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wxPython Licence vs GPL

we have some Python code we're planning to GPL. However, bits of it were
cut&pasted from some wxPython-licenced code to use as a starting point
for implementation. It is possible that some fragments of this code
remains unchanged at the end.

How should we refer to this in terms of copyright statements and bundled
Licence files? Is there, say, a standard wording to be appended to the
GPL header in each source file? Does the original author need to be
named as one of the copyright holders, or that ours is a derivative work
from his? Which of these would be required under the terms of the
Licence, and which by standard practice / courtesy?

(This assumes the wxPython Licence is compatible with the GPL -- if not,
do we just cosmetically change any remaining lines, so none remain from
the orignal?)

Thanks

John
Nov 22 '05
84 6061
Ed Jensen <ej*****@visi.com> writes:
I think free software/open source has existed long enough and with
enough varied licenses (GPL, LGPL, modified LGPL (see wxWidgets), BSD,
X11, MIT, Apache, etc.) that we'd basically know without question if
less restritive licenses (like BSD) were causing projects to fail vs.
projects that use very heavy handed licenses (like GPL). Apache and
Python are two of my favorite examples, followed by the *BSD operating
systems.


Python and *BSD are getting far less volunteer development love than,
say, GCC or Linux, and the licensing is at least part of the reason.
Also, numerous GCC ports done by hardware companies (for their CPU's)
have been released under the GPL that would definitely have been
proprietary if it had been permitted. That is not speculation, it is
known from discussions with those hardware companies at the time. G++
(the original C++ front end for GCC) also would have been proprietary.
Nov 25 '05 #51
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 17:43:22 +0100, Martin P. Hellwig wrote:
if I owned a company
making profit on software sales (sale =! support) you sign a death wish
for using GPL


Apart from Microsoft, and possibly Quark (makers of Quark Express desktop
packaging software), and perhaps a few console game developers, is there
any company making a profit on software sales?
--
Steven.

Nov 26 '05 #52
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 16:00:29 -0500, Mike Meyer wrote:
I believe in GPL'ed software - I use it regularly. On the other hand,
I don't believe that it represents the best license to release
software if the goal is to improve the lot of humanity. The
restrictions are on "distribution", not on use,
Why would you want to restrict use?

Perhaps if you wrote an evil program that does evil things, and you wanted
to restrict who can use it. But the best way of dealing with that would be
just to not write the evil program in the first place, which has the
happy side-effect of saving you a lot of time too.

The GPL doesn't restrict distribution. I don't understand where people get
this bizarre view of the GPL from. The GPL *encourages* distribution, by
allowing cost-free redistribution. The only restriction the GPL has is
that it prevents the re-distributor from taking away rights which
were granted to them from the people they redistribute to.

If you don't like that clause, you have two very simple options: don't
redistribute the GPLed software. Or use some other software provided under
a different licence. There is no shortage of developers out there willing
to create new software that can be distributed under whatever licence you
like.

so it doesn't really
keep people from using said software commercially.
Why would you want to stop people using your software commercially? That
seems like a good way of making sure your software languishes in
obscurity. If you did, then obviously the GPL is not the licence you
should be using.

For instance, one
or more of your examples may have been worth developing for internal
use. They then decided there was a profit to be made in distributing
it commercially, and proceeded to do so because they could.
I don't quite follow you. Are you saying this is a bad thing or a good
thing? Regardless, the GPL allows the commercial redistribution of
software. What makes you think it doesn't?

Perhaps you think that "commercial program" is a synonym for "closed,
hidden, secret source code". If so, I suggest you check the dictionary.

Without
the profit motive, they may not have done the extra work involved in
preparing the IP for distribution and doing the distribution.

Personally, I release stuff under a BSD-like license, historically
having included requirements that I be notified of bug fixes, and/or
that I be given copies of commercial software that included my code.


That would make it NOT a BSD-like licence then.

--
Steven.

Nov 26 '05 #53
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> writes:
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 16:00:29 -0500, Mike Meyer wrote:
The GPL doesn't restrict distribution. I don't understand where
people get this bizarre view of the GPL from.>
It happens because people say things like:
If you don't like that clause, you have two very simple options: don't
redistribute the GPLed software. Or use some other software provided under
a different licence.


