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Right now I am using Quake 3 tools to make maps for my graphics engine, to have some kind of start and an idea on how to build one from scratch. I know that the BSP format is copyrighted and maps made with GTKRadiant cannot be used in commercial games.

But suppose that I would like to create/use a shading language with syntax that is similar or even identical to Quake 3's shading language's syntax, would I risk copyright issues?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The language itself no. at least in the US, programming languages cannot be copyrighted \$\endgroup\$
    – CobaltHex
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 4:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe this question would have better luck on law.se \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenix
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 4:32

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The Quake 3 engine and tools are released under the GNU GPL; you can read the readme here: https://github.com/id-Software/Quake-III-Arena/blob/master/README.txt and access the Github repository here: https://github.com/id-Software/Quake-III-Arena

The source code is copyrighted, but so long as you abide by the terms of the GPL you can otherwise do whatever you wish with it, including using it in your own commercial release.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While the GPL does not necessarily mean non-commercial, you might want to point out that the GPL license is incompatible with the usual pay-by-copy business model of games. If you use a GPL component in your game, you need to release the whole game under GPL, which means you are obligated to allow people to share it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 8:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Philipp - you might want to read the GPL FAQ - there is no such requirement; specifically the GPL only applies to the source code, but the content (to which the OP would retain their own copyright) may be covered by a separate license. The output of a GPL program is also not required to be GPL. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 9:15

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