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Old 04-28-2006, 03:44 PM   #1
the_logos
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I'm going to make this thread sticky here because there's so much discussion about the license and it seems as if many people arguing about it haven't actually ever read it. I'm including the full license below. Incidentally, this isn't in the Legal forum because many people with opinions on the argument argue that it's not a legal matter but an ethical or moral one. Both those discussions can be encompassed here.

What's on-topic in this thread: An even-handed, flame-free discussion of the DIKU license and its applicability to various MUDs, including, but not limited to, Medievia.

What's off-topic on this thread: Any personal attacks, any strong invective, etc.

/* ************************************************** **********************
* Copyright 1990, 1991 *
* All Rights Reserved *
************************************************** *********************** */

DikuMud License

Program & Concept created by


Sebastian Hammer
Prss. Maries Alle 15, 1
1908 Frb. C.
DENMARK
(email quinn@freja.diku.dk)

Michael Seifert
Nr. Soeg. 37C, 1, doer 3
1370 Copenhagen K.
DENMARK
(email seifert@freja.diku.dk)

Hans Henrik St{rfeldt
Langs} 19
3500 V{rl|se
DENMARK
(email bombman@freja.diku.dk)

Tom Madsen
R|de Mellemvej 94B, 64
2300 Copenhagen S.
DENMARK
(email noop@freja.diku.dk)

Katja Nyboe
Kildeg}rdsvej 2
2900 Hellerup
31 62 82 84
DENMARK
(email katz@freja.diku.dk)


This document contains the rules by which you can use, alter or publish
parts of DikuMud. DikuMud has been created by the above five listed persons
in their spare time, at DIKU (Computer Science Instutute at Copenhagen
University). You are legally bound to follow the rules described in this
document.

Rules:

!! DikuMud is NOT Public Domain, shareware, careware or the like !!

You may under no circumstances make profit on *ANY* part of DikuMud in
any possible way. You may under no circumstances charge money for
distributing any part of dikumud - this includes the usual $5 charge
for "sending the disk" or "just for the disk" etc.
By breaking these rules you violate the agreement between us and the
University, and hence will be sued.

You may not remove any copyright notices from any of the documents or
sources given to you.

This license must *always* be included "as is" if you copy or give
away any part of DikuMud (which is to be done as described in this
document).

If you publish *any* part of dikumud, we as creators must appear in the
article, and the article must be clearly copyrighted subject to this
license. Before publishing you must first send us a message, by
snail-mail or e-mail, and inform us what, where and when you are
publishing (remember to include your address, name etc.)

If you wish to setup a version of DikuMud on any computer system, you
must send us a message , by snail-mail or e-mail, and inform us where
and when you are running the game. (remember to include
your address, name etc.)


Any running version of DikuMud must include our names in the login
sequence. Furthermore the "credits" command shall always cointain
our name, addresses, and a notice which states we have created DikuMud.

You are allowed to alter DikuMud, source and documentation as long as
you do not violate any of the above stated rules.


Regards,



The DikuMud Group


Note:

We hope you will enjoy DikuMud, and encourage you to send us any reports
on bugs (when you find 'it&#39. Remember that we are all using our spare
time to write and improve DikuMud, bugs, etc. - and changes will take their
time. We have so far put extremely many programming hours into this project.
If you make any major improvements on DikuMud we would be happy to
hear from you. As you will naturally honor the above rules, you will receive
new updates and improvements made to the game
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Old 04-28-2006, 03:54 PM   #2
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I'll get it started by replying to something Emil wrote in another thread. He wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
To those that don't care a hoot about ethics and moral, it may be hard to grasp that other people still do. It's like trying to explain the concept of music to someone who is tone deaf, or the difference between red and blue to someone who is colour blind.

To those of us that do care, it seems natural that most decent people share our belief, although they aren't usually very vocal about it. It's what's known as the silent majority.
Well, here's the thing. To me, it seems that your absolutist "I am right and anyone who disagrees is immoral and unethical" is fundamentally flawed insofar as your ethics are your own, and not universal, and your (and my, and everybody else's involved in the debate that I'm aware of) understanding of intellectual property, and thus the DIKU license generally and how it interacts with existing case law, is minimal. Nobody participating in this debate is an intellectual property expert, at all. IP law is incredibly complex, and when we've needed to use experts in it.

I've been advised, by an expert, that the DIKU license is so seriously flawed it won't hold up, but of course, one can find experts to put forth nearly any opinion. That's why we have the civil court system: Because there can be -legitimate- disagreement about issues like this. Both sides can legitimately and ethically believe they are correct. A judge then decides who will is correct under the eyes of the law, and, pending appeals of course, that's that.

