[WF-General] License Stupidity

Bryce Harrington bryce at neptune.net
Mon Apr 15 19:54:47 PDT 2002

Creating another separate license for media is not a good idea, and sort
of misses the point of why the media is licensed.

The reason for licensing media under the GPL is so that it is
license-compatible with GPL-covered software (and games) that the image
might be distributed as a part of.

The reason for licensing media under the FDL is so that it is
license-compatible with non-software stuff covered under the FDL, such
as the website, RPG manuals, software docs, etc.  It was thought at the
time that there would be an advantage to having those things covered by
the FDL than by the GPL.  The FDL was not chosen "for" the media files
because it is a particularly good fit; in fact as others have noticed,
it's a rather poor fit for anything but documentation.  It was chosen to
replace the OpenContent license, that we had originally used to cover
materials on the website and so forth.  In hindsight, given how the FDL
hasn't really caught on in a big way in the community, I think we could
have just taken the approach of forcing all documentation to be under
the GPL license and dispensed with the FDL altogether.  It'd have saved
a lot of confusion in any case.

There are numerous other licenses out there, some of which include
language which might make them sound more appropriate to media.
However, do note that no matter what license one would choose, AFAIK it
will not be compatible with the GPL.  Heck, even the FDL is not
compatible with the GPL.  Thus, if the material is to be useful at all
to WorldForge it must be available in one of the compatible licenses.

If you ask GNU to write a new license, they will most definitely say,
"Just use the GPL."  If you decide to write a new license, you will be
reinventing the wheel and wasting time better spent on something
useful, and it won't solve the problem anyway.  If you use one of the
other existing licenses out there, you'd still have to dual-license it
under the GPL and FDL to be able to use it in software or documents
covered by those licenses, such as the things being developed at

This licensing thread really is getting old.  Please note:
   * The draft version of the new GNU FDL includes language specifically
     stating that PNG's are an example of a transparent format.
   * That a flattened PNG is pretty much useless for editing does
     suggest that in fact it is inappropriate as a transparent format.
   * I doubt we'll ever get a clear answer about this, unless the FDL
     got argued in court, which of course would result in the MPAA
     ending up being able to charge us extra license fees.  ;-)


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