What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

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Simmon
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What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

Post by Simmon » Mon Jul 13, 2009 9:48 pm

Our company had created some commercial proprietary extensions. The cannot be listed in the JED. Ok.

We could relicense them to commercial GPL but as we see it there are some problems. The biggest is providing user with a demo version. Most of our extensions are core extensions and have no frontend part. Thus, a demo site for them could not be easily created. Also, it is always a good thing to try an extension on your own site if you are buying it. Problem is, if we allow download for free, many users will not buy it even if they use it.

Is it acceptable for JED listing to:
1. Provide free, but encrypted and limited copy for evaluation purposes
2. Provide full uncrypted copy after purchase

I don't think that this violates the GPL. Is it OK?

Thanks.
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Re: What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

Post by brad » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:09 pm

Why not provide a free crippled version (features/ability to save) as the demo, and the full version as you propose?
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Re: What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

Post by Simmon » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:25 pm

First, because it requires more work to get it done. If you are a developer you should know that it is not always an easy job to create a crippled version. Especially if you have designed the product relying on users having a full evaluation version to play with. Of course crippling it is probably easier than creating encrypted version with licensing mechanism, but we already have that. For the encrypted scenario, the only thing we have to do is give a link to a non-encrypted version after purchase.

And second, it is better for the user(hence, for us as we want the user to be happy) to have to play with a fully working version.

Is this type of distribution suitable for the JED? I have read the GPL and I don't think this contradicts with its terms.
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Re: What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

Post by brad » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:28 pm

I'll leave that answer up to the JED editors, but in the meantime, see: http://community.joomla.org/blogs/leade ... -2009.html

No encoded or encrypted extensions are going to be listed from what I read there.
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Re: What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

Post by Geoff » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:46 pm

Simmon wrote: Is it acceptable for JED listing to:
1. Provide free, but encrypted and limited copy for evaluation purposes
2. Provide full uncrypted copy after purchase
If the encrypted version is a full version of your extension and your extension is licensed under the GPL, you must also provide the source (the unencrypted version) at the same cost as the encrypted version.

So in short, this probably won't work for you.
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Re: What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

Post by Simmon » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:52 pm

brad wrote:No encoded or encrypted extensions are going to be listed from what I read there.
Yes, seems that way...

Well, actually, only the evaluation is encrypted. The extension itself is not encrypted - you get it after you purchase. Otherwise, (almost) no one will purchase - it's not always about the money, but also because you have to go to the company website, to register, to pay online. Not so hard maybe, but all this will make many users go the easy(and cheaper) road. At least I think so.

Creating a cripple version is a possibility, but as I can see it, its worse for the user - he can only guess(hopes) how the full version works.

But lets hear what the JED editors have to say...
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Re: What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

Post by Toni Marie » Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:11 pm

Geoff is an editor, as am I.

Unfortunately, the GPL does not allow for encrypted trial versions. If the code is GPL, it's GPL.... and because if you distribute a GPL product as encrypted you must provide the source code, your trials would need to come with the unencrypted code.

Allowing an encrypted trial is like "charging for the open source version" and that would open us up to too many people circumventing the GPL.

The time and resources are better spent working out a robust online demo.

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Re: What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

Post by Simmon » Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:27 am

Yes, source code must be provided but only when requested - this will prevent the user from simply continuing to use the product without taking any action. As I said, it is not always about the money. And if source code is provided - it is not against the GPL license. And we intend to provide it.

Again, providing a demo web site is not always easy - for our products we have to give administrative access and anyone could render the site useless no matter if it is on purpose or unintentionally. Not only this, but having more than one user online testing at the same time could cause the extensions to seem to not work as expected. I don't think Joomla has a solution for that.
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Re: What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

Post by isarg » Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:52 am

Software can be protected by methods other than the traditional means.

Obfustication .vs. compacting for example. A developer can release compacted versions of extensions that in fact do not obfusticate anything and be perfectly within compliance w/ GPL. MooTools and in fact most javascript frameworks are compacted so a class object, variable, whatall "addressEmailField" becomes "X1".

