Idiots guide to legal infringements.

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  1. #1
    Custom title enabled bobsobol is offline
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    Idiots guide to legal infringements.


    RaGEZONE Recommends

    RaGEZONE Recommends

    Okay, so we've got some complaints about disputed "ownership" issues with material in this section... so I shared some of what I was taught surrounding ownership as it pertains to software when I was studying Computer Science, and the things I've picked up following the OpenSource Initiative in the staff area. I have been asked to make this available to you; so I shall.

    Okay... here's the thing.

    1. You cannot sue someone for distributing (releasing) source code, or compiled executables they wrote themselves, which contains no verbatim copy of code you own copyright on.
    2. You can sue someone for distributing source code which is verbatim copy of code you have copyrighted.
    3. You can sue someone for distributing source or binary versions of code equivalent to code you have patented.

    This is why software patents are illegal in many countries, and court cases to uphold them in the few places they are legal have largely come to nothing.

    The fact is, if the source code cannot be evidenced to have been created by 100% "clean room" reverse engineering, then it may be actionable.

    What is "clean room"
    Spoiler:
    "Clean room" reverse engineering requires that you create software which is functionally equivalent to another software without ever having seen the source code, or disassembled / decompiled (even in your head from the raw binary etc.) the original program.

    The only "template" you can use to base your code on, is your perception of how the program is behaving, and through feeding it comprehensive "test data" to prove the output for any given input.

    The grey area comes when one person looks at the code, sketches out a Venn diagram or some pseudo code, (nothing too specific) creates a test data set that will (because he's seen the code) tell everyone when they have their code exactly equivalent and another person creates source code from the information provided by the first.

    That scenario is still, strictly speaking, "clean room". However, it becomes difficult to prove it. Because your proof is usually based around pointing out, in no uncertain terms, to people who have no understanding of what makes code the same, or different, that your code is not the same as the copyright holders.
    You simply cannot sue someone under copyright law for distributing functionally equivalent code. If they have used your artwork, sound, graphics, meshes etc. in a completely different program, you can sue them for copyright infringement. But their code must be derived from your code in some way other than "looking at what it does and writing something that does the same job".

    You can sue someone under patenting law, if you hold a legal patent on an "idea" and the other persons program implements a sufficiently similar "idea". (Famous case was the patenting of the compression algorithm in the CompuServe GIF file format ,(LookIt) putting many OpenSource file archivers on the shelf, allowing Zip to become standard, even though it's not as good as... LhA, Lzh, Arc, ARJ etc. etc.) They never actually won any significant court case though.

    To even bring a case to court under patent law, you would need to have a legally registered patent No. or, at the very least a Pat. Pending No. After all the cost of the CopuServ GIF trials, Patenting offices are reluctant to issue patents for software anyway.

    A non-software example would be that, H.G. Wells could not sue the writers of "Independence Day" under copyright, or trademark laws, because the story doesn't have the same name, there are no "Tripods", no "Fighting Machines", nobody ever says "oolah", the aliens aren't called "Marsions" etc. He could (where he still alive at the time, and had he patented the "War of the Worlds" "idea") sue them under legal patent, because the story is about the human race being brought to it's military knees by an unknown alien race of vastly superior technology and then freed from captivity and certain death by... "a virus".

    The problem with "Trademark" is that it only has to be "proven" in court. So when iNTEL wanted to apply for a "trademark" on the number 586, they where told to "swivel" (figuratively, not literally) because then they could, theoretically, take anyone to court who happened to be issued with a vehicle license plate containing the digits "5", "8" and "6" in sequence anywhere in it... and the court would have to spend time and money proving that it wasn't a commercial vehicle and / or gained no revenue from driving around with that number on it etc. Instead, they named the successor to the 486 "Pentium" and "trademarked" that.

    So:-

    • Copyright = must be a "verbatim copy"
    • Trademark = must be proven to be "profiting" from trading under that name
    • Patent = must be proven only to be "equivalent" in basic design


    Nexxon could claim RaGEZONE is "profiting" from having the name "MapleStory", on his website, since they hold a legal trademark on that title.

    We could implement an "obscenity filter" to that term? Would make the forum look a mess, and make it hard for MS devs to find us, but it should satisfy the law.

    Enforcement of legal "Trademark" is upheld reasonably well the world over. So changing hosts and so on will make little difference if they want to pull that stunt. RZ Devs certainly do not profit financially from their releases, and RZ it's self is not a highly commercial enterprise, but it does need to hold it's balance. Of course it costs money to keep this site up and available, even with the staff donating their time free of charge.

