Subject: Ransom (long) (was: Mandatory donations...)
From: Adam Theo <adamtheo@theoretic.com>
Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 04:28:54 -0400

Before I get into this very long post (i hope it's read despite the 
length!  :-), let me say I have set up a mailing list to develop this 
Ransom model. it will be used to create white papers, develop ransom 
licenses (as seen fit), co-ordinate promotion of the Ransom model, 
proposals, FAQs, developer tips & tricks, etc.

it is an off-shoot of my Cauldron mailing list, which i will be retiring 
soon (it's met the goal it was designed for with the advent of GiftNet 
and Ransom). Cauldron never had any real traffic, anyway, so no loss 
:-) so if you were subscribed to Cauldron, you'll be subscribed already 
to Ransom. but to make sure, you can subscribe anyway:

Subscribe: ransom-subscribe@theoretic.com
Post: ransom@theoretic.com

I will send out a test/introduction post to there after i send this out.

Zimran Ahmed wrote:
 > Adam Theo <adamtheo@theoretic.com> wrote:
 >> Ransom. you may find this a better alternative to your "pay to
download".
 >> for one, Ransom targets businesses and distributors, not end
 >> users, and it compensates the programmer for the work they do,
 >> not the  number of copies they sell.
 >> http://www.theoretic.com/ransom . "Hold your  code for Ransom"
 >>
 > this is the single most sensible idea I've heard yet on this list for
 >  funding open source development.

Norbert Bollows wrote:
 > I agree that this is a very interesting idea.  The publisher of the 
software
 >  has many options for soliciting payments, and still (unless the
 > demands are unreasonable) the code will be Free after some time.

wow, can i quote you on that, zimran and norbert? the webpage needs a
good, glowing endorsement  :-)

Zimran Ahmed wrote:
 > the crux of the problem is that IF software development incurs 
significant
 >  costs, open-sourcing the software allows now way to ammortize
 > those costs through versioning (which requires the source to be at
 > least slightly closed).

yes. that is the exact issue that led me to create and develop this
Ransom model.

Zimran Ahmed wrote:
 > You can avoid incuring costs by building the software for some other 
reason
 >  (self education, fun, a different project, part of internal operations
 >  etc.) Or, you can essentially ask for an advance from your most
 > avid customer base (the ransom).

yes, when i began searching for ways for me, the programmer, to make
money from my projects, almost all the responses i got were "the point
of open source is to release something you are making anyway. if you
want profit, don't do open source." i refused to believe this was the
only way things could be. i wanted to do open source, i feel it's a
superior model in all respects (or at least has the potential to be
superior) to closed source. but i also wanted to be fairly paid.

i realized that getting reliable money from end users, individuals,
wasn't going to happen. that's one thing i've realized open source has
changed in the software development process. end users can no longer be
a countable source of income for the programmer, it *has* to be from
businesses that either use your product in-house (for their operations),
or better yet, from the many "distro" or support companies out there
that rely on good source code (hopefully specifically yours) to make
their own money from end users.

Zimran Ahmed wrote:
 > the benefit is that open source does not care about maximizing revenue
 >  from the code, it just needs to cover initial development costs
 > and contribute back to the code base. If your project (and marketing
 >  skills) are good enough to raise a sufficient ranson, then
releasing it open-source is not a problem at all --
 > the entire cost of development has been amortized and the software
 > should be available at its marginal cost (zero).


yep, agreed. hence my talk of "fair price and value". i'd allow for a
moderate "profit", but not sure how to handle that. most likely i'll
just let the market decide if a piece of ransomed software is worth the
cost or not. no need to go regulating prices. the good news with ransom
over other "market driven pricing" schemes is that it's much easier to
ignore a piece of ransomed software that is priced "unfairly", because
of the open source factor inherent in the ransom model in general.


Norbert Bollows wrote:
 > One important point that needs to be considered is that many developers
 >  don't want their code to be re-used in proprietary programs, ever.
 >   So I propose the drafting of a new license that allows code
 > re-use in ransomed and in Free software, but which does not allow
 > code re-use in proprietary software.

Norbert Bollows wrote:
 > I think it's much better to use a new license that is like the GPL
 > with the difference that derivative works can be ransomed.

yes, this was a consideration i'd thought of while designing it, too.
i'd thought the GPL would be a very common Open License to use with
Ransom, but had not thought of a license that is copyleft yet can be
ransomed. interestiong...

Norbert Bollows wrote:
 > This License distinguishes between two periods of time, a period during
 >  which the program is "under ransom", and a period during which the
 >  program is "free".

