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Nexuiz Founder Licenses It For Non-GPL Use 246

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-anger-your-base dept.
King InuYasha writes "Nexuiz founder Lee Vermuelen, along with several other core developers, have licensed the Nexuiz name, Nexuiz.com domain, and DarkPlaces engine to Illfonic in a deal to get Nexuiz on consoles. However, the kink is that the engine has been licensed for non-GPL usage. That is, Illfonic has no intention of contributing their code back to the main GPL Nexuiz project. As a result, Nexuiz has been forked into a new project called Xonotic. While the main Nexuiz site doesn't mention that Illfonic has no intention of contributing back, the Xonotic project FAQ explains what's going on. Additionally, the Xonotic project states that Illfonic 'may be in violation of the GPL as most contributors to the Nexuiz codebase have not relicensed their work for inclusion in a closed-source project.'"
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Nexuiz Founder Licenses It For Non-GPL Use

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  • I was surprised when I heard about this. I'll definitely be following it closely.
  • Freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Monday March 22, 2010 @03:57PM (#31574268)
    The people who contributed their code to Nexuiz under a Freedom license have every right to be pissed if their code is then sold off against their wishes. If the Nexuiz developers want to do so then stop stealing and re-write what isn't yours. The GPL isn't a charity to be exploited - it is a philosophy that says cooperation enriches everyone. If you don't agree with GPL code: DON'T USE IT and write your freaking own. Leaches.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)

      Leaches? They're like a percolating liquid flowing through the GPL code and dissolving bits and pieces of it to carry away (and possibly pollute the surrounding code environment)?

      Or did you mean the parasites?

    • If they got enough of the core developers on board who's to say they aren't rewriting the whatever sections of the code they don't have license to sell? Does it warrant looking into on behalf of the developers who aren't on board to make sure their code isn't getting used without them being compensated? Yes. But we shouldn't be jumping right to, "OMG they're stealing!" when they may not be.
      • Well, even just a rewrite won't be enough. They would need to re-engineer... Otherwise, it's just creating a derivative work (After all, if you have the exact same story, but with different character names, it's still plagiarism)... Either that, or use a blind coding technique (I look to see what code needs to be written based on what's there and describe the function to you. You then write your own code without ever looking at the original). But I'd venture to say the re-engineered work would be a lot
    • by santax (1541065)
      Well while I fully agree with you, I think there is way more GPL code out there in closed products. Waiting for the DMCA to be lifted so we can reverse engineer it and check it. GPL/OSS is a system with one big flaw. It all depends on trust. And while this is very good in most cases it also means that there are parts of the world where the GPL has no legal value. There will be people using that really cool function and there will be companies that will build a businessmodel out of your hard work. But... W
    • by e2d2 (115622)

      It really depends on who owns the license. If it is GPL'd by the contributor then it's within their rights to restrict usage. If on the other hand they signed ownership over to another copyright holder then it's not something one can fight really. They should have kept ownership and in turn their absolute control over the source. I might be wrong, IANAL. All I know is it depends on the owner, defined in the license. Assignment of ownership is, rightly, up to the owner.

      http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk/resources/ip [oss-watch.ac.uk]

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      If you contribute to a project and sign off on the 'X Company owns this code now' statement, you know exactly what you're getting into.

      If you didn't sign that statement, they probably don't own the code and they're breaking the law.

      Either way, it has nothing to do with the GPL.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As far as I know (IANAL, IAAAC) the legality of this depends largely on one thing: did the code contributors reassign their copyrights to Nexuiz / the code maintainer, or did they retain it?

    • by Shimbo (100005)

      As far as I know (IANAL, IAAAC) the legality of this depends largely on one thing: did the code contributors reassign their copyrights to Nexuiz / the code maintainer, or did they retain it?

      Two things: did they get copyright assignments from contributors, and did they get non-GPL licences from all the third parties involved?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:04PM (#31574406)

    Without John Carmack and LordHavoc (Darkplaces engine developer) giving permission, they're in a huge mess. I wonder if they are using anything slurped up from other Quake engine projects? Even if the submitter of the code signed off, doesn't matter if they aren't the original author.

    Relicensing your code is fine, doing it to others... Well, people get in trouble with that with stolen commercial code as well as GPL. It's dishonest, no matter who it's done to, if it's not done with permission (either direct from all authors or through the terms of the license), they're opening themselves for a world of hurt. And destroying their reputation, as well.

    If the only thing that is truly being closed up is the interpreted gamecode and they are developing new artwork, there's nothing to see here...

