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Old 07-06-2004, 01:33 PM   #1
huxley
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I have for some years been working over at a mud. Now, because of personal reasons, I want to close most (not all) of my areas and some other code.

Suddenly the admins refuse this. They claim that they have some policy that says they are free to use my code. Nothing has been signed. It is an american mud. Is there anything I can do about this as a swede?
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Old 07-06-2004, 02:19 PM   #2
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Well actually there is probably a help file on that mud as with most about ownership of areas/code. You don't own the mud, you are a builder/coder an adminastrator/owner has all rights to the mud and its content unless OTHERWISE noted, not the other way around. If you go and build a house on someone elses property is it yours? The only thing you can really do i request a copy of your areas/code to take with you elsewhere. My biggest advice is, its just a game, its your imagination take it elsewhere with you, in the end whether they use it or not it wont affect your life any at all (unless its a pay to play mud that you created an immense codebase for, that will revolutionize mudding as we know it forever). Just take your personal reasons and begin building a new world somewhere else.
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Old 07-06-2004, 02:34 PM   #3
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Yeah, I know. Its just a game and I am not prone to petty fights. If there is something reasonable I can do, then I will do it. But going to some sort of extremes and starting flame wars, etc, etc. Nah. I just cant believe it can be legal of them do to this. Man, it sucks.
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Old 07-06-2004, 09:52 PM   #4
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You have to look at it from both sides of the argument. How would you feel if, as an admin, one of your coders suddenly decided to split, along with ahefty chunk of your code? Now, granted you did build it, but they use it, apparently for awhile. Now, I'm sure the rest of the codebase is tied in at least somewhat with your code, which would make for problems removing it and keeping their mud running smoothly during the split.

Just trying to look at the other side of the argument here, but I would say that I agree with the admin here. You built it for their mud, and regardless of your reasons for leaving, it is now their code.
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Old 07-06-2004, 11:35 PM   #5
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The admins of the game provided you a place to code, server space, bandwidth, access to players, access to help, a functional codebase, etc.

In turn, you produced some code that they were able to use for the betterment of the game. Furthermore, by taking the "job" at the game you were agreeing that your work would be for the benefit of that game.

It is very selfish to expect them to remove your code just because you decided to go elsewhere.

I do think they should let you have copies of your own code.
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Old 07-07-2004, 02:40 AM   #6
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Sigh. I coded lots during my time there. Most likely the top producing wiz, next to an admin who has retired. I did code that was part of the lib and I did areas and guilds. I never had any intention of having them remove the lib code, they know this. The lib code and chatlines I did was to stay behind. Same as some of my areas. What I wanted to remove is those of my areas that people changed without asking me. No bug fixing, just changing values. Without notification, without a word. Same with the guild. The guild would have been no loss. Only one person logs on to it, now and then to keep the char. It has been like that in the guild for a year because its too different from the rest. But... As soon as I stop hanging around as much, they start changing my code to make it look like they would like it to look. Maybe i am unique, but that upsets me.

Lastly... All other muds I have been on (two) have copyright notices saying that everything in the wiz dir and your eventual guild dir belongs to you. I kinda assumedit was the same in this one, but perhaps that is a swedish phenomenon (it was swedish muds)?

I still think it sucks. I will never again code for a mud and be abused in that way. Sure they provided me with a server, but they did not provide a functional (kinda functional at best) codebase, nor much help. What did I provide for them? Lots of time helping players when admin code bugged out. I coded 2.5 guilds, of which only one got in game cause of admin procrastination. I provided (rooms total from all areas) some 1500 rooms of aeras - from newbie to highbie. Questsystem as well as quests. Not to mention ****loads of ideas that helped forming their mud. So I am not out of line asking them to remove the guild and the areas I wanted closed.

But I guess this is it. After a nights sleep... I am over it, sort of. Just know that this was not some impulsive idea I got. After one of the admins retired, it all went downhill. Other admins treat you differently depending on who you are. I saw it with others, so it was just a matter of time before it happend to me.

