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Old 07-25-12, 07:32 PM   #1
Amarande
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Lightbulb A Suggestion to Authors/WoWI on Future-Directed Licencing

There is one thing I've noticed about addons over the years that is, really, fairly distressing.

This is the fact that most addon authors neglect to include a specific licence in their addons (or simply put the standard "all rights reserved" line, which however at least in the USA is redundant as all creative works originating in the USA default to that level of copyright protection).

As a result, most addons are licenced on an all rights reserved basis - which has a huge downside. It means that no one other than the addon's author or specific designated successors may incorporate that addon's code into further addons, or take up the torch when an addon is abandoned.

This in turn ultimately hurts the player base as a whole, whether we write addons or merely use them. Addons become unmaintained, either the maintainer just stops working on that particular addon or they suddenly or gradually drop out of the WoW community altogether. For a while it doesn't matter, because the addon still works or needs only minor tweaks (e.g. I once made an experience bar substitute survive a new expansion - I forget if it was LK or Cata - before an updated version was put out by simply finding the line of code in my installed copy that designated a certain level as maximum and changed it to the new cap and it just kept chugging along).

However, invariably, all but the simplest addons are eventually broken by the passage of time, as eventually a Blizzard patch changes the addon API so that a critical portion of the addon fails to work (an example being when 4.0.1 made right-clicking off buffs a protected function - at this point addons could still display buffs, the appearance of EBB for instance being unaffected, but lost an important function compared to Blizzard's, making the addon unviable for many users). Thus, the addon finally really does need an update - not always a trivial one (I understand that EBB for instance needs fairly complex updates in order to adapt to the fact that clickoff-enabled buffs have to use secure frames).

And then it hits us in the pants: the addon is usually All Rights Reserved - despite the fact that WoW addons are inherently open-source after a fashion (as the form of Lua accepted by WoW is solely a text based scripting language with no human-unreadable bytecode) and that the use of addons for profit is frowned upon to put it mildly (thus giving little if any upside at all to ARR, which tends to be of most value when the work under copyright is one which monetary profit is desired from, or may be desired from in the future. Admittedly it also provides protection from plagiarism and unattribution, but so do e.g. CC licences that require attribution, and they do so without the heavy restrictions imposed by ARR), this cannot be taken to advantage because we don't have permission to. Only the original author can release an updated version of the addon, unless they delegate that permission explicitly to another person or people or to the community. Sometimes the original author can be reached and permission obtained, but a lot of times for whatever reason it's not possible to secure permission - in many such cases, because the original author moved on from the addon community or from WoW altogether and can't be found.

The result of this, in turn, is that an addon is obsolete and cannot legally be updated. It is lost forever. Meanwhile there is often not a suitable substitute available among other addons. The result is that a new addon is needed to do the same thing the old one did, and it's not always something that can be done easily (especially keeping in mind that ripping code from an ARR addon is also a no-no, so pretty much you're going to be forced to code that "Son of" addon "blind", preferably without even having the original on your hard drive at all in order not to provoke accusations of copying if your code does - as isn't too unlikely, since there's often only a limited number of reasonably efficient ways to achieve a given goal in computer code, particularly if that goal is complex - happen to be similar to the original's). It's a sad day, especially for those of us whose UI is particularly addon heavy (many players use few if any of the original Blizzard addons).


Mists of Pandaria is coming up. It will doubtless involve a lot of addon breakage, as every expansion does. In fact, I'm sure it will - I've noticed quite a lot of addons that were commonly used in Wrath haven't even quite made it to 4.3, or even at this late date Cata at all. Most of the unit frame addons have stalled out (X-Perl and Pitbull are falling further and further behind; only Shadowed Unit Frames seems currently to really deliver the functionality people were getting out of unit frame addons pre-Cata without significant outdatedness issues). There is still no BuffBar addon for Cata's secure frames (although I hope Elkano is able to update EBB for MoP at last). Of most note perhaps is that Cartographer, a very nice map addon (I always loved its ability to get the best of both worlds by showing the whole map but darkening unexplored regions to let you know they're unexplored), died out altogether during the LK-Cata mass addon extinction, and it still has yet to have a suitable substitute turn up to my knowledge.

