Three Licensing Strategies

Three Licensing Strategies

Summary: Last week I described the concept of open source licensing as strategy, mainly from a theoretical viewpoint.Let's see how it works in the real world, "ripped from the headlines" as they say.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Last week I described the concept of open source licensing as strategy, mainly from a theoretical viewpoint.

Let's see how it works in the real world, "ripped from the headlines" as they say.

In Europe Microsoft is trying to give open source minimal openings. They seem to have settled their anti-trust dispute with the European Commission, and the last piece to the puzzle involved open source.

The headline was Microsoft agreed to share interoperability information with makers of rival products. But the devil's in the details. The software written with these opened protocols can't itself be open. The Free Software Foundation Europe is not amused, but the minimal concession fits Microsoft's strategy.

Now let's move on to Apple. They're proprietary but they need the loyalty of programmers for applications. So Apple expanded its open source efforts with WebKit, an open source framework for Mac OS X used in its Safari browser and other applications, and based on KDE's KHTML engine. Our Paul Festa notes the concessions mollified the open source community at KDE.

Finally we come to Red Hat, whose strategy doesn't involve selling software at all, just services. They have created the Fedora Foundation, which will hold the Fedora code, and expanded their efforts against software patents, which are both expensive to get and expensive for open source programmers in particular to fight.

It's the old story. Where you stand depends on where you sit. If you see money in your code you want to protect it. If you don't then you want it (and everyone else's code) liberated. There is a middle ground, too.

If you really want to know a company's strategy, read its licenses.

Topic: Open Source

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7 comments
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  • licensing?

    There is always value in code. Open or proprietary. If there was no value in the code, the code wouldnt exist.
    Just because some OSS companies arent using the licensing of code to make money does not mean that it has no value.
    The value comes from the use of that code. If the code isnt used, closed or open, its of no value to anyone. If the code is used, closed or open, you can make money off it. But to state that the license defines the value is just not very smart.
    On a side note:
    A restrictive license shows me that they have something to hide. Theives are always worried someone is going to steal from them what they rightfully and rightously stole for themselves.
    icorson1
    • well said

      I totally agree.
      zzz1234567890
    • well said except for restrictive licence

      I totally agree except on your comment on restrictive licence.
      I think you are making an assumption that only theives make restrictive licences.
      zzz1234567890
  • What Red Hat is selling.

    You observed that Red hat is giving the software away and selling services. As someone else commented, what's the difference between free software with paid services and paid software with free services?

    Here's a quote by "Roger Ramjet" from another thread:
    As the months wore on, DeadRat became impatient with Company "F" - as the big orders had not yet materialized. First they kinda FORCED us to pay for some VERY high-priced consultants (they were very good though), THEN they started demanding that we audit our systems and pay for every license that we found.

    They seem to be charging per user for the software.


    I'm not arguing that they sell only software; the clones assure that won't happen. But I think it's easy to see that the software has some monetary value to Red Hat.
    Anton Philidor
    • What Red Hat is selling.

      "They seem to be charging per user for the software.
      "

      Well they don't - they can't actually, because of the GPL - but they can (and prolly did in this case) require payment for support on the platform (actually no different from microsoft) - If you don't want this service - then your free to DIY.

      What we're doing - is having one payed RHEL - and several other non paying RHEL's (totally legit).
      merwin
    • difference's

      the differene is DeadRat behaves very badly and they have a lot of followers thinking that they are the knights in shining armour.
      Microsoft behaves well and a lot of people are not too happy and they want more concessions and restrictions just because they are successful.

      another difference,
      Dont want to get into the specifics of the OS's. I think Windows (NT, XP, 2000, 2003) are good and prefer them over Unix, linux.
      zzz1234567890
  • Settled?

    Thats quite a leap from reality isn't it?

    Discussions are taking place - one proposal is on the table - people do not immediatly dislike it - no agreement on it is made as of yet - that doesn't make it settled in my books...

    And as far as i've read, the judges are not going to agree on the "open source"-banned item.
    merwin