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Providing a Closed Source License Upon Request? 245

Posted by timothy
from the just-don't-close-others'-open-source dept.
goruka writes "As a citizen of the open source community, I have written several applications and libraries and released under the BSD license. Because of my license choice, I often run into the situation where a company wants to write software for a closed platform using my code or libraries. Even though there should be no restrictions on usage, companies very often request a different license, citing as a valid reason that the creator of such platform has special terms forbidding 'open source software' in the contracts forced upon the developer. So my question is, has anyone else run into this situation, and are there examples of such licenses that I can provide? (Please keep in mind that I'm not a US resident and I don't have access or resources to afford a lawyer there.)"
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Providing a Closed Source License Upon Request?

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  • Dual-license (Score:5, Informative)

    by xlsior (524145) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @10:54PM (#30795572) Homepage
    As long as the software/library is written completely by yourself, you're free to pick any license -- or dual-license it.

    You can have your program both licensed under BSD, and also offer the same code/library as closed-source for $xx at the same time, with different conditions and fewer restrictions.

    An example of other software that uses the dual-licensing approach is MySQL: for more information see http://www.mysql.com/news-and-events/newsletter/2003-11/a0000000220.html [mysql.com]
    • Re:Dual-license (Score:4, Informative)

      by idiotnot (302133) <sean@757.org> on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:02PM (#30795618) Homepage Journal

      You can have your program both licensed under BSD, and also offer the same code/library as closed-source for $xx at the same time, with different conditions and fewer restrictions.

      Or just have them incorporate your BSD-licensed code into their larger work licensed under a more restrictive license. This is in contrast to say, LGPL, where the changes do have to be released back if any are made. If none are made, the code doesn't need to be released.

      If it makes them feel any better, license it under a 4-clause BSD license, where they actually have to give you credit for it, but also provide it under a 3-clause license for everybody else. I've done exactly that, but in reverse, for customers. The publicly-released code is 4-clause, but the customer can do WTF-ever he/she wants with it, and doesn't have to credit me.

      • > This is in contrast to say, LGPL, where the changes do have to be released back if any are made. If none are made, the code doesn't need to be released.

        Once again, the BSD crowd gets the [L]GPL wrong. You need to offer to release the changes to the people/entities you are giving the modified product to. Not more, but not less, either.

        You might think the difference is minimal. I don't.

    • As long as the software/library is written completely by yourself, you're free to pick any license -- or dual-license it.

      Also, when accepting any patches require them to be under Public Domain. This leaves you free to change licensing terms in the future and if you're the one who wrote a majority of the code then most people don't care.

      They want to pay you to get a closed source license to comply with their contract? Good, means free money for you and perhaps a bit of contract work fixing bugs and feature

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tim99 (984437)
      Looking at the problems MySQL seems to be having, this may not be a panacea. Monty Widenius (one of the original authors) is upset. MySQL was sold to Sun - Sun are now being bought by Oracle. Monty seems to be annoyed by this. In spite of him recieving a very large payout for the original sale to Sun, Monty would like the EU to rule that Oracle must change the existing MySLQ GPL licence to a BSD/Apache type so that Monty's new company MariaDB can fork MySQL and continue to use the commercial licence to gene
      • Re:Dual-license (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cibyr (898667) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @12:28AM (#30796004) Journal

        The only problem that MySQL is having with its licensing model is that Monty is a fucking idiot who wants to have his cake and eat it too. I'm sorry, you sold it. It's not yours any more. What you want no longer matters. Now shut up and go away.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ash Vince (602485)

          The only problem that MySQL is having with its licensing model is that Monty is a fucking idiot who wants to have his cake and eat it too. I'm sorry, you sold it. It's not yours any more. What you want no longer matters. Now shut up and go away.

          If only life was that simple. He did not sell it to SUN, the MySQL shareholders did of which he was only one of them. Monty had not been a majority shareholder since he went for venture capital support in 2001.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MySQL_AB [wikipedia.org]

          Did he gain anything from the sale? Of course, but he had no real say in it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nacturation (646836) *

      He's not asking if it's possible. His question, in part, was: "... are there examples of such licenses that I can provide?" In other words, has the text of a closed source license been open sourced such that anyone can use if for their closed source licensing needs?

