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   Re: Licensing policies (was Re: ANN: Docuverse DOM SDK PR2

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  • From: Lisa Rein <lisarein@finetuning.com>
  • To: Tyler Baker <tyler@infinet.com>
  • Date: Tue, 08 Sep 1998 03:49:16 -0700

I think it is very important that we all get used to the idea of giving
everything away for now.  

As a writer and developer that has chosen the path of working harder
more often for less money, this last year of working more for less has
to have been the most fulfilling year of my life.

I would literally not be able to even consider trying affording
something like a $99 license for something like DOM SDK.  That would be
enough of a financial imposition to knock me right out of the game.

Now, of course, being out of the game is not an option.  So that means I
would have to (gasp) use it without a license, pirate it, steal it,
never pay my little reg fee, whatever.  

So be it, if necessary, to be honest. But I much prefer an open, honest,
atmosphere of open source-based generosity:  where everybody does the
best that they can with whatever community-based tools are available --
which in our case are the best available anyway (as far as tools that
"let" you think for yourself go -- don't get me started on the black box
again :-)

So what am I  (admittedly) taking so long to say?  I'm saying:
don't sweat the small shit man!  There are bigger fish to fry in the
long run if we all stick together now and just relish in sharing
knowledge for the sake of itself -- mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm, look at all
that free knowledge and understanding -- it has a snowball effect once
it gets going -- it's raising the bar in people's minds of what are
acceptable software practices -- and you know as well as I do that THAT
was a bar that REALLY needed to be raised -- and I for one am willing to
eat a little more top ramen now if that means that we have a superior
foundation for universal data interchange in the future.

And the other thing to consider, for those of you who (understandably)
have maybe already been biting the bullet financially for a lot longer
than I've even known what an abstract data model was, is that when this
stuff takes off, and it will ;-)...there are really only going to be a
couple hundred people (max) that are going to really understand it well
enough to implement it on the grand scale that is going to be required. 
And THAT is then when the capitalistic principles of supply and demand
will be in our favor in a big way -- plus we'll be able to offer more
practically-feasible, intellectually-fulfilling solutions, to the world
and each other, precisely because we did not sacrifice quality and
integrity for a quick buck early on.

By taking this kind of idealistic pride in our work, we are all making a
very serious investment in each others' future that is valuable in the
long run.  We also provide a good example  to the rest of the world that
it does pay to "give it away".

We must foster and cherish these kinds of community-based, open
development environments that may be only written about in the future --
we have been fortunate enough to have been here when much of this was
"just beginning", and now it is our responsibility to do everything in
our power to see that it never ends.

So anyway, I'm just taking a long time to say that this is not time to
get pessimistic about anything being "all for nothing," but rather it's
more important than ever to continue to lead by example, and seize the

If unlimited informational exchange is the free-love of the 90's  
-- I say "love is all you need".


Tyler Baker wrote:
> John Cowan wrote:
> > Peter Murray-Rust scripsit:
> >
> > > My sincere thanks for this change of policy. It can and will make an
> > > enormous difference to many of us - otherwise we end up rewriting each
> > > other's software. It is a courageous decision - as was IBM's - and should
> > > be applauded.
> >
> > Indeed! Unfortunately, the license is still very restrictive, disallowing
> > modification of the DOM SDK.
> >
> > > I now have no problem with this, and am
> > > looking at the GPL for this purpose [comments would be much appreciated.] I
> > > think the quid-pro-quo would be to ask people to register their use with
> > > you and you may well benefit from this.
> >
> > I would urge Don and you to look at http://www.opensource.org/intro/free, which
> > has information on why loosening restrictions can be beneficial for
> > everyone.
> >
> > The Artistic License is a good substitute for the GPL and allows you
> > to keep control of the named product while allowing others to create
> > differently named variations.  See http://language.perl.com/misc/Artistic.html .
> If you ever plan on making any money off of a product, never give it away for free.
> If you are not planning on ever making money on a product, then it is of the most
> benefit to essentially publish the source-code as is and let anyone do what they
> want with it.  The only reasons I see for creating free software is either idealism,
> enhancing your personal or company reputation in the developer community, or to kill
> your up and coming competitors.
> Not charging for a product initially, and then later on (when the competition has
> subsided) charging for a product is about the same as marking down airline fares
> below cost to kill of competition and then raising them later on to insane levels.
> The worst way to lose face with other developers is to not be clear about your
> long-term plans for a product.  Developers (at least the intelligent ones) will pay
> for a superior product that cuts down the development time of their current project
> so long as the licensing is clear and consistent over time.  Anything less is
> pulling a fast one in my book...
> The DOM SDK license is as restrictive as Docuverse wants to make it.  In the real
> world there is no such thing as a free lunch so you should not expect Docuverse or
> any other small ISV to be the angels of free software.
> Even though I don't plan on using the DOM SDK myself anytime soon, I think it would
> do the developer community more benefit in the long run if Docuverse were to charge
> a fair price for a commercial license so there is incentive in the future for
> Docuverse to do bug-fixes and updates and maybe even provide some level of support.
> If you look at Netscape, they have basically capitulated on improving the web
> browser (no incentive to improve it or add new features) and their future as a
> profitable company is suspect.  They were a company that gave everything away for
> free to kill off browser competition early on and then tried to charge for it when
> the competition died off.  Then of course, Microsoft jumped in and did to Netscape
> what Netscape did to everyone else.  In the end, the customers lose because from
> this point on web browsers will likely have little innovation applied to them from
> this point out.  In other words they will just plain suck.
> For those people using the DOM SDK now and who enjoy the product, I would seriously
> encourage these people to plea for Docuverse to charge something for a commercial
> license, even if it is as low as $99 so that they can have some solace in the fact
> that there will be future quality versions of the DOM SDK.  99$ is basically the
> same cost as 3 development hours for the average engineer.  If 99$ is too much money
> to spend on any commercial product, then your whole business plan for your product
> needs some serious reevaluation.  Small ISV's like Docuverse should not feel
> pressured to capitulate to the large ISV's like IBM or Microsoft who can afford to
> give all their tools away for free in their efforts to squelch the up and coming.
> If you look at the best XML tools to date you will find that they are not from the
> big names that we know of, rather small guys who are dedicated to quality.  If we
> all want quality tools to work with we will all need to put our money where our
> mouth is one way or another.
> My 2 cents...
> Tyler
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