After a battle with the game’s final boss, The Ender Dragon, Minecraft ends with a narrative commonly known as The End Poem. This has no doubt been seen by millions of players, and as of today the poem is now available for anyone and everyone to access and use via Public Domain.
At this point you may be wondering how exactly this is possible. After all, is The End Poem not the property of developer Mojang Studios—and by extension, Microsoft?
Well, actually, no. Author of The End Poem Julian Gough never sold the rights to it. Instead, he has decided to “liberate” it, according to a December 7th Twitter post seen below.
So, eleven-and-a-bit years ago, I wrote the only written narrative in Minecraft: the story that appears after you kill the Ender Dragon. (A narrative which players often call The End Poem.)
Today, I officially librated that ending.
Er, what does that mean?
— Julian Gough (@juliangough) December 7, 2022
Gough also wrote about the backstory behind this surprising decision in a rather lengthy blog post. In the post Gough summarizes,
“I wrote a story for a friend. But in the end, he didn’t treat me like a friend. And I’m hurt. That’s the core of what I want to say.”
Gough went on to explain that “for various reasons” he never signed a contract giving away rights to the poem (he hasn’t relinquished the copyright, he is choosing to not enforce it).
Among those various reasons are Gough’s views on how Mojang went about business after Minecraft took off, and during the studio’s subsequent acquisition by Microsoft. As Gough states,
I am not against the capitalism game, it’s fun, and I sometimes play it myself; I just don’t think it should be allowed to use its money to change the laws to completely bulldoze the art game, the friendship game, the love game, the gift game, out of existence.
Stories, along with songs and games, are important, are a vital common resource; stories are how we make sense of reality, and shape our lives. Five global corporations should not own all the characters in our dreams.
At the end of Gough’s blog post is the entire text of The End Poem and a message from Gough: “I’m free to give it away, and to tell you I’ve given it away. I think that’s what the universe wants. Let a thousand flowers bloom.”