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

Bart Kelsey elbarto at gmail.com
Wed Dec 21 18:17:54 EST 2011

On Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 6:01 PM, drew Roberts <zotz at 100jamz.com> wrote:

> On Wednesday 21 December 2011 15:07:49 Bart Kelsey wrote:
> > On Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 2:50 PM, Rob Myers <rob at robmyers.org> wrote:
> > > My point, illustrated by the examples I gave, is that the actions
> > > performed by the software are not enough to identify it as "generic
> > > software".
> >
> > I honestly don't see where you're coming from.  None of the examples you
> > gave are of programs that are intended to load one specific file.
>  They're
> > all meant to view certain types of files.  (For the record, I'm not
> > pretending not to understand what you're getting at -- I really don't see
> > where my distinction doesn't obviously cover these cases.)
> >
> > > > This should apply in instances
> > > > where someone writes a game or some other program that is *intended
> to
> > > > load a specific piece of media*.
> > >
> > > This is trivial to work around. If I write a proprietary game that
> loads
> > > an asset tree I simply have a registry key / command line parameter
> that
> > > specifies the root of the tree in the filesystem (or the name of the
> > > asset archive file). My proprietary game can now load any media in the
> > > correct format, and is "generic software".
> >
> > Lacking any sort of outside scripts that tell the engine what to do with
> > the files it loads, the engine is still assuming it's going to be getting
> > specific files.  Just because it's not referencing those files by name
> > doesn't mean that it's not intended to load them.
> >
> > > I'd also point out the history of the modding and abandonware scenes.
> > > Particularly MAME, ScummVM, Id's software, and Sim City. Assets and
> > > engines can be swapped even for the most singular works.
> >
> > This is very true, but depending on the engine, the data may be hidden,
> > obfuscated, encrypted, checksummed, etc, to prevent that.  Certain
> engines
> > leave their data open with the intent to make it replaceable.  In these
> > cases, the engine is generic.  You aren't allowed to obfuscate your code
> > under the GPL (or in later versions, use DRM or other measures to prevent
> > changes from working) -- preventing that here as well would solve this
> > issue as well.  If an engine is *truly* moddable from the ground up, it's
> > generic.  Otherwise, it's not.
> And if it is generic according to your terms, you propose that the
> licensed "art" be usable whether the engine is FOSS or not but if it is not
> generic but specific, you propose that the license on the "art" prohibit
> its
> use in such a case. Correct?

That sounds right.

> >
> > > > Depending on the situation, that might
> > > > be an entire game engine or it might be just the media and game
> scripts
> > > > that run on top of that game engine.
> > >
> > > Do you mean that this varies from case to case, or that these are
> > > alternative options for consideration as changes to the licence?
> >
> > I mean this varies from case to case.  Sometimes you stick a bunch of
> > scripts in a directory (or pass a game script or data tree to the engine
> at
> > the command line) and the script tells the engine what data to load and
> > what to do with it.  Some engines are just hard-coded to load certain
> > files.  The former case is a clear example of just bundling the data with
> > the engine, so the engine wouldn't be covered.  The second case is
> > referencing specific files, and in that case the engine would be covered
> as
> > well.
> >
> > > > Also, to reiterate, I am not advocating replacing CC-BY-SA,
> > > > necessarily.  If this would be too big of a change to the license,
> then
> > > > a new license should be created.  I'd really hate for this discussion
> > > > to be thrown out just because it doesn't fit CC-BY-SA.  It's still a
> > > > need that needs to be addressed.
> > >
> > > If BY-SA isn't working well *within* game assets or mods, that's a need
> > > that needs to be addressed.
> >
> > Judging by what you said above, I'm guessing we're referring to different
> > issues.
> >
> > This could be ensured by the scripts within the game assets being GPL
> > as-is.
> >
> > > To the extent that the script layer has "carnal knowledge" of the
> > > internal data structures of the game engine, the entire game engine
> > > would need to be GPL anyway.
> >
> > The idea here is to have a license that protects artists who want to
> create
> > works to be included in FOSS.  Sure, anyone can GPL the scripts, but at
> the
> > moment people could rip the art out of the game and implement a
> proprietary
> > game using share-alike art.
> If I read you right above, this would allow the art to be used in FOSS and
> non-FOSS generic code but only in FOSS non-generic code.
> I will restate my general BY-SA strengthening proposal in slightly
> different
> language than the one I used recently.
> I propose that we activate the SA provisions not on the creation of an
> adaptation of the work but on its "inclusion" in any work that itself gets
> a
> copyright. (I think this covers it but I need some back and forth
> discussion
> with interested parties to work the idea out. We can do this by not
> granting
> any of the provisions of the license (on of which is the making of copies
> for
> instance) unless this happened.
> In this statement of the idea, SA would kick in like this:
> For an adaptation, the adaptation must be SA too.
> For non-adaptation inclusion, the meta-work and all included parts of the
> meta-work would need to be Free but not necessarily BY-SA.
> Let's take the case of code and BY-SA art as we have been discussing.
> BY-SA art can be included in any copyrighted work so long as that
> copyrighted
> work and all of its parts are Free. Some parts may not be copyleft though.
> BY-SA art can be bundled in ways that no work of copyright is produced.
> say a
> random collection of art where it sits together with non-Free art and other
> non-Free works where there is no meta-work that is copyrightable.
> BY-SA art cannot be used in ways where there is a meta-work that is
> non-Free
> or (is this possible) where there is a Free meta-work but where the
> meta-work
> contains non-Free "sub" works.
> Why is this not a clean way to strengthen BY-SA?

That sounds like it would accomplish the same thing I'm aiming for,
although it's a potentially major change to the way the license works, so
I'm not sure how palatable it would be to everyone else.  I don't
necessarily want to attach what I'm talking about to CC-BY-SA, because then
people will dismiss it because "we don't want to make a major change to the
license".  It's a valid issue, regardless of whether the existing license
is changed or a new one is created.
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