<mike
--
Mike Meyer <mw*@mired.org> http://www.mired.org/home/mwm/
Independent WWW/Perforce/FreeBSD/Unix consultant, email for more information.
Nov 26 '05 #54
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 23:26:38 +0100, Martin P. Hellwig wrote:
BSD/MIT style license is a
good substitute of no license at all.


But that's not true: "no licence at all" means that nobody has the right
to use or copy or even *see* your work. You can, of course, choose to
show them your work without a licence, but unless you give them a licence
they can't legally do anything with it.

Perhaps you are thinking of the public domain, which does not require a
licence, but that is because it is not owned by anyone -- not even you,
the creator.

If you want to release your work with no restrictions whatsoever, then
just put the work in the public domain. Is attribution really that
important to you -- especially when that attribution may be buried deep in
the source code of software which nobody will ever see?
--
Steven.

Nov 26 '05 #55
On Fri, 25 Nov 2005 02:34:32 +0000, Ed Jensen wrote:
Because I think a lot of well meaning software developers writing free
software don't performance due diligence to determine the true
motivation behind, and the chilling effect of, the GPL.


It took me seconds, seconds I say, to open a web browser and google for
"gpl" and discover www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html

And such chilling effects they are too! Why, if I use GPLed software, I'm
forced to, er, um, well actually I'm not forced to do anything if I merely
use GPLed software.

I'm not forced to pay a licence fee. I'm not forced to maintain licences
at great cost to myself. I'm not forced to get their permission before
publishing benchmarks. I'm not forced to open up the rest of my source
code to others. I'm not forced to redistribute the program to others. I'm
not forced to contribute source code back to the developers. I'm not
forced to allow the BSA to audit my software if they ask. I'm not even
forced to send the developers a post card telling them how much I love
their work.

And if I *choose* of my own free will to redistribute that GPLed work, or
a derivative work of such, the only restriction is that I may not take
away rights granted to me from those I redistribute to. I'm not even
forced to give the software away for free -- I am free to charge as much
or as little as I wish, so long as I don't charge extra for the source
code (excepting reasonable distribution costs of shipping extra media).

Such chilling effects. That explains why Linux and other GPLed software
has languished in obscurity over the last decade, while companies like
IBM, Novell and Red Hat have flocked to support the much older
BSD-licenced code.

Yes, no wonder you hate the GPL, with all those chilling effects.

--
Steven.

Nov 26 '05 #56
Christophe <ch*************@free.fr> wrote:
If you don't like the GPL, then by all means, *do not use GPL code !*

Please, I mean, when you use without authorisation some code in your
project, you are in trouble, no matter what licence the code was using.


I'm not sure why you felt compelled to state the obvious...
Nov 26 '05 #57
Paul Rubin <http://ph****@nospam.invalid> wrote:
Python and *BSD are getting far less volunteer development love than,
say, GCC or Linux, and the licensing is at least part of the reason.
I disagree. I believe *BSD gets less volunteer development because of
some legal wrangling in the early 90s that didn't affect Linux.

I believe GCC gets more volunteer development than Python because C
and C++ were (and are) much more widely used.
Also, numerous GCC ports done by hardware companies (for their CPU's)
have been released under the GPL that would definitely have been
proprietary if it had been permitted. That is not speculation, it is
known from discussions with those hardware companies at the time.
Even if this is true, GCC would have continued to exist. Just because
an entity takes some open source code and places it in a closed source
product, the original open source code continues to exist.

Frankly, I suspect those hardware companies would have relented their
decision once they realized it was harder to keep re-integrating their
code into newer GCC releases, than it was to just release the code.
G++
(the original C++ front end for GCC) also would have been proprietary.


I'm not saying you're wrong, but since you're providing no evidence,
I'll remain skeptical about this claim.
Nov 26 '05 #58
On Fri, 25 Nov 2005 17:17:43 +0000, Ed Jensen wrote:
Whereas including
one line of GPL code into your 10,000,000,000 line project can have
disasterous consequences (which I find ridiculous)


If you think that's disastrous, just try using one line of proprietary
code in your 10,000,000,000 line project without permission.

