GPL the Heretic and Hexen Sources

  • Author:
  • Send To:
    Raven Software
  • Sponsored By:
    members of the DOOM/Heretic/Hexen community
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In 1998, John Carmack of id Software released the source code to DOOM, and shortly thereafter he placed it under the GNU General Public License (information can be found at, a license which allows free distribution of modifications but with the stipulation that all modifications must have their source code released in turn.

Raven Software, the company that produced the games Heretic and Hexen, which are based on the DOOM source code, subsequently released the code to those games, but did so under a highly restrictive Activision general product license, or EULA, which basically makes the source, for legal intents and purposes, useless, because it restricts all modification and distribution rights.

Because of this and other restrictions it imposes, it is incompatible with the terms of the GPL, thus making it legally impossible to add Heretic or Hexen support to DOOM source modifications, a feature that is highly desired in the online gaming community that's interested in these games. Some modifications have proceeded to combine the code for these games, but have only been able to do so under restrictive and legally questionable licenses.

Raven has been approached with objections in the past and has offered excuses such as being worried about people selling the code. No DOOM port has yet been sold once, and it would never be profitable to sell the code to an eight plus year old game under the GPL, so this excuse is irrelevant. They've also issued statements which conflict with the license they included in the source, saying they want people to use and distribute it, a clear contradiction to the terms of that EULA-style license. They need to realize that the EULA is legally binding whether they intend to enforce it themselves or not, and that if they put it in the package, we have to follow it regardless of what their biz rep might say in an email.

Let Raven know that you want to see the Heretic and Hexen code made GPL by signing this petition today.