Some questions about OpenMW!

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SquireNed
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Re: Some questions about OpenMW!

Post by SquireNed » 21 Dec 2013, 22:31

Actually, the GPL shouldn't be an issue for expanding OpenMW. Sure you can't make improvements to the engine and keep them to yourself, but you aren't going to see your whole work in creating content for OpenMW go to naught.

Although the GPL is a chaining license, that license likely only applies to derivatives. While, AFAIK, there's never been a copyright case (and GPL is a copyright matter) in which someone has ever tried to successfully defend chaining licenses, they'd likely succeed, just because the license is explicit and violating the terms of the license means creating an unprotected work which is a perfect case for infringement.

However, the important thing to note is that OpenMW's software is the only thing protected by this copyright law. As we see with OpenMW itself (which, by the way, doesn't even need Bethesda's permission, because it's clean room reverse engineering which is usually legal under copyright law, particularly in the US which is where we'd be likely to see the matter go to court), the data files used in OpenMW are not protected.

So, in short, being under GPL just means that future improvements to the OpenMW have to be made available for merging back into the project and other projects. However, you'd be hard pressed to find a court that will find you infringing for providing OpenMW and game assets for it, and then protecting those game assets under a different license.

For comparison, while Morrowind and its data files would likely be protected as one program, transferring either the executable or the data files on their own is still infringement, as the data files consist largely of protected works (audio, visual, et cetera). The game mechanics are unprotected, which is why OpenMW can create a platform to allow people to load up and play Morrowind, so long as they don't distribute anything Bethesda made. As a side-note, mechanics in general are unprotected, as we see with ReactOS/Windows NT.

So, in short, there's no reason why the GPL should prevent anyone from building upon OpenMW's engine. Sure your work on the engine will be under the GPL, but you can still sell stuff under the GPL and protect your content without any issue. Now, if the OpenMW team decided to write something into the license for OpenCS that restricted content created with it to being released under a certain license (as content created with the official construction sets probably is for noncommercial use), you'd be fine.

There was only one case where compatible game content was ever actually barred from being sold/resulted in damages being granted (which means it failed to qualify as an original, and separately protected, creation), and the argument relied on the final product (an unofficial Duke Nukem expansion) relying on the original Duke Nukem content rather than the fact that it was interoperable with the engine running it, and quite frankly it's an opinion that is likely to be reversed by a more tech-savvy court.

Or, perhaps most importantly, from the GPL v3 itself:
Inclusion of a covered work in an aggregate does not cause this License to apply to the other parts of the aggregate.
EDIT: Of course, there are some caveats to this:

1. You must make it clear that the GPL-licensed content is under the GPL. That would be the OpenMW software. GPL requires you to include the license, and I think the source, though I don't remember if you have to distribute the source with it (i.e. pack it into a game folder on disc/digital distribution) or simply make it available.
2. You must make it clear that the stuff you want to traditionally copyright protect is under protection. Be sure to specify whether you reserve all rights, or place it under something like Creative Commons, and if you choose to allow further modification be sure to state what assets can be redistributed for the sake of modification (see Bohemia's stuff for licensing Arma content to be used in other Arma titles).
3. Include explanations for your changes to the GPL-licensed content. This means you can't sneak in "well, here's some netcode, and hopefully nobody finds it and steals it for their own OpenMW interpretation" and still be okay.

However, another thing to note is that some open licensed stuff still sells. Look at Eclipse Phase in the tabletop gaming market; it's sold a ton of games and become one of the more famous tabletop role-playing games, and you can download it for free and toss it to your friends. It's the "positive sharing" side of open licenses; if they like it they'll pay you.

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psi29a
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Re: Some questions about OpenMW!

Post by psi29a » 21 Dec 2013, 22:44

This is how Blender handles things:
http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2 ... /Licensing

What you create, is yours. What is OpenMW is theirs. Two totally different things.

SquireNed
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Re: Some questions about OpenMW!

Post by SquireNed » 22 Dec 2013, 15:22

Technically, though, under the GPL, it doesn't actually work that way. What OpenMW created for the software is under GPL (not really "theirs", as that's a general license for the public), and what you make for the software is forced to be under the GPL if you want to benefit from the GPL content.

However, there's a software/content distinction. What art, story, characters, music, and other media you create, as independent creations (this would be the .esm and .esp and their .omwgame and .omwaddon equivalents) are likely not required to be under the GPL, because they're those "other parts of an aggregate".

