Licensing question

Chris Travers chris at
Wed Mar 17 17:47:38 UTC 2010

On Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 8:59 PM, jonathon <jonathon.blake at> wrote:
> Clayton Dukes wrote:
>> 1. I want to allow smaller companies, say less than 50 employees, use
> my software free of charge.
> Which means that a company that has one thousand temps, and one
> permanent employee can use your software free of charge.
> And if a company has fifty one permanent employees it has to pay for it.
> If those are not the scenarios you intended, rethink what you do intend,
> and rewrite that intention accordingly.

Moreover, I would suggest that these compliance issues are a strong
selling point of open source software.  Less effort has to go into
ensuring license compliance because the the actual requirements for
compliance are simpler.

>> 2. Larger companies will pay a licensing fee (based on the size of the
> company).
> *  An automobile manufacturer with 500 full time employees is consider
> to be "small business".
> *  A stamp dealer with 20 employees is considered to be "a very large
> business".

I think this gets to another problem as well.  Traditional licensing
of software is per-user, per-seat, or per-server; but the software at
issue here (log analysis stuff) is likely only to be used by the IT
department.  If you are trying to get a piece of EVERY employee of the
business, that is getting well beyond even typical traditional

If you really want to do traditional (non-OSS licensing), you  would
do well to start with looking at how, say, Microsoft or Adobe license
their products.  You will probably only get limited help here anyway
primarily because it's a path that most of us have consciously chosen
not to follow.

>> 3. Any modifications/bug fixes should be shared back.
> What happens when the person, or organization can not _legally_ share
> their modifications/ bug fixes with you?
Or for that matter (more to the FOSS point):

Not only do you have legal restrictions there, but also many people
customize software in ways that make sense only to their own business.
 I.e. things may be tailored specifically to the other internal
processes of the IT department.  Very often businesses do not want to
give away their internal processes and for good reason.  This would be
especially true if the business was, say, an IT service provider:
giving away the internal processes would give away a lot of
competitive advantage.

This is why FORCED sharing can be problematic in many cases and is one
issue I personally have with the AGPL (a better approach would be
adding a different clause saying that if you are offering a hosted
solution, modifications must be shared with your contractual
customers, such as the businesses or consumer retaining your

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers

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