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From Graham Lauder <>
Subject Re: OO Sold on eBay
Date Mon, 13 Aug 2012 12:19:22 GMT
> On 13 August 2012 01:29, Rob Weir <> wrote:
> > On Sun, Aug 12, 2012 at 5:50 PM, Kay Schenk <> wrote:
> >> On Sun, Aug 12, 2012 at 10:49 AM, Rob Weir <> wrote:
> >>> On Sun, Aug 12, 2012 at 12:38 PM, Max Merbald <>

> >>> > Hi,
> >>> > 
> >>> > I'd say it's not very fair because probably not everyone knows OOO
> >>> > available for free. It's kind of weird that someone is trying to make
> >>> 
> >>> money
> >>> 
> >>> > with something which is available for free.
> >>> 
> >>> I wonder... is there anything that prevents one of us from offering
> >>> the same thing on eBay, but at a near-zero price?  For example, would
> >>> it be within eBay policy to have an auction for "instructions for
> >>> downloading OpenOffice"?  Give all the same marketing plugs for
> >>> features, etc., but set it as a "Buy Now" price of 1-cent or
> >>> something.
> >>> 
> >>> Some users want a CD, because of bandwidth limitations.  But the cost
> >>> of information, in this case, should be nearly zero.
> >>> 
> >>> -Rob
> >> 
> >> You might want to check out seller requirements first...
> >> 
> >>
> >> 
> >> I would think if we're willing to "do" this -- and set this up somehow,
> >> the answer is "no" unless ASF precludes this, which it might.
> > 
> > Drew mentioned another eBay policy that said you could not sell access
> > to downloaded software.  You could only sell the media.
> > 
> > Looking at the ebay auctions, some of them seem reasonable.  $3 or $5
> > for a CD and packaging, shipping, etc., is not outrageous.
> > 
> > But I am concerned that several of the auctions seem to be selling old
> > versions of OpenOffice including 3.2 and 3.1.  These earlier versions
> > lack important security fixes and those who distribute old versions,
> > without a warning, are putting their customers at risk.
> > 
> > As a project we take great pains to ensure the users who download from
> > our website get authentic versions of our software, the latest
> > versions, not tampered with.  We give the downloader ways of verifying
> > this, with MD5 hashes and PGP signatures.
> > 
> > But there is no current way that we can offer similar assurances to
> > users who purchase a CD.  (Anyone who thinks users will verify
> > checksums or signatures on a CD is deluded.)
> > 
> > Our options:
> > 
> > 1) Do nothing.  Bandwidth and access is increasing and this problem
> > will solve itself...sometime.

This would the best course, although I don't that there is a problem.  Quite 
the opposite, it is in fact a good thing.  People are thinking like 
proprietary software vendors, please get out of this trap.

Ebay sellers are cheap promotion, they get the brand out there.  
People who return to those sellers do it to save bandwidth. The people who buy 
off them the first time but who do have bandwidth, may not do it a second time 
because they figure out pretty quickly that the name is a web address, or at 
least they used to.  Also many people like dealing with a person rather than a 

The vast majority of the EBay sellers do the brand a service.  Getting someone 
to do it on behalf of the project is just a waste of energy that could be put 
to better use.  We would be better to promote the EBay sellers, treat them as 
partners rather than competitors.    EBay tends to be self policing, the 
unscrupulous ones get bad feedback and disappear fairly quickly.

If they are selling older versions, my answer to that is "So what?"  My wife 
still uses 3.0 and it suits her needs perfectly.  When the user decides that 
perhaps downloading is the better way to go then they will automatically get 
the latest version.  Having the latest and greatest is not the be all and end 

> > 
> > 2) Define voluntary requirements for distributors of OpenOffice.
> > Those who agree to these requirements would be allowed use of a
> > special logo and would be listed on our website.

More bureaucracy that is unneeded

> > 
> > 3) One or more community members, acting outside of Apache, could
> > organize to sell CD's on eBay at cost, and have eBay auction listings
> > that are upfront and honest, explaining that the software is open
> > source and can be downloaded for free.  We can give the URL right in
> > the listing.  We would make it clear that the charge is only for
> > convenience of having a CD delivered.

Putting a URL in the body of the listing that allows people to circumvent the 
auction process is against EBay TOU.

> Is it worth approaching eBay with our concerns?

No, because there are none

> - ensuring that sellers credit (and link to) the ASF

They are selling OOo, that's enough credit, these people are our retailers.  
We, the project, do not supply the software on media, just like Heinz gets 
supermarkets to sell their beans rather than only supply from a Heinz shop.

> - ensuring that sellers provide clear information on the version supplied

EBay won't do anything like that, their policing is along strict guidelines. 
Their actions are strictly binary:  Allow or Ban.  The value to EBay of OSS 
software sales is miniscule, it's less headache just to ban the sale full stop 
and we lose a really good cheap marketing tool   

> - ensuring that sellers provide the current version.
> - etc.

None of the above is necessary, the status quo works.  It just requires a 
little explanation on occasion.


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