So what is the lesson I learned? Never code for someone you do not know in person. A lot of spare time have beeb put in, a lot of free work have been done for them. While one is on good terms with the admins, they are nice guys and everything is dandy. But they do what they like and if you are not on their wavelength, they run you over. Conclusion: Coding is cyberslavery. Never again will I fall in this trap. My mudding days are over. Maybe just as well, not much time for it anymore.
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Old 07-07-2004, 04:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (huxley @ July 07 2004,02:40)
As soon as I stop hanging around as much, they start changing my code to make it look like they would like it to look. Maybe i am unique, but that upsets me.
Sure it upsets you, but it is hardly unreasonable. In businesses things change over time, sometimes by the person who originally made it, mostly by others. For example business websites. Those change all the time, incorporating old code into new code. I don't think it's unrealistic to say a lot of the time the people who made the original site aren't consulted.

A mud is no different. Everything you did, you did for the mud for no reason but to better the mud. This is how most muds work.

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Originally Posted by
So I am not out of line asking them to remove the guild and the areas I wanted closed.
Actually that is unreasonable. Imagine this. mud Fun has builder Bob. Bob builds many areas for Fun that makes Fun popular. Fun has a high playerbase with Bob's areas being the most popular. But Bob decides he doesn't like Fun anymore and wants to leave so he demands that the areas he built be taken off the mud so he can then take them and incorporate them into a new mud.

Now imagine if every single coder and builder could do this. No-one would hire them because the risk would be too high. To come around afterwards and say the mud must remove the areas you want it to remove is unfair, especially considering the standard for muds and businesses is to have anything contributed to the business/mud be owned by the business/mud.

What you're asking, is very similar to someone saying "alright, you can have the areas, but you must pay me for my work." You worked to better the mud. You can't take away what you did just because you no longer like the mud (IMO).
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Old 07-07-2004, 05:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (huxley @ July 06 2004,19:33)
I have for some years been working over at a mud. Now, because of personal reasons, I want to close most (not all) of my areas and some other code.

Suddenly the admins refuse this. They claim that they have some policy that says they are free to use my code. Nothing has been signed. It is an american mud. Is there anything I can do about this as a swede?
You own the copyright to your contributions (including areas and code), but the mud owner will likely have good grounds for claiming an implied licence to use those contributions, even if you didn't formally agree anything beforehand. After all, as you yourself pointed out, you were coding for them.
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Old 07-07-2004, 10:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (John @ July 07 2004,10:08)
Now imagine if every single coder and builder could do this. No-one would hire them because the risk would be too high.
Hmmm.... That's not such a bad thing, we might even have admins who *gasp* know what they're doing!

*keeps ranting about 13 year-olds who think knowing what the <html> tag does is enough to get you started on making a mud*
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Old 07-07-2004, 02:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
You own the copyright to your contributions (including areas and code), but the mud owner will likely have good grounds for claiming an implied licence to use those contributions, even if you didn't formally agree anything beforehand. After all, as you yourself pointed out, you were coding for them.
However, KaVir, isn't he now giving an explicit request to remove said code? Also, couldn't it be argued that by letting them use this, and assuming the MUD is full of a corrupt staff, by giving him credit they are "harming" his name, so to speak?

Legally, doesn't anything explicit normally override anything implicit?

While I agree with the implied license, I tend to disagree on this point many people restate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
(Threshold) In turn, you produced some code that they were able to use for the betterment of the game. Furthermore, by taking the "job" at the game you were agreeing that your work would be for the benefit of that game.
You aren't accepting a "job" as some people have likened it to. And this is a slippery slope argument - Don't use it unless you want to pay all staff members A) A salary and work under contract, or B) At least minimum wage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
What you're asking, is very similar to someone saying "alright, you can have the areas, but you must pay me for my work." You worked to better the mud. You can't take away what you did just because you no longer like the mud (IMO).
That's NOT unreasonable. If the MUD wants exclusive control of the areas/exclusive license/the copyright/whatever, then that is actually required by law.

