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Author Topic: Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)  (Read 5262 times)

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Offline prissi

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Rmax posted most of his images in the Forum. Thus they were already open source, or? Also he stated that we can use them in simutrans freely. THe dats are mostly be Napik anyway.

Offline Zeno

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2009, 11:59:16 AM »
Also he stated that we can use them in simutrans freely.
Really? That would be good news.

Offline VS

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2009, 02:33:12 PM »
Well... sorry. I must play the devil's advocate because in the long run it is safer than being called cheater or thief.

That is because once you release something under an "Open" license, you can not recall it. The open-ess of license is inherently linked to that, or it is not really Open. That means, if you take something proprietary and [pretend to] release it under open license, the damage is irreversible both practically and systematically - you can not recall license, it is out there, you can not roll back. The best you can do is claim that the license could never be valid.

So releasing anything I am not sure about might do more than just "oops", regardless of my good faith and blah blah blah. There may be third parties out there who copied it under the license and are not liable to remove it. When you are a big player and can afford lawsuit and so on, you can usually talk them into that. Also in an ethically ideal world these 3rd parties would do their best to stop the material from spreading when you explain it was a mistake.

But you can never count on that. Real world is real. And common sense says that the fault in such case is on the one who released the proprietary material first and begun the process. Thus I do not want to find myself in that position.

Yes, this is all on too small scale to matter. Probably. Even if I release a few images from, say, rmax, and he does not want that, chances are he will be angry and that's it.

On the other hand, he could be really really angry, and start a lawsuit and succeed. And then things will go south. Some of you know about Peter Dobrovka and his plight. Well, if there is anything important you can learn from that story, courts and judges are idiots, other people are bitches, and it does not matter if you are right or wrong. There is no telling what could happen if a legal action started. In the worst case, servers confiscated, people arrested etc. Who is the easy target? Isaac, Prissi, Hajo... And even if that would clear up, the damage from bad reputation would stay. There can be even bizarre consequences - think eg. lawsuit in US against Simutrans, and the ruling would indirectly mean that eg. Prissi is a criminal there and can not enter the ountry. Let's say he does so 40 years later - and, whoops. All these examples are almost beyond extreme, but I am not willing to bet on that.

Images posted on forum are not by default open. To make that true, we would have to ad a clause in registration terms (for legal purposes) and notices all round the forum (for human purposes ;) ). Claiming that something is open just because you can "touch" it is false.

Show me solid evidence that rmax said that and we may start arguing the finer points. I could not find anything.

Finer points mean: did he say just "for Simutrans?" was it in response to a question about license?



IMO dats are secondary, they have zero value from copyright point of view. It's like saying you have copyright on a form you filled in - because that is what dat files are, not a source code. No conditions, loops, stack, operators, nothing, only name-value pairs... which is a form:

Name ____
Surname _______
Age ______
Sex [M] [F]

compare:

type _______
name _______
climate _______
transparent ground [Y] [N]
etc.

Offline Zeno

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2009, 02:42:04 PM »
Absolutely agree. Of course, I won't bet my life on it...
I meant it would be good news if it's an explicit and written permission (or whatever necessary to keep lawyers away).

Offline DirrrtyDirk

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2009, 02:46:14 PM »
"Better safe than sorry" is not that bad a principle...

Offline VS

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2009, 03:18:59 PM »
The mega-important point is that these licenses are not just a fun stuff you can shrug off. They are constructed to do what they should, provide a set of rules and withstand a legal battle without being bent. That means that you can't just ignore their consequences "from outside"... and "from inside", too. It is like a weapon, you can do good with it (police), but you must not do bad (robbers), and you can't take just one half of this deal and ignore the other.

On the subject of permissions. With big, important projects, people sometimes write letters (on paper) putting their things under a license and send them to FSF, to make sure that if there is a problem, it's organization vs organization, and with bullet-proof material. As projects get smaller, it is less and less important because the probability of attacks is far lower. In this case it is almost negligible, so I settle just for the author saying "no problem" when I ask and explain - in one case it was on phone, so I don't even have email.

The worst we are probably risking is bad name. Still, that means a lot. (And I would hate to turn people against Simutrans or open source or just online communities in general, just because of a bunch of pixels we badly wanted. But that's personal.)

PS: Also I put explain in the second paragraph because I want that to be a qualified choice, not just conforming to wishes of someone. That way I can be sure I did all to make this a fair choice.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2009, 03:24:59 PM by VS »

Offline prissi

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2009, 07:55:35 PM »
Sorry, but I have to disagree on VS statement about open images. Any image is a work of arts and thus the copyright is forever with the artists. This right cannot be transferred, according to german (and as far as I know with the exeption of the UK also for EU). Thus any images with a copyright message are forever property of the copyright owner aka the artist. He can give a licenece to distribute, but this he can revoked any time.

This is different from code, since code do not get the protection of works of art. (And thus GPL is not useful for art, at least not for germany). Any open licence that forces transfer of copyright is void under german law if art is concerned.

