I'm making a video game with importable custom characters. My characters have a special license that forbids pornography and blasphemy in derivative works. It is viral in itself to prevent such acts.

However, if someone puts a ShareAlike character such as one from Club Penguin or Floraverse into my game, does it force my game to be licensed under ShareAlike? If so, then is it illegal to mix my viral license and ShareAlike?

In other words, are my characters doomed to never again be in a crossover with Floraverse characters or Club Penguin characters? Is there an exemption that I could ask from the Creative Commons license makers or the creator of Floraverse/Club Penguin?

Edit: A viral license is a license that forces all derivative works to be licensed under that same license.
A stained program is a program that has to be licensed under a viral license because it is "stained" by the content licensed by the viral license.

  • 4
    What do you mean by viral? Nobody gets "infected" or "stained" by software. It is best to use proper wording for this. Mar 2 '17 at 9:32
  • 3
    And what is your licensing exactly? "my viral license" is kinda evasive. Mar 2 '17 at 9:33
  • 1
    I don't think that your edit is really addressing @PhilippeOmbredanne's comments.
    – Zimm i48
    Mar 3 '17 at 9:26
  • 2
    Do not use words such as viral and propagate FOSS fud. None gets sick from FOSS software. Please read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_license Mar 3 '17 at 10:33
  • 1
    Viral is the correct term for a Share Alike license.
    – TimSim
    Sep 30 '20 at 10:48

The main question you should be asking yourself is: is the game a derivative of the various characters that can be imported in it?

As I understand your question, the game is programmed independently and has a feature for importing characters. Characters are data. The game can work without any specific character and does not depend on any specific feature that one character is bringing. In such case, the game is not a derivative of the characters and thus its license is unaffected by the license of the characters. A fortiori, the various characters are unaffected by each other's licenses.

Now, it becomes a different question if you are distributing the game with the various characters bundled in some compiled form. Then, the game (characters included) is a derivative of each of the character, and it must as such be distributed under a license which respects the various conditions imposed by each license (and you might be in a case where no such license exists because of incompatible requirements).

All this being said, and even if I understood your question correctly and you are satisfied with my answer, I very much encourage you to edit your question to make it clearer what exactly you are asking (cf. Philippe's comments).

  • This is the kind of answer I wanted to hear. However, what if someone draws fan art or records a Let's Play video of the game with different characters in it at the same time? Are those protected by fair use in order to avoid licensing issues?
    – Foxcat385
    Mar 2 '17 at 20:56
  • That's a very difficult and very different question. See this existing question: opensource.stackexchange.com/q/5105/5858
    – Zimm i48
    Mar 3 '17 at 9:25
  • Should I forbid characters that have an incompatible license? I don't want to force any incompatible license on my fans when they make Let's Plays.
    – Foxcat385
    Mar 5 '17 at 13:20
  • The fan who makes a Let's Play would be the same one who imported characters under two incompatible licenses. Either they are aware of the incompatibility and they bare the responsibility for it, or they are not and in that case, adding such terms would not achieve any effect.
    – Zimm i48
    Mar 5 '17 at 13:26
  • Say my game, my characters and my friends' characters are bundled together. My things are under my anti-porn license while theirs are under copycenter licenses such as 2-clause BSD license and zlibpng license. This is okay. Now, on top of that, what if I download someone's GPL character and make a Let's Play where a) their character appears on the character selection screen, but isn't picked or b) their character is picked and played with? Would this be a violation of GPL?
    – Foxcat385
    Mar 5 '17 at 15:18

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