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[L2j] Open Letter to our non-friendly forks

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ThePhoenixBird
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[L2j] Open Letter to our non-friendly forks

Post by ThePhoenixBird » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:50 pm

WARNING: This is a long script about Ethics and Morals between L2j and their Forks.

Over the past 6 years L2j has been working openly and widely with the community as any Open Source Project, providing as many tools and information as possible for their users, community and other projects to use, distribute and modify L2j as they wish to.

We in L2j believe that:
  • An Open Source Project is about people producing free and open software and contributing to something as a team for the benefit of others.
  • Open Source Projects reflect the spirit of collaboration and fun while learning new abilities and gathering community feedback and providing good support for further development.
  • Open Source Projects are open to the participation of anybody who can contribute value and is willing to work with the community.
A good thing about an Open Source Project is that when you cannot get the software to meet your needs, GNU GPL allows you to Fork this software and create your own version, and make the necessary changes to the code to meet your needs. There are other reasons of why to Fork a GNU GPL software, If they don’t accept your features or patches, If the core developers reject to go in a direction that community members want, If the core developers don’t agree between themselves on what direction to go in.

Not liking or not trusting the core developers of the project is not a good reason to fork the project. Also, being worried that the core developers, at some time in the future, will do something you won't like is not a good reason to fork the project.

Forking divides efforts as the two projects often take slightly different turns. The result of the fork is that the two versions of the code diverge, even though they share the same interface and most of the background logic. This creates a series of problems, of a technical nature, that reflects on the non-technical attributes of a program.

(Note: to integrate the projects there must, once again, be a common base of code all projects use.

A forked project reuses a big part of the code from the original project. This causes code duplication, with its usual problems, and one in particular: security risks. A forked project is usually vulnerable to the problems the original project had, unless that part of the code has been rewritten or modified with time. As the forks evolve, authors often miss the security issues fixed by their ancestor, making it harder for developers to track the issues down.

Another common problem is the division of users' contributions. Users usually just report issues to one project, the one they use. So either the developers of the two projects exchange information about the bugs they fix in the common code, or the problems will likely be ignored by one of the two projects, making the distance between the projects increase.

GNU GPL nature is about FREEDOM, you are free to fork if you want to, there's nothing wrong with that, also forking provides more distribution ways for the project, making it widely spread over all the other child projects it ensure that the project will exists even if the father project cease to exist, the freedom not only to use and modify the sources, but also to distribute and resell our releases under another brand name.

We in L2j ARE NOT against the forking of our software, we are PROUD of it. There is no good open source project without a fork.

But something that concerns us is the lack of responsibility and respect toward the original L2j Project, their Community, their Developers and the lack of attribution to the work that the L2j Community does.

We have seen how some forks take the L2j source code and remove ALL the L2j copyright notices from any of the source files or documentation. They also remove the author credits from source code, comments, and documentation. We have seen some (worse) cases when *forks* rebrand L2j as their own *created* software claiming themselves as the original authors.

We have tried to contact them but the answers that we have commonly received are:
  • F**K OFF!!! *you have been banned from this channel*
  • You are S**T and L2J is S**T too
  • GTFO!!!
  • We don't care...
  • <no reply>
This believe it or not, is a common scenario in L2j relationships with their un-friendly Forks when we ask for the attribution that we DESERVE for all the work we do, for free, for all of you, and for *them* and *their* users, because those "groups" that we refuse to call Forks steal our code and rebrand it as their own, for their "perfect working" software with "all features enabled".

They intentionally make false accusations against the original L2j Project, about the lack of updates, lack of features and terribly performance and coding, they claim that their own versions have over 50% better performance (witch they have shown no proof of) all exploits fixed and no bugs, badmouthing the original project in order to get more attention to their own one.

Then, when you look at their repositories trac/svn, you find, that most of the "features" and "fixes" that they have added are just leeched from L2j repositories, but they don't mention it, they dont give credit back to the people who made it, just with a simple "sync to xxx l2j" they copy-paste code taken from our sources with previously removed credits, and then claim that they "fixed it!" They do not even credit the original authors of the software or code patches.