However, I have to agree that the statement was for pak128, not for GPL or whatever. Evenmore, a short overview over the old forum did not brought it to light.

Offline ansgar

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2009, 08:16:45 PM »
This is different from code, since code do not get the protection of works of art. (And thus GPL is not useful for art, at least not for germany).

Are you sure about this? § 2 UrhG[1] mentions both computer programs and works of art.

Ansgar

[1] http://dejure.org/gesetze/UrhG/2.html

Offline VS

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2009, 08:31:53 PM »
Ahhh, copyright vs. license, I know that. Did I somewhere swap the two? Then it's a mistake and should be corrected. Of course copyright stays on the person.

But you can not release something under a license granting right to use and copy, then recall it and thus remove all derivative works and copies.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2009, 08:35:57 PM by VS »

Offline prissi

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2009, 09:47:42 PM »
According to this, pak128 is also a protected work. Thus all artists are coworkers of pak128. According to §8 of that german law, coworkers cannot disagree on distribution after they once agree to. Their maximum compensation from violating this, is the same amout all other contributors get.

Since no one got anything nor was promised anything, this would mean that the implicit agreement would be sufficient. (Albeit this is of course not nice, only theory.)

Offline VS

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2009, 10:12:57 PM »
Oh! In other words, according to German law the current situation and the intended situation with license are identical?

Offline ansgar

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2009, 01:07:59 AM »
I don't think so.  Even if distribution is allowed, there is still the right to modify the work (and to create derivate works) to be worried about.

IANAL, but I'm also not sure that third parties (e.g. not simutrans.com) would not require a license grant to distribute the images.  But releasing all images under a Free license would obviously solve this as well.

Ansgar

Offline VS

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2009, 10:02:41 AM »
Yes, that's why I am going for it ;)

Offline prissi

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2009, 03:48:54 PM »
Actually, by german law I cannot grant you a licence to deface my work. I can always forbid it later, until I sold you the work. But for free I cannot connect any terms to it, since there is not contract that is fulfilled ... We really need a lawyer soon, if this continues or a "I agree to download simutrans under the Artistic Licence" Button before download.

Offline Combuijs

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2009, 04:02:33 PM »
Well, ask Jamespetts! But he might only know english law...

Offline ansgar

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2009, 04:31:38 PM »
Actually, by german law I cannot grant you a licence to deface my work. I can always forbid it later, until I sold you the work.

You can grant the right to modify the work (§ 39 UrhG).  True, you can also forbid certain type of changes (§ 14 UrhG).
But if you grant a non-revocable license, why should you be able to revoke it later?

Quote
But for free I cannot connect any terms to it, since there is not contract that is fulfilled ... We really need a lawyer soon, if this continues or a "I agree to download simutrans under the Artistic Licence" Button before download.

Why does granting the rights for free change anything?  In this case *all* Free software licensing would be pretty useless...

And why would we need a click-through license?  The license is only intended for people who *distribute* or *modify* the work, there's no need to bother everybody.  (There are no click-through licenses when you download the Linux kernel from kernel.org either...)

Note: I am not a lawyer :)

Ansgar

Offline VS

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2009, 05:19:32 PM »
About clicking to agree - this is mostly when continuing installation is agreement with terms. No need for that, as we don't actually forbid almost anything. File saying "license" should be enough, as always was, and as it is for many many projects out there.

my 2c... Why so pessimistic. The license - any license - can be turned against us only when we don't play by the rules. Bad things can happen, but only then. We won't do that. Simple :)

Offline jamespetts gb

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2009, 11:57:20 AM »
Well, ask Jamespetts! But he might only know english law...

I don't know a great deal about intellectual property law in any jurisdiction, I'm afraid, although what Prissi says about German law seems to be very different to what little that I know about English IP law. Another complicated question is, in respect of each individual downloader and each individual contributor (and each relationship pair between each downloader and each contributor), which nation's law applies?

Offline vilvoh

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2009, 12:06:22 PM »
In that case, you should apply EU law, shouldn't you?

Offline ariarinen

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2009, 03:19:19 PM »
In that case, you should apply EU law, shouldn't you?
UK has implemented the "EU law" Directive 2004/48/EC already, they where the first one to do so, France and the Dutch has also done it and Sweden is close to or just done it. 

I don't know a great deal about intellectual property law in any jurisdiction, I'm afraid, although what Prissi says about German law seems to be very different to what little that I know about English IP law. Another complicated question is, in respect of each individual downloader and each individual contributor (and each relationship pair between each downloader and each contributor), which nation's law applies?
The user nations laws applies

Offline jamespetts gb

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2009, 05:24:45 PM »
In that case, you should apply EU law, shouldn't you?

But not all users and/or contributors are in the EU...

Offline VS

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Legal issues debate (Was: making 128 open source - what is left to do)
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2009, 06:01:28 PM »
I will split this, since thread originally listed tasks for doing until 128 can go open source. Hope the participants dont mind.