    I should also mention, that if I publish a program without any legal copyright, there is nothing to stop Nexxon, Microsoft, Apple, Symantec or any other commercial "I pwn joo 4 $" organisation putting my code in their program and claiming ownership and even authorship of my code!!! And they would be in the legal right, and I would have stolen from them, in the eyes of the law, by giving away code I wrote, without copyrighting it to my self.

    It is legal for them to take it off me, and call me a thief!

    Sorry, that sounds like the typical Linux nut big uping the GPL, and I know that has it's flaws. I tend to release on RZ with something along the OSI CC "Attribution Share Alike" disclaimer... and add a notice that RaGEZONE is the place I would like you to do your sharing. (whatever makes you comfortable)

    I'm not sure how legally sound that is, but it should bring any theft into question. Our posts are dated, which means any thief claiming your code is theirs would have to prove their copyright existed before yours. MentaL could be argued as having falsified those dates, so it doesn't protect RZ until some unrelated database like Google or wayback has it spidered. (they keep their own dates) If you do not upload to RZ (and I gather most releases are not) then the file host should also have a record of the upload date.

    To releasers, I would say, please make sure you own what you are releasing. That may sound silly when you know you wrote it yourself, but legally, it's not. You don't own what you wrote until you have copyrighted it. (in law... or course RZ and I would consider it yours anyway, but the law needs it documented)

    So if RZ has to delete your release because you didn't put a disclaimer on it claiming full ownership and rights to distribute... well, just don't say we didn't warn you.

    Finally, I know everyone here is unhappy about this hostile action, and believe me we know you have all tried to act in good faith. But some people aren't happy with "the spirit of the law", they want "the letter of the law". Believe it or not, the "letter of the law" isn't actually all that fair. And, sadly, we must comply.

    I hope you will respect this friendly word of advise for what it is.
    Last edited by Sparrow; 16-02-12 at 06:17 AM.


  2. #2
    Account Inactive JewSanta is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Proud to say this was very informative and I learned something.

    However I am curious. If we write our own version of maplestory.exe then we in theory are completely safe from nexon, no?

  3. #3
    bleh.... Shawn is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Quote Originally Posted by JewSanta View Post
    Proud to say this was very informative and I learned something.

    However I am curious. If we write our own version of maplestory.exe then we in theory are completely safe from nexon, no?
    Not entirely sure, but I think that's how the case between eAthena v. Gravity panned out.

    @bobs: Thanks for this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Peters
    I have a theory. I believe that the size of your penis is in indirect correlation with how much sex you will have in your life. The smaller your dick, the more you will fuck. You dont believe me, look at the two largest populations in the world

    RIP Akaruz, The Godfather

    Spoiler:

    mental is hot
    Spoiler:

    This is a true story
    Spoiler:

    This message is endorsed by Shawn and not added by MentaL.



  4. #4
    Account Upgraded | Title Enabled! F4keName is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Quote Originally Posted by JewSanta View Post
    Proud to say this was very informative and I learned something.

    However I am curious. If we write our own version of maplestory.exe then we in theory are completely safe from nexon, no?

    Don't think so, but you would be completely safe if u draw your own images also.

    For example, If I make a game called 2D game called Dragon Birds, Company named F4keCompany...

    Classes/Jobs - Humans, Dragons, Birds (I know, lame...)
    STATS - Fitness, Intellectualism, Flying/Running Speed...
    Skills - Dragon Breath, Swift Attack....you get the idea...

    Imagine I made my own client...DragonBirds.exe, very much like MapleStory.exe, which takes images from .wz files...but for my client...I'll make it extract images from .fc files. I'll apply the same ideas -

    - 2D
    - Map Images
    - Character equipment
    - Special equipment
    - Hats, face acc., masks....
    - Handle everything with XMLs server side like PServers...
    - Similar stat/skill job system...

    Yes, your safe. You just made your own game. They can't touch the smallest hairline on your body. "I'm CEO, bitch!"
    Last edited by F4keName; 16-07-11 at 04:29 PM.

  5. #5
    Account Inactive JewSanta is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn View Post
    Not entirely sure, but I think that's how the case between eAthena v. Gravity panned out.

    @bobs: Thanks for this.
    Or at the same logic if they have a localhost directed to 127.0.0.1 and they use a .bat file to redirect that they are at fault for the localhost if you havent distributed it off you site because there would be no links to it. They only thing you would be distributing is the .bat file.

    They could have found a localhost anywhere.