Or for that matter, one line of BSD code without living up to your
obligations under the BSD licence.

That's what is is really about, not the presence or absence of lines of
code. If you can't or won't live up to your obligations under the licence,
then you have no business using the code in your project.

And no, it isn't too obvious to mention -- all the nonsense talk about
the GPL being viral misses the point that *any* unauthorized code can and
will poison your entire project if you get caught. Anyone who thinks the
GPL is unique in that regard is deluding themselves.
--
Steven.

Nov 26 '05 #59
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> wrote:
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 16:00:29 -0500, Mike Meyer wrote:
I believe in GPL'ed software - I use it regularly. On the other hand,
I don't believe that it represents the best license to release
software if the goal is to improve the lot of humanity. The
restrictions are on "distribution", not on use,


Why would you want to restrict use?


I can think of many reasons. For example, if the author of some piece
of software strongly dislikes [category A], they may wish to restrict
firms or people in category A from using their software, because said
authors believe the use would be helpful to A's purposes and thus
damaging to humanity. You can easily imagine various different authors
for whom A could be "companies which build weapons", "companies which
belong to the RIAA", "abortion clinics", "schools which teach evolution
and not creationism" [or vice versa], "walmart", "the American Nazy
Party", "the American Communist Party", and so on, and so forth.

Licenses excluding uses by some specific category may be legal
(depending on jurisdiction and exact definition of category) but they're
definitely not open-source, by definition of the latter.
Alex
Nov 26 '05 #60
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> wrote:
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 17:43:22 +0100, Martin P. Hellwig wrote:
if I owned a company
making profit on software sales (sale =! support) you sign a death wish
for using GPL


Apart from Microsoft, and possibly Quark (makers of Quark Express desktop
packaging software), and perhaps a few console game developers, is there
any company making a profit on software sales?


I believe Oracle is doing fine (and they appear to be trying to buy up
most everybody else -- other companies which used to make profits from
software sales before they got gobbled up). I think SAP and Adobe
aren't doing badly, either, but I haven't checked up on them in a while.

I'd be surprised if there weren't many relative minnows that I didn't
think of, beyond the few "obvious" big fishes above listed.
Alex
Nov 26 '05 #61
On Fri, 25 Nov 2005 20:17:15 -0800, Alex Martelli wrote:
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> wrote:
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 17:43:22 +0100, Martin P. Hellwig wrote:
> if I owned a company
> making profit on software sales (sale =! support) you sign a death wish
> for using GPL
Apart from Microsoft, and possibly Quark (makers of Quark Express desktop
packaging software), and perhaps a few console game developers, is there
any company making a profit on software sales?


I believe Oracle is doing fine (and they appear to be trying to buy up
most everybody else -- other companies which used to make profits from
software sales before they got gobbled up). I think SAP and Adobe
aren't doing badly, either, but I haven't checked up on them in a while.


My understanding is that both Oracle and SAP make most of their money
through consulting and customization rather than licencing or sales. I
don't know anyone who has bought a SAP solution that didn't spend an awful
lot of money having it customized -- and unless I'm very mistaken, you
don't own the customizations you pay for.

Adobe, I'm not sure -- I suspect their biggest source of income is
royalties on Postscript for laser printers, but I could be wrong. I don't
even know anyone who uses Pagemaker any more -- it seems to have been
almost completely overshadowed by Quark Xpress.
I'd be surprised if there weren't many relative minnows that I didn't
think of, beyond the few "obvious" big fishes above listed.


Yes, there are a few -- Quickbooks and MYOB, although arguably their main
income comes from subscription/upgrades rather than sales. But still,
consider the sheer size of the software industry, and the fact that apart
from the 800lb gorilla of Microsoft, almost nobody can make a profit from
selling software.

--
Steven.

Nov 26 '05 #62
On Sat, 26 Nov 2005 03:25:58 +0000, Ed Jensen wrote:
Paul Rubin <http://ph****@nospam.invalid> wrote:
Python and *BSD are getting far less volunteer development love than,
say, GCC or Linux, and the licensing is at least part of the reason.


