhonda wrote:Aleksi, by originally submitting your music to wesnoth you agreed to have it shared under the same terms as wesnoth, that is the GPL. That is, you can't really take back that offer because you already submitted it. So if you want to change your licensing the wesnoth project is still allowed to use your music under these terms. If you don't like modifications that's fine but you allowed that by originally submitting your music to the project and can't take that back at a later time. You can change the license of your music that you distribute to new people, but those who have received your music under the terms of the GPL are still (and always will be) allowed to use, distribute and modify them under that same terms.


Ok, but what does it really mean? I agreed to the terms, but under what form? Posting on a forum and uploading a music? Don't you usually sign a contract when agreeing to something such as this? Pretty vague for me...
All this licence thing seems to be very confused. I don't understand why we just can't propose music, that we can distribute to Wesnoth, and other games, that is protected by a licence made for music.

Would it be a real problem if i copyrighted my music under an adequate licence and then let Wesnoth use it and whom ever wants to? It wouldn't be called GPL, but the principle is the same, apart form the source submitting issue, which can be discussed...

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