  6. #6
    Smoke & Fly Kars is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Nice of you to type it out like that. Must've taken some time.

    Quote Originally Posted by bobsobol View Post
    We could implement an "obscenity filter" to that term? Would make the forum look a mess, and make it hard for MS devs to find us, but it should satisfy the law.
    How about MoopleStory?

  7. #7
    Custom title enabled bobsobol is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Quote Originally Posted by JewSanta View Post
    Or at the same logic if they have a localhost directed to 127.0.0.1 and they use a .bat file to redirect that they are at fault for the localhost if you havent distributed it off you site because there would be no links to it. They only thing you would be distributing is the .bat file.

    They could have found a localhost anywhere.
    Strictly speaking, copyright is about "distribution" of materials... not what someone does with their own copy. Attempts on Books, CDs, VHS tapes and DVDs to insist that you only make 1 copy for your own personal use have largely failed, unless you "loan out" one or more backups or the original. Provided you do not "share" the original or your any backup copy, you have not broken any law.

    This is why it is perfectly legal to distribute cracks and trainers, provided they do not "contain" any code from the original, but only enable individuals to modify "their own copy". However, if you distribute a "cracked" copy... then you are breaking copyright laws, because the cracked copy contains copyrighted material... where a patch / patcher should not.

    The true definition of a "private server" is one you do not operate on public networks, such as the internet... so it is legal. You can do whatever you like with software on your own "private network".

    It becomes grey when you move to a private network over a public one. A "virtual private network" such as Hamachi or OpenVPN, is legal, but how private you make the invitation to join your network is a matter that a court may decide is worth debating.

    To keep it simple, if your server runs no copyright protected code or assets and you do not redistribute a copyright client to your users, you are abiding by the law.

    If your users use a client obtained from the legal copyright holder, and modify their copy with a "patch" provided by you which does not contain any copyrighted material, (just an IP change or so) then both you and they are legally safe, and operating within the law... generally speaking.

    Companies like Blizzard apply "Terms of Service" and "Terms of Use" which players may be breaking if they use the client on servers other than the official one. However, you can write a patch which enables them to install without accepting that "legal agreement", and in practice those are largely only effective in terms of "warranty" and "merchantability".

    So, a user buys "World of Warcraft", they don't agree to the ToS, or agree to them and then break those terms by try to connect to a public "Private Server" not operated by Blizzard. Blizzard cannot be held legally responsible if that user cannot make any use of their client in this manner. Because it is clearly stated, in legal writing, that was not the intended use for which Blizzard sold the software in the first place.

    Any technical support then devolves to the private server operator and the "patch" distributor. Which is fair enough. Right?
    Last edited by bobsobol; 17-07-11 at 01:02 AM.

  8. #8
    Alpha Member XxОsirisxX is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Quote Originally Posted by bobsobol View Post
    Strictly speaking, copyright is about "distribution" of materials... not what someone does with their own copy. Attempts on Books, CDs, VHS tapes and DVDs to insist that you only make 1 copy for your own personal use have largely failed, unless you "loan out" one or more backups or the original. Provided you do not "share" the original or your any backup copy, you have not broken any law.

    This is why it is perfectly legal to distribute cracks and trainers, provided they do not "contain" any code from the original, but only enable individuals to modify "their own copy". However, if you distribute a "cracked" copy... then you are breaking copyright laws, because the cracked copy contains copyrighted material... where a patch / patcher should not.

    The true definition of a "private server" is one you do not operate on public networks, such as the internet... so it is legal. You can do whatever you like with software on your own "private network".

    It becomes grey when you move to a private network over a public one. A "virtual private network" such as Hamachi or OpenVPN, is legal, but how private you make the invitation to join your network is a matter that a court may decide is worth debating.

    To keep it simple, if your server runs no copyright protected code or assets and you do not redistribute a copyright client to your users, you are abiding by the law.

    If your users use a client obtained from the legal copyright holder, and modify their copy with a "patch" provided by you which does not contain any copyrighted material, (just an IP change or so) then both you and they are legally safe, and operating within the law... generally speaking.

    Companies like Blizzard apply "Terms of Service" and "Terms of Use" which players may be breaking if they use the client on servers other than the official one. However, you can write a patch which enables them to install without accepting that "legal agreement", and in practice those are largely only effective in terms of "warranty" and "merchantability".

    So, a user buys "World of Warcraft", they don't agree to the ToS, or agree to them and then break those terms by try to connect to a public "Private Server" not operated by Blizzard. Blizzard cannot be held legally responsible if that user cannot make any use of their client in this manner. Because it is clearly stated, in legal writing, that was not the intended use for which Blizzard sold the software in the first place.