So, how would you feel good about this if it happened to you? Your work, that takes you weeks, months or years to complete is *stolen* by a group of thieves? Not only your work as a Developer, but also, the work of your Community that gives their biggest effort into making good contributions and publish them in our forums. Have you noticed how many their "features" and "fixes" have been taken straight from our forums and they don't even give a "Thanks" for it; neither giving attribution to where they found it nor mention the author of that public contribution?

Bork, fork, bork, fork, bork, fork!

Whilst the people who work hard on creating the software really despise this attitude, it has to be very clearly stated this is in fact not violating the GNU GPL at all. For as long a third party offers the binaries and the sources and in compliance with the GNU GPL, it is legal.

This is, of course, not counting the people who remove the copyright and license sections. That IS illegal, violating the GNU license which we use.

GNU GPL Freedom let you modifiy the code as much as you want, and that includes any line of code even if those lines contain author attribution info. Its' a common practice in OSF to retain the original author attribution info comments in the source untouched, only modified to ADD your own attribution info below the original one. The only exception would be if you have COMPLETELY rewritten the function or piece of code of such author, then you could "update" the attribution info to yourself. However, whereas GPL implies this kind of freedom, it doesn't allow to deny or violate associated copyrights.

All Free Software projects benefit from free distribution, and there's no reason to be ashamed of it by hiding that with obscure brands and refusing to credit the makers.

Such practice can be found in L2j Source Code in many places, also in our Trac when some changeset is done, authors are mentioned and given proper attribution, if the code submited has @Author info, those arent removed, but that is not the case with some un-friendly forks, and as we in L2j dont have the time to put a fight with a group of underground punks, we have just ignored them for a long time.

But every new day comes and we receive mails and comments from users about this, and we can't not just sit idle without feeling frustration about this; it even discourages us to keep working on this project. Maybe many of you can remember our past April Fools Joke, so many people believed it because it was so close to the reality, that it was almost a certain future for L2j.

In fact, we can just make L2j a Private Open Source Developement, and sell licences to get access to the binaries and source code, and this in compliance with the GNU GPL, it is legal.

But we in L2j don't work for money, we have never asked for money for our work (donations are used to pay server rent fees). We work for the spirit of collaboration and fun, if gives us more satisfaction to know that a lot of people is using our software happily, meeting with people from all places around the earth and FOR TEH LULZ.

We also collaborate with friendly forks, working hand in hand responsibly. Some of them are members of the Team or participate on our forums actively.

We are sending this open letter to the whole community to understand our position, and maybe... the measures that we would have to take in order to confront this situation. There are several ways to make L2j "hard-to-fork" without violating the GNU GPL, we could close the Trac, disable the "View/Download Diff" function, we could also bump big changesets with over 9000 changes instead of several small patches but that would hurt the whole community of people who really cares and contribute. That's not our goal.

With this letter we make a final call to our un-friendly forks to show some ethic and comply with L2j in a few things:
  • Choose the same license type as the original L2j project, GNU GPL v3.
  • On your project web site make it clear that you are a fork of L2j, explain why if you want to. Dont confuse the people about the nature your project.
  • Do not remove the names of developers or copyright notices from any of the source files or documentation.
  • If you Sync to our repository, make clear which version or revision was synced, hyperlink to it if possible.
  • You cannot use any logo from L2j websites without permission of the (c) owners.
That's it!

We are not asking nothing else, we are not asking to stop their development or activities, we are not asking to change the direction of their project or their ideals, we are just asking for the attribution that the whole L2j Community deserve.

Regards
The L2j Team
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issle88
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Re: [L2j] Open Letter to our non-friendly forks

Post by issle88 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:42 am

For people that have been around for so long (you), it should be obvious that "warnings" towards forkers wouldnt work. I believe, in a couple of hours/days the topic will get full of well-build and sophisticated replies containing valid arguments from the forkers side, backing up their stance and ethics. But this phenomenon of "stealing", "reverse engineering", "copying" of product development isnt just the disease of the open source. Its everywhere, in every aspect of the industrial world.

