Handling Others’ Making Money From One’s Free & Open Source Software

For the creator of a particular FOSS product it can be a wrenching feeling to see others profit from the product while he/she himself does not make the same kind of money. It can become acute if the guys making money or benefiting otherwise from a FOSS product don’t even bother to give any credit to the FOSS product author(s). To get an idea of that pain you can view the following link, but be warned that the language is quite graphical at times – so view it only if you can handle some tough language: http://zedshaw.com/essays/why_i_gpl.html

My comments on this issue from raviiyer.org perspective are given below:

For my “service to society” spiritual needs I don’t mind if some or all mods. don’t come back.

Apache license gives attribution so the writer’s lack of attribution issue with BSD does not come into play for me & contributors to raviiyer.org.

And I definitely will not be envious of somebody who buys a sports car by making money from raviiyer.org software :). I will be happy for him/her.

So I am still on the Apache side of the license fence.

But I empathise with the author’s views considering his goals/viewpoint for his Open Source software. If his view of how Open Source software is nowadays getting exploited by VC backed companies focused on only making profits with no thoughts of giving back to the community is true then I can understand his ‘pain’ on this point. It would then be pretty unfair and would discourage the social incentive to “give” FOSS. However I am too far removed from that world and so am not sure of the exact situation.

Moral of the story for me: If you cannot handle others becoming richer than you by using your Open Source software, don’t do Open Source. Try the proprietary option. If you just need recognition/credit for the Open Source software that you authored, it can be easily handled by going for a FOSS license that requires attribution (e.g. GPL, Apache).

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