Being a open source member for more than 6 years, we receive questioning about why their contributions are listed on our site for sale. It’s almost the same question: I spent the time to develop it, how dare you sell it without my agreement?
Well, it may sound harsh, but we do dare.
Here’s my reply below:
Thanks for your contacting us. We are very happy to cooperate on anything that’s legal and reasonable.
Spirit of GUN License – Open Source
Most mods listed on our site is the exact same copy like zen-cart.com, and we are not SELLING the mods, but the installation service. We believe our motivation is legal and reasonable, because we follow Zen Cart license, which is based on GNU. If you have read GNU, you should know the following rules it requires:
- If your module obeys GUN, then it’s free. Any people can obtain the source code and re-distribute the software. Any people including the author can’t not hamper the freedom of any other people to get the source code. This is the core spirit of GNU license.
- Free does not necessarily mean people can get it without being charged of money. Anybody can sell it. However, if people can get it for free, like download from zen-cart.com, then they don’t have to pay for it. Even paying for the module to download source code is legal but it does look unwise.
- The author owns the copyright. Anybody distributes the software must contain complete copyright information (if it exists), and can not change it. Therefore, you do own the copyright, we don’t.
Our Business Applies GNU Spirit
Based on the 3 rules listed above, we believe our business is doing the right things:
- Since you uploaded the module to zen-cart, if you did not claim a commercial license in your module, then it obeys GNU by default. That means we have the rights to obtain its source code and re-distribute it.
- We can sell it, as I said above, it’s legal. We are not sure if it contains a commercial license or not, because there are about 730 more modules listed, we don’t have enough time to check every module. If it does contain a commercial license, we’ll remove it ASAP and being very glad to do this.
- You own the copyright, again, we don’t own it. As you see, we copied exact each word of your email address and how it’s developed. We understand you spent lots of time to perfectly it. Therefore, we respect your copyright. We protect it and if there’s any one requires this module, we do re-distribute the license it contains.
You are the third who ask us to remove a module. A Japanese coder received our email and said he learned the GNU license and feel better. Another South Africa company requires us to remove its commercial software. We talked about the same things, but they insisted to remove it. We did it and requires them to remove it from zen-cart.com, they also did it.
As far as we know, Zen Cart obeys GUN license, and most modules it listed also obeys GNU license. Only a few modules are uploaded there with commercial license, but this is not allowed, because commercial license hampers people to obtain the source code and make modifications. That will stop the spread of freeware.
What Do We Do?
Thanks for reading so much. Not all people understand how open source software works. It takes time to explain and help people to understand it, enjoy it, finally become a part of it. We are also a part of the open source software world.
We do charge people for certain fees. This is mainly based on services we provided, like installation, debug, customization and upgrading. All these service take lots of time to complete. In other words, we are selling knowledge, skills and time. We don’t sell for modules (a few modules we own copyrights are sold with commercial license).
You may wonder why people need our service? Well, that’s why we are living in the open source software world. Here are our clients:
- They downloaded a zen cart module, and don’t know how to install it.
- They know how to install it, but they don’t have much time on it.
- They have time to install it, but they found some problems that can’t be solved by their own or seeking the help of zen-cart forum.
- They do find the answers to the problem, but they don’t find any one who can implement the solution.
- They find a coder to implement the solution but failed (we also fail sometimes).
Therefore, those people who come to us are not coming to buy the source code (the most unbelievable behavior in open source campaign), but for the last resort. Now, you should understand, we are not selling your module, but selling our skills and time to solve client’s headache. That’s what we charged for.
Why Commercial Power Helps Open Source Movement
If you are still reading, we’d like to say lots of “thank you”. When I was a college students, it confuses me why there are people who charges other people for help in open source areas. It does not make sense. It is immoral. It is guilty. If I become a open source contributor, I will not charge anything.
Now, I grow up and understand open source better. Open Source focus on OPEN SOURCE, not free of charge. The ability to get the source code is the biggest freedom you can ever dream of. There people who want to spent thousands of dollars to know how to add a new function to a commercial software but rejected. Then those bad luck guys have to spent half a year to develop their own software with the new function and 98% replica of existing Closed Source software.
Understands that? With open source license, you will never be blackmailed. It will not be a problem of whether you can, but how you can. You don’t have to be desperate to beg for a peek of the source code, you can modify it as you wish (if you know how to do that).
The problem becomes How You Can Do It. Like you, an excellent coder who contributed a module to the open source community, can learn the code and change it. Like most of clients, they just want to have their own software, they are floweriest, cake maker, watches seller, pet food suppliers, how can you expect them to learn so much IT skills? That does not make sense. Then we come out to help them. We benefit them in the following ways:
- They enjoy a cheaper price than commercial software. A typical commercial shopping cart, charges around $600 annually, without any customization support. Zen Cart only cost you half of that with customization support.
- They can have their own software without any limitation. Buying a commercial software will finally have to face the problem of customization to meet your own business rules. But in most case it’s a mission impossible, or you have to pay tons of money to get it. Why? It’s closed source code. In open source code world, you can always get what you want at a reasonable price. If we charges high, you can find alternations from the community.
- They can focus on their own business. Florist won’t care of cake making, why should they pay too much attention to coding? We care, because we love this industry. Without us, their life will be much harder.
Therefore, we are also helping open source campaign in a special way. That’s why most of our clients would say lots of thanks. If you can’t find anybody to help you to achieve your dream, then we said “yep, we can help”, doesn’t that sounds like a angel from heaven? You guys who made testimonials know it, right?
Welcome To Open Source World
Finally, I would send our best greeting to you for your contributing the module to zen cart community. You can contribute to the open source community or not. Contributing is a final stage of any open source member. You can choose to contribute when you are aware how great it is to be a part of the open source community, or you choose not to contribute your code until you realize which is better.