Iron Lute License

posted Feb 04, 2004
in Iron Lute

I want to be able to discuss Iron Lute's planned license in a posting in response to somebody's blog here, but first I need to discuss it. So here are the licensing plans I have for Iron Lute. I'm very interested in feedback on this.

I'd would like Iron Lute to be open source, likely GPL with explicit exclusion of plug-ins (i.e., you are explicitly allowed to create new Node Types, etc., and release them under any license you like). (This is not quite the LGPL because you still can not take Iron Lute and build another application around it; limiting as I will means you can "connect" Iron Lute to your application but that you can not just pick up Iron Lute and make it be your application.) But that depends on the usage and support pattern it receives.

If nobody uses it and nobody helps me with it, then eventually, I'll stop supporting it. (No surprise there.) I'll keep it online and quite possibly continue using it in my own personal projects, but unless somebody else shows an interest, no public sign of development will continue.

(Truthfully, call me arrogant but I do not consider this likely. I think there's a definate niche in the Open Source world for what I am creating here, partially because of the lack of an outlining widget that I mentioned in my original post.)

If I get significant contributions from other developers and other people (including documentation, help, community helping each other out a lot, etc.), I'll make it the aforementioned limited GPL. The threshold for this is "if I had to remove all contributions other then mine to date, how painful would that be?" If it can be done swiftly and painlessly, then I may go to the third option.

The third option is "a lot of people use it and like it, but nobody is helping with the development". In that case I'll do an analysis, and either stop development, or try to take it commercial, depending on feedback.

I'm thinking of a cut-off date of a year after the initial "stable" release, which would be some months after the first public release, of course, so we're talking about at least a year and a half window, practically.

I'd like to say up front that I want this to be open source. I want to experience new features of Iron Lute that I didn't have to write myself. However, I do not want to tie my hands by committing to a license "come hell or high water"; the condition above is not intended as a "loophole I can jump through" so much as a way of pointing out that two pages of docs and a node type do not constitute "significant contributions" in the sense I am mentioning. Believe me, I will err on the side of "open source" if anybody gives me the chance.

So, what license this is released under is at least partially up to you.

I will make this commitment though: I will not pull the rug out from underneath you. Should I end up going commercial, the last "free" version will be clearly marked, never crippled, and will never expire. You just won't get updates and improvements.


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