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Following a number of cases where CD-ROM compilations of Freeware games, taken from the IF Archive, were offered for sale without their authors' permission, it became apparent that we needed formal definitions -- license statements -- of what users are permitted to do with downloaded games. A general IF Archive License now acts as a starting point, but is not necessarily sufficient: authors are additionally encouraged:

  1. to include a specific license statement in their games,
  2. to implement a standard ABOUT and/or LICENSE command which displays the statement, and
  3. to draw players' attention to this by presenting at the start of the game a message such as
    Please type "ABOUT" to display licensing information.

The text of the 'specific license statement' can be anything you like; it's up to a game's author, as the copyright holder, to define the terms on which it is being published. So, you can write your own license, or you can use an off-the-shelf model. Here are three possibilities.

IF Freeware General Public License

I devised this to specify that permission is required before any form of financial transaction is involved (which, personally, I would grant in any reasonable situation). I'm not a lawyer, but I believe this would hold up in court.

INTERACTIVE FICTION FREEWARE GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE

1. This license grants you the right to use and distribute <THE_NAME_OF_YOUR_GAME> ("the game") under the conditions outlined below. You cannot use or distribute the game if you do not agree with these conditions.

2. The game, including any and all associated files as well as all of the output produced by the game, and all derivative works, is copyright © <THE_YEAR> by <YOUR_NAME>.

3. Queries about the license should be addressed to the copyright holder, whose address at the time of writing is <YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS>. If contact cannot be established, you may be able to locate the copyright holder via the rec.arts.int-fiction Internet newsgroup.

4. You are allowed to use the game and make copies for your personal use without restrictions. You may also copy and distribute the game in any medium, as long as (a) you make no charge for doing so, and (b) the game, all associated files and this license are included and remain unmodified.

5. You are not allowed to make a charge for distributing the game (either for profit or merely to recover your media and distribution costs) whether as a stand-alone product, or as part of a compilation or anthology, without written permission.

6. NO WARRANTY. The game is licensed and provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose or a warranty of non-infringement.

Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial License

Rather than use a home-grown license, you might prefer one of those offered by the Creative Commons organisation. This one seems particularly appropriate (the full text of the license is available as an extension to Inform and TADS 2):

ATTRIBUTION-NODERIVS-NONCOMMERCIAL LICENSE

The Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial License published at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/ applies to this software. In summary: you must credit the original author(s); you may not alter, transform, or build upon this work; you may not use this work for commercial purposes. Copyright remains with the original author(s), from whom you must seek permission if you wish to vary any of the terms of this license.

Public Domain

Finally, if you really wish to give away all of your ownership rights, you should again make this clear. Include these words in your game:

PUBLIC DOMAIN SOFTWARE

This software is placed in the public domain, under the terms of the declaration published at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/.