An admitted copy of a legal question for y'all...



Let me preface this post by saying this is one of those deals where I said I would ask, so I'm asking.

Among the other things I've got going on at the moment, I'm the current project coordinator for the ongoing Starflight III project. We're getting ready to get started with coding in earnest, and a question has come up regarding licensing of certain materials (the big thing is artwork). We're going to have some material (starship designs, species, etc.) that will be derived from what was in the original games and were looking into how to go about writing the license for those derived materials.

I know that this is an issue y'all might've had to deal with when you were building Saga (seeing as how it's a Wing Commander game that includes craft from previous "official" products), so I'll ask: do y'all know of a standardized release that says in legalese "I release all my rights - but only my rights - to this intellectual property"? What kind of license do you have in place?

This is a carbon-copy of a question I asked the Standoff folks; same general situation. Sorry for the cut-and-paste.

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
No, Fair Use doesn't cover anything like this. If I wanted to use a Wing Commander screenshot in a review of Wing Commander or if I wanted to quote a cutscene in an academic paper that would be fair use. There's no special allowance for making your own game using work someone else paid for. :) EA is very kind about *not* shutting down fan projects, but they would be well within their rights if they wanted to.


Vice Admiral
That's right.
So every fan project can be (and I hope it also IS) deeply grateful and happy for that.
That's because there are others who have shut down fan projects in the past. It is a thing that can happen and happened before. EA could shut every mod down for using a Dralthi in it or using the name "Wing Commander". But they don't, which is really very nice of them.

So when doing any fan project it is most important to try not to anger the rights owner. Companies especially dislike exact remakes, which is one reason why many of us try to discourage people who want to do such remakes (the other reason being that it is kind of lame not to do an own storyline ;) ).


Rear Admiral
I have a question about legalities, so this would probably be as good a place as any.

Having followed the FS2Open project for many years, I believe that in order to use the SCP engine, they require yu to own a legit copy of Freespace 2.
Given that WCS uses a modified FS2 engine, how do you get around the legalities of your players not owning FS2?
I'm curious more than anything else.


Rear Admiral
The FS2 engine was released under a non-commercial license, making it free for use by any project that isn't making money from it. The assets - art, music, models, textures, mission scripts and so on - are still under the original licence. So long as Saga doesn't contain any assets from FS2, they don't have a problem.


Vice Admiral
As far as I know that is not correct.
The sources of the exe were officially released and the FSO engine was built by the SCP based on that. It was not necessary to have bought the game.

There is one uncertainty though: The game itself did not become freeware so strictly speaking it was legal for you to compile it yourself and play it and alter it, but not to download the game itself (the binaries and additional files like missions etc.). Of course that sounds a bit silly because you can get the same result by compiling it yourself since you have the sources.
And you knew nobody would have a problem with it because the game wasn't sold anymore anyway. Everybody was pretty sure that this was intended, and the rights owners did not interfere, not even against full downloads AFAIK.

The situation changed a while ago, though. FS2 is now available for sale again so the rights owners are not pleased to see if it is fully and completely downloadable. So most sites stopped offering downloads since this was only half legal in the first place.

The exe source code and its derivates remain free though. So engine-wise neither Saga nor other FSOpen mods are endangered.

I am not 100% sure but that's what I read on the HLP board about that topic I think.


Rear Admiral
Thanks for the info :)

It's always nice to see people get around legal problems, without also opening the door for hordes of torrenters gaining an advantage too.
The complexities surrounding this is probably why I was under the impression that you had to own FS2 to use FSO. I would imagine that you side-step a fair few by owning it (which I do).

Anyhow, enough of the legalities. I have a day off tomorrow and a computer to build. Until it's built, there'll be no WCS for me.