Robert Feldt <feldt / ce.chalmers.se> wrote:
>
>Hi,
>
>I'm about to release some new stuff to RAA and started thinking about
>licensing issues. I haven't had much practical experience from open-source
>licensing issues so I'd appreciate your feedback:

IANAL but I have a couple friends who are.

>What are the implications of using some semi-free license along the lines
>of: "This software is free for any non-commerical use. For commercial use
>you must inform the author and send a contribution of X$ for the continued
>development of Ruby and this software (80% goes back to the Ruby community
>for funding Ruby-promoting/supporting activities and 20% goes to
>infrastructure (domain + web server etc) for this software). The source as
>such is distributed under LGPL", ie. essentially LGPL with a proviso for
>commerical use.

There are a lot of licenses.  My advice would be to
dual-license.  GPL and something else.

Note that if you try to put restrictions on the type of
use you will immediately no longer qualify as open source
under the OSD.  This will also reduce the ability of
Linux distributions to distribute your software.  Some
by virtue of being commercial.  And others (I am very
specifically thinking Debian) from policy.

>IMHO, this is not greedy (for small X, typically in the range
>20..50$) since the cost is negligible for typical corps (?) and since
>there are some basic costs with developing SW even if its "open-source".

I didn't think it was greedy.

>Comments?

What you are suggesting is more shareware than open
source.  While I don't mind shareware, I would suggest
that the RAA either should not carry shareware or
should clearly label it as such.

>Would this be a major hindrance to wide-spread use of SW?

It has proven so.  Remember that many good technologies
go in through the back door.  As soon as you restrict
the ability of techs to do that, you have made that
harder.  Also see my comment about Linux distributions.

>Will people be put of and start "parallel" projects for the same thing?

If your project is successful, probably.  (There are
ways to proactively head that off though.)

>On a practical side, are there anywhere the Ruby money can be sent?
>Should we start some Ruby Foundation accepting donations and promoting
>Ruby?

I had some strange ideas along this line for open source
in general.  Never did decide whether I thought it would
help or hurt overall.

>Have you seen any licenses similar to the one above?

Two companies whose licensing models have some similarity
are Sleepycat and Aladdin Enterprises.  The first ships
software (Berkeley DB) that can be used freely in open
source software which they are willing to negotiate
licenses for proprietary software.  The second ships
proprietary software (eg Ghostscript) which is GPLed after
a suitable time delay.

There are probably more.

>Please note that I haven't really decided what I think of all these
>licensing issues; I'm still contemplating different alternatives and
>trying to see their implications.

One unexpected implication.  Nobody has yet found a good
way to provide a "gate" restricting who can use and
participate in the development of "almost open" software
without massively restricting the overall success of the
project.  And believe me, a lot of people have tried.

>BTW, commerical use is probably hypothetical at the current state of Ruby
>development but this might/will change in the future, eh?!

I know at least one person I have not seen on this list who
has put Ruby into a production in a commercial setting.

Cheers,
Ben
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