Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

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Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by vultraz » October 27th, 2016, 9:25 pm

The following was drafted by pydsigner (pyndragon).

(TL;DR: Wesnoth is transitioning to a Creative-Commons-first licensing policy for art (images, music, and sound). Scroll down to the Proposal section for details.)

Background

It is no exaggeration to call The Battle for Wesnoth the most successful open source game of the 21st century. But as the game has grown in player base, contributor base, and quality, one problem has kept Wesnoth from being as successful as it could — the licensing of its assets. Artwork, music, sound effects — all are required to be released under the terms of the GPL, a license unsuited to audio/visual content, having been written primarily for code licensing.

But what makes code and art so much different?

Code must change, or it dies. Code has hidden bugs; code has future systems with which to be compatible; code has use cases for it which are unforeseen.

Art is completable. While it may be presented differently over time, the true effort of art is completed when the artist steps from the canvas. Once finished, we handle and manipulate the representations of art, and not the art itself.

But how does this play out? What makes this difference critical to licensing?

For code, having the source rather than just the final binary is critical to maintainability. Without the source, code cannot even be ported to new hardware or operating systems, much less receive bug fixes, and will eventually become useless.

For art, the equivalent of source is a matter of debate; however, it is often interpreted as the most modifiable version of the art, whether that be a set of PSD or XCF layers or a series of MIDI commands or instrument recordings. In contrast to source code, these artistic source files are not needed for preservation of the art, and are in fact only necessary for producing entirely new derivative works; even when the final consumable form of the art piece is reduced in quality, a higher resolution export will suffice just as well as — and sometimes be more universally workable than — the often proprietary source format. In and of itself, none of this bad or harmful. When combined, however, with the GPL's unwavering requirement to release the source alongside all completed binaries, it may be seen how both the uncertainty and some of the potential interpretations could put undue pressure on our artists.

Furthermore, it is not necessary to debate "what if"s or "could it be"s; there is a case of GPL-incited trouble within our own community. Wesnoth once had an excellent internal composer willing to work under the GPL who produced around 50 tracks. But faced with the uncertain interpretations of the GPL as applied to multimedia, and frustrated by both by the pressure to release what some considered the "source code" equivalent of the music he had produced and the lackluster response after doing so, Mattias Westlund moved on from producing music under the GPL in general and for Wesnoth in particular.

Why then was the GPL used at all?

In order to understand the current Wesnoth licensing situation, we must understand the past.

In 2002/2003, when Dave began work on and initially released Wesnoth, there were really only two sets of open source licenses in use: the old nonrestrictive licenses such as the BSD and MIT, and the restrictive GPL. If you wanted to avoid abuse of your work while still using a standard open source license, the GPL was the only show in town.

Today, that has been rectified. Even as Dave was beginning work on Wesnoth, another seminal event took place — the founding of Creative Commons, an organization intended both to promote and provide for the rights of open source art, as opposed to open source code. Today, Creative Commons provides an almost exhaustive array of licenses specifically targeting the nuances of art, the most popular of which is the Attribution Share-Alike variant.

Currently, though, none of this is permitted in The Battle of Wesnoth. By instead requiring all art and audio to be released under the GPL, we are significantly restricting the pool of assets available to our content creators in addition to unnecessarily restricting our own asset creators.

For example, while many add-ons include their own music, the tracks selected usually come from a small pool of internally produced music. Meanwhile, almost all music creation outside the Wesnoth community has moved to Creative Commons licenses more suited to the medium. As an example, the composer Vindsvept has a collection of CC-BY 4.0 tracks — around 80 pieces totaling over 4 hours as of this writing — almost all of which are suitable for use in a game like Wesnoth. The aforementioned Mattias Westlund has released some of his current work under the CC-BY as well.

Literally millions of Creative Commons assets exist but are currently unusable by the creators in the Wesnoth community.

Proposal

This state of affairs has gone on for too long, and we, the developers and administrators of the Wesnoth project, propose to begin rectifying matters in several ways:
  • First, by allowing UMC creators to upload work to the official add-on servers with assets under *any* CC license. Some of those licenses may reserve more rights to the artist than the GPL, but is it not their art that they are sharing with us?
Now, we will not force this choice upon UMC creators. All WML and Lua will continue to be licensed under the GPL, and art, such as portraits and music, will continue passively to default to the GPL. Those who do wish to take advantage of the new licensing options may use two methods to mark the various licenses — a toplevel text file (for example, LICENSES or ART_LICENSING) that clearly enumerates all use of CC licensing, or alternatively, files placed individually with each asset using the same name as the art file with a suffix such as .license appended.
  • Second, by allowing mainline asset contributions under the CC BY-SA.
  • Third, by re-licensing existing mainline assets under the CC BY-SA as well.
  • And finally, by at some time in the future making the CC BY-SA the implicit license for all art posted to the forum.
Potential Concerns