    • Hi,

      I think not, you are wrong. If the software is on a BSD license, I can license it to you on different terms even if I *did not* write this software.

      I do not have to be the creator of such library to license it to you, in fact I can do any derivative work and license it differently.

      H

  • by Stumbles (602007) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:00PM (#30795606)
    If the terms of the BSD license is not good enough, I'd tell them to piss off.
    • by boaworm (180781)

      No, just tell them that you can use the B$D license, it will cost $10000 and they get to do exactly what they want with the code. Everyone is a winner!

      • by ArwynH (883499) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:23PM (#30795728)

        You phrased it as a joke, but that is exactly what the poster should do.

        Take the BSD 3-clause license and change the name to something like " developer license", then agree to license your code under said license for $x, where x is a reasonable amount. Basically they are paying for your written acknowledgement that the code is yours to give away and that if there are any copyright problems they know who to blame.

        • by ShakaUVM (157947)

          >>Take the BSD 3-clause license and change the name to something like " developer license", then agree to license your code under said license for $x, where x is a reasonable amount.

          And that's an important point. The OP sounds like he wants to give his code away for free, but a one-time or annual license fee is actually more fair to him.

          • I'd say that if they want to use his code and have him bend over backwards for it, they should be obligated to pay him.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Firethorn (177587)

          Take the BSD 3-clause license and change the name to something like " developer license", then agree to license your code under said license for $x, where x is a reasonable amount. Basically they are paying for your written acknowledgement that the code is yours to give away and that if there are any copyright problems they know who to blame.

          First, I work for the government, and software licensing impinges upon my duties.

          There's a lot of FUD out there. There's a lot of restrictions against 'freeware', but people get 'freeware', 'open-source', 'ad-ware', etc... All confused.

          There's two reasons for being against 'freeware' - many are distributed as closed-source economically unauditable binaries. This leads to difficulties in gaining code security - the government can go after microsoft if they deliberately put a back door in their software, b

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I don't get it. You seem to be mixing up tons of unrelated stuff. 1) The poster was talking about BSD license, not freeware, so that is irrelevant. 2) the poster is talking about a license change, not a maintenance contract which is what you are talking about, so non-sequitor again. 3) You cannot be sued for using BSD license in closed source. The only way it could happen is if the author did not really own the code, and just copied it from somewhere else. But licensing stolen code does not make you

          • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @01:31AM (#30796214) Homepage

            Some of your arguments against freeware are dubious...

            "There's two reasons for being against 'freeware' - many are distributed as closed-source economically unauditable binaries. This leads to difficulties in gaining code security - the government can go after microsoft if they deliberately put a back door in their software, but some dude who published some freeware MP3 player?"

            "Auditable binaries"? When was the last time you audited one? Ever read a Microsoft EULA? Neither the government nor anyone else will be going after Microsoft for anything, even if they provided a back door. I seriously doubt anyone can extract ANY remedy beyond possibly a refund of purchase price. Again, read the EULA. Feel the "protection".

            "The second is maintenance - they don't want to become dependent upon unmaintainable software. It happens anyways, but if you're paying some company money, generally you get a warranty."

            You mean like having the vendor go out of business and you can't get the source code? In 1990's, I managed a large data center. All of our hardware (and most of the software) came from the #2 player in the industry -- Digital Equipment Corporation. DEC was considered "too big to fail" back in those days. We had about $5 million in software licensing alone. Over the course of five years, the vendor that was "too big to fail" proved otherwise. It was a very expensive learning experience. At the time, our thought process was pretty much the same as yours -- and look how well THAT turned out. Those who ignore history will surely repeat it.

            As for warranties, back to the EULA once again. Find me a software license that grants any warranty or accepts any liability beyond possibly refunding the purchase price. Just one. Got links to share?

            As for copyright, are there any cases where parties who inadvertently possess infringing code have been held liable INSTEAD of the original source of the infringement? Where ARE these cases? Got links?

            There have been several cases where large software companies were found guilty of patent or copyright infringement. Have ANY of their customers ever been charged with infringement for merely possessing the infringing software? Again, where are the cases and let's have some links.

            You might be tempted to mention SCO vs. Autozone, but that case was about terms of a license. Autozone wound up in court primarily because they bought software from SCO, probably thinking they had the protections that you mention. As far as I know, companies that used Linux exclusively (and never SCO products) have never been sued by SCO. Makes you wonder how valuable this "protection" is.