I like how you word this out. i'd been having similar thoughts as to how 
the licensing of Ransom would work, but i'd been thinking there could be 
  a "Ransom License" that anyone could download the software with and 
try it out. then they could pay, and have the funds go to the Ransom 
amount. once the Ransom had been met, the license automatically 
re-licenses the code under a specified "Open License" such as the GPL.

As an example, here's a very basic copyright "Ransom License" I whipped 
up. i don't know how "legal" it is, i'm not a lawyer o, and have only 
read other licenses. I am calling this "Simple Ransom License", and it's 
really just to show as examples of what I imagine Ransom to look like, 
not to actually use:

	THEORETIC SIMPLE RANSOM LICENSE

Copyright (c) <YEAR>, <OWNER>
All rights reserved.

Use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are
permitted provided that the following conditions are met:
* You may use, copy, or modify the software at no cost for an
evaluation period of up to 31 days, beginning when you first install
the software on one or more computers, in order to determine whether
the product meets your needs before purchasing it.
* Once the evaluation period ends, you agree to either purchase a
registered copy of the software at <AMOUNT>, or immediately stop any
further use, copying and modification of the software and any
modifications and to destroy all such copies or modifications.
* You may use, copy or modify the source code or binary form for your
internal use only. No redistribution is allowed. This applies for both
evaluation and registered copies.
* By registering the copy to you, the copyright holder is obligated to
count your payment towards the Ransom Payment. When the full Ransom
Payment has been made, the source code is automatically re-licensed
under the <LICENSE>, included with this distribution. Information on
Ransom can be found at http://www.theoretic.com/ransom.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS
"AS IS" AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT
LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR
A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE REGENTS OR
CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL,
EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO,
PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR
PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF
LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING
NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS
SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

the main point of this is to separate the Ransom License from the 
eventual Open License. this way any open source/free license can be used 
without modification. of course, the GPL itself would have to be 
modified (as i understand it) to allow others to pick up the GPL'ed code 
and Ransom derivatives.

i must say, though, that i'm very impressed by the amount of work you 
put into the New Technology License, norbert. even if alot of it's 
verbatim from the GPL, i see alot that is Ransom specific. i'm amazed 
people find this a viable enough idea to invest effort into at such an 
early stage.

Norbert Bollows wrote:
 > The period during which the Program is "under ransom"
 >  begins immediately when the program has been released under this
 > license, and it ends when the conditions detailed in the "statement
 >  of financial expectation" have been met, or when five years have
 > passed since the release fo the software.  The period furing which
 > the Program is "free" begins immediately when it no longer "under
 > random", and from then onwards it will be "free" forever.

i had not been sure if conditions like payment towards a total sum could 
be included and enforced under a copyright license. how would this work 
under copyright law?

Zimran Ahmed wrote:

> If anyone wants to re-use the now-freed code in new
> ransom code they do exactly the same thing. They set
> up their ransom (and develop the code either before or
> after making their ransom) and then release it under
> the GPL again once the ransom is met 

ahhh... i see. so while the "original code" can be distributed under
a shareware-like Ransome license, and then released to the GPL once the
Ransom is met, derivative Ransom works can be Ransomed as well. the only
difference is that they cannot distribute the works before the ransom is
met. gotcha.

but, if the code is to be allowed to be re-Ransomed by forkers, a new
license needs to be done, right? to allow distributoin of the code under
GPL-like terms before the ransom has been met. but yes, i see your point,
and like it. it provides a means the traditional, existing GPL can be
used in the Ransom model.


Zimran Ahmed wrote:
 > Assume ppls proclivity to be free riders is normally distributed.
 > Those on the far right will always wait and never pay. Those on the
 >  far left will immediately pay (especially if there get some added
 > convenience, like a CD shipped to them with the code on it).

oohhh... that is a good line of thinking. i now realize something that
had been lacking in my Ransom so far is "fringe benefits" to those that
pay. i had one idea: that payers could have their names in a "thank you"
section in the open sourced version of the code. but i probably need to
include others, like your CD one. any other ideas for these benefits?

Zimran Ahmed wrote:

> The
> reputation of the development team and the value of
> the code to be created will determine how much money
> they can get out of the distribution to the far left.
> And remember, you don't need to maximize the value of
> the code (which means it has to stay partially closed
> and eliminate free riders), you just need to cover the
> initial development cost. The better the developers
> and the project, the higher a ransom they can ask.

yes, very true. reputation and quality of the programmers and their 
code is a much bigger factor than most people will think. this is
something i want to stress in the website.


Zimran Ahmed wrote:

> GPL'd software development can be funded by the ransom
> model.


yes, this is something i'm *very* interested in. has the GPL had any 
other viable means for the programmers to be compensated, other than 
benefactors and FreeDevelopers?

-- 
    /\    -- Adam Theo, Age 22, Tallahassee FL USA --
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