While I know that some (most) copyleft focused businesses often don't get the opportunity to choose the business model that they want.

For my business I want to be able to choose exactly what business model that I want. By choosing an open source license, will this enable me to choose? Or will it be like copyleft businesses that are not free to choose?

1 Answer 1


Start by looking at this from the other direction.

Choosing the wrong license can definitely prevent you from adopting the business model you want.

If you want to sell your software, then any open license is likely to prevent you doing so .. because anyone can get the software for free. So you need a closed license in that case.

If you want to make money by selling support, then a closed license might mean you can't create a large enough customer base quickly enough to survive until the revenue stream is sufficient.

Coming from a different direction again, back in the 70's and 80's people would ask me what computer they should get for their business. My answer was always a different question: "What software do you want to run?" or "What do you want to do with it?"

The best approach is to clearly define your business model .. and let that then guide you in your choice of license.

If your model is to sell services around your software (support, education, custom programming), you need to build up a large base of users so that, if only 'x' percent of them buy the service, you have sufficient revenue. That needs a license which encourages wide adoption and usage, while perhaps reducing the number of competing implementations that spring up.

These are the issues that all new startups face when putting together their business plan. If you hope to make money from open source, then ironically you have to treat it as a business from the outset and plan accordingly.

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