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Making money from software - another shareware approach

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  • Omer Zak
    The following idea is an outgrowth of MySQL AB s licensing policy. Basically, they dual-license MySQL. For Free Software applications, it is GPLed (or LGPLed
    Message 1 of 10 , Nov 29, 2004
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      The following idea is an outgrowth of MySQL AB's licensing policy.

      Basically, they dual-license MySQL. For Free Software applications, it
      is GPLed (or LGPLed in special cases). For software-for-profit, they
      charge money for a non-GPL license. They ask the software vendor to
      contact them and negotiate terms.

      Presumably their policy is that they want to have a cut from the
      vendor's profits but they do not insist upon payment if he does not make
      a profit from MySQL (given an appropriate definition of "make a profit
      from MySQL").

      The idea is that software developers (probably from the world of
      shareware developers) would say something like:
      "You are welcome to use my software. If you make no monetary profit
      from using the software, pay me nothing.
      But if you use my software in your business and make a profit from using
      it, then I expect to be paid my cut from your profits.
      Hence, my prices are (for example):
      1. If you are private individual, a non-profit or business running at
      loss, then this software is available to you for free.
      2. If you use my software in your profitable business as is, pay me say
      $500.
      3. If my software is central to your business operations, as evidenced
      by your need to heavily customize it to your needs, such that you need a
      non-GPL license for it, then my price is say $50,000 plus $5000 a year
      for service contract."

      The enforcement mechanism is that if a business really uses software and
      does not pay for it, then this would tarnish their credit rating.

      My question: does this idea hold water? can it fly? Can it be solid
      foundation for a small software business? would it energize prospective
      users who would otherwise have been turned off by having to pay first
      and realize a profit later? [notice the references to water, air, land
      and energy=fire]
      --- Omer
      --
      My own blog is at http://www.livejournal.com/users/tddpirate/

      My opinions, as expressed in this E-mail message, are mine alone.
      They do not represent the official policy of any organization with which
      I may be affiliated in any way.
      WARNING TO SPAMMERS: at http://www.zak.co.il/spamwarning.html
    • Tzahi Fadida
      I think this can hold in the embedded s market, since if you just have to pay once to plant the software in your, I don t know, some kind of smart router/ids/
      Message 2 of 10 , Dec 1, 2004
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        I think this can hold in the embedded's market, since if you just have to
        pay once to plant
        the software in your, I don't know, some kind of smart router/ids/ what
        ever. Then buying
        mysql could be profitable to you. If you want to use it in a big computer or
        something
        that does not necessarily requires a small and fast software with a very
        limmited
        capabililities then you can use a BSD license software like postgreSQL which
        you can do whatever you want with it. Obviously for that market it would
        never fly.
        They are targeting a niche business where limited capabilities are required
        to have faster
        performance on some features.
        A small software vendor should target niche markets since they would never
        want to compete
        at this stage with the big dogs. Choose your rivals carefuly!

        Regards,
        tzahi.

        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Omer Zak [mailto:omerz@...]
        > Sent: Monday, November 29, 2004 12:58 PM
        > To: hackers-il
        > Subject: [hackers-il] Making money from software - another
        > shareware approach
        >
        >
        >
        > The following idea is an outgrowth of MySQL AB's licensing policy.
        >
        > Basically, they dual-license MySQL. For Free Software
        > applications, it is GPLed (or LGPLed in special cases). For
        > software-for-profit, they charge money for a non-GPL license.
        > They ask the software vendor to contact them and negotiate terms.
        >
        > Presumably their policy is that they want to have a cut from
        > the vendor's profits but they do not insist upon payment if
        > he does not make a profit from MySQL (given an appropriate
        > definition of "make a profit from MySQL").
        >
        > The idea is that software developers (probably from the world
        > of shareware developers) would say something like: "You are
        > welcome to use my software. If you make no monetary profit
        > from using the software, pay me nothing. But if you use my
        > software in your business and make a profit from using it,
        > then I expect to be paid my cut from your profits. Hence, my
        > prices are (for example): 1. If you are private individual, a
        > non-profit or business running at loss, then this software is
        > available to you for free. 2. If you use my software in your
        > profitable business as is, pay me say $500. 3. If my software
        > is central to your business operations, as evidenced by your
        > need to heavily customize it to your needs, such that you
        > need a non-GPL license for it, then my price is say $50,000
        > plus $5000 a year for service contract."
        >
        > The enforcement mechanism is that if a business really uses
        > software and does not pay for it, then this would tarnish
        > their credit rating.
        >
        > My question: does this idea hold water? can it fly? Can it
        > be solid foundation for a small software business? would it
        > energize prospective users who would otherwise have been
        > turned off by having to pay first and realize a profit later?
        > [notice the references to water, air, land and energy=fire]
        > --- Omer
        > --
        > My own blog is at http://www.livejournal.com/users/tddpirate/
        >
        > My opinions, as expressed in this E-mail message, are mine
        > alone. They do not represent the official policy of any
        > organization with which I may be affiliated in any way.
        > WARNING TO SPAMMERS: at http://www.zak.co.il/spamwarning.html
        >
        >
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      • guy keren
        ... personally, i think this kind of attitude does not realy match the spirit of free software, because you can only have this dual-licnese if you have the
        Message 3 of 10 , Dec 1, 2004
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          On Mon, 29 Nov 2004, Omer Zak wrote:

