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Wii Businesses Nintendo Entertainment Games

Atari Sub-Sub-Contractor Used ScummVM For Wii Game 313

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-the-cookie-jar dept.
MBCook writes "In several recent releases, it seems that Atari published games for the Wii based on ScummVM, which was released under the GPL. Atari contracted Majesco, who contracted a company named Mistic Software with offices in the Ukraine. When the fact that the GPL was being violated was brought to Atari's attention, they were kind at first until it was discovered that Nintendo doesn't allow open source software to be used with the Wii SDK, so updated documentation mentioning the GPL wasn't an available solution. So, what happens to the games? 'There is a period of time in which all current copies have to be sold. Any copies beyond this period or any reprints get fined with quite high fine for each new/remaining copy. The remaining stock has to be destoryed [sic].' Atari and Majesco seem to have been very cooperative about this whole thing, but had their hands tied by the agreement with Nintendo."
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Atari Sub-Sub-Contractor Used ScummVM For Wii Game

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  • by dmomo (256005) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @10:51AM (#28453417) Homepage

    Here you go:
    http://sev-notes.blogspot.com/2009/06/gpl-scummvm-and-violations.html [blogspot.com]

    From The blog Post:

      The finals

    Thus, the facts were:
            * There is a GPL violation (their denial has to be proven in a court, strings in executables and the bug above clearly show it)
            * Atari could not release source codes because of Nintendo NDA
            * Atari could not put GPL clause because of Nintendo NDA
            * Atari could not "buy out" ScummVM from us
            * There is no possibility to double license ScummVM, at least SCUMM engine
            * We do not need any money as a "bribe to keep silent"

  • by bzzfzz (1542813) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @10:55AM (#28453483)

    Provisions prohibiting open source software are not unusual in development and distribution agreements for closed systems. There are similar provisions for all gaming platforms, for example, and for signed drivers for Windows. On the other hand, paid licenses for third-party libraries are fine as long as there is no requirement to release source code.

    Something to think about if you believe the playing field is level.

  • Re:GPL Grey Area (Score:5, Informative)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:04AM (#28453649) Homepage

    The problem, from my readings of the story and associated stuff, seems to be that ScummVM was ported to the Wii (or at least to the official Nintendo APIs), but didn't release the changes. That's probably a GPL violation.

    The really big issue from the initial complaint was not that ScummVM was being used (they seem rather happy about that), but that it was used without credit or attribution. That's a clear GPL violation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:10AM (#28453741)

    Of course, Majesco made Psychonaughts, so the idea of booting their content off of a console for any reason sounds like a suicidal path.

    DoubleFine made Psychonauts. Majesco was merely the publisher.

  • by julesh (229690) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:21AM (#28453913)

    Based on what people posted for the Jammie Thomas $1.92 million settlement article, opinions will likely be divided into these different viewpoints:

    1. Atari should pay 3x the retail cost of the GPL code. 3 x $0 = $0

    Actually, the retail cost of GPL code is "you give us your source code changes back, including a way of building the software and making it run". I think the ScummVM authors would be more than happy with just 1x this.

    2. It's only copyright which should be abolished anyways, no harm no foul

    This is a fringe opinion on slashdot, held by maybe 1% of users. A lot of us would argue for shorter copyright terms, but few for an absolute abolition.

    3. Code wants to be free, man... why is the GPL holding it back?

    The code that isn't free is the modified version of ScummVM that runs on the Wii. A lot of would like to have a hold of that, for many reasons. We really want it to be free.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

    by AndrewNeo (979708) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:21AM (#28453921) Homepage
    What? You don't sign at compile-time, you sign the package after.
  • Apparently, once it was realized that Atari couldn't legally distribute the game under any circumstances (Because they can't just give the source away, it has to compilable, and it can't be without the SDK, which they obviously can't give away.), Atari's lawyers then went crazy and decided to threaten ScummVM with a lawsuit for reverse engineering...something.

