What Niotso is
Niotso is an open source game engine that replaces the now inoperable one in The Sims Online. With that said, Niotso is not itself The Sims Online; it works with The Sims Online. No portions of The Sims Online are ever distributed by us; the only data we ever do distribute is original work which we author under a free software license at no charge to the entire public.
No derivations policy
Niotso is composed entirely not only of original code, but also original thought. We follow a strict policy: that none of our work is derived in any part by The Sims Online. As an example, there are a number of text files (carrying the .uis extension) in The Sims Online which explain to the engine which window controls to add to the screen. To translate these files into a different syntax and then supply them to the end user would be distributing a derivative work of the original files; such code would be rejected for distribution upon evaluation.
We grant all users of this software the ability to study and analyze what Niotso is doing, including EA legal personnel, to verify our promises maintained on this page. To help with that matter, we also take the initiative to meet the following conditions:
- Niotso's source code may be retrieved by the user at any time. Very specific instructions are supplied to aid you in compiling it. The binaries we provide are always compiled from an untouched copy of the source code we offer publicly.
- The protocol by which all communications Niotso makes over the Internet is publicly documented.
- Niotso runs in its own directory held separate from The Sims Online. Niotso's only interaction with the game is read-only access; it neither writes changes to the game's directory nor copies files in the game's directory to its own directory or to remote locations. Specifically, the only instance when Niotso writes outside of its isolated directory is to store user and configuration data, similar in size to an HTTP cookie, into the registry or user preferences folder of the desktop session.
- Release binaries of Niotso are distributed solely in archive files. There is no updater utility, and we do not host patches: the entire set of files must be downloaded by you to replace the entire installed copy of Niotso in order to apply an update. Thus, we invite you to browse through the files that lie therein.
Recall that we do not offer Niotso as an alternative to The Sims Online; we offer it as a replacement to the game engine used in The Sims Online, functionally equivalent to the original, and transparent to the end user. Thus, the whole game as presented to the end user is still The Sims Online. As it is original and non-derived work, it does not make use of (and violate) copyrighted or patented code held by EA. The game engine is shared at no cost to the entire public, and not sold. We believe, in this case, that displaying EA branding to the user, as the original engine did, falls under fair use and, in conformance with copyright law, clarifies that the game experience is authored by EA and not the Niotso developers.
While we do permit others to compile, distribute, change, and distribute changes to Niotso (as governed by its free software licenses), in reality, many of these freedoms cannot legally be enacted by anybody. Changes to the code that alter the game experience as presented to the player cannot be distributed to others: if you enable EA branding in that code, EA may press charges for trademark infringement, as you may not state that they made or endorsed something which has been significantly modified into something they do not; however, without the branding, EA may press charges over copyright infringement, as your modification to the game experience under a new copyright ownership constitutes a derivative work which was not granted permission by EA. Also, as EA branding is a legal requirement for properly associating the game experience with EA as the copyright owner, you may not sell or even request money over your distribution of Niotso, whether modified or untouched, as this would be in violation of the trademark.
Niotso's purpose is to create a game experience identical to that previously sold by EA under the label The Sims Online. Because EA no longer produces this product, we would not be competing for profit over the same legal work, and if we follow the necessary precautions listed earlier to (1) require that all code distributed by us is original and non-derived work, (2) prohibit the distribution of any code that modifies the resulting game experience, (3) use the EA trademarks to associate EA as the legal owner of this game experience in the same way the original game did, (4) make it easy to verify that the code does pass these legal requirements, and (5) accept no money for our work, it is believed that maintaining and distributing Niotso and hosting it for play all falls under fair use.