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License and Legal questions
#1
Hi all, 

I'm looking for a good person to contact regarding license/legal topics. Specifically about how MegaMek Lab (MML) handles the interaction of GPL2 and fonts, MML's use of Battletech trademark in record sheets, and generally the may's, must's, and should's of otherwise separate projects that import, read or otherwise 'use' mtf files.

Thanks for any info or direction!
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#2
You'll need to contact Catalyst Game Labs for questions regarding the BattleTech trademarks.

As for the MTF file format, I believe that to be specific to the MegaMek suite of programs and governed by it's existing license.

Note: Not the representative, just answering questions I believe to be correct.
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#3
The GPL would not make assets such as images or fonts available, as the GPL applies to the source code and resulting software, but not the assets. The assets are copyright their respective authors and distributed with permission.
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#4
(07-05-2019, 06:58 PM)Hammer Wrote: The GPL would not make assets such as images or fonts available, as the GPL applies to the source code and resulting software, but not the assets. The assets are copyright their respective authors and distributed with permission.

Thanks for the quick response. For the record, I'm not trying to stir up anything — I'm just trying to wrap my head around some of this. 

Your point about assets vs source code kind-of makes sense, except that fonts are being distributed with the source without stated permission or license from rights-holders, e.g. Fonderia Caratteri Svizzera Walter Fruttiger A.G. Data; URW. Portions; Microsoft Corp. If the relevant license was purchased, I'd assume it, or a note about it, would be included in the source, given that it probably costed thousands of dollars. (Current rate from monotype for the rights to include Eurostile in a game is $3,600, and even then I think this only covers inclusion with the built results, not distribution with source)... 

I may be confused by what you mean by 'make assets... "available"' though. 

Sorry if I'm being a pest, I'm just new to open source and am having a hard time understanding this stuff. I really appreciate any help.

(07-05-2019, 05:12 PM)rjhancock Wrote: You'll need to contact Catalyst Game Labs for questions regarding the BattleTech trademarks.

As for the MTF file format, I believe that to be specific to the MegaMek suite of programs and governed by it's existing license.

Note: Not the representative, just answering questions I believe to be correct.

Thanks for fast response and the clarification about your role, I'll take your comments with the appropriate salt. 

Re: trademarks — I'm pretty sure that whether or not MML etc. has or does not have permission to use someone else's trademarks is something that the developers would know. 

Re: MTF file format. I'm not entirely sure your statement is the full picture here. For example, SSW uses MTF as an interchange format, but SSW has not been released under GNU GPL2 as would be required (as far as I understand) if SSW was a derivative work.
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#5
To my knowledge, SSW is NOT a derivative work. And if they made their own implementation of reading/writing the MTF file format, I do not believe that would fall under the GPL as they made their own implementation.

GPL covers the code. Assets such as images, fonts, sounds, etc generally do not fall under GPL as they are just packaged with the (non)compiled source code. They are covered under their own licenses and permissions.

As for wether MM has permission, based on age of the project, I’m willing to bet it’s a safe bet they received permission to use said assets.
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#6
I think I was confused by what you meant by the 'format' being protected - does that mean, for example, that it's not kosher to write code that saves data to disk in such-and-such an organization without permission to use that organization? Regardless, I think I found a better formulation of my question along with relevant information here: https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/...ile-format (link included because it's kind-of interesting!) I too assumed that SSW is not a derivative work; it is not following the GPL2 requirement for a derivative work include a GPL2 license. I mentioned it as an example of a situation where the the -format- that data was saved in (opposed to the project mtf catalog) did not appear stapled to a GPL2.

Next issue.

Even if it is indeed the case that "fonts... do not fall under GPL" I'm not sure I understand what this statement means for practical purposes - does it mean that I can create a derivative work using MML source, except the fonts, because MML's GLP2 license does not grant me rights to use the fonts as they 'do not fall under GPL'? I also don't understand how the statement "fonts... do not fall under GPL" answers the questions: How is it the case that a proprietary object can be distributed in the absence of a relevant license or stated permission? How is a font being used in a compiled program in the apparent absence of a license? (Assuming that if a license existed, it would be included with the source code.)

I also do not understand how fonts are in a non-source-code asset category when a font is technically a program.

"As for wether MM has permission, based on age of the project, I’m willing to bet it’s a safe bet they received permission to use said assets."

I'm not sure what to say to this other than that I appreciate the engagement with my questions but I'm really trying to find concrete information about the facts of the matter.
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#7
You can do whatever you want with the mtf format, make your own program that uses it, whatever. Regarding the font, when we started MML we noticed what font the official templates in TW/TM used and used that, figuring that it was fine because MML is just there to create sheets based on those templates and that no one has complained so far. Looking into it more closely, we maybe should switch to a completely free to use font with a similar look, such as Jura: https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Jura
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#8
(07-06-2019, 10:52 AM)IsaBison Wrote: I think I was confused by what you meant by the 'format' being protected - does that mean, for example, that it's not kosher to write code that saves data to disk in such-and-such an organization without permission to use that organization? Regardless, I think I found a better formulation of my question along with relevant information here: https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/...ile-format (link included because it's kind-of interesting!) I too assumed that SSW is not a derivative work; it is not following the GPL2 requirement for a derivative work include a GPL2 license. I mentioned it as an example of a situation where the the -format- that data was saved in (opposed to the project mtf catalog) did not appear stapled to a GPL2.