Of course, this is a paradigm shift, and one of historic proportions, and as such there may be questions and objections; but perhaps the following points may relieve the most pressing concerns:
  • While the subject of just how entangling the GPL is best left to lawyers and the courts, the GNU's own stance is that non-GPL assets may be mixed with GPL assets and code.
  • It is understandable that some content creators will prefer to have access to the various assets today under the same terms of the GPL. This is already assured; assets once released in a specific form under the GPL cannot and will not be revoked from those terms. However, if specific assets are held in mind for future GPL usage, creators would do well to archive those assets locally to avoid uncertainty and accidental infringement of assets published solely under a Creative Commons license.
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by Whiskeyjack » October 27th, 2016, 10:28 pm

Nice wording, reading this was actually quite fun! I´m admittedly no radical open source advocate, but I think after all the stuff I noticed about in just the short time I´m part of the forums, this is a really good step forward.
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by Samonella » October 28th, 2016, 3:58 am

So am I right in understanding that the only significant difference between GNU and CC is that GNU requires the "source" to be publicly available, and CC doesn't? Someone could still legally take a piece of CC BY-SA licensed artwork and do just about whatever he/she wants with it?

Note that I'm not an artist or composer--I don't really have a stake in this. Just some curiosity.
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by GunChleoc » October 28th, 2016, 9:19 am

What the GPL and CC-SA have in common is that if you republish it, you have to do it under the same license, so it will remain free.

We should consider disallowing NC licenses, they will open a whole new can or worms.

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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by pyndragon » October 28th, 2016, 1:39 pm

Samonella wrote:So am I right in understanding that the only significant difference between GNU and CC is that GNU requires the "source" to be publicly available, and CC doesn't? Someone could still legally take a piece of CC BY-SA licensed artwork and do just about whatever he/she wants with it?

Note that I'm not an artist or composer--I don't really have a stake in this. Just some curiosity.
The CC BY-SA is the most directly similar CC license to the GPL (a theoretical CC SA might be closer). In fact, you are allowed to license your modifications to a CC BY-SA 4.0 work under GPLv3. However, beyond just the "source" issue, which is a massive difference already between the two, attribution requirements in the CC licenses are much more strongly worded.
CC BY requirement section:
GPLv3 requirement:
The GPL focuses on making sure everyone knows what the license is. In Wesnoth, that has played out by the entire add-on server contents getting blanket-slapped with license files. Want to know who did that piece of art you want to use? It probably got copied from the forum in some random thread, if you're lucky you can figure out where it's from but you're crossing your fingers that the artist got mentioned in the credits.

The CC, while it does have sections on licensing, also focuses on getting Attribution for the artist and, as you can see, is much more long-winded on how to attribute.

Then there's the various restrictions that can be applied — BY SA is most like the GPL, BY lets you license your changes however, BY NC bans commercial use (so you'll at least have to contact the artist), BY ND bans modification.
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by pyndragon » October 28th, 2016, 1:41 pm

GunChleoc wrote:We should consider disallowing NC licenses, they will open a whole new can or worms.
How? It's not like the Wesnoth project is just pulling random artwork from the add-on server to use in a fundraiser or Wesnoth Pro variant.
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by Samonella » October 28th, 2016, 1:59 pm

pyndragon wrote:A thorough, concise explanation
Thanks, that was great!
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by Pentarctagon » October 28th, 2016, 2:31 pm

pyndragon wrote:
GunChleoc wrote:We should consider disallowing NC licenses, they will open a whole new can or worms.
How? It's not like the Wesnoth project is just pulling random artwork from the add-on server to use in a fundraiser or Wesnoth Pro variant.
He's probably referring to ambiguity in what "Non Commercial" actually means. There was a ruling in Germany which interpreted NC as meaning "personal use only".
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by GunChleoc » October 28th, 2016, 3:43 pm

NC might also create problem with the upcoming Steam release for that reason, so at least for Mainline I don't think it's a good idea. It also blocks organizations like Wikipedia from using the content.

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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by Pentarctagon » October 28th, 2016, 3:58 pm

GunChleoc wrote:NC might also create problem with the upcoming Steam release for that reason, so at least for Mainline I don't think it's a good idea. It also blocks organizations like Wikipedia from using the content.
The eventual goal is to have everything as CC-BY-SA, so unless that means CC-BY-SA-*, I don't think this is an issue:
vultraz wrote:[*] Third, by re-licensing existing mainline assets under the CC BY-SA as well.
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by Tad_Carlucci » October 28th, 2016, 7:31 pm

To be clear: Vultraz was not the author. He simply copy-and-pasted the article. Pydesigner was the original author.

As I read it, the idea was to cut off at no more restrictive than CC-BY-SA. If we look at the hierarchy, https://creativecommons.org/share-your- ... freeworks/ it would seem that CC-BY would also be acceptable; and, of course, CC-C0 is always acceptable.