However, because of the All Rights Reserved default (I almost called it a debuff ... heh), we'll probably find ourselves unable to do at least some things via addon for a period of time after MoP comes out - if the original authors of some popular addons aren't around anymore (and with subscriber numbers having been on the downs since Cata and the end-of-expansion-ennui factor seeming to be one of the worst ever to afflict WoW's zeitgeist, this is possibly even more likely than it ever was), it could be weeks or even months before a similarly functional addon gets built.

Thus, I ask of authors to go that extra mile for the community to think further of the future. It's not a difficult mile to do, as it doesn't require any special coding skill or complex additional stuff. In fact, it will ultimately be less taxing on your own time over time, since others will be able to contribute much more readily to your addons and thus make them all the better for the player base. I suggest that you take the time to review Open Source and Creative Commons licencing, and that you apply such a licence to your addon. That way, too, if you ever feel you don't have the time to put into it anymore, if you ever even feel like leaving Azeroth altogether is your best bet, instead of the community needing to start all over from scratch with a brand new addon to achieve the same goals as yours - we can rebuild him, so to speak!

My personal feeling on the topic, perhaps a bit heavy handed, is even that WoWI should require this licencing to be included in all new addon releases (and I can't see how this can especially hurt, seeing as there's nothing secret in an addon language that is wholly text (and for which obfuscation is disallowed without special permission from Blizzard), and you aren't supposed to sell addons for money so there's no profit motivation either), but this may be reaching a little too far at the present (perhaps in a future time when enough authors have voluntarily made the switch to FOSS licencing for addons it might be a ripe time to push the author community to this leap).
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Old 07-25-12, 07:46 PM   #2
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Please note: We realize this is likely to be a heated discussion. Therefore I want to remind people about [a portion of] our site rules:

1. Post with respect and courtesy. Debate is fine ... so long as when you disagree with someone, you respond in a civilized and constructive manner.

2. No libel. No defamation of character. Don't come here and slam/flame anyone/thing. Don't come here sounding off that Blizz sucks, EQ sucks, mod_author_01 sucks, etc and so on. None of that. You want to post things like that, take it elsewhere, there are enough other boards that cater to that type of thing. This isn't FlameVault. See 1.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, everyone is entitled to post their opinion and everyone is entitled to discuss the topic. However, everyone is also expected to do so in a civilized manner.

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Old 07-25-12, 07:48 PM   #3
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I read through your post and you bring up many valid points. However, I disagree with your suggestion of WoWInterface enforcing a non-ARR licensing.

A lot of effort goes into writing AddOns, and there is nothing gained in return, other than the acknowledgement that the author wrote said AddOn. I know from personal experience that this alone is enough for some people to maintain it; making it open source, for instance, while they still put all of the effort into it, might make them feel less respected.

I fear that if a particular type of licensing is enforced, then authors who disagree with it may simply go elsewhere to upload their AddOns.

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Old 07-25-12, 08:55 PM   #4
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I apologize, but unlike Haleth, I didn't read through the entire OP. (I is tired and ADD atm. But I tried!)

But I did want to point out that while someone is well within their rights to update/modify an addon that has a license allowing such, the authors themselves are also *well within their rights* to not include any such license at all. Be it out of ignorance or on purpose, there is absolutely nothing that says that they cannot do this. As you already pointed out, at least in the US, addons are automatically ARR unless specifically licensed differently. Why should authors be forced to license their creative works as something else? If I don't want 3 different variations of PocketPlot floating around the interwebs (either modified or old, redistributed versions) then that is my right to limit such a thing.