        • by V!NCENT (1105021)

          I'd change a few comments, or just one and add:
          /*Enterprise Edition.

          You are not meant to know this source code!

          Bla bla bla^2*/
           

          Then release it under a proprietaty license. A small license fee. Profit. Kaboom baby

          Eesy money....

  • BSD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:02PM (#30795620)

    The BSD license is already more permissive than any other license, and allows code to be used in proprietary products. There is nothing that a proprietary license would let them do that BSD will not, thus there is no justification for them to subject you to the trouble of researching this just because their policies are written by stupid people.

    By making this clear to the people you work with, you could do the public understanding of free software a favor. By bowing to their obscene requests arising from ignorance, you would admit defeat in the face of the FUD coming out of places like Microsoft.

    • Re:BSD (Score:4, Insightful)

      by alfoolio (1385603) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @02:49AM (#30796458)

      OP said in essence: We have a business requirement of no open software licenses.

      What a proprietary (The BSD 3 clause reworded as mentioned above works fine.) developer license lets them do that a plain vanilla open source license does not allow them to do is WIN THE BUSINESS given the constraints of the situation.

      Perhaps you are inexperienced in the relationship that a smaller vendor holds to a larger customer who has other options. The general rule is keep the customer satisfied. Ideally without corrupting your soul. ;) Is the customer (here at least) an idiot? Why, yes, they are.... In fact, they are the idiot who is paying us so we are able to feed our babies and buy mommy the new minivan. Does it cost anything to do this special license? Would it cost us the business to not do it?

      In the real world you work on moral goals by successive approximation. Sometimes you have to sugar coat the medicine, even if it doesn't taste bad. Failure to understand and honor these realities while flaying someone for a position that appears morally inferior to yours is itself a form of FUD.

    • by RichiH (749257) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @07:36AM (#30797380) Homepage

      > The BSD license is already more permissive than any other license, and allows code to be used in proprietary products.

      Not quite. More permissive to the direct user, potentially a lot less permissive for anyone after that.

      BSD wants to give all freedoms and thus gives up a certain portion willfully.
      GPL is not quite as permissive, but keeps that level for everyone down the stream.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Anyone who can't understand the BSD license without a lawyer is just dense. The developers are probably feeling like Dilbert right about now caught up in absurd rules. Practical reality:

      a) Contact the developer of said source, he'll probably snicker at you and say it's free anyway, here's your absurd license
      b) Forget about it and write it yourself
      c) Go on a long and painful quest against legal policy in a large company

      For example, I once wanted to contribute to the Qt library, which should be simple right?

  • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr. Evil (3501) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:06PM (#30795654)

    "...citing as a valid reason that the creator of such platform has special terms forbidding 'open source software' in the contracts forced upon the developer."

    What platforms would or could have such a restriction? Does the iPhone do this? XBox? What are we talking about? Is that even legal?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Evan Meakyl (762695)

      If I remember well, the Wii is such a platform. And I don't see why it wouldn't be legal: if you want to have a devkit, you have to comply with *a lot* of conditions

    • by Judinous (1093945)
      Why would it not be legal? The law, by default, allows for anything to be contained in contracts except for specific exceptions that are deemed generally unconscionable. It makes perfect sense to include a clause like the one the OP is talking about when buying the source to a program for incorporation in a larger closed-source ecosystem. If you end up being given something with a GPL-esque license and forced to open-source some or all of your code, at least you have someone to sue for damages.
      • > It makes perfect sense to include a clause like the one the OP is talking
        > about when buying the source to a program for incorporation in a larger
        > closed-source ecosystem.

        No it doesn't. It makes sense to require that the vendor certify that it has certain specified rights to all the software it supplies (which may exclude some Free Software licenses such as the GPL) but the terms described make no sense at all (and may not in fact be as described to the OP).

        > ...forced to open-source some or

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by khallow (566160)

          No license can (and the GPL does not attempt to) force anyone to "open source" their code.

          From the GPL 3.0 license [gnu.org]:

          A "covered work" means either the unmodified Program or a work based on the Program.

          [...]