On a sidenote, I also agree with Amnon on the subject of admins knowing what they are doing. It would -definitely- decrease the amount of twink staffs.
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Old 07-07-2004, 10:37 PM   #11
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The worse thing about these arguments is that not everyone can be happy. I lost a great friend when I could not help him with a similar issue. He was the only guy I hung around who loved anime as much as I.

The honorable thing to do is the MUD give you copies of your work, but they do not have to give you a thing or remove your work from their MUD as there is no type of agreement. Intellectual rights are also a fickle argument, but I am not a lawyer and do not wish to comment.
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Old 07-07-2004, 11:56 PM   #12
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Exclamation

I ran into this issue once.

A coder decided to leave after I told him to stop sexually harassing the players and to stop being an #######. He left and demanded that I remove all four of his areas he had written, along with all code he had written.

Since the code consisted of renaming the disarm skill to "disarm shield" and changing the dirt kick skill to "caltraps", I removed them. The areas I removed happily since they were overpowered, except for one area which I had rewritten of his - making it partially mine.

Now, if things had been different, I think some people present good arguments here. Dulan's idea that you should be paid because it is considered a job is bunk. Many people consider it a job from their end for all the effort they put into it.

I do not believe you should be able to up and wish to have all of your integrated code just right out removed. I don't know the law inside and out, but it would seem to me that the coder is doing "volunteer work" and any property he creates, the mud owner has rights to use. Not distribute, just use.

So they want it ripped out... well, you should have thought of that beforehand. Mind you, this is all for free, nonprofit muds I assume, since they are not companies I wager. A profit making mud had better have some contract made up for you.

Ask for a copy of your work, or even a copy of the codebase, ask to not have your code just given away for fun, and go about your business.

You'll probably realize in six months what utter crap you had written anyways, along with how you could code something 10x cooler more efficiently.
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Old 07-08-2004, 01:09 AM   #13
 
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It does show that when running a mud you ought to have a builders/coders agreement in place to protect thyself.   But even having one in place doesn't prevent the "situation".  I've had a builder still demand their area be removed despite reading and agreeing to a simple "right to use" style agreement.  Of course we didn't.
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Old 07-08-2004, 01:13 AM   #14
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Since Huxley isn't going to sue the people running the mud, the law isn't relevant. No point in discussing it.

Huxley: You sound pretty sincerely disappointed without letting that turn into ranting anger. Have you tried just writing the owners a letter from the heart, laying out why you feel hurt/upset about the altered areas being used, and asking if there's some compromise the two of you can come to? I know I respond to that kind of pleas a lot better than someone just asking me to do something. You must have been friends with these people at some point, so perhaps you could appeal to sentimentality and part ways, if not friends, then at least not enemies.

You probably won't get everything you want but unless these people are real a**holes, they'll be willing to compromise if approached politely and respectfully.
--matt
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Old 07-08-2004, 08:55 AM   #15
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No, naturally wont I sue. And yeah, I used to be on friendly terms with the admins. Not super friends, but we worked well together most of the time. WHen one of the admins retired, the rest started showing interest in mocking around with my stuff and it all just escalated more and more and after some 6 months ended like this.

It has been a couple of days now. I am, somehow, over it. I logged on an old second and read the notes. I guess that is what made me realize that nothing I say, do, mail to them, etc wont make any difference. In their notes, they write saying I deleted all my code and sabotaged the mud. All I did was edit out one add_action to prevent entrance to one of the areas. Anyone with basic lpc knowledge realize that if I deleted my code before the reboot... And people log on with their autoloaders from my areas... Well, nothing was deleted. Anyway... I have decided to just let it be. I have read all the answers I got. It was interesting to see both sides of the situation and get some insight on how the admins might view what I did. I feel the admins here who feel that the admins in that mud did right seem to be more sensible then the admins in the mud I used to code at. Thanks for the wise words everyone.
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Old 07-09-2004, 02:16 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Dulan @ July 07 2004,14:29)
Quote:
Originally Posted by
(Threshold) In turn, you produced some code that they were able to use for the betterment of the game. Furthermore, by taking the "job" at the game you were agreeing that your work would be for the benefit of that game.
You aren't accepting a "job" as some people have likened it to. And this is a slippery slope argument - Don't use it unless you want to pay all staff members A) A salary and work under contract, or B) At least minimum wage.
The "pay" was access to the server, bandwidth, codebase, and player base. Those are all assets that the admins/owners of the game provided.

