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Re: IPF and Openness

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:54 am
by Farb
It seems to me that the problem you are facing is identical to the MAME team -- people could potentially take your code and (along with IPF files and an emulator) sell them a bundle so people can play retro games. Being able to advertise that the games are the "original, untainted, uncracked, etc." will be even more appealing (hell, I'd be tempted buy it).

However, look at all the MAME DVDs being sold through various channels. People that are going to do things like that aren't going to care what software license the code was released under. They are going to try and make a quick buck from other people's hard work and hope they don't get caught. Sure you might have legal recourse against them but is it something you're going to even care to pursue?

If you're saying that you want to prevent "highly commercialized" usage, then the MAME license seems to be enough to cause concern for the legal departments at large software companies. I've been a software engineer for 17 years and have worked at some pretty large companies (Novell, Veritas, Symantec). When the development teams would download some new open source library and use it in the product, the legal department had to go over the software license with a fine-toothed comb to make sure they weren't opening the company up to potential litigation. There were many times we were told that we couldn't use something because the software license was too restrictive or ambiguous. If we needed it badly enough, they negotiated something with the author -- which is I assume where you want to be with this.

Since I write software for a living (and now do so as my own company), I can appreciate the hard work you guys have put into this effort and understand why you want to protect your interests. I never bought into the "if software isn't free it's crap" mentality and there are a TON of closed-source projects that beat the pants off their various open source equivalents. I also know a lot of developers who make their living writing software but say things like "I'd never pay for software." That seems terribly hypocritical to me since I know they wouldn't work for free and can't understand why they would expect others to (sorry, I digress but it's a pet-peeve).

Anyway, that's my $0.02 and I wish you the best of luck. I've bought a Kryoflux to support your efforts and have already started contributing disk images. I'd love to see the various Atari and Commodore emulators pick up the IPF format. Who knows, maybe it can become the "one true disk format." :-)

Re: IPF and Openness

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:43 am
by karadoc
Thanks for your insightful comments.

We don't like people selling our library along with pirated games, it's true. But as you rightly point out, there is very little we can do about that. It is indeed much more about companies that we would otherwise be able to negotiate with - whether this is likely or not we're not sure. It's something we need to properly look at (but not now :)).

Thanks for your comments on the MAME license though. I'm so surprised there doesn't seem to be anything else like it that is commonly used...

Re: IPF and Openness

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:00 am
by mr.vince
MrX_Cuci wrote:Probably an interesting read for you guys by the BSnes author: I hope it works out for you guys and your file format will be widely supported eventually. I am looking forward to it. The only thing holding me off getting a Kyroflux board.
Even discounting the problems with licenses such as the GPL, there is yet another serious problem. The supporters of the GPL. Although I am certain there are many very level headed people who support the GPL, Linus Torvalds being a shining example, there are many more who are very hostile and condescending toward others in attempts to push their beliefs onto the world.
This is SO true. Sadly.

Re: IPF and Openness

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:52 am
by pak21
Largely, everything Dunny said. What needs to be open is the format, not the library. If opening the library is a first step towards having an open format, then all well and good.

From a ZX Spectrum point of view, we don't need a cycle-accurate uPD765 emulation: everything will load just fine with our current emulations if we get a bitstream from the disk; hence I don't see that re-implementing the other bits of the library is going to be that hard.
karadoc wrote:Not only that, but if we went GPL/etc, we cannot change our mind. At least with a non-commercial licence, we are free to license it under a more permissive licence later on.
This isn't true. You can either get the copyright assigned to you for any changes to the library (at which point you are at liberty to license it however you like), or dual-license the code under the GPL and some other license (just like Firefox is tri-licensed under the MPL, the GPL and the LGPL).

Re: IPF and Openness

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:17 am
by Interceptor
just wondering, we are all clear that the library does not take over your floppy drive emulation?

it feeds YOUR floppy drive emulation with the data you request.

EDIT: i'm hoping the sooner we get this open the sooner this type of confusion ends, and much love for the library will follow.

you could look at the caprice32 source code for an example on this, its not posted on the website for reasons explained on there (the author has not been contactable for his consent) but is available on request.

now that said there is a fully accurate WD1772 emulator module in the libaray, which we wrote for testing ST and sam coupe stuff, but you dont need to use it at all, and i dont think anyone does yet. but please lets not discuss this feature here, its off topic.

Re: IPF and Openness

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:24 am
by IFW
Farb: thanks for your insight. I work in the industry as well, for over two decades, and in my experience no respectable company would take this without proper licensing.
However licensing is not my territory so any pointers are really good.
EDIT: and yes, we want to be in the position you mentioned should that ever happen.
pak21: could you share a bit more about multiple-licensing? Do you mean that a different licence applies to commercial users and others?

Re: IPF and Openness

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:29 am
by karadoc
pak21: This is hard to explain, we admit that, especially to those used to other disk image formats.

*IPF is not just a format*. You cannot expect to be able to know how the disk data is laid out inside the file and simply extract it. It needs processing, it needs algorithms applied to virtually master the data using the embedded scripting, just like the original duplicators did. You need to use our library to do that, or make one yourself, but you do need to do it.

We would love to document the format, scripting and algorithms, but that would be significant effort for us because of the above issue, effort we just can't commit right now. That is why we want to publish the source instead. We could just say, "this is what the file contains", but that wouldn't really help you. It's not stored in a form that can be simply extracted.

Once the source is out there, you will be able to see what we mean.
Once we publish the source, maybe somebody can help us document it! :)

As to not being able to change our minds on the GPL, it is true with the intent that I meant it. Sure we can relicense the code for later changes. But the point is that we can't take it back. Once we allow commercial exploitation by others, we will never be able to pursue any possibilities with regards to getting financial renumeration to invest that money in further preservation. We will not be able to change our mind.... and that, right now, is a too big a leap to take.

Re: IPF and Openness

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:45 am
by pak21
Interceptor wrote:you could look at the caprice32 source code for an example on this, its not posted on the website for reasons explained on there (the author has not been contactable for his consent) but is available on request.
Are you aware that linking a GPL program with a non-GPL library is a violation of the GPL?

Re: IPF and Openness

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:47 am
by mr.vince
EDIT: I removed my naggy comment here. Sorry for OT.

Re: IPF and Openness

Posted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:48 am
by karadoc
It depends on how you link it. Dynamically linking to a DLL, as far as I am aware, is fine.