I disagree. I believe *BSD gets less volunteer development because of
some legal wrangling in the early 90s that didn't affect Linux.


That was over a decade ago, and the BSD licence was vindicated by the
courts -- why has there been such limited volunteer development, and
practically zero commercial development, for BSD?

The BSDs are about 15 years older than Linux, and the legal wrangling they
went through were no worse than the SCO nonsense going on now. With a 15
year head start, and 10 years since the legal problems, why has BSD never
attracted 1% the commercial interest of Linux?

You can often tell something of a thing by those who oppose it. Microsoft
is perhaps the epitome of the closed-source mentality: on the rare
occasions they release their source code at all, they do so only
grudgingly, never the entire tool chain, at very high cost, and with
exceedingly restrictive conditions. (Yes, I'm aware I'm generalising --
but it is a valid generalisation, one or two minor exceptions doesn't
invalidate the overall picture of Microsoft's desire to keep their source
code locked up tight.)

Microsoft is spending a lot of time and effort trying to fight the GPL,
but have said that BSD licences are acceptable to them. In fact they
*love* BSD licences -- for others, just not for themselves.

And no wonder: Windows only has an TCP/IP stack because they could grab
the BSD source code and use it. Has Microsoft show any gratitude to the
BSDs? Have they returned any code to BSDs, or given money to BSD coders?
In a pig's ear they have.

Microsoft stands for closed source software: they absolutely hate the
GPL. But they like the BSD licence, because it lets them freeload
off the labour of idealistic programmers for free, without so much as a
thank you.

--
Steven.

Nov 26 '05 #63
On Fri, 25 Nov 2005 20:54:55 -0500, Mike Meyer wrote:
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> writes:
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 16:00:29 -0500, Mike Meyer wrote:
The GPL doesn't restrict distribution. I don't understand where
people get this bizarre view of the GPL from.>


It happens because people say things like:
If you don't like that clause, you have two very simple options: don't
redistribute the GPLed software. Or use some other software provided under
a different licence.


If you don't want to redistribute the GPLed software, then don't. Nobody
can force you to. I use lots of GPL software which I don't redistribute.

But if you *do* redistribute it, then you must live up to conditions in
the licence. If you aren't willing to do that, use software with a
different licence.

You are free to redistribute it for free, or charge a bazillion dollars.
You can choose to only redistribute to people with green hair. The only
restriction is that you can't give those people fewer, weaker rights than
you got: having got the software from you, you can't prevent those green
haired people from distributing it to anyone they like, even baldies or
brunettes.

Unlike proprietary licences, the GPL doesn't prohibit you from
redistributing the software, nor does it make you count licences. It
doesn't prohibit you from distributing the software to people who haven't
paid a licence fee, or to people with eleven fingers.

I would still like to find out what sense of "restricting distribution"
you think the GPL does. As near as I can tell, the only sense that the GPL
restricts distribution is that if you redistribute GPLed code you must not
take away the rights you were granted from those you distribute too.
--
Steven.

Nov 26 '05 #64
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> writes:
But if you *do* redistribute it, then you must live up to conditions in
the licence. If you aren't willing to do that, use software with a
different licence.
That's a restriction on redistribution.
The only restriction is that you can't give those people fewer,
weaker rights than you got
That's a restriction on redistribution.
I would still like to find out what sense of "restricting distribution"
you think the GPL does.


You named the restrictions yourself.

<mike
--
Mike Meyer <mw*@mired.org> http://www.mired.org/home/mwm/
Independent WWW/Perforce/FreeBSD/Unix consultant, email for more information.
Nov 26 '05 #65
Steven D'Aprano wrote:
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 23:26:38 +0100, Martin P. Hellwig wrote:
BSD/MIT style license is a
good substitute of no license at all.


But that's not true: "no licence at all" means that nobody has the right
to use or copy or even *see* your work. You can, of course, choose to
show them your work without a licence, but unless you give them a licence
they can't legally do anything with it.

Perhaps you are thinking of the public domain, which does not require a
licence, but that is because it is not owned by anyone -- not even you,
the creator.

