What license is the Bukkit Project under?

Discussion in 'Bukkit News' started by EvilSeph, Jan 5, 2011.

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    Raphfrk

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    Bukkit (the API that plugins link to) shouldn't be GPL. It is fully intended to have plugins link to it.

    They do on the github site.

    If that is their plan, then fair enough. However, they say that they don't intend (no legal weight) to force people to open source their code. It sounds like GPL is only temporary measure and they want to be more flexible. We don't know the discussions behind the scenes. There might be some legal issue with the fact that it is linking to a minecraft.
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    The_Wrecker

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    Fine, then I might write my own wrapper. Don't think you are the only ones capable of making one. You are slapping plugin makers in the face. You do know that don't you? I want to have a choice when I release a plugin.

    I totally agree that any changes to bukkit should stay with bukkit. Thus the open source idea is totally fine to that extend. Closed source would also be fine with me as well though (ie. it is YOUR CHOICE).
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    EvilSeph Bukkit Team Lead Administrator

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    I don't know why you're getting so worked up. xrobau isn't on the Bukkit Team and thus has no say in the matter.
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    The_Wrecker

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    I know he isn't on the team(I checked later on), but this line he wrote got me 'worked up' : "or they can write their own damned wrapper."

    I think Bukkit can be great. So keep up the good work. I'm just a bit worried about the license issues.
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    root

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    Again, though, I have to stress that if you're not going to apply any legal weight to a license, BSD is the way to go. It's just a polite way of saying 'please don't pass our code off as yours' without getting into the whole drama surrounding copyright/copyleft. To use a well-established and carefully crafted license such as GPL would be a detriment in the hypothetical case in which a person or company violated it and you failed to pursue legal proceedings.

    The GPL isn't something to just slap on your program without fully knowing and appreciating what it is, and why you're using it. It'd be quite shoddy for other OS devs if, in the aforementioned hypothetical situation, whoever did it got away with it because you weren't willing to press the case.

    You see my point? :) I'm just saying, if you are going to be using GPL then use it properly and be ready to defend it (plenty lawyers do provide pro bono services for GPL/OS issues) and otherwise, don't use it.
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    xrobau

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    But I expect to be writing a whole pile of stuff. I'm an open source developer (feel free to google me), and when I release stuff under the GPL, I expect it to be under the GPL and treated as such. As does every other developer who does so.

    We GPL our stuff because it's the right thing to do. And we fight GPL violations because violating the GPL is the WRONG thing to do.

    And have you guys already forgotten what happens when closed source mods start appearing? May I remind you about MCadmin? The only way against this is scrupulous enforcement of open source code.
    --- merged: Jan 6, 2011 9:33 PM ---
    Uh, actually I do. If you expect open source developers to write code for your mod, then you have to be clear on the licence. If you're going to licence it under the BSD licence, then do that, but don't say 'Uh, GPL Kinda' and then expect people not to get upset when you don't act like you are licensing under the GPL.

    If you want to BSD your code, then go right ahead - it's got nothing to do with me. But you'll be losing a lot of goodwill from potential developers. The GPL forces an ecosystem to form. If I submit my auto function detection code to Bukkit, I don't want someone taking it, BSDing it and then hiding it away inside some for-pay stuff that never sees the light of day. I want someone to tell me that my code sucks, and then make it better, so someone else can tell them that THEIR code sucks, ad infinitum.
    fnordianslip likes this.
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    root

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    Indeed. There are benifits either way:

    1. You can adopt GPL/LGPL and fight for the rights of OS software devs, perhaps accumilating a community of skilled, mature programmers that are willing to donate their time and effort in Bukkit development as a point of principle.
    2. You can adopt BSD as a middle ground, still gaining some mature and experienced (though likely less idealistic) programmers, at the same time as preserving simplicity and staying out of software legal politics.

