It is my opinion that we should not support paid plugins due to the following section of the Minecraft EULA:
OWNERSHIP OF OUR GAME AND OTHER THINGS
Any tools you write for the Game from scratch belong to you. Modifications to the Game (“Mods”) (including pre-run Mods and in-memory Mods) and plugins for the Game also belong to you and you can do whatever you want with them, as long as you don‘t sell them for money / try to make money from them. We have the final say on what constitutes a tool/mod/plugin and what doesn’t.
As I do not condone violating the EULA, I believe we therefore should not permit the sale of paid/“premium” plugins. Furthermore, having exclusive assets available is contrary to my ethos that all assets should to be available to and used by the community as a whole, not merely for the privileged few.
– @Owen | Marketplace for Sponge plugins
I absolutely 100% agree with the desire to comply with Mojang’s EULA. When I saw that portion of Sponge’s rules, it earned huge respect points from me and made this community one that I wanted to be a part of. However, there is not a doubt in my mind that the EULA is being tragically misinterpreted here.
By “Mods,” we mean something original that you or someone else created that doesn’t contain a substantial part of our copyrightable code or content. When you combine your Mod with the Minecraft software, we will call that combination a “Modded Version” of the Game. We have the final say on what constitutes a Mod and what doesn’t. You may not distribute any Modded Versions of our Game or software, and we’d appreciate it if you didn’t use Mods for griefing. Basically, Mods are okay to distribute; hacked versions or Modded Versions of the Game client or server software are not okay to distribute.
– Minecraft EULA
Mojang saying “We have the final say on what constitutes a tool/mod/plugin and what doesn’t” is not as scary as it sounds. The EULA makes allowances for mods, but limits what can be considered a mod to software that doesn’t contain a substantial amount of their code. Since the line between too much of their code and an acceptable amount is fuzzy, the inclusion of the line allowing Mojang to determine where that line falls on a case by case basis is very logical on their end. That line does not mean you’re at risk of being in violation of their EULA by selling a Sponge plugin though. Not because Mojang is nice about their final say. They can say whatever they’d like. It’s just that as previously pointed out, their EULA isn’t copy-left. It only limits how you can convey their code. Unless they make their license copy-left, their license has no say over what you do with your work; only theirs.
I could not be more confident in this, but I highly advise that Sponge seek official legal counsel to validate this. I have no expectations that you’ll simply take my word for it.
Absolutely. Time can be a great substitute for money when the people with the time available are willing to donate it, such as how the Sponge team donates their time to this project. However, unless you can do it yourself, money is needed to bring in others who require compensation in order to justify their time allocation. Looking at Sponge’s situation, after over five years of running, they’re still so lacking in income that they can’t even afford to hire a skilled and knowledgable attorney to let them know in what ways they could ever possibly be in legal trouble. As a result, the entire community is limited.
If we could at least pool the money together for proper legal guidance, we could progress the discussion from one of conjecture, to being one of ethos.
I know a lot of the people here have come from Bukkit, and thus share the love of FOSS that our dearly appreciated Bukkit contributors did. However, if this platform continues to force the FOSS policy on its community, I fear and expect that Sponge will remain as dry of a community and resources as it is now, as Bukkit is now.
Clearly, the handful of people who’ve stuck around Sponge have done so because they have the money to support themselves while still having time left over to be here. So it’s not surprising that after years of their own personal sacrifices for little in return, they would share the feeling of wanting everyone else to publish only free software as well. But so many more people are not financially capable of doing what Sponge’s current maintainers are capable of doing. They don’t have the time to work a real job and also contribute to the Sponge project/community. That’s why after over five years, this site still doesn’t even have 500 resources available for its community’s usage.
I also want to encourage openness and cooperation, and I want this community to grow and thrive off one another. But I strongly believe you’ll find a lot more success in bringing in more free software, if you bring in more people who can afford to spend their time making it. Help developers financially support themselves off of their plugin work, and they’ll be able to afford to give back to the community that helped them get there. Free content makes a great portfolio and brings attention to their paid projects as well, so there is already an inherent encouragement.
More paid content means more developers, means more free content for everyone in this community.
Knowing how much it costs to live in this world, I expect every member of the Spigot team has a separate job. But what if working for Sponge, working to grow and give to this community was their job? What if they could afford to spend all of their time giving to this community because they could support themselves off of that service?
The main issue I’m seeing here is that Sponge simply isn’t bringing in any money. As a result, Sponge can’t afford to hire the legal counsel necessary to interpret Mojang’s EULA, and help management make decisions on how they could proceed to expand the platform, bring in a larger staff team, provide more moderation services for the community, and host products being sold here.
Sponge as a platform is thus left waiting for third party websites to take up the responsibility of growing the popularity of their software, to take on the legal responsibility of allowing the sale of their software, and make developing against the Sponge API something that more people can afford to take up. Personally, I’d love to get more of MC-Market selling plugins for Sponge, thus encouraging contributions towards keeping the API updated. But I can’t help but feel that doing so would severely divide the community. It should really be Sponge that brings all of its derivative content creators together.
I’ve commit to a $10 monthly payment to Sponge’s Patreon, which will hopefully assist at least a little in this community doing something more with itself, but I fear it’ll be in vain if Sponge doesn’t look for better ways to monetize the platform.
Provide for free, to as many people as possible, as much as you can afford to. Provide for a fee, everything that you would have otherwise been unable to provide at all.
When you are financially supported, what you are capable of providing for free becomes limitless.
Take on responsibility. Enable people.