All I'm saying is that this is a very complicated issue, and to ignore all that we don't know about IP law is to really over-simplify.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
It's no coincidence that most fee muds still honour the Diku licence.
I guess I'd have to ask how you know that. I don't see how you can know that everyone who uses DIKU has sent the creators an email or snail mail.

--matt
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Old 04-28-2006, 04:08 PM   #3
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So, as for the so-called moral/ethical issue around the DIKU license, some claim that following it (which tends to mean following their personal interpretation of it rather than someone else's) is a moral imperative.

I'd suggest that it's pretty hard to claim some sort of universal moral or ethical obligation to follow IP laws generally. Now, I personally am as stringent as anyone you've ever met when it comes to IP law. I don't illegally download music, I don't pirate software, etc. Not doing those things is part of my moral system.

But who am I to tell some Chinese peasant that it is immoral for him to xerox a book and sell it? Intellectual property as currently instantiated in the West is a very modern, Western-centric notion, and I guess I fail to see why the West's take on IP is somehow morally superior to much of the East, where IP has no moral, ethical, or practical legal force. There's an extreme difference there, but the same logic is applicable to this discussion. Who are you to tell someone that your view of the morality regarding something as specific as 'derivative works' is the right one? The whole idea of derivative works really has no bearing or history outside of legal systems to begin with. Certainly, no religion or major school of ethical thought has, as a tenet, anything regarding use of derivative works that I'm aware of.

And you know, those who fall back to the ethical or moral argument when they feel that the legal argument may be shaky are engaging in a bit of fuzzy thinking, I feel. What's the basis for an ethical or moral judgement on intellectual property if not the law? I'm not really aware of any major school of ethical thought which recognizes the lack of intellectual property protection as being somehow 'wrong' or unethical. IP law exists for a practical purpose, not a moral or ethical one.

--matt
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Old 04-28-2006, 05:03 PM   #4
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This shouldn't even be up for discussion. We all well know what the DIKU authors meant with their license. It has been stated time and time again by them. The fact that someone says it may be legally flawed, to most of us, is irrelevant.

Again, this is proven by the majority of DIKU mud owners honoring this "legally" flawed document. Call us idealists, call us idiots. I could care a less... Its simply the right thing to do.

I feel sorry for those of you who think otherwise.

Enjoy,
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Old 04-28-2006, 05:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
What's the basis for an ethical or moral judgement on intellectual property if not the law?

One sociological basis for an ethical or moral judgement within a given society is whether or not a said action is considered socially acceptable. This is a basic concept of sociology.

Example; In Ancient Greek society, it was socially acceptable for a Master of a Given Craft to follow certain social guidelines. Firstly, he must be Male(obviously to suggest this in modern American society would be considered unethical by many and not socially acceptable). Also, he must have undergone an apprenticeship before being considered a Master. This means that he must have moved in with a Craft Master, and that part of his apprenticeship meant that he was often forced to have a homosexual relationship with his Master. In modern American society, this also would be considered unethical(and actually, illegal).

---

So the ethics of this issue could be re-stated this way; it would appear that the vast majority of vocal members of the online MUD social society have made the decision(whether actually backed up in court or not) that it is, indeed, not socially acceptable(within our community) to use even an altered DIKU codebase(like Medievia's, for example) as a method of capital gain. In this sense, the ethics of this topic seem to be related to sociology.

Arguing that it should not be considered unethical merely means that you are trying to change the social norm; the same would be true, in America, if I were to argue that sexual equality in the workplace should not be the rule-of-thumb. However, I would find social resistance to this suggestion, as is the case in the MUDing community any-time someone such as Matt tries to insinuate(or even outright state) that Medievia and such MUDs have not acted unethically.
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Old 04-28-2006, 05:39 PM   #6
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I have followed this thread over the years and as many here have heard all kind of arguments pro and anti DIKU license. Since those who breach the license have not been sued and it appears to be that there is no interest whatsoever on doing so from part of the authors or the school that seems to own the code we cannot posibly come to a final answer to the question posed by the_logos.

That said, here are my thoughts on the subject. There are two different standards that are followed in here when discussing this or similar topics.

One is the legal one, most frequently quoted by people who are in business and seem to be required to operate in the "what does the law say about it?" sphere. The main argument I have heard here is that the license is flawed, it does not forbid what the authors seemingly wanted to forbid (or claimed they wanted to after they were told it was poorly spelled out), a court would "probably not" rule in favor of the DIKU team or license holder because of this fact.