          When you convey a covered work, you waive any legal power to forbid circumvention of technological measures to the extent such circumvention is effected by exercising rights under this License with respect to the covered work, and you disclaim any intention to limit operation or modification of the work as a means of enforcing, against the work's users, your or third parties' legal rights to forbid circumvention of technological measures.

          It forces people who wish to "convey" (for example, sell) work which uses the licensed code to license their code under the GPL 3.0 license. Force here is the lawsuits that result, if the original license holder discovers use of their code in your code.

          • Nobody is *forced* to anything. It is purely a matter for them whether they *wish* to distribute a GPL covered piece of software or not. It is their *choice* whether to distribute under the GPL terms, or not distribute at all.

            Freedom of choice. Learn it.

          • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by B2382F29 (742174) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:33AM (#30796766)

            "Force here is the lawsuits that result, if the original license holder discovers use of their code in your code."

            You are illustrating that a lot of people are so used to licenses raping their ass that they can't imagine a license that ALLOWS you additional things that you normally can't do (like distributing a derivative product)

            What happens if someone uses GPL code in their product but does not adhere to the terms of the GPL? They are then not allowed to distribute the resulting product. If they do, they did infringe on the copyright of the authors. The GPL doesn't matter at that point. The only thing that can happen is that the original authors sue for damages. Mostly they will be satisfied if the sourcecode is released, but that is NOT a requirement. (Although most companies will do that as it's cheaper than to pay damages for all their already sold products containing the GPL code and removing the GPL code from their product which would be the way as with any other copyright infringement)

            Summary: You are a fear-mongering moron.

    • "Is that even legal?"

      Of course it is. What a silly question.

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vladkrupin (44145) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @02:43AM (#30796436) Homepage

      It's actually not uncommon. My current employer has a "no open source allowed without explicit approval by the legal dept, which takes an eternity and is a royal pain, so don't do it unless there's absolutely no alternative" policy. I am not kidding.

      One of my previous employers had the same policy. This is not at all uncommon.

      A few years ago a company found some of my code on the web. The code was released under an apache-like license. They contacted me because they wanted to buy it, but with a couple of minor modifications and under a different license. Essentially very similar scenario as the situation the OP found himself in. I agreed, made the modifications, and sold the original product plus the mods to them under a different license. I think it was cheaper for them to get the modifications they wanted, and the license they liked than develop the same code themselves.

      As for me, I felt that nobody besides that company would have probably wanted those modifications anyway. That's probably not entirely true, but I convinced myself of that so that way I did not feel like I was totally selling out :) The Open Source community probably did not miss much by me not releasing those mods. I treated the modifications as "work for hire", and since I never released them, I avoided most of the possible legal difficulties. The original product stayed under the same license, of course. That company is now one of the 5 largest software companies, so I presume the practice is not unusual.

    • Not only is it legal but it is depressingly common in some, ah, less IT savvy industries who have bought the FUD that Open Source software is a security risk - by definition.

      Yes, I have had customers insist on buying MS SQL Server licenses because MySQL is Open Source and therefore completely banned in their company (and, I was assured, their industry generally). Not suprisingly, all the major vendors in that industry are MS Gold Partners and all the companies list as major MS accounts. Chicken or Egg?

      Yo

    • Many companies do not want open source code in their codebase because of the risk of having to release modifications or the source code to the public. The BSD license does not require it, I think, but other OSS licenses require users to release modifications to source code that are distributed to customers. For instance, if a developer throws BusyBox into your source code, then you make lots of changes to it, you would have to release those modifications to the public. For companies that do proprietary secr

  • Just tell them ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrJimbo (594231) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:08PM (#30795666)
    ... that BSD is a closed source license.

    Seriously, I suggest you have nothing to do with such idiots on the off chance that it is contagious.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This practice makes a lot more sense than it might seem. As a software manager on a large project, I do it all the time. There's lots of useful software out there, but my legal department does not always find the existing license acceptable. So, we offer to buy non-exclusive use rights to the software on a contract that we provide that gives us the protections we need as a large company to reduce our risks. For the developer, it is found money, typically from $3-$10K for small open-source pieces of code.

      The

      • An interesting approach, but what does it mean for liability?

        My client (a large multinational) has changed its stance on open source from "no way" to "we're lovin' it!" Of course our lawyers have had a few things to say about that, but not regarding the terms of the typical OSS license, which they claim is specific enough to hold up in a reasonable court.

