"Managing" mod licensing

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"Managing" mod licensing

Post by Boogieman14 » Wed Oct 22, 2014 11:48 am

This post and my idea follow on the discussion in https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... 193#p48562

Lots of mods get developed, bringing cool new features and ideas to the game. Some ideas may get picked up by the devs and implemented in the base game (and some ideas probably even are early implementations of features that are planned for a future release anyway). Other mods simply aren't suitable for inclusion in the base game (for whatever reason - too complex, simply doesn't fit the dev's vision, etc).

Occasionally (inevitably, perhaps), mod developers wil lose interest in the game and stop maintaining their mods. As it stands now, most mod devs probably don't consider this situation at all, leading to an unclear copyright situation, orphaned mods and discussions as linked above. I'm thinking perhaps Factorio devs could outline some suggestions (or even a policy) for mod devs to consider, primarily perhaps about license terms (ideally, I'd say mods would be CC BY-NC 4.0).

For reference, WoW has an Add-on Development Policy where they lay down some rules, so it probably isn't too far out there for Factorio to do something similar.
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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by xnmo » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:16 pm

I don't think there is anything wrong (legally) with modifying someone else's mod without the creator's permission unless they have explicitly stated that you are not allowed to do so. As long as credit is given where due, as shown in the linked thread.

Of course if there hasn't been an official Mod Dev Policy written up anywhere then it will always cause confusion every time such a matter arises, so I do hope there is an official response on the issue.

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by DaveMcW » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:23 pm

There is a lot wrong legally with modifying someone else's mod.

Copyright law reserves ALL rights to the author, unless they give permission otherwise.

They may not have much motivation to send the lawyers after you, but they will win if they do.

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by Boogieman14 » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:32 pm

xnmo wrote:I don't think there is anything wrong (legally) with modifying someone else's mod without the creator's permission unless they have explicitly stated that you are not allowed to do so. As long as credit is given where due, as shown in the linked thread.
Actually, I think this is (strictly speaking) incorrect. If the creator hasn't specified any licensing terms, one should probably (legally) assume it's "All rights reserved" and modifying is not permitted without explicit permission. But regardless of the legal situation, it would probably save some frustration if a license was defined for every mod. Perhaps it could be a (required?) field in the info.json (with a pointer to creative commons for those who have no idea for themselves?)
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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by JamesOFarrell » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:49 pm

Glad you posted this, after seeing that thread yesterday I was thinking the same thing. The same situation became a really big issue over at the KSP forums so they added a rule that said all mods must include a license file on the forum post and in the download, this lets the community know where it stands with an abandoned mod. Maybe the forum should add a new rule requiring a license for all mods posted?

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by ssilk » Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:14 am

Quite good suggestions and even more important points.

I think this is so important, that I invited now the devs to follow the discussion - knowing that they are in the middle of release.
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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by Turtle » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:18 pm

Boogieman14 wrote:
xnmo wrote:I don't think there is anything wrong (legally) with modifying someone else's mod without the creator's permission unless they have explicitly stated that you are not allowed to do so. As long as credit is given where due, as shown in the linked thread.
... Perhaps it could be a (required?) field in the info.json (with a pointer to creative commons for those who have no idea for themselves?)
I think requiring a license would be annoying. IMO, if a license requirement is implemented, a default license should be put in place, but allowing the authors to modify/create their own should be an option.

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by JamesOFarrell » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:44 pm

Turtle wrote:I think requiring a license would be annoying. IMO, if a license requirement is implemented, a default license should be put in place, but allowing the authors to modify/create their own should be an option.
This should not be required in the mod to function but it should be a rule of the mod forum. No chances to code, just an update of the rules and some extra work for Ssilk (sorry man!) while it is implemented.

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by Boogieman14 » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:09 pm

Turtle wrote:... Perhaps it could be a (required?) field in the info.json (with a pointer to creative commons for those who have no idea for themselves?)
I think requiring a license would be annoying. IMO, if a license requirement is implemented, a default license should be put in place, but allowing the authors to modify/create their own should be an option.[/quote]

Fair point. Still, having it as a field in info.json would serve as an extra reminder for the mod author to declare his license of choice. But this is just implementation specifics, the important thing is to get this topic under attention of mod authors and factorio devs. Perhaps a sticky in the mods forum requesting mod devs declare their license terms would be a good start.
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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by ssilk » Sat Oct 25, 2014 5:38 am

Info: the devs are watching this topic and will discuss it internally.

Good points here, please continue. :)
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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by slpwnd » Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:19 am

Thanks for bringing this topic up guys. We talked about this with kovarex and the solution you proposed of mandatory license specification with fallback to default license sounds good.

So to sum up:

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by Boogieman14 » Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:40 am

Great news, thanks for picking it up so quickly :)

You may already have given this some thought, but just in case you haven't yet: how about existing mods? It's probably not fair toward mod authors (and possibly even illegal) to simply apply these rules to all existing mods. I would propose to apply these new rules to all mods released for 0.11 and beyond and consider all mods released for 0.10.x and before to be "All rights reserved" by default (unless otherwise stated, obviously). This is actually already the case, but it might avoid some confusion if it were clearly stated someplace.
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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by The Lone Wolfling » Tue Oct 28, 2014 3:40 pm

Great solution.

