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jmickle66666666

UDMF License?

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I was looking through the licenses for various WAD format bits and pieces, specifically for commercial uses, and couldn't find a license for the UDMF format:

http://www.doomworld.com/eternity/engine/stuff/udmf10.txt

I'm not much of an expert on software licenses, but it appears that only the documentation is under gnu free documentation license. This only vaguely implies that the actual format is under a similar license, but that isn't enough to be sure by a long shot.

Does the format require a license?

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There's no license on the format. It's just a format, not content.

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Copyright doesn't really apply to file formats (though it can apply to documents that describe them - hence why that's GFDLed). Nobody can stop you from making a UDMF file, or any file in a particular pattern of bytes.

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fraggle said:

Nobody can stop you from making a UDMF file, or any file in a particular pattern of bytes.


What if the pattern of bytes happens to be too particular?

As a corollary, I often wondered if any legal cases of software piracy, copyright infringement, etc. can be shrugged off simply by claiming "No, this is not a file with copyrighted context XYZ, it's simply a random sequence of bits that just happens to be exactly the same as XYZ, if interpreted in a particular way".

Of course, such a claim will probably be beaten down on the grounds of probability theory ("Yeah, right, out of the 789.342.123 bytes of file XYZ, you really nailed that one in 2^(8*789.342.123) chance of randomly generating all 8 * 789.342.123 bits by dumb luck").

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In case of any legal doubt, UDMF is a free specification; the license applies to the document itself, not an implementation of the format.

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fraggle said:

Copyright doesn't really apply to file formats (though it can apply to documents that describe them - hence why that's GFDLed). Nobody can stop you from making a UDMF file, or any file in a particular pattern of bytes.

Can they be patented, though? Or is it too late?

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Yeah, patents are the only real way to exert control over a file format. The whole GIF debacle a few years ago was a prominent example, but most audio and video codecs are also patented. The patent isn't on the file format itself but the algorithms used to encode/decode it.

I doubt very much that anything in UDMF is patentable or patented. If there was anything, the authors of UDMF would be unable to patent it anyway because it's now all public knowledge.

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fraggle said:

Yeah, patents are the only real way to exert control over a file format. The whole GIF debacle a few years ago was a prominent example, but most audio and video codecs are also patented. The patent isn't on the file format itself but the algorithms used to encode/decode it.

I doubt very much that anything in UDMF is patentable or patented. If there was anything, the authors of UDMF would be unable to patent it anyway because it's now all public knowledge.

In the US, anything is patentable. The patent office doesn't even do research, it's effectively a rubber stamp. I can go file for a patent on a "form for interchangeable representation of Doom game engine maps" and it'd probably get approved. Then anybody who didn't like it would have to fight me in court and try to get the patent overturned, even though it's obviously invalid.

This is how patent trolls work.

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If I were in the USA, I'd file a patent for "a technique in which lack of bureaucratic oversight is used to exploit intellectual property laws so as to unfairly stifle competition and generate high amount of income without providing any actual work."

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Gez said:

If I were in the USA, I'd file a patent for "a technique in which lack of bureaucratic oversight is used to exploit intellectual property laws so as to unfairly stifle competition and generate high amount of income without providing any actual work."

Brilliant, then patent trolls will have to give you royalties off their ill-gotten gains. Or possibly anybody with a patent on anything :P

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