Selling Source Code In Private Repos #622

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opened 2 weeks ago by ProfessorCode · 12 comments

GPL v3 and many other open source licenses allow projects to sell their source code. However, Codeberg's TOS doesn't make it clear if they support this use case. For example, if I wanted to sell the source code for my project on another site, is it still possible to use a private repository on Codeberg to host my project?

GPL v3 and many other open source licenses allow projects to sell their source code. However, Codeberg's TOS doesn't make it clear if they support this use case. For example, if I wanted to sell the source code for my project on another site, is it still possible to use a private repository on Codeberg to host my project?

I am also interested in the answer to the thread creator's question.

I am also interested in the answer to the thread creator's question.

Why not sell the code? But who wants to buy it, if it is open source? You in fact can only sell the authors/creators rights. And if you have more than one contributor to the code, everyone needs to agree to the deal. The license cannot be changed for the code which is already there, only for future contributions.

And BTW: There is no need to have a private repo for this.

Why not sell the code? But who wants to buy it, if it is open source? You in fact can only sell the authors/creators rights. And if you have more than one contributor to the code, everyone needs to agree to the deal. The license cannot be changed for the code which is already there, only for future contributions. And BTW: There is no need to have a private repo for this.
Collaborator

@kollo You can also sell access to free software code. People buying it can do whatever they want, it helps mitigate the issue of bankrupt startups who cannot continue to maintain a software. But for future updates, you have to buy the code from the developers.

Not sure if it works with all licences, though.

@ProfessorCode to answer your question: Codeberg is mainly targetted for helping the Free Software world, this usually means that we grant exceptions for pre-release and personal stuff like notetaking or internal discussion.

We are currently evaluating new strategies within Codeberg e.V. members. This probably means that we generally accept a certain size per user (say 50 MB), if this user also contributes to Free Software. Only (ab-)using the size limit for private repos is surely not what we want.

@kollo You can also sell access to free software code. People buying it can do whatever they want, it helps mitigate the issue of bankrupt startups who cannot continue to maintain a software. But for future updates, you have to buy the code from the developers. Not sure if it works with all licences, though. @ProfessorCode to answer your question: Codeberg is *mainly* targetted for helping the Free Software world, this usually means that we grant exceptions for pre-release and personal stuff like notetaking or internal discussion. We are currently evaluating new strategies within Codeberg e.V. members. This probably means that we generally accept a certain size per user (say 50 MB), if this user also contributes to Free Software. Only (ab-)using the size limit for private repos is surely not what we want.
Poster

@fnetX I have three questions.

  1. Since my projects will (probably) be licensed under GPL and, by extension, be Free Software, does that mean I can use a private repo to host the code here while selling it elsewhere (as long as I don't go over the size limit)?

  2. Is the size limit fixed? 50 MB for private repositories is small for what I intend to do.

  3. Does releasing my project under an open source license count as 'contributing to free software'?

This is important for me because not all projects are commercially viable with an 'open development' model. While I advocate and support free software, it also needs to be commercially viable for me to continue maintaining it. I hope this can be taken into consideration and there will be guidelines for others who may want to do the same here on Codeberg.

@fnetX I have three questions. 1. Since my projects will (probably) be licensed under GPL and, by extension, be *Free Software*, does that mean I can use a private repo to host the code here while selling it elsewhere (as long as I don't go over the size limit)? 2. Is the size limit fixed? 50 MB for private repositories is small for what I intend to do. 3. Does releasing my project under an open source license count as 'contributing to free software'? This is important for me because not all projects are commercially viable with an 'open development' model. While I advocate and support free software, it also needs to be commercially viable for me to continue maintaining it. I hope this can be taken into consideration and there will be guidelines for others who may want to do the same here on Codeberg.
Collaborator
  1. I think it's not explicitly forbidden, but ressource usage needs to stay reasonable.

  2. No it is not (and it's rather 100MB currently). As said, ressource usage needs to be reasonable. I don't think you have to worry unless you receive a message from the moderation team.

  3. Hmm ... our primary use case is still the support of public Free Software development, so I think you should also contribute to the community. But as said, this is some case of day-to-day determination, and I can't generally answer this here.

1. I think it's not explicitly forbidden, but ressource usage needs to stay reasonable. 2. No it is not (and it's rather 100MB currently). As said, ressource usage needs to be reasonable. I don't think you have to worry unless you receive a message from the moderation team. 3. Hmm ... our primary use case is still the support of public Free Software development, so I think you should also contribute to the community. But as said, this is some case of day-to-day determination, and I can't generally answer this here.

People buying it can do whatever they want, it helps mitigate the issue of bankrupt startups who cannot continue to maintain a software. But for future updates, you have to buy the code from the developers.

Company sells to customer A access to the repository PRIVATE that contains the software version 1 under a Free Software license. Customer A copies software version 1 on a public place PUBLIC. Everyone else gets version 1 of the software from PUBLIC. The Company publishes version 2, Customer A buys access again and copies it from PRIVATE to PUBLIC. etc.

It looks like this business model solely relies on a very fragile assumption: that none of the customers ever copy the software to a public place even though they are explicitly permitted to do so.

P.S. I know of a single instance where this was attempted. It is the exception that confirms this is a bad idea.

> People buying it can do whatever they want, it helps mitigate the issue of bankrupt startups who cannot continue to maintain a software. But for future updates, you have to buy the code from the developers. Company sells to customer A access to the repository PRIVATE that contains the software version 1 under a Free Software license. Customer A copies software version 1 on a public place PUBLIC. Everyone else gets version 1 of the software from PUBLIC. The Company publishes version 2, Customer A buys access again and copies it from PRIVATE to PUBLIC. etc. It looks like this business model solely relies on a very fragile assumption: that none of the customers ever copy the software to a public place even though they are explicitly permitted to do so. P.S. I know of a single instance where this was attempted. It is the exception that confirms this is a bad idea.
Poster

@fnetX Thanks for your advice. I appreciate it.