Some users say that authors *should* make their addons open source. The usual argument for this is "What will I do when they move on with their life and stop updating the addons that I want to use? Why do they have to make my life hard?" (emphasis mine, of course) This, however, is a selfish argument. If an author didn't release their creative works to the public domain upon leaving the game/authoring or arrange for someone to take over the project then either A) they didn't want to or B) they didn't think it was important. In either case, users can put forth a small fraction of the effort that the author expended in writing and upkeeping the addons and find themselves something new to use.

This is also a misunderstanding by you:
the addon is usually All Rights Reserved - despite the fact that WoW addons are inherently open-source after a fashion (as the form of Lua accepted by WoW is solely a text based scripting language with no human-unreadable bytecode) and that the use of addons for profit is frowned upon to put it mildly
Just because you can read the text in a book does not mean that it cannot/should not be ARR. The same applies to code. Just because you can read my Lua script does not mean that it cannot/should not be ARR. And just because the addon has to be offered for free does not mean that you should also be free to do whatever you please with it. Have you heard the phrase in software, "Free as in free beer, not as in free speech"?

I do not include a license with any of my addons. Is this because I hate users, want them to become attached to my addons, and then will laugh incessantly when they cry after I let the addons die a fiery death? No. Do I sit at home staring at my addon code in Notepad++ repeating "My preciousssssss"? No. I put my addons up for download because I'm nice like that. But they are still mine. I do still have the option of saying "No" to a feature request and I do take enough pride in my work to hate to see it copied or years old versions stolen off WoWI and redistributed elsewhere. Hell, even current versions. WoWI is where I want my addons to be so that they get the traffic, I keep comments and bug reports in one place, and users know how/where to contact me.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I could probably find a license to suit all my needs or write something up myself. But instead of me going through all of that additional effort and wading through legal jargon, would it kill you to ask me how to change something or to take over the addon when/if I'm gone? I'm usually known to be pretty amiable. And if I instead say "Bugger off!", well, I'm within my rights to do so.
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Last edited by Seerah : 07-25-12 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 07-25-12, 08:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Haleth View Post
<snip>
I fear that if a particular type of licensing is enforced, then authors who disagree with it may simply go elsewhere to upload their AddOns.
I'm pretty sure this will never happen, but I would be one of such authors. WoWMatrix's shenanigans a few years back effectively put an end to many authors' use of GPL or CC or similar licenses - and there's threat of another "AddOn site" starting up; someone has been poaching authors via PMs on here and Curse, asking for permission to distribute their AddOns and then appending "failure to reply will be taken as permission". Sorry, I don't think so.

Besides, many of the older AddOns need to die quietly and/or be replaced by new incarnations - simply being popular does not equate to efficient (in terms of FPS) or elegant (in terms of usability). I've written a few replacement AddOns, myself, when I had need for something that was either dead or made me want to gouge my eyes out with an olive fork after looking at the code.
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Old 07-25-12, 09:01 PM   #6
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You weren't around when stealing of Addons and rehosting them for profit (advertisement impressions) was rampant. Most of the formerly open-source addons I worked on were switched to ARR so we could send DMCA take down notices and threaten to take their domains if they didn't comply.
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Old 07-25-12, 09:12 PM   #7
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At no point should anyone be forced to give up rights to their creative works. No one should be told "You must use license X."

People write and produce AddOns for any number of reasons, but the work and thus the code are theirs to license or not as they wish.

You can ask for people to use a particular license, you can try to convince them that your preferred license is better for them as well. But you cannot coerce. You should also make sure you understand the different licenses you advocate for and you must be willing to let others disagree.
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Old 07-26-12, 07:28 AM   #8
Amarande
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Yeah, I had the thought that requiring it might be a little too heavy-handed.

Of course, coming up with some kind of extra on-site reward perk as thanks for choosing to use an OS licence that you don't get if you upload as ARR could be a compromise, though I'm not quite sure what such a perk should entail. Maybe some kind of reduced or eliminated site ads just for authors who pledge to upload their addons under OS licences? (Don't know WoWI's operating cost books so I don't know if this is financially viable for the site.)

