PSA: The GPL/LGPL Licenses and You

TLDR: Read it and weep. Or just read it as 'too many games violating GPL and LGPL'. Cut that crap out or get called out as selfish thieving bastards. Learn to properly attribute your scripts/code/stuff so you don't incur the wrath (and possible legal ramifications) in the future. This goes double for artwork, but I'll specifically deal with scripting/code in this post.

I've been exploring the coding/scripting of several popular (and hidden gems) RM2K3 and RMXP games lately. I'm a budding game designer inspired by the fantastic and awe-inspiring work that the RM community has released (for free!).

Unfortunately, I have noticed a very disturbing trend in use of RGSS coding and scripts that are specifically licensed under the GPL or LGPL licenses. For those that don't know what they are, feel free to follow the links.

There are many well-documented cases of large companies (Microsoft, Cisco, and others) that blatantly ignore the provisions of these licenses for their own commercial gain/benefit. They've faced legal action and have paid the price for their transgressions (although they seem unconcerned enough to have repeated violations without learning from the past).

Being the nature of the majority of RM games being 'freeware', the commercial aspect of these games is not in question. However, I've personally dissected the despicable 'commercial' RM games that do use LGPL and GPL-sourced codes/scripts in blatant violation of those licenses without any attribution, source code availability, or even a mention in the readme! Some of the worst offenders of these are (almost all) of the commercial games present on the 'Amaranth Games' website and specifically the 'Aveyond' series of games. Other games on that AG portal also violate these provisions, but the Aveyond series is the most well-known from that site.

In short, the GPL is very restrictive of commercial use of any of the code while the LGPL permits commercial use under certain conditions. One of these conditions is to provide the unedited and full version of the accompanying license and proper attribution for the source code that was used. That isn't asking much, is it? You used it completely free so just attribute it and provide a copy of the license (or if you're keeping file size down, a link to where it can be viewed/downloaded).

Many games across the entire RM community are guilty of this practice. It is trivial to see and know everything that goes on in RM games unless you care to do custom encryption (and even that can be broken fairly easily by certain people if needed).

Budding game developers, don't fall victim to this. The GPL and LGPL are there for the benefit of the entire open-source community. If you use codes/scripts/artwork from other people, then make sure you have permission to do so and ATTRIBUTE properly!

I'm one of you and I would love to see this community grow even further into a wonderful place to learn game development and bring about a new golden age for video games! We cannot fall into the traps of our predecessors and give in to temptation/greed/lethargy by ignoring the need for proper documentation/attribution of what we use from other sources.

That is all. If this is supposed to go into another thread, then feel free to move it there.

EDIT: Those that use 'game rips' as in sprites/artwork from other games. Go DIAFF, all of you. It is despicable for you to do such a thing. Come up with your own ideas or kindly GTFO. We don't need any more 'copyright infringement' non-parody games flooding the games list. If you lack the creativity for your own original ideas and world-building, then perhaps you should keep your games to yourself. If you can create your own unique variation on that material and make it distinct enough to not look like a blatant clone, more power to you. Audio remixes are a notable exception if they're done well, similar to nearly all the remixes at OCRemix.
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