    Any technical support then devolves to the private server operator and the "patch" distributor. Which is fair enough. Right?
    Said this, loopback clients makes private servers 100% legal. Since the loopback is not made by NEXON, it's just a redirector. users doesn't have to download Copyright binaries or what so ever.

  9. #9
    Custom title enabled bobsobol is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Quote Originally Posted by XxОsirisxX View Post
    users doesn't have to download Copyright binaries or what so ever.
    I'm sorry to be pedantic on this point, but legally what you say is wrong. I'm sure your sentiment is correct however.

    To be clear, if they are using Nexxons client they do "have to download copyright binaries"... but provided they acquire those binaries in a legal manner (are not "in receipt of stolen goods") what they do with those binaries once they have downloaded them is entirely up to them... provided they don't pass them on, modified or otherwise. (Is it illegal to buy a copyright book and scribble in the margins? No. Strictly speaking you should "rub out" any alterations to the book before you sell it on, but who does?)

    The key difference between MS and WoW is that WoW requires the client to be paid for in addition to the subscription. Downloading a WoW client you have not paid for is illegal, but the MS client is legally downloadable free of charge, from it's official developers.

    Third parties may well not be entitled to distribute copies of that client... and that would include MMO and Gaming websites which promote Computer and Video games as well as any individual or private server. Redistributing modified or derived works will almost certainly be prohibited. (you can't photocopy the book you paid for complete with scribbled margins and sell those copies, or even give them away) But you are still entitled to list, and link to the client distribution on their site as a "required dependency" or installed "prerequisite" for your client... Similar to how you may specify DX7 or DX9 as a "prerequisite" and link to Microsoft Downloads website. (DirectX is also "copyrighted software"; as is Linux... the parameters of distribution is determined by the "copyright holder", the manner in which it is used is not.)
    Spoiler:
    Here's a good example of "copyright" being abused by the holder. Apple insists that it owns the copyright for Mac OS X, and that nobody who buys it should install it on hardware which is not produced by Apple. Well, they do specify this, but has anyone heard of anyone being taken to court over buying OS X, and installing it on their Dell? No. The term in the copyright notice is FUD, Apple don't have the right to insist upon that under copyright law. (They have a backup, never tested in court insisting that OS X is an "upgrade" to the Mac ROM, and you need to buy a Mac to have paid the fee for the ROM, and then pay for the "upgrade") It does mean that they can take people to court for selling a Dell with OS X pre-installed. Because they are then "redistributing" outside the copyright agreement.
    I think this is what you intended to express Osiris but, you probably know, how it is worded is everything in legal terms.

    It's a small point, but when legal representation becomes involved, it's important that it's point which everyone understands.

    Brief
    "users doesn't have to illegally download Copyright binaries or what so ever."
    Now that is unarguable.
    Last edited by bobsobol; 17-07-11 at 05:13 AM. Reason: Added Apple copyright example

  10. #10
    $_GET['synquall.title']; Squall is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Are you a lawyer or something? This is awesome!

  11. #11
    Custom title enabled bobsobol is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Squall View Post
    Are you a lawyer or something?
    No. Let's not be under any misunderstanding about that either. Anyone operating a pServer should seek professional legal advise. I know MentaL dose.

    If releases are removed due to disputed copyrights, we have taken legal advise and foresee a need to do so. Sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry, but advise is sought and followed up, for the protection of the site and it's users alike.

    As my title suggests, I'm just an "old git". And as my profile states I'm a systems engineer and network manager.

    Why does it matter that I'm an "old git"? When I was a stude there was only 1 IT related course available. "Computer Science". When it was devised it was assumed that the attendees would go into Financial Services, M.O.D. Ballistics, or Scientific Research, but by the time I started, it was becoming clear that computers where starting to be used in homes and small businesses too... so it was on the verge of change.

    We had a multitude of propitiatory systems we could choose from, and the most common where Commadore, Atari, Acorn, IBM clones and Apple... pretty much in that order. 3 of those 5 where based on Motorolla processors from the 680x0 family, (now extinct) and only 2 of those systems are still available. The two least favoured by users at the time.

    But despite the higher number of systems in use, users didn't have much choice once the initial decision was made. They where always "locked in" to some agreement or other. So companies had no way to gain or loose market share except to bankrupt their competition. So that was what they did.

    With that in mind, it seemed inevitable that anyone going in to a computer related industry would be in court over something or other within five years of graduating. So it only made sense that we should be educated in the legality surrounding "ownership rights" in the industry.

