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As an update to the ongoing saga between Improbable and Unity in regards to SpatialOS, Epic Games have now jumped in to take advantage of it. To be clear, I don't consider myself biased in any way towards any game engine, especially as I am not a game developer.

As a quick overview of what happened:

- Improbable put out a blog post, claiming Unity overnight blocked SpatialOS and made Unity out to be a real bad company. Improbable then open source their Unity GDK.

- Unity made their own response, mentioning that they told Improbable a year ago about the issues. Let's be real here, revoking the Unity licenses of SpatialOS wouldn't have been a quickly-made decision. Unity have also mentioned repeatedly now about making their TOS (terms of service) a lot clearer.

- Epic Games and Improbable team up to help developers switch game engines.

To assist developers who are left in limbo by the new engine and service incompatibilities that were introduced today, Epic Games and Improbable are together establishing a US $25,000,000 combined fund to help developers transition to more open engines, services, and ecosystems.  This funding will come from a variety of sources including Unreal Dev Grants, Improbable developer assistance funds, and Epic Games store funding. 

See the full Epic Games blog post here.

I can't help this feeling that Improbable and Epic Games somehow planned this, it feels a little off. To secure a partnership with Epic for rather a lot of money and so quickly, feels like a pretty big PR stunt. Frankly, I feel bad for the folks at Unity as it seems like they've been played here.

Unity does have a lot of issues (especially often on Linux) but this whole situation feels like a made-up farce to make Unity out to be worse than it is. Their terms of service have been pretty poor though, Unity certainly aren't angels and haven't helped themselves.

Again though, this only highlights some of the dangers of using proprietary game engines for your projects. I don't consider myself a zealot in any way towards absolutely preferring open source game engines, especially when closed source alternatives can do a lot of things better, but it should be ringing some alarms bells for developers as a reminder of how they're not really in control.

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Purple Library Guy 13 January 2019 at 1:02 am UTC
mirvYou don't to understand a couple of things about GNU/Linux. First, is that it's truly open, and no forcing one way on everyone. One way might end being used, but it's not forced - don't like it, pick another distro.
But, the second thing to understand is that despite all the distros, it's actually kind of simple to bundle a game to run on the vast, vast, majority...if not all of them.
When I think about games of all things having problems . . . you could bundle all the libraries you need that could remotely plausibly vary meaningfully between distros, and it wouldn't take up as much space as the file for one decent-sized cutscene. So what on earth is the big deal?
x_wing 13 January 2019 at 1:15 am UTC
Purple Library GuyBy definition, an open source engine could not have "the current license situation" because whether something is open source is determined by whether the license gives you rights that don't allow this kind of situation to happen. It's about freedom, not just being able to look at code.

It's about freedom, but you can add commercial limitations. Just like Mysql license does.
Purple Library Guy 13 January 2019 at 2:23 am UTC
x_wing
Purple Library GuyBy definition, an open source engine could not have "the current license situation" because whether something is open source is determined by whether the license gives you rights that don't allow this kind of situation to happen. It's about freedom, not just being able to look at code.

It's about freedom, but you can add commercial limitations. Just like Mysql license does.
My understanding of the MySQL situation is, it's dual licensed. It's available under the GPL, or if you want to do something the GPL does not allow (like, mainly, embed it in a closed source thing and then distribute that thing), you can buy it under a commercial license which is not open source. So there is not one open source license which enforces weird commercial-license-type shenanigans. There is an open source license which works like open source, and there is a commercial license which does not.
x_wing 13 January 2019 at 3:09 am UTC
Purple Library Guy
x_wing
Purple Library GuyBy definition, an open source engine could not have "the current license situation" because whether something is open source is determined by whether the license gives you rights that don't allow this kind of situation to happen. It's about freedom, not just being able to look at code.

It's about freedom, but you can add commercial limitations. Just like Mysql license does.
My understanding of the MySQL situation is, it's dual licensed. It's available under the GPL, or if you want to do something the GPL does not allow (like, mainly, embed it in a closed source thing and then distribute that thing), you can buy it under a commercial license which is not open source. So there is not one open source license which enforces weird commercial-license-type shenanigans. There is an open source license which works like open source, and there is a commercial license which does not.

That's my point. You can be open source (because your code product is freely available) but you can put limitations on commercial products that were based on your work.
Purple Library Guy 13 January 2019 at 6:21 am UTC
x_wing
Purple Library Guy
x_wing
Purple Library GuyBy definition, an open source engine could not have "the current license situation" because whether something is open source is determined by whether the license gives you rights that don't allow this kind of situation to happen. It's about freedom, not just being able to look at code.

