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zoot

Licensing clearinghouse

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Guise, we need to get this whole licensing situation cleared up and begin taking intellectual property rights a little more seriously. Keep in mind that if violating material is found in the game, it affects not just this project, but everyone who distributes it too (Ubuntu, Debian, SourceForge, ModDB etc.) Ultimately, some of those distributors may simply choose to drop the package for good.

My suggestion is to do the following for the time being: Every time anyone wants to add something (i.e. commit it to SVN), they need to be able to stand to account as to the origins of every piece of the addition (textures, sounds, meshes, texts, code etc.) If the addition includes any material that they didn't author themselves, they need to assert it in this thread along with complete author and license information. Only then do we have a fighting chance of sorting out whether everything can be legally distributed. If anyone repeatedly fails to declare their use of other's works, they need to be "reprimanded" or ultimately have any commit rights revoked (obviously this doesn't apply retroactively).

IMO this is a stopgap measure. Before the final release, lawyers should be contacted and asked to help clear things up. I recommend the Software Freedom Law Center.

Edited by zoot

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Here's a couple of problematic files I just found:

http://trac.wildfire...aegean_sea.json

This file contains snippets from the Wikipedia article about the Aegean Sea. Contrary (perhaps) to popular belief, Wikipedia articles are not public domain. They are licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0 and proper attribution and licensing notices must be given in the game if they are used. See here what that means.

http://trac.wildfire...pine_lakes.json

This file contains snippets from the Wikipedia articles titled Alps and History of the Alps.

http://trac.wildfire...ine_valley.json

Same as the above.

http://trac.wildfire...an_plateau.json

This file contains snippets from the Wikipedia article titled Anatolia.

http://trac.wildfire...rchipelago.json

This file contains snippets from the Wikipedia article titled Archipelago.

http://trac.wildfire...nes_forest.json

This file contains snippets from the Wikipedia article titled Ardennes.

etc. :D (I don't mean to single out Spahbod here, these were just the instances I happened upon right now.)

Edited by zoot

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So, what are the consequences if 0 A.D. a nonprofit endeavor that promotes worldwide collaboration in developing a historic based RTS, accidentally contains licensed materials or similar situations which are caused by misunderstanding in interpreting license due to the difficulty in checking the materials from community contributions one by one ?

Btw, if somebody sued, make sure they can also provides evidence that they own the license.

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So, what are the consequences if 0 A.D. a nonprofit endeavor that promotes worldwide collaboration in developing a historic based RTS, accidentally contains licensed materials or similar situations which are caused by misunderstanding in interpreting license due to the difficulty in checking the materials from community contributions one by one ?

Btw, if somebody sued, make sure they can also provides evidence that they own the license.

We should not worry about the consequences, we should make sure not ever getting ourselves in a situation where we have to worry about the consequences. In other words, we should do all we can to make sure we have all the rights we need to distribute and use the content we have.

The most likely consequences (even from mere accusations) are 1: that all distribution of the game will have to be stopped until the situation is resolved; 2: that WFG will be forced to pay someone a lot of money/alternatively pay money to lawyers to try and resolve the situation; 3: that everyone distributing the game will also face similar consequences.

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The most likely consequences (even from mere accusations)

That's precisely the problem, isn't it? If someone wants to shut us down, all they need is an accusation and there's nothing we can do to prevent it. :(

I also feel compelled to counter zoot's extremely unhelpful insinuation that WFG isn't taking the law seriously. So far, the team has done an excellent job clearing the rights to the material it uses, and it'll take more than a couple of sentences from Wikipedia (which almost certainly fall under fair use and similar legal exemptions) to convince me that we aren't already doing everything within our power to stay within the law.

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That's precisely the problem, isn't it? If someone wants to shut us down, all they need is an accusation and there's nothing we can do to prevent it. :(

I also feel compelled to counter zoot's extremely unhelpful insinuation that WFG isn't taking the law seriously. So far, the team has done an excellent job clearing the rights to the material it uses, and it'll take more than a couple of sentences from Wikipedia (which almost certainly fall under fair use and similar legal exemptions) to convince me that we aren't already doing everything within our power to stay within the law.

I didn't mean to insinuate anything, I'm just concerned that not everyone are conscious of these things because they fall prey to the type of reasoning majapahit expresses. Rainbows and unicorns have no bearing whatsoever on whether a project is guilty of IP infringement or not.