        The real issue is being held liable for IP infringement. If Microsoft is being sued for violating some patent in Word and ordered to stop selling it,
        • by AlXtreme (223728)

          If Microsoft is being sued for violating some patent in Word and ordered to stop selling it, it means very little to us. Not our problem. However, if someone finds out that some bit of OSS violates their IP and knows that we use that software, they'll sue us.

          Just like everyone using Word was sued.

          They'll go after the original developer, not directly after users of the software except as a scare tactic (SCO, which didn't work).

          If you incorporate code of a third party into your product, that is a different si

  • by turbidostato (878842) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:10PM (#30795678)

    Provided you are the only copyright holder of the software, just ask them for a big money chunk, half in advance, and tell they'll even be able to write the license themselves, so there's no doubt that's what they want. Get the license to a lawyer (you already have part of the money) to review there's nothing you dislike and then sign it up.

    Easy.

  • by Gorobei (127755) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:12PM (#30795686)

    1. Is the software you want to provide all yours, or a mix of peoples' work? If it's a mix, probably it's best to just give up and move on.
    2. Ok, it's all yours. Congratulations! Call the person who wants to buy/use it:

    2a. Explain how the BSD license works in three sentences or less.
    2b. Ask if the sticking point is liability, copyright risk, ownership rights, or other.
    2c. Explain you don't have the time, expertise, or money to negotiate a contract, esp given the BSD contract already spells things out.
    2d. Point out that 2b issues can be resolved, but it's going to be $10K at a minimum for your time + legal fees.
    2e. If they still want to do it, ask for a letter of understanding that lays out the $amount for a non-exclusive right to use/copy/modify, etc.
    2f. Run the letter by a lawyer.
    2g. Profit.

    • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:47PM (#30795844)

      Explain how the BSD license works in three sentences or less....I thought the BSD was three sentences.

      • by Gorobei (127755)

        Pretty much, yes. So, just lay it out as it is: respect the copyright, it's "as is," and no endorsement is to be implied; please read the actual text for the legal term; if you want anything more, that will cost real money.

    • by mcrbids (148650)

      I would suggest something similar.

      1) get them to write down SPECIFICALLY the rights they want...

      2) get a quote from an attorney to write a contract giving said rights.

      3) ad X,000 dollars to the quote for you,

      4) tell them that it costs 1,000 to renegotiate terms for EACH proposed change in the contract,

      5) enjoy your X,OO0 dollars!

  • Maybe I'm expecting too much of clients, but don't they realize that just because you offer one version of your code under a 'closed-source' license doesn't make it substantially different code than the open-source version?

    Like I said, I'm probably being naive and thinking clients will be logical. :-o

    • Like I said, I'm probably being naive and thinking clients will be logical. :-o

      One thing I learned from dealing with VCs in my previous job is that, and I quote, "logic has nothing to do with it". This was also in relation to a legal agreement... As a techie, all I can say is that business people do not make sense :)
  • by jimduchek (13246) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:23PM (#30795726) Homepage

    Some companies are concerned about the 'viral' nature of the GPL in particular (some suit read an article about open source that talked about the GPL, and now 'open source' == GPL in his head) There are still many unresolved questions about the GPL in the US, as I'm aware it's only been rarely if ever tested in most jurisdictions in an actual court of law.

    Personally, I expect to be compensated for my time and effort. This needn't be in money -- I release free software as a 'gift' for the community because I (and most of us) have received many such gifts in kind (Indeed, almost all the software I use, from the kernel down to the tiniest little nifty script) was a 'gift' to me by other members of the community). A commercial interest, on the other hand, will have to find some other way to compensate me for my work, as they (typically) are not part of the 'community' that has already compensated me for my time. Cash works well.

    • In general, the GPL version 2 and LGPL version 2 are OK, but beware of having a library in your system that is GPL version 3.
  • by Ryan_Singer (114640) <Ryan.Singer@BLUEgmail.com minus berry> on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:26PM (#30795746) Homepage

    Yale makes this available. Edit to suit your needs.

    http://www.library.yale.edu/~llicense/standlicagree.html [yale.edu]

  • Don't do it (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Omnifarious (11933) *

    Such stupid policies should be given all possible economic disincentive.