    What, exactly, I don't know, as I don't know what stuff Atari owns that ScummVM reverse engineered.

    But threaten they did, at least to the point that ScummVM gave up on the 'distribute the source' and said 'As long as you stop shipping the game, it's fine, we will not sue'.

    Legally, it seems unclear if Atari could actually get the source, as the code went through at least two subcontractors, in three different countries. And going to court to get a port to the DS that required the Nintendo SDK (Rendering it illegal to actually distribute binaries of, and impossible to have people compile themselves) seemed of dubious value anyway. So any suit forcing Atari to release the code would be sorta silly anyway.

    Anyway, I wasn't trying to make Atari out to be angels, I was simply pointing out that, if not for Nintendo's rules about their SDK, Atari would be fine with just releasing the game OSS. (I mean, it's not as if you can play it without the copyrighted data files, which would not be under the GPL.) Once they realized they couldn't do that, the lawyers said 'Oh, crap, we can't make this legal with both ScummVM and Nintendo, and hence we're legally liable either way. So we're going to have to threaten to countersue one of those guys to make them preemptively drop a suit against us.'.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:37AM (#28454223) Journal
    The GPL has a specific exemption for libraries that are part of the operating system. This is why GPL'd code is allowed to link against things like the win32 dlls on Windows.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:39AM (#28454257) Journal

    Actually, the retail cost of GPL code is "you give us your source code changes back, including a way of building the software and making it run".

    No it isn't. The GPL contains absolutely no requirement that you give any changes back. The only requirements relate to forward distribution. If you make changes and distribute those changes, then you have to give the code and accompanying rights to whoever receives the binary. You do not have to give them back to the original author, and neither does anyone else.

  • First of all, ScummVM doesn't make any rules about what platforms can run 'their games', for the simply fact that ScummVM does not, in fact, own any games.

    All games that ScummVM runs are owned by someone else, and if you want to run them a platform not currently supported by ScummVM, feel free to figure out how do that. Either by porting ScummVM and following the licensing, or writing your own interpreter, or buying one. (There is a DS interpreter for LucasArt games from LucasArt.)

    And don't forget to license the game itself from the owner if you wish to sell it, which you have to do regardless of whether or not you're using ScummVM.

    Secondly, ScummVM has no rules at all about what platforms it can run on. It has rules against what software it can be linked against, and how it can be compiled, and what you have to do after you distribute it. But absolutely no rules about what platform it runs on.

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Informative)

    by shentino (1139071) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:54AM (#28454517)
    Even end user monkeys that don't do squat for development are contributing just the same.

    Ever heard of beta testing? Bug reports? Performance reviews?
  • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:58AM (#28454589)

    so Nintendo can't be said to be forbidding opensource solely for being opensource, so there seems to be some sort of misunderstanding or miscommunication here.

    Open-source isn't forbidden. Opening your source is forbidden. So BSD code, fine. GPL cannot be used because Nintendo won't allow you to republish the code.

  • by acoster (812556) <acoster@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:12PM (#28454831)

    Sony allows Linux to run on the PS3 to allow it to be taxed as a computer, not as a video game.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

    by mhall119 (1035984) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:57PM (#28455671) Homepage Journal

    The platform, no but it could expose any libraries provided by Nintendo as part of the SDK which are statically linked against the GPL'ed code even though Nintendo was not the party violating the GPL.

    As Nintendo owns the copyright on the SDK, only they can re-license it, not Atari. The GPL is quite specific, if Atari cannot distribute their code in compliance with both Nintendo's SDK license, and the GPL, then they cannot distribute their code at all. It doesn't force the Nintendo SDK into being GPL.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:35PM (#28456307)

    nope [blogspot.com]

    # Atari could not "buy out" ScummVM from us
    # There is no possibility to double license ScummVM, at least SCUMM engine
    # We do not need any money as a "bribe to keep silent"

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