Subscription/Service Fees

David Davies ddavies at
Tue Mar 27 09:09:03 UTC 2001

On Tuesday, 27 March 2001 9:44 AM, David Johnson wrote

-> On Tuesday March 27 2001 08:16 am, David Davies wrote:
-> > It appears that the Open Source definition would not 
-> specifically limit a
-> > license from requiring users to pay a subscription fee or 
-> month service fee
-> > for using the software.  Perhaps I am missing something?
-> You can charge your customers whatever they will bear in 
-> order to acquire the software. However, you may not prevent 
-> them from 
-> distributing it to someone else for no charge. I don't see 
-> anything in the 
-> OSD that *specifically* forbids usage charges. But so what? 
-> Whether or not 
-> the OSD allows "usage charges" is irrelevant. All I have to 
-> do is give a copy 
-> to my friend, he gives me a copy back, and I don't have to 
-> pay him nor does 
-> he have to pay you. Tada!

Maybe I don't get some key part.

I wasn't thinking of any form of copying restriction, only having it clearly
stated in the license that if you continue to use the software you are
required to pay $x to xyz inc.

There is no way to stop user A giving it to user B, and in fact that action
is likely to be actively encouraged as it is with shareware.  
However, if the license clearly states an obligation to register and pay a
subscription fee then users who are complying with either the legal or moral
implication of the license will often pay.

Does making the Source Open negate this obligation in some way?
(That is assuming that you accept the obligation is valid in the first

This is much like what Netscape did originally.  Many private users I assume
didn't register or pay for Navigator, but most corporations did.  

Netscape was able to actively sell into those corporations in a very
interesting manner.
"Since you already have our products and the license says you are required
to pay we suggest you pay us."

-> However, playing devil's advocate, you could distribute it as normal
-> source shareware, and only offer an Open Source license upon

Perhaps the issue is whether distributing software to a 3rd party means you
have also transferred the right to use that software also.

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