Subject: Re: licensing adn open source business models
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2002 13:10:07 -0800
Sun, 20 Jan 2002 13:10:07 -0800
on Sun, Jan 20, 2002 at 02:16:21PM +0000, David ( wrote:
> On Sat, 2002-01-19 at 20:45, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> > on Sat, Jan 19, 2002 at 03:25:53PM +0000, David ( wrote:

> > > 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.
> Is this not a problem with non copyleft licenses though ?? 

Depends on your perspective.

For a BSD-style license, the ability to place more restrictions on a
particular derivative branch of development exists.

If you're referring to assignment in proprietary code, there's another
rat's nest, I don't think this was your question, I'll defer addressing

> > >    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).
> I will look at these, I am quite astounded by the problems of
> licensing though, so far and am finding myself sinking in the mud
> somewhat at this stage. Short and frank statements attached to these
> licenses would be helpfull. Some have them but tend to hide the actual
> business model being described. (are the lawyers taking over software
> development ?).
> Just a view - don't flame me. 

I think it's more an issue that many licenses simply concern themselves
with the legal issues, and don't address strategy.  GPL/LGP are noteable
exceptions.  I find the "how does the license fit my strategy" domain
interesting, I've written a bit on the topic, and tend to divide the
free/open licensing landscape into four major categories:

  - Ideological:  licenses aimed at spreading or promoting a particular
    philosophy.  Examples: copyleft, GPL, LGPL.

  - Technological:  licenses aimed at spreading or promoting a
    particular standard or technology.  Examples:  BSD, MIT, Apache,
    X/Open license.

  - Business/Extensible:  generally, licenses with a "hook" to allow
    proprietary extensions on a free software base.  Examples:  MozPL.

  - Corporate:  largely one-off licenses from a particular company.  The
    intents vary, but the one common thread is that they seem to reveal
    corporate fears in licensing technology.  IBM's licenses focus on
    patents to the virtual exclusion of all else, Sun's on control over
    standards (viz:  Java), Corel's on peculiarities of Canadian law and
    agreements with minors, etc.  The result is often something that's
    rather inpenetrable to outsiders, and not of much practical use or
    value, particularly in the primary dimension of variance.


> > > 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.
> I actually meant bitkeeper here, on looking at their site they seem to
> have hidden these issues slightly now. The logging feature here for
> instance cannot be removed without negating the license (it is removed
> for proprietary or paid for licenses). I like this idea, it works well
> for a developemnt tool. 

Right.  Note that this makes BitKeeper violate definitions of both FSF
Free Software and OSI Open Source.

> My thinking is to ensure everyone registers their copy (email only no
> business info), simply to keep a view on usage, NOT for marketing.
> Then registered and paid for copies can receive extra services in the
> subscribtion to ... services etc. 

You'd face a similar issue.  You could *request* this as a courtesy, but
not *require* the action, if you wanted to enforce this via code.  The
Apple Public License has such a requirement.  It is the one license I'm
aware of that was certified by the OSI, but isn't recognized as a free
software license by the FSF.  In my opinion, OSI erred in approving the 
license, though rationalizing this requires a broad reading (and not
necessarially persuasive) of the OSD.

> > > 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.
> > 
> May be, I am talking about a mix of free and proprietary licensing
> (free to some paid by others avaliable in source to all, but not for
> exploitation)


> > > 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.
> Here goes, they do evolve though
> 1: To sell software to commercial entities for a very reasonable cost.

To sell  something  to commercial entities.  Break the mold that says
you're selling software.  Convert it to something else:  support,
services, access, relationship, hardware, training, documentation, etc.
This is IMO a block to your conceptualization of the problem.

The one significant exception to this is if you're selling timeliness,
via a delayed licensing scheme.  In this case, you're initially
licensing your code under proprietary terms (though there's a broad
continuum on this spectrum, and source code distribution may be
included), with a delayed, free software version available later.

> 2: To allow free copies to defined bodies.

If you're going to work on the basis of "defined bodies" then you're
violating term 5 of the OSD:  No discrimination against persons or
groups, and term 6, No discrimination against fields of endeavor.

> 3: To enlist the assistance of the Open Source community (marketing, qa
>    etc.)

> 4: To eventually attach services and hardware to the offering (needs
>    cash from 1)

This is the bootstrapping problem.  Consider it separate from issue 1,
treat it as a chicken/egg problem.

> 5: To provide security to customers (escrow, delayed GPL etc.)

> 6: To build a paid for and free developer community (full time jobs and
>    hobbiests).

> 7: Build enough momentum to Open source the lot and pay by services and
>    OEM deals etc.
> Essentially to build a model that works (redhat/ibm etc do it - add
> services) but finance it without vulture capitalists.
> I strongly believe that this system will be sold by resellers to
> business customers, resellers still try and make a buck by
> discounts/mark ups on products, Customers want to pay for products.
> This is right or wrong but actaully happening NOW maybe it will change
> in the future, my business will change with that, but at the moment I
> feel I need a transitory approach to business. I do agreee with Open
> Source and also selling software (services etc is a no brainer of course
> we must provide these). 
> I do believe that one day software will be developed and a worldwide
> release mechnanism for free software will be in place that allows
> small developers to 'get out there' fast and free, then capitalise on
> services etc. in a professional manner (maybe sub contract and
> maintain a cut for development).
> I am also in favour of when we have to sell software to have customers
> accept it that a % goes to other Open Source projects to get off the
> ground (charity payment no tax), I am happy with this as long as the
> management of such is crystal clear and well defined. For instance I
> see loads of products with MySQL in it, they are a company that would
> benefit from contributions as well as Mandrake etc who have went full
> pelt into GPL and these companies do need investment. 
> I constantly see the struggle between huge expensive proprietary code
> and free code, two extremes, the answer is in the middle somewhere,
> that's where I want to be. 

Good luck.


Karsten M. Self <>
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