Subject: Re: Dual licensing
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 06 Jun 2004 08:53:06 -0400

Marius Amado Alves <> writes:

> "My employer sells commercial open source software.
> It fully complies with the OSD--in fact, it is under the BSD license."
> Do you really sell the software (not support, not buy-out)?

Yes, we sell the software.  It comes with installation support, but
additional support is extra.

> How have you been keeping people from giving copies of it away gratis
> (hence invalidating your business)?

Why should people give away copies of it?  What would they gain by
doing that?  In fact, they would lose: they would spend money to get
software, and then they would give it to their competitors for free.
Certainly some altruistic individual might pay for the software and
then give it away.  In practice, nobody bothers.  It's just not worth
worrying about that kind of thing, at least not in the space that we
are in (embedded operating systems and development tools).  If you
want to run a business, you have to worry about the problems that you
really do encounter, not the problems that might theoretically arise.

This is all beside the point I wanted to make.  Even if we only sold
support, that would still be a case of commercial open source
software.  "Proprietary open source" is a contradiction, and perhaps
there are cases in which you would start calling some non-open-source
software "proprietary open source."  But "commercial open source" is
meaningful, and there are several companies engaged in it.  Calling
non-open-source software "commercial open source" is deceptive.

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