    • by LordHavoc (1394093) on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:26PM (#31574792) Homepage
      The engine has been licensed as non-GPL for Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, these are very closed platforms and the game had no chance of reaching them under GPL, publishers would not touch it.

      IllFonic actively promotes the GPL Nexuiz for all operating systems.

      The console game code is being started fresh now that GDC is over, no GPL claims can apply to it.

      Note: Nexuiz 1.0 was to be a commercial game in the first place, but was GPLed for the enjoyment of everyone, this deal pertains to the name and concept, not the community enhancements that occurred after the original release.
      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:35PM (#31574936)

        So all Quake code and community contributions have been removed?

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          The quake code is available in a non-gpl distributable format, so it is not unreasonable to assume they did this correctly in that regard. Was any of the community contributed code GPL'd? If they don't throw their own GPL tag on the code when they send it back, I don't think it gets covered by GPL automatically.

          • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:33PM (#31575776)
            That is a good question, however, I would assume that it would be if the project itself is operating under the GPL, at least in the case of patches/changes to existing source code files. Since the only way for the user to have legal access to the source code to make the changes would require that person to agree to the GPL and this release their changes under the GPL, the "default" release for any said patch/change would thus be GPL, for anything else would mean they were in violation to even create the patch/change, as there was no non-GPL version for them to gain access to the source code before this change occurred.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Without John Carmack and LordHavoc (Darkplaces engine developer) giving permission, they're in a huge mess.

      LordHavoc is porting the Darkspaces engine to the PS3. I'm pretty sure that's more than enough sign that he's given permission.

      • by e2d2 (115622)

        Man I wish people called me Lord Havoc in conversation. That sounds sweet as hell.

        Who you calling?
        Lord Havoc.
        Oh my.

    • Lord Havoc will help then, and agree to this.

      Without John Carmack and LordHavoc (Darkplaces engine developer) giving permission, they're in a huge mess.

      What? will the police storm his offices?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwNSzoe28MQ&feature=player_embedded [youtube.com]

      hehehehe...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:05PM (#31574422)
    Google answers:

    Nexuiz is a first-person shooter which started as a Quake modification in the summer of 2001
  • by macraig (621737)

    This demonstrates an abuse of open source philosophy. It's an example of deliberately starting an open source project with no intention of keeping it open source: the intention is to milk the unpaid participation of others until the project reaches a certain critical mass - profitability - and then cordon it off. So here we have an open source project that isn't really, to go hand in hand with a "green revolution" that isn't really (because it's all just marketing)?

    • by macraig (621737)

      It might be less evil if the founders intended to SHARE the profits with all the contributors, but Hell's not cold enough for that yet, is it?

    • by Shimbo (100005)

      This demonstrates an abuse of open source philosophy. It's an example of deliberately starting an open source project with no intention of keeping it open source: the intention is to milk the unpaid participation of others until the project reaches a certain critical mass - profitability - and then cordon it off.

      It really depends on how much community involvement there actually was. If it was 99% the work of the core team, and they have licenced properly upstream, then I say good luck to them. There's a bit of an absence of actual contributors complaining, as far as I can tell.

    • by Dare nMc (468959)

      I take it your not a fan of the apache/BSD/APSL style licenses, because they are setup to explicitly allow exactly what you claim as "milking." Also note, this is 2 different companies Illfonic, who purchased the license never open sourced anything (at least related to the current article), they just purchased a license from Nexuiz. Nexuiz has not said anything about abandoning their open source work.
      This seams identical to what many opensource projects have done, from MySql to Apple and OS-x/Darwin. Wou

      • by macraig (621737)

        I happen to be altruistic enough to think that an entire economy could be based on open source, but only if *everyone* pays it forward. It would be like an open-ended barter system where everyone gives what they're best at, with the understanding that they'll receive in return later (or earlier) some of the things they're not themselves good at. A system of unilateral rather than mutual transactions, in other words. Of course it won't work if there's even one greedy rooster in the henhouse, so for now we

  • Some real info: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tei (520358) on Monday March 22, 2010 @04:27PM (#31574800) Journal

    There are a lot of quake game engines, most of then have a single person behind. Behind DarkPlaces is Lord Havoc.

    • Lord Havoc plan to commit to the GPL DarkPlaces version all the features that are worth it. This excluse any SDK bit, since the PS3 SDK EULA don't able to share that part. This mean that even if Illfonic will not contribute, Lord Havoc will, and that is what is important.
    • Illfonic have a license to use the engine from Id Software. And a license from Lord Havoc. If theres part for other people, will be removed/replaced by Lord Havoc code. The result will be a fully legal and Illfonic licensed closed source version of DarkPlaces
    • The new version of Nexuiz for consoles seems awesome. This is only good news for Nexuiz, that will get more exposure, more code ,...

