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Open Source Programming Software Games

Ask Slashdot: How To Get Old Commercial Software To Be Open-Sourced? 234

First time accepted submitter Optic7 writes "Many gamers have probably dreamed about the idea of an old favorite game or other no longer supported or developed commercial software being converted to an open-source license so that it could be updated to add new features, support new hardware, other operating systems, etc. However, this type of change of license seems exceedingly rare, unless the copyright holder itself decides on its own that it would be beneficial. The only examples I could think of or was able to find in a brief internet search were Blender (3D animation software that had its source code bought from creditors after a crowd-funding campaign) and Warzone 2100 (Game that had its source code released after a successful petition). With those two examples of different strategies in mind, have any of you ever participated in any efforts of this kind, and what did you learn from it that may be useful to someone else attempting the same thing? Even if you have not participated, do you have any suggestions or ideas that may be useful to such an effort?"
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Ask Slashdot: How To Get Old Commercial Software To Be Open-Sourced?

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  • The google's way ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @03:07AM (#40560989) Journal

    Google did open-source some of the commercial-wares - by acquiring the company

  • Re:ID (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @03:13AM (#40561035)

    Yes, but they develop everything in-house. Once you start contracting for the engine, art, sound, etc., it becomes more difficult.

    And what company wants to release code today in our litigious environment. Patent trolls would have a field day. It is safer for most companies to keep their code locked up than to allow these patent trolls to freely search and find 6 lines of code that they think violates a patent.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @03:33AM (#40561125)

    A lot of folks wanted IBM to open source OS/2 after its sunset. One of the stated reasons why they didn't open source it, was because parts were jointly developed with Microsoft and others, who had joint copyrights. There would have been too many legal and copyright hassles necessary to get open sourcing done. Device Drivers were especially a big problem.

    This could be true with a lot of other dormant software. Maybe nobody really knows what potential copyright issues are involved, and nobody wants to take on the liability by open sourcing it themselves, because it might cause litigation grief later.

  • by hawkinspeter ( 831501 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @03:38AM (#40561147)
    I don't see that as too much of a problem. Freedom to modify software running on your own computer is important, but you shouldn't need to modify code running on someone else's computer.
  • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @03:46AM (#40561185)
    Plenty of games, even old ones are not entirely inhouse developed, why reinvent the wheel when plenty have already done it before you. Hence they buy 3rd party engines and routines that they have no rights to open source thus dooming the game to never be open sourced even if the game developer would not mind doing so.
  • Re:Become Rich (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @03:54AM (#40561217)

    And even "buying the rights to the source" may be easier said than done: it only works if the complete source is copyrighted by that company.

    It is very well possible that they use bits and pieces of software written by others, for which they do not have the right to redistribute the source, but only the binary linked to their own software. This I have seen before as argument why a source could not be released, or if released, only incomplete and would not compile.

  • by bhcompy ( 1877290 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @04:06AM (#40561257)
    They're not selling it, they're just using it. No one bitches when Random Dude modifies code on his end for his own purposes, why does it matter if it's Random Corp instead?
  • by bhcompy ( 1877290 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @04:48AM (#40561409)
    No, they're not selling the program. They're using the program as a means to make money. There is nothing wrong with that.
  • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:56AM (#40561885)

    Most hardened Free Software advocates consider Affero to be non-free. It introduces usage restrictions, which go against Freedom 0 ("the right to use the software for any purpose"). It also prevents most code reuse: you can't take a part and put it inside your program if it interacts with users in a way that doesn't provide means of file transfers.

    Sadly, RMS has brain farts sometimes. The GFDL, for example, with a literal reading prevents locking the door to a room you have your computer in: keys and door locks might be 14th century technology, but are still a technology. Or, you can attach an "Ode to Hitler" to the work and have it immutable and unremovable.

    Of course, erring the other way is wrong too. Some folks says it's good that clang is BSD-licensed. Wrong: that allows Apple to take your contributions and close the whole rest of the toolchain. I can't cross-compile for Mac, can't test build without being a Mac user, etc. With Windows there are no such problems: I run daily test builds for Windows from the comfort of my Debian box, can test any version of Windows in a virtual machine, etc. But on Mac? I have to beg someone to run a Mac build, and if there's a toolchain-related problem, there is nothing that can be done. Can't build stuff for OS X 10.4 because the compiler crashes (bug long fixed upstream...), can't build for PPC-based Mac, and so on. This is why freedoms ensured by the GPL are so important.

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