Those comments were made on the post:
Dual-licensing is unfair and community debilitating
[mtg]: Wes, thanks for taking the time to comment
disagree that dual-licensing is somehow unfair. Peer production and
open source are orthogonal issues, and a company should be allowed to
combine firm-based production (i.e. minimal or no community control)
with open source licensing if they want.
[mtg]: And they are allowed to so under any open source license as long as they are not redistributing the code. If they want to redistribute the code and if the open source code has been released under the GNU GPL then most often the company must release all the code (proprietary + open source). I don't see why companies would be exempted to respecting the spirit of the license.
If a company bears most of the
development cost of a project, it seems quite fair to me that they
should be allowed to reap benefits through dual licensing.
[mtg]: Well, if a company has chosen to sponsor an open source project as opposed to doing in house developments, that's their choice. In doing so the company hopes to benefit from a large community of developers and users. The reasonable price to pay is that in some cases, not even all of them, the company has to give back to the community by proving their code improvements. Only fair to me.
it is important for potential contributors to understand the
implications of this model - they may choose not to contribute since it
is so one-sided.
[mtg]: I agree but often all the implications are not completely clear. Since the company is also taking other "controlling" measures (such as hiring key people) it's difficult to realize to which extend the dual-licensed project you're contributing to is (or not) denatured.
Also, I think "Dual-Licensing companies are controlling your
contribution to other open source projects" is a strawman. The ASF CLA
is a non-exclusive license, not a copyright assignment, so the author
could license code to the ASF under the CLA and to another commmunity
under a different license. AFAIK the FSF's copyright assignment grants
back to the author the right to license under other terms (even
[mtg]: Once more I'm referring to DL companies who are Proprietary + open source. As such CLA from well known open source projects have no bearing on the debate except for providing examples of better CLA that DL companies might want to/should adopt.
So if a company is using an evil copyright assignment
contract that prevents code reuse, that company is being evil, but
copyright assignments are not intrinsically problematic.
[mtg]: Copyright assignments are always problematic since they are naively perceived by developers as a promise that the company will not abuse those right.
your entire argument is around IP, however IP is a false and bad term see url below.
Also OpenOffice (SUN) has been known to not allow contributions due to people not wanting to give up their IP.
You have focused your perceived problem on the wrong thing. It is
not Dual Licensing but Intellectual Monopoly that is your problem from
the Sounds of it.
[mtg]: To some extent yes but my focus is really on the discrepancy between companies, community and developers expectations.
Guess what if you use BSD licensing corporations can use the source
without contributing back or any such things. But, you know this
as far as dual licensing goes I think it is one of the few viable revenue options (besides support) for an open source company.
[mtg]: Well here is a list of 10 open source business models. Incidentally my goal is not to suggest that dual-licensing should be altogether eliminated but rather to find a way to make it better and fairer for everyone.
Caleb Cushing |
May 03, 2008 at 10:21 AM
a dual model, all external contributors are required to re-assign all
of their copyrights (and sometimes all of their IP rights) to the open
False. See OpenOffice.org and NetBeans for projects that use
multiple licenses and use a joint copyright assignment. And, you've
neglected to provide a single example of a firm that runs an open
source project and requires all contributions be wholly signed over as
you set up with your straw man. The only organization I can think of
off the top of my head that requires full copyright assignment,
ironically, is the FSF, and that's more for GPL defense than for dual
[mtg]: Well, copyright assignment and CLA are not as clear as you suggest. In an ideal world, MIT/X licensing would be used as a way to license all contributions. In an ideal world, a simple sentence like I hereby assign copyright in this code to the project,
to be licensed under the same terms as the rest of the code should be enough to assign copyright.
It doesn't work that way (partly because people are trying to solve patent infringement issues). As the complexity increase so does the distance between what the contributor can understand without a lawyer and what he is effectively asked to sign on. And yes, you're right. Not ALL rights are re-assigned. The question becomes: WHAT are exactly those rights I have reassigned?
But you just said earlier that dual-licensed projects are supposedly
immune to forking. Which is it? Of course, the answer is that forking
is eminently possible, though that weakens your straw man case that
[mtg]: Not immune in the sens of impossible by law but rather made difficult on purpose. Forking requires to have part of the community following you. Forking is easier if you can convince key developers. How easy do you think it is to convince somebody to bite the hand that feed them?
"Good for business (see we are the only professional version) bad for the community."
If the community doesn't like it, the community forks it. Witness Ext JS, Joomla, and others.
[mtg]: Once more, you're confusing the legal possibility of a fork and the conditions that need to be realized for a fork to be possible and to function as a regulator. What worth would be freedom of speech if the government controls the distribution of paper onto which newspapers are printed?
"That’s why in this model, most key and/or respected developers are
usually paid or employed by the company: a very strong disincentive to
You gotta be kidding me. Forks happen despite the "key and/or
respected developers" all the time. It usually happens when the key
developers are no longer respected, or at least the firm they work for
is no longer respected. See Ext JS and Joomla for recent examples.
[mtg]: As I said it can happen albeit not often. Let's make sure it's always something that can happen without unnecessary friction.
"Any addition of proprietary code to the dual licensed code (and
distributed through the proprietary license) is a de facto fork."