Next issue.

Even if it is indeed the case that "fonts... do not fall under GPL" I'm not sure I understand what this statement means for practical purposes - does it mean that I can create a derivative work using MML source, except the fonts, because MML's GLP2 license does not grant me rights to use the fonts as they 'do not fall under GPL'? I also don't understand how the statement "fonts... do not fall under GPL" answers the questions: How is it the case that a proprietary object can be distributed in the absence of a relevant license or stated permission? How is a font being used in a compiled program  in the apparent absence of a license? (Assuming that if a license existed, it would be included with the source code.)

I also do not understand how fonts are in a non-source-code asset category when a font is technically a program.

"As for wether MM has permission, based on age of the project, I’m willing to bet it’s a safe bet they received permission to use said assets."

I'm not sure what to say to this other than that I appreciate the engagement with my questions but I'm really trying to find concrete information about the facts of the matter.

1. The MTF format itself is unencumbered.
2. The source code which reads and writes the MTF format in MM/MML is distributed under the terms of GPL2 (possibly GPL3, didn't look at the exact files).
3. Assets do not automatically fall under the GPL simply by being distributed with a GPL application.
4. All assets without explicit licensing or copyrights should be assumed to be held by their respective owners.
5. Fonts, images, et al are not source code compiled into the final executable.

As for the provenance of MMs usage, it doesn't really change your side of the issue. You've got to go out and get the permission.
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#9
(07-06-2019, 03:37 PM)BeeRockxs Wrote: Regarding the font, when we started MML we noticed what font the official templates in TW/TM used and used that, figuring that it was fine because MML is just there to create sheets based on those templates and that no one has complained so far. Looking into it more closely, we maybe should switch to a completely free to use font with a similar look, such as Jura: https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Jura

Thanks for the info! FWIW I'm not agitating for a font change, just trying to figure out if there's a some kind of loop-hole or similar I'm not aware.

Because Eurostile comes with certain MS products, it's ~possible~ that some users actually own some form of license themselves I wonder if there's some kind of loophole where the font is included for convenience but under the expressed assumption that users have, and use, their ~own personal license~. (Vaguely like how with Spotify you can keep your own library on their service though you only ever really just use their files — your 'upload' is just to prove ownership.) Similarly, I assume that Catalyst owns a license for Eurostile and so when they use MML to create record sheets they're totally on the up-and-up.

An open source font may be more keeping in the spirit of an open source project—though you may find it difficult to find a similar typeface with the same range of weights that Eurostile has though :/

(07-08-2019, 08:03 AM)watford Wrote:
(07-06-2019, 10:52 AM)IsaBison Wrote: I think I was confused by what you meant by the 'format' being protected - does that mean, for example, that it's not kosher to write code that saves data to disk in such-and-such an organization without permission to use that organization? Regardless, I think I found a better formulation of my question along with relevant information here: https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/...ile-format (link included because it's kind-of interesting!) I too assumed that SSW is not a derivative work; it is not following the GPL2 requirement for a derivative work include a GPL2 license. I mentioned it as an example of a situation where the the -format- that data was saved in (opposed to the project mtf catalog) did not appear stapled to a GPL2.

Next issue.

Even if it is indeed the case that "fonts... do not fall under GPL" I'm not sure I understand what this statement means for practical purposes - does it mean that I can create a derivative work using MML source, except the fonts, because MML's GLP2 license does not grant me rights to use the fonts as they 'do not fall under GPL'? I also don't understand how the statement "fonts... do not fall under GPL" answers the questions: How is it the case that a proprietary object can be distributed in the absence of a relevant license or stated permission? How is a font being used in a compiled program  in the apparent absence of a license? (Assuming that if a license existed, it would be included with the source code.)

I also do not understand how fonts are in a non-source-code asset category when a font is technically a program.

"As for wether MM has permission, based on age of the project, I’m willing to bet it’s a safe bet they received permission to use said assets."

I'm not sure what to say to this other than that I appreciate the engagement with my questions but I'm really trying to find concrete information about the facts of the matter.

1. The MTF format itself is unencumbered.
2. The source code which reads and writes the MTF format in MM/MML is distributed under the terms of GPL2 (possibly GPL3, didn't look at the exact files).
3. Assets do not automatically fall under the GPL simply by being distributed with a GPL application.
4. All assets without explicit licensing or copyrights should be assumed to be held by their respective owners.
5. Fonts, images, et al are not source code compiled into the final executable.

As for the provenance of MMs usage, it doesn't really change your side of the issue. You've got to go out and get the permission.

Thanks for the response! 

I understand 1 & 2 better now thanks to the replies here and additional research.

I also understand 3 & 4. 

#5 may make the font issue worse. Distributing a font requires a license regardless of whether or not the font is distributed adjacent an executable, just as Microsoft can't bundle fonts with Word and distribute the bundle without a license to distribute the fonts, or someone can't post a link to a zip containing Univers.tff just because the zip also includes a copy of Flappy Bird that access the adjacent font. Moreover, the costs of a license to distribute a font can rise with distribution count into no-price-listed, 'please contact us' territory... 

On the last point I assume you mean MMs usage of BT trademarks. I understand your point and have already talked to Catalyst for my own project. After a brief exchange they've been real quiet — I'm assuming they have plenty of better things to do with convention season and product launches — so I thought I'd reach out to people who have experience with all this. I appreciate all the help so far.
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