Open Source *Game* Programming License

Bryan George bgeorge at
Thu Jan 18 19:43:45 UTC 2001

I'm not arguing that anyone should pull a Mozilla and "open source" a
non-functioning version of software.  That clearly serves no one's
interests and would rightly antagonize the Open Source community.

What I would argue is that someone (presumably a company, but it could
be anyone) might provide the source code for a game program, together
with a usable but less than awesome "reference" world file with a
published format (so that if anyone else wants to develop open world
files they may), then advertise and sell (yes, _sell_ :))
professionally-developed world files.

At that point the source code is for a player that delivers content
obtained commercially.  The Open Source community can develop and
improve the player, and develop free worlds if it likes, the vendor can
be fairly compensated for the time and effort required to develop the
"pro" worlds, and its competitive edge against other companies is
maintained through retaining talent and developing tools to construct

See, free software, but not free beer.  Or to put it another way, nobody
walks away with everything, but everybody walks away with something.  I
may be completely full of spam here, but it seems like a reasonable

As always, IANAL, and I _so_ do not speak for my employer... :)


Ken Arromdee wrote:
> On Thu, 18 Jan 2001, Bryan George wrote:
> > > Oh, you could make a new world file, but by that reasoning,
> > > couldn't I make a program that needs readline, distribute it without readline,
> > > and tell the user to make a new readline function?  World files are at least
> > > as important to a game like Quake as readline is to a program that uses it.
> > Yes - likewise, a Website is useless without its content, a CD is
> > useless without songs, a cell phone is useless without a service
> > contract.  Shall I go on?
> Service contracts aren't code, or even copyrighted material.
> As for the other two examples...  Web servers and CD players are *typically*
> used by separately getting the server/player, and the content.  Saying "we
> won't supply any web pages, get them yourself" is a reasonable thing to do
> because the web server isn't tied to any particular page; users can and do
> use many different web pages with it.
> I can go get a different CD for a GPL'ed CD player.  I can't get a different
> set of Quake data for use with my GPL'ed Quake engine (conversions typically
> require owning the original game).
> Compare this to the readline situation: as long as the readline library is the
> only library available for use with the program, the GPL on one requires that
> the GPL be on the other one too.
> (Disclaimer: I personally reject the readline reasoning, but my rationale for
> that rejection does not apply to Quake.)
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