And its pretty much obvious. Why whould someone, who wants to make money by making a server or selling code, give credits to anyone ?

From a server owners perspective saying you have your "own" emulator and completing the phrase with : "Its 5 months ahead of L2J " easily makes your server more attractive to the players eye, who by the way has no clue whats going on with l2j or any emulator or fork. So packs like <L2J Fork> ( who are just default l2j completed with a richer datapack (Revision 4700) ) wouldnt see any reason to change their stance.

From a code-sellers side, calling his project a unique emulator, that has all the l2j bugs fixed gives him better credibility and along with some twats confirming his claims his pocket gets filled with a lot of euros. So same here, why would such a person stop forking ?

Both those two categories of people use the propagandistic comparsion the communists did back in the 70-80's to rise the value of a rotten world/product by claiming it to be higher than the worlds top wonder. And it works even after all that propaganda got revealed. So looking back into history and seeing how all the relevant milestones occured i can easily say that a warning will not change anyones heart.

Im not providing any ground for flaming, im just being realistic. There need to be more drastic measures t0correct such a situation. Perhaps some contribution system that can grant you access to the code. But more on that later :)

Probe
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Re: [L2j] Open Letter to our non-friendly forks

Post by Probe » Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:30 am

Funny you mentioned one of the only forks that does give credit to l2j.

savormix
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Re: [L2j] Open Letter to our non-friendly forks

Post by savormix » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:32 pm

Issle wrote:For people that have been around for so long (you), it should be obvious that "warnings" towards forkers wouldnt work. I believe, in a couple of hours/days the topic will get full of well-build and sophisticated replies containing valid arguments from the forkers side, backing up their stance and ethics. But this phenomenon of "stealing", "reverse engineering", "copying" of product development isnt just the disease of the open source. Its everywhere, in every aspect of the industrial world.

And its pretty much obvious. Why whould someone, who wants to make money by making a server or selling code, give credits to anyone ?

From a server owners perspective saying you have your "own" emulator and completing the phrase with : "Its 5 months ahead of L2J " easily makes your server more attractive to the players eye, who by the way has no clue whats going on with l2j or any emulator or fork. So packs like <L2J Fork> ( who are just default l2j completed with a richer datapack (Revision 4700) ) wouldnt see any reason to change their stance.

From a code-sellers side, calling his project a unique emulator, that has all the l2j bugs fixed gives him better credibility and along with some twats confirming his claims his pocket gets filled with a lot of euros. So same here, why would such a person stop forking ?

Both those two categories of people use the propagandistic comparsion the communists did back in the 70-80's to rise the value of a rotten world/product by claiming it to be higher than the worlds top wonder. And it works even after all that propaganda got revealed. So looking back into history and seeing how all the relevant milestones occured i can easily say that a warning will not change anyones heart.

Im not providing any ground for flaming, im just being realistic. There need to be more drastic measures t0correct such a situation. Perhaps some contribution system that can grant you access to the code. But more on that later :)
That's why you don't need to trust code sellers, especially their claims about "almost completely finished" L2 gameplay.

In general, before attempting such a reverse-engineering project with a closed team, there's always a list of pros and cons, so it becomes a dilemma that may or may not be reflected by such points:
  • Is it better to get a license from the official developer? Why (not)?
  • If the team has time, skills and information to catch up with official developer in a relatively short amount of time, this implies that they have a wide range of IT-related specialists.
  • If the team already has an up-to-date emulator (let's say up-to-date <=> not stolen), there is no reason they would need to sell it, because:

    The team has a monopoly (in the L2 private server sector).
Also, the non-mutual forks just help code sellers, as the fork team members do not contribute to the root project, which almost always end up as duplicate work. Such time wasting prevents the emulator from growing/catching up with the official project and helps pseudo-scam code seller projects, which may simply be a downgraded root project with some decorative changes.
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Evilus
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Re: [L2j] Open Letter to our non-friendly forks

