Subject: Re: Ransom (long) (was: Mandatory donations...)
From: Adam Theo <>
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 08:42:18 -0400

Adam Theo <> writes:
>>This bothered me, too. But then I thought about including those stipulations
>>into the Ransom License itself. The Ransom License would not only obligate the
>>user to not re-distribute and such, but also legally obligate the programmer
>>to release the code. That way the payer can have the full legal system to back
>>them up if they ever run into a dishonest programmer who uses Ransom.

Kevin A. Burton wrote:
> Lawyers are a pain and should be avoided at all costs.  I think that we can get
> around this in the short term by using a third (mutally trusted) party.  In the
> long term we could use something like digicash (if it every comes together).
> The legal system would put too much burden on the purchaser and probably
> wouldn't want to participate in the system.
> <snip>

Hmm... Perhaps we could create a Ransom implimentation (license) which 
relies heavily on third party trust, but I have to politely disagree 
about the legal system.

I think payers will actually *want* and demand legal obligation. It's 
reduces/eliminates their risk when paying for Ransomed code. When you 
pay for something, but don't get what you paid for, most businesses 
(even free ones) will want the assurance of being able to take the 
matter to court, or at least threaten to in order to get what they 
should have gotten in the first place.

If Stallman had not recognized the power and importance of the courts, 
he likely would not have masterminded using copyright licensing to 
protect Free Software, and we would not have the GPL.

>>I've set up a mailing list specifically for developing Ransom further:
>>I could really use your (and others) help.  :-)
> I will try.  Just subscribed.  Already on about 1000 mailing lists though.
> Starting to feel context switching cost of highly multi-tasked systems :)

Haha, yes, know what you mean. This should remain at low traffic, 
especially once the excitement settles down and we find a good pace of 

>>Better yet, what does everyone think of some Ransom properties getting into a
>>future version of the GPL itself? This would not happen without alot of work,
>>but is it a route to investigate? Mr. Burton, in your letter could you ask
>>what forums and processes we should do though to try and get this model
>>adopted by the GNU community?
> If we can convince Stallman it is in :) He is stuborn though.  Tony Stanco
> (check out FreeDevelopers) would really help to influence this.

Yes, I think through would be the best/first step to 
get this done. Is there any "big wigs" from there we can invite into the 
Ransom development process? Get their input and interest. I'm not 
familiar with the people behind at all, so I'm not 
the one to answer this.

>>>The only problem is GPL code.  Most authors would object to this.  Ransomed
>>>code would need a timeout period so that the code eventually becomes Free
>>>Software *even* if the ransom has not been met.
>>Yes, I like this. I'd originally included this "Time Bomb" quality in my
>>earlier drafts of Ransom, but took it out at this early stage so I (and
>>others) could clearly see the real heart of Ransom, and not be confused by
>>other factors.
> ... understand ...  I don't think it will be accepted in the GPL community
> without this property.

Yes, agreed, and I think I'll work on putting it back into the core 
Ransom model now. This Time Bomb feature is very important, critical 
even, to get it accepted in the GNU community.

>>With that said, there will be cases when letting the public look at the
>>still-Ransomed code before it's opened will be desirable, and other cases when
>>it will not be. So this here is a situation for making two Ransom Licenses:
>>one with "Shared/Viewable Source" qualities, and the other with simply "Closed
>>Source Shareware" qualities. After all, few companies would want to risk
>>looking at source code when they are not sure they'd buy it.
> It would be nice if we could use exiting proprietary license and just add a
> ransom section.
> I guess a selection would be nice though.

Yes, as long as the selection is moderate, it's a good thing. And I'm 
thinking not a traditional proprietary license so much as a shareware 
license. I was working on customizing/modding one of those as something 
to work off of.

    /\    -- Adam Theo, Age 22, Tallahassee FL USA --
   //\\   Theoretic Solutions (
  /____\    "Software, Internet Services and Advocacy"
/--||--\ Personal Website (
    ||    Jabber Open IM (
    ||    Email & Jabber:
    ||    AIM: AdamTheo2000   ICQ: 3617306   Y!: AdamTheo2
  "A free-market socialist computer geek patriotic American buddhist."