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  1. #1

    Community Content Licensing

    With some recent user departures on the forums where community content was taken down by those users, we wanted to start a dialogue about the availability of community content on the forums, and the associated licensing.

    Currently, any developer who builds a product and shares it with the community is free to determine under what license that content can be shared. This includes the ability to take it down whenever they want.

    However, we feel that when you begin to sell items (either separately, or for items which depend on community content) or take donations, you generally have a greater obligation to your customer. For anything we sell in our storefront, we do not allow the developer to remove those items or to assign a license that would allow that. We consider that to be bad customer service as a content provider. Additionally, we feel that anything freely shared with the community becomes part of what makes the community better.

    So, we are considering whether to re-evaluate content licensing allowed for FG materials posted on DMsGuild and/or posted on the forums. To be clear, we don't want to remove anyone's rights to ownership of their materials, but we do want to protect the community from currently available community content suddenly disappearing. The current ability for users to remove their community content at will does not benefit the community, and we would prefer that those users not share the content in the first place.

    We haven't made any decisions on this matter; but feel that this is a good time to have the discussion and come up with a plan that makes the community better as a whole. We would most likely do this by placing a statement on the forums stating that any content freely shared on the community remains the owner's property, but that the owner is also granting a perpetual license for it to be shared on the forums.

    Regards,
    JPG

  2. #2
    As someone who does not create content, I don't feel I should have a say in this. I'm hoping that you give more weight to those that do create content than those that do not. While this community isn't that bad, entitlement is a serious issue of the day.
    Fantasy Grounds Unity may be official now, but its release may take a while yet.

  3. #3
    Kelrugem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moon Wizard View Post
    With some recent user departures on the forums where community content was taken down by those users, we wanted to start a dialogue about the availability of community content on the forums, and the associated licensing.

    Currently, any developer who builds a product and shares it with the community is free to determine under what license that content can be shared. This includes the ability to take it down whenever they want.

    However, we feel that when you begin to sell items (either separately, or for items which depend on community content) or take donations, you generally have a greater obligation to your customer. For anything we sell in our storefront, we do not allow the developer to remove those items or to assign a license that would allow that. We consider that to be bad customer service as a content provider. Additionally, we feel that anything freely shared with the community becomes part of what makes the community better.

    So, we are considering whether to re-evaluate content licensing allowed for FG materials posted on DMsGuild and/or posted on the forums. To be clear, we don't want to remove anyone's rights to ownership of their materials, but we do want to protect the community from currently available community content suddenly disappearing. The current ability for users to remove their community content at will does not benefit the community, and we would prefer that those users not share the content in the first place.

    We haven't made any decisions on this matter; but feel that this is a good time to have the discussion and come up with a plan that makes the community better as a whole. We would most likely do this by placing a statement on the forums stating that any content freely shared on the community remains the owner's property, but that the owner is also granting a perpetual license for it to be shared on the forums.

    Regards,
    JPG
    Thanks for your insight

    I would indeed recommend that any freely published extension/module for FG should stay available even after it got removed. Of course it is very nice and good that someone shares his work with others But since I started to code extensions I also realized how strongly users can depend on such an extension; just to name an example:

    I coded some extension for 3.5e/PF1 which allows certain effects to be applied only when certain conditions for some actions are met (like an automation for save boni versus poisons), and many other effects. Some users of my extensions were writing me private messages about how happy they are and that they now spend some (a lot of) time to recode all their effects, spells and actions. Some others even changed the death overlays I made to have their own images while they told me that they would not have known how to code it, they replaced the images. Some other person wrote me that he coded something additionally to my extension to make it even better.
    So, I want to point out that people can spend a lot of time using the extensions and preparing their campaigns. When I would now suddenly take my extensions down without allowing the users of my extensions to reupload them such that someone else could take over, then all their work they did on top of my extension would probably be "worthless" when the next update for 3.5/PF1 comes, resulting into incompatibilities with my extensions. This may result that people get discouraged and stop using extensions, especially when these are big extensions.
    That's also the reason why I didn't ask for money of my little work, too, because I can not assure to work always on it since I am just a normal community member; maybe my PhD gets too time-expensive and then I can suddenly not update my extensions. Then I would be happy when someone else can update it

    Taking out some risk of using extension of the forum would surely be nice for some users

    I hope one knows what I want to say (I have headaches at the moment, thus, I might write strange things ), nothing is meant to be offensive to someone

    Have fun
    Last edited by Kelrugem; January 28th, 2020 at 00:08.

  4. #4
    damned's Avatar
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    Hi Moon Wizard

    My thoughts -

    I agree people should be able to post their work under a license of their choosing
    I agree that if you sell something or you sell a product that depends on some FG component that you should support it at least for a period of time.

