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  Open-Source Licenses  (Read 1013 times)
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Online KevinWorkman

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« Posted 2014-08-07 13:29:11 »

I've been pondering open-source licenses lately, and something I'm having a hard time grasping:

What's stopping bad guys from taking, say, libGDX (which is under an Apache 2.0 license), rebranding it, and marketing as their own?

I suppose the answer is "the community would come after them with pitchforks", but what about smaller open-source projects without a community?

The reason I ask this is I'm in the process of open-sourcing an entire website (tutorials, game uploader, comment system, etc) and inviting my users to make changes to it, learn how to build their own JavaEE/Spring applications, etc. I've put a lot of time into this, and it scares me to think that somebody might just take it all, copy their logo into it, and spend their time on marketing instead of programming.

Sure, that's an imaginary scenario and the answer to most of these types of questions is "you aren't popular enough to worry about this kind of stuff", but it seems that open source licensing would deal with this exact kind of thing... I'm just not sure how.

I've been using a Creative Commons No-Derivatives license for my open-source games, which meant that people could learn from the code but couldn't just take the code and create a direct derivative from it. Through my recent research I've learned that Creative Commons is actually not supposed to be used for software, and the No-Derivatives isn't exactly right for the website anyway since I'll be hosting it on GitHub and allowing (encouraging) forks.

I suppose something like a copyleft license might help, as at the very least I could then use any changes that people make (since they'll be required to release their code under the same copyleft license), but then again who enforces that? And that doesn't apply to non-code changes, like the above scenario of basic rebranding.

So, what open-source licenses do you guys and gals use for your projects? Is it really an all-or-nothing case where open-sourcing means letting people do whatever they want with your work?

Static Void Games - Play indie games, learn game programming, upload your own games!
Offline Roquen
« Reply #1 - Posted 2014-08-07 13:42:10 »

Let's face it.  It's an honor system and that's it.
Offline Cero
« Reply #2 - Posted 2014-08-07 16:03:47 »

Normally, unless your game is Doom 3 or Jedi Academy of which the source codes were released not too long ago, people don't really care and won't read all your source code.

Imagine reading all that source code from a game that isn't yours...
Either you don't get much of it at all, or you are so skilled that it's pointless.
It's nice to release it, but I don't know about actually helpful, unless for mods.

To answer your question more on topic, I guess GPL, LGPL and BSD would be interesting licenses.
Also your code can be just copyrighted... if you dont have any special license its just copyrighted proprietary code. The fact thats its freely accessible somewhere doesnt change that fact - you are not obligated to keep it secret and closed to protect your copyright.

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Online KevinWorkman

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« Reply #3 - Posted 2014-08-07 16:57:23 »

Normally, unless your game is Doom 3 or Jedi Academy of which the source codes were released not too long ago, people don't really care and won't read all your source code.

True, but I'm releasing a Spring application (not a game), specifically a website that allows game uploading, user comments, blogs, other stuff you'd expect. My concern is that a script kiddie will come along, clone everything, and then deploy it as their own. I gather that the answer is to not worry about it, and that's a fine answer, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything.

To answer your question more on topic, I guess GPL, LGPL and BSD would be interesting licenses.
Also your code can be just copyrighted... if you dont have any special license its just copyrighted proprietary code. The fact thats its freely accessible somewhere doesnt change that fact - you are not obligated to keep it secret and closed to protect your copyright.

Yeah, I know about the "automatic copyright" or whatever it's called, but I'm specifically trying to open-source my site for two reasons: so users can make changes to the site itself (anything from tweaking the css to adding server features), and to act as a bit of a tutorial on JavaEE and Spring.

I guess I can't have it both ways, having an open-source project that's useful to people while protecting myself from the clone army. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything, as this seems like it would be a big deal to a lot of people.

Static Void Games - Play indie games, learn game programming, upload your own games!
Offline jmguillemette
« Reply #4 - Posted 2014-08-07 18:50:49 »

nothing is stopping it.. in fact it happens all the time.

Ibm Http Server = is actually apache2 rebranded
Hudson is free but supported for $ by oracle = is actually Jenkins
The new IBM Websphere Liberty server =  is actually OSGi and tons of common open source libraries.

The promise these companies use to sell what is otherwise free is that they will provide support or extra features above and beyond what the open source one provides. When they fail to meet this promise their product usually only lasts a few years and then dies. If they do meet their customers expectations it can actually benefit both the OSS version and the paid knock offs in the form of larger community and more frequent bug fixes.

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Offline gouessej
« Reply #5 - Posted 2014-08-09 08:47:59 »

Hi

I confirm that Creative Commons licenses shouldn't be used for the source code. There are some rights that you can't abandon, it depends on the laws of your country. In my case, whatever the license I use, I can't abandon my right of paternity and the moral right on my work. Why not using a GPL for the code and a CC BY-NC-SA license with waived conditions for the rest? This is what I do for my blog and my game, it has been very efficient to allow some interesting uses of my contents without pleasing content scrappers and those who'd like to monetize things that they can get for free without funding the creation. When the commercial uses are forbidden, it becomes a lot less attractive for those who'd like to rebrand and sell your project. The GPL doesn't prevent but discourages commercial uses too most of the time.

If you really want to use a permissive license, look at the original 4-clause BSD license which has an advertising clause "All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this software
   must display the following acknowledgment:
   This product includes software developed by the <organization>."

You're the author, you have some rights, don't let people convince you that there is nothing you can do, you are legitimate to decide how your works have to be used. You can register the name of your project as a trademark but it's a bit expensive, especially if it covers all countries of the world.

Actually, you can have an open source project without a clone army  Grin

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