    Obviously, something like that stays with you. But copyright law is still largely based on printed material, and generally a mess where digital media is concerned. You can take issues like DRM, (digital rights / restrictions, management) the Pirate Bay, other Peer-to-Peer cases, hardware copy protection such as TPM, SafeDisc, SecuROM, DeCSS, on-line registration like Microsofts' authentication process etc. and even the continuing struggle of Open Source developers and the embrace of Open Source by commercial organisations like Apple, Oracle, Sun etc as evidence of this.

    Nobody really knows how to best protect any investment in "software". Either from the point of view of a producer, or consumer. Especially "team" investments. The Film and Music industries where struggling to protect artists and publishers using copyright law designed to protect an author and a publisher per work, before the digital revolution.

    Cases like "the artist formerly known as Prince" or George Michael who where bought and sold like cattle without any regard for their wishes or artistic integrity... Why? Because legally they didn't own any of their work, or have any say in who did, or how they received compensation for that work. Even if they produced new work with someone else, they would be "stealing" that work from the company that bought their contract without their consent!

    The same is true when a company buys software... what happens when they merge, dissolve etc. Isn't that software an asset? An investment? Is it's license transferable? (not usually) When a family buys a DVD, who holds the license to view it? It can only be owned by one individual... (we just say "the user") Doesn't add up does it? Because it's very difficult for more than one person to read a book or a magazine at the same time, and that's what copyright was designed for. It's implementation with regard to other works is a matter of it being the only law which could possibly be applied. But it's a vastly inadequate law for all involved.

    Software isn't a thing. It's not like loaning a tool, or a vehicle, or renting a property. It's more like owning a Star Trek "replicator" that you can make as many tools identical to the one you bought for less than you paid for the original and afford to give them away free. How would financial law deal with that? It's also not an idea.. it's been worked up into a product. The concept of using patent law seemed sound, since the pharmaceutical industry uses patents to protect their investment in chemical formulae, and code is a bit like that. Difficult to develop, and simple to copy... but we've seen that that becomes totally unacceptable for the consumer. Nobody will use patented code, because unlike drugs, software isn't a consumable. It is an investment, both for consumers and producers.

    So if you release software I recommend you get to know the basic legalities around it your self, or risk getting burned!

  12. #12
    Hardcore Member xXxMarcoxXx is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    My input?
    Send this to Lloyd Korn and those clowns from the clown company named NEXON.
    Ragezone FTW!
    LOLSALAD ASASASADADHADHGA

  13. #13
    Smoke & Fly Kars is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Quote Originally Posted by xXxMarcoxXx View Post
    My input?
    Send this to Lloyd Korn and those clowns from the clown company named NEXON.
    Lloyd is a lawyer. Do you really think he doesn't know this already? What he is doing is simply terrorising us. Threaten people into shutting down their MS related websites. Even though he knows he has no right to sue 90% of them, he still tries with a DMCA.

  14. #14
    Custom title enabled bobsobol is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    Yes yes, 90% FUD. However there is still the 10% possibility of out $, and this isn't just about RZ, but it's members as well. We all need not only to be clean, but be seen to be unquestionably clean in court.

    Remember, Microsoft had no legal right to distribute PC Tools ScanDisk or Stack Technologies Stacker software with DOS 5. They just did it, dragged their heels to make the legal fees too high for the innocent to pay, till Stack went bust and PC Tools fell into obscurity then admitted fault. What are you going to do? Pay compensation to a company that no longer exists? No, you just pay the lawyers and grin.

    Essentially Apple did much the same to Digital Research over GEM Desktop. Kept throwing stupid law suits at them until they could no longer afford to market their product or company.

    Remember, RaGEZONE isn't loaded. It doesn't really matter if they are in the legal right or not. In reality, we may not be able to afford justice. It's still a rich mans' world.
    Last edited by bobsobol; 17-07-11 at 05:26 PM.

  15. #15
    Revolution-Entrepreneur MrTay is offline
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    Re: Idiots guide to legal infringements.

    What you said completely taught me a lesson, and inspired me, a very great guide, not only to the community, but to us as a learning individual. And your thread has put great contribution to the community, thanks!

    I still have questions,
    Does where you live affect law enforcement, such as cnd, dmca? I've spoken to a lawyer friend of mine, and he said, maalaysiaz, is still in the process of enforcing dmca lawsuits, cnd, and that makes us a non-dmca area for now. So, if I EVER get into lawsuits with nexon, can they take any actions aginst me?
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