Furthermore, just because a job is a volunteer job doesn't change the fact that there was most certainly an agreement, either implied or formally stated, that any code written for that mud was property of that mud.

Obviously, a smart admin makes sure every builder/coder agrees to this explicitly in advance. But even those who did not require such an agreement are not hosed.

Furthermore, I don't think this is rising to the level of a legal matter. This is really a discussion of ethics. It is certainly ethical for a mud owner to be able to keep code that was written on and for his/her game, regardless of the changing whims of the people who wrote it.
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Old 07-09-2004, 02:53 AM   #17
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Personally I think Yuki made a good point when he said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by
You'll probably realize in six months what utter crap you had written anyways, along with how you could code something 10x cooler more efficiently.
To continue on this: If you code for a mud, you can do so in your texteditor and keep backups of your work etc. Same goes for areas, you hand them your area, but you keep a copy for yourself. If they have changed your code and areas then I guess it won't be a problem to use it in other projects you are going to undertake.

But even if you didn't keep the stuff you have written (you did it all on the server?) then you still have gained a lot of experience doing it and will do so faster and most likely better next time.

As an admin as well as a coder, I personally think that everything you make for the mud as a builder/coder will be the mud's property (it won't be "mine" cause I am an admin) and will be changed in anyway for the mud's sake. If this clashes with the author then it can be discussed, but in the end I am the admin and I'll decide what happens to it. As long as this is clear from the start I don't think a disgruntled coder/builder has any right to claim so otherwise.

I guess in this matter you were badly treated, and if they continue to do so the mud will fail horribly (if not already) and you'll have your revenge after all.

Good luck on your endeavours.
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Old 07-09-2004, 03:09 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Threshold @ July 09 2004,08:16)
The "pay" was access to the server, bandwidth, codebase, and player base. Those are all assets that the admins/owners of the game provided.
Not sufficient.

http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/ownership.html#works

"The determination of whether an individual is an employee for the purposes of the work made for hire doctrine is determined under "the common law of agency." What this means is that courts will look at various factors to determine whether the individual is an employee, such as:

* the control exerted by the employer over the employee (i.e., the employee's schedule and the hiring of the employee's assistants);

* the control exerted by the employer over how and where the work is done;

* the supplying of equipment for the employee's use; and

* the payment of benefits and the withholding of taxes.

Although these factors are not exhaustive and can be difficult to analyze in close situations, it is clear that a work created within the scope of a regular, salaried employee's job is a work made for hire.
"

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Furthermore, just because a job is a volunteer job doesn't change the fact that there was most certainly an agreement, either implied or formally stated, that any code written for that mud was property of that mud.
Unless that statement was signed, and in writing, it is not sufficient for a transfer of ownership (or exclusive rights).

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Obviously, a smart admin makes sure every builder/coder agrees to this explicitly in advance. But even those who did not require such an agreement are not hosed.
That depends on the situation, but I agree that most such admin would have good grounds for claiming non-exclusive rights to usage of the work.
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Old 07-09-2004, 03:12 AM   #19
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I know nothing about the nature of the changes that were made to your code, but it's unreasonable to expect your code to remain intact when you go inactive. Taken to the absud, this would prevent any maintenance of your areas or guild.

This is also where the implied license falls short - unless I'm mistaken, implied license only gives the mud owners the right to use the content, but not to modify it. Clear rules that give admins enough rights to control the game as a whole are a must.
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Old 07-09-2004, 03:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Angie @ July 09 2004,09:12)
This is also where the implied license falls short - unless I'm mistaken, implied license only gives the mud owners the right to use the content, but not to modify it.
Not quite...the idea of an implied licence is "to allow the licensee (the party who licenses the work from the copyright owner) some right to use the copyrighted work, but only to the extent that the copyright owner would have allowed had the parties negotiated an agreement. Generally, the custom and practice of the community are used to determine the scope of the implied license."
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