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I'm not sure which I should be at this point ...

Here is the fireball program I wrote which created such a stir:


(press (X) to shrink, (O) to enlarge the fireball and use arrows to navigate)

Now here is the SAME program I wrote, written in a different OS, and NOT BY ME ! And apparently, the pilot software to demonstrate their total rip-off of off ZEP's marvelous PICO OS.


In my program, press (X) to shrink it to the same size as his. Notice pixel-per-pixel it's the same.

P#56488 2018-09-10 14:18 ( Edited 2019-12-18 05:10)

:: Davbo

It's not Pico 8 though 🤷‍♀️

P#56493 2018-09-10 15:35 ( Edited 2018-09-10 19:35)
:: dw817

That's what REALLY stinks about this whole thing. I certainly don't want my neat fireball routine to be the pilot program for a Pico-8 rip-off language. :(

I'm wondering if I should make this a support ticket. I don't know if ZEP knows that his work has been ripped off or if he has a standing copyright on his PICO-8.

P#56500 2018-09-10 17:59 ( Edited 2018-09-10 22:08)

Liko-12 is made by a 16yo kid from Syria. I'd probably cut him a bit of slack. :)


P#56510 2018-09-11 00:34 ( Edited 2018-09-11 04:34)
:: dw817

... ??? Wha - What ???

Are you serious ? 16-years old ? Oh my gosh. Umm ... Hmm ... Well, I hate to admit it, that's certainly more than I could do today. Wow. Wrote his own rip-off OS at that age.

Alrightee then. I guess he's welcome to my fireball code I suppose. Let's see if he sticks with it though.

At that age when I was programming my brain was like a butterfly, never stayed on anything too long.

Nonetheless, very cheeky of him to blatantly rip off ZEP's hard work and brilliant creativity.

P#56512 2018-09-11 00:43 ( Edited 2018-09-11 04:47)
:: Felice

You posted your code in the open with no license requirements. That's how it works. I post code all the time with hopes other people will find it useful enough to incorporate it. If any of my snippets are in Liko-12, that's kinda cool.

Not to mention that that effect could easily be arrived at through parallel evolution. Fire-type effects are everwhere on the demoscene.

Also, Liko-12 takes after PICO-8, yes, but PICO-8 takes after C64, various Apples, etc. Each had an inspiration and each took their own path away from that inspiration. No reason to call either of them cheeky just because they're standing on someone's shoulders. That's how tech evolves.

P#56709 2018-09-15 19:47 ( Edited 2018-09-15 23:47)
:: dw817

I spoke with my friend, Chris. He said I should be flattered, more than flattered that a new programming language is starting off using my code as an example of what it can do.

And no, Felice. I recognize my fire pattern and color set immediately. That is not a "lucky" coincidence he has here.

As you said, you think it's cool that someone is using your code in a programming language you did not know about - so there you have it. :)

And yes, without your help, I would not have known that PICO arrays can be used thus:


That is immensely powerful and has far greater implications than any programming language I've used thus far.

P#56710 2018-09-15 19:58 ( Edited 2018-09-15 23:58)

@Felice: Well, that might be "how it works", but it's not legal. Posting something in the open with no license doesn't mean that anyone can use it. On the contrary, it means nobody can use it. No license = all rights reserved.

That's why I license (most of) my stuff here on the BBS under Creative Commons, and (most of) my stuff on GitHub under the MIT license. That way people can use it if they'd like to. (I see that @dw187 has also posted some carts under CC, but not the one he links to above.)

Like you, I'd be delighted if someone used my stuff like this, but I don't think it's cool to not honor someone's licensing terms (or lack thereof). Notably, CC/MIT allows anyone to use the code for pretty much anything, but you have to give credit to the creator. Although I'd love it if someone used my code, I'd probably be a little miffed if they didn't honor the attribution part of the license (not that it's super important to me, though).

P#56747 2018-09-16 17:01 ( Edited 2018-09-16 21:04)
:: dw817

Oh, so since I didn't do a CC then it is copyrighted ? Yah, well, doubt it would stop him anyways. Gratefully and really do appreciate your support though, Tobiasvl.

