Basically we are doing this already today.
Apart from the game repo, all software projects on FAF are released under an open source license. And this is intentional, not a side effect of some other software we rely on. So every company could take the code and build a commercial product out of it. (I don't think anybody would want to use the FAF code for anything given all the legacy problems, but that's a different topic.)
I'm coding for fun. If some company takes my work and makes money out of it, it's not like they are stealing anything from me. At that point I had fun writing it, it served a purpose to the community and if someone else can also use it: even better.
The game repo is a more difficult topic, and I'm not working on it, but to me the end result is the same. The copyright owner could demand us to stop sharing original parts of the code base on Github anytime - which would make work on the game as we currently do mostly impossible. But despite this constant threat, people have spent thousands of hours on improving the game.
So if someone came around and would give a legal approval on what we are doing, that would be great but also the way we work wouldn't change.
Regarding the company -> community model:
FAF is a shiny example what a community can achieve (but not the only one). No company in the world can or will spend the amount of money to achieve the same amount of contributor time that the community is spending for free. Yet I have never seen a company actually bringing paid employees and the community together. I assume this is natural as the community grows and forms after the game is released, while the company makes the money in the first few months and after that everything is a cost factor.
In theory the community doesn't need the source code per se. I don't think we would immediately benefit from it (we don't know if it would still compile today, most of our devs have no background in this, 3rd party libraries might still be missing and they are not available for free, it opens the door for cheaters... ) .
But imagine how FAF would look today given two things:
- If the company would publish all documents about networking protocols and file formats used right on the launch of the game . It would have saved us years from reverse engineering.
- Imagine one of the original game developers would still work 5 hours a week diagnosing and fixing bugs we find and adding lua functions the community game devs ask for.
Forged Alliance would be the most polished game ever and probably sold a 2nd, 3rd and 4th expansion pack + being a major thing in eSports.