grof at rogers.com
Wed Dec 3 15:45:50 EST 2008
Hi Anton, Everyone,
This is an interesting discussion, thanks for posting.
I'm going to make the point that driving business with dual licensing (and
GPL specifically) is a myth. Here goes...
Quoting directly from the GPL:
b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
parties under the terms of this License.
Section 3 in the license goes on to state you must make the code available
somehow. Either by providing it or offering to provide it for no markup.
In other words, if your work depends on this GPL code, and you publish it,
your software thus becomes GPL. This is obviously scary if you link your
unprotected (via. patents, etc.) IP against GPL code and distribute it.
As an important aside, the fact remains code can be decompiled so if you're
only protection of your IP is obscuring access to the code, good luck!
What's more interesting is what happens if you don't distribute your code?
i.e. you just use it to provide a service, but you don't modify it and don't
distribute derivative code. Is such a service a derivative work?
In the dual licensing model the commercial license provides the right to
link against a non-GPL version of the code. Doing so would avoid GPL
contamination of the code. It is felt that this is the crux of the dual
license business model. This model is used by RedHat, Ingres, MySQL, and
others. However, I'm not sure this is valid.
Here's why: the end customer could go out and get the GPL and use it for
free. They could even link to it. Unless they redistribute, I don't believe
GPL contamination kicks in. Thus the GPL itself is *not* as far as I can see
a motivating factor for buying the commercial license.
However, if at 3am the code explodes causing mass carnage, they're on their
own unless they have a support contract with someone. Thus support and
insurance against failure is the value they're interested in. You pay for
support from Company because they're good at it and hopefully can do it
better and cheaper than you can in-house.
In other words, in my opinion: business is based on insurance against
failure. This is orthogonal to the notion of GPL contamination.
If anyone knows of any precedent that disagrees or agrees with the above, I
would be delighted to know about it.
As is obvious by Ingres' GPLv2 license - my opinions are my own and not
those of my employer
From: routergeocoder-bounces at lists.osgeo.org
[mailto:routergeocoder-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] On Behalf Of Anton Patrushev
Sent: December 2, 2008 11:31 PM
To: routergeocoder at lists.osgeo.org
Subject: [RouterGeocoder] Dual-licensing
I was thinking about how to adopt GPLed tools for proprietary solutions and
I think the answer is dual-licensing.
1. The community makes a Router/Geocoder library and grant all copyrights to
2. Foundation reissues it under two licenses - GPL for using with Open
Source tools and some kind of commercial license for proprietary ones.
3. Commercial version is sold to proprietary tool developers and the money
goes to the Foundation.
I think it is much better than reissuing existing tools under any kind of
exotic BSD/MIT-ish license.
What do you think?
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