Here is something consider ...

Alexander Graham Bell is largely credited for inventing the telephone, after he secured the patent in 1876.

But in 2002 the US Congress declared that the real inventor was actually the poor Italian inventor Antonio Meucci.

16 years before Bell's patent, Meucci had successfully demonstrated his 'teletrofono' for the Italian American press in New York.

Meucci sent his invention to the Western Union telegraph company in 1872 in an attempt to bring his telephone to market.

But, when no action was taken and he asked for his prototype back two years later, Western Union claimed to have lost it.

Bell, who had shared a laboratory with Meucci filed a patent for a telephone and made a lucrative deal with Western Union.

Meucci sued Bell for fraud and appeared to be winning the case, that is, until he died, bringing an end to court proceedings ...

... leaving Alexander Graham Bell the "founder" of the telephone.

P#56753 2018-09-16 19:51 ( Edited 2018-09-17 04:55)
:: Felice


The absence of terms absolutely does NOT mean "nobody can use it".

When something is posted without any license or rights reserved, that's what you inherit. You can use it, modify it, distribute it, etc., under the same terms, ie. no license or rights reserved.

To have it otherwise would stifle both communication and innovation.

Now, in dw's favor, if the allegedly-derivative work is being sold, say, as part of a package that comes with a license and its own copyright notice, that would be a different matter. However, while Liko-12 does indeed have its own license (MIT), it is not actually packaged with the code in question (at least not on github, feel free to correct if otherwise), so that license is irrelevant.

You would need to show that A) the code is indeed derivative, not just similar in function, and B) the original rights have been usurped.

BTW, dw, I forgot to mention... the colors you chose don't necessarily indicate much. PICO-8's palette is very limited and fire effects do tend to use pretty much the same identical palette almost every time. It's somewhat inevitable given the limited choices. That alone would not be sufficient to accuse the other author of misdeeds. Finding the actual code snippet would be much more telling. A large company alleging financial damages would probably subpoena the source code in question to have it examined by an expert for similarities before it could hope to prevail.

P#56759 2018-09-17 00:44 ( Edited 2018-09-17 04:49)
:: dw817

Oh my god, Felice. You are a licensed paralegal, just like my friend, Chris. :)

In truth, no, I can't seem to find the source code to it. Did a little bit of investigating on his site but I think his LIKO-12 is too new and doesn't have any public source code samples yet.

I did notice he jacked ZEP's complete 16-color palette, the scheming whatsit, so any fire routine may well somehow use the exact same 5-color set I chose personally.

When he does release source though, well, then can look at the Fireball code and see if it's mine.

Then - maybe lodge a gripe, I don't know. I've learned so much more in PICO-8 both in code and community since that time ...

P#56761 2018-09-17 01:00 ( Edited 2018-09-17 05:01)
:: Felice

Ah, I thought Liko-12 had its own palette.

I'm pretty sure I've read something about zep claiming some kind of legal rights, maybe a trademark, on the precise colors in the PICO-8 palette. It'd be specific to the use case, but Liko-12 IS the same use case, so it'd apply if he chose to assert them.

Digital copyrights, trademarks, and especially patents are still pretty up-in-the-air in my opinion. It's very hard to set up laws that protect innovation without also hampering it. The fact that no two countries agree on how it should work is kind of an indicator that the solution isn't obvious.

PS: Liko-12 has been around for a couple of years, btw. It's an open-source project. I don't see a repository for samples, but the code for the actual platform is on github.

P#56766 2018-09-17 01:24 ( Edited 2018-09-17 05:24)

From the PICO-8 FAQ:

Can I use the PICO-8 palette and/or font for something?

Yes, please do. The palette and font are both available under a CC-0 license.

