Content Licensing

CyanWorlds.com Engine Project Management
Deledrius
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Re: Content Licensing

Post by Deledrius » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:41 pm

Thanks Mac. I appreciate your directness.
Mac_Fife wrote:I'm no longer expecting anyone to belive me but, but what we have from Cyan is what is in my June 3 post and is essentially the same as I presented at the AGM. There is no more than that. What was sent back to Cyan in response are the questions and comments that are in green in that post - OK, re-worded and re-formatted a bit, but essentially the same material. Comment on that if you wish - really, please do.
That is an excellent clarification and recommendation. I'll do that below.
Only keep in mind that we have no idea yet if that response is simply the very quick initial thoughts of Tony alone or if they represent the collective, official view of Cyan: My belief is that Rand has not yet commented on any of this.
This is mostly what my unfortunate rant was aimed at. A general frustration that a company which is more a collection of a handful of people than an actual company is still acting like a big paranoid company. I'd expect them to have opinions, not just official statements or silence, and it's disheartening to see them acting that way. Maybe someone much more pragmatic than I could ever be would be unsurprised at it.
Mac_Fife wrote: Cyan has read the Community Licensing Request and likes the idea and feels it is "ready to proceed down a path which would license certain assets". I note the use of the phrase "certain assets", but for now can only speculate that may mean a limited trial to see how things go, but it could also mean they are constrained on what they can license.
I'm assuming you've asked for clarifications on which assets they mean. A specific breakdown (which could be provided for them if it would help speed things along and provide a common point of reference) of a list of asset categories may be useful. I touched on that lightly in the original localization request text. We should probably elaborate for them, unless they're already committed to something (in which case it's all somewhat useless).
Mac_Fife wrote: A proviso on that is that the assets will be made available for community development of MOUL, and things like porting to other engines, or commercial (for profit) use will not be allowed.
Non-commercial use is pretty standard and easy to specify. Unfortunately it's much harder to define during the actual usage what constitutes "commercial", as I'm sure they've deal with then it comes to the donation system for CavCon. I know I've read some articles denouncing the unintentionally damaging consequences of non-commercial provisions, but I can't seem to find them at the moment to share.
Mac_Fife wrote: Cyan also wishes to make it clear that in licensing any assets, it is not abandoning its rights to those assets or otherwise placing them in the public domain. While Cyan wishes to make it clear that it retains copyright on the original assets, it doesn't want to extend that to unfairly claiming ownership of any derivative work. I'd infer that means that derivative works could have thier own license (and certainly copyright), so long as Cyan's original copyright and license are acknowledged.
This is probably something we can start discussing as a community (and there's been some already in the past), at least on a per-category basis as mentioned above. For the art assets themselves, Creative Commons (by-nc) may be a good way to go as it's relatively simple for non-legal-minded people to use and understand, and should fit their requirements of allowing derivative works without, as I understand it, claiming any ownership over them. It also provides for a dis-allowance of commercial work.
Mac_Fife wrote: Associated with the previous item, Cyan wishes to maintain a list/register of developers using the licensed Cyan assets. In effect, this seems to be a desire to assign usage rights to individual licensees rather than declaring an "open house". I don't think it's really an attempt to restrict who can use the assets so much as reinforcing the point that the assets are "licensed by Cyan". There is no information on the mechanics of this yet.
Personally I think this is a very bad idea and as I've stated elsewhere illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the process on their side. Their attempts to restrict things only serve to strangle legitimate contributions while doing nothing to stem the people who have no interest in moral or legal obligations. As branan pointed out before, we will want to, by necessity, keep track of who is working on what simply for logistical reasons. This would be a transient registry, simply for the purpose of asset locking since there are few better merge strategies if I understand that thread properly, and not something Cyan would need to concern themselves with directly.

If their concern is to retain their license and copyright, the law already does that sufficiently, provided they select an effective license. Anything more elaborate than that will hinder what few contributors remain, and would serve no real purpose but to add a very inappropriate business-like bureaucratic process onto something which will not likely thrive in such an environment without the attending processes and other such aspect that no one has the money or interest to provide.

They're certainly within their rights to require it, but I'd strongly question them to find a good reason to justify it. As it is, it seems more like a knee-jerk sort of "must have a process" sort of thinking, before they've identified the problem it's trying to solve. If we knew the underlying concerns, it may be easier to either accept this solution, or suggest more effective ones.