It's about freedom, but you can add commercial limitations. Just like Mysql license does.
My understanding of the MySQL situation is, it's dual licensed. It's available under the GPL, or if you want to do something the GPL does not allow (like, mainly, embed it in a closed source thing and then distribute that thing), you can buy it under a commercial license which is not open source. So there is not one open source license which enforces weird commercial-license-type shenanigans. There is an open source license which works like open source, and there is a commercial license which does not.

That's my point. You can be open source (because your code product is freely available) but you can put limitations on commercial products that were based on your work.
We're not as far apart as I initially feared, but no. The dividing line is not of commercial or non-commercial use--not for the GPL and, as I recall, not within the open source definition. You can do anything with a commercial product that you can do with one that isn't; if you define your license such that people have to do something differently if they're going to make money from it, that's not open source. It's a matter of redistribution and whether you are granting the same rights as were granted to you. People selling commercial products often happen to want to close down access to code or ability to make changes or further redistribute.
True, people not selling commercial products are less likely to mind abiding by copyleft terms. But I could have a piece of software which I intended to redistribute for free, but without the code, or without the right to make changes or further redistribute it. If I wanted to embed MySQL in that software, I would not be able to use the GPL. I would have to buy the software from the copyright holder under a different, say "commercial" license, even though my software was not commercial. But I'd be insane to not just abide by the GPL instead.
etonbears 13 January 2019 at 1:44 pm UTC
mirvStreaming needs a semi-decent 'net connection too. Ruling out Australia.

And many other locations, including the UK where I am. It's probably the only reason that we haven't seen more streaming activity yet.

Without the constant hacking attempts, botnets, spam and advert bloat, the Internet infrastructure would seem less bad, but it's difficult to see how these problems can be addressed successfully on a global network.

It wouldn't entirely surprise me, at some point, to find dedicated infrastructure being applied to certain categories of application, if that is the only way to achieve the required performance, athough the organisation and funding would be a challenge.
Kristian 13 January 2019 at 2:46 pm UTC
x_wing
Purple Library Guy
x_wing
Purple Library GuyBy definition, an open source engine could not have "the current license situation" because whether something is open source is determined by whether the license gives you rights that don't allow this kind of situation to happen. It's about freedom, not just being able to look at code.

It's about freedom, but you can add commercial limitations. Just like Mysql license does.
My understanding of the MySQL situation is, it's dual licensed. It's available under the GPL, or if you want to do something the GPL does not allow (like, mainly, embed it in a closed source thing and then distribute that thing), you can buy it under a commercial license which is not open source. So there is not one open source license which enforces weird commercial-license-type shenanigans. There is an open source license which works like open source, and there is a commercial license which does not.

That's my point. You can be open source (because your code product is freely available) but you can put limitations on commercial products that were based on your work.

Actually both the Open Source Definition and the Free Software Definition specifically allow commercial distribution. From the Free Software Definition:

Quote“Free software” does not mean “noncommercial”. A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important. You may have paid money to get copies of free software, or you may have obtained copies at no charge. But regardless of how you got your copies, you always have the freedom to copy and change the software, even to sell copies.

In fact the FSF has an entire article on that topic. What often confuses these matter is the distinction between commercial and proprietary. If I take the Linux kernel and/or its source code, burn it to a CD and sell that CD. That is a commercial transaction. The Linux kernel's GPL license allows such a transaction. If I do the same with Apache, that is still a commercial transaction. The Apache License 2.0 allows that commercial transation.

Now the GPL unlike the Apache License 2.0 is, in addition to being open source and free software, a copyleft license. So if I take the Linux kernel, make changes to it and release those changes to the public, but I refuse to release the source code to that changed version I am in violation of the GPL. That is the nature of copyleft.

The Apache License 2.0 is a free software/open source license. But it is not a copyleft license. So I can take Apache, modify it and sell the modified version as MyAwesomeWebserver or something and withhold the source code to that version. The Apache license allows that. Now that modified version would not be Free Software or Open Source. But Apache is.

Now of course there are nuances, details and footnotes to all of this. For example take the Mozilla Public License that Firefox uses. It is a copyleft license, but it is a file based copyleft. So long as my changes are in separate files, I can release a proprietary modified version.

Due to the copyleft nature of the GPL some projects have gone with a dual license business model. Meaning that they sell exceptions to the GPL. Allowing others to create proprietary derivative works. This is premised on the project/organisation holding the necessary legal rights(often via copyright assignments) to sell exceptions. I could take MySQL, make changes and release my own AwesomeSQL. I can even sell that version, so long as I abide by the terms of the GPL. That would include releasing the source code. Now I would hold the copyrights to my changes so MySQL could not sell exceptions to AwesomeSQL as a whole. Nor could I actually since MySQL would hold the majority of the copyright.