    Or you can:

    3. Adopt GPL/LGPL and fail to fully implement it, alienating the idealistic programmers AND the general lassez-faire developing community with inconsistency and complexity.
    4. Adopt no licensing and remain neutral, effectively making your code a free-for-all or copyright the code completely.

    Finally, if you're really up for it:

    5. Develop your own license or use another one, with all the complexities and legal issues that arise. I wouldn't reccomend doing this without a lawyer.
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    Obsidian

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    FWIW, unless it's the Simplified BSD (as opposed to New BSD) version, it isn't GPL compatible.
    And also, the MIT license is extremely similar in nature to the BSD license, and is GPL compatible. Honestly, MIT is my preferred license, but that's mainly because I like writing libraries and frameworks for everyone to use.

    There's also many other open-source licenses available to choose from. List available here: http://opensource.org/
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    root

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    Both BSD licenses are GPL compatible, actually - the problem is that there was a clause in the original BSD license that said something to the effect of 'you must include the author's name in all advertising' which became ridiculous for larger projects comprised of many libraries with BSD licenses. Now, the GPL guys are trying to convince everybody to switch over to the modified license which doesn't include that clause.

    The MIT's license only difference to the BSD is that MIT omits the clause restricting use of the applicable name or brand (in this case Bukkit's) and explicitly confirms a user's right to copy, modify and distribute derived projects under the terms of the license.
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    EvilSeph Bukkit Team Lead Administrator

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    @xrobau To clarify: you have no say as to whether or not we'll be forcing people to open-source their plugins. You can, obviously, say that right now due to the license we're using - however, you're just creating confusion so it'd be better to not say things like that.

    Yes, RIGHT NOW all plugins HAVE to be open source but we're reconsidering our options when it comes to licensing to allow for not having to GPL or open-source your plugins.
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    mindless728

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    all i want to know right now is should we (plugin developers) use a license (be it BSD/MIT/GPL) for our work as well as to conform with the license that Bukkit uses

    Edit: as i am up for Open Source, but this needs to be known so there are no problems later down the road
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    root

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    Actually no, they don't, because the license has been invalidly applied and has no legal weight.

    Issue 1:
    The license is invalid due to being applied to a wrapper/mod of a closed source program for reasons mentioned earlier in this thread.

    Issue 2:
    The license is invalid due to the issuer (ie, you) saying it had 'no legal weight', therefore meaning that you're making a recommendation, not a license.

    I'm not a lawyer, but I do know the first issue certainly invalidates the license and the second means it would be impossible to use in a court and therefore to enforce.

    An unenforcable license means nothing.
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    Raphfrk

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    At minimum, they need to provide an exception to GPL allowing it to be used to link to minecraft itself.

    Presumably, what it actually means is that anyone writing a plugin is breaking the license, as they are writing it with the intent of it being part of a program that will contain closed source elements.

    A plugin author could in theory argue that they are releasing it to be used in conjunction with a custom server, but since one doesn't exist, that isn't very reasonable.

    This actually means that Craftbukkit breaks the Bukkit license, since it explicitly links to both bukkit and minecraft.

    Actually what they said was that their exemption has no legal weight. They were saying that they won't enforce the license, but that promise has no legal weight. In effect, it is a non binding statement.
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    root

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    Without the exception:
    Also
    But an unmodified GPL license applied to them is null and void.

    It seems to be unclear what doesn't have any legal weight - it's not a good sentence to start tossing around.

    This, however, is invalid because an exception would have to be added for the reasons above.
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    Tomato

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    Christ, who cares what license it uses. Its not like it matters anyways as 99.9% of people don't lawyer up anyway. Just make the code and the masses will follow. If this was a standalone product that had the possibility of being sold then so be it.

