Please stop developing free Stockfish

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kgburcham
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Please stop developing free Stockfish

Post by kgburcham » Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:33 am

Everyone by now knows that Stockfish is being developed for free.
I have a plan to get the authors out of this "Free Stockfish Problem".

1. Do not offer anymore free versions of Stockfish.
2. Announce that anyone can submit an improvement or upgrade.
3. Announce that Stockfish is going commercial.
4. Keep improving Stockfish as you are now.
5. Once a considerable elo has been gained, offer that version for sale for $75 to a $100 or whatever the market will pay.
6. The original authors can keep 50% of the profits and split the rest to the others that contributed to the improvement.

kgburcham

rbarreira
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Re: Please stop developing free Stockfish

Post by rbarreira » Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:52 am

Could you describe the "Free Stockfish Problem" please?

Michael Sherwin
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Re: Please stop developing free Stockfish

Post by Michael Sherwin » Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:15 am

For me your solution is a bit underwhelming.

What I would need to solve the Stockfish problem is WW3 and near total nuclear annihilation and return to the caveman era. Then if I could be lucky enough to be reborn in the equivalent of the 1940's my chances of writing the world championship chess program would be greatly improved. Oh the dreams of attaining happiness!
If you are on a sidewalk and the covid goes beep beep
Just step aside or you might have a bit of heat
Covid covid runs through the town all day
Can the people ever change their ways
Sherwin the covid's after you
Sherwin if it catches you you're through

yanquis1972
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Re: Please stop developing free Stockfish

Post by yanquis1972 » Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:59 am

lol

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lucasart
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Re: Please stop developing free Stockfish

Post by lucasart » Mon Mar 10, 2014 4:13 am

kgburcham wrote:Everyone by now knows that Stockfish is being developed for free.
I have a plan to get the authors out of this "Free Stockfish Problem".

1. Do not offer anymore free versions of Stockfish.
2. Announce that anyone can submit an improvement or upgrade.
3. Announce that Stockfish is going commercial.
4. Keep improving Stockfish as you are now.
5. Once a considerable elo has been gained, offer that version for sale for $75 to a $100 or whatever the market will pay.
6. The original authors can keep 50% of the profits and split the rest to the others that contributed to the improvement.

kgburcham
Needless to say that there is no Stockfish problem, and the only problem here is YOU.

But what you propose simply cannot work. The point is that the current development process of SF can ONLY work if SF is open source. This is not a philosophical point, but a technical one. It is not open for debate. It is a fact.

Considering that SF can only stay open source or die. This is because a single programmer (or a team of two) working on his/their own closed source has no chance of going defeating open source machine in the long run. Everybody knows that, even Robert Houdart has admitted it.

If SF is open source, it means anybody can download the source code, compile it and run it. So why would people pay for it? Perhaps some IT-challenged people like you who cannot use a compiler would pay some third party to compile it for them, but I don't expect the "free market" will rate that very high in $ terms. There's already abrok.eu that does it for free on a daily basis anyway, so it's hard to charge for it.

And even assuming there was a way to charge for it. How to you distribute the money? It is very complicated to set up, and clearly not worth it. Then how do we decide who gets how much? There will be and endless amount of politics involved which will kill the project for sure.

To summarize, what you propose is plain stupid, and even if we lived in the parallel universe where what you say makes sense, it would still be plain stupid.
Theory and practice sometimes clash. And when that happens, theory loses. Every single time.

Ryan Benitez
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Re: Please stop developing free Stockfish

Post by Ryan Benitez » Mon Mar 10, 2014 4:20 am

kgburcham wrote:Everyone by now knows that Stockfish is being developed for free.
I have a plan to get the authors out of this "Free Stockfish Problem".

1. Do not offer anymore free versions of Stockfish.
2. Announce that anyone can submit an improvement or upgrade.
3. Announce that Stockfish is going commercial.
4. Keep improving Stockfish as you are now.
5. Once a considerable elo has been gained, offer that version for sale for $75 to a $100 or whatever the market will pay.
6. The original authors can keep 50% of the profits and split the rest to the others that contributed to the improvement.

kgburcham
There is no problem and there will be other strong engines, commercial, free, and free source like Stockfish. Eventually there will be a free source engine that surpasses Stockfish and that also won't be a problem.

