Guidelines Update (Customization License)

Started by IchBin™, November 30, 2011, 03:06:21 PM

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Hello all,

We wanted to let you know that the customization team is going to add a simple new requirement to all mods and themes submitted to the customization site. We're doing this to keep things simple -- to avoid confusion about what community members are and are not allowed to do with your mod or theme.

Did you know that, whenever you create a new mod or theme, you have an exclusive copyright to your own work? International copyright law says that, when you create original work, nobody else has the right to redistribute your work or create a new version of it -- unless you say so.

Not everyone knows this, and this has led to some confusion about what to do with great mods and themes at the customization site when their original authors are no longer able or willing to keep up with them.  Frequently, someone requests permission to be listed as the new author of the mod or theme. But if the original author has not given permission, then it would be against international copyright law for someone else to put a modified version of the mod up on the customization site. And the SMF team does not want to help someone break the law.

On the other hand, we'd like to help the community maintain these great mods. We know that, many times, the original author really would not mind if someone took over an "old" mod.  That's why we think adding this simple requirement will make things less confusing for everyone.

Starting January 1st we are requiring authors to do the following:

  • Include a license statement in each of your files (see SMF files for an example). Include the name and link to the license you've chosen in the customization description.
  • If you decide you wish to reserve all these rights to yourself, please include a copyright notice, a simple statement that no-one should edit or redistribute your work without your permission. This makes it clear to everyone that you didn't just "forget" to include some kind of permission for others to build upon your work.
You may know that Simple Machines and the SMF team, after a long debate, selected the  Open Source license (3-clause BSD License) for SMF 2.0, and has committed to sticking with open-source licenses in the future. We encourage mod and theme authors to use Open Source  licenses for work they submit.  There are several to choose from.

Among the most permissive are the
IchBin™        TinyPortal


Thanks for the information. So if I'm correct, the statement that you can do whatever you want with softwares that don't have a license is incorrect? But perhaps it would be a good idea to have a page in the customization site that has a few examples of license and a guide how to include them.


if a software/code etc does not have a license it is under a closed license and you can not do anything with the code provided.

some licenses are included in the op, you just need to include the text per the license and a link in the header. there is no real strict format required as long as it is included.


Thanks for pointing that out Illori, I was always told that if a software didn't had a license, you could do anything you want with it. Just to be sure, it is not required to give your software a license, but it's recommended to have one?


it is now a requirement that all mods and themes have a license, even if it is simply text that says you dont want anyone to ever touch your mod/theme and they cant build on it etc.

the customization approval guidelines have been updated to include this requirement.



in the real world you can do what you want, but in "smf world" it is required.


Thank you for the work on this and posting this information, BinMan. I'm sure it can only help for the future.
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Definitely its useful. There are many who just takes away your work along with credits, they may now have little knowledge that they are breaking law !

Account Abandoned

Question about the BSD 3-Clause License.

I am developing a smaller modification which will be in-house for the time being, however, if it works out well I will likely attempt to submit it to SMF mods... Just to make sure I understand correctly, as I haven't done this before... do I need to add the following in every file of the modification?

QuoteCopyright (c) <YEAR>, <OWNER>
All rights reserved.

To abide by the license standards?

Thanks for assisting me with this, I just want to make sure I get it right the first time :)

Matthew K.

A copy of the license (.txt) should be included with the modification, and the readme and description should both visibly display the license utilized. Comment headers in files should also state the license it's copyrighted with.


Hrm. I'm planning on offering a modification soon. However, it's very little code, that's also quite easy... So i don't feel like reading through a bunch of highly complex and rather useless license texts. I really don't care what people do with the code. If i was to exclude something, i'd say they shouldn't use it for evil... but honestly, who would believe that any license in the world can prevent that? ???
So, well... do you have a suggestion which one i should choose for minimum bureaucracy/effort? :P

Matthew K.

Most Open-Source licenses are similar to what you are explaining. Check out the "New BSD License" or MPL (Mozilla Public License).


How about just writing in my own words what is or isn't allowed to do with the code? Would this count as a license as well?


The link for comparisons is a great way to quickly decide what you want without having to do a lot of research.

The whole purpose of the license is to help the community. Abandoned mods is a big problem because nobody can take them over under a closed license.

We require a license be chosen. If one is not chosen, then you must specify that you reserve all rights as stated in the guidelines.
IchBin™        TinyPortal


Thanks. Think i've found one that sounds good.

Matthew K.

Quote from: Sheda on February 06, 2012, 03:33:33 PM
Thanks. Think i've found one that sounds good.
Great to hear! We look forward to reviewing your customization :)


You'll probably be disappointed, though... as the code is already available, it's just stuffed into another mod and now i'm going... uh... stand-alone. Hopefully with all the bugs fixed. Well, we'll see.
By the way, where do you think the license-related text should go?
Should i make a comment right at the beginning above the <? xml, or maybe in the line below that, or below the name of my mod, or maybe below the whole code? No matter where, it seems a little out of place.

Matthew K.

If your modification adds any files, those files should include licensing information at the top of the file, in the file comments. The readme should contain the license, or a link to the license in addition to the description on the mod site.

Furthermore, there is an XML element-tag called <license></license> that is applicable to package-info.xml :)