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03 February 2011, 11:51

Open source game counterfeited in Mac App Store

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Zoom The two versions of Lugaru in the Mac App Store
The developers at game software house Wolfire have found that the Lugaru HD game, which they open sourced last May, has appeared in what they describe as a counterfeit version on the Mac App Store. The developers have noted the appearance of a £1.19 game named Lugaru on the Mac App Store where Wolfire sells Lugaru HD for £5.99. Wolfire open sourced the Lugaru game under the GPL but only included sufficient game assets (graphics, audio and other resources) to allow users to compile a developers version; Wolfire retained the rights to "everything else aside from the code itself". This type of open source release is common for games as it allows other developers to create new games based on the code while allowing the original developers to continue receiving income from selling their created characters and maps.

Wolfire says that it has contacted iCoder, who have been "unhelpful". Alex Matlin of iCoder reportedly told online game magazine Kotaku that they had done nothing wrong claiming that, based on a May 2010 blog post from Wolfire: "The license we were granted allows for non-exclusive redistribution of the source code or the compiled product, modified or unmodified, for a fee or free of charge". However, this is at odds with the Wolfire blog post which states:

We are releasing the source code under the General Public License(GPL), which means you can distribute modified versions of the Lugaru code, but they must also be open-source under the GPL. The game assets are included in the snapshot, and can be redistributed for free, but cannot be resold without our permission.

iCoders also does not appear to be complying with this licence as there appears to be no source code for Lugaru available from its site.

Wolfire has been an advocate of open sourcing the code behind its games, but Wolfire's Jeffery Rosen says that this type of piracy is "a different beast entirely" because of the integration of the Mac App Store with Mac OS X. He worries that incidents such as this could discourage other developers from open sourcing their games' code in future.


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