Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

*IF* you want to share your opinion on the GPL issue, this is the place for you.
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Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by gavinchait » Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:21 pm

Joomla asks for donations to keep it going.  So do most 3PDs.  Most 3PDs don't make much from donations and so aren't able to be dedicated to their users.  Those of us who run commercial sites rely on stable software to offer our services. 

Mostly that means that we can't rely on 3PD's who are not, themselves, commercial since they can't usually afford to dedicate time to keeping the software current and removing bugs.

Look, for instance, at the OpenSEO community where the developer is assailed with regular attacks by frustrated users waiting for updates.  He doesn't charge, relies on donations ... and isn't supported sufficiently to dedicate his full time to the product.

There are some fantastic pieces of free software out there.  There are also some fantastic commercial suites.

The debate over the type of licence is meaningless and misleading.

From a quality, stability and ongoing reliability perspective I need to know whether software will be available.  That means that the person/s producing it need to earn something from it so that they keep their attention on it.

Joomla has been successful precisely because talented people have been able to earn a living from it.  This has fed into a large community of people who develop and support the central cms. How many of the people who charge for components also support the cms with their experience and know-how from developing commercial suites?  And, if they can no longer be guaranteed a living, what happens to their support of the overall project?

As someone who does buy, and will continue to buy, commercial software based on Joomla, I'd like to see that commercial support will continue.  I wouldn't even have a problem if Joomla itself became commercial.

 
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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by Jenny » Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:27 pm

No one is saying that people can't charge for their software.  What the issue is, is the license that software is given.  Open Source and GPL does not mean free as in "free - no payment, no charge", it means "free, as in the code is free to be seen, modified, and improved upon"

Where are you getting the idea that 3PDS can't charge for their software?  They can actually charge twice if they so choose.  They can charge for the distribution of the software, and charge for the distribution of the source code upon request.

This isn't about commercial vs. non-commercial.  This is about the license under which software is released.
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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by gavinchait » Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:51 pm

This is about the license under which software is released.
But the components are already technically "open source" as they aren't compiled.  I already customise the software I buy since I need it to be specific for my sites.

My understanding is that, once GPL is asserted, I could pass on my "versions" of the software without paying any licensing fees.  In essence, a commercial vendor would sell their software once and then see it sold, or given away, by others.

If this isn't any more possible under the new license as under the old one, then I am totally confused as to what the debate is about.

Summary:

If a company can charge for the software they develop to run on the Joomla platform and - most importantly - the people who buy it from them are not allowed to pass it on to others (free or commercial) without also paying a license fee to the people they already bought it from ... then there is no problem.

If converting to GPL means that companies cannot do this then there is a problem (as discussed in my initial post).

And, so far, I'm totally confused as to which it is.

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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by mcsmom » Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:23 pm

GPL software can be sold commercially.

But if you believe that free (as in beer) open source software is not a good model, I suggest you don't use Joomla!. Please purchase a commercial CMS.

modified to add a second comment
Joomla has been successful precisely because talented people have been able to earn a living from it.  This has fed into a large community of people who develop and support the central cms. How many of the people who charge for components also support the cms with their experience and know-how from developing commercial suites?  And, if they can no longer be guaranteed a living, what happens to their support of the overall project?
I think Jooma! has been successful because of a changing team of core developers and work group members have worked hard to make it so.

To answer your question, though, very, very few. That's what happens when you have proprietary code--you don't share it to make everything better. Propriety removes all incentives for voluntary giving except the occasional extension to drive traffic to your site.
Last edited by mcsmom on Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by gavinchait » Wed Jun 27, 2007 5:43 pm

While these comments do lead into the debate about open-source vs proprietary they do not answer my initial question.  I can only assume that, since no-one has outright said I'm wrong, that the implication is correct:
My understanding is that, once GPL is asserted, I could pass on my "versions" of the software without paying any licensing fees.  In essence, a commercial vendor would sell their software once and then see it sold, or given away, by others.
If you want to discuss open-source itself, I'm willing to do so, but that isn't the thrust of my question.  I have certainly written enough about it in the past:  http://www.whythawk.com/analysis/from-l ... -free.html

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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by Jenny » Wed Jun 27, 2007 5:57 pm

gavinchait wrote: Joomla asks for donations to keep it going.  So do most 3PDs.  Most 3PDs don't make much from donations and so aren't able to be dedicated to their users.  Those of us who run commercial sites rely on stable software to offer our services. 

Mostly that means that we can't rely on 3PD's who are not, themselves, commercial since they can't usually afford to dedicate time to keeping the software current and removing bugs.

Look, for instance, at the OpenSEO community where the developer is assailed with regular attacks by frustrated users waiting for updates.  He doesn't charge, relies on donations ... and isn't supported sufficiently to dedicate his full time to the product.

There are some fantastic pieces of free software out there.  There are also some fantastic commercial suites.

The debate over the type of licence is meaningless and misleading.

From a quality, stability and ongoing reliability perspective I need to know whether software will be available.  That means that the person/s producing it need to earn something from it so that they keep their attention on it.

Joomla has been successful precisely because talented people have been able to earn a living from it.  This has fed into a large community of people who develop and support the central cms. How many of the people who charge for components also support the cms with their experience and know-how from developing commercial suites?  And, if they can no longer be guaranteed a living, what happens to their support of the overall project?

As someone who does buy, and will continue to buy, commercial software based on Joomla, I'd like to see that commercial support will continue.  I wouldn't even have a problem if Joomla itself became commercial.
That was you original post.  Your initial assumption that developers cannot commercially sell their software under GPL licensing was incorrect.  You then changed the terms of your argument.