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:45PM (#30795834) Homepage Journal

    They want it, let them write it and specify the terms. You just need to read it to make sure that it doesn't limit your ability to continue giving the code away.

    I'd let them pick the dollar amount for the licensing fee, too. Tell them to make a proposal, on both fee and terms, and you'll decide if it's acceptable. Odds are they'll offer you terms and money in roughly the same ballpark as what commercial software of the same type would cost.

    Be certain that you own 100% of the code though. You don't want to get yourself in trouble for selling someone else's property.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:53PM (#30795860) Homepage

    If it seems sufficient, tell them to send you a proposed license. If they won't pay tell them they've already got the only license they are going to get.

    BTW it is a virtual certainty that they are already using BSD-licensed software.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014)

      Bingo.

      For years Microsoft used BSD licensed code in Windows' networking. It never caused a problem for their customers. I wouldn't be surprised if removing it were a political decision.

      For practical purposes "no open source software" means they customer wants a 100% Microsoft development and deployment stack. It means no Apache, no perl, php, and for practical purposes no Java either. The only entity in the world who has a rational reason to avoid BSD licensed software is Microsoft, and purely for the purp

  • But my company does contractually forbid GPL software being included in any software written for use in our products.

    Your problem is easily solved by just modifying the existing license to forbid redistribution of the source code. That would make the license no longer open source.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @12:51AM (#30796100) Homepage

    Are they stupid? As Apple can clearly demonstrate, the BSD license is non-toxic. You should tell them to tell their legal staff to do their homework (and justify their paycheck) to learn the differences between one open source license and another. Simply banning all open source licenses is as stupid as declaring all muslims as terrorists.

  • To sum up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @01:08AM (#30796150)
    If there had been copyrights and patents at the dawn of man, the first and last tool invented would have been the stick; lawyers, lawsuits, and the judges of Eastern Texas would have prevented all derivative works.
  • by Eil (82413) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @01:23AM (#30796188) Homepage Journal

    Even though there should be no restrictions on usage, companies very often request a different license citing as a valid reason that the creator of such platform has special terms forbidding 'open source software' in the contracts forced upon the developer.

    I think they've answered the question for you. If their contract says they can't use open source software, then they are already forbidden from using any already-open code in the project, even if they get a special alternate form of license from you.

    Also, if you've ever taken patches from other developers, and didn't have them sign a statement that giving you copyright over the patch, you're probably not legally allowed to relicense their work anyway.

    Finally, while I can't speak to your motivations, if I released software under an open source license and someone came along and said, "hey, we need a different license for this, can you help us out?" My response would be, "how much are you paying me for it?"

  • dont give in (Score:2, Insightful)

    by johnrpenner (40054)

    they see what has been freely given (open source) as valuable to their business, yet they dont want to give something back - so, dont give in - this is exactly the sort of thing open source was invented to prevent - if they're so greedy that they think they dont have to give anything back - well then - they can just live without those freely-given benefits. they're inflexible- why should open licensors have to bend for the sake of their greed??

    2cents
    jp

    • What are you on about? Do you even know what the BSD license is?

      The only thing anyone using BSD licensed items have to give back is author credit. They simply aren't allowed to say "we made this", they have to say "$author made this".

      This has nothing to do with greed and everything to do with paranoid ignorance.

    • That's just foolish pride ; the license the code is already under explicitly doesn't compel them to give back. BSD licensing is a businesses wet dream - they get to do what the hell they like, and not give anything back.

      If they want to throw money around to create some illusion of reduced liability with the source code, let them. And enjoy whatever it buys you.

    • by selven (1556643)

      The submitter chose the BSD license for many of his projects. He clearly disagrees with you.

  • multi-theft auto.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday January 17, 2010 @01:52AM (#30796290) Homepage

    wanted to use a gpl embedded c/c++ web server I wrote. One of the developers sent me an email asking if they could use it. I sent them an email to the extent of "I hereby grant you a license to use EHS (the library) in any way in multi-theft auto."

    Either that was good enough for them or they didn't decide to use it afterall.

  • Very simple solution: dual-licensing.

    Make sure copyright in any committed patches is assigned to you, or require public domain, and take the dual license route. If they're adverse to using the BSD license, charge them for the privilege and get a lawyer to write up a software license.

    Bit of money for you, a (hopefully) reliable license for all parties, and the organisation gets the code under a non-OSS license. Everyone wins.