@dachary I may be totally wrong but piracy proves that this isn't just a problem within the open source community. It isn't something that can be avoided but you can at least get paid by those who care about supporting the project this way.

@fnetX Thanks for your advice. I appreciate it. @dachary I may be totally wrong but piracy proves that this isn't just a problem within the open source community. It isn't something that can be avoided but you can at least get paid by those who care about supporting the project this way.
ProfessorCode closed this issue 7 days ago
Collaborator

@dachary I know of one place where this works so far:

https://squidfunk.github.io/mkdocs-material/insiders/#terms

Please don't distribute the source code of Insiders. You may freely use it for public, private or commercial projects, privately fork or mirror it, but please don't make the source code public, as it would counteract the sponsorware strategy.

Sometimes, people are still nice, and IMO we should be open to people trying this out. Sustainability is still a big issue in the FLOSS world, and I personally appreciate everyone who wants to try something new out. If it doesn't work. people can still try a different model.

@dachary I know of one place where this works so far: https://squidfunk.github.io/mkdocs-material/insiders/#terms > Please don't distribute the source code of Insiders. You may freely use it for public, private or commercial projects, privately fork or mirror it, but please don't make the source code public, as it would counteract the sponsorware strategy. Sometimes, people are still nice, and IMO we should be open to people trying this out. Sustainability is still a big issue in the FLOSS world, and I personally appreciate everyone who wants to try something new out. If it doesn't work. people can still try a different model.

I'm extremely interested by new ideas for sustainability. Not so much if they are based on the notion that users give up their rights under the Free Software license. This is no longer Free Software if you are asked (in the case of Mkdocs material) or bound by an additional contract (another more toxic example) to give up your right to distribute.

I'm extremely interested by new ideas for sustainability. Not so much if they are based on the notion that users give up their rights under the Free Software license. This is no longer Free Software if you are asked (in the case of Mkdocs material) or bound by an additional contract (another more toxic example) to give up your right to distribute.

This would not be open software. (not even open source and also not free). So no FOSS.

This would not be open software. (not even open source and also not free). So no FOSS.
Collaborator

Hmm, I tend to disagree about that. Yes, it's not my favourite approach of Free Software, and I'd personally probably not support that financially, but asking someone nicely essentially grants you some freedom in the end.

For example, it does solve the issue when some software company goes bankrupt or you want to continue with a fork of a software. You can just use the software as long as you want to, and if you need to do maintenance, or add feature x, you can go ahead and excercise your freedom, and even publish your patches if you wanted to.

If a product would not be sustainable otherwise, I think this might be better than selling it under a commercial licence where the user does not have the right to continue its development if they wanted or needed to.


I'm a still a little undecided if this is something we should support on Codeberg.org. On the one hand, the development model isn't really open. On the other hand, we already do accept private repos for closed development workflows when people say they might eventually release the software into the public later (“hiding projects from the public until they're ready for usage and/or contribution“), and we also do accept projects without an open development model (internal team discussions, no public issue tracker etc, source just published as-is). So why not also accept the development of Free Software under this model, as long as users of that software are not restricted in their rights to use the software itself, even if it might sound off at first.

This is a question I'd like to hear more opinions about, so I'll reopen.

Hmm, I tend to disagree about that. Yes, it's not my favourite approach of Free Software, and I'd personally probably not support that financially, but asking someone nicely essentially grants you some freedom in the end. For example, it does solve the issue when some software company goes bankrupt or you want to continue with a fork of a software. You can just use the software as long as you want to, and if you need to do maintenance, or add feature x, you can go ahead and excercise your freedom, and even publish your patches if you wanted to. If a product would not be sustainable otherwise, I think this might be better than selling it under a commercial licence where the user does not have the right to continue its development if they wanted or needed to. --- I'm a still a little undecided if this is something we should support on Codeberg.org. On the one hand, the development model isn't really open. On the other hand, we already do accept private repos for closed development workflows when people say they might eventually release the software into the public later (“hiding projects from the public until they're ready for usage and/or contribution“), and we also do accept projects without an open development model (internal team discussions, no public issue tracker etc, source just published as-is). So why not also accept the development of Free Software under this model, as long as users of that software are not restricted in their rights to use the software itself, even if it might sound off at first. This is a question I'd like to hear more opinions about, so I'll reopen.
fnetX reopened this issue 6 days ago

Technically a private repository is a private repository so I guess we can only declare what we condone or don't condone here. I personally don't mind too much if a small free software project with minimal revenue is internally hosted on codeberg, strictly within the limits of what's implicitly and explicitly fair use to our community, of course. Any commercial free software project that creates significant income to the author(s) should easily be able to finance a rudimentary paid forge hosting elsewhere anyway, so I guess a "need" for codeberg to serve such usecases I think only really applies to a very small niche anyway, so let's cover it under fair use, I would say.

Technically a private repository is a private repository so I guess we can only declare what we condone or don't condone here. I personally don't mind too much if a small free software project with minimal revenue is internally hosted on codeberg, strictly within the limits of what's implicitly and explicitly fair use to our community, of course. Any commercial free software project that creates *significant* income to the author(s) should easily be able to finance a rudimentary paid forge hosting elsewhere anyway, so I guess a "need" for codeberg to serve such usecases I think only really applies to a very small niche anyway, so let's cover it under fair use, I would say.
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