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Copypasting vs. GPL/CC 3.0 reuse or adapt – your thoughts


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I was wondering about that myself. TDM's LICENSE.txt refers to 'maps, textures, models, def files, audio assets, and all other non-software components of The Dark Mod'. That invites the question of whether maps not distributed with the mod are to be considered 'components' of it.

 

That is a non-trivial question actually.

 

The actual .map file you save out of DarkRadiant, provided that you have not included anybody else's prefabs (which are essentially copy-pasted map sections), is your own original work. Therefore it is, presumably, your exclusive copyright. The fact that you used DarkRadiant to generate it does not give the authors of DarkRadiant or the mod any ownership of your map file, just like saving a Word document does not give Microsoft copyright over your text.

 

However, the map file does reference, but does not include, mod assets such as materials, textures, sounds etc, which are owned by the mod, and the map itself cannot be played or used without the presence of those assets in the game installation.

 

The million-dollar question is then: is your map a derived work of the mod, because it relies on mod assets to work, or is it still completely original because those assets are only referenced (and could theoretically be replaced), not actually included? I really have no idea. I suspect this is a situation which has never been tested in court.

 

 

Logical deduction probably leads us to believe that as long as these maps are accessible in the mission server list/mission downloader, they are part of TDM. That's how I understand it.

 

That would be unlikely, in my (non-lawyer) opinion. Merely submitting a work for hosting on someone else's server does not give them a claim to the copyright, unless the submission process includes an explicit transfer of ownership.

 

If a map is considered a derived work of the mod, that will most likely depend on the usage of mod assets, rather than hosting on a particular server.

 

There cases like mine, or e.g. Epi, where we're using custom assets almost exclusively. In my case it's actually 100% custom models and textures, no AI, probably not even UI / lightgem. If I understand this correctly, this special case might enable me to restrict the use of map file content more than GPL/CC? I'm fine with other people using my models, and they're protected from being sold by GPL/CC. I just want to restrict copying or reusing asset arangement / level design, to avoid situations like this one. Although that still doesn't protect level design of mappers who use TDM stock assets.

 

Indeed, the less you make use of mod assets, the stronger the case that your map defaults to all rights reserved (standard copyright), rather than a CC license derived from the mod itself. Clearly your map still requires the mod in order to work, but that probably doesn't automatically make it a derived work — compare this with Windows applications, which need large parts of Windows to work but are still considered the exclusive property of their authors, not Microsoft.

 

TL;DR summary: we don't know for certain the copyright status of a 3rd party map that is distributed without an explicit license attached, but it is not safe to assume that it may be freely used as the basis of somebody else's work without the author's permission (which is all the more reason to avoid the plagiarism issues that spawned this thread).

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Guys....that's enough. Stop.

That wasn't a case of someone getting upset because a bug was fixed, though. It was because Melan gave Bikerdude permission to fix a bug, and instead he redesigned the mission. I think everyone is i

Some people have mentioned the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism, and it is worth making clear that these are entirely different things. Copyright infringement is just copying s

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you can also see it as a compliment,

when people re-using stuff.

Because people dont copy ugly things.

"Good artists copy. great artists steal"

 

In regards to that quote, this is actually the former situation, not the latter :) It's not stealing ideas and mixing them into something unique. It's just copying.

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2.3 The copy/pasted section is modified to the point that it does not resemble the original--this can be judged by before and after screenshots posted during beta-testing.

 

I think there could be major issues with this one - way too subjective. And part of the reason we're even discussing the topic at hand.

 

I also don't like being able to use another author's material just because they cannot be reached. How long of a period should they have been gone for before it's OK? And what if they just switched emails and no one knows about it? I think in these scenarios, the mission should just remain untouched.

 

The shortest and simplest way to sum everything up in one statement is this: Don't copy paste anything unless you have the author's permission in some form.

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I think there could be major issues with this one - way too subjective. And part of the reason we're even discussing the topic at hand.

 

I also don't like being able to use another author's material just because they cannot be reached. How long of a period should they have been gone for before it's OK? And what if they just switched emails and no one knows about it? I think in these scenarios, the mission should just remain untouched.

 

The shortest and simplest way to sum everything up in one statement is this: Don't copy paste anything unless you have the author's permission in some form.

 

If they are AWOL you will never find that out for sure. I do not know if for No Honor Among Thieves permissions were asked. But it turned out for the better. Performance wise especially. And Goldchocobo liked it too. Just in case there is always the original version around somewhere. So your arguments are valid but not in every situation.

Edited by Anderson

"I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

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1. No one shall make modifications to someone's released map unless one of the following conditions are met:

1.1 The original author grants permission for the modifications.

1.2 The mission readme specifically grants permission for the type of modifications

1.3 The TDM team, in lieu of an author who cannot be reached, grants permission for modifications that are required to keep the map working as originally intended.

 

2. No one shall copy and paste someone's released map unless one of the following conditions are met. In all cases, credit should be given to the original author in the mission Notes section.