  • by Tjp($)pjT (266360) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @03:50AM (#30796662)
    It can be used as one wants but they also offer a license for the occasions like you've specified. Check out:

    http://www.hwaci.com/cgi-bin/license-step1 [hwaci.com]
  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @04:33AM (#30796768)
    Either your client wants to redistribute your code without restrictions, they don't understand licensing or they are persuaded by certain business partners that open source should be avoided.

    If the client wants to redistribute, charge as many fees as you possibly can. Base license fee, sold site fee, per host sold fee, per user sold fee, think of anything else fee... Some organizations actually like that. If you have an ethical problem with that, see it as a price they pay for purification of their sorry souls.

    Is your client by any chance an MS business partner?
  • by mattr (78516) <mattr.telebody@com> on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:13AM (#30796888) Homepage Journal

    Some companies will register the software purchased as an asset, and that is the procedure they must follow. They need a contract that specifies the license terms. There also has to be someone they can complain to, or contact to make improvements, or at least explain some code so they can make improvements (if you allow that). This is their procedure for operating business responsibly and that's fine.

    Also as someone else mentioned, they might have to have their legal department, or paid external lawyers, analyze carefully an open source contract for viral bits. If they can write the contract for you it is easiest but make sure it contains what is shown below. Or you could use a template on the web.

    People here telling you to tell them to buzz off if they won't accept BSD, etc. are not in business, and that's what is scary. Open source programmers need to be able to make a living in order to support doing their open source work, so a company asking you for a commercial liscense for that exact work you have already done is fabulous! Unless you have a job where you are paid to write open source software, this is ideal I should think. More like that and you wouldn't need to do other commercial work, right?

    A commercial liscense costs money; no real company buys software for $1. The code may be exactly the same as the free version, it is okay to charge money for it.

    All you need to do is make it easy for your client to purchase the a non-exclusive liscense to your product. This is actually an opportunity for you. You can make some money now, have a possibility for a support contract or more commercial work in the future, and you can say the code is used in a commercial product, which speaks of its quality.

    Things you should specify (off the top of my head - maybe you can find some more information elsewhere):

    Your (or your company's) name and address, and theirs. At the bottom, your name and the person on their side, with signatures.

    Disclaimer of your liability: That the software is provided on an as-is basis and you the vendor have absolutely no liability for any defect in it, nor for any losses that may ensue through its use, or its legality in some jurisdiction, nor it is intended for illegal uses, or use in mission critical applications, etc. There is plenty of boilerplate around you can find that says this. (Assuming they are just buying something of yours and they aren't hiring you to create something for them. If they were, you'd have to guarantee against fatal-level defects, and that it meets a carefully agreed-on specification. Things like behavior in a cluster, usability on a certain architecture, 64-bit, Y2K or security related vulnerabilities would then require you to maintain it. You should add in it that any work to make improvements or repair bugs will be charged separately.)

    The price. Charge them a reasonable price for it, this is a commercial license and you can include some support with it. If you include 10 hours support for free then maybe $1000 is okay, or more it depends on what the amount of code is of course. Charge for additional work you do at a certain hourly rate too if you want. Maybe you could discuss that here. You could sound them off about the price verbally. Priced beyond a certain threshold will make the decision get booted up higher.
    The deliverables. Usually they need something physical. Make a CD with a nice label, write a short instruction manual, and print it out on paper (also included as a PDF or text file inside the CD). The CD and manual are physical assets that they can put in the vault and have available for software audits.

    Your responsiblity to support them. You may be tempted to say support is free forever, but don't do that, it costs you your time and they want value. Say limited support for a short amount of time and if they want it you can make some separate consulting or support contract with them.
    If they are paying you then you can afford to provide them with support to get up and running, or to discuss wit

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vivaelamor (1418031)
      You could have just said 'dual licensing is a valid option' without suggesting people who don't like dual licensing lack business experience. I would suggest this OSS Watch article [oss-watch.ac.uk] for a more balanced explanation of dual licensing, both the pros and the cons.
  • If all of the code they want to use is copyrighted by you, you can use whichever licenses you want. There's nothing stopping you from giving away code under an open source and selling the exact same code with a closed source license. Just make sure the closed source license won't become an obstacle for the open source license.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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