    We normally see the other route, ... a closed source game (Quake engine from Quake) open source his engine. A open source game is created from a closed source game (FreeCiv from Civ ). This route is "new", a open source game spawns a closed source game.

    There has ben some discussions on the forums, but It has been mostly about the use of the name. Is like how Firefox started as Phoenix so got renamed to Firebird... (only to be renamed again to Firefox!). But this time Illfonic let the community continue using the name.. . Of course, some people really dislike the very idea :-/. To this date, not contributor has claimed steal code or something like that.

    Vermeulen is a hardworking individual, and has push this game (nexuiz) for more than 9 years now (And If you have work on a open source project, you know how hard is to get people moving forward). I have only good things to say about Lord Havoc and the very high quality of his code. He control all the code of DarkPlaces to be of the best quality possible, this mean rewriting things to get to his standard of quality. Is this rewriting all code that probably has made possible to closed-source the engine.

    HOW?

    1) You get the original source code from the Id Software FTP, and a license for it (probably legacy, since is not for sale now).
    2) You put all that code in the CVS. This code is the original, and you have a license for it.
    3) Lord Havoc commit all his code changes to this CVS. Since he own his own changes (he is the author of these changes) he can do it.
    4) The resulting code is both authored by Id Software and Lord Havoc.
    5) This code is licensed by Lord Havoc to Illphonic (Illphonic already have a license from Id Software).
    6) If theres some code from other authors, Illphonic acquire rights from these authors.
    7) TADA!... you have a closed source engine you can use to create games for XBox 360 and Playstation 3 (I suppose lots of changes are needed to achieve this compatibility, but you have the basics of the engine).

    The authors of a work can "relicense" his work. This why Id Software can release the quake source engine as gpl AND a different license. Lord Havoc is the same as Id Software, so is doing the exact same thing, releasing his work on a different license.

    • by santax (1541065)
      This is actually an interesting read sir. Thank you.
      • by Tei (520358)

        Thanks, hope this helps clear some lunacy around the issue, and the discussion is a healty one.

        I have worked for the Nexuiz project in 2002, so I know the topic :-/.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd (701)

      It's definately possible to prove that ALL nonapproved contributor code was removed, but it's going to be EXTREMELY difficult (see the AT&T/BSD legal battle...). In theory possible, but I think this is going to wind up becoming a very interesting test of the GPL.

      "This why Id Software can release the quake source engine as gpl AND a different license." - That's a MASSIVE difference, as the Quake source engine was developed as closed source and then later released as GPL - it's easy for iD to prove that

      • by Tei (520358)

        "Also, what's the history regarding licensing of the content (artwork, levels, models, etc)? - These are all clearly "new" developments that have little to no traceability back to the original iD release, since the original content of Quake was NOT covered in the GPL release. Have all content contributors approved this?"

        I think nothing of the original art from Quake will be in use. Its very old art, low resolution stuff, 256 colors.. you don't really want to go there. I have read that are tryiing to license

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

        I imagine version control would help to identify who contributed what piece of code.

        Most version control systems I've used have a 'blame' command (some even have 'praise' as an alias ;-) ) that will show you who contributed each line. Every line that isn't by an author who has agreed to the new license means you have work to do - either get the author's approval, or replace the code.

    • You left out:

      6.5) If there's still code in there that was contributed by somebody who can't or won't allow it to go closed/proprietary, rewrite it.

  • They've been /.-ed (Score:2, Informative)

    by fredrik_haard (720279)
    Mhm? There's an update up on the Nexuiz news page: "There appears to still be some confusion over this change. I would like to make more things clear: *Illfonic has obtained the rights to the Nexuiz's engine code, along with a license for the Quake1 engine. The engine has been licensed as non-GPL for Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, these are very closed platforms and the game had no chance of reaching them under GPL. *The Nexuiz's engine's prime developer (LordHavoc) is currently working on the
  • As much as I love playing Nexiuz I can't really support this move. It's off my PC and will never return. I'm sure no-one really cares, but I do, and I guess that's what it's all about in the end - what I can live with.
    If PS3 is closed - then DON'T RELEASE TO IT...
    Back to BZFlag...

  • They're going through all of this work for nothing. Games of this style do not sell well anymore. It's a niche genre at best these days. It's not the late 90's or early 2000's.

    Ask Epic how Unreal Tournament 3 did. People don't seem to want the arcade style Quake/UT shooters anymore. If they want to succeed they need to update other things besides the engine... The only non-realistic online shooter that has done well at all in the past few years is Team Fortress 2. Good luck competing with that.

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