Seerah, there is the selfishness argument, but on the flip side, the benefit from FOSS vs. ARR arises chiefly at that point down the line when the addon breaks due to an API change and the author isn't updating it anymore; at that point, yeah, it lets others continue to take advantage of your work - but, in fact they can't do this without (sometimes substantial) effort of their own, since they'll have to put in the time it takes to fix the addon so it works with the new version of WoW. What it really does is just spare the community the extra time it takes to do the same thing from scratch.

And yeah, sometimes we do have the opportunity to use something else. X-Perl seems to have some annoying issues with 4.3 (the most obviously visible one being that I could not get Fonter to work with it at all, no matter what I did, all I could ever get on it was the normal Friz Quadrata - and that seems lucky, as the comments on X-Perl in Curse Client suggest that it's likely to slip even further behind on maintenance), Pitbull's configuration options are pitifully few (the configuration interface that was indicated would be introduced after 4.0.3 never made it to release, making it impossible to customise more than a few of the once many options PB had). The community is simply very lucky that Shadowed Unit Frames has been still maintained.

On the other hand, sometimes we don't have that opportunity. No Cataclysm equivalent to Cartographer has surfaced. Neither is there a Cataclysm capable equivalent to Elkano Buff Bars (although Elkano has indicated the desire to revive it for MoP, and I will be glad if that should come to pass, the simple fact is that I haven't been able to create a UI with fully functional buff bars since my Icecrown Citadel raiding days, and as the latest Curse Client description comments on EBB indicate that doing the secure frames version is NOT an easy thing to manage, it's likely beyond my ken at this point given that while I'm certainly no stranger to programming as a whole, I'm a rank beginner when it comes to Lua and addons). The community has not found an addon developer with the time and skill to code equivalents for them during the present expansion, so those addons became "extinct" with Cata, that functionality lost to us for the time being.

In part, I suspect that the reason such an addon developer hasn't been found may lie in ARR: it certainly isn't a pleasant thought for the developer of a potential replacement that they will have to do everything for a fairly complex addon all over again from the beginning, without (just to be safe on a copyright side) even being able to look at how the current addon is coded as a reference. Instead of being able to build on the resources that the community has accumulated over the years, ARR copyright acts as a barrier, forcing the same work to be performed repeatedly in order to bring old tricks into the new world (of Warcraft). This makes logical sense in the commercial software world, where companies are competing for a share of the profit pie and it would hardly be reasonable to expect the first developers to give their competition a free leg up, but this isn't the commercial software world - this is a game community, where ideally, authors shouldn't feel in competition with one another at all, there's no profit pie, and authors do what they do for the community (even if it's just something you coded for yourself and decided was good enough to contribute, the fact remains that you did think of the community because you decided to give it to them ) - but the licensing system can easily get in the way of the community, as noted.

Yeah, I've heard a bit about other addon sites "harvesting" addons and posting them themselves for ad revenue, though I didn't really think all that much about it at the time. And that's definitely a no-no in the case of ARR addons. But why change your open source licence over to ARR in response? When you sign up for an open source licence, you generally do so with the knowledge that anyone can distribute your software, whether you really like them or not. That's one of the building blocks of the FOSS community (and one of the reasons why Linux has a major industry built around it - as it's not Linux that's really being sold and competed over, it's the support deals that various distributors offer if you pay for the distribution rather than simply rolling your own or using a fully-free distro such as Debian).
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Old 07-26-12, 08:27 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
Seerah, there is the selfishness argument, but on the flip side, the benefit from FOSS vs. ARR arises chiefly at that point down the line when the addon breaks due to an API change and the author isn't updating it anymore; at that point, yeah, it lets others continue to take advantage of your work - but, in fact they can't do this without (sometimes substantial) effort of their own, since they'll have to put in the time it takes to fix the addon so it works with the new version of WoW. What it really does is just spare the community the extra time it takes to do the same thing from scratch.
What it really does in most cases is cause numerous users (who have no idea how code works) to "fix" the AddOns by commenting out the lines that are throwing errors and then posting those "fixes" as a "continued" version.

Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
And yeah, sometimes we do have the opportunity to use something else. X-Perl <snip>, Pitbull's configuration options <snip>. The community is simply very lucky that Shadowed Unit Frames has been still maintained.
Nothing on oUF?

Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
On the other hand, sometimes we don't have that opportunity. No Cataclysm equivalent to Cartographer has surfaced. Neither is there a Cataclysm capable equivalent to Elkano Buff Bars <snip>.
Cartographer can be replaced by: Mapster, HandyNotes, Routes, Cromulent. Kitchen-sink AddOns have a long history of being doomed to fail because their tightly-interwoven nature means that when one thing breaks, the whole thing breaks - when the original author does not have time to fix it, or has stopped playing, you suddenly have several "continued" versions pop up which merely comment out the lines which are "broken", resulting in a fragmented distribution of an AddOn which is still broken but merely doesn't throw errors.

EBB can be replaced by Raven, for the most part, and I'm sure there are other buff AddOns.

Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
The community has not found an addon developer with the time and skill to code equivalents for them during the present expansion, so those addons became "extinct" with Cata, that functionality lost to us for the time being.
I'd say time OR skill OR interest. That can be indicative of an AddOn that has outlived its usefulness, since there's actually no shortage of developers.

Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
In part, I suspect that the reason such an addon developer hasn't been found may lie in ARR: it certainly isn't a pleasant thought for the developer of a potential replacement that they will have to do everything for a fairly complex addon all over again from the beginning, without (just to be safe on a copyright side) even being able to look at how the current addon is coded as a reference.
There is no harm in cloning and/or extending an AddOn if you are not using the exact code it uses. Using techniques is not the same as blatantly copying. There are only a certain number of ways to do things with the Blizzard API, and nobody can lock that down.

Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
Instead of being able to build on the resources that the community has accumulated over the years, ARR copyright acts as a barrier, forcing the same work to be performed repeatedly in order to bring old tricks into the new world (of Warcraft).
This has always been going on, even before many authors switched to ARR. How many "automated quest" AddOns are there? Auto-sell-grey-items AddOns? Those are just two examples of types of AddOns I can think of from the top of my head that are insanely prolific, for no other reason than "Not Invented Here" or "Because I want to learn and thought it would be fun".

Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
Yeah, I've heard a bit about other addon sites "harvesting" addons and posting them themselves for ad revenue, though I didn't really think all that much about it at the time. And that's definitely a no-no in the case of ARR addons. But why change your open source licence over to ARR in response? When you sign up for an open source licence, you generally do so with the knowledge that anyone can distribute your software, whether you really like them or not.
Because in the FOSS world, people generally indicate that they've forked a project, don't host it on the same site as the original with the same name, and don't host it elsewhere with the same name (and no indication that this wasn't done by the original author) with local modifications or outdated versions which cause users to come to the actual author complaining about issues.

This is a completely different community from the Linux/BSD/name-your-favorite-software communities. There is a very valid and real reason why things operate differently here. The experiences many authors have had in this community from using such licenses has been bad. We are not going to change our minds due to wall-of-text impassioned pleas from someone who hasn't been there and doesn't understand.
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Old 07-26-12, 10:47 AM   #10
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(Related WowAce thread, for reference)

http://forums.wowace.com/showthread.php?t=18644
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Old 07-26-12, 11:35 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
In part, I suspect that the reason such an addon developer hasn't been found may lie in ARR
I have been around the addon community since 2005. I have yet to see anyone ever say, "I want to make an addon like 'X-Perl', but I am afraid of ARR issues". Maybe there is a thread out there, but I have never seen ARR being a stumbling block to those driven to write addons. And making an addon that works like another does not violate any ARR, just as Chevy making a car with 4 wheels, a motor and a steering wheel is not an infringement on Ford. If one copies code directly, then yes you need permission. If you make it on your own with your own techniques, then any author can make their own X-Perl clone.

