[Fwd: RE: Definition of open source]

Michael R. Bernstein webmaven at cox.net
Mon Nov 8 15:35:42 UTC 2004

Forgot to CC the list.

-----Forwarded Message-----
From: Michael R. Bernstein <webmaven at cox.net>
To: alan at centraview.com
Subject: RE: Definition of open source
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 2004 07:20:19 -0800

On Sun, 2004-11-07 at 15:06, Alan Rihm wrote:
> Michael,
> I'll try to be clearer. Please note that my preference would be to find
> an existing license strategy so as to leverage the obvious benefits.


I do have a few more questions for clarification, though.

> The same code base (not
> forked) is what we plan to go to market with through a reseller channel.

Not forking the codebase (even internally) is a laudable goal, but it's
not the only way that the product you sell and the product you release
can be different.

There are various types of value-adds that don't invlove a fork, such as
plug-ins, extensions, additional legacy system integration interfaces,

Would any of these be acceptable as an incentive to deal with your
company rather than just use the free download?

> We call the reseller and say "would you like to sell our product in a
> hosted environment?". They say, sure, I'll just download the free
> version and do so. They have no responsibility to pay us unless they
> don't have the technical ability to work with the open project. It does
> not suffice to just say that they "will pay you". We have evidence that
> this is not going to happen without a license that requires it.

Certainly, but you can't count the free-riders as lost sales, as they
wouldn't have paid you anyway, they'll just use some other freely
available package instead (such as SugarCRM), and so you lose mindshare.

More importantly, you will lose all the 'obvious benefits' of making
your product open-source, since no one has an incentive to help you
improve the software for their customers, they'll just go and improve
SugarCRM instead (it's obvious your company's strategy is a reaction to
SugarCRM, BTW).

It's instructive to examine SugarCRMs licensing, which is to use the MPL
plus an advertising clause, so all the users of their software become
free advertising for their services:

Advertising clauses (while obnoxious, and incompatible with other
important licenses), are not, I beleive, in and of themselves usually
considered incompatible with the OSD (someone please correct me if I got
this wrong).

Although SugarCRM isn't doing this as far as I can tell, a dual license
strategy could consist of something as simple as an escape from an
advertising clause, so hosting companies can pretend it's their unique
software (and that there aren't lower-priced competitors running the
same software).

Does any of this help?

Meanwhile, please remove statements and references on your website that
indicate your current proprietary software licensing is 'open source'.

Michael R. Bernstein <webmaven at cox.net>

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