Subject: Re: Hypothetical Business Plan
From: Don Marti <>
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 04:57:53 -0700

begin  Anderson, Kelly quotation of Thu, Jul 21, 2005 at 11:05:48PM -0600:

> So far, so good, but the question is how to discourage other people from
> doing the same, and reducing the potential profitability of my hosting
> business?

Ebay didn't discourage everyone else from doing
auctions.  They just did it first, and they're where
the users are.  In the long run, user experience is
a better way of keeping users than legal terms.

> I could put a proprietary version of the software on my server that
> added the security features. I'm not sure that's allowed under a lot of
> open source licenses, but it is for my "personal" use, even if it's
> hosted on a web server that everyone can access. Does that work under
> the GPL conditions of changing code for your own internal personal use
> as long as it isn't distributed or sold?

Yes.  Of course you should get a lawyer to check out
any legal documents relevant to your business, but
lots of companies do this.  Google doesn't have to
publish any in-house modifications they do to Linux,
for example.

> I know I couldn't keep anyone from changing the code themselves to add
> password protection on their own servers, at least under any OSI
> approved license. Anyone who wants to go to that extent is more than
> welcome to do so. But could I protect that feature by saying, "If you
> want to add that feature, you're going to have to fork the project and
> give it a new name. I'm not adding it to Project X."?

Sounds like a trademark is what you want.  See "Red
Hat Enterprise Linux" -- code is Open Source,
trademark is restricted.

Don Marti