          > Basically, they dual-license MySQL.For Free Software applications, it
          > is GPLed (or LGPLed in special cases).For software-for-profit, they
          > charge money for a non-GPL license.They ask the software vendor to
          > contact them and negotiate terms.
          >
          > Presumably their policy is that they want to have a cut from the
          > vendor's profits but they do not insist upon payment if he does not make
          > a profit from MySQL (given an appropriate definition of "make a profit
          > from MySQL").

          personally, i think this kind of attitude does not realy match the spirit
          of free software, because you can only have this dual-licnese if you have
          the copyright for the _entire_ source code. which means - no contribution
          from the community.

          > The idea is that software developers (probably from the world of
          > shareware developers) would say something like:
          > "You are welcome to use my software.If you make no monetary profit
          > from using the software, pay me nothing.
          > But if you use my software in your business and make a profit from using
          > it, then I expect to be paid my cut from your profits.

          i don't realy like this attitude - "making my cut from your profits".
          you'll start having arguments such as - this company uses your product, as
          well as 20 others - if everyone will want 5% from the profits - there no
          no profits. and you won't be able to run after each and every client to
          start calculating how much of their profit is due to your product. soon
          enough, they will throw your product out, and use something else
          (= cheaper). in a free software market, after all, you can earn well, but
          you can't be a pig - someone else will suggest the same product for a
          lower price. oh, i forgot - we're not in free software land any longer...

          > Hence, my prices are (for example):
          > 1. If you are private individual, a non-profit or business running at
          > loss, then this software is available to you for free.
          > 2. If you use my software in your profitable business as is, pay me say
          > $500.
          > 3. If my software is central to your business operations, as evidenced
          > by your need to heavily customize it to your needs, such that you need a
          > non-GPL license for it, then my price is say $50,000 plus $5000 a year
          > for service contract."
          >
          > The enforcement mechanism is that if a business really uses software and
          > does not pay for it, then this would tarnish their credit rating.

          i beg your pardon? what credit rating exactly?

          > My question:does this idea hold water? can it fly? Can it be solid
          > foundation for a small software business?would it energize prospective
          > users who would otherwise have been turned off by having to pay first
          > and realize a profit later?[notice the references to water, air, land
          > and energy=fire]

          many closed-source companies allow people to evaluate their software
          before buying it. many give you the development environment for free and
          only ask for royaltees (and then start arguing with you how much of the
          royaltees you need to pay in advance under the assumption _they_ make
          about how much _you_ are going to sell ;) ).

          since your product is not free-software for your clients, i don't see
          where is your advantage for them over a regular product that is not even
          trying to look like free software, and still comes with the source (e.g.
          borland's OWL, microsoft's MFC, roguewave's libraries, etc).

          --
          guy

          "For world domination - press 1,
          or dial 0, and please hold, for the creator." -- nob o. dy
        • Omer Zak
          ... You are very right about this problem. This is why it would be nice to have a business model, which would allow the principal developers of a GPL/LGPL
          Message 4 of 10 , Dec 1, 2004
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            On Thu, 2004-12-02 at 00:58, guy keren wrote:
            > On Mon, 29 Nov 2004, Omer Zak wrote:
            >
            > > Basically, they dual-license MySQL.For Free Software applications, it
            > > is GPLed (or LGPLed in special cases).For software-for-profit, they
            > > charge money for a non-GPL license.They ask the software vendor to
            > > contact them and negotiate terms.
            > >
            > > Presumably their policy is that they want to have a cut from the
            > > vendor's profits but they do not insist upon payment if he does not make
            > > a profit from MySQL (given an appropriate definition of "make a profit
            > > from MySQL").
            >
            > personally, i think this kind of attitude does not realy match the spirit
            > of free software, because you can only have this dual-licnese if you have
            > the copyright for the _entire_ source code. which means - no contribution
            > from the community.

