[cc-community] Strengthening the CC-BY-SA copyleft with respect to code

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Tue Dec 20 18:47:10 EST 2011

On 20/12/11 21:44, Bart Kelsey wrote:
> The concerns of a fairly large group of people ought to be given more
> thought than a casual dismissal.  If you're going to cite "unintended
> consequences", then you ought to take the time to point out what those
> consequences might be.
> Furthermore, Word was of use because it *allows* people to produce
> documents, not because those documents already exist.  If you delete all
> the documents from your hard drive (and don't have access to download
> more) Word is still useful for creating new documents -- in fact, that
> it's primary purpose.  Word isn't even an edge case.

This is what I mean about it not being a useful distinction. Games
aren't an edge case either.

I don't see the difficulty in telling game engine and game asset apart,
or in telling the difference between code, data and art. See the FSF
FAQs on game engines and scripting engines. So I don't think that
ambiguity is a problem, although changing the interpretation of copyleft
in the 4.0 licenses might affect this.

That leaves wanting to lock free game art assets to free game engines,
or more broadly free art assets to free software. Which I am sympathetic
to ideologically but wary of practically. Because free software has
succeeded precisely because it is agnostic about the other cultural
forms it interacts with - cultural and economic. And because of the
counter-examples featuring proprietary software that Alan gives.

And because there are so many cases. Should BY-SA meshes be usable with
Renderman to make BY-SA movies? Should BY-SA sounds and patterns be used
to drive proprietary audio software in order to make BY-SA music, BY-SA
edit scripts to drive video editing software, BY-SA videos and songs
played on software app-store based devices, BY-SA meshes and textures to
be manipulated by MEL scripts? How can we distinguish the uses that are
to be permitted from those that are to be forbidden? I assume people
thought non-commercial use was obvious...

If BY-SA isn't working properly in downstream adaptations of game art
(that is, if BY-SA meshes/textures/sounds can end up being used with
non-BY-SA non-code assets) then that should certainly be addressed. But
I think that BY-SA-ing the art in a mod and GPL-ing the scripts is as
much as can and probably should be done.

- Rob.

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