Quake Editing Legal Issues

Editing the Test Release

With the Quake qtest1 release, we got our first Quake related license agreement. Later on, in private e-mails, John Carmack clarified id's position on editing qtest1. According to him, release of editing tools for the qtest1 release is acceptable and even supported by id. Placing unfinished of monsters should not be done by his request. Mike Wilson stated that the artists (Adrian Carmack and Kevin Cloud) prefer heving the the half-finished models out of sight as well.

In a later e-mail, John carmack announced that redistribution of id graphics for non-commercial purposes will be allowed. As of now, modified test1/test2/test3 maps as well as the test releases mipmaps are copyrighted, and distribution of derivative works is prohibited. It is unknown whether redistribution of DOOM shareware based artwork will be allowed.

Editing the Shareware Release

The shareware release loads only a limited number of maps. Modification of the shareware version and editing for use with the shareware version is prohibited according to the license, for the same reasons that have been true with DOOM. The Quake shareware 0.91 is accompanied by a Limited Use License agreement. This does not allow any derivative works based on the software or the artwork. In consequence, it is prohibited to create BSP files including mipmaps from the shareware version, based on the shareware release. The brief explanation does not mention level creation and/or level creation utilities with the shareware release.

Editing the Registered Release

"Release date for all id's licenses: As soon as it is finished." The license is not yet finished, and will be available with the registered version. The quick overview of the license terms in the shareware archive mentions:


-- Develop new levels and/or level creation utilities.  

-- Sell user-developed levels and/or tools
This has been clarified in a mail by Jay Wilbur. The policy on add-ons or utils is
1. Levels that use our data can be freely distributed...
    nobody can charge for them.

2. Unique levels that do not use any of our data are original
    works owned by the developer and may be distributed
    as he/she sees fit.

3. Utilities that use our data can be freely distributed...
    nobody can charge for them.

4. Utilities that do not use any of our data are original
    works owned by the developer and may be distributed
    as he/she sees fit.
In yet another e-mail he stated that this applies to
utilities and levels containing id data
(other then the id code John Carmack releases to the world),
i.e. that the QuakeEd, C and QuakeC source generously provided by John Carmack is not by default subject to the "nobody can charge" restriction.

Jay Wilbur emphasized that use of id's trademarked or copyrighted properties (game gfx, logos, names, etc.) to market a game, utility or add-on is prohibited in any case.

In other words...QuakeEd is a nono ("qed", "an editor that works with
Quake" is OK), marketing your product with a 1/4 page ad in a game
magazine that shows screenshots from Quake is a nono, any use of the
Quake, id, or NIN logo (except the placement of NIN ammo boxes into
levels that can not be sold) is a nono.
Note that this is even prohibited under the terms of the Commercial Exploitation License.

Commercial Exploitation

Commercial exploitation of Quake, i.e. making money by doing anything that requires id Software's agreement, is dealt with in the Commercial Exploitation License (CEL) as released with Quake registered version.

The CEL was first mentioned in the license overview within the Quake shareware 0.91 archive. Basic explanation kept for brevity:

Basic terms of the commercial exploitation license:

-- License grants a royalty free commercial exploitation right
   for the registered version of Quake as a whole so long as
   Quake's monthly gross revenue is below $5,000.00

-- License provides for a 12.5% royalty to be paid to id Software
   in months where the licensee's Quake related monthly gross
   revenue is above $5,000.00

-- Royalty is based off net income.  Net income is defined as
   Quake-related gross income less Quake-related expenses.

-- License expressly prohibits commercial exploitation via the
   sale (retail or otherwise) of the shareware or registered
   versions of Quake.

-- License expressly prohibits advertising/marketing use of our
   copyrighted and/or trademarked properties.
The details range from generous (range of royalty free profit) and possibly reasonable (royalty fee) to rather strange (what good is a license agreement that does prohibit use of the trademark in advertising, I wonder). This license agreement makes sense with respect to low profit Server and Provider business.

This has been clarified in a mail by Jay Wilbur: the CEL is set up for those who want to commercially exploit Quake (i.e. make money using the registered version of Quake). He mentioned Registered versions based servers and location based entertainment. It does not apply for those who want to make add-ons or utils.

Distributing Mipmaps

Levels carry their own textures as mipmaps with them. Besides related problems of disk space and bandwidth requirements, there are legal issues. Quoting John Carmack:

We are going to give free license to redistribute our art in
user maps for non-commercial purposes.
This does not include derivative works based on id artwork, however, it definitely resolves the legal issues of mipmap redistribution.

Proof Of Purchase

To recognize a registered version, a POP signature is probably used. Quoting an exchange with John Carmack:

> Related question: are you going to release identical EXE's for
> shareware and registered? It will be next to impossible for us to
> prevent our tools working with shareware while the open
> architecture is kept (unpacked file tree etc.) - and we would
> prefer an open architecture, obviously.

This has been a hotly debated topic.  The current plan is that the 
registered version will include a small graphic in the wad file that 
is a "proof of purchase".  Without this POP present, only a fixed 
list of maps (the shareware game, probably CRCed) will run.
Any activity to circumvent this, and any distribution of POP data is illegal activity by any standards, and a gross violation of the license.

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