In other words, as I read it, so long as there is no restriction on commercial use, or upon the creation and/or distribution of derivative works, the license should be acceptable.

Remember, please, none of this applies to the original author/creator. The original author's right to offer differing licenses to different parties cannot be restricted. In other words, for example, should the creator decide to offer a license to someone using CC-BY (or any other license) but license the work for Wesnoth's use under CC-BY-SA, that is totally up to the creator and Wesnoth's policies cannot prevent it.

The entire discussion is about which form of license Wesnoth will require to accept a work, for example, for inclusion with the software, or distribution from the MP servers.

The point of confusion, most likely, is there is a difference between the license granted TO Wesnoth, and the license granted others deriving from having obtained the work FROM Wesnoth. Wesnoth, itself, might find a highly restrictive license such as CC-BY-NC-ND acceptable for the software and servers. But, to avoid confusion, and allow players and other content designers to freely use the work, Pydesigner is advocating that Wesnoth require that WESNOTH be licensed at no more restrictions than CC-BY-SA and that that license be PASSED THROUGH to players and other content creators.

Finally, it needs to be made clear that we're talking about visual and audio works. Programming code such as WML, C++, Lua, Python, shell or yaml scripts will remain licensed under the more highly-restrictive GPL terms. The intention is to make it clear that a content creator can, for example, use a CC-BY-SA licensed audio track obtained THROUGH Wesnoth, alone or with other works, modified or not, without requiring the provision of the full Wesnoth source-code package, as required by the GPL.
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by Pentarctagon » October 28th, 2016, 8:19 pm

I guess my question then is: Why are NC and ND allowed for the add-on server?

I'm not a lawyer, so if there aren't any concerns about NC being problematic, then I don't see any real objections to that one.

For ND though, that seems a bit more problematic. Partially because I don't particularly like the idea of being able to forbid people from frankensteining, and partially because our ability to actually enforce this is pretty low anyway.
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by Tad_Carlucci » October 28th, 2016, 8:28 pm

My sticking point is the "no NC" part, too. Frankly, I would think that some creators would balk at the idea that others can capitalize upon their freely-given work without even a by-your-leave being asked.

Disallowing the prohibition of derivative works seems quite reasonable to me.

At this point, the main divergence seems to be (1) separation of the concepts of "software" and "other" works, and (2) the removal of the GPL restrictions requiring the full Wesnoth package be included when only those "other" works are being used.

I find myself in general agreement with the idea and believe it should move forward.

First, let's all agree it's worthy of consideration. Having that, we can argue where, exactly, the most-restrictive line should be drawn.



Oh, and remember, what we're talking about is two-fold. What license will the creator grant TO Wesnoth; and what license the creator grants those obtaining the work FROM Wesnoth. It needs to be clear that Wesnoth, itself, is NOT granting any license to the work; we're simply passing along a license from the creator to others.

---

Consider, for a moment, the concept of Frankenstein works.

Let's say the original creator grants CC-BY-NC-SA TO Wesnoth, but chooses CC-BY-NC-ND to be passed on to others.

And, say, you're working on a mainline campaign and choose to use modified images (derivative works), It should be fine for you to include those in the mainline: they're distributed by Wesnoth as part of the full package. CC-BY-NA-SA allowed that.

The question, then, is how is someone else to know that they can NOT use those modified images in the game system they're developing. The originals are on the download site, somewhere, licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND; but that's the originals. We'd have to come up with some way of marking every one of your modified images, in mainline, so it is clear that they cannot be used AT ALL by ANYONE other than Wesnoth.

So, Pydesigner's suggestion is to Keep It Simple: everything is the same non-restrictive license. I must admit, there is merit in that idea. Although, it occurs to me, there does need to be some way to handle the CC-C0 case.

---

I start to envision a Wesnoth Resources download site. In it you can find every image, audio track, whatever .. just not the code. Each as a license attached. Derivatives all have links to the work they derive from. The software package has a LICENSE file which says everything you see or hear is licensed; you cannot use them from this download; to use them you must go to the resources site, click to accept the license and download a copy for your use.
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by Pentarctagon » October 28th, 2016, 9:02 pm

Tad_Carlucci wrote:Consider, for a moment, the concept of Frankenstein works.

Let's say the original creator grants CC-BY-NC-SA TO Wesnoth, but chooses CC-BY-NC-ND to be passed on to others.

And, say, you're working on a mainline campaign and choose to use modified images (derivative works), It should be fine for you to include those in the mainline: they're distributed by Wesnoth as part of the full package. CC-BY-NA-SA allowed that.