I think the issue is more of intimidation of taking on a large project such as unit frames. It is not easy to be a one-man enterprise that does the code, the marketing (setting up yourself on the addon websites) the technical writer, the QA and the PR person for large projects. ARR is not really in the way, there are other larger factors that can stop a new addon emerging.

Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
But why change your open source licence over to ARR in response?
The established addon sites like WoWInterface bend over backwards for the addon community. The leech sites take all their efforts and deny them the ad revenue that keep the communities going. Many addon authors do not want to see sites like WoWInterface vanish because a leech site takes away all reason to ever visit them. The response to changing to ARR was a vote to keep the addon community alive. If authors did not do that as well as the addon sites working diligently to defeat those leech sites, we may not even have this forum to have this discussion right now. You owe your ability to participate in this community in part to the very addon authors that decided to defend their addon rights and exert control over where they distribute.

Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
you generally do so with the knowledge that anyone can distribute your software, whether you really like them or not.
And who gets to deal with the support deluge for code that an author is not putting out, yet has their name recognized as its creator? Again, most addon authors are one man operations. Control over distribution really helps them keep their sanity. Trying to replicate a bug that is being reported that will never show up on your source, due to a user using a different source yet does not let you know that fact, can be frustrating. Or worse, a leech site is distributing an out-dated version while your current one on where you chose to distribute has bug fixes that are still being reported by downloaders at the leech sites. I have had that happen many times.

Don't get me wrong, I am not knocking an open source model, but for me as the sole author on my projects I already deal with enough for essentially a hobby that can seem like a job. In short, I do not think ARR is as much as a barrier as you think it is. Also, some authors who stop maintaining an addon are more than glad to hand the reins over to anyone who asks. That happens quite a bit. Or one could ask if it is okay to use the code covered by AAR (a license if you will). I have done that a few times, and have yet to get someone who told me "no way".
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Old 07-26-12, 11:41 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Seerah View Post
Is this because I hate users, want them to become attached to my addons, and then will laugh incessantly when they cry after I let the addons die a fiery death? No. Do I sit at home staring at my addon code in Notepad++ repeating "My preciousssssss"?
Off topic: This gave me the giggle fits~
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Old 07-26-12, 12:19 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Seerah View Post
... Do I sit at home staring at my addon code in Notepad++ repeating "My preciousssssss"? No. ...


I'm sorry, it had to be done.
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Old 07-26-12, 12:39 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Kendian View Post
Off topic: This gave me the giggle fits~
You are very welcome, sir.
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Old 07-26-12, 12:51 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Maul View Post
And making an addon that works like another does not violate any ARR, just as Chevy making a car with 4 wheels, a motor and a steering wheel is not an infringement on Ford. If one copies code directly, then yes you need permission. If you make it on your own with your own techniques, then any author can make their own X-Perl clone.
Even though the majority of authors are very protective of their distribution rights, it's my opinion that most seem to rather lax on caring if somebody directly copy and pastes a small block of code. I always told people it was fine to use my ARR code to learn from and to copy bits and pieces from because code is code and not art. You can paint a bowl of fruit exponentially more ways than you can write a section of code that does the same thing.

