[CentOS] trying to understand OSS, GPL, BSD & other licensing model for software distribution.

Robert Heller heller at deepsoft.com
Wed Oct 7 12:30:27 UTC 2009

At Wed, 7 Oct 2009 10:01:00 +0200 CentOS mailing list <centos at centos.org> wrote:

> On Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 1:26 AM, Rainer Duffner <rainer at ultra-secure.de> wrote:
> >
> > Am 07.10.2009 um 00:18 schrieb Rudi Ahlers:
> >
> >> Hi all,
> >>
> >> We are busy developing some software (some is web based, others not)
> >
> >
> >
> > Licenses are only about the source-access and how contribution/
> > deviations are licensed.
> >
> > You can charge any amount you want for your GPL'ed stuff - but the
> > source must be available for reasonable cost.
> >
> > So, if one of your licensees redistributes a copy for free, that's
> > perfectly legal (for GPL).
> >
> > Charging for PHP-stuff has always been very difficult.
> > Some use IONCUBE encoder etc.
> >
> > I don't know if charging for support actually makes a good business-
> > model.
> > You need a lot of contracts for that.
> >
> > BSD-licenses carry a lot less burden - but of course you can't just
> > take a GPL'ed piece of code and re-distribute it with a BSD-licence.
> > If your free product is GPL'ed and your commercial product is a
> > derivative of that, it will also be licensed (well, need to be
> > licensed) as GPL - if you give it away to somebody. If you keep it
> > inhouse, nobody cares and nobody has a right to see the derivated
> > source, just because it exists).
> >
> > You should really enlist the help of a law-professional in this field
> > - the licensing-minefield has gotten more and more difficult to
> > navigate in recent years.
> > This is especially relevant in cases where you want to have "dual-
> > licensed" stuff (as you mentioned).
> >
> >
> >
> > Rainer
> > _______________________________________________
> Hi Rainer,
> Thanx for your input. My questions aren't really related to what I am
> going to charge for the software, but rather how I'm going to license
> it. Most of it was, and still is developed for in-house use, but some
> clients have requested that they want the same software for their own
> use.
> What I want todo is simple:
> There will be some scripts (web based) & programs (for desktop use,
> mostly on Windows, but with Linux server connectivity & management
> included) that we want to distribute for free.
> Then we want to sell a commercial version of the same software, but
> with more features than the free one.
> What I don't yet fully understand, is how do we license both versions
> of the same script, so that if a community member writes an addon for
> the free one, that other community members can benefit from it as
> well? And more specific, is it possible to "force" them to
> redistribute their code via our community network?

If the addon is totally independent and only makes use of some 'public'
API, then the writers of the addon can licence it as they see fit.

> I see this a lot, for example with Joomla - which is free and anyone
> can contribute extra addons, whether free or commercial back into the
> community.
> But they don't have a commercial version of the same project. So I
> want to know how do I license the commercial scripts with this in
> mind? i.e. if I license them as GPL, do I need to disclose the source
> code? Cause we're going to encrypt the additional commercial code of
> the software.

You only need to desclose the source code for the open source part.  I'm
going to assume that the commercial 'extensions' are basically 'addons'
that add to the core (open source) script(s) using a public API.  These
commercial extensions may expose an additional level of public API.

> Support on this will be in the form of: if we need to goto the client
> and set it up for them, do updates, training, etc.

Right a basic level of support contract.  This is much like what RedHat
does. The base level code for RHEL is open source.  RedHat provides
various levels of support and provides some non open source extras with
the system.  Under the GPL *anyone* is free to snag the open source
source code off RHEL site, remove RHEL's trademarks, and re-compile
everything and redistribute the system (eg CentOS).

> Zimbra is a good example of what we want to accomplish, but I honestly
> don't have any experience with licensing, so I can't just "copy
> another project" in this regard.

Robert Heller             -- 978-544-6933
Deepwoods Software        -- Download the Model Railroad System
http://www.deepsoft.com/  -- Binaries for Linux and MS-Windows
heller at deepsoft.com       -- http://www.deepsoft.com/ModelRailroadSystem/

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