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Unread 11-24-13, 06:03 AM   #1
pelf
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All Rights Reserved, practically speaking

There are several members here who are very quick to remind posters that an addon is All Rights Reserved. Generally, the reminder comes after someone mentions an intention to look into how something is done in an addon and implies or states that they want to use that information, but are not specific enough in their description of their plans as to make it clear whether their actions would infringe upon the other author's copyright.

I understand that exchange, I think. But, when I've tried to, as a mental exercise, re-imagine those scenarios such that I'm making the post but such that I've added enough extra information to make it clear that I'm in the right ... I've never reached a satisfactory conclusion.

For example: (Say) I've found a need to implement a UnitID:GUID map, and so I make a survey of the addons I have installed to find ones that maintain such a map and to see the details of how it is implemented and used in the addon code at large.

As I see it, there are a (practically) finite number of ways to implement and use a UnitID:GUID map under the WoW API and in Lua. What part of an implementation of a UnitID:GUID map would fall under the author's copyright? A facile answer might be: "any novel portion of the implementation". Well, what qualifies as "novel" changes as one's skill in a language improves. Moreover, if we accept the "novel" criteria and move forward: if I were to learn something I didn't know about addon development while looking through an addon's code and that technique or method was considered part of what made that code "novel", then what can I realistically do, at that point? I can't erase what I learned -- it will come to me when I try to solve any similar problem in the future, just like all the other tools in my programming toolbox.

Perhaps some of you can help me wrap my brain around this. It is my opinion that responding to posts with, "You can't copy any of that code. That addon is All Rights Reserved," is not constructive if it's not readily apparent what that actually means.
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Unread 11-24-13, 06:30 AM   #2
Resike
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Mainly the only reason i use "All rights reserved" because when i randomly found my work around the interweb, then i would like to have a right to remove it. I don't really care if someone uses my code, however if he want to use a more complex functions (Sound queue system, Texture- model manipulation, animations...) which can be found in my addons, or just to use hundreds of lines of code which is my code, then i would like the person to ask a for permission, and ofc to post from where did he got that code.

Last edited by Resike : 11-24-13 at 06:33 AM.
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Unread 11-24-13, 07:59 AM   #3
pelf
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So what you're looking to prevent is, explicitly, wholesale duplication via copy/paste? That seems reasonable.
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Unread 11-24-13, 08:02 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by pelf View Post
For example: (Say) I've found a need to implement a UnitID:GUID map, and so I make a survey of the addons I have installed to find ones that maintain such a map and to see the details of how it is implemented and used in the addon code at large.

As I see it, there are a (practically) finite number of ways to implement and use a UnitID:GUID map under the WoW API and in Lua. What part of an implementation of a UnitID:GUID map would fall under the author's copyright?
Practically speaking, none of it. Nobody reading your code will bother to wonder whether your wrote a basic utility function like that yourself or copied it from some other addon. Chances are, most of the addons that do the same thing just copied it from someone else anyway. Consider a function to shorten large numbers, eg. "27894534" to "27.8m". I'd wager that 99% of the instances of this function in addons were not written by the author of the addon in which they appear.

However, once you start talking about more complex systems -- handling user-selectable profiles, for example -- then any given implementation becomes more and more unique, and less and less acceptable to copy/paste without permission.

Basically, if the only way you can make your implementation look different from someone else's implementation is to change how the code is formatted, then you're in the clear to copy/paste. If in doubt, study several implementations to get an overview of how it works, and then write your own without directly copying/pasting or looking at any of the others while you're writing it, or just ask the author if you can copy/paste.

I don't think any addon authors actually care about people copying and pasting utility code like this; we are generally only concerned about copyrights and licenses insofar as they apply to the addon as a whole.

Originally Posted by pelf View Post
So what you're looking to prevent is, explicitly, wholesale duplication via copy/paste? That seems reasonable.
Personally, I don't even care about wholesale duplication via copy/paste. I just don't want anyone who downloads your duplicate coming to me for help when it breaks. Thus, I wrote my own license that says you can copy/paste 100% of the code if you want, as long as you rename the addon and remove all traces of my name and the addon's original name so nobody can be confused about it.

