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Benefits of non-GPL work

Published on Monday, 16 July 2007
Like the title suggests, this post is about the benefits of creating non-GPL compatible works, regardless of whether or not people get them for cost. So commercial and proprietary by and large have no place in this discussion.
Firstly, let's start with the scenario of an up and coming designer or developer still at school or university. Sam Moffat, current Core Team member, might fit inside this scenario.

  • In creating non-GPL works for products, the up and coming developer understands the nature of the industry they are going into.
  • In creating non-GPL works, they are educated to not provide free pitching to clients. Free pitching is a blight on the web design and development industry. If a developer can only recoup once from the intellectual property he or she has created, all other businesses using that model benefit from the free pitch.
  • In creating non-GPL works, they are getting a better return on investment for the coursework or accreditation they have recieved in learning the art and science of online product development. The risk with a GPL-compatible work is that another person, who has not been trained to the same level of skills as the original copyright holder, can 'set the code free' and diminish the return on the investment for professionally studying inside the online industry.
Next, let's consider the end users. Ultimately my business is built around meeting the needs of my clients, so therefore they have a significant voice in how Absalom Media operates.

The end users
  • They can get consumer protection for their goods, something removed implicitly in GPL v2 and explicitly in GPL v3 compatible work. The GPL v3 expressly states if you wish to provide warranty or refunds, don't use this licence. Protection for the consumer is paramount in any business transaction.
  • They can see that the company producing these goods actually honours the laws of the land in providing warranty, refunds and assessments of merchantability/fitness.
  • They know that they will be supported because the company involved in producing this non-GPL work will be doing what is necessary to maintain their customer base.
  • The customers and clients don't feel that they are part of some grand "experiment" in terms of a business model. Clients are not for experimentation purposes, they are the lifeblood of your business. They should not be treated like lab rats in a Skinner maze.
  • By providing non-GPL work, you are not invoking the GPL as a contract towards your clientele. Sure, it may have precedence as a copyright licence, but it is your choice not to use it as a contract.
  • If you choose to use an open source licence for your product for your clients, it's your choice as to which licence you use or create. You are not vendor-locked into a GPL-compatible licencing scheme from the outset.
Lastly, the key factor in running any business is to keep to the laws of the land.

  • Most governments around the world require businesses to operate under fair trading laws, either in a business to consumer perspective or in a business to business relationship.
  • Keeping in step with the law is a good thing. This conveys trust to your clientele.
All these things help end users, your clients, feel safe when you are developing or designing solutions for them in Joomla!. And that primarily is what developing and designing a high quality online presence is about. Meeting the needs of your end users.
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