The question, then, is how is someone else to know that they can NOT use those modified images in the game system they're developing. The originals are on the download site, somewhere, licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND; but that's the originals. We'd have to come up with some way of marking every one of your modified images, in mainline, so it is clear that they cannot be used AT ALL by ANYONE other than Wesnoth.

So, Pydesigner's suggestion is to Keep It Simple: everything is the same non-restrictive license. I must admit, there is merit in that idea. Although, it occurs to me, there does need to be some way to handle the CC-C0 case.
I guess that's my point as well. The announcement states that *any* CC license will be allowed on the add-on server, thus very much not Keeping It Simple. Further, the only people likely to realistically know how a particular asset is licensed is the person who made it, regardless of whether a LICENSE or .license file is included, so keeping things to the more open CC licenses would decrease the chance of any sort of "accidental" infringement.
Tad_Carlucci wrote:I start to envision a Wesnoth Resources download site. In it you can find every image, audio track, whatever .. just not the code. Each as a license attached. Derivatives all have links to the work they derive from. The software package has a LICENSE file which says everything you see or hear is licensed; you cannot use them from this download; to use them you must go to the resources site, click to accept the license and download a copy for your use.
An interesting idea, though I am not sure how this would actually be enforced. Accounts aren't required to do anything related to Wesnoth, even playing on the MP server, and anything locally can be manipulated by the user. If would be a great thing to centralize all of Wesnoth's available UMC resources though.

Also, I merged your posts together. Please use the edit button if you need to add to something you just posted.
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Re: Upcoming Music and Art licensing changes

Post by iceiceice » October 28th, 2016, 9:06 pm

Hi,

I was going to write a longer "counter-proposal" but I guess I will just limit it for now to a set of concerns that I have. Most of this we also discussed on irc some months ago I recall.

1. I think everyone agrees that using the GPL for art is not ideal and we should fix the situation. That is a high priority item.
2. I have reservations about allowing "any CC license" on the add-on server. I'm inclined to suggest, only "share-alike" licenses. At least that is the simplest most incremental change that we can make -- the share-alike aspect is pretty important to the project right now, everyone agrees that frankensteining and mix-and-matching assets that were posted on the website or add-on server is okay, and we would have to make some more explicit headsup for the users I think if that was no longer going to be automatically okay.
3. One possibility I would suggest is, we could have two sections within the add-on server for "share-alike" and "non-share-alike" (any-CC) addons or something like this. So people know clearly what addons they can reuse assets from and which ones they have to be careful about, and also it will raise awareness of the difference (which many users may not appreciate).
4. One of the issues which was raised in IRC was, what if people want to commission artists to make sprites specifically for their addon, and they want to release it under a license which won't allow other addon makers to use it, to preserve the uniqueness of their add-on. It was also suggested that some artists prefer to release their art under an ND license. I think at the time, the proposal was "any license" not "any CC license" -- if you release art under CC-BY-ND or CC-BY-NC then I guess someone else can use it in their addon as long as they don't change it etc. Would like to hear from the folks who were advocating the "any license" idea way back when if they are also happy with this version of the proposal.

IMO decisions like this should be made on the basis of what is best for the overall health of the project rather than personal preferences about open source philosophies etc.

Oh also:
Tad_Carlucci wrote: Oh, and remember, what we're talking about is two-fold. What license will the creator grant TO Wesnoth; and what license the creator grants those obtaining the work FROM Wesnoth. It needs to be clear that Wesnoth, itself, is NOT granting any license to the work; we're simply passing along a license from the creator to others.
At least currently there is no contributor agreement like this. When you "make something a part of wesnoth" you release it to all 3rd parties under terms of GNU GPL v2. And if it is source code you put "Part of the Battle For Wesnoth Project" at the top. For commissioned art, if I understand correctly, the way it has worked is, Wesnoth Inc. pays an artist to create work, and then release that work to all 3rd parties under GNU GPL v2. "The Battle for Wesnoth Project" is not a legal entity, it's basically just a moniker. Wesnoth Inc. is a legal entity which owns the trademark but not the content as such. I think Wesnoth Inc. might own the copyright to the commissioned art, I'm not sure about that. But it doesn't much matter if that stuff is also available to all 3rd parties like the rest of the content.

So actually I find the way you write about this slightly confusing -- when you write "Wesnoth, itself", there really isn't any such entity outside of Wesnoth Inc. to the best of my understanding. When packagers make releases they basically do that as individuals, at least to the best of my knowledge under US law.

There are various concerns that were raised in the Wesnoth inc. thread in regards to whether this is actually sufficient to ensure that we can distribute the game, or if we are better off changing the model to include contributor agreements that explicitly give Wesnoth Inc. certain distribution rights. I guess it's my hope right now that we won't do that and will stick to a "everything share-alike" model, b/c it seems more egalitarian and a little simpler.

These licensing issues are longstanding and a major agenda item of the newly elected board, so you can expect some movement in the near future I think.

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