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scroton

idGames Copyright Interpretation

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Regarding this clause found in many mappacks on idgames:

idgames said:

Authors may NOT use any of these levels as a base to build additional levels.

You MAY distribute this file, provided you include this text file, with no modifications. You may distribute this file in any electronic format (BBS, Diskette, CD, etc) as long as you include this file intact.


How exactly has this been interpreted?

Could you, for instance, distribute each WAD inside of a zip file, with each readme? Could you rename the readme files (so as to prevent naming conflicts) or would that violate the clause?

Could you distribute the files extracted from the wad (eg in a folder) along with the readme files, or would that violate the clause?

What about renaming (but not modifying otherwise) map names and possibly other lump names within the WAD?

What about an executable packaged along with a WAD with such a clause that opens the WAD, extracts and renames levels, but keeps those WADs intact in the distributed file and only violates the clause when the end user runs the executable?

Are there differences in the strictness applied to this on the Doomworld forums versus for idgames itself? As in, would any of the above which are not allowed for idgames uploads be acceptable on the forums?

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Do you intend to create some compilation? You generally are not supposed to edit the wads themselves.

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VGA said:

Do you intend to create some compilation? You generally are not supposed to edit the wads themselves.


Yeah, that's the idea. One where level order is either completely or semi-random.

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Do you intend to create a tool that downloads some wads and creates a megawad out of them? :-D

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Could you, for instance, distribute each WAD inside of a zip file, with each readme?

Yes.

Could you rename the readme files (so as to prevent naming conflicts) or would that violate the clause?

No.

Could you distribute the files extracted from the wad (eg in a folder) along with the readme files, or would that violate the clause?

I assume you mean extracted from the ZIP? Then yes (I think). The creator may have a copyright on the ZIP file itself, but that's distinct from a copyright on the files within the ZIP, and my interpretation of the clause is that it concerns the redistribution of the files within the ZIP, not the ZIP itself.

What about renaming (but not modifying otherwise) map names and possibly other lump names within the WAD?

No.

What about an executable packaged along with a WAD with such a clause that opens the WAD, extracts and renames levels, but keeps those WADs intact in the distributed file and only violates the clause when the end user runs the executable?

Yes.

As far as I would interpret it, you can redistribute the original files however you please, so long as the WAD and TXT are together. But you can't change them in any way - think of it as though you have to preserve the original timestamps of the files.

As for creating a tool where a user downloads files and then manipulates the copies on their own machine, that would be legal so long as the user isn't redistributing them.

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VGA said:

Do you intend to create a tool that downloads some wads and creates a megawad out of them? :-D

Maybe eventually, but the initial project would be a single pk3 that contains hundreds of maps.

Linguica said:

I assume you mean extracted from the ZIP? Then yes (I think). The creator may have a copyright on the ZIP file itself, but that's distinct from a copyright on the files within the ZIP, and my interpretation of the clause is that it concerns the redistribution of the files within the ZIP, not the ZIP itself.

I meant extracting each file contained in the WAD itself, as a folder that contains all the lumps. But it sounds like this would violate the clause as well.

Linguica said:

As far as I would interpret it, you can redistribute the original files however you please, so long as the WAD and TXT are together. But you can't change them in any way - think of it as though you have to preserve the original timestamps of the files.

As for creating a tool where a user downloads files and then manipulates the copies on their own machine, that would be legal so long as the user isn't redistributing them.

One of these will probably be what I end up going with then.

About downloading on the user's end versus redistributing to the user--would uploading, say, Requiem.wad and its README (along with other things), to idgames be allowed? Or would that not be allowed as part of an idgames policy even though it wouldn't violate the clause? I'm just thinking there would be less that could go wrong on the user's end (and it would also be easier for me) if the WADs could be packaged and then manipulated from there versus having to be downloaded from the user's end.

Also, would you be willing to weigh in on

scroton said:

Are there differences in the strictness applied to this on the Doomworld forums versus for idgames itself? As in, would any of the above which are not allowed for idgames uploads be acceptable on the forums?

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scroton said:

Are there differences in the strictness applied to this on the Doomworld forums versus for idgames itself?

I've seen many links to compilations made with no permission on this forum and posted some myself. Most people don't seem to be too nerdy about this stuff, probably because they understand that compilations are made simply for convenience and not to shit on the original authors' work of whatever.

Here is a thread where someone asked about the legality of multiplayer compilation wads and a moderator said that it's not important and sent the whole thing to Post Hell: http://www.doomworld.com/vb/post-hell/54406-how-exactly-are-so-called-compilation-wads-legal/

The /idgames archive is not so "important" nowadays: many notable releases (especially mods and other ZDoom stuff) never get there, so it's not necessary to worry about its rules too much. Compile whatever you want imo, only really nerdy "no fun allowed" people will call you out on that.