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Evert
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Re: Please stop developing free Stockfish

Post by Evert » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:38 am

kgburcham wrote: 1. Do not offer anymore free versions of Stockfish.
2. Announce that anyone can submit an improvement or upgrade.
3. Announce that Stockfish is going commercial.
4. Keep improving Stockfish as you are now.
5. Once a considerable elo has been gained, offer that version for sale for $75 to a $100 or whatever the market will pay.
6. The original authors can keep 50% of the profits and split the rest to the others that contributed to the improvement.
A few points for your consideration:
  • Stockfish code is released under the GPL. Anyone can take it and release new versions ("forks") for free, or for profit if they like, provided the terms of the GPL are followed (which means that you cannot tell anyone you sell it to not to distribute copies or sell copies themseves, but whatever). Even if the "official" source was closed the GPL source that is already out there would remain (this happened to Fruit, for instance).
  • When you write code, you own the copyright to that code. No one else can do anything with it, except under terms of whatever license you give them to use your code. In particular, other people cannot change the license on your code because they don't own the copyright. People who contributed code to Stockfish did so under the GPL. The Stockfish maintainers cannot change the license of code they did not write themselves and therefore cannot close the source without permission from everyone who contributed code in the past, unless that code was removed and rewritten from scratch.

    Now, I don't know how much code like that there is in Stockfish and so I don't know how much of a "problem" this would be in practice. It's also not so clear (to me) what would happen if this would happen and someone would protest. It's all academic anyway.
  • It seems highly unlikely that the Stockfish testing framework is fundable from the sales revenues against commercial rates, but I didn't do the calculation. It seems unlikely that anyone would donate time on their own computer and pay for the electricity to help develop a commercial chess program.

Norbert Raimund Leisner
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Re: Please stop developing free Stockfish

Post by Norbert Raimund Leisner » Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:37 am

The problem is surely not Stockfish itself, but some derivatives (without mentioning the source code including GPL) respectively the commercial distribution of SF by vendors in combination with their own products

> ICC Dasher http://www.chessclub.com/download-software/dasher
(intention: membership of ICC)
> MasterChess http://www.bookup.com/masterchess8000/programstatus/
> MinkiChess http://www.minkichess.com/

Maybe the conditions of GNU GPL could be restricted with a slogan like "freeware for non-profit users / organizations, just for fun and not to make money with open source-projects by third parties. "

Norbert

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Evert
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Re: Please stop developing free Stockfish

Post by Evert » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:17 am

Norbert Raimund Leisner wrote:The problem is surely not Stockfish itself, but some derivatives (without mentioning the source code including GPL) respectively the commercial distribution of SF by vendors in combination with their own products
You're allowed to distribute SF commercially or in combination with your own project, as long as you follow the license. In particular, this means that you need to provide source code free of (additional) charge (I think you can do this upon request, but I'm not 100% on that) and cannot place restrictions on what others can do with that code (ie, you cannot change the GPL). So the second point is not necessarily a problem, it only becomes one if the GPL is not honoured.
Maybe the conditions of GNU GPL could be restricted with a slogan like "freeware for non-profit users / organizations, just for fun and not to make money with open source-projects by third parties. "
It cannot. The GPL forbids placing additional restrictions on the code. If that's what you want to do, you have to pick a different license (these exist, including those that forbid commercial use), or rather, the Stockfish-team would have needed to pick a different license way back (which probably means Tord had to do so back when it was still Glaurung).

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hgm
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Re: Please stop developing free Stockfish

Post by hgm » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:46 am

Note that the GPL requirement to provide source code does not apply to applications that are bundled with a GPL'ed program. Only to code that is linked into the same binary, such as modifications.

So it is perfectly legal to make your own closed-source graphical interface, and sell it together with Stockfish. As long as you do provide source code of Stockfish. And when you did not modify the latter, that could be as simple as a link to the official Stockfish repositories. There is no need to publish the source code of your graphical interface. You might have to include a text-file with the copyright notice in the bundle, but the typical user would not know how to find that file anyway. (And it seems to serve little purpose to include that with a binary, as decompiling a binary to modify it into your own product is illegal by default, and also not something the GPL would have to facilitate, as it would surely be more convenient to use the available source code.)

Changing that on the existing Stockfish is not possible at all. (It has already been released under GPL, and also releasing it under more restrictive licenses would achieve nothing, as people would simply use the GPL'ed version.) For future modifications this might help, as modifications on a version with a different license need not be made public, and can attach other conditions on their use. But only the copyright owner(s) of the code can decide to release under a different license. I am not sure the copyright holder of Stockfish is known. For XBoard GNU takes care that all contributers of code sign legal paperwork to transfer the copyright of their patches to the FSF. But if nothing similar is done for Stockfish, every contributor of a patch would still be the copyright owner of the code they contributed. That means such people would have to give permission to a license change, or that Stockfish would either have to be cleansed from all patches contributed by people that are not willing to do so.

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