Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby titi » 07 Dec 2015, 11:01

We currently have a discussion if it is legal to mix CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one mod or game. ( https://forum.megaglest.org/index.php?topic=9749.0 )
For me its quite obvious that this is not allowed ( https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/F ... ptation.3F)

But see what they said here: https://forum.megaglest.org/index.php?topic=9749.0
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Re: Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby Akien » 07 Dec 2015, 11:44

I think you misunderstand the extent of "work" in the description of the CC licenses. In the context of game creation, a "work" correspond to one piece of asset: a PNG texture, a model, a sound effect, a music track.
As long as the licenses are not exclusive (i.e. you can't link a nonfree "work" code to a GPL program), you can use various licenses just as you'd like to, as long as you fulfill the requirements of each license (which for CC-BY-SA would be that you mention the licenses, give attributions, and share any derivative of the "work" under a compatible license).

So you can clearly make a game or mod which has GPLv3+ code, some CC-BY-SA assets and some CC-BY-NC-SA assets. That's what most open source games are anyway, a combination of various licenses which are listed for each asset in a LICENSE or CREDITS file (when people do their attribution work properly).

The confusion in your topic is that you are trying to apply a single license to the whole mod. And indeed, you can't do that if the licenses of the code and assets are not all compatible. But it's not illegal to make a game or mod which has no monolithic license but a combination of licenses for each parts that it is composed of. That's just how licenses work. I know almost no open source game which uses a single license for all the files in its source repository.

If your mod uses a CC-BY-NC-SA asset, it does not invalidate the other CC-BY-SA assets. It just implies that you are not allowed the sell the mod, because parts of it are non-commercial. Anyone would however be allowed to remove the CC-BY-NC-SA content from your mod and sell it (provided the other licenses for the code and assets allow commercialisation of course).

Making a game using a SA asset does not imply that your game should be under a SA-compatible license. SA means that you need to share derivatives of this very particular piece of work under the same license, i.e. if you modify a blender model, the modified version should be set under a SA-compatible license and you should share its sources. If the model you use is identical to the original work, you did not make a derivative by loading it into your game engine (IANAL of course, I might be wrong, but then all open source games in the world would likely be breaking license terms).
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Re: Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby Julius » 07 Dec 2015, 11:51

Edit: beat by Akien to it, but here is my similar reply for what additional insight it might give:

Ah, the Megaglest forums are accessible from the Philippines again? I was kind of left out the last couple of months since I temporarily moved here for work reasons :(

IANAL, but I think both sides of this age old argument (repeated very similar in every "is the GPL extending to the artwork of a game" argument) have been mentioned in the thread you linked. In the GPL case it is the "mere aggregation" clause, while for the CC-By-SA (-NC) is it the question when a combination of works forms a new work.

Generally speaking the CC-by-SA is usually considered to have only relatively weak copyleft, more in line with the LGPL, meaning that only very strong integrations are effected. So for example if you render a movie with CC-by-SA assets, the movie will have to be CC-by-SA as a whole and you can not mix it with the -NC equivalent. But if the CC-by-SA files are still easy to extract from the combined work in an unchanged version (as is usually the case of games), than my educated guess (and that seems to be the majority consensus) would be that the CC-by-SA does not go into effect for the full game and CC-by-SA-NC files can indeed be mixed.
Of course you can still not sell the game unless you remove these files, which in most cases will render the game non-functional...

However, these -NC licenses are a very slippery slope, that I can practically guarantee you will lead to license headaches sometimes in the future. So I would advise you as the project lead to simply not allow -NC licensed files for integration into Megaglest for practical reasons (and maybe FOSS ideological, including that -NC is not allowed in most Linux repositories).

Edit2:
if you modify a blender model, the modified version should be set under a SA-compatible license and you should share its sources.

Sadly this is half-incorrect. The -SA option (contrary to the GPL) does not have a source requirement. For some this is a blessing, as for music etc. this is often difficult to provide, but for image files and 3D models it would be really great to have the sources :(
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Re: Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby titi » 07 Dec 2015, 15:22

Ok, but what about this:

Imagine I make a commercial game and include NC-music files. I state that these filse are under CC-BY-SA-NC but the rest is proprietary. I don't think this will work or am I wrong ?

update more thoughts:
The other way round is, I make a mainly CC-BY-SA Assets-based mod and add one file with CC-BY-SA-NC file. This means I cannot sell this mod and i am not able to give a license to this mod ?


update#2: for MegaGlest itself: Its Data is fully CC-BY-SA based, there are no exceptions.


update#3: About mixing I found the following sentences in CC's FAQ:
All Creative Commons licenses (including the version 4.0 licenses) allow licensed material to be included in collections such as anthologies, encyclopedias, and broadcasts .

But how do people know that a Mod or game is such a thing? Where is the definition of a derived "work" in the meaning of CC's ? ( can you give a link ? )
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Re: Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby Akien » 07 Dec 2015, 16:23

titi {l Wrote}:Imagine I make a commercial game and include NC-music files. I state that these filse are under CC-BY-SA-NC but the rest is proprietary. I don't think this will work or am I wrong ?

You can't make a commercial game using NC music files, unless you're the copyright owner of the music files (and then you implicitly relicense them for your own commercial usage).

titi {l Wrote}:The other way round is, I make a mainly CC-BY-SA Assets-based mod and add one file with CC-BY-SA-NC file. This means I cannot sell this mod and i am not able to give a license to this mod ?