If Joomla did not allow for this then Joomla itself is out of compliance with say, MooTools and an excuse of "Well thats a core portion" wont fly under GPL.

Next... Developers are perfectly capable of protecting code. Perhaps not as effectively as say Ioncube does but they can use a variety of ways to accomplish that. For example, CData in XML support files, Database Blobs set up an install that contain code, checksums and other mechanisms to enforce integrity of the code. Make said code integral to function of the extension w/o impacting the end users ability to customize as they so please. Since that code has zero to do with "functionality" per se it should be perfectly acceptable.

Lastly GPL is not a catch all for much anything. In many nations around the globe it is in fact in contention with law in regards to originators of intellectual property. For example if I were to create a new encipher mechanism, employ it as a extension (not enciphering said extension but instead said extensions purpose is to encipher and transmit data) and it were listed in the JED many nations instantly can take issue. The US for example would hit "Open Source Matters" as a distribution point even though I as a citizen would see liability, Open Source Matters would see an injunction request through the US State Dept. effectively requesting the Australian Government shut it down until such a point as issues are satisfied to the State Dept.

GPL in its own right (FSF) purposefully states that they bare no liability in usage of said licenses because laws of nations vary and thus when said license is applied they want not get sued. GPL is actually not well suited towards projects like Joomla where extensibility via third party authors occurs.

Why?

Because a commercial interest in for example the limitations of the JED make legal claim that 1. Open Source Matters has by these actions injured said interests capabilities to earn revenues. 2. That GPL is not recognized and/or applicable in their nation where they operate business and is in contention of their ability to protect their intellectual properties. 3. That Open Source Matters does allow competitors commercial releases to be listed at the JED simply due to that commercial interests non-concern about protecting their intellectual property. This one in particular should be of concern to OSM as it amounts to creating a environment of an enforced business conduct allowing one business to sit in an advantegous position over another whom wishes to protect intellectual property. That results in a libleous activity. If said party were to push that through governmental resource such as their embassy to Australia and state that it is a purposeful action, able to show monetary damages aka: Sales prior to JED .vs. sales after, you'd find that said "embassy" would request all of OSM's business dealings be probed and again injunctive action be taken until sorted out... essentially Joomla stops.

It is why with GPL that you'll be very very hard pressed to see any projects under GPL attempt to constrain anything be that "snippets", "books", "extensions", or "this or that" because the moment that step is taken pandoras box is opened to those smart enough to "know" that OSM cannot circumvent and/or predicate various nations laws and/or the rights of the citizens / commercial interests / intellectual property interests of affected parties.

Essentially OSM opens itself up to liability from lawsuits (and then some in the case of governmental reaction) due to trying to enforce GPL upon commercial interests where GPL is either in contention with law in said nations or in contention with a commercial or non-commercial interests in protecting intellectual property be that from theft or alteration.

There are essentially two solutions, one, developers do as they do... as its been which puts all such lible issues in their hands or two, the JED goes away completely thus OSM is not acting as a point of visibility of said interests in any way shape or form.

I would assume OSM has legal council albeit apparently not a good one or OSM would already be aware of all of this. Then again, perhaps not. Clearly the "moderators" are completely in the dark and simply following a mantra they were given, also not a very wise move. Why?

Since you ask... Because nations laws consider "volunteers" in two ways. Volunteers either sit lible for their statements/actions in which case they can bare the brunt legally of statements or, volunteers are considered under the employment (even though they may not be "paid" or compensated) of the entity, in this case OSM.

For example, take a not for profit organization. Its Board Of Directors never receives a red cent, yet, in the USA (and many nations) are still construed as "employees of" said not for profit and thus also sit at point of lible etc.

