Sunday, November 8, 2009

too many tire tracks in the sands of time, too many love affairs that stopped on a dime

Couple folks questioned my interpretation of Prad Prathivi's post on the Emerald Viewer. So I went back and read it again, and followed the links. I read the original post Emerald devs sent out on their blog about the issue:

It has come to our attention that some developers are distributing binaries that are in violation of our licensing. If you do not provide the complete source code to all binaries you distribute, or if you include incompatible binaries in your distribution(s), you will be in violation of the licensing, and thusly, as stated in section 4.2 of the GPLv2, you will have terminated your rights under it, and will no longer be able to legally produce works based upon our code.

We just submitted a copyright violation claim to Google regarding a "neillife" viewer blog on their blog service. This is one of several clients that have been brought to our attention that are in violation of our copyright.

I think they're definitely tired of being blamed for doing what other developers have done before them. Nicholaz Beresford never had these problems, but suddenly Emerald comes along and people feel disservice has been done.

"Confused" commented on the announcement:

wait, wait, wait... you guys take code from Linden Labs, modify it, copyright it apparently, and now you're crying because someone else is doing naughty things with LL's open source code? Wow, weren't a few of you guys responsible for some of the very first nasty third party viewers?

Were they? I've heard--I have no verification of this, but from sound sources--that some of the folks behind Copybot came together with other interested developers to put out Emerald. I will go on record to say that the arrival of Copybot changed the grid forever, and in no good ways. But was it the program itself, or the stupid uses idiots put it to? What was the original intent behind Copybot in the first place?

"Fiscus" replies to "Confused":

This announcement says it has found compilers that dont adhere to the gpl licensing.
What they are saying is that these viewers are using emeralds Source to compile these viewers, and unlike emerald are not compiling with sl's licensing. in the above case by not releasing its source as stated in the gpl.

And that is an excellent point. While I have used the Kirsten viewer in the past, and likely would have stayed with it had she not amped it beyond my machine's ability to follow, why she originally got into trouble was not because she wasn't a "known" developer--it was entirely because she copied portions of open-source code and then did not release her viewer open-source. I truly don't know if she's managed to force compliance since, but when she began, her excuse was, she built and rebuilt the base code so much, with her own innovations, plus suggestions from the sldev list, she truly could not remember what was hers and what was someone's suggested patch and what was purely LL code.

Now, several people told her it was her responsibility to keep careful notes, and sure, theoretically, that's true--but it's a bit late to tell someone who's already released a viewer they need to track everything out.

I do think there's a difference between that kind of viewer issue, though, and NeilLife coding, for instance--I truly don't think NeilLife programmers ever intended to release their patch notes, period. Which is where Emerald devs stand up and say no. And it is their right to do so--it's not a case of "stealing" from the Lindens and releasing it, in terms of open-source, Creative Commons-licenced code. It's purely a case of voluntary compliance--and since Emerald developers have complied with the OpenGL restrictions on their compiles, they have the absolute right to say how their OpenGL-released code can be used. Just as Linden Labs have that right.

Now, the one comment that didn't seem to have a source (within that blog post, anyway) was Chalice Yao's:

Quote: 'Chalice Yao: Purple Second Life (was distributed in binary only)'

Actually, PSL was never even publically distributed or given to strangers. It was simply a viewer for my close friends, when I took my first shakey steps at c++ viewer coding way back, and some showed interest in the fancies. Said people I have given it to would have had access to the source code, as per the GPL, on request. I even wrote an e-mail to the Free Software Foundation on the matter. However, pretty much none of said group were coders or even made requests. Then one idiot in that group tossed a copy to the W-Hats to gain prestige there, I lost motivation, and the rest is history.

But Chalice brings up a good point, too--developers don't have to offer the code for download by the public, and most do not, and that's fine. They have to provide it on request--via email to the requestor, or actual physical shipping of disc, it's their option--and that's fine too. I certainly wouldn't request a copy of the patch code, I wouldn't know what I was looking at--my field is HTML and a narrow bare sliver of LSL; C++ is beyond my scope (or at least beyond my current interest level), and I know it.

But Beresford provided his code on request; Emerald does; Snowglobe (while it is, yes, an internal build of Linden Labs) provides the code and the daily build of the viewer on the Snowglobe page.

Or at least, used to.

The point is, Emerald developers aren't standing up and saying, Hey! That illegal thing we did, we don't want you to do it! They're saying they have complied with OpenGL and FLOSS licensing restrictions, and they want people who have requested and are using their developed code (note, theirs, not the Lab's untouched code) stop doing it unless they comply with OpenGL and FLOSS restrictions.

Ultimately, Prad was right, I was wrong, I misinterpreted the point. And I felt it was worth another blog post to say so. My apologies, sincerely offered.

Though it's also good to see someone else who counts Emerald as a legitimate compliant viewer, and not a hacked viewer--like, for example, NeilLife.


AntoniusMisfit said...

Isn't the title of this post lifted from a Don Henley song?

Great points about Emerald btw.

Emilly Orr said...

Yes. In fact, the titles of all the posts on this blog, start to finish, are single song lyrics, bits of lyrics, or two-line lyrics from songs.

(This is, btw, allowable, as I am not quoting the whole song--and, in those moments where, in the post itself, I have quoted the entire song, by linking to a place the song can be heard, or to the band's website, for more information, I am within fair use restrictions.)

And thank you. I know well there are options that can (and have) been misused in Emerald; but I believe the intent is sound, and good, and the intent is not to deceive, lift, or improperly gain access to prims, textures and scripts.

The same cannot be said with NeilLife--though he is claiming he has no responsibility for the uses his viewer is put to, many of his tips offer ways to get around the permissions system in SL. Give me a legitimate reason, but I can't see a way that that's not advocating copying of items not yours, and reintroducing/reselling them (for profit or IP dilution, your pick).