            You are very right about this problem.

            This is why it would be nice to have a business model, which would allow
            the principal developers of a GPL/LGPL software package (without dual
            licenses) to make a nice profit from developing, maintaining and
            customizing it.

            > > The idea is that software developers (probably from the world of
            > > shareware developers) would say something like:
            > > "You are welcome to use my software.If you make no monetary profit
            > > from using the software, pay me nothing.
            > > But if you use my software in your business and make a profit from using
            > > it, then I expect to be paid my cut from your profits.
            >
            > i don't realy like this attitude - "making my cut from your profits".
            > you'll start having arguments such as - this company uses your product, as
            > well as 20 others - if everyone will want 5% from the profits - there no
            > no profits. and you won't be able to run after each and every client to
            > start calculating how much of their profit is due to your product. soon
            > enough, they will throw your product out, and use something else
            > (= cheaper). in a free software market, after all, you can earn well, but
            > you can't be a pig - someone else will suggest the same product for a
            > lower price. oh, i forgot - we're not in free software land any longer...

            I wonder how MySQL AB manage this. One possible answer (I didn't check
            with them) is to have a single per-seat price, which can be negotiated
            downwards if the client has a persuasive case that the original price
            would price his product out of its target market.

            > > Hence, my prices are (for example):
            > > 1. If you are private individual, a non-profit or business running at
            > > loss, then this software is available to you for free.
            [... snipped ...]
            > >
            > > The enforcement mechanism is that if a business really uses software and
            > > does not pay for it, then this would tarnish their credit rating.
            >
            > i beg your pardon? what credit rating exactly?

            If it becomes known among the credit bureaus that a company is making
            commercial use of software package XYZ, but does not pay the regular
            royalty fees, then it means that the company is utilizing clause (1)
            above i.e. the company can be assumed to be operating at loss. So you
            had better be careful before extending them credit!

            Of course, the company may have good reasons for not paying the
            royalties (for example, need to extensively customize/debug the software
            before it becomes really useful).

            > > My question:does this idea hold water? can it fly? Can it be solid
            > > foundation for a small software business?would it energize prospective
            > > users who would otherwise have been turned off by having to pay first
            > > and realize a profit later?[notice the references to water, air, land
            > > and energy=fire]
            >
            > many closed-source companies allow people to evaluate their software
            > before buying it. many give you the development environment for free and
            > only ask for royaltees (and then start arguing with you how much of the
            > royaltees you need to pay in advance under the assumption _they_ make
            > about how much _you_ are going to sell ;) ).
            >
            > since your product is not free-software for your clients, i don't see
            > where is your advantage for them over a regular product that is not even
            > trying to look like free software, and still comes with the source (e.g.
            > borland's OWL, microsoft's MFC, roguewave's libraries, etc).

            If the software is GPLed, then the advantage for the clients is that
            they can fix or customize the software. They also can use it freely (if
            they are willing to tarnish their credit rating by the above mechanism).

            Summary:

            The above is just a speculation.

            The real-world credit rating system would not cooperate with the above
            approach of pricing Free Software. Credit extended to a profitable
            company remains as safe even if the company is stingy and does not
            volunteer to pay for Free Software.

            Back to the drawing table and to dreaming up more harebrained business
            models for Free Software.
            --- Omer
            --
            My own blog is at http://www.livejournal.com/users/tddpirate/

            My opinions, as expressed in this E-mail message, are mine alone.
            They do not represent the official policy of any organization with which
            I may be affiliated in any way.
            WARNING TO SPAMMERS: at http://www.zak.co.il/spamwarning.html
          • Tal Rotbart
            I couldn t agree more with Guy. I think he hit the nail on the head. An alternative and appealing business model for an open-source business is still the
            Message 5 of 10 , Dec 1, 2004
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              I couldn't agree more with Guy. I think he hit the nail on the head.

              An alternative and appealing business model for an open-source
              business is still the classic free-software cross-polinating with
              contracting/consulting + guide books, just like JBoss, or Apache
              TomCat/Struts do.

