Keywords: security
To make a 40-minute pager conversation short, tonight I got a page from a BYOND Member who says another user ripped off his game -- i.e., who got a copy of the source code and now claims it is his own work. I have no reason not to believe the person who paged me, but unfortunately, there isn't much BYOND can do about it. Why? Because BYOND just develops tools for game programmers. We have a very small, almost all-volunteer staff, and we have no in-house detectives or lawyers.

Here's Jtgibson's take on the issue.

If your source code has somehow been released without your permission, there are some important notes to take into consideration:

1) BYOND is not and cannot be responsible for determining who is in the right in these cases; BYOND consists of a limited number of staff members who already work hard to ensure that the site and the BYOND software suite are being improved daily, and they don't have the time to investigate such matters as thoroughly as would be required to identify the facts of the matter. The internet allows people a lot of anonymity, and when two or more people accuse the other of being at fault it's nearly impossible to identify who is telling the truth.

2) The safest way to prevent the release of your source code is never to give it to anyone else. Hosts and administrators for your game never need access to your source code, only the compiled binary (the .DMB file) and the compiled resources (the .RSC file).

3) If your source code has been released without your permission, BYOND has no way of preventing or solving that problem, and cannot be held liable on account of it. If you feel that you have been financially or emotionally wronged, consider pursuing a civil lawsuit against the other person. Otherwise, live and let live, and remember to be more careful in the future.

My own additional comment, from the pager conversation tonight:

The fact is, any developer of software is never, or only in very rare circumstances, going to get involved in intellectual property disputes between users of the software. If someone steals someone else's Microsoft Visual Basic code, or Photoshop illustration, or Acrobat document, that's an issue between the creator and the thief. I know it sucks, but that's the situation.

Armed with only those arguments, I had a hard time persuading the understandably upset fellow on the pager that this is the only way BYOND can handle the issue. What do you think? Did I leave out anything important that might have made the reasoning clearer?