If you want to release your work with no restrictions whatsoever, then
just put the work in the public domain. Is attribution really that
important to you -- especially when that attribution may be buried deep in
the source code of software which nobody will ever see?


Well I don't know how it's legally outside (most of) the EU, but here if
your are actioned in publishing information of any kind (including
source code) without restricting it, you can not refer to any copyrights
or protected IP thereafter, but you still are responsible for the
consequences of your action if the results are related to a more or less
unmodified version of your publishing. Of course you still have the
right to claim to be the original author and accuse anybody else who
falsely claim that as plagiarist.

--
mph
Nov 26 '05 #66
Steven D'Aprano wrote:
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 17:43:22 +0100, Martin P. Hellwig wrote:
if I owned a company
making profit on software sales (sale =! support) you sign a death wish
for using GPL


Apart from Microsoft, and possibly Quark (makers of Quark Express desktop
packaging software), and perhaps a few console game developers, is there
any company making a profit on software sales?


Eehm, about hundreds of thousands customized software manufactures
around the whole globe?
Where not talking about off the shell software then of course, but for
software used in a particular corner of a sector.
Most prominent types are administration software, although most of them
have a common base, implementation differs on your type of: products,
customers, location, law, quality and quantity . Say about everything it
can differ, ie you don't want to use your high-school student
administration program for a pet shop or a cheese manufacture.

--
,ph
Nov 26 '05 #67
On 2005-11-26, Steven D'Aprano wrote:

If you don't like that clause, you have two very simple options: don't
redistribute the GPLed software. Or use some other software provided under
a different licence.


There is a third option: persuade the owner of the copyright to
give you a different license.
--
Chris F.A. Johnson, author | <http://cfaj.freeshell.org>
Shell Scripting Recipes: | My code in this post, if any,
A Problem-Solution Approach | is released under the
2005, Apress | GNU General Public Licence
Nov 26 '05 #68
On Sat, 26 Nov 2005 11:26:30 +0100, Martin P. Hellwig wrote:
Steven D'Aprano wrote:
On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 17:43:22 +0100, Martin P. Hellwig wrote:
if I owned a company
making profit on software sales (sale =! support) you sign a death wish
for using GPL
Apart from Microsoft, and possibly Quark (makers of Quark Express desktop
packaging software), and perhaps a few console game developers, is there
any company making a profit on software sales?


Eehm, about hundreds of thousands customized software manufactures
around the whole globe?


They don't sell software, they sell services: their expertise in
developing software. The difference is analogous to going to a builder to
buy a house, and going to a builder and paying him to build you a house.

I should know what I'm talking about: I work for one of them.
Where not talking about off the shell software then of course, but for
software used in a particular corner of a sector.
And that's not "off the shelf"?
Most prominent types
are administration software, although most of them have a common base,
implementation differs on your type of: products, customers, location,
law, quality and quantity . Say about everything it can differ, ie you
don't want to use your high-school student administration program for a
pet shop or a cheese manufacture.

I think you are over-estimating both the numbers and profitability of such
niche software distributors, and misunderstanding the business models of
them.

Let me give you an example: some years ago, I was involved in an IT
project where a small wholesaler changed accounting software. Without
mentioning names, they purchased some licences to a mid-level package from
a consultant. I later found out that the consultant in fact made little
money from the sale: perhaps a few tens of dollars out of multiple
thousands. Most of the initial sale price went to the software vendor. The
consultant made her money from services: installation and training mostly.

Of course the software vendor made *some* money from the sale, but in
fact the majority of their income came from yearly service fees,
upgrade fees, compulsory upgrades ("pay for this upgrade or we will no
longer support your system"), customizations and similar. But even if
they were making some money from sales, that doesn't guarantee
profitability.

"Being in the software business" can and will remain profitable into the
future, but I have serious reservations that "selling software" will be --
even today, few companies make money from selling software and rely more
on associated services for the bulk of their income.

Which is exactly what economics tells us to expect.

--
Steven.

Nov 26 '05 #69
On Sat, 26 Nov 2005 04:46:15 -0500, Mike Meyer wrote:
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> writes:
But if you *do* redistribute it, then you must live up to conditions in
the licence. If you aren't willing to do that, use software with a
different licence.


