0.8 - Legal-eze: The devil in the detail...

Submitted by Trispis on Fri, 2006-09-15 15:09

Any code, other than Official WARPEDcore Code (see below), referenced or listed in this document is licensed by its respective author. The author of this document claims no affiliation with such code other than that of 'fair use reference' based on general knowledge of its existence (i.e., licensing for SGP, Keran's Weather, Myrddin's Bulletin Board, etc. is deferred to their respective authors and/or maintainers).

Talk trash about me if you must, but... while I'm alive, please show me respect for having done the initial work to make this available to the public by retaining my asserted claim thereto, therewith, and/or therein.

The WARPEDcore Community Enforced, Documentation and Inspired Application of Softcode License.

WCEDIASL? Okay. that's just... excessive. Back to The WARPEDcore Softcode and Documentation License (WSDL).

We're talking about credit for the inspired application of pieces of a larger work (namely, features of the softcoding platforms of the MUD family). It's like talking about patenting something you made out of tinker toys. It's TINKER TOYS, for crying out loud! But still... that is a pretty darned cool thing you made out of them.

Due to the nature of its programming environment, Softcode requires that (except in the 'proverbial vaccuum') its produced 'programs' be published (or, more precisely, made visible to someone other than the author). As such, it falls in the realm of text (as opposed to virtual machinery or other newfangled concepts of the digital age, which include binary executables and such). As text, the only area of relevant applicable law is copyright law. And, because of the "near-public-domain" mandated state of this particular programming environment, there is little room to make any meaningful 'enforcible' claim (meaning - proving measurable damage in a court of law, without being charged oneself for making a mockery of a Judge's court).

We have to assume that people (potentially even crooked, malicious, or spitefully mean-spirited people that you don't like) are gonna use your code. I mean.. that's the point, right? You're wanting to let SOMEONE use it... and because of that, there's potential for others (to whom you may not have explicitly, in person, mano a mano, granted such permission) to procure use of it as well.

And, knowing that, you'd like to somehow ensure that you're properly credited for your effort... and to further ensure that this credit is carried along with your product, wherever it ends up going.

At first this might seem like a pointlessly overwhelming challenge for such a relatively inconsequential programming environment. But there is a silver lining. The MU-niverse is rather small. At a generous estimate, I'd start with a population of say 1,000,000 people: less than 10,000 active/serious softcoders (who would care a nit about a license), less than 1,000 active game gods with more than a year experience, and less than 100 currently active people with more than 10 years experience. In a MU-niverse so small and tightly-interconnected (everyone knows someone on some other game, etc. - heh, the seven degrees of separation from Javelin?), there is much more room for placing emphasis on respect for the person, rather than respect for the position. That is, we don't have to respect every game god of every game regardless how small as though they were the president of an independent 500 year old nationstate just because s/he had a spare $25/mo to lease a server somewhere - instead, respect is something hard-earned (in the sense that it can be earned through positive contribution and/or effort) and time-honored (time-honored in two senses: 1. that it is inheritable/transferrable in 'long-standing games', and 2. it is based on, and honors, longevity/experience in the MU-niverse itself).

Thus, the MU-niverse is both 'infinite in potential' yet simultaneously small enough that it naturally retains a community feel... and, thus, some of the innate features and qualities of the community social environment. Of specific relevance to this topic (copyright/license), is the fact that, if you are discovered to be using someone else's product in a manner which disrespects that person, you are subject to (and likely to actually suffer from) social consequences (peer pressure is very powerful in the MU-niverse). And it is upon these features of the MU-niverse that the WARPEDcore will build its license. The WARPEDcore will assume that the MU-niverse protects its members as an innate survival feature. Specifically, with reference to the crediting and/or licensing of softcode, it will be assumed that very little effort needs be placed into asserting one's rights - they are, for the most part, assumed (assumed to at least follow the spirit of larger, related U-niverses, such as - in relation to this topic - real life copyright laws and licenses). That is, to say... if you create some original work, put your name on it, and put it 'out there for others to use', there is a strong enough force in the MU-niverse to enforce certain 'implied rights' (e.g., if Fubar B. Wibblemeep strips my name off of my product and starts distributing it, verbatim, as though it were his own, the MU-niverse would catch him... probably quite quickly... and not for violation of any documented 'law' in any country - but more for a violation of community trust-spirit).

Borrowing from Moses' famous document,

To users: Thou shalt not covet, nor steal, thy neighbor's softcode. (Use it, distribute it, build upon it and/or otherwise change it to suit thy needs. Just don't claim it as wholly thine own... lest "the court of public opinion" shalt surely catch thee and punish thee.)

To producers: Thou shalt contribute thy softcode freely, and in full confidence that thou shalt receive retained credit for thy contributions.

And from this, we arrive at the ~`legal attribute. A single attribute in which to assert, assign, delineate, specify, and/or document authorship/maintainership credit and terms of use. For WARPEDcore, it is deemed appropriate to include the following:

* a URL pointing to further information (and optionally, name of a person or group).


&~`legal foo=Joe Softcoder http://my.softcode.mush

&~`legal foo=The WARPEDcore Project. See: http://community.pennmush.org

&~`legal foo=Trispis @ M*U*S*H, License: WSDL http://community.pennmush.org.

As the author of this document, I have full faith in the MU-niverse that no more than this is required (in fact, I explicitly don't think a link to the specific page of this specific book is necessary) and, further, that removal of such documenation in the spirit of fraud would violate a community value so powerfully self-preserving that it is capable of being its own deterrent. (I can't force you not to remove the above attribute. It's like the 'do not remove under penalty of law' tags on your livingroom throw pillows - you removed them. so what. no one cares. just don't go bragging that you made the pillows by hand from antique material you inherited from your great grandmother; and if you inherit a situation where such documentation was removed prior to your inheritance, don't claim your grandmother made the pillows. The MU-niverse will simply laugh at you and possibly make a public example of you... possibly for a very long time, too, at least until you "get it".) I'll leave the details of this philosophy to the MU-niverse itself to maintain.

There's a nifty 'audio tagline' used by Ten Thirteen Productions (The X-Files, Millenium). It is simply the voice of a young boy proudly asserting, "I made this." (ref. TV Acres)

That's the perfect expression of what we, both as individuals and as a community-oriented MU-niverse, want to protect. I believe this.

And now, here's our 'legal-eze' to which the WARPEDcore "~`legal" pointer attribute will be pointing... Based on the BSD and MIT templates, I leave in place the WARPEDcore Softcode and Documentation License as it was originally written, the only modification being adaptation to this web-book format.

The WARPEDcore Manifesto (the document on which this book is based), this collaborative web-book, and all softcode (including softcode installation scripts) referenced in this document as being "Official" WARPEDcore Modules (i.e., ~reboot, ~cron, and other softcode scripts designated as portions of the WARPEDcore Project), unless otherwise specified in their individual documentation, are released and maintained under the terms of the following License, DISCLAIMER, and Copyright.