Subject: Re: Revenue and business models
From: Thomas Lord <>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2006 08:38:52 -0700

simo wrote:
> On Wed, 2006-06-14 at 08:00 -0700, Thomas Lord wrote:
>> Yes, well, Red Hat seems to do its level best to approximate option
>> 3a: "You pay us $Y per copy and we can come in and audit to see how
>> many copies you've made."   I'm shocked -- shocked I say! -- that they
>> get away with that.   
> There's nothing to be shocked about, they sell you a service (support,
> updates, etc) not the software. You can make copies of it and give them
> away without any problem, the software comes with the GPL attached
> (except for proprietary packages you would have to rip the off the CDs).

That's the party line, sure.

> But it is correct that they ask you to use the service you paid for, and
> if you don't they must have a away to verify that and shut the service
> if you don't want to comply with the service agreement.
> Note they will shut the service and only the service. I am sure they
> would never had any chance to make you stop using your 1000 RHES boxes
> you installed with just one license, you will just loose any option to
> call their support and to get updates directly from RH.

One issue is calling their support line.   If 1000 users
can generate support requests that get forwarded to RH
then, yes, of course,  1000x (or with whatever discount)
is a reasonable price for support.

Updates are a different matter.   If I'm propagating
those 1000 updates from a single machine subscription
then, my understanding is, I'm violating my agreement
with RH even if I never make a single support request.
They can come in and audit, count the copies of the
updates, and tell me I owe them more money.

If my reading of their contracts is accurate (and that
is open to debate although nobody seems to bother),
I don't see any conclusion other than that they are
violating both the GPL and the spirit of the free
software movement.