That's a restriction on redistribution.


ALL licences make that "restriction". There is no licence that allows you
to distribute the product in contradiction to the terms of the licence.
The only restriction is that you can't give those people fewer, weaker
rights than you got


That's a restriction on redistribution.


Well now we're getting somewhere.

Fine. If you want to take rights away from the people you redistribute
somebody else's software to, then the GPL is not for you.

That's a restriction that actually *increases* freedom, so I don't see it
as a restriction at all -- I see it as something that enables rather than
disables.

What you see as a restriction to the GPL is, in my opinion, not
restrictive at all. After all, there are plenty of other software written
under other licences if you prefer. But the GPL's technical restriction
actually increases freedom rather than decreases it, in much the same way
as the Constitution of the USA increases freedom by restricting the laws
which Congress can pass. The framers of the Constitution understood the
ways in which even well-meaning governments could destroy freedom, and
took steps to try to prevent that.

There is something seriously wrong with saying that "the Constitutional
right to free speech is a restrictive law", even if it is technically true
that the Constitution restricts the ability of the government to prohibit
freedom of speech. Describing the GPL as restrictive is much the same.

--
Steven.

Nov 26 '05 #70
Steven D'Aprano wrote:
Fine. If you want to take rights away from the people you redistribute
somebody else's software to, then the GPL is not for you.


the people you distribute somebody else's open source software to
still have the same rights to that software as you have. GPL or not
GPL doesn't change that a bit.

if someone grabs my stuff and hides it in a commercial application,
anyone can still get my stuff under the original license. (e.g. Adobe's
use of bits and pieces from Python's Unicode string implementation
doesn't seem to affect Python users the slightest...)

I find it a lot more annoying when people grab my stuff, make trivial
additions or bugfixes to it, and GPL the result instead of contributing
it back. exactly how that increases freedom is hard for me to tell,
but I guess there's freedom and then there's freedom...

</F>

Nov 26 '05 #71
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> wrote:
...
Apart from Microsoft, and possibly Quark (makers of Quark Express desktop
packaging software), and perhaps a few console game developers, is there
any company making a profit on software sales?
I believe Oracle is doing fine (and they appear to be trying to buy up
most everybody else -- other companies which used to make profits from
software sales before they got gobbled up). I think SAP and Adobe
aren't doing badly, either, but I haven't checked up on them in a while.


My understanding is that both Oracle and SAP make most of their money
through consulting and customization rather than licencing or sales. I


Have you checked their quarterly statements recently? What I read about
Oracle (look for ORCL on Google, go to SEC filings, quarterly statement;
sorry, but the URL comes out way mangled this way...) is that their
software business is 79% of their revenues (on a 4-quarters-trainling
basis) and "our highest margin business" with a forecast to "continually
improve margins and profits"; while "Our services business consists of
consulting", "21% of our total revenues on a trailing 4-quarter basis,
has significantly lower margins than our software business" (further
broken down into Consulting, On Demand, and Education). Of course for
all I know they might be playing some accounting tricks, but I don't see
why they should.

SAP is a bit harder to fathom for the typical US investor since they
officially report under Handelsgesetzbuch rules, but they've long been
voluntarily offering a US GAAP report side by side; you can study their
reports at http://www.sap.com/company/investor/reports/index.epx ,
though (at least for somebody most used to reading typical SEC filings
of US companies) it's not quite as immediate to read those for details,
partly because of US$ vs EUR exchange rate issues.

Nevertheless, it would appear that in SAP's case both statements are
correct; they DO make profits on software sales, and even more in
ancillary service business driven by those sales. "Software revenues
were 590 million for the third quarter of 2005", up 19% or 20% year
over year depending on currency used; "Total revenues for third quarter
of 2005 were 2.01 billion", up 12% or 13%. They don't distinguish
operating margins between their software and service business, though I
don't see why their margins structure should be substantially different
from Oracle's -- higher in software, lower in services. Anyway, they
make almost 1/3 of their revenue (probably more than 1/3 of their
profits, though that's just an educated guess) from software, with
(right now) faster growth, and more than that from services, though
currently with lower growth rates.

