Subject: Re: licensing adn open source business models
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2002 12:45:49 -0800
Sat, 19 Jan 2002 12:45:49 -0800
on Sat, Jan 19, 2002 at 03:25:53PM +0000, David ( wrote:

General style notes:

  - Reply-after quoted content is strongly encouraged.  It is clearer to
    read in long, threaded, discussions.  Trim quotes appropriately.

  - Consider spacing and formatting your content for clarity.
    Whitespace and indentation are useful contextual hints.  I've
    reflowed your text somewhat.  
I tend not to read or respond to those who write in forms which are
difficult to read or parse.

> This is an interesting concept and one which I would like to investigate
> further. Some things this license may or may not include in my opinion,
> or more appropriately my current muddled thinking would be
> 1: Allowance for the license to be free in some situations (clearly
>    defined by licensor).
> 2: Protection against things like major companies simply adding the
>    software to their offering, not for direct profit, but for
>    enhancement of their offering (indirect benefits at the cost of the
>    original developer). 

This is against the general principles of both FSF Free Software and OSI
Open Source.  So long as use of free software is consistent with
licensing terms, I've no issues.  Various licenses address this point
differently.  GPL and similar copyleft licenses require the
incorporating works themselves be free, BSD and similar licenses allow
proprietiziation of the free software.

See the OSI's OSD definition page, rationales, and history of various
attempts to prevent "commercial use" of software for what I find to be
compelling reasons to find such clauses ill-informed.

What you're describing here is likely neither FSF Free Software nor OSI
Open Source.

If you want to dual-license in a way that allows clear seperation of
both free and proprietary uses of software, consider a dual license
under GPL and a proprietary license (possible, though you've got to
cover yourself carefully), Alladin Ghostscript style licensing, or the
Sleepycat license for BerkeleyDB.

> 3: A mechanism to allow code contributions back to the system with
>    assignation of copyright or similar, i.e this license permits
>    contributions to be recieved and used under the control of the
>    licensor, contributers shuld receive credit but not maintain
>    copyright. 

This is a project management / code incorporation policy issue, not a
licensing issue.

>    This should allow commercial exploitation by the licensor. This is
>    an important area and care has to be taken the licensor is simply
>    not getting everything and giving nothing. 

Note that such "assymetric" licenses (initial developer has options for
both proprietary and free software use, other developers have option
only for nonproprietary use) tends to be poorly received.  See the
Netscape Public License (supersceded by the MozPL) and initial drafts of
the IBM PSL (the Jikes License).

> 4: A mechanism to ensure that if the legal entity owning the software
>    were to not exist any more (give up project, company fails) this
>    would instantly GPL (or similar (bsd, lgpl) the code. Consideration
>    for sale of company and assets would have to be taken into account.

Code escrow.  See, for example, BitKeeper.

> 5: Allowance for all licensees of the software having to be registered
>    with the licensor (ala bugtraq type thing) if required. Removal of
>    any licensing code or simialr could negate the license. (let people
>    steal it but let them steak ours type approach).

This is unclear.

> 6: A trial componant on the license to say allow a 30 day trial of the
>    code upon registration.

See comments to #2.  This isn't free software.  If you're discussing
terms of the proprietary license(s) also applying to the software, this
is not topical to FSB.

> I may be way off track here and receive some nasty mail at some
> suggestion, but I am only trying too look at everything and all
> suggestions.

Not nasty mail from me, but an observation that you're not describing
what I see as free software in parts of this discussion.  Specifying
what your particular goals are would be helpful.  As I commented to your
license-discuss post, identify your business goals and strategy, then
look at how licensing fits in.


Karsten M. Self <>
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