FarCry License Change Discussion Paper

written by Geoff Bowers on Wednesday, 7 May, 2008 @ 07:02 PM

FarCry Framework Embraces GPL
After thorough review, the FarCry code base is moving to the GPL 3.0 license from FarCry 5.0 and onwards. A license exception for plugins and themes to be released under LGPL 3.0 is currently under review.

The FarCry 5.0 release has been delayed. We're contemplating a significant licensing change and as a consequence we want to make the decision prior to making the release. Once we have resolved whether or not the license change is right for our community, we'll either release 5.0 under the current license, Common Public License 1.0 (CPL), or under the newly proposed dual-licensing scheme.

Important: this is something that is up for consideration and does not constitute a decision by Daemon. We are investigating the possibility of change, and not announcing a change.

What is the new licensing model?

We're considering a move to a dual-license model: GNU GPL License v3 (GPL) and Commercial.

This is the same model used by many other open source communities. You may already be familiar with projects like MySQL (a popular database from MySQL), Open Bluedragon (a CFML server from New Atlanta), and extJS (a wonderful Javascript UI library and framework).

Are you a lawyer? Is this good advice?

Please be aware we are *not* lawyers and this discussion document does not constitute any form of legal advice. If you think you need legal advice, please get it from some qualified to give it ;)

How will this affect me, an existing member of the community?

Well in most instances it won't have any affect. GPL is similar to CPL in many respects.

For those who cannot abide by the additional restrictions of the GPL license, a Commercial license will be available for purchase from Daemon. We'll explain how this might apply to you as we go.
Why are you considering the change?

When we originally open sourced FarCry way back in April 2003 we chose the Common Public License 1.0 (CPL). The CPL has served us well over the last 5 years, however, it contains some restrictions that make the license incompatible with other open source licenses such as GPL, and does not enforce a principle of "Quid Pro Quo".

We'd also like to offer companies the opportunity of a commercial license, to free those who need it from the obligations of open source licenses. And also give companies an opportunity to give something back to the community, without the need to contribute code.

Quid Pro Quo? Is that latin or something?

Quid pro quo (Latin for "something for something") indicates a more-or-less equal exchange or substitution of goods or services.

Dual Licensing is founded on the principle of Quid Pro Quo - "something for something". In return for using FarCry Core and/or FarCry CMS to build your web application, we expect members of the community to do one of the following:

Give back to the Open Source community by releasing your modifications and/or plugins under a compatible Open Source license (such as GPL v3 or LGPL v3). By doing so all users would have rights to view the application's full source code, modify it, and redistribute it.

Contribute to the ongoing development of the code base by purchasing commercial licenses from Daemon. Such a license would give you the right to distribute your application under the license terms of your choice.

How is CPL different to GPL? What do I need to look out for?

CPL allows for developers to create a derivative work and not have to release that change or enhancement to the community. Provided you maintain the existing attributions you can re-distribute those changes without publishing the source.

GPL is a little more "militant". If you create a modification to the open source code base under this license and wish to distribute the code, then you are obligated to distribute your changes under the same license.

The key issue here is "distribution".

If you have made changes to your own private application under the GPL then you have *no* obligation to give up your source code. However, if you are reselling, developing for another company off site or essentially exchanging the code between more than one organisation or entity you are now "distributing" the code and the modifications need to be released under GPL.

FAQs of interest:

The differences between CPL and GPL may appear to be subtle but they are quite significant and so its a change we need to be sure about.

We just want to use FarCry for our company website. Are we affected?

If you are just using the code base as is, then you are fine.

You would only need to consider the GPL requirements if you made modifications or enhancements to the code base, and decided to outsource development or otherwise redistribute the code. Even then you might be happy for folks to see your changes.

We have intellectual property we want to protect. We don't want folks poring over our code base. Can we still use FarCry?

So long as all your code is within your private application you can do what you like. No one can force you to distribute your code.

If you want to distribute your code to someone outside of your organisation you would need to purchase a Commercial license.

We're building FarCry solutions for our customers and we don't want to share our enhancements. How will things change?

You're client would need to purchase a Commercial license in order to use your closed-source customisations. Alternatively, your company could negotiate an OEM agreement for a closed source version of the FarCry code base.

Daemon is considering options for resellers, so that you can easily sell the FarCry Commercial License directly, without having to refer clients to Daemon for license purchases.

My custom changes are a unique selling proposition for my business. You're trying to stop me from making money from FarCry. You suck!

In essence it boils down to this:

If you gain a commercial advantage by having a closed source solution based on FarCry, then you must purchase an appropriate commercial license from Daemon. By purchasing commercial licenses for your clients, you are no longer compelled to publish your source code.

If you want to use the open source license of FarCry, you must contribute all your source code to the open source community and you must give them the right to share it with everyone too.

What is a Commercial license?

It's just the same as most other closed source software; the license gives you the right to use the software under certain terms. These terms would typically involve a right to use the software, on X number of CPUs (or some other criteria) to build your application. We're talking about a standard End User License Agreement (EULA).

How this licensing would be "metered" (such as per server, per domain, per CPU, whatever) or what costs would be involved has yet to be determined. Obviously we would aim to be as competitive as possible.

Why would I want to consider a Commercial license?

First of all you may never need a Commercial license. This is certainly true if you are happy to abide by the rules of the GPL open source license. In this instance you would be free to use and develop with FarCry to your heart's content.

On the other hand, if you are concerned about the implications of GPL and the prospect of having to publish your source then you need to purchase a Commercial license.

What versions of FarCry would this change apply to?

The proposed changes to licensing will only affect FarCry v5.0 and above.

The existing FarCry 4.0 code base and maintenance branch will continue to be maintained under the CPL license for the foreseeable future.

Are you asking for permission? Where do I vote?

Like many things in life, this is not a democracy. Daemon, as the sole copyright holder of the code base for FarCry Core and FarCry CMS, is entitled to make this change at any time. We are looking to our community for feedback in order to help us in making the right decision.

Please feel free to post on farcry-dev, comment on the blog or contact me directly with any words of support, condemnation or enquiry!

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