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Re: Content Licensing

Post by Mac_Fife » Sat Jul 07, 2012 2:33 pm

OK, that's a long(ish) post, and I'm thinking that it may be better to have a separate thread for each point - it'd probably make it easier to respond to. I'm also in bed with a cold right now (no idea where that suddenly came from :?), so I'll only respond to a couple of those right now...
...still acting like a big paranoid company.
OK, but I can see that we're talking about assets that Cyan invested a lot of time and money developing, so I can understand that they don't want to make "rash" decisions about them. I'm not suggesting there's a "conflict" but there's likely to be difference in how Rand sees things from a "vision" perspective and Tony from a business perspective.
I'm assuming you've asked for clarifications on which assets they mean.
Yes. But it might just be a turn of phrase and they only mean to exclude Cyan assets from other products.

Regarding the register of licensees, my initial reaction was similar to that of Deledrius. I see that it is part of demonstrating their continued "ownership" of the assets, but I'm not so sure that it's necessary. What we might be seeing is that Cyan maybe don't want to go down the route of an overtly "open" license and prefer something slightly more closed. Saying that, there's is nothing to suggest that there will be any restriction applied to who would be licensed.
If we knew the underlying concerns, it may be easier to either accept this solution, or suggest more effective ones.
Agreed, although I don't see this as a "solution" more a first suggestion of "needs", and which could be argued.
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Deledrius
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Re: Content Licensing

Post by Deledrius » Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:54 pm

Mac_Fife wrote:OK, that's a long(ish) post, and I'm thinking that it may be better to have a separate thread for each point - it'd probably make it easier to respond to. I'm also in bed with a cold right now (no idea where that suddenly came from :?), so I'll only respond to a couple of those right now...
Heh, sorry; quoting does that... I was thinking something similar about making new topics. I'll do it, at least for the ones we're capable of discussing in any useful manner before a response arrives. Hope you feel better.
Mac_Fife wrote:OK, but I can see that we're talking about assets that Cyan invested a lot of time and money developing, so I can understand that they don't want to make "rash" decisions about them. I'm not suggesting there's a "conflict" but there's likely to be difference in how Rand sees things from a "vision" perspective and Tony from a business perspective.
I agree, but my point is more about them communicating in general, and not specifically about content. There's definitely some overlap, but it's just a long-term frustration.
Mac_Fife wrote:Saying that, there's is nothing to suggest that there will be any restriction applied to who would be licensed.
One of the big concerns for me is that Cyan simply hasn't shown they're capable of handling the volume of requests, even with such a small group, regardless of the level of restriction they intend.
Mac_Fife wrote:
Deledrius wrote:If we knew the underlying concerns, it may be easier to either accept this solution, or suggest more effective ones.
Agreed, although I don't see this as a "solution" more a first suggestion of "needs", and which could be argued.
Perhaps so. I'm just wary from past experience. ;)

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Hoikas
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Re: Content Licensing

Post by Hoikas » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:42 am

That disconnect between Cyan, the Legal and Cyan, the Vision has always been frustrating to me. I often times feel like the hand and the elbow aren't talking to each other given the wildly contradictory messages we often receive :?. At any rate, it will be interesting to see the combined response.
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Re: Content Licensing

Post by JWPlatt » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:17 am

That's business; deal with the dog and let the dog deal with the tail.

;)
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Deledrius
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Re: Content Licensing

Post by Deledrius » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:53 am

JWPlatt wrote:That's business; deal with the dog and let the dog deal with the tail.

;)
But what happens when the tail wags the dog?!

;)

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Re: Content Licensing

Post by JWPlatt » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:01 am

It comes back to bite you.
Perfect speed is being there.

Deledrius
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Re: Content Licensing

Post by Deledrius » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:04 am

That sounds about right, from first hand experience.

Don't have that hand anymore.

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janaba
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Re: Content Licensing

Post by janaba » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:43 pm

The bottom line is that the dog is biting its own tail in the long run ... not very smart ... ;)

Deledrius
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Re: Content Licensing

Post by Deledrius » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:30 am

Good news, everyone! I've been asked to pass along some info from Cyan regarding the progress on licensing.

It's light on details, with one exception: there was a question regarding the Peter Gabriel song used for Zandi's radio; as one might expect, the chain of rights is complicated and Cyan wasn't directly a part of that, and therefore probably won't be including that in any redistribution licensing.