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scroton said:

Could you distribute the files extracted from the wad (eg in a folder) along with the readme files,

If you're literally talking about extracting stuff from a WAD file (graphics, levels, etc.) so that you can reuse them, then no, you can't do that without getting permission from the author.

In general I think the text of the copyright notices you've quoted is pretty self-explanatory. As a rule of thumb, under copyright law you can't do anything unless you're explicitly granted the right to by the author. The text file is the only thing that does that.

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Linguica said:

But you can't change them in any way - think of it as though you have to preserve the original timestamps of the files.

Beware: Windows always changes the timestamps when extracting files from a ZIP.

MEMFIS SAID

The /idgames archive is not so "important" nowadays: many notable releases (especially mods and other ZDoom stuff) never get there,

That's bad, because /idgames is the most reliable Doom archive. People should damn put their releases there so that I have a fixed reference when downloading the file several times.

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The problem that ZDoom mods have against idgames is that they are constantly updated during their lifespan. Many people feel that idgames is meant for a finished product only.

Edit: I should note here that on Best-Ever (Zandronum server host), people have merged various megawads into each other so that they can change the megawad level on demand (Say, hell revealed level 1 to scythe 2 level 15).

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BlackFish said:

The problem that ZDoom mods have against idgames is that they are constantly updated during their lifespan. Many people feel that idgames is meant for a finished product only.

The flip side of this problem is when people convince themselves that their mod is never finished, and so their mod never gets submitted. There's a real danger that mods like these might get lost to the sands of time because nobody bothers to properly archive them (idgames is the proper place to do this).

Too often mods like these are hosted on filesharing sites that get shut down (ala MegaUpload) or that time out 6 months after upload. I've personally encountered this kind of thing, where I try to download something and find it no longer exists.

A good rule of thumb might be that if you've been working on something for 6 months, even if you don't think it's "finished", it's time to upload it to idgames. You can update it again later if you want, and it's better that the archive at least has some copy of the mod, even if it ends up being an out of date one because you forget to upload the new version.

Memfis said:

The /idgames archive is not so "important" nowadays: many notable releases (especially mods and other ZDoom stuff) never get there, so it's not necessary to worry about its rules too much. Compile whatever you want imo, only really nerdy "no fun allowed" people will call you out on that.

This is a really dangerous attitude to be taking and it's a shame to see you dismissing the idgames archive as "not so important". While it may seem slightly antiquated in today's world, I still think it's really, really important - idgames is the permanent archive for the creative output of our community. It's our "Library of Congress". These mods are important and deserve to be preserved; we shouldn't be trusting individual websites or ephemeral file-sharing sites to preserve our creative works.

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fraggle said:

A good rule of thumb might be that if you've been working on something for 6 months, even if you don't think it's "finished", it's time to upload it to idgames. You can update it again later if you want, and it's better that the archive at least has some copy of the mod, even if it ends up being an out of date one because you forget to upload the new version.

That depends a lot on how fast you work.

No one would want me to clog up /newstuff with stuff that's in a "working on it for 6 months" state with my (lack of) mapping speed, and I wouldn't want my initial reviews to be based on something that's incredibly and horribly unfinished.

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There's also the case of repackaging older mapsets in a form that's more compatible with modern source ports -or even with vanilla Doom v1.9.

For some reason, some older mapsets (especially big, complex ones with a lot of custom graphics and modifications) shipped with their own modified executables, had special installation procedures which only worked under DOS, and some will only work with specific versions of Doom, not necessarily v1.9.

For some perverse reason, most of them also come with the "MAY NOT modify" clause, which makes even attempts at replaying/preserving them controversial -_-

Some notorious examples:

Quest for the Necronomicon
Obituary
OTTAWAU.WAD. A simple search will reveal how it almost created a community divide.

FWIW, there's no instance of an author of such nonstandard WADs complaining about the repackaging not being 100% Kosher & Halal (and yes, I did attampt to contact at least one). Probably because by now, nobody gives a rat's ass but us DW "old farts".

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Memfis said:

I've seen many links to compilations made with no permission on this forum and posted some myself. Most people don't seem to be too nerdy about this stuff, probably because they understand that compilations are made simply for convenience and not to shit on the original authors' work of whatever.

Here is a thread where someone asked about the legality of multiplayer compilation wads and a moderator said that it's not important and sent the whole thing to Post Hell: http://www.doomworld.com/vb/post-hell/54406-how-exactly-are-so-called-compilation-wads-legal/

The /idgames archive is not so "important" nowadays: many notable releases (especially mods and other ZDoom stuff) never get there, so it's not necessary to worry about its rules too much. Compile whatever you want imo, only really nerdy "no fun allowed" people will call you out on that.