It is my opinion that from a practical point of view this is true and will remain true until the license holder sues the first company or individual and wins.

The other standard is the so-called moral standard, and it consists on reading and understanding the license according to the spirit of what was being written, not dwelling too long on exact definitions of particular words the authors chose to word their license document. The main view here, as I perceive it, is that the license forbids any form of personal gain from the game, which basically means, if you make money out of the game that would buy your weekend party nights you are violating the license. Furthermore, some people interpret it to mean that you should not hold comercial exchange or trade (or whatever the appropriate term is) with the code and virtual objects created with the code. This later part is a bit more confusing, since it is a particular way to interpret
Quote:
Originally Posted by
You may under no circumstances make profit on *ANY* part of DikuMud in
any possible way. You may under no circumstances charge money for
distributing any part of dikumud - this includes the usual $5 charge
for "sending the disk" or "just for the disk" etc.
basically assuming that a virtual item or good is part of dikumud.

This is the most voiced standard, mostly by admins or developers for non-comercial MUDs who work or have worked with DIKU derivative code, and who fully feel they have followed the license according to this interpretation. I believe one reason why there are more people with this point of view than with the so-called legal one is that there are more people who run their MUDs non-comercially-spirited (money comming in is used for upkeep, bandwidth, machine, etc.) than people who run MUDs as a business.

I personally believe it is healthy to have comunity standards that are above the minimum legal standards, this means I agree that the spirit of the license should be followed up to the reasonable extent and that if someone wishes to be an active part of "this" comunity (ie. TMS forum members) it would be expected of them to adhere to this view or at least be reasonably close to adhering (notice the unfortune of having to "pick" words that can be interpreted in a zillion different ways, as "reasonably"). I think this is appropriate since, even if nobody has ever been found "guilty of DIKU license breaking" by a judge anywhere that I am aware of, the forum may police itself (through the site owner) to whatever standards the owner wishes to declare minimum.

To summarise, there are two standards, a so-called legal one and a so-called moral one. Each of these standards is practically applied on different grounds, a court of law or everyday internet trade for the first, within a comunity sharing the moral standard for the second. It is my opinion that both views are quite correct, within their own ground and that the problem occurs when one tries to apply a standard outside of its ground of validity. Even if one tried to increase the reach of one of the standards to include the others ground, people would still reject the outcome; people will not stop considering Medievia is using DIKU derivative work without aknowledging it even if they won in a civil court after being sued by the DIKU team or school; people will not stop their comercial practices if the site owner and every single suscriber here declares it immoral to breach the DIKU license's spirit, this will not happen until they get sued and forced to stop by a court of law.
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Old 04-28-2006, 05:46 PM   #7
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Unhappy

I have a question for those of you with more time to do google searches or with more factual knowledge of cases like this:

Is there any precedent of a weak or seemingly flawed license being upheld in court based on the intent of the author rather than the actual exact wording?

If yes, could you please provide us with some links where we could review the case? (if it is a public record)


Other thing I wanted to ask,

Is the case of banning certain interpretation of the DIKU license within this comunity that much different from a specific organized religion forbidding specific sexual practices that are otherwise socially accepted?

(In my opinion the two cases are very similar, and this is what makes me think that IF the forum owner decided to enforce certain particular interpretation as condition for membership, he would be in his right to do so)

Edited to fix a typo
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Old 04-28-2006, 06:02 PM   #8
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I'm fairly new to this discussion, I'd just like to know why Medivia do not wish to credit the Diku authors?

Is it because they claim their work is not of Diku origin?

If so, has it been proven that their claim is wrong?

Sorry, just trying to catch up with what everyone's talking about. I'm sure these questions have been answered somewhere else.
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Old 04-28-2006, 06:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Spoke @ April 29 2006,00:39)
basically assuming that a virtual item or good is part of dikumud.

This is the most voiced standard, mostly by admins or developers for non-comercial MUDs who work or have worked with DIKU derivative code, and who fully feel they have followed the license according to this interpretation.
It is also the interpretation given by the Diku team, which is probably the main reason why it is the most voiced.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
I have a question for those of you with more time to do google searches or with more factual knowledge of cases like this:

Is there any precedent of a weak or seemingly flawed license being upheld in court based on the intent of the author rather than the actual exact wording?
See here (court case at the end of my quote): http://www.ilaw.com.au/public/licencearticle.html

"A software licence is not necessarily a contract. It can be, but that requires a couple of preconditions to be satisfied. One of those preconditions is the existence of consideration on both sides. Consideration is a legal concept that simply means a quid-pro-quo, or something of value given by each party in exchange for what the other party provides. In the case of open source software, there usually isn't anything provided by the licensee of the software (that is, the person who uses it) back to the licensor (usually, the person who wrote it). As a consequence of this lack of consideration there is no contract between the licensee and licensor."