    Look at the morrowind community, they practically tear themselves asunder over this stupid license and credit crap.
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    root

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    Um, because it's law? I'm simply saying that the best way to license Bukkit while avoiding trouble as much as possible is to use BSD Modified/MIT which is pretty much a common sense license with no duress placed upon the plugin programmers or Bukkit devs.
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    Chewi

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    It is important because disregarding the GPL undermines its authority, which some people have worked very hard to keep. This doesn't have to be difficult. Just pick a license that actually fits.
    Thalagyrt and root like this.
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    Thalagyrt

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    Exactly... If you're going to use the GPL, use it correctly, and enforce it. As much as I dislike some of the thought process behind the GPL vs. the licenses which in my opinion have a more enlightened/accurate definition of 'free' (MIT/BSD/Apache/etc), I appreciate the amount of work that has gone into making the GPL what it is, and every project, no matter big or small, that undermines it like this does nothing but hurt the weight the GPL can carry. It sets a precedent of the license being meaningless, when it is the exact opposite. This really applies anywhere. Don't say you're A and then completely blow A off and be B.
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    root

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    To plugin authors:

    Option one would mean that all your plugins would need to be GPL-compliant (ie, open source) but the GPL is likely incompatible with Bukkit (as mentioned earlier). So, in this case, Bukkit would need to contact a lawyer to ensure that they conform with GPL regulations. There are plenty available pro bono.

    Option two gives you the most freedom to make your own choices about licensing, as long as you don't try to claim that you own Bukkit or that they endorse your plugin (unless they do).

    There are other issues with the GPL, especially if you're planning on using other libraries in your plugins, but you'll need to find those out for yourselves. I suggest that, if Bukkit remains under the GPL, every single plugin developer reads as much as they can upon the subject.
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    feverdream

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    I think its important that for the community to grow, plugin source code needs to be open source and available.

    It will help people learn how to code plugins, it will assure the community can fix popular plugins if the owners get hit by a bus, and it helps everybody and does not harm to anyone given that this is a community driven project and "pay to play" crap is really not tolerated here anyway.
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    Raphfrk

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    OTOH, some people might decide to not write them in the first place.

    Most authors are open sourcing their stuff anyway.
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    Huns

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    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html

    "The GNU General Public License does not permit incorporating your program into proprietary programs."

    Bukkit contains proprietary code from Mojang, in contradiction of the Mojang license. It is incorporated into the Minecraft server by decompiling the server source and modifying some of the source files, then either overwriting the originals in the server .jar or overriding them using the classpath argument on the command line. Its distribution is in violation of the Minecraft license. Even if it didn't violate Mojang's license, Minecraft is still a proprietary program, and as you can see above, that isn't permitted under the GPL.

    So: Discussion of what impact GPL has on plugin developers is moot because, BY DEFINITION, Bukkit cannot be GPL'd.

    I don't know what source license to recommend, other than "Not GPL." In a perfect dream-world, Mojang would give Bukkit an exemption or some kind of dev license that would allow them to do this. (Or, you know, finish building a plugin architecture so we don't have to go through this in the first place.)

    I would recommend releasing the Bukkit source in two segments:
    1. Classes written entirely by Bukkit contributors are included as usual.
    2. Classes that are created by decompiling the Minecraft server and then adding to that source are included as patches that can be applied to decompiled source. This is how LAME got around the Fraunhofer, etc. patents.
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    tjb0607

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    use the wtfpl (do What The F**k You Want Public License)
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    EvilSeph Bukkit Team Lead Administrator

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    The license, validly applied or not, of the project remains the same. We're considering changing to a more flexible license, however we're waiting till we can get in contact with notch till any changes are made.

    Until then, I am closing this thread as it is just leading to confusion and a bunch of pretend lawyers scare-mongering people. Our plans for the project are not public-knowledge so most of the people who have posted in this thread aren't aware of what we plan to do. That being said, take what they say with a grain of salt.

    We do acknowledge that our license choice may be invalid due to how things are done and are reviewing the issue. Once we've reconsidered the licensing of the Bukkit Project, an announcement will be made.
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