I also don't want my addon being distributed on s****y third-party sites without my permission, partly because I don't think some third-party leech deserves to make money off my work when they don't do anything for me, and partly because users who would download my addon from such a site are getting screwed out of support, since I would never see anything they posted there.
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Last edited by Phanx : 11-24-13 at 08:08 AM.
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Unread 11-24-13, 08:51 AM   #5
Resike
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Originally Posted by Phanx View Post
I also don't want my addon being distributed on s****y third-party sites without my permission, partly because I don't think some third-party leech deserves to make money off my work when they don't do anything for me, and partly because users who would download my addon from such a site are getting screwed out of support, since I would never see anything they posted there.
Seconded..
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Unread 11-25-13, 09:29 AM   #6
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The only time I have had to admonish another author is when he took large swaths of my code, wrote a compatible AddOn that was a plugin for yet a third AddOn, and didn't mention where the plugin got the original code.

The code in question was copied word for word, without changing anything, not even variable or function names (other than the MyAddOn:SomeFuntion() vs HisAddOn:SomeFunction() ) and the truly funny part was that the copied code was buggy and I had long replaced it.

Slightly concerned the author copied buggy code, I informed him that he should add "Parts from MyAddOn v1" and that it compatible with MyAddOn v1 and v2, and that the code was buggy. I even pointed out where to find working code in my newer AddOn.

He did add the byline, but never updated his code. I don't think his AddOn exists anymore, as it was written during Wrath, and abandoned within a month or two.

Meh.
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Unread 11-25-13, 11:52 AM   #7
pelf
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So, I suppose the next question is: what, then, is the point of chiming in (as I mentioned, above) on threads where someone mentions looking at how some other addon does something? What value does that add? That one response isn't going to make them investigate copyright law; if anything, it might just balk their interest, assuming they hadn't already decided that it doesn't make sense.

It seems like, in all the responses here, the only thing authors are concerned about (if they're concerned at all) is wholesale copying (and mostly because of inheriting or propagating issues). None of you have said anything about caring if someone uses a technique you did.
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Unread 11-25-13, 12:22 PM   #8
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I would bet most authors would not mind you looking at their code and copying the techniques used therein. In fact, if another addon solves the problem you are trying to solve I would think you should look at it, and authors might even appreciate improvements you might make to the techniques they use. If you need to copy tons of their code, ask them for permission, otherwise you might run afoul of the copyright on that code. I hate finding my addons on the web where I did not post them, but live with that since my license allows that since I cannot really justify making my addons "All rights reserved." since there are parts of my addons that have been taken from other code bases that do not have such restricted licenses.
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Unread 11-25-13, 08:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by pelf View Post
So, I suppose the next question is: what, then, is the point of chiming in (as I mentioned, above) on threads where someone mentions looking at how some other addon does something? What value does that add?
I generally only bring up copyright in threads where the poster is asking for random third parties to update an existing addon and publish a "fan update", or where the poster is talking about modifying an existing addon (perhaps to add a feature the author declined to add, or to remove the options GUI because the poster thinks that a few KB of static memory usage actually matters) and publishing that modification.

However, without knowing what thread(s) you're talking about specifically, I can't really tell you why I (or someone else) posted what I (or someone) posted in that thread.
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Unread 11-26-13, 01:34 PM   #10
pelf
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Yeah, I suppose I hesitate to call out the member who I see doing it the most and, in my opinion, the most indiscriminately, out of courtesy. It doesn't bother me; and, as long as I understand what the consensus on what it means, practically, is, I can use my own judgment. So that's what I was hoping to clarify and settle, here.
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Unread 11-26-13, 07:15 PM   #11
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Oftentimes that statement is made to "nip it in the bud" so to speak and clear up any misconceptions that may be had by the person asking.

*Technically* you can't modify an addon for your own purposes either, if it's All Rights Reserved. But it's rare if you see that enforced in the world of addons.

/edit: while it may not make the person want to "investigate copyright law", it will educate them a bit more as to what they are asking of people or getting themselves into.
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Last edited by Seerah : 11-26-13 at 07:17 PM.
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Unread 11-26-13, 08:53 PM   #12
Phanx
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Originally Posted by Seerah View Post
*Technically* you can't modify an addon for your own purposes either, if it's All Rights Reserved. But it's rare if you see that enforced in the world of addons.
While that's true, I'd have to say that's not enforced (or really enforcable) in the world of anything. As long as you are not distributing or publicly displaying your modified version, nobody is even going to know, and the only kind of people who would care if they did know are the same kind of worthless leeches who work for the RIAA and send DMCA notices to YouTube to delete someone's home video of their kid's first time playing with a kitten because a Metallica song was faintly audible on the radio in the background.
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