MOO-cows Mailing List Archive


Re: anyone ever gotten xerox to clarify the MOO license before?

At 01:02 PM 1/08/97 PST, Zachary DeAquila wrote:
>*sigh* Check the MOO-cows archives guys, I think the answers to both
>questions (who owns the server, who owns the db) are there - I know
>the 2nd question was hashed out mightily here several years ago...

There was some discussion under the thread subject "ethics of code usage"
in mid-November 1993.  Mostly it consisted of things like "well I think all
programming should be public domain" and "professional programmers need to
eat, you fool."  More or less.  Unfortunately, all the "hashing out" done
on the MOO-cows list means nothing as far as firming up the legal
situation.  Good healthy venting, though, I guess.  :)

I haven't been able to find more discussion on the subject, but if any one
else does please let us know!  The issue is also close to my heart, because
although Diversity University Inc. is a nonprofit charitable operation, we
want to encourage schools to set up MOOs and for that they will need a MOO
server.  We can supply a core database, but that itself is highly laden
with original LambdaCore code.  Although it would be really nasty of Xerox
to chase colleges and high schools for royalties, the threat of it is not
nice to consider.  Note, however, that a MOO database can be run by any
LambdaMOO server 1.8.0-compliant server, so in theory MOO users aren't tied
to Xerox.  However, my understanding is that the only other server (LPMOO)
isn't 1.8.0 compliant, and I don't know if it will become so.

As long as Pavel worked on the server, and if his employment contract
specified that all programming he did belongs to Xerox (or they get first
crack at it), the server is tied to Xerox.  We must live with the
possibility of them suddenly enforcing that ownership.  The question is, if
MOOs gain enough popularity outside the (poor) academic and hacker
communities, will Xerox enforce its copyright and ask for licensing fees.
The answer is yes, because they ARE a commercial firm and they didn't pay
Pavel's salary for nothing.  However, they might be wise enough to
encourage MOO popularity by supporting the academic and hacker communities
with free or very cheap licenses.  We can only hope, because its totally up
to the Xerox policy-makers (not the lawyers, who are just henchman).  If
they get nasty, I suspect there would be rapid development of non-LambdaMOO
servers by the MOO community and they'll end up with nothing.  However,
common sense is anything but common, eh?

The LambdaCore copyright situation is far more complex.  I'll let someone
else describe the legal differences between forms of collective works, and
just say that unless you can argue successfully in court that all
contributors to LambdaCore understood that they were contributing to what
was going to be a public domain work, then any one of them can at least
insist their code be removed unless they are paid a royalty.  At most, they
could claim LambdaCore is a joint work and that even a person who
contributed one line has the legal right to claim royalties and block all
use of it unless they get paid.  Nasty tangled stuff.  Personally, I'd push
the "you knew it was a contribution to a public domain work" line, but only
a court can decide the validity that.  Until it's tested, or the LambdaMOO
admin. get a release from everyone who contributed, no amount of discussion
here can resolve that issue.  It's for the courts, if anyone chooses to
test it.

Eric (EricM on various MOOs)

P.S.  Hey Erik!  Who owns YOUR contribution to the LambdaMOO server?
Sorry, I couldn't resist.  ;)

   Eric Mercer <>  phone and fax (404) 685-0918
   DU Services, Manager   
   Diversity University, Inc.
=  DU is a non-profit company that develops, disseminates, and   =
=  provides training in educational internet tools, emphasizing  =
=  interactive, multiuser, virtual reality worlds for schools.   =


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