What platform would you run Quetoo on if it was on Steam?:

Content licenses

October 14, 2008 - 07:24am

I feel uncomfortable with starting this topic, because it might result in a lot of hair splitting and stress. I think it might be a good idea to start it early rather then later.

The current policy states "We are always looking for talented artists and developers who want to contribute work under a reasonable license (GPL/CC/Zlib/MIT/WTFPL)."

One question: The Creative Commons licenses include some, that disallow modifications and some that disallow commercial use. Which ones do you accept?

My opinion on this is that non-modifications (ND) and non-commercial (NC) licenses should not be accepted.

The non-derivates hating should be obvious (you can't improve a work). The non-commercial hating is mainly, because I believe that commercial interest allows for better distribution. For example through GNU/Linux distros. Also IMHO "commercial use" is very unclear, as having ads on a page where the NC-licensed object is offered for free download.

Here's an article that tries to explain another view on noncommercial licenses (it's against them).

I have looked at some license/credit/readme files of some media in the current release. I can't say for sure (I haven't checked in detail) but some of the source pages contain some textures that are for non-commercial use only and even some textures that are based on the original Quake (or Q2) textures. The latter might even be illegal (aka copyright infringement). I can't say that this is 100% true though, as I might have simply misunderstood a description.

I know that the fact that the media is only available via rsynch might keep you out of license trouble. But what if for example a distro wants to include the data?

Do you want me to try to check what media is under what terms? (I would probably make a list of sites that are used for getting resources and accordingly what the terms on these pages are).

What is your opinion towards the possibility of some textures being derivates of material, that is not allowed for re-distribution or modification?

October 16, 2008 - 07:15am

First off, every minute I waste on license discussion is one more minute that could have been spent doing something productive and beneficial for the project. That said, my goal has always been to create an enjoyable game that everyone is free to download and play. The freedom to modify the included artwork is a distant second. Nevertheless, this is why I really encourage adoption of the WTFPL.

The only copyright I was honestly concerned about, embedding "Quake2" in the name of the project, has already been cleared with id Software. If, down the road, someone raises a flag about a particular asset, I'll act all nervous about their empty lawsuit threat and yank their stuff from the game. Not a big deal.

As for the QRP textures you alluded to, their project states that we can bundle and distribute their work so long as we give credit. Whether or not those textures are derived works of id's originals, who can say for sure? People love to accuse, but QRP has been around for a long time, and I don't think any lawyers have been beating down their door.

To that point, if you want to take the "derivative works" clauses at face value, creating normalmap textures from them for per-pixel lighting is probably illegal. But do you honestly think that any texture artists who have authorized the use of their work in non-commercial games care or are against this process?

To answer your question re: CC licenses, I stand by my decision to respect the artist's freedom to choose the license they prefer, so long as it doesn't impact our ability to distribute the game freely for non-commercial purposes. I think it's important to stress the non-commercial bit, because I don't want artists to think I'll make any money off of their work.

If Debian's maintainers find objection with any of the licenses in our media directory, that's fine. Q2W really doesn't need apt-get to grow its player base. And actually, most distros release way too infrequently to keep up with us. This is why the rsync model works and was chosen, btw. It has nothing to do with averting license issues. I'm not even sure what you meant by that, really.

Try to keep in mind that this project is equally an engineering effort as much as it is an artwork one. Q2W has made massive contributions to the FOSS community on the engineering side, and so I hope those who like to cry about freedom acknowledge that. The simple fact is that not all artists, however, want to see their stuff ripped off by other projects. And actually, I completely agree with them. Is it so bad if Q2W has something unique that can't be easily morphed or bastardized into another title?

In short, I really don't enjoy licensing discussions. If OpenArena serves any useful purpose at all, perhaps it is to show what happens to projects who put licensing before everything else. Their recent un-release is a perfect example of what can happen under that set of goals.


October 16, 2008 - 21:18pm

Names are protected by trademark, not by copyright. By the way, a place to check if a name is trademarked is uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm. Great to know that having quake2 in the name is not an issue.

I found the textures I was talking about (Speedbaze v3 (final) by Speedy). It's description reads "Industrial set that uses some original Quake textures as a base". I don't even know if some of those are included in the q2w's content or not.

One can be sued for committing copyright infringement in the past. - I don't believe anybody would get sued over non-commercial use of q1/2 textures. Still I think you owe it to whom you permit re-distribution of you game to make sure the content is legal. I am not saying there is any illegal content in q2w. (Because I don't know if there is.)

I meant that with rsynch, only the free as in freedom part would be included in the distribution and the data would be pulled via rsynch, so the OS distro wouldn't be responsible for distributing non-free or copyright infringing content (in case there is any).

"The simple fact is that not all artists, however, want to see their stuff ripped off by other projects. And actually, I completely agree with them. Is it so bad if Q2W has something unique that can't be easily morphed or bastardized into another title?"
This makes the impression that it's common for projects to get their media ripped when it's freely re-usable. Can you name any examples? (I want to know because I have heard this reasoning very often.) None of the licenses you permit can prevent re-use in other projects (the no-derivate license only states that an object may not be changed, but not that it may not be used by others for other projects)

:( I hope nobody thinks that OA is a project representative of open source game projects or that it's current leader is a person representative of free as in freedom freaks.

October 16, 2008 - 22:21pm

I don't owe anybody anything. This game eats way too many of my nights and weekends as it is. I'm also not out there asking anyone else to distribute it. Neither Linux distributions, nor anyone else has any right to pressure this team to become compliant with their own self-imposed licensing models.

Are you done speculating as to whether or not anything "illegal" appears in Q2W? I hope so, because I've had enough of the licensing police for a while..

Your comment about the open licenses we've elected to use leaving us open to imitation raises a good point. Maybe the team will decide to use a more restrictive license for our original works moving forward. The primary goal would be to avoid rip-offs. A nice side effect would be never having to answer another post like this.


October 17, 2008 - 11:22am

So, we had a fun IRC discussion.

To avoid discussions like this one, I suggest the creation of a quake2world.net/license page with the following content:


The source code of q2w is licensed under version 2 of the GNU General Public License.

For content, we accept GPL, Zlib, MIT, WTFPL and any CC-flavor and generally everything that is legal and allows us redistributing the game for free.

We are aware that following the DFCW or DFSG would allow q2w to be included in free operating systems distribution, but being completely "free as in freedom" is less important to us than providing a great game and giving our contributors the freedom to make their own license choice.


Then the "reasonable license" text on quake2world.net/team could be changed to link to the license page and it could be listed on the documentation page.

Note: The important part is that the "being free as in freedom is not our top goal"-message is obvious. :) I hope this suggestion makes sense to you.

October 18, 2008 - 13:44pm

Sounds good to me.


October 17, 2008 - 11:48am

Yes, I agree with all of that.


October 20, 2008 - 09:25am