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Re: [tlug] GPL vs. paid version and ethics

Hi Darren,

On Sunday, August 05, 2012 11:07 AM, Darren Cook wrote:
But I also wondered about the ethics. If I added that feature I cut into
their sales. Financing for the product goes down. Product quality goes
down. Well, in, one scenario.

Thoughts? Pointers to intelligent previous discussions on this topic?

Interesting that you brought this up as I've been thinking about this for the past year. However, I'm coming from the other side. I'm affiliated with a company which adds features to some GPL'ed software and sells it.

I personally think that what you are considering is not unethical. It is no different than company B taking the GPL version, adding the same features as company A but now selling it for a slightly lower price than what company A is selling it for. Here, company B is also undercutting company A's profits; I'll bet company B won't lose any sleep over it! Anyone from the outside looking at this situation would argue that it is "part of business" (presuming you didn't do anything unscrupulous like reverse engineer company A's work, etc.).

But, why you are hesitant is understandable. Company A is the company that released the GPL version. It isn't a completely unrelated company (which can legally happen, I think -- that is, a company can take someone else's GPL'ed software and fork off an improved version and sell that).

We hope that the company A's commercial version will have other strings attached that make it more appealing to its customer base. For example, the one I am affiliated with offers 24 hours/7 days support. Moreover, they are probably continually improving their version and may even absorb some of the ideas from your forked off GPL version.

I didn't have any intelligent to add but I am equally interested in hearing what others here have to say... Thanks for bringing it up!


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