Bukkit Drama Summary
Time for another round of "The Drama of Our Minecraft Daze"
Many people woke up yesterday to the craftbukkit download being removed due to a DMCA.
And a long legalese form explanation: http://dl.bukkit.org/dmca/notification.txt
In short order Spigot was also hit with a DMCA.
Many users INCORRECTLY believe Mojang issued the DMCA.
If you read the notification you find that is not the case.
A bukkit contributer Wolvereness issued the DMCA on his own behalf.
This is where things get into legal grounds ... I AM NOT A LAWYER.
Wolv (not the streamer) is the third highest contributor to the Bukkit project. He arguably has contributed 1/4-1/3 of the code base.
Bukkit started as a GPL project. When the main Bukkit devs (at the time) were hired by Mojang, Mojang also purchased the rights to the Bukkit project, in an attempt to ensure the project would be maintained. They agreed to leave the project in the capable hands of the community. And for 2 years Bukkit carried on.
Bukkit as an open source community maintained project has many contributors outside the initial owners , those contributors were not informed by EvilSeph that the rights to Bukkit had been sold to Mojang. From what I can tell there is nothing illegal about that.
Wolv and the other contributors were contributing to a code base they thought belonged to EvilSeph and the other main devs. They had no issue doing this for 2 years. During this time the Mojang Server code started to be shipped as part of craftbukkit for ease. The Mojang Server code is closed source. At the point at which that occured any one of the contributers could have mentioned that cb was shipping a closed source code base with an open source project. They ignored it and had no issues with this fact.
A few weeks ago EvilSeph got tired of doing the dev work for Bukkit. Why? We don't know. But he made accusations on the Bukkit forums that Mojang planned to shut down Bukkit so he was shutting it down before they could. He knew he had sold ownership to Mojang. He knew they weren't going to kill a project they owned. But he panicked everyone. And tried to use the panic to blame Mojang for the "death" of Bukkit.
Mojang stepped in and said.. Its ours, its been ours since you sold it to us, if you don't want to maintain it anymore we'll take over and make sure the community still has Bukkit.
Wolv, the guy from the beginning of this post became unhappy. Why? No idea. Maybe he wants money too. He had been contributing to an open source project he thought was owned by EvilSeph, and he found out it was owned by Mojang instead. So he was contributing to an open source project he knew didn't belong to him. The only new news was that it belonged to a company and not an individual.
After some thought/debate or whatever went on in the background he determined that if a GPL project was distributing Closed Source code, the GPL license was invalid. Of course this fact didn't bother him for 2 years. It only started bothering him now when he found that a company rather than a broke individual owned the project he had been contributing to.
He apparently messaged Mojang and was answered by the Chief Operating Officer
"Mojang has not authorized the inclusion of any of its proprietary
Minecraft software (including its Minecraft Server software) within the
Bukkit project to be included in or made subject to any GPL or LGPL
license, or indeed any other open source license"
He then decided that if Mojang never gave permission for their project to be included in a GPL project than the GPL license he submitted on was void, and he could close source the code HE contributed. At which point he issued a DMCA takedown against Bukkit and Spigot for distributing his code.
So the legal questions at hand for a team of actual lawyers:
- Can a GPL code base link to a closed source code without the closed source code being made GPL? -- In my limited understanding a closed source code can't use GPL code without going open source, not sure if it works the other way around though.
- Can a GPL project distribute a closed source library/base? Do they need special permission?
- EvilSeph has a hissy fit and declares Bukkit closed
- Mojang says "You sold Bukkit to us we'll keep it going"
- EvilSeph goes "Oopps totally forgot I sold it" - cause everyone randomly forgets selling rights to large projects...
- Dinnerbone starts updating Bukkit
- Wolv decides that after 2 years of submitting code to a GPL project distributing a closed source code base that his code is now closed source, the GPL license is invalid, and issues a DMCA takedown for Bukkit and Spigot based on his code
Personal Opinion and snark:
This guy contributed for 2 years to a code base. And when he found out it was owned by a massive company as opposed to a broke individual employee of that company he decided to mention that the license might be invalid, and had been invalid for 2 years. He allows the community to think Mojang issued the takedown against code Mojang was working on updating. Cause everyone issues takedowns against their own content that they are actively maintaining. I am guessing he thinks this will force Mojang to either pay him and other contributers off, hand over Bukkit to him, or open source Minecraft Server code.
I doubt Mojang would want to rewrite Bukkit to remove his contributions. And I doubt Mojang can change the license to closed source without the contributors okaying it. Since I live in the real world.... I don't think he's going to get what he wants. Either lawyers will find he is wrong and invalidate the DMCA or Mojang will just go back to working on Minecraft and Bukkit will die. Wolv has just given Mojang plausible deniability to end Bukkit. Because if Mojang decides not to fight the DMCA, and not to open source their code, and not to pay off Wolv and other contributers, they don't have to.
They can just walk away and go back to work on their game which already takes up plenty of dev time. They can opt to write off Bukkit. At that point Bukkit is dead. Mojang owns it. They aren't going to let some random person claim it and try and fix the problem. At that point Bukkit is dead. And the person who killed it is Wolverness with his sudden need to argue that he has been submitting code for 2 years to a project with an invalid license. So if Bukkit dies.... we can all thank the guy who gave Mojang an easy out.
Will Mojang take the easy out? Will Bukkit die? No idea. I haven't got a clue what legalities are involved. Thats for lawyers to decide. It is not however going to be solved on twitter, reddit or the bukkit/spigot forums.
Sp for now, sit back, play non Bukkit minecraft and make sure you say thank you to Wolverness for suddenly growing a convenient conscience and at least temporarily killing Bukkit.
It seems to me Mojang isn't the one trying to kill the project, the bukkit contributors are the ones trying to kill it. Never play chicken with someone who doesn't need what you are selling.