If you look at sites like Wikipedia they have detailed licensing information on every piece of media in their database. This allows them to defend themselves against exactly the type of accusations you describe, because it allows their lawyers to take the necessary precautions ahead of time. It lets them root out the unicorns before they fail to show up in court, so to speak.

For instance, you cite fair use. This is a typical misunderstanding that can be addressed this way. Fair use laws varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and in many countries outside of the U.S., the concept is not recognized in law at all. It's entirely possible that a judge in Europe somewhere would come to the conclusion that including ~20 files that copies verbatim passages from as many copyrighted works would be stretching any sense of "fair use" he might have. So you can say: screw that judge - who cares about Hungarian (or whatever) gamers anyway, right? Sure, you can. Point is - are you the one who should make that decision? No, you aren't. It's the project - its leadership if you will - who should make that decision. And the only way they stand a chance of doing so is if everyone make a good faith effort to make it clear when they are adding potentially infringing content to the release, instead of (intentionally or not) slipping it in in the guise of rainbows and unicorns.

I don't buy into this fatalist idea that once someone points a false accusation at you, it's over. Deflecting such claims just requires a bare minimum of preparation.

Edited by zoot

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Maybe you didn't mean to insinuate anything, but you said in the very first sentence of your first post that we aren't taking the law seriously. I see little evidence to show that's true, or that it has been true in the past, and as such it was an inappropriate comment. If you swallow your pride and read my post it is the only thing I objected to. Period.

The rest of your post is pure BS and @#$%ion. I never objected to making a good faith effort to keep everything cleared, I never said anything about making decisions for the team. You are making stuff up.

And to respond to some of your BS, we are not Wikipedia. We can't have 100 versions of the game for 100 different countries. If we keep worrying that "some judge in some country somewhere" could decide we infringed on some stupid law specific only to that country, we'll be paralysed and we'll never get anything done. The practical option is to pick one country and stay within the constraints of its legal system. If that country is the US, we have fair use. If that country is the UK, we have fair dealing. If that country is Hungary, we have whatever they have.

If you don't buy the "fatalist idea" that IP law in 2012 is a get sued, ask questions later system, you are living in fantasy land - complete with rainbows and unicorns. If someone wants to hurt us, they'll sue us, take us offline and drag it on until the project is dead. This has killed countless small companies in the past, which were still in court after they went into bankruptcy proceedings because of legal fees. Even if you win at the end and even get your legal fees back, it's still curtains - there is no WFG and everyone's moved on!

So, don't put words in people's mouths. And grow up, ffs.

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Myconid, I have hidden your post, please reconsider your tone.

I suggest we ask the contributor who committed the relevant passages to paraphrase them, just in case, in order to avoid any copyright infringement.

If there are any other known sources we have used without due credit, please bring them forward and we will fix the situation promptly, just as we have done in the past (cf. CGTextures).

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Myconid: I didn't say they aren't taking the law seriously. I said people who are making additions to the releases need take it bit more seriously to avoid problems in Hungary and elsewhere in the future. But read into it whatever you want :)

Edited by zoot

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Myconid, I have hidden your post, please reconsider your tone.

I suggest we ask the contributor who committed the relevant passages to paraphrase them, just in case, in order to avoid any copyright infringement.

If there are any other known sources we have used without due credit, please bring them forward and we will fix the situation promptly, just as we have done in the past (cf. CGTextures).

Yes, seems a good way to go.

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Spahbod, please rewrite the descriptions in other words to avoid plagiarism.

If you need help, please just say so and the community will help you. (y)

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I'd be happy to help paraphrase the information if Spahbod doesn't have the time. Or... We can just give Wikipedia the proper citation. Isn't that just as well? :)

Though, some of the info in the map scripts is rather longish, so a rephrasing may be better anyway.

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Ehm, I suppose I took that "rainbows and unicorns" comment as a personal attack, followed by a response that was incredibly tangential and argumentative, so I went into super-defensive internet geek mode. All this for the phrasing of a silly sentence... Herp derp.

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Ehm, I suppose I took that "rainbows and unicorns" comment as a personal attack, followed by a response that was incredibly tangential and argumentative, so I went into super-defensive internet geek mode. All this for the phrasing of a silly sentence... Herp derp.

I've been in that mode. It stinks :)

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Spahbod, please rewrite the descriptions in other words to avoid plagiarism.

If you need help, please just say so and the community will help you. (y)

I would have wrote those descriptions myself if my English was good enough (as you all know, my grammar sucks). I'll rewrite them when I have time but after that they'll need a major cleanup.

