Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Discuss Daggerfall Unity and Daggerfall Tools for Unity.
Eric
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2015 9:49 am

Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Post by Eric » Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:59 am

Hi Everybody!

As the title states, I got some legal questions about DFU.
So I know (or better said I think to know) that DFU is something created by Interkarma and of course not to forget you guys with your awesome mods/enchantments.
Reading the files in the github page of DFU shows, that everything seams to be published under the MIT license, which is pretty cool, because as far as I know, MIT license is (aside CC0) quite much the definition of "free".

So according to this terms, I am allowed to build the unity project for android as an example. And then I am even allowed to sell this build in the play store. Dont get me wrong, I wouldn't charge money for an android build, but if none of you guys nor Interkarma publishes for android, I will atleast try :D (if its ok with you guys).

The second question is about including the original Daggerfall Assets needed for DFU into a build. Bethesda released Daggerfall for free due to its anniversary, but that doesn't mean anyone is allowed to include their files into his/her own project, does it?

Its pretty much clear that I am a noob with such legal things, so dont eat me if I got something wrong :D

Best Regards
Eric

User avatar
Interkarma
Posts: 5183
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2015 1:51 am

Re: Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Post by Interkarma » Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:32 pm

Hey Eric!

Any of my original source code released under MIT is free to use or sell as you like. As far as my project is concerned, I'm happy for you do whatever you want with it. Please feel free to use it in your own projects or use it as a starting point for something else.

I'd just be a bit concerned trying to sell or distribute any content owned by Bethesda. They seem to be happy for fans to create mods and use the Daggerfall assets in a free way such as I'm doing with DFU, but I imagine they would come down on anyone using those assets in a commercial manner. The best course of action here would be to ask their permission before doing anything. And keep in mind that I am not a lawyer. :)

User avatar
Nystul
Posts: 1394
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:31 am

Re: Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Post by Nystul » Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:25 pm

I think as soon as one is trying to earn money with stuff that incorporates content made by bethesda (including any of the original game files) it would be illegal until you have bethesda's written permission.

communityus
Posts: 41
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2019 1:51 am

Re: Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Post by communityus » Fri Apr 05, 2019 4:13 am

I know I am necro posting. At least the forum has some affinity to the idea, because spells modding. :lol: :|

The project has become so awesome, and this question so relevant to the devs we either need to fork it (and by we I mean me) or maybe make it more clear somewhere in a FAQ.

So the clear answer to can we use this in production and even paid commercial release is...yes!
Can we use any art (models, even the smallest icon) ...no!

Correct?

The further question would it be better to look at this as a clean room guideline code sample project or was care taken from start to have the MIT code and github repo be separate IP from the sibling IP that is DF?

I also saw earlier when I was looking for a clearly stated answer to this (like this necro post) a comment making it sound like Bethesda owns all this. Surely you jest jayhova. I hope this is not the case, if so did this happen sometime after this necro post because above does not sound like that is the case. Is there some history that can be shared like what was done at OpenMW engine.

Thanks team.

User avatar
Jay_H
Posts: 3145
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:54 am

Re: Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Post by Jay_H » Fri Apr 05, 2019 4:36 am

Welcome to the forums :)

Some of our members did a good job more precisely cutting down to what is and isn't permissible in another topic. So there's the ambiguity of what you meant with this statement:
So the clear answer to can we use this in production and even paid commercial release is...yes!
What is "this?" If you refer to the engine alone with no strings attached, that's definitely true. If you mean the whole product Daggerfall Unity, it no longer is.
Come join Lysandus' Tomb, a Daggerfall Unity fan Discord.
See the Daggerfall Unity Wiki on the UESP.

communityus
Posts: 41
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2019 1:51 am

Re: Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Post by communityus » Fri Apr 05, 2019 5:11 am

Thank you for the welcome and the reply.

I did gloss over that before, and I will again. It is very much making it clear we can't use content that is IP. That is jolly, I wasn't wanting to use content nothing borrowed from the other, no stories, names nothing...I would like to for fun, but laws suck can't.

So if just looking at the engine framework and engine features. That would still be a yes it looks like we can use this. I might even need to go to the level of tweaking the art specifications slightly so everything is slightly different and no api/interface was directly copied. Pain, but I would assume to this extent it should be fine esp. in the engine context.

Has any thought gone into re-clarifying the mission statment with more Enginey wording and less mod wording?

I just found these, so I apologize I have not done any forum search for this...
- same question but for
1. daggerfall-tools-for-unity (sounds like same thing)
2. daggerfallconnect (sounds like where the unity branch came from - maybe good foundation for clear no IP ties port)
3. Ruins of Hill Deep

Are there any completely redone IP unfettered content works underway? I know this started as a remake/remastered but doesn't hurt to ask. Lots of mod work which is great. Mainly curious if anyone has taken this to limits or out of the box as it were like I am suggesting.

And last question:
Has any effort been made to separate the engine into it's own repo/core just to further aid in this? Even if only in code thought, structure and layout at this point? Or is this not needed as the repo is already the engine and that is fine because the DF files are purposefully not in the repo for this very reason?

I ask because I mean the work here is great, nothing like it esp. for Unity. If this can be well defined like.
Does "Engine" = the code
And does the "Product" = the content, esp. that which was originally from the DF files.

If that is all, then I think the way the dev problems have been solved here are a great resource to anyone to take and use and learn. (talking even university, children devs old and young - just a good seasoned approach for any ambitious project) And gratefully credit the dev team here in process, but this is not about that. Trying to just really narrow down the scope to the code only, and perhaps the namespaces were those renamed or did they stay the same? Because google vs oracle concerns. Sigh.

