Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
power of today's large software corporations such
as Microsoft, Adobe and Electronic Arts. It may
seems extraordinary that governments have failed
to introduce legislation to promote the public good,
curb the sizeable incomes generated, and ensure
that the public is allowed access to the code, with
permission to redistribute after a relatively short
time in which to earn a reasonable return. On what
date might we expect copyright on software such
as Word, Photoshop or The Sims to expire, and
their content be released into the public domain?
Moreover, as the code is compiled in the distrib-
uted applications would its release only serve a
limited purpose? Copyright is enforceable whether
compiled or not, similarly to the case of musical
scores and recordings. Would it be appropriate to
consider a requirement that copyright software be
published as source? Without this requirement it
seems difficult to time limit the benefits to the
author or publisher.
Copyright and patent legislation has particu-
lar relevance to people with disabilities. Sound
and vision are important for communication,
and whilst images have been included in html
for many years, despite concerns regarding jpeg
patents; some browser developers have not yet
implemented sound support because of patent
concerns regarding mp3 and other codecs, and
for this reason many authors choose to rely on
Flash for audio. Small developers of specialised
input & output devices with novel affordances
feel threatened when the research and applications
they have undertaken and produced in support of
niche markets is compromised by large corpora-
tions patenting or copyrighting similar concepts.
Furthermore, people with learning disabilities
may take years to learn a symbol language; which
effectively ties them, their family and friends to
the copyright holder whether a particular charity
or business, for life as provider of their means
of communication. Copyright holders of symbol
languages may for commercial reasons not wish
to release their graphics on the web in any format,
may limit release to a few symbols, or not allow
release in an open format such as svg. Is it in the
public interest that so many people, who because of
their disability are unlikely to earn a living wage,
should be so additionally disadvantaged for life?
There are ways we can mitigate some copyright
concerns, we can at least imagine repurposing
data assets across game domains, so that our care-
fully created Second Life character can leave her
SimCity condominium and stroll through Grand
Theft Auto lV. However, the relational constructs
involved in gaming algorithms may not be so
readily modded. There is a higher expectation of
associated value, and thus greater reluctance to
reveal the elements of a function. For example blue
eyes, red hair and glass shoes may transfer readily,
but to agree standards that enable the transfer of
emotional and psychological profiles embedded
in a character, reveals much to a competitor, for
little apparent immediate benefit. However, the
potential gains of cooperation are great, though it
may be hard for companies to contribute and col-
laborate, without changes to copyright legislation.
Google, IBM and Apache amongst others, man-
age many large active open source projects, whilst
remaining viable corporate businesses, and there
are many applications and script libraries avail-
able, but they are generally used by developers
rather than the public. RSS Feeds and mashups
demonstrate exciting new ways to manipulate
and display data in the browser. Mashups bring
together and relate data sets from more than one
source. However the multiplicity of non-standard
APIs detracts from their benefits, and their licences
frequently contain riders or restrictions on usage.
The technical difficulty of implementation puts
them beyond any but the most dedicated amateurs,
though the results can be great fun. To encourage
API developers to share at least some parts of their
tool sets, fair use might enable purchasers to copy
sections of code and create their own tools, much
as in the 19th century and earlier, readers kept
commonplace topics in to which they copied their
favourite texts. Publishers might promote their
snippets as interoperable or having good connec-
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