P#56769 2018-09-17 03:10 ( Edited 2018-09-17 07:10)
:: Felice

Ah, thanks, I knew there were some kind of terms. I just forgot they were so permissive. :)

P#56771 2018-09-17 03:48 ( Edited 2018-09-17 07:49)


> The absence of terms absolutely does NOT mean "nobody can use it".

Well. I used the word "use" here, which is imprecise. Sorry about that. You used the word "incorporate", which I should also have used. The US Copyright Office says that a copyright work cannot be "reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner", which covers "incorporation" (but is not as broad as "usage").

I agree that if you put something online with no licensing terms, people are free to "use" it (ie. download it and do whatever they want with it for personal use). However, in this case, dw817's code has been "incorporated", "reproduced", "distributed", "publicly displayed" and "made into a derivative work" without dw817's permission, so it is copyright infringement (if dw817's code was indeed used, of course!).

And the phrase "without the permission of the copyright holder" here means nobody can do these things with the intellectual property without a license. If I publish intellectual property I have created (since the work is automatically protected by copyright the moment I create it) online (on GitHub or the BBS), without attaching any licensing terms to it, then by default I have not issued anyone a license to distribute it.

If someone sends me an e-mail and asks "hey, can I use this in my game" and I say "yes", then I have given that person specifically a license to distribute my work. If I attach MIT/CC licensing terms to the published work, then I have given anyone a license to use it (as long as they follow the terms in the license).

> When something is posted without any license or rights reserved, that's what you inherit. You can use it, modify it, distribute it, etc., under the same terms, ie. no license or rights reserved.

I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're saying here. What do you mean by "inherit"? You're claiming that if something is posted online without any "rights reserved", anyone can distribute it?

What does it mean to post something "with" rights reserved? Posting a copyright notice? That is not required for copyright protection.

Or do you mean literally posting it with the term "all rights reserved" attached? That term no longer has any legal holding; "by default all rights are reserved; nothing may be done with a copyrighted work without explicit permission".

> To have it otherwise would stifle both communication and innovation.

I won't argue with you there. I'm not necessarily a big fan of the current copyright laws myself.

> Now, in dw's favor, if the allegedly-derivative work is being sold, say, as part of a package that comes with a license and its own copyright notice, that would be a different matter. However, while Liko-12 does indeed have its own license (MIT), it is not actually packaged with the code in question (at least not on github, feel free to correct if otherwise), so that license is irrelevant.

It would be a different matter, in that it would be an additional matter. In addition to violating dw817's rights as a copyright holder by distributing (a derivative of) his code, the creator of LIKO-12 would have illegally sublicensed the code, which he did not have the right to do either.

> You would need to show that A) the code is indeed derivative, not just similar in function, and B) the original rights have been usurped.

Yes, of course, this is true. If it went to court, dw817 would have to be able to prove copyright infringement. I'm no lawyer, and I'm not completely certain that porting dw817's PICO-8 code to LIKO-12 (if that is indeed what has happened here) counts as a derivative work, although I'm pretty sure it does.

> The fact that no two countries agree on how it should work is kind of an indicator that the solution isn't obvious.

Yes, everything I've said pertains to US copyright law. Now, the creator of LIKO-12 is not from the US. Neither am I for that matter :) But both Syria and the US (and Norway, my country) are part of the Berne convention and so recognize the copyrights of each other's citizens.

P#56773 2018-09-17 04:27 ( Edited 2018-09-17 08:29)

heres my two cents:
pico 8 was made with the ability to view any programs code and edit it. if it's posted it on a forum where you do not need to even log in to have access to its code, so essentialy every single program is a readable tutorial.

if you want to keep things to yourself only post a gif and keep your code hidden away or host your own portfolio of games you would like to show off but not let anyone view the code

that is all, sorry if that came across as rude, my focus is split this morning

P#56788 2018-09-17 12:40 ( Edited 2018-09-17 16:40)

Hehe. Yes, of course. The PICO-8 community is a big family built on sharing. I don't mean to come off as rude either, but the fact remains that people own the copyright to their games, even if they post their source code online. GitHub is also a "forum" where people post code that you don't need to log in to access.