"Because the licensee hasn't given any consideration in exchange for the software, the licence can be revoked by the licensor at any time simply by giving notice to the licensee."

(Wood v Leadbitter (1845) 13 M & W 838)
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Old 04-28-2006, 06:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Iblis @ April 29 2006,01:02)
I'm fairly new to this discussion, I'd just like to know why Medivia do not wish to credit the Diku authors?

Is it because they claim their work is not of Diku origin?
Back in 1995 they started selling in-game equipment. When it was pointed out to them that this violated the Diku licence, they stripped out the credits, renamed themselves as "Medievia IV", and claimed that they'd rewritten the mud from scratch and that the Diku licence therefore no longer applied to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
If so, has it been proven that their claim is wrong?
Yes, it was proven that their mud contained large amounts of stock code. They've responded by renaming themselves as "Medievia V" and claiming that they've rewritten the mud from scratch (again).
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Old 04-28-2006, 06:36 PM   #11
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Medievia's stance on the subject: The History of Medievia. I just want to state that Vryce wrote that page, not me. Any problems with it should go straight to him

As that link states, we do not deny our DIKU origin. Our claim is that our code is rewritten. Kavir reviewed our Medievia IV code in 1996 and made comparisons to DIKU and found DIKU code. However, since that time, 10 years ago now, we have totally rewritten our code. KaVir will respond to this thread soon with a lot of links I'm sure. He will also go on about 'once a derivative, always a derivative'.

As for the license, it IS flawed and our lawyers have told us that it could never hold up in court. But, according to spoke, that is only the 'legal' take on the matter. We pretty much agree with matt's interpretation and he did such a wonderful job of summing it up, I don't need to add anything else.
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Old 04-28-2006, 06:53 PM   #12
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Regarding the whole "The Diku licence won't hold up in court" thing, this link provides some interesting points:

http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic....31214210634851

It's in regard to the GPL, but the situation is very much the same, as both the GPL and diku licence are licences and not contracts.

The following is quoted from Eben Moglen, the Free Software Foundation's attorney:

"The GPL, however, is a true copyright license: a unilateral permission, in which no obligations are reciprocally required by the licensor. Copyright holders of computer programs are given, by the Copyright Act, exclusive right to copy, modify and redistribute their programs. The GPL, reduced to its essence, says: 'You may copy, modify and redistribute this software, whether modified or unmodified, freely. But if you redistribute it, in modified or unmodified form, your permission extends only to distribution under the terms of this license. If you violate the terms of this license, all permission is withdrawn.'"

"Because the GPL does not require any promises in return from licensees, it does not need contract enforcement in order to work. A GPL licensor doesn't say in the event of trouble "But, judge, the licensee promised me he wouldn't do what he's doing now." The licensor plaintiff says 'Judge, the defendant is redistributing my copyrighted work without permission.' The defendant can then either agree that he has no permission, in which case he loses, or assert that his permission is the GPL, in which case he must show that he is obeying its terms. A defendant cannot simultaneously assert that the GPL is valid permission for his distribution and also assert that it is not a valid copyright license, which is why defendants do not 'challenge' the GPL."


In summary: The Diku licence is the only thing giving permission to use DikuMUD. If the Diku licence were proven invalid, then you wouldn't have permission to use DikuMUD, and the mud would therefore be a copyright infingement. You can't use the usual contract law defences, because the lack of consideration means that the Diku licence is not a contract.
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Old 04-28-2006, 08:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ April 28 2006,16:44)
You may under no circumstances make profit on *ANY* part of DikuMud in
any possible way. You may under no circumstances charge money for
distributing any part of dikumud - this includes the usual $5 charge
for "sending the disk" or "just for the disk" etc.
By breaking these rules you violate the agreement between us and the
University, and hence will be sued.
If I were to take a wild stab in the dark, I would say that this part right here is the part that makes the license itself unenforceable. You simply may not hand someone something with one hand and remove from them the right to ever make a dime from it in any possible way with the other. What if they were playing the game and wrote a book about it? Most of you would quite rightly feel that that is not an infringement, but the point is, somewhere between that and using the unaltered code for a pay to play game, there is a grey area.