Indeed, you can't sell the mod. "Giving a license to the mod" does not mean much. The license of a mod is the sum of the licenses of its parties, so your mode will be partly CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-NC-SA.


titi {l Wrote}:for MegaGlest itself: Its Data is fully CC-BY-SA based, there are no exceptions.

Which doesn't mean that MegaGlest is CC-BY-SA-licensed. MegaGlest is actually licensed under the GPLv3+ and the original Glest License for its code, and CC-BY-SA for its assets. The version of the CC-BY-SA is also relevant btw, if you have assets under CC-BY-SA 3.0 and others under CC-BY-SA 4.0, this is also an information that has to be stated clearly (listing which files are under which license).
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Re: Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby onpon4 » 07 Dec 2015, 16:30

unless you're the copyright owner of the music files (and then you implicitly relicense them for your own commercial usage)

Not quite. If you're the copyright holder, you just don't need a license. All licenses do is grant permissions to people other than the copyright holder to do things copyright would otherwise forbid them from doing.
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Re: Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby titi » 07 Dec 2015, 22:37

Its getting a bit offtopic, but as far as I know CC-BY-SA 3.0 stuff can be converted to CC-BY-SA 4.0 without permission of the copyright holder. It is an implicit license upgrade which exists since CC-BY-SA 2.0 .

( and on a sidenote all data in MegaGlest is CC-BY-SA 3.0 , and I made most of it ;-) )


About the main topic:
You said:
"Indeed, you can't sell the mod. "Giving a license to the mod" does not mean much. The license of a mod is the sum of the licenses of its parties, so your mode will be partly CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-NC-SA.""

But the main question is is it allowed to mix these things in something else than a simple collection? I mean in MegaGlests case this would mean they are combined with xmls which refer to the one and the other model. Thats more than a simple collection and in my opinion a new work. Saying this the above example will result in CC-BY-SA assets released ina nesh meshup under a NC license. I don't think thats possible. The most important point is how CC-Licenses define a derived work!
From all what I found a simple collection of mixed CC licenses is ok, but something like a mod or game which combines those models is not ok.
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Re: Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby Julius » 08 Dec 2015, 13:33

Sadly the Creative Commons Foundation seems to be intentionally ambiguous on that and if I remember correctly the co-founder Lawrence Lessing once stated that it really was originally only intended for music (and photos?), where indeed almost any mixup will trigger the -SA option as you describe.

Referencing .xml files are not that much different from an digital encyclopedia that references various articles, no?

Oh and in your above example: anyone can sell the mod if he or she removes the -NC files and replaces them with placeholders or such. An 'evil' person might even integrate an auto-downloader for these files from an ambiguous server and there would be very little you could do legally about it.
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Re: Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby Julius » 08 Dec 2015, 15:06

Ok I looked again a bit further into the topic, and it seems that there is no real agreed answer as courts differ in their ruling and legal differences between countries exist. In the US for example a significant body of court rulings took a relatively narrow definition of a "derivative work" (the relevant legal term) as that it has to be a permanent component of a work that can not be easily swapped out...

However taking the actucal definition of creative commons:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by ... /legalcode
"Derivative Work" means a work based upon the Work or upon the Work and other pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which the Work may be recast, transformed, or adapted, except that a work that constitutes a Collective Work will not be considered a Derivative Work for the purpose of this License. For the avoidance of doubt, where the Work is a musical composition or sound recording, the synchronization of the Work in timed-relation with a moving image ("synching") will be considered a Derivative Work for the purpose of this License.


I think one has to differentiate between different uses. In a certain way a game is (partially) like a musical arrangement/composition. So IANAL if certain assets are used in a cut-scene for example, then I think one can not mix CC-by-SA and CC-by-SA-NC works. But if it is simply another map/model etc. to load (like from a list of maps or player characters) then I would not consider the whole a derivative work of both.
Note however that the player might be creating a derivative work while playing (but what he or she does in private is none of the license business), but when a recording of that game-play is made and distributed, than there would be a license violation between these two.
I also think that for example menu elements that are automatically displayed together would not be allowed to be mixed, but a CC-by-SA GUI that is overlaid on a CC-by-SA-NC map only after player interaction with the game, would be loading data as in a image editor etc. and thus no license violation occurs unless a recording etc. is made and distributed.

But all IANAL and probably different in your country.

Edit: in your case of .xml files you might be right, if for example works with the two different licenses are combined into a campaign (and there I am not even talking about story elements which by itself are copyrighted and can thus not be shared between CC-by-SA-NC and CC-by-SA works).
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Re: Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby Andrettin » 08 Dec 2015, 18:50

Julius {l Wrote}:Note however that the player might be creating a derivative work while playing (but what he or she does in private is none of the license business), but when a recording of that game-play is made and distributed, than there would be a license violation between these two.


AFAIK a recording of gameplay would be fair use, so it wouldn't cause a copyright violation even if it does not ascribe to the licenses.
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Re: Mixing CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-NC in one game or mod

Postby titi » 14 Dec 2015, 10:48

@julius, thanks a lot for finding those details and sharing your thoughts!

@Andrettin: I think thats correct, but offtopic here. ( and keep in mind that "fair use" is an US only thing and cannot be used worldwide )
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