P#56795 2018-09-17 15:28 ( Edited 2018-09-17 19:28)
:: Felice


What I meant when I said you inherit those terms is that you inherit the default license, just as you inherit the MIT license if you choose to use MIT-licensed code.

By the way, we're kind of mixing concepts here, with copyrights and patents getting conflated:

  • The demo referenced clearly isn't a direct rip of dw's code, as it doesn't behave quite the same. The full-screen effect works seemingly the same, but the actual behavior of the demo code is somewhat different. It may be a modified version of dw's code, but that's not clear.

  • The fire effect seems to work similarly, however the effect is an invention, not a copyrightable work. I think dw would need to have a patent on the method to have a valid complaint. (Unlikely as the method for the effect is a pretty well-known one.) Patents, unlike copyrights, are not granted automatically. I believe the current US law is that the patent goes to the entity that is first-to-file, and of course should only be granted to novel, non-obvious inventions.
P#56818 2018-09-17 21:49 ( Edited 2018-09-18 01:51)

In the United States, all copyrights are reserved by the author automatically at the moment it is created (and "fixed in a tangible form"). That's the "default license" in the United States (and countries with similar laws, either coincidentally or via trade agreements).

The Lexaloffle BBS terms of service state that by uploading a cart you are granting Lexaloffle (and only Lexaloffle) distribution rights. The author can publicly license their work any way they wish. (As a convenience, there is an option to attach a CC license when posting, but this is not automatic or required.)

Nothing else matters when it comes to the legality of republishing or transforming carts. This needs to be stated especially clearly so authors understand their rights. IIRC we've already had one or two cases of people stealing carts off the BBS, publishing them on the web, and attaching ads. (I don't recall if they were smart enough to only take CC-licensed carts but I doubt it.)

Some popular open source licenses have "viral" terms along the lines of derivative works needing to be publicly licensed under similar terms. This is specific to those licenses--it is stated in those licenses--and not a general concept of copyright law.

P#56868 2018-09-18 20:39 ( Edited 2018-09-19 00:42)
:: dw817


I would be very upset if someone walked off with my Haunted House game, "Mildew's Manor" and tried to sell it online, especially if they claimed they wrote it.

What kind of protection do we have for our cherished carts ? The ones we really worked hard on.

And can we or ZEP invoke some kind of binding protection for it today ?

P#56869 2018-09-18 21:48 ( Edited 2018-09-19 01:48)

Sadly that's a very different question from what is legal. If both parties are in the United States or the EU (and maybe other WIPO treaty members?), you can file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice to them and their web hosting provider. They are obligated to respond within days (though not necessarily take it down), and the legal liability applied to their web host is usually plenty of pressure to address overt copyright violation.

You could also get a lawyer to send a Cease and Desist notice. A C&D has no legal value (and doesn't even have to come from a real lawyer), it's just a letter saying "if you don't stop I'm going to file a civil suit." The next step would be an actual civil suit (in whatever manner is appropriate for the jurisdiction, e.g. both parties in the US). I wouldn't begin to speculate on how it works in other countries or across borders.

For egregious offenders that are obviously just sweeping up intellectual property for resale, sometimes an email saying "hey stop it" is sufficient. They'll gladly take down your game if it means they can quietly get away with illegally distributing dozens of others. This crap happens all the time, and in often brazenly commercial ways. It seems like every week there's a new story of a clothing company stealing a web comic from an artist who can't afford a lawyer and putting it on a t-shirt.

There are technical remedies in the category of Digital Rights Management. Legally they hinge on some questionable laws including the DMCA, e.g. making it illegal to distribute encryption keys (such as 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0). Such methods are unlikely to be of interest to Lexaloffle or this community.

P#56872 2018-09-18 22:41 ( Edited 2018-09-19 02:44)
:: dw817

Hell, I'm sorry, D - guys. I get worked up, you know ? My mood goes way up and down. Sometimes all in one day. I guess I get concerned for things that - well - you know, you just can't do too much about. Mostly about things from the past.