The assumed difference in operating margins is, I believe, why they show
software revenues separately: software, potentially, can have wider
operating margins than services, as it can ``scale'' -- you could sell
licenses for just the same bits over and over with just modest customer
acquisition costs, driving operating margins skywards, while in services
you're basically reselling some professionals' time at a markup... a
hefty markup, sure, but margins just can't be as stellar as they could
be in software sales if it all worked right (higher acquisition costs,
&c).
don't know anyone who has bought a SAP solution that didn't spend an awful
lot of money having it customized -- and unless I'm very mistaken, you
don't own the customizations you pay for.
I have acquaintances in Italy who make great consulting income helping
SAP customers implement their purchases -- but they do so as freelance
consultants, not as SAP employees (many of them USED to work for SAP,
then figured out they could keep that "hefty markup" to themselves). Do
not assume that SAP can capture all or even most of the ancillary
services their software generates demands for, even though their 2
billion euro total revenues shows they're doing pretty well in that
field (I believe the situation is even more extreme for Oracle, with way
more business going to independent consultants in that sector).

Adobe, I'm not sure -- I suspect their biggest source of income is
royalties on Postscript for laser printers, but I could be wrong. I don't
even know anyone who uses Pagemaker any more -- it seems to have been
almost completely overshadowed by Quark Xpress.
Even if Pagemaker is not an earner any more, and maybe Framemaker
neither, aren't you forgetting Acrobat, Photoshop (probably the biggest
earner), Premiere, After Effects, Encore, Audition, Illustrator,
InDesign, GoLive, InCopy...? Not to mention Flash, Dreamweaver,
Coldfusion, Freehand, Director... (Adobe DOES own Macromedia, you know;
the acquisition was over a month ago).

Anyway, looking for ADBE and their latest quarterly report (before the
Macromedia acquisition), they claim 98% of their revenues come from
product sales and only 2% from services and support. OEM Postscript is
just 4% of that, down from 5% on the same quarter last year, while
"Creative Professional" is 42%, up from 37% (this segment does include
Photoshop, they say, though I don't see why that shouldn't be in the
"Digital Imaging and Video" sector instead -- ah well, no matter).

Judging from this, it appears to me that your evaluation of Adobe's
income is completely off-base -- "royalties on Postscript for laser
printers" are a blip on the bottom line, and of decreasing importance;
their many off-the-shelf products oriented to "creative professionals"
are increasingly coming to dominate their bottom line (with secondary
help from Imaging, Video, Intelligent Documents), and with the
acquisition of Macromedia one can only expect "more of the same".

Their "cost of revenues" (salaries and all) is TINY, about 4-5% of their
total revenues. This translates to operating margins to die for, as is
typical of software sales... almost every incoming dollar is margin!-)
They then do plough back 19-20% into R&D, of course -- some products may
be at the cash cow stage, but most are actively developed, with a
bazillion variations on each, and no doubt they're developing for the
future.

I'd be surprised if there weren't many relative minnows that I didn't
think of, beyond the few "obvious" big fishes above listed.


Yes, there are a few -- Quickbooks and MYOB, although arguably their main
income comes from subscription/upgrades rather than sales. But still,


Subcriptions _are_ sales, by all standards of accounting and common
sense. If the subscription is subject to cancelling and partial refund,
as for magazines, you recognize the income gradually during the
subscription period, but I don't think even that is a consideration for
software subscriptions, normally prepaid and nonrefundable.
consider the sheer size of the software industry, and the fact that apart
from the 800lb gorilla of Microsoft, almost nobody can make a profit from
selling software.


I have spent considerable time researching and writing up this post
about just three well-known players for which financials are easily
available -- not a problem for ORCL or ADBE, since, while I don't
currently have either in my stock portfolio I'm not adverse to
potentially having a fling on them, so keeping an eye out on them is
something I need to do anyway, though I'll admit SAP proved a tad more
frustrating;-). I'm not going to spend unbounded amounts of time
researching minnows I'm not going to invest in anyway -- as a typical
amateur investor, I play mostly on blue chips and indices. But I hope
even this limited survey helps you see that your visibility on the SW
market is seriously distorted -- just think of your connecting ADBE to
old, dated products such as postscript licensing to OEMs and Pagemaker,
sunset/cashcows products accounting for a tiny and declining portion of
their income, and not even THINKING of the blockbusters, Photoshop et
all, that make up their present and their future... of thinking that
Oracle's profits are mostly from consulting, when that's 1/5 of their
income and with LOWER margins than the software that's 4/5ths...!

