Subject: Proprietary softare (was Re: open source definition)
From: Scott Goehring <scott@poverty.bloomington.in.us>
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 1998 16:13:22 -0500

"Kragen" == Kragen  <kragen@pobox.com> writes:

Kragen> Well, certain people -- not any from gnu.org that I know of --
Kragen> tend to be extremely nasty about proprietary software and to
Kragen> proprietary software developers.  Go read the comments on any
Kragen> article on slashdot.org if you don't know what I'm talking
Kragen> about.  Chances are, at least one out of ten comments will
Kragen> boil down to "Windows sucks", "proprietary software is
Kragen> useless", etc.  Sometimes it's more like nine out of ten.

On the thread of proprietary software, WilberWorks has recently been
approached by someone who wants us to help him develop a proprietary
extension to the GIMP to solve a particular business problem of his.
The dilemma I'm faced with here is that this guy is offering us quite
a bit for this (but, notably, not cash, and that's part of the reason
I'm going to turn him down, but that's a separate issue), but he seems
quite insistent that the technology he and we develop be kept
proprietary and not released.

This is permissible under the GPL: he's going to use this in-house, so
he'll have no incentive to release it publically.  However, many of
the modifications that would be required to fulfill his needs have
broader application to a variety of users.  I, personally, do not want
to deprive the community of these features solely in the interest of
our profit.  But I don't think we can rule out doing proprietary work
altogether.  So the question becomes, what is a good enough reason for
a FSB to "go proprietary" for a client?  I think compliance with
preexisting patent licensing terms is, when doing so represents the
only way to add an obviously desired feature (both Roxen and Apache
went this route to deal with SSL, and we will probably cross that
bridge with Pantone).  But the instant case is not such a case.  It's
a case where the client is asking for a proprietary solution solely
for economic reasons.  I really want to say "No, we won't do that as a
proprietary solution, but we will do as an open source solution" but I
expect if I do that we'll lose the sale.  (He's also trying to hire
off my programmers, which is rather hard because I pay them squat;
they're not doing this for the pay.)

Has anyone else dealt with this sort of problem?  What resolutions did
you come to?