[reportlab-users] Re: Visual Editor: Licenses

Andy Robinson andy at reportlab.com
Tue Dec 6 06:08:52 EST 2005

> Nothing in the GPL prevents you from creating "commercial" applications.
> What the GPL prevents you to create is proprietary applications (i.e. 
> possibly hide the source code and in any case limit use and forbid any 
> modification or redistribution by the end user).

I agree but think something needs adding to this.
The original reason for the GPL is Richard Stallman's belief that
all software should be 'free as in lunch'.  This is NOT why we'd
adopt GPL as we wouldn't last long.

I think a second, very widespread reason has come out.  If the AUTHOR
releases something useful under the GPL, then the author is in a very
good position to
(a) create his own proprietary application on top, confident that no one
else can just repackage his open source code and undercut him; and
(b) ask for payment when someone wants to embed it in a proprietary app.

Essentially, you allow corporate projects in house to use your code
free (buying a modest support contract if you are lucky), but you have
a chance to build an income stream from product vendors.

I organized a fascinating panel on "Open Source Business - five years 
on" at the ACCU conference, chaired by a leading venture capitalist
and with speakers from MySQL, Sleepycat, Zope, Suse and others.
The ones which were growing were using GPL as a tactical tool in
exactly this way.

This is perhaps not a position which interests the Stallman faction,
but I think it's proven.

The real question for me is who in our user group would actually be
harmed if future development moved to GPL.

You can assume we'd introduce a very friendly, affordable regime for any 
existing commercial projects who needed a license from us AND also 
needed to upgrade; and that the old BSD-license 1.x series continues to
be supported.

- Andy

Disclaimer: this is all idle thoughts at this stage.  Nobody should
worry too much.

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