What Is A License ?

This article is meant as a general introduction to licenses. As the specific laws will vary from place to place and given the fact that the author is not a lawyer, please do not consider this legal advice.
Thanks to hartnell for his words here, the founder of Game Design Novice - a typical Wikidot Site created from him with the free Wikidot software - it is Open Source!

What is a License?

In amateur game programming and design you hear about licenses all the time, especially when games and resources are distributed across the internet. In fact, even the text of and resources provided by Game Design Novice, are available under the terms of a license. What are these things, that we call licenses? What use are they? Do you really need one? This article will answer those questions.


Before there can be a license, there must be copyright. Someone must own the rights to something. This is very important. Because if someone doesn't own the copyright, the material in question is public domain and therefore no license is needed.

Copyright, of course, is the legal right to control your work. Many people believe that copyright is the right to "profit" from your work. While this is certainly part of it, you can't profit from your work if you cannot control it. If anyone, anywhere, at anytime can copy your work, there is no reason for anyone to pay for it, they can just copy it.

Therefore, copyright gives you the legal right to determine who can and cannot make copies of your work.

The End User License

Whenever you buy and install software, you agree to what is commonly titled "The End User License". When you buy Adobe Photoshop or any other commercial software, you do not actually own the software. You do, however, own the CD that it came on. However, the program itself still belongs to the company who owns the copyright. The End User License gives you permission to use that software under certain conditions, assuming that you have paid for the permission to use it. The most common conditions of use under an End User License are:

  • That you only use the software on one computer. After all, that's all you've paid to get permission for.
  • That you do not make copies of it.
  • That you do not hold the company responsible for any damages the software does.

The Group License

With an End User License it is assumed that one person has paid for permission to make one copy of the software. This copy is not necessarily a back-up copy and such laws are not discussed in this article. Instead, you must realize that when you install the software, you are making a copy of it. The copy is from CD to your computer.

The Group License is an option with many software packages and helps us illustrate the "permission" aspect of licenses. A group license grants further permission for the software to be copied on more than one computer. Often the limit is based on a finite limit (say 5) of computers, or all of the computers at a location (at one school). Naturally, since you are buying more instances of permission with a Group License, it costs quite a bit more.


The above two sections describe how a copyright holder sells permission to people who want to use their work. The permission, and the terms for gaining that permission, are encompassed in the license. But what if someone wants to retain copyright over a work and doesn't want money for someone to use it? What if they do not even care if someone asks for permission in the traditional sense (buying a product, or a friendly email)? Enter Copyleft.

A copyleft license such as a Creative Commons license or a GNU license gives permission for someone to use a copyrighted work under simple and easy to understand conditions without the exchange of money. For example, Game Design Novice is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License. Under this license, you are allowed to use anything you see here (unless stated otherwise) for any reason as long as you follow one condition: you attribute the work to "The Game Designers of Game Design Novice" and link to the page you got it from.

In short, since money is not involved, and work is used more or less freely, Creative Commons and GNU licenses are a way for an author to get credit. In fact, if someone decides to use your work without following your conditions, there's nothing you can do about it without spending a large amount of money on lawyers. Here, in the Copyleft world, we tend to work on an honor system.

How to set and choose the license for your wiki

Go to your site manager yoursite.wikidot.com/admin:manage.
You can set different licenses for different categories of pages.

You will get a page with following content:

It is very important to clarify the copyright and ownership issues for your site. We highly recommend setting an open "copyleft" license that allows making the Content more or less free to copy, modify and use.

This is particularly important when your Site is created and edited collaboratively.

Read more about Creative Commons licenses, use a wizard to select the proper license or just visit Creative Commons.

Choose the category (typical example list here):

  • _default
  • admin
  • css
  • forum
  • nav
  • system

or set Inherit from "_default" for the others..

Choose the license:
( see list next paragraph)

Licenses supported

(copied from Site manager)

  • Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License (recommended)
  • Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 License
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License
  • Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5
  • Creative Commons Attribution 2.5
  • Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives 2.5
  • Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 2.5
  • Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike 2.5
  • Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 2.5
  • GNU Free Documentation License 1.2
  • Standard copyright (not recommended)
  • Other: Custom license text: (max 300 characters ) - A few HTML tags are allowed: <a>, <img/>, <br/>, <strong>, <em>

Wikidot Terms of Service

Licences are part of Wikidot Terms of Service (TOS)
which can be read at http://www.wikidot.com/legal:terms-of-service


And there you have it, the bare minimum you need to know about licenses.
You will find the chosen license on a wikidot.com site as the last line at the bottom of any page! Have a look and you will find here:

"Unless stated otherwise Content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License"


Adapt the text specifically to wiki edition …

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Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License