              -Tal

              On Thu, 2 Dec 2004 00:58:52 +0200 (IST), guy keren <choo@...> wrote:
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > On Mon, 29 Nov 2004, Omer Zak wrote:
              >
              > > Basically, they dual-license MySQL.For Free Software applications, it
              > > is GPLed (or LGPLed in special cases).For software-for-profit, they
              > > charge money for a non-GPL license.They ask the software vendor to
              > > contact them and negotiate terms.
              > >
              > > Presumably their policy is that they want to have a cut from the
              > > vendor's profits but they do not insist upon payment if he does not make
              > > a profit from MySQL (given an appropriate definition of "make a profit
              > > from MySQL").
              >
              > personally, i think this kind of attitude does not realy match the spirit
              > of free software, because you can only have this dual-licnese if you have
              > the copyright for the _entire_ source code. which means - no contribution
              > from the community.
              >
              > > The idea is that software developers (probably from the world of
              > > shareware developers) would say something like:
              > > "You are welcome to use my software.If you make no monetary profit
              > > from using the software, pay me nothing.
              > > But if you use my software in your business and make a profit from using
              > > it, then I expect to be paid my cut from your profits.
              >
              > i don't realy like this attitude - "making my cut from your profits".
              > you'll start having arguments such as - this company uses your product, as
              > well as 20 others - if everyone will want 5% from the profits - there no
              > no profits. and you won't be able to run after each and every client to
              > start calculating how much of their profit is due to your product. soon
              > enough, they will throw your product out, and use something else
              > (= cheaper). in a free software market, after all, you can earn well, but
              > you can't be a pig - someone else will suggest the same product for a
              > lower price. oh, i forgot - we're not in free software land any longer...
              >
              >
              >
              > > Hence, my prices are (for example):
              > > 1. If you are private individual, a non-profit or business running at
              > > loss, then this software is available to you for free.
              > > 2. If you use my software in your profitable business as is, pay me say
              > > $500.
              > > 3. If my software is central to your business operations, as evidenced
              > > by your need to heavily customize it to your needs, such that you need a
              > > non-GPL license for it, then my price is say $50,000 plus $5000 a year
              > > for service contract."
              > >
              > > The enforcement mechanism is that if a business really uses software and
              > > does not pay for it, then this would tarnish their credit rating.
              >
              > i beg your pardon? what credit rating exactly?
              >
              > > My question:does this idea hold water? can it fly? Can it be solid
              > > foundation for a small software business?would it energize prospective
              > > users who would otherwise have been turned off by having to pay first
              > > and realize a profit later?[notice the references to water, air, land
              > > and energy=fire]
              >
              > many closed-source companies allow people to evaluate their software
              > before buying it. many give you the development environment for free and
              > only ask for royaltees (and then start arguing with you how much of the
              > royaltees you need to pay in advance under the assumption _they_ make
              > about how much _you_ are going to sell ;) ).
              >
              > since your product is not free-software for your clients, i don't see
              > where is your advantage for them over a regular product that is not even
              > trying to look like free software, and still comes with the source (e.g.
              > borland's OWL, microsoft's MFC, roguewave's libraries, etc).
              >
              > --
              > guy
              >
              > "For world domination - press 1,
              > or dial 0, and please hold, for the creator." -- nob o. dy
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >


              --
              /************************************************

              Tal 'redbeard' Rotbart
              Software Wizard

              eMail: redbeard of gmail dot com
              Tel: +972-2-671-6178
              Mobile: +972-52-896-5025

              Snail mail:
              Klozner 7/2
              Jerusalem 93388
              ISRAEL

              ************************************************/
            • adi@stav.org.il
              ... You can always request, and merge exclusively, contributions licensed with a less restrictive license than the one(s) with which you, yourself, offer the
              Message 6 of 10 , Dec 2, 2004
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                Quoting guy keren <choo@...>:

                > personally, i think this kind of attitude does not realy match the spirit
                > of free software, because you can only have this dual-licnese if you have
                > the copyright for the _entire_ source code. which means - no contribution
                > from the community.

                You can always request, and merge exclusively, contributions licensed with a
                less restrictive license than the one(s) with which you, yourself, offer the
                software. E.g., if my software product is licensed GPL to anyone, and dual GPL
                with with Adi's Own Propostrous Proprietary End-User License Agreement
                (AOPPEULA) only to those who pay me, then I can say that I will only merge
                contributions made under a license that is both GPL-compatible and which allows
                me to relicense them as AOPPEULA at my will. A possible choice is BSD.