Part of that grey area probably has to do with whether the code has been changed such that it is a new program. Hard core ehtusiasts often say to me, well, if you used it even as a framework, you violated the license. This is actually why I opened the thread I did down in the legal section of the forums. I have a problem with the intersection of copyright and patent law as it pertains to software. The copyright would seem to only apply to making copies of the source code, and the rub is that all code, ALL CODE, looks the same, or roughly so, in bits and pieces. So, while an author or song writer might point out a riff or a series of lyrics or a chapter that is obviously derived from their work, computer programs are pieced together largely with only a handful of basic comparisons and decision making algorithms. Remember your early computer science courses? Remember how everyone's programs looked EXACTLY the same except for variable names?

As things get more advanced, you could probably make some arguments regarding overall form and organization of code that might hold up in copyright, but as has been pointed out, that is a complex task.

The point is, anyone who has ever downloaded Diku or a derivitive now has been exposed to "their" code, and if they see anything at all in there useful to a computer program they might concieve of to make money, chances are that it is merely a variant of something that occurs in dozens if not hundreds of programs all over the earth.

As far as the ethics go, I am afraid I have to come down squarely on the side of Diku enthusiasts. Whatever else happens, it is quite clear that the program Medievia uses developed stepwise and piecemeal from Diku, and I find that but lazy and ungrateful behavior on the part of whatever people involved themselves in that activity. Some years ago I wandered around pondering my options in making a mud of my own, and it was not so much that I planned to build a for profit mud as it was that I did not want to put all that effort into a mud that would be forbidden from being a profitable enterprise should I manage to make it good enough. Because of the license problems with LP, I decided against it. I searched and prodded for years now, and there are other options now, including Coffeemud, which I believe would have suited me at the time, but since then I have moved on and am pretty solidly a player and not an admin at heart as far as the hobby is concerned now.

I will say this in support of those who, like Vryce, skirted the ethical issues and made their life's dream of making money doing something they really love come true. Given that neither the Diku nor LP teams cared enough about this hobby to stick around and make their own careers based on these games, it annoys me that they have nevertheless kept their fingers in the pie just enough to basically create the miasma of bad feelings that we see here now over this subject.

I wish those guys would either do their business and start slinging lawsuits or get off the pot and let it go. It is a GAME! It's supposed to be for FUN!



Well over 2 cents...
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Old 04-28-2006, 08:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
I will say this in support of those who, like Vryce, skirted the ethical issues and made their life's dream of making money doing something they really love come true. Given that neither the Diku nor LP teams cared enough about this hobby to stick around and make their own careers based on these games, it annoys me that they have nevertheless kept their fingers in the pie just enough to basically create the miasma of bad feelings that we see here now over this subject.

I wish those guys would either do their business and start slinging lawsuits or get off the pot and let it go. It is a GAME! It's supposed to be for FUN!
The DIKU team, whether or not they have been extremely active in the community in the past few years, have provided a source codebase that has allowed for the creation of hundreds of online games. Some of the best online text rpgs were created using their work, which they charge nothing for(unlike engines like Rapture, that charge thousands and thousands to use). Their only request, in providing a free game-making codebase, is that MUDs do not use their work in order to turn a profit of their own.

The DIKU team has given a great resource to this community, and has helped this community arguably more than any other single, small team. They have allowed thousands and thousands of players free fun.

The community, as a whole, has therefor embraced their wishes and vehemetly defended the DIKU license. It is for these reasons that it is deemed socially unacceptable or unethical, within our text-rpg community, to do what games like Medievia has done.

It is simple. DIKU is a gift - they ask for next-to-nothing in return for its use. Those of us who appreciate this gift become very defensive when it is abused; hence why any suggestion that the DIKU license is unimportant is strongly resisted here.

---

Beyond that, KaVir summed up my sentiments to the law-based arguments against the license; the DIKU license is the only thing that gives permission for its use. If the license is invalid, so is every MUD that uses it.
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Old 04-28-2006, 09:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (KaVir @ April 28 2006,18:53)
In summary: The Diku licence is the only thing giving permission to use DikuMUD. If the Diku licence were proven invalid, then you wouldn't have permission to use DikuMUD, and the mud would therefore be a copyright infingement. You can't use the usual contract law defences, because the lack of consideration means that the Diku licence is not a contract.
Since you have probably reviewed this subject much more than I will ever do, how would this portion, found in the original link you posted, apply if DIKU changed the wording of the license? (which they attempted to do later on when they realiced their original license was badly worded)