Joomla! has been made commercially available through distribution by a number of developers that have rebranded and add their own modifications.  What they cannot do is change the license of Joomla! remove the copyrights statments in the source code, or deny others to do exactly as they have done by modifying the code and distributing it themselves.


Your initial question was why are 3PD's not allowed to commercially sell their product.  The truthful answer is they can.  They are being asked to do so under a GPL or GPL-compatible license.
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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by mcsmom » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:10 am

Some people have said my first post on my thread was rude, so I am going to address that.

It was not rude or meant to be rude. It was meant to b a tough challenge to the underlying logic of the original poster's statement.

Maybe it is the teacher in me, but I am really tired of arguments that make no logical sense.

But I could have pointed out the flaws in his logic in a less blunt way. 

Dear gavinchat.

Do you really believe this statement?
From a quality, stability and ongoing reliability perspective I need to know whether software will be available.  That means that the person/s producing it need to earn something from it so that they keep their attention on it.
If you do, you might want to consider that the people who write Joomla! do not earn money from writing it. If you believe this statement, then logically, you would not want to have the underlying software running your site to be software written by unpaid people.
If you followed this premise to its logical conclusion you would not use any software written by unpaid people. Therefore you would not use Joomla!. Do you really want to go there? I don't think so. But if you don't want to follow the premise of your argument to its logical conclusion, maybe the argument itself does not hold up.  Given that all of us are presumably using Joomla! any argument against the gpl that is based on the premise that unpaid coders do poor work does not hold up.

Thank you and sorry if you felt my earlier critique of your argument was overly blunt.
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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by gavinchait » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:31 am

I'm a development economist first and foremost ("development" as in "poverty" not as in "software").  My area of expertise happens to be trade engagements in poverty alleviation, including things like "aid" vs "trade".  There are large numbers of reasons people "donate" their time to produce open-source software.  None of this addresses my original query, but I don't mind in particular.

But let's look at it gamely.  I've chatted with a few of the commercial developers and many claim to be intimately involved in developing Joomla, some claim that they do this to develop their overall capacity to sell the important bits that people like me like to use.  They're very upset at all the name-calling that equates them with free-loaders.

The open-source vs proprietary debate often pits Microsoft (as prime-evil) against everyone else.  I don't see it that way.  During development Microsoft makes their software available in various alpha and beta versions to a community of developers and testers.  The feedback informs the final product and they eventually release it as a formal product.

This isn't very different from open-source (or Joomla) except that entry into the test group is open and unlimited.  But Joomla is happily still called "beta" and the current stable version is considered an interim stepping-stone to some epic final version still to come.

That the debate is being described in pseudo-religious and epic overtones is unbearably narcissistic (especially for those of us who've been through other similar episodes of youthful exuberance). 

Since you, perhaps, did not read my linked essay here is my summary:
The open-source movement considers itself an off-shoot of the whole NGO / development establishment that thinks that donations don't count as earnings because the product was given away. Donations are earnings. Get over it.

Open-source is a novel and exciting way of creating new products for the commercial market. All that is happening with open-source is that customers are directly involved in product development and are sharing in the financial risk of that development. Any entrepreneur knows that they have to spend the time and money up front to bring their product to market before they can charge for it. People will only pay for it once it's perfect. Consider this new form of venture capital Crowd Finance or Crowd Development.

Many open-source products are getting to the point of commercial viability. And I, for one, won't object to paying for them. The people who developed such awesome software as Joomla! and Firefox deserve to be financially compensated for the time and effort they put into creating it.

That way, others will see their success and be stimulated to better it. For financial reward.
Unless most who contribute already have high-paying jobs and are just looking for peer-recognition, bragging rights and glory.  You takes your profit where you finds it...

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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by Jenny » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:38 am

Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?  <-- original query.

Charging is ok.  <-- answer.
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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by gavinchait » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:47 am

If the answer was as simple as that I don't think the premise that Joomla enforces GPL would have spawned so much noise.

As for demanding that people who complain should get involved ... not all of us are programmers (I certainly am not).  I'm an economist.  This is my way of contributing.

Economics may be the "dismal science" but it still holds tremendous lessons for those who are interested in listening.  It doesn't seem wanted.

So I'll keep to the sidelines and ensure my site is stable and watch Joomla go the way of Mambo ... fragmenting into new iterations.

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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by mcsmom » Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:28 pm

Well knowing that you are an economist explains a lot.  ;)
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Strange point of view

Post by mic » Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:00 am

http://forum.joomla.org/index.php/topic,185065.0.html
.... To answer your question, though, very, very few. That's what happens when you have proprietary code--you don't share it to make everything better. Propriety removes all incentives for voluntary giving except the occasional extension to drive traffic to your site....
I guess, you mean more: not sharing any revenue with others .....

Where is it stated, that sharing code makes the code better?
When i look around, there are a lot of published extensions made of stolen (!) code just for one (1) reason: to drive more traffic to those sites.
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Re: Why are donations OK but charging directly isn't?

Post by mcsmom » Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:24 am

Why would I mean that? 

The ultimate coin of the realm here, as in all open source projects, is high quality code contributed to the project, not money. So, no, my comment was not about sharing actual revenue.

If you feel someone has stolen code in an extension then I urge you to report that to the relevant copyright holder.
So we must fix our vision not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but upon the positive affirmation of peace. MLK 1964.
http://officialjoomlabook.com Get it at http://www.joomla.org/joomla-press-official-books.html Buy a book, support Joomla!.

 

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