Author Topic: Best license for retro software projects?  (Read 1602 times)

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Offline FloppySoftware

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Best license for retro software projects?
« on: 22:35, 10 April 16 »
Hi!
 
I was thinking about which license could be the best for my retro software projects.
 
Until now, I am licensing my software under the GPL license v2, when I include the source code with the binaries.
 
But I'm not sure which license is the best for that: GPL v2 or 3, MIT, BSD...?
 
And I have even more doubts, when I see that a lot of people distribute their retro software in a more restrictive manner, even binaries only and not the source code.  :-\
 
What a mess...  ???
 
What do you think?  ::)
 
Thanks!
 
 
 
 
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Offline robcfg

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #1 on: 22:56, 10 April 16 »
Well, how do you feel about it?


I usually publish my code as is ( aka Do The F**k You Want type of license ). If people would like to play nice, they'll do it and if they won't, then nothing you can do either.


You can also write your own license terms and call it the FSL (FloppySoftware License), but honestly, I prefer to spend my scarce free time programming something nice rather than thinking on lawyer's stuff.

Offline reidrac

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #2 on: 23:33, 10 April 16 »
This is a hairy topic, to be honest, specially because it is "retro" and most people are quite relaxed regarding copyright and licences (including myself when I play the old games without legally owning them).

If this wasn't "retro", then MIT or BSD would be my preference as the GPL puts restrictions to distribution that are not practical in a CPC game (eg, if the game gets a physical release, how will be the source code included?).

All my "binary only" releases include a README and MIT licence, all in a ZIP file, and very often the README and the licence usually don't get too far even when it means I'm giving permission to anyone to redistribute the game as far as they include the licence file.

But, as I said, I don't think it really matters too much. Do whatever makes you happy :)
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Offline Munchausen

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #3 on: 01:17, 11 April 16 »
I tend to like MIT/BSD license which includes source and means do whatever you want with it, but don't hold me responsible if something breaks.

GPL is a bit more restrictive in terms of insisting that source code is available (so people can't close it and sell it), but in the case of retro software I don't think it matters too much because it isn't actually very likely that anyone is going to try and sell your software anyway.

Offline andycadley

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #4 on: 10:18, 11 April 16 »
The GPL is easily the most restrictive license going and a massive PITA to deal with, it's rarely worth the effort.

Honestly, unless you're suddenly expecting 8-bit source code to become mega valuable, why worry about it at all. Just put it out with no restrictions, it won't make any real difference.

Offline EgoTrip

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #5 on: 11:52, 11 April 16 »

And I have even more doubts, when I see that a lot of people distribute their retro software in a more restrictive manner, even binaries only and not the source code.  :-\
 
What a mess...  ???
 
What do you think?  ::)
 
Thanks!

I don't see the problem. If a person has taken time and effort into writing a game, they are under no obligation to make it freely available.

Releasing the binary alone for free is something you should be grateful for. To expect the entire source for free with minimal/no restrictions is just rude IMO. Open source is great for some, but if someone doesn't want to subscribe to it then what is the problem? You cant enforce it on someone.

Everyone thinks they are entitled to everything these days. I say if someone is willing to release their work for free, be grateful for it, and don't expect more than they give. They don't have to do what they do and if you treat them badly, you could give them reason to stop.
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Offline reidrac

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #6 on: 12:10, 11 April 16 »
I don't see the problem. If a person has taken time and effort into writing a game, they are under no obligation to make it freely available.

Releasing the binary alone for free is something you should be grateful for. To expect the entire source for free with minimal/no restrictions is just rude IMO. Open source is great for some, but if someone doesn't want to subscribe to it then what is the problem? You cant enforce it on someone.

Everyone thinks they are entitled to everything these days. I say if someone is willing to release their work for free, be grateful for it, and don't expect more than they give. They don't have to do what they do and if you treat them badly, you could give them reason to stop.

I'm not sure @FloppySoftware was implying that, sounds to me like he wasn't sure on what to do himself with his code. Sometimes communities set de facto standards, but sometimes they don't.

Also there's the fact that depending on the tools you use, you may need to use an specific license. For example, cpctelera is GPL so any game built with it should be released with source code (IMHO a nice thing, as the cpctelera establishes as a common dev platform, having real world examples is essential).

Anyway, who's going to enforce the licence? As I said, a hairy topic :)
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Offline AMSDOS

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #7 on: 12:59, 11 April 16 »
I was under the impression a License covers your butt, so should something happen to ones computer though the use of your program, you're protected under the License that the user must agree to (even if they haven't read it, cause no-one can pled otherwise and claim damages).
CP/M really opens a can of worms because of the range of computer systems it runs on, you can even get the odd bod who may want to test that COM file in DOS!
So making System Specific CP/M Software becomes tricky because you need to be able to test if the correct system is being used and I think that's difficult when it comes down to the number of computers which run CP/M.
Having said all that I haven't run into any problems with my CPC Specific Turbo Pascal stuff, probably because I say I don't guarantee these programs will work in my README.TXT before it rambles on. I think the only other guy who has Specific CP/M stuff on their site is John Elliott.
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Offline AMSDOS

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #8 on: 13:11, 11 April 16 »
Also there's the fact that depending on the tools you use, you may need to use an specific license. For example, cpctelera is GPL so any game built with it should be released with source code (IMHO a nice thing, as the cpctelera establishes as a common dev platform, having real world examples is essential).