Quote:
Originally Posted by
So what kind of licence conditions can we legally impose on the use of open source software, in the absence of a contract? In general, we can impose conditions that restrict the right to copy the software, because this is one of the exclusive rights that copyright grants to the licensor. We can also impose conditions that restrict the licensee's ability to modify the software. But we probably cannot restrict their right to run the software, nor require them to destroy their copy of the software if the licence is revoked, or require them to allow the licensor into their premises to perform a software audit, because these are not rights that the licensor possesses under copyright law.
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Old 04-28-2006, 10:30 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by
The DIKU team, whether or not they have been extremely active in the community in the past few years, have provided a source codebase that has allowed for the creation of hundreds of online games. Some of the best online text rpgs were created using their work, which they charge nothing for(unlike engines like Rapture, that charge thousands and thousands to use). Their only request, in providing a free game-making codebase, is that MUDs do not use their work in order to turn a profit of their own.
I guess I need to reiterate that I think pretty much the same things, as that is why I personally chose not to go down that road. I will ask you this though. What sort of favor is it that you do when in return for the use of your software, you demand that no one ever make any money out of it? That demand, in and of itself, changes it from a free gift to be thankful about and into a sort of trap. You can use this as a shortcut to have fun, but run the risk of having to redo a lot of work from scratch later on if you discover that your talents as a developer are such that you could make a living at it, or you can start cold trying to code a game despite the fact that you are not a trained programmer.

It's not a favor they did me. Lars did me all the favors anyhow, and I to this day prefer the LP muds. I have read somewhere though that the first mud you ever play will have lasting effects on what you envision as the perfect mud, and I confess this is true of me. I played Ancient Anguish for years. I love that old game. I can still go back today and visit ol' Meaty and get a grin out of it. Or the librarian. lol...

Anyhow, point being, it was not some sort of favor. Obviously they had a dream and the dream has turned into a nightmare. I honestly wish they would at this point come out publically and give all the people who ahve not broken their license the same opportunities as those they have given those who did by virtue of not choosing to try to enforce it. The endless arguing is a blot on the community.

Someone has commented somewhere as to why the GPL has not benefited the mud community much. AIME has been rusting in Sourceforge for years. I kind of wish more people would give Coffeemud a try. I really think in the hands of a decent builder it could rock the socks off a few muds out there charging money.

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The DIKU team has given a great resource to this community, and has helped this community arguably more than any other single, small team. They have allowed thousands and thousands of players free fun.
No argument here.

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The community, as a whole, has therefor embraced their wishes and vehemetly defended the DIKU license. It is for these reasons that it is deemed socially unacceptable or unethical, within our text-rpg community, to do what games like Medievia has done.
Apprently this is not true, though, as huge numbers of people disagree with this statement, which in turn explains how this thread got here. Understand, when you give something with strings attached, some people who don't mind the strings will be grateful. Others will resent it because you have led them to the brink of something and then told them not to take a sip. Fundamentally, what IS the point of "giving" something with the stipulation that no one ever use it to make money? What other "gift" do we do that with? What does someone who has spent countless hours learning this gift do when they realize they have come to a point where they must either repeat thousands of hours of their OWN work, or else go ahead and use some of your work so that they can make use of all the good things they did on their own? Consistently, the Diku faction minimalizes what others have done for "this community". How many thousands of lines of code does someone have to add before they too have contributed? How many tens of thousands?

For a person like that, the "gift" becomes a ball and chain and I for one can understand how one could easily be tempted to test the waters, and I will not demonize such a person. All I can do is confirm along with you that I think that was the weak, lazy way out. But given that the Diku team have not involved themselves in the ongoing evolution of the community, I have less and less sympathy for a wrong done to people who, frankly, do not appear to care one way or the other.

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Beyond that, KaVir summed up my sentiments to the law-based arguments against the license; the DIKU license is the only thing that gives permission for its use. If the license is invalid, so is every MUD that uses it.
People are trying to discuss this aspect, and from what I have seen so far, you are not getting it. No offense, but the bottom line is as a work of writing, they have no right to dictate what people do with the compiled code. This is the difference between the Diku license and GPL. GPL offers things free to copy, and you can use them as you wish. You merely may not charge to further distribute. You can add and still use, but if you choose to distribute, you must make your own additions GPL as well. It is fashioned to operate on the half of the law that copyright has anything to do with. In order to dictate what people do with the compiled code, they need a patent. Since the copying happens BEFORE the compilation, people are never in violation until after the fact, and as long as they do not then try to sell the code itself, there is really nothing the license can do about it. Or at least, tat is, so far, my understanding.

