A dual license system for code libraries?

Agner Fog agner at agner.org
Tue Feb 28 13:44:09 UTC 2017

On 28-02-2017 13:22, Carsten Agger wrote:
> The ultimate goal of the free software movement is that *all* software 
> should provide its users the four freedoms. Proprietary software 
> should become a thing of the past. This is a lot to do with the wish 
> for a free society - Stallman's analysis of the problem indicates that 
> *iff* we choose to build our society and infrastructure on software, 
> software freedom is a  necessary (but nor sufficient) condition for 
> society to remain free. A *necessary* condition, to repeat myself.
Yes, we would all like to live in such an utopia. Unfortunately, this is 
not the way the world works today.
Most of the companies who pay for my software library are making 
proprietary software tailor made to fit some hardware produced by the 
same company for some very specific application. They may make their 
software freely downloadable or they may charge money for it, but they 
will not make it open source because this would give their competitors 
an advantage. I don't think we are benefiting any idealistic goal by 
turning these companies down and insisting on GPL only. On the contrary, 
this would open a market for a proprietary alternative to my library.
> Now, if all software is to be free software, it obviously needs to 
> come from somewhere. Large organisations need suppliers they can rely 
> on to supply support and to develop custom software. From the very 
> moment (2005) I took a serious interest in free software and 
> understood that the state of GNU/Linux was such that it can 
> conceivably be used everywhere and there's no need at all for Windows 
> or other proprietary systems, I realized that for this to become true, 
> political lobbying is not enough - we need companies to produce and 
> support the software that everybody is going to need. Public ("open 
> source") projects manned (more or less) by volunteers and funded (more 
> or less) by NGO's can do a lot, but municipalities, goverment 
> agencies, ministries, huge companies etc. need business levels of 
> support and development of free software.
> Thus, business models for co-op's and companies and NGO's supplying 
> free software is sorely needed. Living off the charity of advertising 
> companies and proprietary software vendors such as Google, IBM and 
> Facebook (as many large projects do) is *not* going to be enough. So, 
> business models are important, are needed and are *in no way* at odds 
> with the ideals of free software.
I agree.

If free software projects that are capable of generating a surplus (like 
mine) could be used for supporting other projects that need money, this 
would benefit the general goal of free software. If only we could agree 
on a way to organize this.

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