With that said, I've dealt with heaps of licensing, copy protection (and then some) when I worked in the PC Entertainment Industry. This is why I know that whomever OSM's legal council is clearly is not an Intellectual Property / International law based council. If he were he'd advised under this move that the JED simply be done away with.

There are of course ways around all this that would satisfy all parties, OSM, Commercial interests, end users and GPLites'. Incidently, also not too wise when going such routes that clearly impact commercial entities to state, "Our site will only list unobfustaced extensions, open source level extensions, when your core framework uses Mootools, when the core framework relies on several compiled libraries and atop that wishes to advertises things such as Artisteer which is not in fact open source, which is in fact compiled and is in fact employing code to prevent its intellectual property theft.

A good intellectual property attorney could readily demolish OSM and in the case of whats noted above pretty much any commercial interest (at least in westernized nations) file a lawsuit or attempt even form a class action against OSM.

I dont assume anyone at OSM actually decided to talk to the FSF about attempting to enforce GPL while still maintaining a "advertising mechanism" of extensions.... the JED. Yes?

I dont know how many commercial developers for Joomla exist for example in the USA but... in the USA they would have every right to come after OSM in Australia through the US State Dept. (the US Embassy) pointing to any loss of business they have incurred as well as the issues of protecting intellectual property, copyright be it implied or not and then some as well as what I pointed above, use of Mootools, advertising of things such as Artisteer on the same venue which clearly meets none of what is pushed upon other developers being enforced at the site. So... Its OK for OSM to advertise non-GPL items, make money, but not ok for developers to do so in the JED at the same site? Cmon'.... hard to believe anyone be that dense.

See folks... cant have it both ways is reality and its why the "Commercial Software Industry" MUST (and does) have DIFFERENT license agreements for end users based in the nation where said end user resides. Microsoft for example does not and cannot simply put out there, "We write the law for our products no matter what nations we distribute said products to". Nope. Doesnt fly. Nor does it fly here. US Commercial interests could readily file and thats their option. They can file complaint with the Australian Government direct, file complaint with the US State Dept. citing the above, they can seek others in their nation and/or others to add voice or more.

As much as OSM might like to believe they can control others interests that is not the case. If they want that to be the case then they need look towards commercial interests, Microsoft, Adobe and others. Those that the Open Source world claims are the "bad guys". Seems to me the principals of "FREEDOM" which is what "GPL" and The FSF are all about are being applied quite improperly here.

FSF is about Freedom of people, be they wanting to do things commercially, or not. Here it appears to be being applied for reasons other than those principals of choice for developers, end users etc.

Excuse me if I am wrong in that conclusion but one just need take a look at whats being said, whats been said, what I've said, what is actually reality when it comes to nations laws, rights of people and this all appears as being done for a reason that has zero to do with whats best for end users who want be able to see whats available and make the choice whether or not they wish buy something thats protected, obfusticated, commercial, GPL or not... Nor clearly is it in best interests of developers which are the people who make the doo-dads that make Joomla what it is. Joomla as a "product" without all those zillions of extensions is no miracle. E107, ModX as well as commercial based CMS's such as Expression Engine make it look quite bad in usability and performance.

My question and all of users/developers questions should be, "Ok... come clean. Exactly why has OSM went down this road. And, lets find a happy medium".

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Re: What about commercial GPL + demo versions?

Post by mcsmom » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:59 pm

@Isarg

You are confusing many different issues (the right of the Joomla! Project to make editorial decisions about the JED, what constitutes a GPL violation in extensible php software, the legal status of the GPL, the track record of the GPL in court in various countries, the definition of libel etc).

If you feel you have a cause for legal action against Open Source Matters you should have your lawyer advise you about how to proceed. Your lawyer will explain to you the differences between each of these issues and, if you and she decide to proceed, will tell what the steps are. Even if you don't plan to take legal action, a conversation with your lawyer will help you better understand these issues and how they relate to your business.

Neither the JED editors nor I will give legal advice. In line with that common sense none of us will respond further to your post.



Note: None of the above constitutes legal advice.
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