[plug] Sobering read on the reality of open source software development

Chris McCormick chris at mccormick.cx
Wed Mar 23 10:48:22 AWST 2022

Hi Onno,

On 23/3/22 8:29 am, Onno Benschop wrote:
> frankly it's exploitation.

If I give something away freely, I do not feel exploited if somebody 
then uses it for free, even if they make money from it.

If I license my code under a FLOSS license which explicitly allows 
people to use, share, and modify the code without paying me, then I do 
not feel exploited (or surprised) if some person or organization uses 
the code to make money. The license literally and legally allows them to 
do this.

I don't think it makes sense to put work unlicensed into the public 
domain, or licensed under a permissive license, and then retroactively 
claim that people should have paid you for your work.

 > So, how is this fixed?

If you do not want people to freely use, copy, and modify software you 
write without paying you, then you should not use a license that 
explicitly allows this. Or you should find a way to make money under the 
terms of the license you have chosen (see below).

If you do not want to work for free, then you should say "no" when 
people ask you to work for free. Demanding requests in your issue 
tracker should be met with "patches welcome" or "help wanted". You don't 
owe anybody anything after you release the code. It "comes with 
absolutely no warranty". Saying "no" is a good way to avoid burnout.

Some different ways to make money if you use a FLOSS license:

* Lobby the companies that use your software for donations or patronage.
* Ask users for donations or patronage.
* Charge for binaries, or hosting fees.
* Charge for services.
* Sell associated merchandise.
* Sell educational materials and courses.
* Put ads on the website or product.
* Sell a book about the software.
* Use a dual license for commercial users.
* Charge consulting fees or premium support.
* Sell plugins or enhancements.
* Use a proprietary license instead.

Free Software is a gift. You can't take it back just because you don't 
like one of the recipients.





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