Subscription/Service Fees

Karsten M. Self kmself at
Tue Mar 27 21:16:30 UTC 2001

on Tue, Mar 27, 2001 at 06:09:03PM +0900, David Davies (ddavies at wrote:
> 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.


Violates #7:  "The rights attached to the program must apply to all to
whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an
additional license by those parties".

You can charge for subscriptions to updates (Cf:  Red Hat).  You can't
charge for ongoing execution rights.

You repeat this error several times in your post.

> 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
> place)

The OSD is not compatible with your stated goals.

> 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."

Support this statement with a citation and/or reference.

> > However, playing devil's advocate, you could distribute it as normal
> > closed source shareware, and only offer an Open Source license upon
> > registration...
> Perhaps the issue is whether distributing software to a 3rd party
> means you have also transferred the right to use that software also.


Karsten M. Self <kmself at>
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?       There is no K5 cabal
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