The part of the Unity TOS that is being disputed is definitely not compatible with either the Open Source Definition or the Free Software Definition and accordingly none of the licenses on the OSI's or FSF's respective lists contain any terms like that.

Edit:

I should expand the point about the Unity TOS and Open Source/Free Software. The 6th point of the Open Source Definition is this: "The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research."

So an Open Source license cannot have restrictions on using the software for cloud services, streaming, etc.

Similarly from the Free Software Definition: "The freedom to run the program means the freedom for any kind of person or organization to use it on any kind of computer system, for any kind of overall job and purpose, without being required to communicate about it with the developer or any other specific entity. In this freedom, it is the user's purpose that matters, not the developer's purpose; you as a user are free to run the program for your purposes, and if you distribute it to someone else, she is then free to run it for her purposes, but you are not entitled to impose your purposes on her."


Last edited by Kristian at 13 January 2019 at 3:32 pm UTC. Edited 3 times.
etonbears 13 January 2019 at 3:22 pm UTC
x_wing
Purple Library Guy
x_wing
Purple Library GuyBy definition, an open source engine could not have "the current license situation" because whether something is open source is determined by whether the license gives you rights that don't allow this kind of situation to happen. It's about freedom, not just being able to look at code.

It's about freedom, but you can add commercial limitations. Just like Mysql license does.
My understanding of the MySQL situation is, it's dual licensed. It's available under the GPL, or if you want to do something the GPL does not allow (like, mainly, embed it in a closed source thing and then distribute that thing), you can buy it under a commercial license which is not open source. So there is not one open source license which enforces weird commercial-license-type shenanigans. There is an open source license which works like open source, and there is a commercial license which does not.

That's my point. You can be open source (because your code product is freely available) but you can put limitations on commercial products that were based on your work.

That depends on what you mean by open source. My personal understanding of the term is any licence that complies with The Open Source Definition. The first clause of this definition is...

QuoteThe license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.

Which essentially means you can't call a licence open source if you are not giving the software rights away gratis, which means you cannot restrict direct commercial use.

*****
Edit2: Purple Library Guy correctly pointed out that the preceeding statement is not clear.

To clarify: an open source licence requires you to make the source code of binary distributed software readily available at no additional cost, and with no restriction as to the purpose for which the software is subsequently used.

This does not restrict the licence holder, or others, from distributing the software in binary or source form for money, so long as those receiving only binaries have a reference to a source version readily available without charge.
*****

The remainder of The Open Source Definition deals with availability of the source code, and the ways you CANNOT restrict it's further use.

As far as I remember, this definition was deliberately constructed to accomodate the two major viewpoints concerning source licences at the time. It allowed the GPL ( Free Software Foundation ) to add cascading restrictions to how source code could be further used, and it allowed BSD ( University of California, Berkeley ) to permit derivative works that are not themselves Open Source.

What unites Open Source licences is the intent to give away the covered software. Beyond that BSD and friends are permissive, while GPL and friends are restrictive.

A number of commercial entities have used Open Source licences to promote adoption of their software, but doing so does not guarantee that they will be the ones who make money from the software.

Others, like Unity Technologies, make source code available under a proprietary licence, ensuring that they explicitely retain copyright, IP, trademarks, and control of further use, to ensure that they retain control of who makes money from their software.


Last edited by etonbears at 15 January 2019 at 5:25 pm UTC. Edited 3 times.
x_wing 14 January 2019 at 3:50 am UTC
Wow, I may have put the compiler in pedantic mode
KristianEdit:

I should expand the point about the Unity TOS and Open Source/Free Software. The 6th point of the Open Source Definition is this: "The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research."

So an Open Source license cannot have restrictions on using the software for cloud services, streaming, etc.

Similarly from the Free Software Definition: "The freedom to run the program means the freedom for any kind of person or organization to use it on any kind of computer system, for any kind of overall job and purpose, without being required to communicate about it with the developer or any other specific entity. In this freedom, it is the user's purpose that matters, not the developer's purpose; you as a user are free to run the program for your purposes, and if you distribute it to someone else, she is then free to run it for her purposes, but you are not entitled to impose your purposes on her."

Well, I know that there are many open source license that put different levels of restrictions and liberties. Either case, if we refer to a open source license compliant (separated from a parallel restricted license that the same code can have), it can't go against the free use axiom. So yeah, then the open source license would be enough to avoid the issue with unity.
cprn 14 January 2019 at 8:13 am UTC
Wait... So Unity is regulated by ToS? How is a game engine a service??
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