What license should developers use?


I might like the idea of “Shared Source” anyone that knows more about this ?

(Tomi) #22

Sorry to be late in the party, but I think there was some confusion in the first message of this conversation. Open Source and copyleft are defined using copyright and all Open Source Software (OSS, aka FOSS) is copyrighted. The people that created the work own the copyright and by licensing their work with Open Source license they’ve allowed others to use, modify, learn from and redistribute (share) their work. That doesn’t mean they’ve given up their copyright to their work.

It is quite common practise for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) game developers to use (L)GPL for code and Creative Commons (CC) licenses for artwork (textures, maps, models, etc.) so we could use this ourselves too. CC has a few options that restrict the distribution of game assets in different ways. The most permissive is CC-BY only requires attribution and most restrictive is CC-BY-ND-NC which requires attribution and doesn’t allow derivative works (changing) or commercial use.

Copyleft licenses like GPL don’t allow others to change the license of their work and require the four essential freedoms from all derivative works, but permissive licenses allow even redistribution of the work under other licences as long as their clauses are fulfilled. Some popular permissive licenses: MIT, BSD (or the other BSD) and Apache licenses. Those are also quite a bit shorter.

Creative Commons has made this nice chooser page to aid license selection: https://creativecommons.org/choose/
About Open Source Software in general and lots of licenses: Open Source Iniative
They also maintain the Open Source Definition.

Remember that even if you release something under some license, you still hold the copyright and can release it again under some other license. Also if you really want to give up your copyright (which may not be possible everywhere around the world), you may want to either say it is public domain or, even better, use CC0 license which effectively does the same in the limits of local copyright laws.

When I say OSS, Free Software or FOSS (combining both) I mean the same software, since, for our purposes they are the same. The terms have different backgrounds: OSS is more about the software engineering point of view and Free Software is more about the freedoms of the users. Free Software was here first and OSS came when corporations got interested in Open Source and its benefits to software development.

My choices:

[quote=“JO3RI, post:1, topic:2785”]
arduboy license case 1: all material is open source.[/quote]
I would say that use any Open Source license. If you like, use Creative Commons for the assets. Personally I would go with either GPL or MIT for the code and some combination of CC-BY, SA (Share Alike) and NC (Non-Commercial) for the artwork and such depending on what I want (probably CC-BY or CC-BY-SA).

[quote=“JO3RI, post:1, topic:2785”]
arduboy license case 2: game source is open, but the game idea, music, characters, or graphics are copyrighted[/quote]
Basically any Open Source (Free Software) license for the code and whatever Creative Commons that fits for the other things (it can be very restrictive, but still allow redistribution).

[quote=“JO3RI, post:1, topic:2785”]
arduoby license case 3: all material is copyrighted but source is provided[/quote]
I suppose the most restrictive Creative Commons would work here. Although it’s not meant for source code, but in this case it should work.

(Tomi) #23

But even permissive license allows anyone (that got the software legally) to redistribute the software. In addition, it allows the derivative works to be proprietary and therefore restricted, but that doesn’t change the status of the original software, i.e. it’s still Open Source Software even if the derivative works are not.

Of course, if the source code was not released under Open Source license in the first place, then it’s not possible for the software to be Open Source Software.

(Scott) #24

However, it should be noted that once your work is in “the wild” under a given license, you generally can’t revoke and/or change that licence in current or previous versions using it.

Previous releases can’t be made more restrictive, you can only dual license. Subsequent releases can, with a new license.

(Mike) #25

I don’t believe this is true. The restrictions in the GPL and similar licences are on the licensees, not the copyright holder. If I distribute something licensed under GPL for which I am the sole copyright holder, there is no requirement on me to continue distributing or under that license. So just as I am free to dual license something, I am free to change the license on a release. Doing this without doing a new release is a sufficiently bad idea that I’ve never seen it done, but it is possible.

What you can’t do is change the license for people who already have licenses - at least if that license is the GPL. And of course, the GPL lets them redistribute it under the GPL, and you can’t stop that. Possibly this is what you meant.

(Scott) #26

That’s what I meant by “in the wild”.

If you change the license of an older release to something more restrictive, anyone can find a distributed copy with the old license and use that. And note that I said “generally”. Depending on the original license, there could be exceptions.

(Aleksey) #27

Hi, everyone.
I’m working on my own hardware design “Ardubit”, it is based on Arduboy core but more focused for developers (just a pcb). So, I don’t know can I share design then here or somewhere else place if some people will interesting. PS I don’t see any advantages in diy for those who can get original Arduboy.

(Mike) #28

I think it depends on the DIY hardware. There are two real advantages to my DIY Arduboy shield, and one theoretical one. The real ones are that I never plug in the USB cable, hit Upload and then curse because I forgot to turn the thing on; and that it doesn’t seem to get wedged and require a reset like the Arduboy does. Or maybe it’s just so much easier to reset (there’s a reset button on the shield) that I don’t notice it. In theory, it’s also easier to debug really nasty software problems if you can hook a logic analyzer up to the thing, but I’ve as yet to run into problems difficult enough to justify that.

(Pharap) #29

First thing’s first the GPL is riddled with oddities and forces adaptations to use the same licence.

Personally I like the Apache Licence and MIT Licence.
Both allow the software to be distributed, modified, used privately and used commercially whilst retaining the licence and copyright notice.
The Apache Licence is more protective of the author and inhibits the user more, so the MIT Licence is probably more suitable for people distributing their games. Neither require the user to keep things open source or distribute source code, but because they require the licence and copyright notices, they still ensure the author is credited.

If people really want to force disclosure of source though, I’d say go for the Mozilla Public Licence, it’s a nice balance between true freedom and ensuring the author is credited.