[pmwiki-users] Commercialism in PmWiki (was: Google Analytics)

Patrick R. Michaud pmichaud at pobox.com
Fri Aug 25 19:48:20 CDT 2006

On Sat, Aug 26, 2006 at 12:08:09AM +0200, Carlo Strozzi wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 24, 2006 at 01:21:10PM -0500, Patrick R. Michaud wrote:
> > 
> > The "commercial" license I'm planning to use won't allow for
> > re-distribution.  It's much more of a traditional software
> > license or EULA  (as you've helpfully suggested--thanks!), 
> > in that it grants permission to use the software but not to 
> > redistribute it.
> Hmm, but unless you rewrite PmWiki from scratch, the commercial version
> will be based mostly on the original GPL code, and I'm afraid this
> would be a violation of the GPL itself, and the various FSF affiliates
> around the world may go after your customers. 

It's not a violation of the GPL.  

For all of the code that is in PmWiki, I'm either the original 
copyright holder, in which case I can distribute those portions of 
code under any license I wish, or for those small portions where
I don't hold the copyright I've received explicit written licenses
from the copyright holders that allow me to redistribute the
code under any license I wish.  (And if there's anyone who feels
they have rights in the PmWiki code that is inconsistent with what
I just wrote, let's talk. :-)

So, it's not at all a violation of the GPL for me to make PmWiki
available under another license.  And yes, this is much the same model
that MySQL AB uses for its dual-licensing of MySQL.

> > Thus the use of commercial
> > license would help identifying clearly, who is in charge of the
> > software itself by defining him *contractually* as the ultimate
> > support request recipient. That's all.
> Yes. But you don't need a different license for this, you need to sign
> a support contract. 

Many organizations don't make this distinction between sales and
support; they either (a) want to avoid anything that is GPL, or 
(b) need something that allows them to write a check for what 
they receive -- i.e., that turns the transaction into more of
a contract.  And there are still other reasons why an organization
would choose to purchase a restrictive EULA over using the
freely available GPL.

> I think that the licensing change issue arises from
> the fact that some corporate users may want to be able to re-distribute
> PmWiki, or parts of it, together with proprietary stuff of their own.

No, this isn't the reason for the additional license, and the
license I'm adding doesn't permit redistribution.   It really is
like a traditional EULA.  For the foreseeable future, the only 
license that will allow redistribution of PmWiki is going to 
be the GPL.

> Or maybe they wabt to be able to re-sell a software asset, but I'm
> afraid no commercial licenses allow them to do that (only the GPL :-)

Actually, the MySQL OEM Commercial License allows companies to
re-sell binary versions of MySQL under a more traditional license
(i.e., they can distribute MySQL, with modifications, without having
to provide source).

If there's an organization or individual out there that wants to 
redistribute a non-GPL version of PmWiki, I'm open to the 
possibility, but I'll also say that the price for *that* license 
is going to be *very* high.

> With the GPL, either you take the right approach or you 
> may actually expose your customers, rather than make them happy.

While this may be true for some GPL projects where it's a practical
impossibility to get relicensing agreements from all of the copyright 
holders, it's not the case for PmWiki.  So, the only way that 
customers will be exposed here is if they themselves violate the 
terms under which they've purchase copies of PmWiki.  And I intend
to make it very clear to buyers that the "commercial license" --
whatever it's called -- is a license to use the software and not
a license to redistribute.

Of course, any organization or individual can redistribute PmWiki 
code if they wish, but they will have to do so under the GPL.  (And
to use the "PmWiki" brand itself we'll need to have an agreement over
use of the trademark.  :-)



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