148

Whether or not you can make money with an open source project, depends on many things. Based on experience, I see three factors that are important: Which license did you choose? Take a look at the schema in this answer and you'll see that on one end, you have permissive licenses and on the other hand you have licenses with a strong copyleft. Which type of ...


50

Yes, what is being done on that fork is entirely legal. However, you are also allowed to take the useful changes (like the translation) and incorporate them in your own fork. Then you can advertise it as the ad-free version that users might like better.


43

So it seems that you're doing this as a piece of contract work, not under employment rules, so the issue of work-for-hire probably doesn't enter into it. The rules about what you can publish and when come entirely out of the contract between you and the payer, and apparently that's not written yet. That's great news. A good contract sets out each side's ...


26

There are a huge number of ways earning money with free software -- but none of them is guaranteed. Just a few examples: Donations: Many users are willing to give a few coins each month for a project they like. If a huge number of people are doing it, your servers are paid for. Payment methods could be e.g. Flattr, Patreon, Paypal, Bitcoin or any other ...


23

This depends on the contracts for this development effort. The GPLv3 explicitly covers the case that you are doing development exclusively for someone else, and this is OK (section 2, basic permissions): You may convey covered works to others for the sole purpose of having them make modifications exclusively for you, or provide you with facilities for ...


22

There are several methods, often dependent on the type of software you've produced. If you have space in a GUI, you could consider adding some adverts to it. There are plenty of services that provide you with money in return for taking some adverts. Generosity. Users who genuinely like your product can be persuaded to give you some small donation in return. ...


19

Depending on how they chose to provide their fork, yes. The MIT license, which you chose to license your work under, doesn't prevent anyone downstream from changing the license, nor from changing the license of a derivative - unlike a copyleft license such as the GPL. They can essentially license their fork how they like. If they relicense it under CC BY-...


16

"Stealing" code is copyright infringement, which is obviously avoided by most legitimate companies. Losing a copyright infringement suit can easily destroy most companies. On the other hand, without patents, reverse-engineering and feature-matching is perfectly legal and done all the time. Some unethical companies can very well be doing the former ...


15

Some projects sell the right to companies to use their code under a proprietary license. This is covered by Wikipedia in the Multi-licensing page. From Multi-licensing: Business models: Multi-licensing is commonly done to support free software business models in a commercial environment. In this scenario, one option is a proprietary software license, ...


13

If you want to restrict your software to not be used for commercial purposes, it is not open source. You can release it under multiple licenses - such as the GPL and a commercial license (where a user can choose one or the other, obviously having to pay for the latter) - but it seems from your question that you're not considering the GPL either. The GPL ...


12

Yes, provided they license their improvements under MIT or another free/libre license. Please note that MIT (Expat) is a permissive license, so the fork may no longer be free/libre software - the improvements may even be proprietary (ARR) - in that case, the other party will be able to sell the improved version, but you will not have that option (but you ...


11

Not after you've been given it. When giving you support, the supporter (the dev in this case) has essentially said "I'm happy with the payment I'm getting for this." If the payment is nothing, fine. They're happy. They can't suddenly change their mind after giving you the support and say "hey pay me for that now" - it'd be like someone giving you a present ...


11

Large projects like MariaDB or some of the many under the Apache Foundation umbrella rely on sponsorship from big companies who benefit from using the software. Others sell support/training services of their software or make alternative versions with restricted features. Take a look at Apache Foundation and MariaDB for examples, among many others.


10

The CC NC clause is really hard to get a grasp on, and Creative Commons do not provide much guidance about it. There certainly exists a lot of examples where it is not possible to give a straightforward about exactly what is commercial use. For an example of such a situation, see my answer to this question: Using CC-NC material inside a freemium app. That ...


10

There is no general guide for making money using open source projects because it highly depends on what the project is about. Some projects are combining open source + premium features (that are mostly sold to the companies) like GitHub is doing. Some projects might depend solely on the donations like elementary OS is. Other projects might be paying for the ...


9

One of the problems with CC NC is that when you say "I am not sure what "Commercial purposes" are", you are not alone in that. The relevant clause in CC BY-NC 3.0 reads You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary ...


9

To the best of my knowledge, there is currently no "pacifist" or "non-military" FOSS license that has been vetted by actual lawyers. Therefore if you wish to use a good license of this nature, you will need to come up with your own, vetted by your lawyers. Writing a good license is hard; for a pacifist license it would be very important to clear the ...


9

Such a license would definitely not be open source (6: No discrimination against fields of endeavor) nor approved by the FSF (Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose). The rationale for not allowing such restrictions is that defining exactly what should be allowed or forbidden will lead to a quagmire. In your particular case: ...


8

When you run a social network, your main asset is not the software, but the community that uses your social network. You have to identify your competitive advantage. If your competitive advantage is not the software, then making it open source can make sense. Example: Reddit is a kind of social website, it is for-profit (recently valued at $500 million USD)...


8

IANAL, but I believe this is legal within GPLv3. That is why there exists Affero General Public License (AGPLv3) license. This will force them to share any source code changes if running it on a web server (e.g. if software/scripts not run locally on client).


7

Licenses are documents to which copyright can apply, and the copyright terms of a license itself don't need to have anything to do with its content. So you can "license a license" and prohibit anyone from using your license unless they pay a fee. However, be aware that: Most people won't consider this in accordance to the FLOSS spirit, so you will have a ...


7

Plausible, an open source alternative to Google analytics, released a blog post detailing their move from MIT licensing to the AGPL (Affero GNU Public License). In it, they have the following claim: Here are a couple of events that made us aware of the risks with a permissive open source license: There’s been at least one case where a corporation has taken ...


7

Coming from a background in open-source, your model is not that reliable. In general, open-source licenses must comply with the open-source definition, in particular sections 5 and 6: 5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons. 6. No Discrimination Against Fields of ...


7

Lots of software is focused on solving a particular problem (e.g., performing calculations, handling point of sale transactions, visually rendering and editing pictures/graphs). In those cases, the software is a means to an end: the end user has a need, and they use the software to fill that need. In such cases, there is often an obvious path to monetization:...


6

I'm going to answer your question from the perspective: what is the risk to open sourcing the technology that your friend's business has developed. I try to tackle your more specific question at the end. TL,DR If your friend's company is built around the technology the company would open source, it's a real risk that their company would not be financially ...


6

It's heavily dependent on where you are/who you work for. Many companies exist solely to sell a product. These kinds of companies tend not to publish their code so that others don't steal their ideas (yes, it's technically illegal but people will do it). If you're working for one of these companies, your best shot at contributing to open source is getting ...


6

Trying to teach your investors how to program is likely a waste of time. They are not inclined to learn it, they don't have the time to learn it, and it is unlikely to help them make a business decision (People who can code a bit are often worse managers than those who can not code at all, because they often believe to know far more than they actually do). ...


6

Yes and no: Yes if.... You have previously agreed to pay them for their service. For example if you went to the people helping you and said "I will give you $20 to help me". Them agreeing to help you under those conditions ( for $20) is a contract between you and the person helping you, you therefore need to pay him / her. No if... They provide support ...


6

You can build up your own business as a self employed contractor. You won't really be working only on FLOSS projects, but you can easily limit yourself to working only with FLOSS project If your expenses are low you don't need much money in the beginning. You can gradually raise your rates and get more clients. Most of the code written is not directly ...


6

You could look outside corporate life. Universities often open-source their code; in this way their experiments / data analysis can be reproduced by other parties. If academic work suits you, you could look for a position as a scientific programmer. Note that a position in academia does not guarantee that you will be working on open source projects; it still ...


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