Hi Josh,
While I am a fan of open source software solutions such as Linux, Firefox, etc there are a number of reasons why using the GNU General Public License for everything simply wouldn't work. First, most software companies make their money directly off the sale of their software products. However, under the terms of the General public License no person or corporation can sell the software and source code, and must make their money through tech support, documentation, donations, whatever. This would become a major financial problem for programmers. For example, the last time I checked the average programmer at Microsoft makes $60000 per year. Most of their wage comes out of the sales of Windows, Office, Money, and other Microsoft flagship products. If the company is forced to give their software away for free under the terms of the General Public License where do you expect all those employees to get their wages from? I am a programmer myself. I have a wife, a five year old son, I have to pay rent, buy food, put gas in our car, etc. If I have to give all of my software away for free where am I going to get money to survive? Second, not everything is covered by the General Public License such as sounds, music, graphics, and other forms of multimedia. So assuming a game developer were to create a game, make it open source, they would still have to pay money to license sounds, music, graphics, perhaps a license for some trade marks, etc. All which may or may not be covered by the GPL. Since the developer can't sell the software he/she can't use the sale of the software to cover the costs of the sounds, music, graphics, trade marks, etc. For example, let us assume a developer is creating a Star Trek or Star Wars game. The way a company generally licenses a trade mark like that is through royalty payments based on the number of sales. For simplicity sake let's say it is 20% of all sales. If a developer can' sell their software where are they going to get the money for those royalty payments? The Star Trek and Star Wars sound effects aren't free either. Those may need to be licensed from the company who owns the copyrights for them. Then, if the developer wants custom music they have to pay a composer to create the new music tracks for their game. If they need graphics they have to pay a digital graphics designer for all of the game graphics. The list goes on and on. Third, not every country honors the General Public License. That means a U.S. based company would in effect give their software and source code away for free while in some countries someone could build a local version, sell it, and make money off of someone else's work legally all because their countries copyright laws are different. Finally, the General Public License offers no protection for trade marks and other related materials. So anything a developer creates under the terms of the GPL immediately becomes public property. This hurts the developer in ways you probably haven't thought about before. For example, in 1996 Edos Interactive launched a new game series called Tomb Raider. Thanks to the success of the early games in the series Edos began licensing the Tomb Raider trade mark out to third-parties. For a while there were comic books, books, movies, and even Lara Croft action figures for sale. Edos made a huge financial killing off the sale of the movies, books, and action figures just through the sale of the Tomb Raider trade mark alone. So what would have happened if those games were under the General Public License? Well, I'm not clear if a trade mark and software license falls under two different areas of copyright law or not, but they certainly would be at odds with each other in a case like this. With a license like the GPL the developer is giving the public the right to modify, use, and share the software free of charge as they see fit. A developer can't say, "ok you can use my software, but not my trade marks, characters, story, sounds, music, etc." The problem here is the General Public License was designed to protect software and trade marks, to keep them in the public domain, that everyone could freely share them without them being used commercially. A company who creates a trade mark like Tomb Raider wouldn't be able to market it commercially while freely giving away the software without running into conflicting licensing agreements. Bottom line, in an ideal world we would all be true communists. There would be no copyrights, trade marks, we would all work for the pleasure of it rather than personal wealth, everything would be public property, etc. However, that isn't reality. The reality is we live in a capitalist society where everyone must work to make money, to pay for things, and to survive. Someone's personal success is measured in how much wealth he or she has made over his/her life time. The driving force behind our econemy is money, money, and more money. Neither of us are in a position to change that. The kind of change you need is beyond just forcing all software developers to make all of their software free and open source via the GPL. That alone doesn't solve the problems of how a programmer is to make money, eat, buy a home, etc. It doesn't explain how a company is to license trade marks, buy sounds, music, etc from someone else who isn't bound by the GPL. It dosn't explain how one country can make other foreign powers obey the same copyright laws we do. There are a host of problems the General Public License simply doesn't resolve and answer.

Josh wrote:
Hi,

What video game makers aught to do and software developers is to release all software and all operating systems under the gnu general public license. In fact, there should be a law in the United States that requires all software, hardware and operating systems to be released under the gnu general public license then we could all contribute to how our computers work in some way. And this would almost eliminate piracy altogether.
Josh

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