Why was Beastie removed?

Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Jubei » 21 Feb 2024, 02:07

Hello, I am new to this forum as well as forums in general. I apologize if if I make any mistakes while conversing.

It has come to my attention that in 1.4 version of STK the character Beastie was replaced with Godette in the main roster. I do not mind Godette's inclusion, but the demotion of one of the most iconic free software mascots to an addon puzzled me. Looking into it, I found a previous topic where which someone took issue with the fact that Beastie and Hexley were characters under full copyright. I thought maybe this was the source of Beastie's removal, but almost everyone else (including Kirk McKusick himself) seemed fine with it. Also, if not having 100% free assets was really the reason then Hexley would have been removed too.

Looking further, Beastie's description on the his addon page claims that his removal was due to a "licensing problem." This was interesting, as again, Beastie's removal had to be over an issue separate from making STK 100% free. It made me wonder is Kirk McKusick actually revoked the permission previously granted to STK. After sending him an email he had this to say.

I did not revoke permission for STK to use Beastie. Indeed I did not know until this email that he had been removed. I do remember the claim that STK had GPL'ed Beastie and having an email exchange with them in which they clarified that they had not done so. I have been completely happy with STK's appropriate use of Beastie.


Now I ask my full question. Why was Beastie removed if Hexley is still allowed and Kirk McKusick's permission is still valid?
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Julius » 22 Feb 2024, 22:50

STK is in several Linux distribution repositories which do not allow content under such license conditions, for example Debian.

I believe these models are still available as extensions can can be downloaded manually after installing STK.
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Jubei » 23 Feb 2024, 17:07

STK is in several Linux distribution repositories which do not allow content under such license conditions, for example Debian.

If Beastie's licensing terms was really the reason why he was removed then Hexley would have been removed as well, as she is licensed under near identical terms.
I believe these models are still available as extensions can can be downloaded manually after installing STK.

I already talked about this in my original post. My question was about the base roster.
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby eltomito » 24 Feb 2024, 20:41

I'm sorry for your loss, man. I feel with you. I was crushed when Wilber got made into a light car, i.e. undriveable.
But shut the f+ck up, dude! Do you want Hexley to go the way of the Dodo and Beastie or what?
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Jubei » 25 Feb 2024, 04:37

But shut the f+ck up, dude!

Do not shoot the messenger. I am not the one who the decided the licenses for those characters. If I never brought this up, someone else would have.
Do you want Hexley to go the way of the Dodo and Beastie or what?

I want the opposite, actually. Kirk McKusick has given explicit permission to STK to feature Beastie. That should be all that is required for his inclusion. I bring up Hexley to show that if Beastie's removal was due to his license, the decision was misguided. Another character that uses a nearly identical license is still in the game, and no distro has complained. Thus it would be better to bring Beastie back than to remove Hexley.
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Alayan » 25 Feb 2024, 16:11

I would personally happily have Beastie back.

Although it is annoying when distros alter the game because it doesn't fit their purist restrictions.
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby drummyfish » 26 Feb 2024, 20:10

Hello,

I am responsible for cancelling some mascots in STK, I don't rememer which they were anymore, but the issue was this:

Yes, the author gave permission to use the character in the game but this alone isn't enough to have the mascot included in something that's to be distributed under a free license. A free license has to allow doing anything with the game AND everything in it, it has to allow you to take anything out of the game, modify it, sell it on its own etc., which the author's permission doesn't include (I even asked him personally through email, it was confirmed the permission was only for STK) -- the author only gave permission to use it in this one game specifically. It's similar to how you can legally download and maybe even share a freeware game, there is nothing illegal about it, but that's not enough to call it free as in freedom and put it to Debian repos etc. Fair use, exclusive permissions and things like this don't work in the free world -- though some like to break it (e.g. Wikipedia) and though many libre games are killed like this (e.g. Neverball by including GitHub's proprietary Octocat), it is still so. If you don't want it this way, cancel copyright.

I presented this issue to Debian package maintainers and they agreed with me, they said they would keep the game in the repositories because the mascots would be removed. If the mascots weren't removed, they would have to remove the game from repositories that only allow 100% libre games, such as those of Debian or libregamewiki.

Thank the authors of the mascots for making trouble, or alternatively cancel copyright as a definitive solution to this issues.

