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Code Ownership

Introduction

I'm not a lawyer of course, so this isn't all legal and watertight. The spirit of the thing should be clear though - I don't want it to be 'rules and counters', but enough for people to make informed decisions on what is and isn't okay. Note here that the intention of this page isn't to restrit anyone's rights, but instead to clarifiy what Epitpah's rights are over your code.

Code Ownership

Epitaph makes no claims on ownership of the code you write. That code is yours, for you to do with what you will. It's hope that you won't just pass copies out to anyone who asks (in order to maintain the integrity of the game), but it's your code. However, Epitaph also needs certain rights in order to function - as such, as part of being a developer on Epitaph, you grant the administration of the MUD an irrevocable right to modify, delete, and distribute that code under whatever licence is appropriate. The admninistration can also delegate responsibilities for all of those things to anyone else in the game. The code that you produce while developing on Epitaph is a donation. That specific version of the code is our version of it, for us to do with what we will.

From the point of you donating the code, development is essentially 'forked' - you have your original version of the code, but the version within Epitaph is the 'Epitaph Fork' of your code. The nature of collaborative development means that after a while it is impossible to pick out who has 'moral ownership' over a file, so while the code you write is yours, it may not be appropriate for you to distribute an 'Epitaph' file. More on that in the section on shared ownership.

Essentially, it's your code - if you want to take it with you to another MUD, then that's your right. But Epitaph has the right to do whatever is felt appropriate with the copy of the code that you donate.

When Does It Become Epitaph Code?

The following are our criteria for this:

* When it enters testing, or

* When it enters the game, or

* When it is committed to RCS in a directory outside of your /w/ directory

So, whatever you're doing in your /w/ directory - we're making no claims on that code. It only becomes ours when you transfer ownership through putting it into the live game, making it a part of ongoing testing, or committing it to RCS in a non-private directory. In cases where the code is multi-object, and parts of the system are in a live directory and parts are in a /w/ directory, then the most permissive of these criteria are used for all interacting objects - if system A is in the live directories and system B is in your /w/ directory, then both parts of the code are considered 'live' and thus 'Epitaph Code'.

Epitaph and Discworld

Since many of us are current/previous Discworld coders, and since we have access to Discworld code and since we're built on a modified Discworld distribution, we have to be very careful to ensure that our dealings are above board. That means - Discworld code that is not part of a public distribution and is not code that you have previously written yourself is not to be used in Epitaph without permission of the author or of the game's administration.

Just because we *can* physically get the code doesn't mean we *should*. I don't think any of us are likely to think it's okay to grab code from Discworld whenever we like, but I want to make sure it's written somewhere that we don't do that. There have been MUDs in the past that have been written from Discworld codebases and made use of stolen code, and we are not one of those MUDs. In cases where such code is infringing, then the code will be deleted from Epitaph.

Shared Ownership

Code that is written by you is for you to do what you want - but one you make it available to Epitaph, that version of the code becomes the donated property of Epitaph. Code on Epitaph is owned by the MUD as a whole - it can be changed, altered, modified and changed by anyone with the delegated authority to do so. After a while, ownership of code becomes murky - when lots of people are working on a file, fixing it, altering it and adding functionality, it's hard to say that the original owner of the code still has an uncontestable claim on distribution.

Rather than doing the silly thing of saying 'Well, that line of code is yours and that one isn't', we'll instead use a 'rule of thumb' system. Upon donating the file to Epitaph (as outlined above), the code remains 'your code' until the following criteria are met:

* You cease to be the sole contributor to RCS, and

Either:

* Six months of time have passed between its initial entry into RCS

* Five other contributors are recorded in the RCS log

So, the key criteria is that you cease being the sole contributor - if it's only you who has made changes to the code, it's uncontestably yours. However, when it ceases to be that you are the sole contributor, your right to distribute that code ends when it's been at least six months since the initial entry of the file into RCS, or when five other people have RCS contributions to the file.

Profiting

Epitaph is and will remain completely free to play. We are bound by both the FluffOS licence and the Discworld distribution mudlib licence, and neither of those licences permit the code to be used for commercial purposes or for any kind of monetary gain. Even if that were not the case, none of the code that you have submitted to the MUD will be used for any kind of personal profit.

Epitaph however reserves the right to solicit for charitable dontations to offset support costs. Such donations will be 'strings-free' and will confer absolutely no game advantage. Such donations, should they be solicited, will be in keeping with the terms and conditions of whatever underlying driver and lib are in use at the time.

Additionally, this provision extends only to that code which is written for the MUD portion of Epitaph - other merchandise (t-shirts, books, fluffy toys, whatever) may be sold at profit (provided the individuals in question have the authority to monetize Epitaph's intellectual property - check with the game's administration to make sure). In a similar vein, Epitaph branded software on other platforms (desktop applications, facebook plugins, and so on) may also be provided in exchange for money provided:

* None of the code is executed from the MUD

* Permission to monetize Epitaph's intellectual property has been provided.

* The system does not hook into any system that has been donated for free to the MUD as per the code ownership policies outlined above.

As some examples of the above, what would and what not be permitted (assuming right to monetize IP):

* A facebook app that provided an interface to the Epitaph player information centre would *not* be permitted.

** It makes use of Epitaph's web system, and the processing of the player information centre is done on Epitaph.

* A desktop client that was tailored specifically for the Epitaph MUD *would* be permitted.

* A facebook app that made use of snapshots of Epitaph data for visualisation purposes *would* be permitted (provided that visualisation processing is done on another system).

Note that these restrictions apply only to profit generating systems. Facebook addons that have no charge associated with them are always permisable, although in cases where such addons put an unreasonable load on the system they may be restricted or fully blocked.

Not A Straightjacket

It's not my intention here to create a watertight contract that limits what code can be distributed. If there's a file that falls out of these rules that you want to send somewhere for whatever reason, just ask and it'll most likely be fine. I just want to make sure we're all aware of what the rights are of other parties.

Copyright Statement

Epitaph - Epiphany v1.2.13 [release]. Copyright © Imaginary Realities Ltd 2009 -