So is the addition of proprietary code to permissive-licensed code.
In fact, the addition of proprietary code to *anything* creates a de
facto fork that is unusable by the proponents of the base. This isn't a
problem of dual licensing -- it's a side-effect of proprietary code.
[mtg]: Indeed and since forking is at the heart of the contributor freedom in a dual (proprietary + open) model it has a naturally strong bearing on this argument.
"By controlling the key developers DL companies are diverting key resources from the open source community..."
In most nations of the world, slavery and servitude are no longer
[mtg]: Which percentage of the world is living in a democracy protecting basic freedoms, education for all and accessibility to healthcare without discrimination? Your planet, hacking brother, is rosier than mine.
Furthermore, I rather doubt that the "key developers" are
drugged, hypnotized, brainwashed, or blackmailed into continuing to
work for the firm in question. Referring to this as "controlling the
key developers" basically says those key developers have no free will,
in which case they should not be considered very key.
[mtg]: With the same kind of argument you'd throw away any law protecting from say "predatory lending", gaming, drugs etc. Saying that people should be responsible does not mean that they are or that they can. Why would a key developer fork a version and take the risk to be fired by his company (where he enjoys working on his favorite open source project) at the same time he purchased a home or started a family. Key developers are only human beings. :-)
"When distributing the code under the proprietary license MyCompany
is never forced to contribute to the community while the open source
community is always forced to contribute to both licenses"
False. You seem to feel that the only open source community
contributions that are of merit are to the main source code of the
project. The tens of thousands of Linux userland developers, thousands
of Mozilla plug-in authors, hundreds of Rails plug-in creators, and the
like might disagree with this assessment.
[mtg]: You missed the word "forced". Some companies do contribute some other don't. Remember Ghostscript?
"Well, the key developers who have been so wisely hijacked by the
company and who are now prevented to really contribute to the
Yes, I'm sure their families are held at gunpoint.
[mtg]: Never depended upon a salary to take care of your family? Why do you think sexual harassment laws were enacted? Because de facto an employer is in a position of force. It's not bad or evil; just a side-effect of being employed.
"MySQL for instance has a much less thriving community than that of PostgeSQL."
The relative traffic volumes on certain mailing lists is one metric
of how thriving a community is. It is not the only one. It might not
even be the best one.
Let's try Google hits: MySQL=236,000,000, Postgresql=25,300,000. Advantage MySQL by 10x.
Let's try books on Amazon (search hits in Computers and Internet
book category): MySQL=2,903, Postgresql=968. Advantage MySQL by close
[mtg]: Yeah many measures. Ultimately let's hear it from the horse's mouth:
Mark Murphy |
May 03, 2008 at 02:04 PM
So what do you feel are the alternatives...?
Should we all build BSD licensed software in the weekends while getting
payed for doing "other stuff" at daytime and then after 25 years of
contribution some big corporation (Apple and MSFT comes to mind) and
steal the entire intellectual property and closes all source code
[mtg]: I'm not saying that dual-licensing is intrinsically wrong, just that it might be made better.
You are free to not liking Dual Licensing companies, you are also free
not to use their SW. However IF you like their SW and you want to use
it then we're only asking you to do Quid Pro Quo meaning either you pay
for a commercial license in which you can build closed source yourself
or you obey by the GPL rules which have nothing to do with "patching"
[mtg]: My concern is more about the community and the developers.
In fact Trolltech which probably is the worlds largest and most
successful Dual License company have (virtually) not ONE line of code
in Qt which is "submitted from the community". They simply cannot
tolerate it from a legal perspective since it is too dangerous in cases
of lawsuits for IP and such...
To say Dual License is "unfair" sounds like Stalin and Lenin to me.
[mtg]: Yup, uttering the word "unfair" has sometime this effect on people. How regrettable.
before you try to make your living on "free beer" projects you have no
right to use the word "unfair" and Dual Licensing in the same sentence.
[mtg]: No rights? Right. Incidentally, there are many other models.
PS!I have (tried to make a living on BSD projects and "donations")
[mtg]: Could you tell us more about your experience then?
PS2! Your logic about forking is NOT correct...!
Anyone can fork ANYTHING which is Open Source and if they cannot then it is not an OSI approved OSS license...
[mtg]: It's not about whether people are legally allowed to fork but whether or not the right conditions are there to allow them to fork. Difficult (but not impossible, granted) to fork if all the key developers are on the opposite side. Difficult to fork if you can barely tell people that you're doing a fork of XXX, XXX being a trademark over-zealously protected. Many dual-licensing companies are making it deliberately difficult.
In fact Qt was forked. Their GPL version was forked and ported to
Windows since they didn't have a GPL version for Windows. This again
forced Trolltech to release also their Windows version as GPL which I
think is a pretty strong statement in regards to "who's got the power"
in Dual License companies...
But maybe you want to go back to EULA and MSFT...?
Quid Pro Quo dude, either contribute through license fees, obey by GPL or get out of our way...!
The "money is dirty" argument simply doesn't work today, South Korea is THAT way...!
[mtg]: South / North: I think you need a compass.
Thomas Hansen |
May 05, 2008 at 08:35 AM