making money off your GPL-ed code

Clark Evans clark.evans at
Wed May 19 18:31:29 UTC 1999

Seth David Schoen wrote:
> Clark Evans writes:
> > I feel that if anyone is trying to make money from
> > software that is GPL'd, then they obviously do not
> > believe in the GPL, thus they really should not be
> > using the GPL.
> I think you should amend this to "to make money from applying a proprietary
> license to software that is GPL'd".  I've made money from software that
> was GPL'd -- just not by trying to put it under a proprietary license.
> With that addition, it's still imaginable that someone believes in the
> practical benefits of the GPL, but not in the activist program it implements. 

Quite Right.

> And so I'm not sure about this point:
> > Personally, I think that practices
> > that have a "basic" version GPL'd, but the "advanced"
> > version proprietary are worse for open source than
> > if you just stayed 100% proprietary.
> While this does have a "bait and switch" feel to it, it's really only a
> major problem if the original developer is the _only_ person capable of
> maintaining the package or adding those features.  Otherwise, you have
> some nice new GPL code that you can use for whatever purposes you like,
> including purposes unrelated to the original package.

Well, it is the user community's mind share that counts.  And
if the trademark is kept by the developer and not made "open"
as well, then they can just as well use it to switch
from an open-source license to a proprietary license.
> And someone else can come along and implement the "advanced" features
> anew under the GPL.  While this is a duplication of effort, the
> possibility is still present.

The only problem is that the new GPL product won't have the 
trademark of older GPL product.  And this loss of mind-share
is signifiant and costly.

> Some of your other points provide other circumstances where the release
> of software under multiple licenses is problematic, but it would
> probably be more trouble than it's worth for the GPL to try to preclude
> people from releasing their code under any other license.

I would only suggest that the a requirement for opensource be
the addition of provisions for trademark/domain name usage 
to make it "open" as well.  (God knows how to do this).

> [Distributed Copyright stuff snipped; I'll try to look at the web page
> soon.]

That would be cool.  :)  Clark Evans

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