Please note, I am not a lawyer. The opinions in here are to be used as a general guide - if it really affects you that much, please consult with an actual copyright lawyer.
Hello, and welcome to this training module - "The SCP Foundation, Creative Commons Licensing and You". You have probably been linked here because you have wanted to make an SCP game, sell SCP-related items or otherwise use SCP Foundation IP (otherwise known as "Intellectual Property" - this covers pretty much everything to do with us, such as ideas, concepts, locations, characters, items, etc).
The SCP Foundation, unless otherwise stated, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. What makes this license special is that it is made for such places as the SCP Foundation - it allows the Foundation and its users to endlessly copy and endlessly adapt Foundation works. This, for example, allows places such as the Russian SCP Foundation to exist, as they are re-adapting English Foundation works into the Russian language.
Now, for Foundation uses, this license fits well. We don't charge for the articles, we are allowed to edit others articles (as per the Site Rules) and some users even rewrite articles that are not up to scratch anymore (for example, SCP-062 was rewritten to be up to current standards). We've got some users who have even made audio adaptations of SCP articles or addendums. It's a brilliant thing, having open content.
But, if you are wanting to go out of the ordinary and, for example, make a game (like SCP: Containment Breach or the Staircase Game), or sell some t-shirts or something, there are a few things that people need to know about the Foundation and it's licensing. Now, note, if you are happy to release your work under a Creative Commons license, you don't need to worry about the below as much, as you won't be attempting to make a quick buck out of it. But, if you are going to be selling your derivative work for money or other personal gain, you want to pay attention to the following:
- If you use SCP Foundation content in creating a Work (game, drawing, opera, imprinted toilet paper, etc), that work is required to be licensed under the same Creative Commons license as the original content. That means, if you put SCP-682 in your game, your entire game has to be licensed under the same license. No exceptions. Now, this implies a few other things.
- DRM is explicitly NOT allowed. Please see 4.a in the body of the Creative Commons license we use. "When You Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work, You may not impose any effective technological measures on the Work that restrict the ability of a recipient of the Work from You to exercise the rights granted to that recipient under the terms of the License." In simple English that means that once they have the Work, they can distribute it as they like, as long as it is in accordance with the Creative Commons license. No Steam DRM, no SecuROM, no license keys. If you want to use SCP content, it has to be released freely.
- If you sell it, but still release it under CC, the end user can do whatever they want with it, in accordance with the CC license. For example, you can sell your game perfectly fine, for example, on a DVD, with a little manual and a box with a nice drawing of SCP-682 mauling the hell out of a poor Class-D. But, once I buy that DVD, I can chuck the SCP-using parts of the game (which, as the ENTIRE work has to be CC, means all of it) onto the SCP Foundation site for everyone to use. And I would be able to do this 100% legally, as the Creative Commons license allows it. The CC group even encourage copying of CC works.
- You also have to attribute the original work to us. Linking to them is the best option. Don't hide it, make it in an obvious place so that people can find out more about us. Please see 4.c in the License Text.
- I will mention this again, Your resulting Work has to be licensed under CC. Yes, all of it. This may clash if you are using non-CC compatible software as part of the Work. Libraries such as the Havok physics library are closed source and proprietary, which means it may be illegal for you to create an executable containing both SCP Foundation content and libraries such as these, as you are not permitted to relicense works you do not own. (For more general information about mixing up software licenses in an executable, please see this Wikipedia article on the GPL linking exception, and why this issue is so important). Due to these problems, Creative Commons don't recommend using CC for software - it isn't meant for coping with these sorts of issues. Release your game for free on the internet, and you generally won't have a problem, however. (The Foundation and its users still hold copyright, even if we don't enforce it.)
- What about drawings on dA/other art sites? They are still covered by CC, even if you did the drawing, as it contains SCP IP. And please note that watermarks do count as DRM, so please do not put them on images that contain SCP content. Also, no (C) MYCOMPANY, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, ORIGINAL CHARACTER DO NOT STEAL, for the love of Poe.
- "But what if I get a license waiver from the original writer of the article?" Well, that means you can use that SCP in your work, without having to license it as Creative Commons. But, you can use only that article, nothing else. That means that referring to the SCP Foundation or any constructs of the SCP Foundation (such as "Site-19", "D-Class" and "Dr Bright", as examples) are still covered under the Creative Commons license. Without getting permission from the original authors of those concepts (many of which are not around anymore), your derivative work still has to be CC, unless you rip out every mention of the Foundation or anything about it. In which case, why not just make your own original content?
- You also can't thinly-veiledly refer to those things, either. Calling your thing "Special Procedures of Containment" is most likely still infringing.
- As I have been asked, I will clarify on the "original author" part. When the user contributes to the Wiki, they still own the Original Work (minus any SCP content). They create a CC licensed copy of the Work, which is posted to the site, but still have Ownership of the original Work. If anyone edits that CC-licensed article, they essentially create a derivative Work, in which they are co-creators. However, the modifications made to the Work are still owned by the Editor.
- As an example, if the Author creates an article with the content "Dog in a log", they effectively create two copies of the Work - a CC licensed copy which is posted to the Wiki, as well as a privately licensed copy, which they retain Ownership of. If an Editor adds the word "happily" into the CC licensed article (making it "Dog happily in a log") they have created a new Derivative Work, which is co-created by the Author and the Editor - the Author owning "Dog in a log" and the Editor owning "happily". This new work is still CC licensed as it is an edit of the Original Work. The Editor cannot claim the whole article as theirs - the CC license mandates that they have to attribute previous authors (on the SCP Wiki, this is done automatically by Wikidot's edit history).
- If the Original Author decides to waive their copyright to the article and re-license it for compatibility with another license (eg. proprietary, GPL), they can only relicense their privately licensed Original Work (minus any CC work in the article, such as IP relevant to the Foundation). The most updated version of the Work can only have its copyright waived if the Original Author and all Editors of the work agree. One Editor in the middle disagreeing means that the license on the updated Work cannot be waived - only the Work that existed before it was edited by the dissagreeing Editor(s).
- Additionally, obtaining permission for a rewritten SCP to be re-licensed will require permission from a) The Original Author (who created the idea) and b) The rewriting Author. If you want to use the current Work, you will need permission from a), b) and additionally c) - the Editors from the Rewriting Author to the current Work. (It can be argued that permission does not need to be sought from the editors between a) and b), as most rewrites are complete content rewrites and contain very little Work of Editors between a) and b). To be safe, acquiring permission from all Authors and Editors of the Work from Original to Updated is the best idea.)
- The whole point of the Creative Commons license is to encourage (and enforce) works being brought back into the community. There are no ways around this. If you don't want to freely share your work with us, please don't even bother using our content.
The SCP Foundation is meant as an open community repository of stories and articles revolving around a common theme, and we would very much like to keep it that way. This is why we use the Creative Commons license, to ensure that no one person or group can control the Foundation, or use the Foundations works for personal profit.