If there are more mascots like this, they have to be nuked too.
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Jubei » 26 Feb 2024, 23:28

Yes, the author gave permission to use the character in the game but this alone isn't enough to have the mascot included in something that's to be distributed under a free license.

By default the GPL only applies to a work's code, not its assets. STK includes GPL assets, yes, but it also includes CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, and CC0 assets. The README makes a point to say that the assets are under a mixture of licenses, while the code itself is uniformly GPL. That is because even when an asset is under the GPL the copyleft only pertains to modifications of that asset, not the whole program. Thus more restrictive mascots like Beastie and Hexley can still be included, as assets in a GPL program can have any license.
Fair use, exclusive permissions and things like this don't work in the free world -- though some like to break it (e.g. Wikipedia) and though many libre games are killed like this (e.g. Neverball by including GitHub's proprietary Octocat), it is still so. If you don't want it this way, cancel copyright.

Maybe these projects should not have to fit into a puritanical worldview where everything proprietary is shunned like it is the devil. Fair use and exclusive permissions exist for a reason, and it is called compromise. Not every artist wants to grant as many permissions to redistributors as free licenses do, if any at all, and that is fine. Copyright is not a bad thing, it just should not last as absurdly long as it does currently.
I presented this issue to Debian package maintainers and they agreed with me, they said they would keep the game in the repositories because the mascots would be removed. If the mascots weren't removed, they would have to remove the game from repositories that only allow 100% libre games, such as those of Debian [...] If there are more mascots like this, they have to be nuked too.

If it is a priority of STK to be completely DSFG then that is the end of discussion. However, there are plenty of players who do not want to see iconic free software mascots be removed just for how they are licensed. It is my opinion that STK can survive not being in Debian main.
[...] or libregamewiki.

LibreGameWiki is a farce of a website that still uses the GFDL like it is 2008. The actual license information for games featured there is poorly documented. Last I checked a few games very obviously broke the site's own standards for featuring less free or outright proprietary characters, but STK's article is the only one indefinitely pending deletion. STK should not be concerned with meeting the standards of LibreGameWiki because not even it can meet its own standards.
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Julius » 27 Feb 2024, 16:03

The compromise was to have them easily available as an add-on. Thus you can't really call this a removal. Just install them as you like.

Debian's view is not "puritanical" but a necessary requirement of how copyright works. They have no choice but to remove STK from their core repository if it includes non-libre assets.
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Jubei » 27 Feb 2024, 19:08

Debian's view is not "puritanical" but a necessary requirement of how copyright works.

My accusation of puritanism was not directed at Debian. They are their own project with their own rules, and that is fine. My accusation was directed at the person I was responding to. They seem personally offended that copyright exists at all.
They have no choice but to remove STK from their core repository if it includes non-libre assets.

STK currently includes non-libre assets. That is why I see Beastie's removal from the main roster as arbitrary.
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Julius » 28 Feb 2024, 01:57

STK currently includes non-libre assets.


Such as?
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Jubei » 29 Feb 2024, 02:47

Such as?

Hexley is a character under a restrictive license, and like all licenses its terms (attribution, copyright notice, etc.) are carried over to derivative works. Authors of works derived from proprietary sources do often license their derivatives under more permissive terms. For example, Beastie's STK model is CC0. However, that license only applies to any copyrightable differences from the derived work. The original conditions still apply unless fair use can be argued.
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Re: Why was Beastie removed?

Postby Alayan » 29 Feb 2024, 05:22

Another example is the Blender logo on Suzanne's kart. Nobody has been trying to remove it yet, but the same line of argumentation can be made.

In the end, it is about whether it's better for the game to have assets that all completely abide by free licenses, and be included (unchanged) in places enforcing such limitations, or if it's nicer to have Beastie.

The Beastie license means that If someone made some kind of objectionable STK derivative with content that could be construed as of bad taste, or wanted to reuse the kart model in that sort of way, then it wouldn't be possible while abiding by the licensing terms. But removing Beastie from STK just means that STK can't have it either, it doesn't really help this hypothetical derivative. So the reasoning has to go into hypotheticals such as "what if all the STK assets were licensed under similar terms" and how it makes modifying and sharing difficult or impossible.

Any derivative of STK could easily remove Beastie if needed without affecting core functionality, and the license isn't tied to STK as a project or an organization, any derivative could keep using Beastie as long as it abides by the same (limited) restrictions. That's not something I find concerning.

Licensing of arts and assets and of code have vastly different implications.
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