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Source for artwork in games

This page tries to summarize the discussion between February and March 2014 about how to treat artwork and source for games and provides opinions of various people about this topic.

source for artwork

Bas Wijnen

  • Social contract #1: We promise that the Debian system and all its components will be free according to [the DFSG].
  • DFSG #2: The program must include source code.
  • Policy 2.2.1, in particular:
    • None of the packages in the main archive area require software outside of that area to function.
    • the packages in main must not require or recommend a package outside of main for compilation or execution.
  • Policy 7.2: The Recommends field should list packages that would be found together with this one in all but unusual installations.
  • We require editable source for everything in main.
  • Source is the form that upstream would reasonably use to modify the work.
  • A file is editable if every aspect of it can be reasonably edited using only programs from main.
  • If there is no upstream, the Debian maintainer is considered to be upstream.
  • If upstream is unable to reasonably modify the work, then source does not exist and the work cannot be in main.

Paul Wise

  • ftpmasters: everything must be buildable from source with Debian main even if that doesn't happen at package build time.

Markus Koschany

  • We need to differentiate between different forms of digital art.
  • Digital art is different from a program. It can't be treated the same way.
  • The source of digital art depends on the artwork itself.
  • Should be a recommendation for upstream developers but not a set of rules that can be applied equally to all upstream projects and artwork.

Simon ?McVittie

I do personally think there's value in being less strict about "the
preferred form for modification" as opposed to "a form you can modify"
for non-code, because the preferred form for modification is far less
clear-cut than it is for code. I also think there's a risk of making
it extremely difficult to package games (and other "code + assets"
bundles) of any significant size in main, by effectively assigning
bugs of the form "this texture/sound/... is difficult to
modify/reconstruct without replacing it entirely" an artificially
inflated severity.

Steve Langasek

A PNG is not a program.  There is no source required for a PNG under DFSG
#2, and anyone who says otherwise is engaging in (or a victim of) historical

Russ Albery


That GR proposal does not require source for non-programmatic works.  It
only "strongly recommends" it, and says explicitly that such source
doesn't have to be in the archive.

See also these messages on debian-devel on the 15th of March 2014.

Other Quotes

Bas Wijnen

If there is a free editor[1], the engine
should go in main even without free content; in that case it is
reasonable to say that people may want to use the editor to create
things, and the engine to use their creations.

[1] An engine that uses a format that can be edited with general purpose
programs like text and image editors obviously always has an editor.
Therefore, if there would be a compiler for Scumm games which turns text
files and regular graphics/sound files into a format it understands, I
think that would also be enough.  I wouldn't be surprised if such a
compiler exists.  And a decomiler as well.  That would be nice; it would
allow people to edit those free-without-source games.

Markus Koschany Several free development kits exist for ScummVM. HOWTO-Fangames See WME Lite for the Wintermute engine for an example. WME-Lite