Bukkit is GPL, all non-GPL plugins are breaking copyright law, or worse...

Discussion in 'Bukkit Discussion' started by Afforess, Sep 24, 2011.

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    Bukkit is GPL. It states it explicitly here:


    The GPL requires all derivitive works (anything that links into bukkit code, event listeners, api, even extending JavaPlugin) must be GPL:

    Note the red section. It's cut and dry. All plugins and any derivative works (Pail, etc) must be GPL. VERY, VERY few are.

    In fairness, none of my plugins are GPL, so I too am breaking the US copyright law.

    Now, I believe this is the point where someone steps in and says "Bukkit's license is invalid, they are reviewing it". If true, that means the Bukkit Team actually hold an absolute copyright on the bukkit project (much like the copyrights on music and movies) and anyone who uses bukkit code (plugins, etc) are STILL breaking copyright law, since none of us have written permission to use bukkit code.

    For the tl;dr:

    Bukkit is GPL, so 99% of plugins are illegal, and if Bukkit is not GPL, 100% of plugins are illegal.

    Why do I bring this up? Besides the obvious, the Spout team is in the process of writing a client side API. We're hoping to borrow existing bukkit code (Note, Biome, Inventory, ItemStack, etc) instead of rewriting it from scratch. For the moment, we are breaking copyright by doing this. We'd like to hear confirmation from bukkit.
  2. Change the licence to LGPL then.
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    Every single person who has contributed to the project has to be asked and approve the change. Or their code removed.

    Also relevant:


    EDIT by Moderator: merged posts, please use the edit button instead of double posting.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2016
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    Geoff Winans

    This thread is old and has been hashed over at least 3 times. What's your point, Afforess?

    Shall bukkit stop development and all plugin devs immediately cease and desist? Each time this thread has come up, it's turned into nothing but a retarded trollfest with armchair lawyers attempting to interpret shit they don't understand.

    Have a lawyer write up a draft doc on what's wrong with bukkit. That might be taken more seriously than a forum thread.
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    *loves the IRC conversation*
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    Read the OP:

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    Geoff Winans

    Then send a PM to EvilSeph. He seems to be the voice of bukkit. Making a thread isn't the correct approach.
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    The original threads have been about plugins and how they technically must be GPL in order to be even use the API.

    This thread is about asking if using Bukkit code itself in our own project, if we have to be GPL on the entire project as the terms of GPL state we do. It's a different beast from using the API.

    Mostly, we would like clarification at least that in the way that the Bukkit team will not be pursuing anyone legally over plugins not being GPL, that they will not be persuing us legally over taking their GPL code directly for a LGPL project.
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    Pail is GPL <3
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    I'm not a lawyer, but I've been a software developer for about 12 years and I'm reasonably familiar with GPL. The short answer of how it works is this: if you use GPL-licensed code in your project in any way, shape or form, your entire project must also be released under the GPL license, and in addition, you must release the source code for your entire project. You also need to include the GPL license text, unmodified, in your release.

    LGPL gives something that GPL restricts - the ability to include the library in proprietary software. In other words, if Spout uses LGPL, I can write a closed-source proprietary tool that uses Spout and I don't have to release the source. If Spout was GPL, I would have to release my source in order to use it. Since Bukkit is GPL licensed, Spout must be as well, and so must anything I do with Spout.

    You really shouldn't be confirming that Bukkit isn't going to sue you, that's basically admitting you're doing the wrong thing but don't want to get in trouble. Do the right thing instead, and release Spout under a GPL license. If you don't agree to do that, you need to stop using Bukkit, since you'll be in violation of the license both legally and in spirit.
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    Not really the point. Legally no one can write Bukkit plugins that aren't GPL either. The GPL is there in place on Bukkit until the minecraft license comes to fruition.

    In fact, it's really all moot until then anyway. CraftBukkit is LGPL and implements Bukkit so they are breaking their own license I think.

    The clarification is that if the Bukkit team wishes us to be able to use (some of) the source in Spoutcraft or not. It's just interfaces and Enums for the most part, we'd be hard pressed to write ones that were somehow different, and it would be silly because the idea is to make it easy for plugin developers to write addons as well.

    The whole thing is a mess until Mojang steps in with their license because stuff is in violation of each other all over the place.
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    You're right about plugins, they should be GPL. I don't see that as a problem though, GPL is usually regarded as a good thing.