Post by Evilus » Sat Oct 30, 2010 12:54 am

Not to bad post TPB, I would just like to say as both team member and team leader of "fork" that I am very disappointed in us getting attacked for no reason at all. We did not come here and started flaming l2j I do not see why this turned at us? I seriously do not see why we are the example here you should use some other example, we do keep all credits of the ones who originally wrote scripts and/or java files etc. The only 'thing' we changed was pretty much the name of the project which in your case is "l2jserver" and our ""fork". Of course there are code differences but there always will be , everyone writes something differently.

I think it is very rude to bash someone who did not even come here to attack you, I am not sure why this happend we have kept ourselves into the shadows. I must also say that you have to see the difference of our team members and those who are fake members. A lot people say they are members of "fork" yet they are not and so on.
Issle wrote: From a code-sellers side, calling his project a unique emulator, that has all the l2j bugs fixed gives him better credibility and along with some twats confirming his claims his pocket gets filled with a lot of euros. So same here, why would such a person stop forking ?
I am not going to comment your whole post just this part. "fork" members do not sell anything , nor will they ever do, at least not as long as I am team leader. If someone sells files it is not a member of "fork" so please do not put this on us because we are not selling them. In the past year or so "fork" has become very popular, I do not know why nor how really. I guess it started somewhere when our servers got popular and we cared about our players. Unlike 90% of the l2j servers they thought maybe this is something new. I am not going to claim here we have better files than l2j, everyone can google and find a server and test for themselves what they think. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, some may think it is crap some may think it is good.

All I ask is to stop this madness, why this flame war ? Sure we forked out from l2j and changed a lot of the code, so what? It's not like we stole anything from anyone. We just took something great and improved it our way. So can you do.

Now stop this.

Just my 2 cent.

Best Regards
Evilus
"fork" Team Leader
Last edited by Evilus on Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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ThePhoenixBird
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Re: [L2j] Open Letter to our non-friendly forks

Post by ThePhoenixBird » Sat Oct 30, 2010 4:31 am

ThePhoenixBird wrote:With this letter we make a final call to our un-friendly forks to show some ethic and comply with L2j in a few things:
  • Choose the same license type as the original L2j project, GNU GPL v3.
  • On your project web site make it clear that you are a fork of L2j, explain why if you want to. Dont confuse the people about the nature your project.
  • Do not remove the names of developers or copyright notices from any of the source files or documentation.
  • If you Sync to our repository, make clear which version or revision was synced, hyperlink to it if possible.
  • You cannot use any logo from L2j websites without permission of the (c) owners.
That's it!

We are not asking nothing else, we are not asking to stop their development or activities, we are not asking to change the direction of their project or their ideals, we are just asking for the attribution that the whole L2j Community deserve.

Regards
The L2j Team
If your L2j fork comply with the above statements, then i dont see why you should consider your fork as a non-friendly and being attacked by L2j, any fork is invited to work with us (even private ones), our objetives and goals may be different, but we are all based on the same platform.
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aragon
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Re: [L2j] Open Letter to our non-friendly forks

Post by aragon » Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:50 am

l2j is the best, founders and contributers are doing amazing job. congratz to all this team.
Its sad how can people download this project to sell it, selling open source, and selling all you're work in this project :/

sorry my bad english.

Good Work People :oops:

benurb
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Re: [L2j] Open Letter to our non-friendly forks

Post by benurb » Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:39 pm

aragon wrote:l2j is the best, founders and contributers are doing amazing job. congratz to all this team.
Its sad how can people download this project to sell it, selling open source, and selling all you're work in this project :/
Just to make that clear: Selling l2j is not the bad thing. It can be sold without problems (for details see GPL licence), but it is not ok to remove copyrights.

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brutus
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Re: [L2j] Open Letter to our non-friendly forks

Post by brutus » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:36 am

when will that end?

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