I would end up putting it on /idgames; from what Linguica said the .exe would be a valid workaround to any copyright issues, even if it can't be packaged with exact copies of the WADs and would have to download them on the user's end.

What I'm more concerned about is what I can/can't do on the forums during the period that the compilation is a WIP, since it would be cumbersome both for me and testers to have to use an .exe every step of the way and would probably result in less testers wanting to test/give input on the project.

ETTiNGRiNDER said:

You'd be on the safer side if you stick with the "MAY use as a base" files.

If it turns out I can't post WIP compilations that include such stuff on the forums I'll just end up doing it the hard way with a new .exe to compile the pk3 for each bugfix/change.

fraggle said:

If you're literally talking about extracting stuff from a WAD file (graphics, levels, etc.) so that you can reuse them, then no, you can't do that without getting permission from the author.

In general I think the text of the copyright notices you've quoted is pretty self-explanatory. As a rule of thumb, under copyright law you can't do anything unless you're explicitly granted the right to by the author. The text file is the only thing that does that.

I meant putting them in a folder instead of the WAD, but otherwise untouched. EG instead of requiem.wad, there's now a "Requiem" folder. Probably not that big a deal but still one less step in the .exe. Really a non-issue though.

And as for reusing, while they would be "reused" by me, it would be only insofar as to remove redundant textures/patches and graphics from different WADs to reduce file size for the end product. The project itself would consist only of (renamed) maps and textures already made by others and a TEXTURES lump and some scripting (related to pistol starts, deaths, and random level order) by me.

printz said:

That's bad, because /idgames is the most reliable Doom archive. People should damn put their releases there so that I have a fixed reference when downloading the file several times.

BlackFish said:

The problem that ZDoom mods have against idgames is that they are constantly updated during their lifespan. Many people feel that idgames is meant for a finished product only.

Edit: I should note here that on Best-Ever (Zandronum server host), people have merged various megawads into each other so that they can change the megawad level on demand (Say, hell revealed level 1 to scythe 2 level 15).

fraggle said:

This is a really dangerous attitude to be taking and it's a shame to see you dismissing the idgames archive as "not so important". While it may seem slightly antiquated in today's world, I still think it's really, really important - idgames is the permanent archive for the creative output of our community. It's our "Library of Congress". These mods are important and deserve to be preserved; we shouldn't be trusting individual websites or ephemeral file-sharing sites to preserve our creative works.

The end goal of the project will be an idgames/ upload. I even plan on splitting it into 2 files (as created by the exe, not in the actual upload itself) with one containing the renamed maps and culled patches/textures and the other containing the scripts, that way (since apparently updates to idgames can be somewhat of a hassle) if later compilations are made the user can just download them and load the map files and the mega-comp script file if they want the mega-mega-mega-wad with maps from all compilations or if they only want one of the compilations because it's the only good one and the rest have dumb maps that they hate they can use the normal script file from whichever version of the compilation they want.

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Cynical said:

That depends a lot on how fast you work.

No one would want me to clog up /newstuff with stuff that's in a "working on it for 6 months" state with my (lack of) mapping speed, and I wouldn't want my initial reviews to be based on something that's incredibly and horribly unfinished.

Depends on the type of mod. If it's a map set, that's the kind of thing that deserves to be finished (as in all levels done) before upload.

I'm thinking more along the lines of gameplay mods. Brutal Doom is the most well-known example, but there are plenty of others that do more subtle things - like Revenant100's sprite fixing project or perkristian's hi-res sound pack. None of these are in the idgames archive.

Mods like these are incremental, where they're playable at any particular point in time and each version is slightly better than the previous. I suspect this is also a property that discourages people from submitting to the archive, because the authors are always going to have plans for more tweaks and improvements they want to add in the future, so they're never quite "finished".

All I'm saying is that I think it's really, really important that we permanently archive these things so that they aren't lost. Setting some kind of rule of thumb for mods like these could be helpful.

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With regards to the question of uploading "work in progress" mods to idgames:

http://www.gamers.org/pub/idgames/README.INCOMING said:

4. No demos or partially completed megawads. If you're not done with it, it doesn't belong in an archive.

While this may not actually be saying "don't upload stuff you intend to update later on", it sort of creates that implication. Maybe talking with Ty about a revision/clarification to the rule is in order?

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Yeah, I think "megawads" in that context is referring to level sets (see the wiki article). The kind of gameplay mods that I referred to are relatively new as they weren't really possible without the advanced editing features that modern source ports like ZDoom have. So the text file might need updating.

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rsl (Richard Smith Long) updates his mods on /idgames all the time, it's ok.

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