I know zippo about law and legal stuff but can pull my own in old-school programming I think. My brain works pretty good about taking business problems or game ideas and writing them through computer software - through programming, whatever the simplest language is I can find.

I've written silly books on Science Fiction and theology in the past and present. To date none have been taken from me, so I continue that each week.

I actually play the piano pretty well. Wrote dozens of songs. Real piano not computer. Got a silver award back in college for a solo piano performance. Months later I heard one of my exact tunes converted to MIDI on a music BBS with the author listed as Bayberron. I'll never forget that.

It ate me alive at the time ... I never got back in the music scene because of it - the fear - of having further music of mine taken from me.

I guess - and I know maybe this sounds childish. I listened to my Dad, you know ? He's a smart guy.

He said, "Look. You have talent. If you want to keep it all to yourself and show no-one what you do, that's fine. No-one will take it from you then."

"But if you do share it, post anything - ANYTHING anywhere, whether's it on a BBS, a book publisher, a song publisher, even if you just tell your best friend what you're up to, whatever it is, you open yourself up to it being taken from you. That will always be the case."

"You have to learn to trust others at least to a degree. If you can't do that, you'll never get out of your shell - and then you will miss out on finding others who are willing to share their treasures, just like you ..."

... and it's 10pm so I'm taking my seroquel now. Do it every evening.

Here's hoping my stuff isn't good enough to steal mainstream as you described. :)

P#56873 2018-09-18 23:12 ( Edited 2018-09-19 03:13)
:: Felice

I had a similar conversation with someone on IRC once. His name was Bob, so it wasn't you, dw, but I remember saying much the same thing. The only way to truly prevent copyright infringement is to keep it in your head, which is obviously a non-starter if you want to share your work. All you can do is specify terms when you put it out there, and hope that it doesn't take too much effort to police them. Everything else in copyright law basically follows on from that.

P#56904 2018-09-19 19:59 ( Edited 2018-09-19 23:59)

Unless you have a lawyer ready to sue, it's a waste of brainpower to spend time thinking about this. It's just a source of creativity-killing anxiety.

Really. Think about the artists who spend a lot of time worrying about copyright, putting giant obnoxious watermarks on all their work, and complaining about thieves more than they talk about art.

Now think of artists you like.

Is there much overlap between the two groups?

If you get successful enough that it matters at all, you can hire a lawyer, and let him deal with that crap, until then, resist the temptation of the dark side, and just be a good creator.

P#56997 2018-09-22 13:41 ( Edited 2018-09-22 17:41)
:: Felice

That's some damned good advice, right there.

I've been engaging in this because it's an interesting philosophical subject for me. I personally have a very hard time reconciling the rules needed to protect innovation with the freedoms needed to encourage it.

I honestly don't think a happy medium exists. I think it's more of a equilibrium thing, where we keep correcting for getting too protective or too permissive, but even when we minimize those extremes, it's still not right. We'll always end up with too many rules AND too few at the same time. I don't think it can be done right.

So yeah, rather than pick which way is philosophically right, pick the way that's pragmatically best, which is effectively what apLundell just said: Just go do stuff, don't waste your finite lifetime on debate over how it should be done or not.

P#57007 2018-09-22 23:14 ( Edited 2018-09-23 03:14)
:: dw817

To close this thread, I think I'm content with this copyright I developed, provided it is allowed:


In future carts I will just include that 16x16 icon in my sprites sheet to signify its conditional usage.

P#57107 2018-09-25 23:28 ( Edited 2018-09-26 03:28)

Not to be pedantic, but you didn't develop a copyright, you developed a license. More importantly, the same thing applies to the license text itself: "copyrighted for use only under PICO-8" should be "licensed for use only under PICO-8".

P#57113 2018-09-26 03:11 ( Edited 2018-09-26 07:11)
:: dw817

Not to be pedantic, I'll make that change, tobiasvl. Thanks ... :)

P#57120 2018-09-26 11:32 ( Edited 2018-09-26 17:30)

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