Its just too good of a resource to not get serious about these questions. I do plan to use this in production and for a later commercial product if Engine = Code = Yes we can use as not IP protected and it is more of a clean room solution for engine features.

User avatar
jayhova
Posts: 718
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:54 pm
Contact:

Re: Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Post by jayhova » Fri Apr 05, 2019 6:50 pm

communityus wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 4:13 am
I also saw earlier when I was looking for a clearly stated answer to this (like this necro post) a comment making it sound like Bethesda owns all this. Surely you jest jayhova. I hope this is not the case, if so did this happen sometime after this necro post because above does not sound like that is the case. Is there some history that can be shared like what was done at OpenMW engine.
My reference as to ownership of derivative work is generally aimed at any artwork, sounds, content, etc. Software written to a spec is generally considered acceptable. Let us for instance take the case of the IBM PC BIOS. The bios was the only proprietary part of the PC when IBM built it. When people wrote a new BIOS derived from the IBM technical manual, IBM successfully sued for copyright infringement because the manual was a copyrighted work. The BIOS was successfully recreated when Phoenix cleverly constructed a technical specification of the BIOS and had an engineer who had not seen the PC nor had any knowledge of it's workings, write the code.

The code itself would not be subject ton copyright infringement because the authors did not derive their knowledge for how the code would be written from Bethesda copyrighted material. The materials used are the product of many people who did their own research and derived how the software would likely function. This has created a fan built technical specification used for construction of a suitable Xngine replacement.

You could use the code used to create DFU if you used all original assets and substantially changed the play mechanics of the original game to be substantially different. That is to say you would need to make any new game you offered for sale to be as mechanically different from Daggerfall as Daggerfall is from Gurps or D&D. You could likely sell DFU itself as a replacement engine. You could for instance licence it to GOG who could include it with the game as an upgrade to the original engine.
Remember always 'What would Julian Do?'.
Windows 10 Pro 64 bit. DFU Ver. Alpha 0.10.7

communityus
Posts: 41
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2019 1:51 am

Re: Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Post by communityus » Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:30 pm

Thanks for the follow up. This is my understanding as well.

Major work need for sure, esp. because the balance of the mechanics is a large part of what made DF great.

I saw the project back in 2017 and have followed along, but the well done mod framework and other features has now made this single work an easier choice as a base than rolling our own.

I have been making a list of what has been modded. For reference of what can be done. I believe you suggested and started a google doc for of all the mods to date in a more concise format with how to install.

The only concern I haven't answered yet -> can we yet play with just mods and bypass the Welcome to DF screen where we select the DF game files location for arena2.

Is the proprietary format of the /Arena2/ folder content needed? I understand that the DF Tools allows us to create/browse the original DF Art. I haven't sorted out if it allows us to repack our own in the same file extensions that the arena2 folder expects and thus allows us to completely recreate the folder.

Assuming we can completely recreate that with our own IP and nothing DF, still the question would remain is the proprietary file format of concern. I had thoughts of perhaps how to overcome this last possible obstacle i.e. using a similar yet more permissible Steam/Valve format that they use with Hammer for Source 2 and their already exists Unity importing for said valve proprietary format.

Perhaps I don't understand the arena2 folder well enough. It does seem the DREAM/New Location extensions/mods have come close as examples of how one might completely rework the art (I understand I would need to completely change the original look not improve as my use case is different) and of course the audio mods and quest mods.

But question relating to above: do the files in arena2 have some "functionally" to them? i.e. like a scriptable object (unity feature/naming convention) set to the files in arena2 that would need to be overhauled/replaced? for commercial use cases?

Lastly, just to state here plainly my goal is to just fork and keep open source the entirety of work. Standing on the shoulders of giants I would also approach any mod makers that haven't explicitly listed license to their mod source code to help cut down on double content creation side -> approaching a alpha version. .The key point here is the imagined alpha fork has pulled out the need for DF arena2 folder. So on the surface hitting play did not require anything from Bethesda (besides borrowed game mechanics - which would approaching beta be worked out) Ideally what was in arena2 and now redone ships with the new game/product.

It did seem that the DREAM work even had a Unity Package of sorts for companion modders. At least starting with a version 1 complete content overhaul for an Alpha fork and solving the arena2 folder question above seems to be the only obstical left to gain clarity on before I begin and bite the bullet.

I still need to see how far the old Ruins of Hill Deep went and discuss, but I will save that for Interkarma.

User avatar
jayhova
Posts: 718
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:54 pm
Contact:

Re: Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Post by jayhova » Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:50 pm

File formats are not copyrightable. They might theoretically be patentable but this is likely untenable. Think of a file format as being like a book while you can copyright the content of the book you cannot copyright how the book is constructed.

Also, I have looked at alternative rule sets. There are rules for games such as Open Legend RPG that do not require a fee to licence so long as you follow their rules. You might have to ask how to apply those rules to a CRPG.
Remember always 'What would Julian Do?'.
Windows 10 Pro 64 bit. DFU Ver. Alpha 0.10.7

communityus
Posts: 41
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2019 1:51 am

Re: Some Legal Questions About Daggerfall Unity

Post by communityus » Fri Apr 05, 2019 8:25 pm

Great info! Off to work I go, enough has been sorted to justify starting.

I appreciate the references to alternative rule sets.
-> I will create a more on topic forum post somewhere about this very thing. I had found 2x others that I will look up. I will just make a topic about "rule set mods" first to keep within the context of this forum but serve both purposes in long run.

Kinda like modding everything out, then standardizing the complete work as something reborn entirely new. I think many are kinda already doing this, except the first pass is improving old art. True of most creative work as far as creative processes go from my experience. Faster to improve first (get a feel for it) then re-imagine it.

This project is as relevant as id tech and source 1 were in the past. Excited to be in the loop.

Post Reply