I recall a Freeware C Compiler (available under a number of PC platforms), which was like this, so whenever someone wrote a program with it, the Source had to be distributed under the GPL licensing agreement I think.


Not sure how old Amstrad compilers compare, I wrote to Hisoft regarding one using their Software & got no reply, which could either mean "No you cannot use it" or "Isn't a problem as long as no significant is made as an result", which I think the later is what most people presume.
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Offline reidrac

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #9 on: 14:05, 11 April 16 »

I recall a Freeware C Compiler (available under a number of PC platforms), which was like this, so whenever someone wrote a program with it, the Source had to be distributed under the GPL licensing agreement I think.


Not sure how old Amstrad compilers compare, I wrote to Hisoft regarding one using their Software & got no reply, which could either mean "No you cannot use it" or "Isn't a problem as long as no significant is made as an result", which I think the later is what most people presume.

I can't tell about that freeware C compiler, but usually compilers or code generators (eg, flex and bison) they usually include an exception that allows compiler (or generated code) to use any other license.

For example, SDCC is mostly GPL but (quoting their readme): "code or object files generated by SDCC suite are not licensed, so they can be used in FLOSS or proprietary (closed source) applications". Also most of the SDCC runtimes are GPL, but they include a "LE" (linking exception) "which allows linking of sdcc run time libraries with proprietary (closed source) applications".

IP laws in some countries are younger than 8-bit computers. People often mention piracy and "legality" referring to those early days of computing, for example in Spain, but the actual law that introduced computer programs was passed in 1987. So... yeah.
« Last Edit: 14:19, 11 April 16 by reidrac »
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Offline FloppySoftware

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #10 on: 22:28, 11 April 16 »
Thanks everyone for your commens, they are very appreciated!  :)
 
It seems that there is a different reply from each developer.   ;)
 
I use to distribute only in binary form the software I can't say it's in its final state (or, if you prefer, its source code is a mess, yet).  :laugh:
 
All my other projects are distributed with source code, under the GPL license.
 
The problem I see, is that I know that some people is modifying my software, but they are not sharing their improvements with anybody.  ::)
 
Yes, I now: it is not compulsory to share their work, if they don't distribute it, but... I'm not sure if this is what I want for my software.  :-\
 
Only one person has shared with me his improvements, and I'm very grateful with him because this. His work is part now of TE, my (our) small text editor.  :)
 
On the other side, I know about other people that asked me some questions about porting, improving, etc. some of my projects, but when I asked them about share their work, they... vanished.  :'(
 
Thanks again.  :)
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Offline AMSDOS

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #11 on: 13:37, 12 April 16 »
I can't tell about that freeware C compiler, but usually compilers or code generators (eg, flex and bison) they usually include an exception that allows compiler (or generated code) to use any other license.


Yeah I wasn't totally reliant on my comments and could well be mistaken, the program in question is GNU GCC, but according to wikipedia, Proprietary or Free Software can be produced, it could of simply have been a condition one has to agree with when modifying GCC itself.

Quote
For example, SDCC is mostly GPL but (quoting their readme): "code or object files generated by SDCC suite are not licensed, so they can be used in FLOSS or proprietary (closed source) applications". Also most of the SDCC runtimes are GPL, but they include a "LE" (linking exception) "which allows linking of sdcc run time libraries with proprietary (closed source) applications".


SDCC like GCC falls under the GPL License, and would be subject to the same conditions I would of thought.
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Offline AMSDOS

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #12 on: 13:50, 12 April 16 »
Thanks everyone for your commens, they are very appreciated!  :)
 
It seems that there is a different reply from each developer.   ;)
 
I use to distribute only in binary form the software I can't say it's in its final state (or, if you prefer, its source code is a mess, yet).  :laugh:
 
All my other projects are distributed with source code, under the GPL license.
 
The problem I see, is that I know that some people is modifying my software, but they are not sharing their improvements with anybody.  ::)
 
Yes, I now: it is not compulsory to share their work, if they don't distribute it, but... I'm not sure if this is what I want for my software.  :-\
 
Only one person has shared with me his improvements, and I'm very grateful with him because this. His work is part now of TE, my (our) small text editor.  :)
 
On the other side, I know about other people that asked me some questions about porting, improving, etc. some of my projects, but when I asked them about share their work, they... vanished.  :'(
 
Thanks again.  :)


Well you'll probably have a better understanding with that's happening in the GPL, have you check v3 to see what it involves?
I think the problem is if someone is taking your program and enhancing it, without distributing it, a License (and I could be wrong here), will only handle the distribution aspects of a piece of software, which a writer unfortunately cannot do all that much about, but it's a whole different matter if the software goes online or onto another form of Hardware media.
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Offline Munchausen

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Re: Best license for retro software projects?
« Reply #13 on: 16:07, 12 April 16 »
SDCC like GCC falls under the GPL License, and would be subject to the same conditions I would of thought.

GCC has an exception in its license to allow proprietary programs to link to run time provided by gcc and still remain proprietary. I don't know about sdcc. See here for gcc: License

Edit: sdcc has a similar exception SDCC library source file license header - SDCC wiki
« Last Edit: 16:10, 12 April 16 by Munchausen »