This is fairly reasonable. I've been expecting that they'll run into issues with textures and sounds as well, as we don't know how much of that was made in-house and how much may have been licensed from third-parties, and something like a big-record-artist definitely falls into that category. Fortunately, the song is also pretty insignificant to the overall game. If/when shards are given the rights to redistribute the game files, it will be a simple matter of swapping that song out for something else in the public domain or at the least a less restrictive license. I'm sure Zandi's sick of listening to that song anyhow.

The other relevant contents of the message involved an invitation for community-drafted proposals for license text, and a suggestion that smaller byte-sized questions are welcome and likely to receive responses in a timely manner.



So, that said, here's some of the thoughts I've been meaning to address for the past month and have been unable to find the time for:

Along with the aforementioned music, I was thinking we might want to categorize the assets by complexity and licensing terms. It'll help us break things down, and hopefully help anticipate problems. Here are my thoughts (perhaps we'll want to wikify this to collaborate, if necessary)...
  • Ages
    • Geometry - Hopefully they have full rights to this. We'll want to be able to redist these at the least. Would be very useful to have rights to make edits in order to fix geometry errors, physicals' shape and placement, and texturing errors, and distribute those fixes. Many fans will want to be able to modify and add to Ages in a more drastic way, and we'll probably want to keep this as a separate license, as its needs will be different.
    • Textures - This may be mixed. It may be difficult for them to even identify which they have rights to so long after, unless they have meticulous book-keeping. ;) Unfortunately, this is a pretty essential part of the Ages, as anyone who's worked on them will know. The textures make or break an Age.
    • Sounds - Same problems as textures, rights-wise.
    • Music - They probably have direct rights to most of the in-game music. We'll likely only need redist rights. Possibly remixing. IMO anything more complicated and artists are better off making new works. Fortunately, the sound and music mixing in Uru is probably its most bug-free aspect, although it's possible some audiophiles may disagree.
    • Everything Else - All the in-age logic coding parts of the PRPs. Hopefully they won't want to be too restrictive on this. Being able to add/remove/fix the current logic in Ages will be essential to creating and adding new fan Ages to the shards. This is something I've already had to fight with trying to work around on Gehn in order to add new content in a way that is appropriately consistent with canon and doesn't violate Cyan's currently-exclusive rights. It would also be great to be able to change the way some things are handled in the interface between the Ages and other parts of the code, which requires a license to edit this part of an Age (such as calls to a PythonFileMod, etc.)
  • Game Text
    • Non-story interface text - This should be easy for them (hence the focus in the initial proposal). Very little commercial/creative value for them to keep a firm grip on.
    • Story text - Redist, translation, and minor editing for grammar/spelling would be useful. Obviously they should retain all creative and commercial rights to the content itself.
  • Miscellaneous
    • Non-game UI elements (such as keyboard config, etc.) - Like the non-story text, a non-restrictive license to redist, edit, and repair the GUI would be very useful and not harm them or future usage.
    • In-game UI elements (such as the KI) - This thing needs a lot of love, but they'll probably want to be more restrictive as it's a part of their creative universe. In order to clean up the massive mess of code that connects to the KI, we'll need to be able to at least make minor edits to the wiring-end of the assets and redist those.
    • Intro video - Redist rights needed. There was some talk of providing translated audio (see speech below). It would be awesome if Cyan would provide the separate audio tracks, but unlikely. If so, the license will, like the story text, be fairly Cyan-leaning.
    • Game dialog audio - We'll need redist rights to the existing dialog audio. Along with the translated story text, the ability to provide subtitles and possibly even fan-provided audio translations would be terrific. Ownership for this sort of thing can get complicated, however.
    • Fonts - Some of these are obviously not theirs to re-license. Many of them probably are. It would be terrific if Cyan can provide the sources, but at the very least redist will be useful until such time as suitable replacements can be found (as will be needed for localization efforts).

As before, the topic of commercial use is still a complicated one, so for now I've mostly left it out. We'll probably need to use custom language in whatever license is chosen, as the word "commercial" can easily apply to shard owners accepting donations to pay the bills. Hopefully Cyan isn't against that sort of fan-support.

Anyway, I think breaking this down in this manner will be imperative to making any real progress, and I hope it helps.

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