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It is simple. DIKU is a gift - they ask for next-to-nothing in return for its use. Those of us who appreciate this gift become very defensive when it is abused; hence why any suggestion that the DIKU license is unimportant is strongly resisted here.
I took this slightly out of order because I want to once more reiterate that I am not saying that Diku doesn't mean A LOT to the hobby in general. That is something that I do not intend to lose sight of. Still, Diku was written in the 80's, and it is the latter half of the 00's now. Things have moved forward, evolved, changed and grown, and I can't help but wish the Diku team would do that too, and either enter the fray actively or come out publicly with what it is exactly, if anything, they intend to do about Medievia or anyone else who has violated the spirit of what they intended. I think it is a real and tangible drag to the hobby when people come and play muds, get interested in making one themselves, basically taking the "Dungeon Master" roll of online rpg'ing, only to find that not only are they in for a lot of work, but if they are not carefull with how they fund the hobby, they might be in some sort of violation of the law, or at least of some sort of amorphous ethical consideration that frankly is a little foreign, or at least was to me, until you get into the subject in a good bit of detail.

Heck, I still am confused at how the fairly common practice of taking donations for a mud's operating expenses doesn't violate the license. And then, after all, one can then define "operating expenses" as so many different things, up to and including a coder/admin. One interpretation of the license would make it impossible to run a Diku on a rented server, because the server operatoirs are after all making money off the mud renting their space. So... rent a server, risk getting your mud shut down?

Are the concerns of people like myself beginning to make any sense at all to you yet? Can you see how I am not trying to disrespect Diku, so much as just wishing this particularly ugly chapter in the history of the mud'ing hobby could come to some sort of final resolution?

Another thing... copyright law is based on the idea that the copyrights are for the good of society, to help stimulate intellectual persuits, specifically giving those who want to make money off their work the ability to do so. If you want to give something away, why not just GIVE it? So the ethical outrage is really based on nothing at all that is easily based on the reality even of the law or why it was formulated in the first place.

It is, if nothing else, a very poorly constructed and thought out and worded piece of work, that license.

I am so very sympathetic to you and others who took this thing in the spirit I have to imagine it was intended, and formed the foundation of the hobby. I wonder how it might have been different if done another way. We will never know, I think, if it would have been better or worse had they simply released the code into the world and given it a peck on the cheek and told it to go forth and multiply, or what. I don't know. I just know this topic makes people angry and bitter and resentful and that is not a good thing.
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Old 04-29-2006, 12:35 AM   #17
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Two things.

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Originally Posted by
Apprently this is not true, though, as huge numbers of people disagree with this statement, which in turn explains how this thread got here.
What huge number in relation to this thread being started? Matt started this thread and the very, very vast majority of MUDers who comment on this topic(and even in this specific thread) support that the wishes of the DIKU team be honored, despite Matt's own personal point-of-view and agenda; in our community, the vast majority has spoken on this subject time and time again, which is the reason why breaking the DIKU license is considered unethical and socially unacceptable.

Secondly, and finally, DIKU is a gift - it is a free gift given to people who enjoy this RPG hobby as something other than a method of capital gain. If you enjoy the online text RPG hobby as a method of capital gain, you are simply asked by the team not to use their work for that capital gain. It is their wish, and really(beyond giving credit where credit is due), their only requirement for using their work. We are, as a community, lucky to have DIKU - if people seem to take a very strong stance on what the MUD-Community has deemed a social norm(respecting the DIKU license), it is because it is the least we can do in return for the use of the code.

In summary, though it's been said time and time again; the community here, largely, expects that MUD-designers will not use DIKU codebase a) to make capital profit, and b) without crediting the DIKU team. If you do not abide by these social guidelines, it is very possible for you be under ethical scrutiny from the community. Infact, as with all social ethics, it should be expected; trying to change this, fundamentally, is no different than me lobbying in America against equal rights for women in the workplace - no matter what my reasoning or point of view is, I am likely to be met with strong social resistance.

It's sociology, and human-kind has survived this way for many thousands of years.
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Old 04-29-2006, 12:53 AM   #18
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On another note, in regards to arguing and arguments themselves...

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The endless arguing is a blot on the community.
Arguments are made to either defend the status-quo(in relation to a specific idea), or attempt to change it. As long as that is the focus of a given argument, it can only be positive, and never a "blot on the community". Blots happen when conversation breaks down and away from the argument itself.

