Subscription/Service Fees

David Johnson david at
Tue Mar 27 18:44:58 UTC 2001

On Tuesday March 27 2001 09:09 am, David Davies wrote:

> 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's one key element of Open Source and Free Software that unfortunately 
is not explicitly spelled out in boldface in the OSD. But everyone agrees to 
it regardless of political ideology: once you own a copy of Open Source 
Software, you *own* the copy. And as the owner no one else can tell you that 
you can or cannot use it. Copyright Law will give you justification to 
restrict its distribution and public performance, but it gives you no legal 
grounds to prevent its use.

> 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.

If I have given my friend a copy of an Open Source program, they now possess 
a legal copy. You cannot restrict their usage of it.

> 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 Navigator was not Open Source at the time.

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

Absolutely you have! Definition #7. And according to a link given elsewhere 
in this thread, Copyright Law does not give you exclusive right to usage so 
that you can subsequently parcel that right out.

This is the second thread in half a year trying to figure out some way to 
charge for usage of Open Source. Why? Why do you want to charge usage fees 
for Open Source Software? Why not stick with a normal shareware license and 
be done with it?

David Johnson

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