The only major instances I can think of where downright theft of code happened was possibly early on with some 'compilation' authors changing addon names in their packs and DBM directly coping boss modules line for line from BigWigs.
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Old 07-26-12, 01:07 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Arrowmaster View Post
The only major instances I can think of where downright theft of code happened was possibly early on with some 'compilation' authors changing addon names in their packs and DBM directly coping boss modules line for line from BigWigs.
It's inevitable on big projects like this, usually anyone can submit code changes on the svn and stuff like this can pass without people even knowing it's copy-pasta at all. I don't think the authors deliberately copied the text into their addon, and if even so it's strictly not a part of the addon itself in terms of code. Since it's not code or artwork it's a gray zone if you ask me.
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Old 07-26-12, 02:10 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Vladinator View Post
copy-pasta

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Old 07-26-12, 02:20 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Seerah View Post
Do I sit at home staring at my addon code in Notepad++ repeating "My preciousssssss"?
I see that Seerah's discovered my software development model.
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Old 07-26-12, 04:04 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Arrowmaster View Post
it's my opinion that most seem to rather lax on caring if somebody directly copy and pastes a small block of code.
Which would actually be counter to your ARR argument. However, there also may be behind-the-scenes discussions between authors that the public never sees and is never documented. While on the surface it may look like "theft", there may be a verbal agreement.

Ultimately, I just do not think licensing is preventing addon development. I think the secure code probably intimidates more people than anything else and you cannot make unit frames without a good foundation in understanding the secure code.

Also, I should note that you mention X-Perl, which itself was an offshoot of the old Perl unit frames. So there really is no reason that someone could make Z-Perl and not even wander into ARR territory. Save for the name itself, perhaps.
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Old 07-27-12, 12:03 AM   #20
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My addons are the product of a hobby, and I develop and support them in my free time at what is effectively a monetary loss -- I neither solicit nor accept donations, so theoretically the time I spend on my addons is "wasted" because I could be spending that time doing something more "productive" instead -- beacuse it's something I enjoy doing.

As such, I feel entirely justified in reserving some of the rights I have under copyright law. The custom license under which I publish my addons does not qualify as an "open source" license, but it is very permissive. I do not care if someone wants to use my ideas or my code -- under my addon license, they are free to use any or all of my code for any purpose. They don't have to credit me anywhere. They aren't required to use the same license I used for my addon. The only requirement is that they cannot use my name or my addon's name. This ensures that:

(1) I am not burdened with bug reports for code I didn't write because some user confused "CoolMod Plus" with my addon "CoolMod".

(2) I am not deluged with questions about whether "CoolMod" is abandoned and users should use "CoolMod Plus" instead.

For a perfect example of why I include this clause, consider Grid vs Grid2:
Several years ago, someone who was not really involved with the Grid project decided to fork the codebase, rewrite parts of it, and called their addon Grid2. At the time, even the authors of Grid thought that this new addon would be the future, and that once it was done, it would become Grid's successor, so nobody commentedon the name.

Now, years later, the Grid2 project has stagnated in a state of perpetual beta, gone through a half-dozen developers with long gabs in between them, and has gone off in a very different direction that goes against many of the design philosphies that shaped the development of the original Grid.

As a result, Grid is still maintained (by me), and I am indeed deluged with a neverending stream of questions from users about the difference between Grid and Grid2, whether Grid is abandoned, if they should switch to Grid2, when Grid2 will be finished, why I'm still updating Grid, why Grid doesn't include X feature from Grid2, and innumerable other questions that would never come up if Grid2 was named anything else.
My license also allows anyone to include my addon in a compilation -- as long as they don't modify it. Again, the primary purpose of this restriction is to avoid wasting my time dealing with bug reports for code I didn't write or release, and wasting users' time going back and forth with me until I realize why their bug is so elusive.

Basically, I view publishing your first addon like getting your first puppy as a kid -- if you're big enough to have a puppy to play with, you're also grown up enough to feed it, walk it, and clean up its poop. The people you got the puppy from aren't going to come to your house and take care of it for you.

Likewise, if you publish an addon, it's your responsibility to fix its bugs and support its users -- don't try to push that work off on me by confusing your addon with mine. If you're not willing or able to maintain and support an addon, you probably aren't ready to publish an addon. If you really feel the need to share your copy-pasta modifications with the world, post about it on the forums.

Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
... In part, I suspect that the reason such an addon developer hasn't been found may lie in ARR: it certainly isn't a pleasant thought for the developer of a potential replacement that they will have to do everything for a fairly complex addon all over again from the beginning, without (just to be safe on a copyright side) even being able to look at how the current addon is coded as a reference.
I don't buy it. "All rights reserved" is not the reason huge addons fall into disrepair and aren't picked up. Time -- specifically, the lack of it -- is the reason.

(1) Huge addons take huge amounts of time to maintain and support. If you stop playing WoW, or even if you just stop using the addon yourself, it's really hard to maintain even a relatively small addon well. For large addons like Cartographer or XPerl, it's even harder. You also have to consider that addon authors are just people like yourself. We have jobs, school, relationships, families, friends, other hobbies, and basic needs just like you. Life changes, and the amount of free time we have -- and are willing to spend writing and supporting addons -- changes too.

(2) Huge addons take even huger amounts of time to pick up once someone else has let them fall -- do you have any idea how long it takes to go through thousands of lines of someone else's code and reach a real understanding of how it all works?

It would probably take me less time to write a new raid frame addon from scratch than it would to reach what I'd consider to be a complete understanding of Grid's code -- even now, when I've been Grid's main developer for over 2 years, and was poking around in its code for years before that.

I had several addons that I hadn't personally used in 2-4 years, that I finally had to step back and say "okay, I'm not going to do this anymore". None of them were very large or complicated, but it was just too much time to spend on something that didn't benefit me at all, hadn't benefitted me in years, and would never benefit me again. At some point you just have to prioritize yourself and your life over your contributions to the lives of others. I don't think that's selfish; I think it's realistic.

All of the aforementioned addons had big bold notices on their download pages for years, saying that anyone was welcome to take them over. There is clearly no licensing barrier. Why do you think nobody volunteered to adopt these addons and keep them updated?

Originally Posted by Amarande View Post
Of course, coming up with some kind of extra on-site reward perk as thanks for choosing to use an OS licence that you don't get if you upload as ARR could be a compromise, though I'm not quite sure what such a perk should entail. Maybe some kind of reduced or eliminated site ads just for authors who pledge to upload their addons under OS licences?
This is a terrible idea. WoWI is a community centered around World of Warcraft addons. If you're looking for a community centered around open source principles, there are plenty of those out there, but this isn't one of them. WoWI is about functionality, not ideology. WoWI offers premium subscriptions because those generate revenue, and generating revenue makes good business sense. Pushing an ideology that alienates some of the people who drive traffic to your site does not make any business sense.

Plus, the official definition of "open source" is -- I feel -- pretty restrictive. My license boils down to "DO WHAT THE F**K YOU WANT TO, as long as you do it under your own name", which I think is very permissive, but it doesn't qualify as an "open source" license. I've put in thousands of hours writing and maintaining over 30 addons, including some extremely popular ones, and I put in even more time contributing to the WoW addon community on the forums here and on WowAce -- to the point where other people have dedicated an entire thread to thanking me. I don't ask for donations, and I don't accept them when they're offered. I don't ask for thanks or credits, and frankly would rather not get them most of the time. If you think I should be penalized, shamed, or excluded because I don't share your software licensing ideology, you can stick it where the sun don't shine. I suspect many other addon authors here will feel the same way.

Anyway, rather than futilely campaigning for WoWI to go out of its way to push an ideology that addon authors -- most of whom are not programmers by trade, many of whom don't even know what a license is -- don't all share, why don't you do something more constructive?

If you see an addon falling into disrepair, and are concerned that licensing issues may be a barrier to someone else picking up the addon, contact the addon's author and ask them to use a more permissive license, or even dedicate their addon to the public domain.

Better yet, if you think an addon is invaulable and that its demise would be a great loss to the WoW community, learn Lua and pick it up yourself.
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