    The copyright holder has the right to multi-license as they wish, Craftbukkit could be said to have an exclusive free-access license with Bukkit that allows them to interact unhindered. As it stands right now, however, Spout doesn't have an alternate license to use Bukkit's code, so the only option available is to comply with the GPL license. You're free to do that now, of course, as long as Spout is also GPL licensed. Considering even the GNU project recommends you avoid LGPL where possible, is there a reason you're using it over GPL?

    I do understand that Mojang's eventual licensing will change the game (or perhaps it will be GPL as well, who knows), and right now it's a mess, but it's still best to play it safe. GPL isn't just a license, it's a statement about the nature of free open source software. Spout and every plugin benefits because Bukkit is free and open, and GPL exists to make sure that things other people make with Bukkit are also free and open. It encourages sharing, learning and collaboration instead of unnecessarily closing things away.
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    Er, well, everyone is breaking the GPL atm. I more or less want confirmation of that fact.

    ATM, we are simply trying a best effort to make it clear that certain code belongs to bukkit, giving them credit and displaying their license, and understand that it's illegal. Hopefully when the official modding licensing comes out, we can clear everything up.
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    So any servers making any sorts of profits would probably be illegal and could easily be sued.
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    Any servers could be sued.
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    Regardless of profit?
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    CraftBukkit is LGPL, yet no dev from Bukkit owns the copyright to Minecraft, CraftBukkit is a large majority Minecraft code, therefore CraftBukkit is illegal.

    @Afforess When writing a mod for Minecraft on the same level as Bukkit, the least you would have to worry about is Bukkit suing you for borrowing their code :)
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    Doesn't mean they will, as Bukkit it self can be sued just as hard. :)
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    Yea, but who would be such an ******** to do that?
    I'll wait for that lawyer on my doorstep.

    Besides the mocking above, I do agree with your concerns and understand that you want to do things the 'right' way.
    Since the bukkit team seems to have better contact with Mojang (direct email?) then the average MC player (twitter...?) maybe they can request Daniel Kaplan or Carl Manneh to make haste with the licencing thing (Notch didn't hire those guys for nothing, to handle that kind of buisiness).
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    I'm still curious why you want to use LGPL though. Unless it's your intention to allow Spout to be used in closed source projects, it doesn't really give you anything GPL doesn't already do. If you're concerned that your plugin developers would have to make their code open source and that might scare them off, don't worry about that. People had the same concern in the Unix community and the GPL software there is thriving. Many developers will refuse to use libraries that aren't GPL licensed (or at least GPL compatible) now.
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    I prefer LGPL because while I understand and agree with the FOSS philosophy, I find it arrogant for developers to decide to FORCE me to use a specific license. I would only use GPL if forced, never voluntarily.
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    So you don't want to ensure people using your own work as a basis have to release their code as well? I don't agree personally but I don't fault you for thinking that way. Have a read of http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-not-lgpl.html if you haven't already, it's a good read from the guys who invented the license.
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    As long as no-one cares about it I'll be fine :p
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    I've read it before.

    I support FOSS, and refuse to release my software under non-free licenses, however, I think that the freedom of choice is important. I would prefer that developers could use my work freely, even for closed works. Forcing GPL is just as bad as forcing closed source. It's not different at all in fact.

    Freedom of choice is what separates FOSS from closed source.
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    I know this is an old thread (found it somehow searching "bukkit" lol).
    One comment: Notch, please allow Bukkit to be an exception... If you sue BukkitDev, you just basiclly lost a large chunk of your players :/
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    At the risk of sounding sanctimonious.

    I told you so. 3 years later, guess what is the cause of the latest drama, the GPL license!

    Edit: For clarity, I used to be a bukkit contributor & plugin developer. I quit several years ago, but before I left, I brought up numerous licensing issues which I was ignored on.
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    Incorrect. Referencing a project in code is not the same as deriving from a project or conveying a project. The plugins do not convey Bukkit, they merely utilize it externally. (i.e. you must still install CraftBukkit before you install the plugins)
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    That is not how the GPL works. Any code that links to bukkit must also be GPL.


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    1. Answers.com and it's clones are not legal advice.
    2. Again, not the same thing. Plugins do not use Bukkit as a library. To do so, you would include Bukkit in your compile. Plugins do not do that. Bukkit is not in any of my plugins. It is in my compiler, but not my JAR.

    Read here

    "Yes, because the software as it is actually run includes the library."

    In this case, it isn't including the library (Bukkit). It's running it externally.
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