Re: License

From: Patrick Dughi (
Date: 10/01/00

> A quickie...  Out of interest, it's not against the license if a
> bunch of friends chip in (who are mortals) to improve the server of the
> mud they play at, is it?
> Also from license.doc:
> > -- 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.
> Yeah, it's kind of harsh, but I'm sure Jeremy wants it as
> black-and-white as possible.  It's all too easy for some muds to fall
> into pay-per-play; and circle is intended to be 100% free.

        Unfortunately, the wording specifically denies donations, or any
sort of charity money.

        There is a way around it though.  If you view it as an owned
object, you are not allowed to make money from it, however, you have to
put money into it to get it to 'be'.  This money may go to hardware,
software, or be traded off in time spent to setup your system, and install
a circlemud.  This is an expenditure that _someone_ has to make,
eventually, to get your system going, and to keep it going.  So, the
status of owner means you donate your $/time/etc to the game, and you're
the only type of person allowed to do so.

                        With me so far?

        Okay, now, as a mud owner, you're entitled to spend as much money
upgrading your system as you'd like.  However, you cannot take other
people's money.  Of course, on some systems, there are several 'owners' -
or at least admin level people with the same trust level as the owner.
Tecnically, they could be declared part-owners, and therefore be allowed
to donate $ to the upkeep of _their_ system.

        Taken a step further, I know alot of people who run muds, but are
barely on as immortals - they'd rather play.  Their admin character isn't
ever used.  Yet, they're the 'owners' of the mud.  You could make an
allowance for these sorts of owners, or players who can be declared
partial owners, but have no administrative say that is directly enforced.

        Now, this is all in the legally grey area.  You could liken it to
a free stock handout by a company.  Technically the players (accepting the
free stock by creating a player) are now partial owners, depsite the fact
that their leverage is very small, and individually rarely causes changes.
Of course, isn't this the exact situation we see in every standard mud?
Players all shouting 'bug' at once tend to have an impact, whereas one
character (for all their volume) rarely effects a change?  In fact, aren't
muds more defined by their social groups than the areas, and code backing
it up?

        I think that if you were to eventually take the license before an
actual court of law, you would be able to see quite a few loopholes, most
probably coming down to the requirement of a legal declaration of the

        "By playing on this mud, you are considered a partial owner of the
mud, and have some quantifiable rights implied by this ownership.  You
have the right to forfeit this ownership at any time, and upon declaration
of forfeiture, you relinquish the rights said ownership conveys.  The
afforementioned rights must also be surrendered upon request by <list of
admin characters>, as they reserve the right to declare an owner 'fit'
for this gaming system."

        -- and so the license is bypassed ...

        Well, I'm not a lawyer, but it'd be something like that, and then
poof, shrouded in a legal veil, you can play on exactly as before, only
now you can take money, really, for anything, under the guise of
donations.  Yes, even money for items; don't you/your parents donate to a
church and based on the $ ammount recieve a tangible reward? From public
recoginition on the weekly flyer, to engraved crosses, hand-written notes
of thanks, and copies of the bible?

        The fact of the matter is though, the circle license and the diku
license that predates it only wanted to accomplish one thing ; protect the
players from administrators who would abuse their addicitive behavior for
financial gain.  They saw no clear way to do this except by expansively
declaring _all_ financial gain as invalid.  However, they obviously didn't
depend on the services of a lawyer to write this statement up.

        Now, myself, I adhere to the spirit, AND the implied, yet poorly
defined critera.  I wouldn't use the above co-owner situation simply
because I have respect for the creators of the code.  Don't think I
haven't seriously considered rewriting a base from scratch with GPL
licensing. .... however, I don't think that it's too hard to define who
actually owns the mud - and really, they're the only ones who should be
paying anything.

        Who knows, maybe circlemud will get GPL'ed in the future, and
we can stop worrying about this, and let players who want to help,
actually help.


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