One additional suggestion, if I may? I'm not sure how exactly to go about it, but some sort fallback to CC-BY-NC if the mod author has been MIA for, say, 6 months or something, would be something that would be appreciated.

Having played around with Minecraft mods for a while, I can say that there are far too many intriguing mods and concepts that have been abandoned that no-one is allowed to update or fix glaring bugs with.

Mind you, that being said, I'd think twice about actually doing this. It makes things friendlier for end users, but at the same time some devs may not like it. So... judgement call time. Are the people who would not make mods if they do not retain exclusive rights over them "forever" people that you wish making mods?

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by Boogieman14 » Tue Oct 28, 2014 4:20 pm

The Lone Wolfling wrote:Great solution.

One additional suggestion, if I may? I'm not sure how exactly to go about it, but some sort fallback to CC-BY-NC if the mod author has been MIA for, say, 6 months or something, would be something that would be appreciated.
I don't think it's legally possible to do that, at least not retroactively. I agree it's a pain, but strictly speaking, everything that has no explicit license declaration will be "All rights reserved" for many years.

Mind you, that being said, I'd think twice about actually doing this. It makes things friendlier for end users, but at the same time some devs may not like it. So... judgement call time. Are the people who would not make mods if they do not retain exclusive rights over them "forever" people that you wish making mods?
Well.. for existing mods it won't make a difference and for newly developed mods, the developer has the option of picking a restrictive or exclusive license if they so desire.
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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by The Lone Wolfling » Tue Oct 28, 2014 6:43 pm

Boogieman14 wrote:
The Lone Wolfling wrote:Great solution.

One additional suggestion, if I may? I'm not sure how exactly to go about it, but some sort fallback to CC-BY-NC if the mod author has been MIA for, say, 6 months or something, would be something that would be appreciated.
I don't think it's legally possible to do that, at least not retroactively. I agree it's a pain, but strictly speaking, everything that has no explicit license declaration will be "All rights reserved" for many years.
I was assuming for new mods. As you say, it's not legally possible to do retroactively, and I wasn't suggesting that.
Boogieman14 wrote:
The Lone Wolfling wrote:
Mind you, that being said, I'd think twice about actually doing this. It makes things friendlier for end users, but at the same time some devs may not like it. So... judgement call time. Are the people who would not make mods if they do not retain exclusive rights over them "forever" people that you wish making mods?
Well.. for existing mods it won't make a difference and for newly developed mods, the developer has the option of picking a restrictive or exclusive license if they so desire.
I meant for the fallback idea, not the license-by-default idea.

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by ssilk » Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:11 pm

I think about 50% of 6 month old mods won't work anymore. So I bet, that with the time this problem goes away, so or so.
And there is nothing against looking into the code, see how it works and rewrite it.

I don't see a problem with this. Live is change. :)

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by bobingabout » Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:50 am

I'm an old modder from the Red Alert 2 modding community, well, the Command and Conquer modding community during the era when Red Alert 2 was the most prominant game to be modded.

although the game itself had no modding liscencing, the community had some basic ground rules, and if you didn't obay them, you were pretty much exiled from the community, this made it difficult to distribute any mod.


Some of the most basic ones were:
Modding a mod for personal use is fine, as long as you don't re-distribute the modded mod.
Using resources (graphics etc) made available for public use it okay, but using such from a mod is not, unless you get permission, and give credit.

The list goes on, but those are some basic rules we followed.

In short, if you want to use something someone else made in your own mod, ask.

Some of the big nonos included making compilation mods, making a mod by combining work from other peoples, or adding parts to your own. in that situation, you could only have 1 mod at a time, so it was a big deal to merge content from multiple sources, and was actually a viable reason to do so, but in a situation like this where 2 mods can happilly run along side each other, a better solution is to use both mods, and make a "glue" mod that fixes a few things to make them work better together.

Also, mods for RA2 didn't really need updating, so, I think we need to allow some leeway in situations where a modder goes MIA for long periods, and a mod they've made doesn't work anymore.
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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by slpwnd » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:31 pm

Thanks for the input. So I thought a bit about this. If we require mods to specify licenses then there will be an issue with material that mods "adapt" from the game itself. Our Terms and Conditions (http://www.factorio.com/terms-of-service) in the Intellectual Property section explain in plain (and hopefully clear) language the situation regarding the game and its assets itself.

Now, if we would like to do this properly, we should start by putting together a license for the game content itself (namely the images and sounds). The Factorio code itself is proprietary and it will stay like that for now. However the content of the base mod is not. We tolerate and even encourage people to make mods using assets from the game (tinting, combining assets, etc.). That is completely ok. However we don't want the assets to be used outside of "the free mods domain area" obviously. So we would need to put this formally into the license and then require any work that uses this content (i.e. sprites) to include this license. Because if we just make creative commons the default license, then mods that just tint or include sprites from the game "relicense" these for use outside of Factorio domain.

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by SHiRKiT » Sun Nov 02, 2014 9:57 pm

How the this default license could be used to incorporate a possible future mod into the game if the license doesn't allow commercial usage?

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Re: "Managing" mod licensing

Post by ssilk » Sun Nov 02, 2014 10:00 pm

The choosen creative commons doesn't allow this. If you want to allow it as modder, you need to choose another license.
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