Drama: Craftbukkit, Spigot, Cauldron, and Us

If you don’t care about Minecraft Community Drama™, feel free to skip this post. It’s going to be a presentation of what’s going on and how it affects us… as well as some of my own opinion. If that, for whatever reason, interests you… hit the “Read More” tag…

(For clarity and time, I’m going to use the familiar community names of those involved… it’s easier. If you really care who someone is… Google. Please note this piece is 100% me and not the other admins (who may have their own opinions) nor is it the opinion of the server owner.)

As many of you know (and a lot of you probably don’t), CraftBukkit is the server software many multiplayer servers run on with many more using software based off of Craftbukkit’s source code (Spigot/Cauldron). Craftbukkit is a more versatile server software as opposed to Minecraft’s “vanilla” server software and allows more robust server management along with an API for easily writing plugins/tools (Bukkit). There was a little drama regarding the future of the software in late August (with EvilSeph announcing that the Bukkit project would be discontinued only to have Mojang step in and announce they own the rights to the project and would not allow it to be discontinued at this time).

On September 3rd, 2014, Multiplay (the host of Bukkit’s site and files) received a DMCA Removal Notice from Wolvereness, a frequent contributor to Bukkit’s source. The notice stated the Wolvereness’s code (along with the entirity of the Craftbukkit source) is protected by GNU General Purpose License version 3, a license that states that the entirety of the source must be open and free for others to use/modify. The violation stated in Wolvereness’s complaint is that due to the inclusion of Minecraft server source code in Craftbukkit (CraftBukkit/src/main/java net minecraft/server/ – for the code junkies), the license is being violated (the source is obfuscated and certainly not free to modify/use). As such, copies of the source and software including both Wolvereness’s code and the Minecraft server source are required to be removed per the DMCA. This includes Spigot and Cauldron (we use Cauldron as it gives us the plugin structure of Craftbukkit, the enhancements of Spigot, and the ability for Forge to work within that structure).

Mojang, md__5 (Spigot maintainer), and blood (maintainer of Cauldron) have all responded with what this means at this point for them. It appears Spigot and Cauldron will continue on, however, not as Bukkit-based servers (Spoutcraft is a thing, though) and this will take time to adapt to. Unfortunately, this means we’re stuck on the last released version of Cauldron until it is reborn (more on that after my opinion piece).

My own stance (read: <em>This is my opinion now</em>) is that Wolvereness is right. Bukkit was made GPL on January 2nd, 2011 (according to GitHub history), over a year before the team was hired by Mojang and the project was made theirs. During that year, technically the Bukkit team was in violation of Mojang’s copyright (redistribution of obfuscated source) (I can’t even imagine what that means to the GPL there… probably still a bad thing) however since Mojang benefited and the community benefited so no one said much about it and we all acted like it was fine (aside from the odd post now and then calling people out). Now that it has been revealed that the project is owned and operated by Mojang, that source regardless of how it got there, is their responsibility. If they have no intention of releasing obfuscated source for free for others to use/modify then the code needs to be removed and the project brought into compliance with the license or the project shut down (the later has occurred for the time being). Wolvereness is the not the only one having his right violated (technically everyone who has contributed code may do the same) and the situation, now that it has been brought up, needs to be addressed.

For us… this sucks. I respect Wolvereness and support his decision to enforce his rights (I would probably feel the same way in his situation) even though it basically puts us and a lot of other people in a bad situation. To be completely honest, I’m not sure who I would blame for this… it’s a mess made by being slightly ignorant as to what various licenses and laws mean and has been slowly building up until now. The warning signs have been around and various creators/coders/fans have been raising concerns over the potential for this to happen.

For now, we will continue to run the server software releases we have (latest Cauldron for both 1.6.4 and 1.7.10) however I should ask for actual legal opinion on whether or not this is a “good idea” (a friend who is a lawyer has said yes, however, he is not an IP lawyer and has admitted it’s way out of his field). So, we’ll stay up as a server until someone says otherwise; if it becomes an issue we will switch to vanilla + forge and have to find some other way to control what we usually do with plugins.

TL;DR  Seriously? Why did you click “Read More” then?! Anyway, it appears the Bukkit project will be stalled for the foreseeable future however Cauldron (our server software) will continue albeit release may be delayed a bit now. We will continue to use the last release of Cauldron until someone hits me in the head and says otherwise.

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