2.1 The original author grants permission for the copy/paste.

2.2 The mission readme specifically grants permission for copying/pasting

2.3 The copy/pasted section is modified to the point that it does not resemble the original--this can be judged by before and after screenshots posted during beta-testing.

2.4 The section is too small to be recognized, such as a single archway, a patch, or a collection of crates.

2.5 The action is for learning purposes only, and not to be released publicly.

 

I was also going to suggest to pin an "Editor's Code" to the forum and everyone who likes the post, agrees to "obey" it.

 

I made some modifications to your rules:

 

1. No one shall make modifications to someone else's map (released or unreleased) unless one of the following conditions are met:

1.1 The original author grants permission for the modifications.

1.2 The mission readme specifically grants permission for the type of modifications

1.3 The TDM team, in lieu of an author who cannot be reached for prolonged duration, grants permission for modifications that are required to keep the map working as originally intended.

 

2. No one shall copy and paste someone else's map (released or unreleased) unless one of the following conditions are met. In all cases, credit should be given to the original author in the mission Notes section.

2.1 The original author grants permission for the copy/paste.

2.2 The mission readme specifically grants permission for copying/pasting

2.3 The copy/pasted section is modified to the point that it does not resemble the original--this can be judged by before and after screenshots posted during beta-testing.

2.4 The section is too small to be recognized, such as a single archway, a patch, or a collection of crates.

2.5 The action is for learning purposes only, and not to be released publicly.

 

3. When working in colaboration with someone else:

3.1 Do not alter the other colaborator's sections of the map, unless specifically asked to do so. Discuss clearly whether changes are supposed to be purely technical or cosmetic.

3.2 Do not start beta or even release the map if the colaborator did not agree to that.

3.3 If the colaborator cannot be reached for a prolonged time, the TDM team may grant exceptions to rules 3.1 and 3.2.

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I also don't like being able to use another author's material just because they cannot be reached. How long of a period should they have been gone for before it's OK? And what if they just switched emails and no one knows about it? I think in these scenarios, the mission should just remain untouched.

 

 

That clause only applies to modifying maps, not copy/pasting. I think it's needed to cover bugfixes. If we break a mission due to an update, and the original author can't be contacted, I think it's better to fix it even if we can't reach them for permission. I included the part about "working as originally intended", which would not allow someone to update the graphics or rearrange geometry, for example.

 

No one shall make modifications to someone else's map (released or unreleased)

 

 

The reason I specifically said "released maps" is because there is a bit of a grey area when you're talking about abandoned maps. If more than one person has worked on a map up for adoption, who needs to be contacted if someone wants to adopt it or copy a section, for example? We may want to deal with unreleased maps separately, and also include some things about beta-testing in that section. I thought we could go for the low hanging fruit first.

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The reason I specifically said "released maps" is because there is a bit of a grey area when you're talking about abandoned maps. If more than one person has worked on a map up for adoption, who needs to be contacted if someone wants to adopt it or copy a section, for example? We may want to deal with unreleased maps separately, and also include some things about beta-testing in that section. I thought we could go for the low hanging fruit first.

I see. Then we should add a section about abandoned maps and also specify when a map is to be considered abondoned.

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Logical deduction probably leads us to believe that as long as these maps are accessible in the mission server list/mission downloader, they are part of TDM. That's how I understand it.

I would deduce the opposite, on the grounds that I can download TDM and have a fully working copy without needing also to download any file from the mission list. But anyway, licensing probably depends more on whether authors clearly intend to license - as OrbWeaver noted - than on mereology.

Edited by VanishedOne

Some things I'm repeatedly thinking about...

 

- louder scream when you're dying

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I would deduce the opposite, on the grounds that I can download TDM and have a fully working copy without needing also to download any file from the mission list. But anyway, licensing probably depends more on whether authors clearly intend to license - as OrbWeaver noted - than on mereology.

 

Basically it depends on your national laws of whatever country you are a citizen of and the conflict of laws with the dude you are arguing with.

The best solution is having precise rules here. Avoid conflict-provocative situations because everyone is spending their free time. Everyone is learning. Everyone is equal.

 

Personally I do not like any kind of copyright Puritan crusade, but having transparent rules can't hurt. Let everyone knows what they're signing up for.

Edited by Anderson

"I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

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No objections to the sentiment behind the proposed guidelines, but I would suggest that since the actual legal status of copying a map is unclear, it would be wise to err on the side of caution and take a legally conservative approach to the issue. For example, it may not be lawful for the TDM team to grant permission for somebody to update a seemingly-abandoned map, even if the author cannot be reached, because the map is not owned by the team and may not have a license that allows others to distribute modified versions.

It would make sense if mapper by default grants TDM team license/permission to modify his map in case of his absence during X years --- if he wants it to be included into the in-game FM downloader, of course.

It is probably better to require such a license grant if someone wants to distribute a mission the common way.

 

To be honest, I thought there was already some rule about changing FMs if author is unavailable. Or there was not?

Isn't there any disclaimer that "by submitting the FM to mission archive you agree that ..." or something like that?

 

 

Personally would prefer to force mappers to release their FMs under the same license as the core assets, so that anyone could modify them if needed.