                This does require contributors to offer enhancements at more permissive terms
                than those under which they were offered the software in the beginning, but on
                the other hand it requires no copyright assignments, or, for that matter, even
                reference to me specifically in the license. The only reason I would be special
                among the other contributors is because I would have exclusive copyright of a
                crucial part of the program, and would not license it BSD.

                ----------------------------------------------------------------
                This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.
              • guy keren
                ... question: the people who supply patches: 1. what kind of license did _they_ get the software under? if it was GPL - they cannot put the patches under BSD -
                Message 7 of 10 , Dec 2, 2004
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                  On Thu, 2 Dec 2004 adi@... wrote:

                  > Quoting guy keren <choo@...>:
                  >
                  > > personally, i think this kind of attitude does not realy match the spirit
                  > > of free software, because you can only have this dual-licnese if you have
                  > > the copyright for the _entire_ source code. which means - no contribution
                  > > from the community.
                  >
                  > You can always request, and merge exclusively, contributions licensed with a
                  > less restrictive license than the one(s) with which you, yourself, offer the
                  > software. E.g., if my software product is licensed GPL to anyone, and dual GPL
                  > with with Adi's Own Propostrous Proprietary End-User License Agreement
                  > (AOPPEULA) only to those who pay me, then I can say that I will only merge
                  > contributions made under a license that is both GPL-compatible and which allows
                  > me to relicense them as AOPPEULA at my will. A possible choice is BSD.

                  question: the people who supply patches:

                  1. what kind of license did _they_ get the software under? if it was GPL -
                  they cannot put the patches under BSD - this violates the GPL.

                  2. even if you managed to make some hocus-pocus and both eat the cake and
                  leave it whole - why on earth would people want to contribute to your
                  software, when they can contribute to some _real_ free software?

                  --
                  guy

                  "For world domination - press 1,
                  or dial 0, and please hold, for the creator." -- nob o. dy
                • guy keren
                  ... actually, this is why you should stop thinking of how to become filthy rich from free software - the spirit behind free software wasn t meant to make
                  Message 8 of 10 , Dec 2, 2004
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                    On Thu, 2 Dec 2004, Omer Zak wrote:

                    > On Thu, 2004-12-02 at 00:58, guy keren wrote:
                    > > On Mon, 29 Nov 2004, Omer Zak wrote:
                    > >
                    > > > Basically, they dual-license MySQL.For Free Software applications, it
                    > > > is GPLed (or LGPLed in special cases).For software-for-profit, they
                    > > > charge money for a non-GPL license.They ask the software vendor to
                    > > > contact them and negotiate terms.
                    > > >
                    > > > Presumably their policy is that they want to have a cut from the
                    > > > vendor's profits but they do not insist upon payment if he does not make
                    > > > a profit from MySQL (given an appropriate definition of "make a profit
                    > > > from MySQL").
                    > >
                    > > personally, i think this kind of attitude does not realy match the spirit
                    > > of free software, because you can only have this dual-licnese if you have
                    > > the copyright for the _entire_ source code. which means - no contribution
                    > > from the community.
                    >
                    > You are very right about this problem.
                    >
                    > This is why it would be nice to have a business model, which would allow
                    > the principal developers of a GPL/LGPL software package (without dual
                    > licenses) to make a nice profit from developing, maintaining and
                    > customizing it.

                    actually, this is why you should stop thinking of how to become filthy
                    rich from free software - the spirit behind free software wasn't meant to
                    make people rich.

                    > If it becomes known among the credit bureaus that a company is making
                    > commercial use of software package XYZ, but does not pay the regular
                    > royalty fees, then it means that the company is utilizing clause (1)
                    > above i.e. the company can be assumed to be operating at loss.So you
                    > had better be careful before extending them credit!

                    i'm not sure where you came up with this one, but i'll not argue - it
                    sounds quite illogical to me, but i'm not familiar enough with economic
                    laws in order to completely dismiss it ;)

                    > > many closed-source companies allow people to evaluate their software
                    > > before buying it. many give you the developmentenvironment for free and
                    > > only ask for royaltees (and then start arguing with you how much of the
                    > > royaltees you need to pay in advance under the assumption _they_ make
                    > > about how much _you_ are going to sell ;)).
                    > >
                    > > since your product is notfree-software for your clients, i don't see
                    > > where is your advantage for them over a regular product that is not even
                    > > trying to look like free software, and still comes with the source (e.g.
                    > > borland's OWL, microsoft's MFC, roguewave's libraries, etc).
                    >
                    > If the software is GPLed, then the advantage for the clients is that
                    > they can fix or customize the software.They also can use it freely (if
                    > they are willing to tarnish their credit rating by the above mechanism).

                    you just said that for the clients, the software is NOT GPL. if it was GPL
                    for them, you wouldn't have needed this dual-licensing to begin with.

