Re: Circlemud/diku Licence 20:41:26 MDT." <000501bff1f4$025df710$0f00009c@rei>

From: Jeremy Elson (
Date: 07/19/00

This has been a pretty hot topic lately, it seems.  Someone from
mudconnector recently wrote to ask my opinion; my reply is below.
Someday when someone gets a chance to finally roll out the recently
redesigned web page, I'll add a "license FAQ".



First, I want to mention that the restrictions on the use of
CircleMUD code come primarily from the original DikuMUD license.  The
DikuMUD license banned all commercial use of the server.  The
CircleMUD license is primarily inherited from the DikuMUD license, but
with some clarifications on what "commercial use" means.

I feel that I should point out that the vast majority of software I
write ( is simply
GPL-protected -- which, as you probably know, has no commercial
restrictions.  If I was writing a MUD from scratch today I would
definitely put it under GPL.

That said I will give you my opinion on some of the cases you have described.

"Filanada Mou" writes:
>1) I set up a stock CircleMUD, making no changes other than the name, and
>then sell t-shirts from its website with just the name of the MUD, and the
>telnet and/or website address.

I think this is probably okay.  After all, players don't have to buy
tshirts in order to play the game... they are paying for the t-shirt,
not the game itself.

>2) I create a mobile and an area, and sell, on the MUD's website, the
>t-shirts with a picture of the mobile and all the MUD's details.

I think this is also probably okay with the same reasoning as above.

>3) I create an original world and theme for a world, starting with CircleMUD
>code, and later recode (from scratch) the codebase, identical in look and
>feel to the original CircleMUD derivative, but with none of the original
>Circle or DIKU code, and then make the MUD pay-to-play. [This one, I think,
>everyone is now agreed upon, but your input would be greatly appreciated

I wonder if you're talking about Everquest here?

In any case, if there really is no code at all from the original
CircleMUD, I would say it's probably okay.  It is a gray area though.

>How far did you intend to prevent people making money from the use of a MUD
>based on CircleMUD?

These days, given that GPL is my license of choice, it's not all that
important of an issue to me.  However CircleMUD is still required to
abide by the DikuMUD license.  The clarifications I introduced to the
CircleMUD license were just that -- an attempt at clarification,
because questions such as yours often came up (and, apparently, still

I think the spirit of the license only requires that money not change
hands in order to play the game itself.  I don't see any legal or
moral problem with charging for other things *related* to the game,
such as:

-- Paying someone to write code for your CircleMUD
-- Selling t-shirts with the name of your CircleMUD
-- Selling a world-builder or other utility that uses the CircleMUD
   file formats

On the other hand, something like requiring money to play the game,
giving users extra benefits within the game in exchange for cash or
other compensation, and this kind of thing is not allowed.


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