Historically, the break down of communication of ideas can be the cause of anything ranging from personal insults to religious wars and ethnic genocide. Once again, it is sociology.
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Old 04-29-2006, 12:59 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ April 29 2006,02:54)
All I'm saying is that this is a very complicated issue, and to ignore all that we don't know about IP law is to really over-simplify.
IMO it's actually quite simple. You can use the poor wording and the law to wiggle out of the license, or you can do what the DIKU team has said time and again they meant.

I personally think that the moral thing to do is to follow intent of the license. If you disagree with me, I respect your right to have a differing opinion, but I don't respect your opinion and I will judge you.

Matt said in another thread we shouldn't judge people until they've been to court and the courts have decided if they've done something wrong. IMO this is great for the press and the law. But particular individuals who have nothing to do with either (such as Joe Blog down the street) are free (and should) to make a judgment for themselves.

8-->
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ April 29 2006,03[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]8)]But who am I to tell some Chinese peasant that it is immoral for him to xerox a book and sell it?
Well IMO this is a bit of a straw man argument (I believe I'm using the term correctly). We aren't talking about starving beggars on the street disobeying the DIKU license (I'm assuming Chinese peasant is to be associated with someone on very hard times). We're talking about Westerners (for the most part, Americans) who are hardly starving.

I don't believe all IP laws should be followed. I don't believe all licenses should be followed in all instances. People are welcome to judge me on this if they wish. I respect their right to a differing opinion.

8-->
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ April 29 2006,03[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]8)]What's the basis for an ethical or moral judgement on intellectual property if not the law?
The law is a good basis for people to make their opinions, but it isn't absolute. People should look at the reasons for the laws existing, and whether or not they think a particular instance should fall under that law. However they should also realize if they break the law, they can suffer the consequences.

I believe that people blatantly breaking the DIKU license caused the creators to withdraw from the community. I feel continuing to break it is disrespectful and shows support for the original license breakers. This is my personal opinion, Medievia obviously has a differing opinion, I'll just say I disagree with them and would support them being banned from the message board (but with them here I'll of course treat them respectfully).

Given the fact that no-one in the DIKU team will ever sue any license breakers, I actually feel discussing the legal aspects to be pointless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by (Soleil @ April 29 2006,05:36)
Medievia's stance on the subject: The History of Medievia. I just want to state that Vryce wrote that page, not me. Any problems with it should go straight to him
I really have no desire to enter in a debate with anyone outside of TMS about this, mainly because I don't associate with anyone outside of TMS or Armageddon in the MUD community. They have their opinion, I have mine. I'm fairly certain we both know the other's stances fairly well (I did read the page, it said what I already knew).

Although given that you're a rather frequent poster (and do work on Medievia), care to share what your stance is?

As for the argument that "Medievia V" has been re-coded so much that it's no longer DIKU (or was started from scratch) I'd want a (as unbiased as possible) coder to compare the two before I judge Medievia not guilty. Yeah I know "what about innocent until proven guilty?" Well they've made the claim before that they had changed the code so much it was no longer DIKU, I've read the comparisons of the code about whether or not it truly was changed enough and agree with the study that it wasn't change to a sufficient degree. Although I do stress the importance of an unbiased coder to do the check because I simply wouldn't trust someone like Kavir to check it. I could see him pointing to trivial aspects (where there are only so many good ways to achieve the desired result) and claiming it proof that it has DIKU code (no offence intended Kavir).

There's also the "but if it was based on the DIKU then it's a derivative." Well that's a law-based argument. I have no opinion on the legal status of the code, because the DIKU team won't enforce the license via the courts, so I don't know why I should limit myself to the legal opinion. For me, if it was changed until all but the most trivial aspects remain, good enough for me. But I'm going to need proof.
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Old 04-29-2006, 06:41 AM   #20
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Although given that you're a rather frequent poster (and do work on Medievia), care to share what your stance is?
My stance is the same as that page you read. However, I was not around in the beginning (I came aboard in 1996), so I cannot comment from first-hand experience about anything that happened before then. I am also not a coder, so I have never really seen the code other than what Vryce may be working on in his office. I'm no code expert, nor do I want to be.

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Originally Posted by
As for the argument that "Medievia V" has been re-coded so much that it's no longer DIKU (or was started from scratch) I'd want a (as unbiased as possible) coder to compare the two before I judge Medievia not guilty.
That won't happen until the time (if ever) a judge orders it to be done. Vryce does not really care that much about this argument to give the code out for audit, nor does he want to share the code with anyone outside of Medievia. Even our coders have to get notarized agreements to work on the code. As I know that an audit may lead to an end to this argument, I also know that Vryce won't do it. So, no need to discuss that further.
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