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Just want to remind people that even if we paraphrase information from an outside source (Wikipedia or wherever else), we still need to cite it. Taking someone else's idea and writing it in your own words doesn't make it your idea :P Of course that's much harder to prove than a blatant copy-paste, but it's the ethical thing to do. If we don't want to cite sources for e.g. random map descriptions, then they should just mention the characteristics of the random map instead of real-world descriptions based on someone else's research. The same goes for all the unit and civ descriptions, we'll need to go through them with a "fine toothed comb" and make sure none of it is violating copyright law.

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I don't think knee-jerk reactions are useful here. We haven't incorporated content from a billion-dollar game development company with an over-eager legal team that sends out dozens of cease-and-desist notices a day and gets its jollies kicking puppies. Rather, we've borrowed content from a volunteer-driven encyclopedia which happens to share the same license we use for our own content, and which the entirety of the game data is distributed under.

We've simply failed to attribute the few pieces of content that we've used from Wikipedia. It's an unfortunate oversight, and should be rectified for alpha 12, but it's not a massive threat to the project that demands legal consultation or threatening team members with commit right revocation.

Attribution on the forums is likely inadequate for content used in-game, anyhow. A better solution would be to finish the work-in-progress in-game credits display. Once that's done and we've sorted out which bits of content come from where, an list of third-party content and its authors can be shipped along with the game and viewed via the main menu. That ought to satisfy the Creative Commons attribution requirements handily.

Licensing is invariably a pain. Chances are that for every project that gets it right, there are several that get it wrong. A degree of good faith must be assumed, especially between freely-licensed projects, or the entire ecosystem would collapse in a huge fireball of litigation.

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Just want to remind people that even if we paraphrase information from an outside source (Wikipedia or wherever else), we still need to cite it. Taking someone else's idea and writing it in your own words doesn't make it your idea :P Of course that's much harder to prove than a blatant copy-paste, but it's the ethical thing to do. If we don't want to cite sources for e.g. random map descriptions, then they should just mention the characteristics of the random map instead of real-world descriptions based on someone else's research. The same goes for all the unit and civ descriptions, we'll need to go through them with a "fine toothed comb" and make sure none of it is violating copyright law.

As far as I know, paraphrasing should be fine, at least for common-knowledge encyclopedic information. Unlike patents which do cover more general ideas, copyright is more concerned with the particular expressions of ideas. Other than that, I agree - the "fine toothed comb" is the right way to think about.

Deiz, I didn't suggest "threatening," or even friendly nudging, anyone on the basis of anything that is already in the release. I said it should be a considered a fairly serious transgression going forward, as opposed to now where it's almost raising the issue on the forum that can get you into trouble :P I can't really blame Spahbod for committing those bits of text, because as far as I can tell, he hasn't even been faced with the form that asks him to agree to release all his work on 0 A.D. under a free license, let alone one requiring him to attest to only submit his own work. And that's the point - it's not that Spahbod committed some texts from Wikipedia, it's the lack of awareness.

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[2cents]

Okay... how do we paraphrase stuff we learned in school? We don't. So if we write our own explanation, it comes from our head (ergo original). So if I go read about something on Wikipedia (the analogy is that its the school), and then I regurgitate that info, I wouldn't have to attribute it, right? And what if I learned about say the Aegean Sea in geography class or something. I'm not going to attribute my teacher. Yes I'd attribute Wikipedia if it contained analysis or information I didn't know before hand.

[/2cents]

So how is this... in the license file, we just say there is stuff from Wikipedia in several places. I don't fancy having attributions at the end of tooltips or description boxes.

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Just want to remind people that even if we paraphrase information from an outside source (Wikipedia or wherever else), we still need to cite it.

The information we use from Wikipedia is just facts, not ideas. Original analysis is heavily frowned upon (usually challenged and deleted) on Wikipedia. The wording of those facts is indeed original, but if we simply restate those facts from Wikipedia with different wording, I don't see how we have to attribute Wikipedia at all.

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Michael, if it is in our own words, we legally would not have to, but it is good manners, shows serious scholarship (to an extent), and is helpful for people who want to learn more.

That's what citation is all about, just as you would cite sources used for a term paper.

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Michael, if it is in our own words, we legally would not have to, but it is good manners, shows serious scholarship (to an extent), and is helpful for people who want to learn more.

That's what citation is all about, just as you would cite sources used for a term paper.

If this is true, then our entire Design Document should be riddled with Wikipedia citations.

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