All those licensing issues... dealing with them will bring the doom upon us in the end. Do not play with devil.

I believe that the process of releasing a FM to be available in-game goes through some centralized place, so whatever rules can be enforced at that moment. Without bringing your lawyers.

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it may not be lawful for the TDM team to grant permission for somebody to update a seemingly-abandoned map, even if the author cannot be reached,

 

 

So if an update breaks a map and we can't reach the author, then the map is just discarded? We certainly haven't operated by that principle to this point...our attitude has always been that if we break it, we should fix it.

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NewDark gets around this with DML files - plain text files that tell the engine to find a specific object (or all instances of a specific type) and add/remove/set properties*. No files are altered, so the mission itself remains intact. It also has the benefit of allowing people to clearly see what's been changed, and to bugfix the bugfixes.

 

*There are other things that can also be changed too, such as various mission parameters and even loading scripts.

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Btw, I'm almost certain we've discussed the topic of bugfixing missions before, I think in relation to adding translations to maps. I can't find the thread though.

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So if an update breaks a map and we can't reach the author, then the map is just discarded? We certainly haven't operated by that principle to this point...our attitude has always been that if we break it, we should fix it.

 

I'm not saying it's desirable, just that a conservative interpretation of the law would be that we don't necessarily (subject to the usual IANAL disclaimer) have the right to make such modifications, unless the mapper has agreed to grant them as part of his license.

 

As stgatilov says, it would be probably be possible to enforce this as part of submission to the mission download system (e.g. "By submitting a mission you agree that the Dark Mod team will have the right to make any necessary fixes to the mission in order to allow it to continue working with future Dark Mod updates").

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Personally would prefer to force mappers to release their FMs under the same license as the core assets, so that anyone could modify them if needed.

 

For me personally, that seems like over-reaching on our part, although others may disagree of course.

 

As a practical matter, this policy would completely exclude any mission that included non-free assets that were licensed individually to the mapper. There have been a couple of comments in this thread suggesting that some mappers have already used non-free sound packs, and these would need to be removed if we were going to insist that every map package must be entirely CC-licensed.

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Once they are finalized, we will surely do so. We still have to define what quantifies as an abondened mission and how to deal with that.

 

http://forums.thedarkmod.com/topic/12713-abandoned-works/page-1

 

http://forums.thedarkmod.com/topic/10403-tdm-fan-mission-lists-released-and-upcoming/page__view__findpost__p__255748

Edited by Anderson
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"I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

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The whole right-to-fix-breakage thing is more of an academical value because even artists would not get grumpy about that sort of modification. And the whole licensing stuff is about the ability to enforce rules in court. So fixing the license issue for fixing abandoned missions is only nice to have.

I suggest altering the beginner tutorials to suggest using some CC license that explicitly allows remixing (CC3-BY-SA or CC3-BY-NC-SA recommended). That should fix the issue for the future in most cases. Where the author still chose a restrictive license or for old missions, you can always go hunting - only one original or derivative asset licensed under any permissive and viral license is enough to make the whole mission be covered under that license too (hence they are called viral).

 

There still would be no legal protection against "blatant copies" whenever the source map contains anything covered by the famous CC3-BY-NC-SA (the SA makes it a viral license) wich has been stuck to the TDM assets. But with the proposed community rules, such copies would never reach the download servers and that should equal non-availability for over 99% of the TDM player base. So it will probably still occur from time to time but also will get fixed before maps reach the players.

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The whole right-to-fix-breakage thing is more of an academical value because even artists would not get grumpy about that sort of modification.

 

I think it's more complicated than that: http://forums.thedarkmod.com/topic/16312-penny-dreadful-2-all-the-way-up/?p=421058

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It is not complicated - everyone would know in advance, that such changes would just not make it onto the servers. Case solved as most players would not see the map. all the drama would be reduced to "I forbid the derivative work from beeing uploaded to the TDM servers" from the original author and that would be it. No need to argue. No need to accuse anyone of anything or to open drama threads about blatant copies.

 

I see, that you might miss out on a lot of drama due to such an easy solution. And i see the point that having some drama from time to time is fun and all. But that seems to be not the kind of drama that generates me my crack... i mean missions for TDM. Compulsive mappers are good because they map a lot. But compulsive mappers will also always map stuff they are not allowed to map and they will keep taking "too much inspiration" from other people's work from time to time. So let's just contain the fallout to the betatesting area where everyone is expecting to see the most horrible things anyway - and everything is fine. The compulsive mappers map, original authors point to community rule violations, compulsive mappers map more and eventually release confoming mission - that i then play. Works for me and i will still get enough drama in the off topic section. :P

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But compulsive mappers will also always map stuff they are not allowed to map and they will keep taking "too much inspiration" from other people's work from time to time.

 

 

Since the mod was released in 2009, we've only had one "compulsive mapper" who does this. Let's guard against any concept creep that might suggest that this is a wide-spread problem. The vast majority of mappers in the community have the ability to see and avoid obvious breeches of common courtesy.

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