                    --
                    guy

                    "For world domination - press 1,
                    or dial 0, and please hold, for the creator." -- nob o. dy
                  • Omer Zak
                    ... [... snipped ...] ... You missed the part which said without dual licenses above the part which suggested one way for developers of GPLed software to
                    Message 9 of 10 , Dec 2, 2004
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                      On Fri, 2004-12-03 at 00:01, guy keren wrote:
                      > On Thu, 2 Dec 2004, Omer Zak wrote:
                      > > This is why it would be nice to have a business model, which would allow
                      > > the principal developers of a GPL/LGPL software package (without dual
                      > > licenses) to make a nice profit from developing, maintaining and
                      > > customizing it.
                      >
                      > actually, this is why you should stop thinking of how to become filthy
                      > rich from free software - the spirit behind free software wasn't meant to
                      > make people rich.
                      [... snipped ...]
                      > > If the software is GPLed, then the advantage for the clients is that
                      > > they can fix or customize the software.They also can use it freely (if
                      > > they are willing to tarnish their credit rating by the above mechanism).
                      >
                      > you just said that for the clients, the software is NOT GPL. if it was GPL
                      > for them, you wouldn't have needed this dual-licensing to begin with.

                      You missed the part which said "without dual licenses" above the part
                      which suggested one way for developers of GPLed software to make good
                      money from their developments.

                      About the spirit of Free Software:
                      Stallman stressed many times that the point is to be free to study,
                      improve and share. Not to piously refrain from making money. Proof:
                      GPL allows you NOT to release your modifications to GPLed software, to
                      combine it with non-GPLed software and all the other sins as long as the
                      monsterosity is confined to your home or business and is not distributed
                      further.

                      A business model, which allows one to become filthy rich from Free
                      Software has the following social benefits:
                      1. People will have less economic incentive to develop non-Free
                      software.
                      2. People will be able to devote more time to Free Software projects and
                      advance them further.
                      3. There is more software, which can be used by people and businesses,
                      which don't (currently) have the financial means to pay for it.
                      4. Useful software brings more income to its developers than less useful
                      software, hence there is better incentive for better software (according
                      to all criteria, which may have economic consequences - stability,
                      extensibility, user-friendliness, power,...).

                      I think that one of the features any business model for Free Software
                      must have to be legal and successful is that people can use the software
                      for free if they are not successful in making a profit from the venture,
                      for which they use the software. On the other hand, people, who make
                      huge profits from the software, will pay high price for using the
                      software.[One way this happens today is that if a company has critical
                      dependence upon a software package, it would pay its developers good
                      money to add features to the software, which would benefit the company.]
                      --- Omer
                      --
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                    • Adi Stav
                      ... They get the software under the GPL and supply patches under the BSDL (without the licensing clause). This does not violate the GPL, which requires that
                      Message 10 of 10 , Dec 2, 2004
                      • 0 Attachment
                        On Thu, Dec 02, 2004 at 11:56:33PM +0200, guy keren wrote:
                        >
                        > question: the people who supply patches:
                        >
                        > 1. what kind of license did _they_ get the software under? if it was GPL -
                        > they cannot put the patches under BSD - this violates the GPL.

                        They get the software under the GPL and supply patches under the BSDL
                        (without the licensing clause).

                        This does not violate the GPL, which requires that "the program is
                        licensed under the terms of this license [the GPL]". As the terms of
                        "this license" are clearly the same or more restrictive to the licensee
                        than the terms of the BSDL, this is fully compliant. Numerous examples
                        exist (e.g., BSDL patches to Linux).

                        > 2. even if you managed to make some hocus-pocus and both eat the cake and
                        > leave it whole - why on earth would people want to contribute to your
                        > software, when they can contribute to some _real_ free software?

                        It is REAL free software. People can do as they damn please, including
                        forking, and the code is GPL or more permissive, allowing cut-and-pase.
                        The limitation is not in the license but merely in that I will not merge
                        patches not licensed under a sufficiently permissive license, and no one
                        claims that the merging policy of a specific, even if critical,
                        contributor to the project determines how free it is. Many GNU projects
                        will not merge patches unless their copyright is actually transferred
                        to the FSF and not many say that they are not real free software because
                        of that, claims regarding reduced incentive to contribute notwithstanding.
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