cocoon-dev mailing list archives

Site index · List index
Message view « Date » · « Thread »
Top « Date » · « Thread »
From Steven Noels <>
Subject Re: The (new) Jisp 3.0 license
Date Fri, 20 Feb 2004 22:16:45 GMT
On 20 Feb 2004, at 18:33, Scott Robert Ladd wrote:

> Steven Noels wrote:

>> let me first start with thanking you for a wonderful set of tools, 
>> which we have eagerly been using over the years.
> I'm glad to know it was useful.

We hope it still can be. :)


>> Quite to our surprise however, we just found out that Jisp 3 now 
>> comes with the MySQL-like combo-license: GPL + commercial licensing 
>> possibility.
>> Of course, we cannot and will not have any say into which license you 
>> should use for your products, since it's your blood and tears that 
>> went into it. As open source developers however, we have some 
>> considerations about licenses which we'd like to confront you with.
> I appreciate your talking to me about this. Please indulge me in a bit
> of background story, so you understand why I changed licenses.
> I'm not a twenty-something college student who can afford to hack free
> software for free; I am an independent business man and forty-something
> father of three. My first "free" products appeared back in the 1980s,
> and I've written several programming books, so I'm a long-time believer
> in sharing code with the community. A society can not progress if
> knowledge is kept secret.

I guess quite few of us were already aware of the fact that you were 
not a youngster, doing Jisp just to be "kewl". People don't write stuff 
like Jisp to increase Slashdot karma. :-)

Many of the active project participants on the Cocoon projects fit in 
your profile as well: independent freelancers or tiny businesses 
working on Cocoon collaboratively, if not mainly for their own private 
business endeavours, then very often because of a need or willingness 
to share knowledge and learn in the process.

> As such, I originally released Jisp under a libpng-style license.
> In the last year or so, I've been hounded by people who "demand" 
> support
> for Jisp -- including those who use Jisp via Apache. While I politely
> inform them that my time isn't free, the frequency of such requests is
> increasing. When I request some form of renumeration for providing
> support, they act as if I've suggested concourse with a devil.

We (the Cocoon developers) understand this - since quite often we are 
contacted directly - offlist - for support questions. We do have a 
users list to refer users to, and sometimes (not that often) business 
can grow out of these direct contacts. I think our situation is 
slightly different from yours since we serve not only a community of 
users, but we are also a strongly intertwingled group of developers and 
committers, so the "burden" of support is shared across us all. We're 
not perfect though, and questions (about Cocoon) remain unanswered. 
When that happens, we see users stepping in to help each other. But 
that's the big difference between the cathedral and the bazaar, I 
guess. We believe our open source project is composed of both community 
and code. The community gives longevity to our code, so that people can 
come and go. The ASF is always open for new open source projects, BTW, 
and the ASF brand does make a huge difference.

I'm intrigued though by the questions you receive about Jisp from the 
Apache side: do these originate from Cocoon users? While Jisp is 
considered a core (though switchable) part of Cocoon (it's the default 
of two cache implementations), its existence is shielded from the 
passing eye of a normal user. Also, we would expect that Jisp issues 
within Cocoon would be reported on the Cocoon lists, which happens, but 
not regularly enough to suspect people to come and nag you directly. Or 
is it because of other ASF projects using Jisp?

> My frustration lies with people who use and praise Jisp without any
> feeling of obligation to me, other than a hearty handshake (at best). 
> My
> frustration grows when I know that people are profiting from my code,
> without so much as an acknowledgement.
> I am not a greedy soul, and excess wealth is not one of my goals in
> life; however, I have three daughters, a wife, and a managerie of
> critters that need my financial support. These are dark economic times
> in our industry; survival for an independent consultant (like me) is
> tenuous even in the best of times.
> For me, the change in license (to the GPL) is an attempt to find equity
> in people's use of my code. "Fairness" is, of course, a matter of
> perception. In my case, I have received nothing from the Apache project
> beyond the "hearty handshake" level. It's not that I don't want Apache
> to use Jisp -- it's that I know people are paid to work on Apache, and
> that many people make money selling Apache support and services.

I cannot speak for other projects, but very few, if any at all of the 
developers involved in Cocoon are getting paid full time by their 
employer to work on the project - all of them are here because of a 
passion for the project and its community of users and developers. 
Quite a few of us are effectively setting up a consulting shop around 
Cocoon-related services, but we don't consider the liberal Apache 
license hindering. Quite the contrary: our liberal license might 
attract more business since commercial ISV are clearly steering away 
from GPL-infected code.


> As I've said, I'm not a greedy person; I'm willing tio resolve the 
> issue
> by giving Apache a unique license that eliminates the contention. Let 
> me
> know what your requirements are; I can allow Apache to continue using
> Jisp under the libpng-style license, for example.

Nobody regards you as a greedy person, Scott. In fact, the way you 
enter this discussion, being honest and direct, is exactly the way we 
communicate, and it is very much appreciated. We understand the 
concerns of small businesses since we're very familiar with them.

Let me explain the main problem though:

The ASL gives users of our software the right to do with it whatever 
they want: use it, repackage it, sell it... as long as we are properly 
credited, our brand remains protected, and we are considered the only 
official "Apache Cocoon". We give the right of (re)distribution to our 
users, but that comes with a price: our libraries need to be 
liberally-licensed as well. Otherwise, our users (which might repackage 
Cocoon and sell it for money), would not be able anymore to 
redistribute Cocoon anymore under their own terms.

So while the idea of an exemption clause for Apache sounds nice, it 
wouldn't help much IMHO. But I'm willing to pass any reformulation of 
your license to our legal people to check that for sure.

Adding to that, what I want to point out is that even a liberal license 
can go together with a viable business, if there's a community around a 
set of code. The ASF has been created to facilitate such communies, and 
our license has been created with special care for business use. 
Instead of selling licenses, you might consider selling support to 
willing customers.

> Perhaps Apache's developers could consider ways in which you could
> respond in kind? If not in money, then perhaps in other ways.

> In particular, it needs to be made very clear to Apache's users that
> they can not expect (or demand) free support for Jisp from me. I simply
> can't afford it.

Duly noted: we will be happy to put this clearly in our documentation.

>> Adding onto that, we saw ample reference being made on 
>> to the Apache project. 
>> It's a bit awkward to see us being used as a reference "customer" 
>> case, while at the same time being made impossible to use your 
>> library.
> I wouldn't say "ample reference"; a couple of links is about all. It's
> not like I make any claim to being part of the Apache project, nor have
> I received a single commercial client via my tangental association with
> Apache. The main reason I list Apache by name is that my commercial
> applications of Jisp are covered by various non-disclosure agreements;
> it's nice to associate with a name that people recognize. If you
> strenuously object, I'll be more than happy to remove the association.

If we cannot resolve the matter of the new license and would be forced 
to search another solution, that would be the idea, yes.

> I think we can work this out to everyone's satisfaction.

I do hope so, really.

Steven Noels                  
Outerthought - Open Source Java & XML            An Orixo Member
Read my weblog at  
stevenn at                stevenn at

View raw message