    I wonder if you might also think about allowing FG content to be sold on OBS outside of the DMsGuild and have OBS manage the SW licensing side for you still?
    Allowing newer content creators who do not qualify for either the FG Store or DMsGuild to publish their material for FG.

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  5. #5
    I also am hesitant to weigh in on this issue, as I don't have much knowledge in the area. Instead I will ask a question. Is it typical for software companies to allow users to distribute "mods" (and I mean that it the more traditional, software sense, rather than modules as they exist in FG) and retain ownership? I feel like SW would be well within their rights to require that all extensions be distributed under an open license, and continue to allow people to sell content (tokens, map packs, adventures, etc) as those are software agnostic, and not a variant of their proprietary software.

    All that said, I'm not a programmer, and recognize that a programmer's code is traditionally their own IP. But I do feel that SW would be justified in requiring modifications of their software not be restricted IP, but be listed under some kind of open license, especially if it's going to be distributed through their site/forums.
    Last edited by lavoiejh; January 28th, 2020 at 14:54. Reason: fair use was the wrong term, replaced with "some kind of open license"

  6. #6
    LordEntrails's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moon Wizard View Post
    However, we feel that when you begin to sell items (either separately, or for items which depend on community content) or take donations, you generally have a greater obligation to your customer.
    Agreed. Donations is less clear to me, but in general I believe people are are assuming a greater obligation to the community with each 'level' of financial recompense.

    The current ability for users to remove their community content at will does not benefit the community,
    I don't think I agree with this statement. I think their are potential devs who would not share anything via this forum is any such changes were to be made. I doubt what has now become the 5E Enhancer extension would exist if Ken L had not shown what was possible. And the New MK sounds extension which might soon surpass the revoked DOE Sounds extension certainly seemed to have been inspired by that revoked work.

    and we would prefer that those users not share the content in the first place.
    Understandable, but you can't/won't stop users from sharing content in a way in which they can revoke sucht. I fear that if you impose any such restrictions, you will simple move distribution of community extensions to other distribution channels. One's that you will not have near enough awareness of, nor ones that will be so easy for your community to access. You will fracture your community. You will drive value from the forums. How much I do not know.

    We haven't made any decisions on this matter; but feel that this is a good time to have the discussion and come up with a plan that makes the community better as a whole. We would most likely do this by placing a statement on the forums stating that any content freely shared on the community remains the owner's property, but that the owner is also granting a perpetual license for it to be shared on the forums.
    Its always important to discuss such, and I appreciate your openess. But I fear that this will not help any healing, it will only surface emotions that have otherwise relegated to trivia.

    Also how would you propose to handle everything that has been posted to date? You can not retroactively claim perpetual license for everything that has already been posted. So you would have to put an effectivity date on your claim. Which would again only lead to division.

    Final point, imo, now is not the time for quick decisions.

  7. #7
    celestian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moon Wizard View Post
    The current ability for users to remove their community content at will does not benefit the community, and we would prefer that those users not share the content in the first place.
    Relating to content posted here on the forums I agree with this 100%.

    I wasn't affected when Ken punched out but this latest example has got me developing a replacement. I'd rather be working on other things but I want something that'll work with FGU.
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  8. #8
    As a grateful consumer and not creator of content I understand the interest in some stability when you rely on what's been posted. BUT it sounds like the community would essentially be claiming some right to other peoples works with this approach.

    I don't have a right to other peoples works. Even after they've been kind enough to offer ... especially when they are crystal clear about the terms of their offer. I can read the terms under which they post, I can make a decision myself as to relying on content.

    As a practical matter I think it may lead to at least some hesitation to post things by the very people who put the most time and effort into doing so.

  9. #9
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    Releasing your extension/mod/ruleset etc really should come with a license statement of some sort.
    Maybe SmiteWorks might suggest some but Devs should still be able to choose their own.

    One of the reasons some of these licenses exist is because creators do sometimes change their mind and if they have released something with an explicit license then everyone knows.

    Maybe the license is "this product and code belong to me and I reserve the right to pull this product at any time" or "this product is free to use, reuse, adapt in other free products with attribution and under the same license and this license cannot be revoked" or "this product is free to use for all purposes and this license cannot be revoked" etc

    Ofc these are one liners and not meant to be actual licenses but more to show some samples of possible intent by the author.

    Then anyone using the product knows where they stand - and the Author also knows what they have committed to.

    The Author may release a newer product with a different license but they cannot revoke their original license and product pairing.

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  10. #10
    LordEntrails's Avatar
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    For those who want to know a bit more about existing open source licenses and types;

    - A summary of the various types of open licenses with links to some of the more common/popular ones https://www.synopsys.com/blogs/softw...to-understand/
    - A discussion of some specific open source licenses https://fossbytes.com/open-sources-license-type/

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