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Br0ken
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Re: Some questions about OpenMW!

Post by Br0ken » 22 Dec 2013, 18:00

maqifrnswa wrote: Could you explain this? How, exactly, would development be improved if people could keep their contributions (or linking to code) closed-source?
Because people love freedom.
Ability to use a engine in commercial projects attracts more users and OpenMW will receive more contributions because it panders to the group of people who will refuse to use a engine specifically on the grounds that it requires them to share improvements. And most developers, when working in a company that supports open source collaboration, are motivated enough to contribute patches or at least report bugs.
In addition, successful commercial games is the best advertising of engine.

I am not calling for the speedy change of license, there are many issues, but in the future would be worth to think about it. Even possible that OpenMW should keep the current license.

SquireNed
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Re: Some questions about OpenMW!

Post by SquireNed » 22 Dec 2013, 21:48

But, as we've established, you can use OpenMW in a commercial project, you just have to redistribute your executables (but not the game content) for free. There's no reason to say it would receive more contributions because people don't have to give them back; it may get its own off-shoots, but it certainly isn't getting the main project improved.

Again, part of the point is that it's the content, not the games selling, which might actually be a selling point if you can replace the current OpenMW engine with an improved one down the road without having to go back and do the bug-fixing yourself.

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psi29a
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Re: Some questions about OpenMW!

Post by psi29a » 22 Dec 2013, 23:31

SquireNed wrote:But, as we've established, you can use OpenMW in a commercial project, you just have to redistribute your executables (but not the game content) for free. There's no reason to say it would receive more contributions because people don't have to give them back; it may get its own off-shoots, but it certainly isn't getting the main project improved.

Again, part of the point is that it's the content, not the games selling, which might actually be a selling point if you can replace the current OpenMW engine with an improved one down the road without having to go back and do the bug-fixing yourself.
+1 This man speaks truth. 8-)

Take Warsow for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsow_(video_game)
Warsow's codebase is free and open source software, distributed under the terms of the GPL; it is built upon Qfusion, an advanced modification of the Quake II engine. The artwork and other media are licensed under the proprietary Warsow Content License, which allows the contributors of this media to use the work in a "personal portfolio" but not in any other game.
So there are real examples of GPL based game engines with proprietary license for content. You are free to do so. Enjoy! :)

Tarius
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Re: Some questions about OpenMW!

Post by Tarius » 23 Dec 2013, 02:08

Basically the short version is that you actually need a good story etc and cant rely on game features.
I am a bigger fan of tons of control rather than taking the "user-friendly" approach.
-Okulo

maqifrnswa
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Re: Some questions about OpenMW!

Post by maqifrnswa » 24 Dec 2013, 16:14

Br0ken wrote:
maqifrnswa wrote: Could you explain this? How, exactly, would development be improved if people could keep their contributions (or linking to code) closed-source?
In addition, successful commercial games is the best advertising of engine.
game and engine are two seperate things, I think you're confusing them.

Game=Morrowind, the content, that you have to commercially purchase. You do not have any license to modify and sell it.

openmw=engine, GPL code. You have a license to modify and sell/distirbute it if you release your coode changes.


If I create a game, call it "Maqifrnswamind," and use opencs to create it - I own the copyright to Maqifrnswawind as long as I created all the content myself. I can sell and do whatever I want with it - I don't need to give any code. However, if I also ship a copy of openmw along with my game, I have to supply (through any of many options) the source code to openmw as well, and only openmw - not my game content.

ezze
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Re: Some questions about OpenMW!

Post by ezze » 24 Dec 2013, 17:08

You can also use the fact that people is lazy or non-expert.

Imagine that everything is under GPL (code, assets, everything), you have to share the code and anyone can build your software with the tools (compilers and such).


But still you can state that the COMPILED and ready to use program can distributed only by you for a fee. Since people would pay the service of compiling and not the code you are on the safe side.

The customer can decide: compile everything by himself of having a ready to use package for a fee. Considering how many users simply do not know what a compiler IS or what it means to convert from a XCF picture to DDS you probably sell almost the same number of copies.

Besides, people which do not want to pay WON'T. It does not matter how closed and secret is your code.

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werdanith
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Re: Some questions about OpenMW!

Post by werdanith » 24 Dec 2013, 19:02

ezze wrote:But still you can state that the COMPILED and ready to use program can distributed only by you for a fee.
I'm pretty sure you can't do that with the GPL. Software that cannot be legally compiled is not Free Software according to the definition since it conflicts with Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.

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