Today I uploaded new versions of everything. For Forgotten Times II, this represents real progress on the game. I’ve finished the agricultural town, and gotten a good start on the mining town. For the other games though, the only change was the addition of an explicit authorization of individual non-commercial use and distribution of the games, and it was something of a pain. It wasn’t particularly difficult (writing licenses is part of my real job, after all), but at the same time it did take my energy away from writing more code, and so had an opportunity cost in terms of programming. Essentially, this is the same cost (writ small) that one of my clients faces when they hire an attorney to draft a license or a EULA for one of their commercial programs. The money that goes to paying me could alternatively be going to pay their programmers, and represents a cost of doing business which they would almost certainly rather do without.
So, was the time I spent (and, in general, the resources spent on lawyers who write software licenses) worth it? I think so. While I don’t care if people give away copies of my games, I would be more than a little annoyed if someone made a changed version and distributed it, or started selling them without my permission. By making explicit what rights I’m granting and withholding, I lay the groundwork for giving effect to my goals down the road. The same principle applies to commercial products as well. By making clear what actions are and aren’t authorized at the outset, a company can set itself up so that if it ever has to enforce its rights, it can do so at a relatively minimal cost. Even better, if rights and restrictions are clear, there’s less chance of a conflict that could lead to expensive litigation ever taking place.