Re: Circlemud/diku Licence 00:14:18 EDT." <>

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

StormeRider writes:
>What if a MUD decided to support a custom client for which they had
>to pay to use? You could still connect via normal telnet, etc., but for the
>additional services provided by a stronger client/server interaction a
>monthly fee was imposed (support/development/bandwidth costs)?

I'd say that in this scenario -- assuming that players who choose not
to buy the client can still play, and are not at a disadvantage --
yes, this is okay.  The reason being that people are paying for the
client software, which you've presumably written from scratch.

>Quoting from the Circle license:
>-- You must not solicit or accept money or other donations in exchange for
>    running CircleMUD.  You must not accept money or other donations from
>    your players for purposes such as hardware upgrades for running
>    CircleMUD.
>This is one that I don't see as a clarification of the Diku license, after
>reviewing the Diku license. This is a proviso of the Circle license that I,
>to be honest, really don't like. If I'm having some troubles with a MUD
>server, why can I not appeal to the people for which I am spending money
>to assist me with either a cash donation for the hardware replacement
>or a hardware donation for a replacement?

My intent was only at clarification, not to make the license more
restrictive.  To give you some context, at the time I wrote this
license I was an active reader and occasional contributor to, where there were constant flamewars between and
about people who were charging for using DikuMUDs.  The flamewars were
idiotic, and the people who were charging for use were generally just
assholes.  They were clearly violating the *spirit* of the Diku
license and trying to weasel their way out of being held accountable
by trying to argue that their actions were not specifically forbidden
by the *letter* of the license.

I was so angry that I decided just to amend the Diku license and
*specifically* ban activities that, at the time, were generally
regarded as bad things.  Looking back on it now, 7 years later, I
would say that in my attempt to do this, I probably went a too far and
ended up making the license too restrictive.

Also, I've mellowed a lot in my old age.

>Not trying to be harsh, but if you're pro-GPL, and you're on the subject,
>perhaps you can explain this one for me. :) And while I might still dislike
>it, perhaps I can understand and live better with it.

This is easy to answer.  Yes, today I'm pro-GPL, but:

  1) The Circle license was intended to be a clarification of the Diku
     license, and no matter what I say or do you still have the
     restrictions that come from Diku
  2) My attitude about free and open-source software was significantly
     different in 1993 than it is now.

But today, yes, I'm absolutely pro-GPL.  As I said in my previous
email on the subject, I would definitely use a plain GPL license if I
was writing a MUD from scratch today.  The fact that all the other
software on my home page is GPL testifies to this fact.  (The
exception is software I wrote for the US Government, which has license
encumberances that prevent me from giving it away to anonymous users,
but which you can get a copy of through the Freedom of Information Act
if you really wanted any of it.)

Legally, I don't know if one is allowed to retroactively make licenses
less restrictive.  I'm pretty sure you can't make licenses *more*
restrictive retroactively, but I'm not sure if it is allowed in
reverse.  If so, maybe that's what I'll do (to the limits imposed by
the Diku license -- unless the Diku people also want to join me.)

Of course, the whole matter seems almost academic anyway, because I
seriously doubt anyone will actually be willing to go to court over
this issue.  Current users of CircleMUD do the right thing (or, don't
do the right thing) for reasons other than threat of legal action.


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