So, if I may summarize into a piece of advice: *don't short the SW-sales
sector*, you could really be taken to the cleaners. Your perceptions of
even the major players in the sector are clearly wrong, and appear to be
based on extremely poor research, or even at times no research at all.
I'm not saying that software sales have a bright mid-long term future,
but when you're talking about the present and short term future, it's
demonstrable that your perception of the market sector is way wrong; so
I earnestly advise you to NOT put your money where your mouth is, lest
you end up losing a large fraction of that money.
Alex
Nov 26 '05 #72
Steven D'Aprano wrote:
<cut>


I think you are over-estimating both the numbers and profitability of such
niche software distributors, and misunderstanding the business models of
them.


Coincidently, I worked at a software company making a "standard"
administration software for primary schools. Which concentrate on the
national market. Because this in the Netherlands, not such a big
country, the customer base is not that big.
So on a population of 17 million people there are about 7.500 thousands
primary schools, our market share was quit big we had 4.500 thousands
customers, there where "only" about 7 other competitive
products/companies in that market.

The software was sold in 3 separates modules requiring a yearly renewal,
the base module was required for all customers the other modules where
add on packages, the base module cost about 500 EUR, then there where
2000 clients for 350 EUR module and about 500 clients for the third 250
module.

They also sold administration software for the academic market with
about the same annual income as that of the primary schools.

So for a niche market on a small user base using non-consulting
software, they had a quite profitable steady income.

Perhaps not the billions of dollars you expect from a software company
but for me and the 40 other employees it was enough to say that we
didn't over-estimated both the numbers and profitability of such a niche
software distributor and we sure didn't misunderstood the business model
of that. Unfortunately the profitable company was merged by the VC's
with 8 non-profitables companies because they had that this would make
them all profitable.

--
mph
Nov 26 '05 #73
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> writes:
On Sat, 26 Nov 2005 04:46:15 -0500, Mike Meyer wrote:
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> writes:
But if you *do* redistribute it, then you must live up to conditions in
the licence. If you aren't willing to do that, use software with a
different licence. That's a restriction on redistribution.

ALL licences make that "restriction". There is no licence that allows you
to distribute the product in contradiction to the terms of the licence.


True. Some license have terms which don't place any restrictions on
redistribution. The GPL is *not* such a license - it places
restrictions on the redistribution. Which is what I said in the first
place.
The only restriction is that you can't give those people fewer, weaker
rights than you got

That's a restriction on redistribution.

Well now we're getting somewhere.
That's a restriction


Which is exactly what I said in the first place that you disagreed
with.
that actually *increases* freedom so I don't see it as a restriction
at all -- I see it as something that enables rather than disables.


So that's the basis of the disagreement. I'm using "restriction" with
the intent of communicating it's normal english meaning, and you're
using it with the intent of making a political statement. When you say
"restriction", you mean "restriction that I think of as bad". If
you're willing to do that, proprietary commercial software has no
restriction on redistribution.

<mike
--
Mike Meyer <mw*@mired.org> http://www.mired.org/home/mwm/
Independent WWW/Perforce/FreeBSD/Unix consultant, email for more information.
Nov 26 '05 #74
On Sat, 26 Nov 2005 18:18:44 -0500, Mike Meyer wrote:
The GPL is *not* such a license - it places
restrictions on the redistribution. Which is what I said in the first
place.
If you want me to agree that the GPL puts more conditions on distribution
than the MIT/BSD licence, then I'll happily agree. If you want me to
describe that as a "restrictive licence", then I refuse.

Look: would you agree that the BSD licence is a restrictive licence? You
can't get much more liberal than the BSD licence -- in fact some people
argue that if you are going to use a BSD licence, you might as well just
put the work in the public domain. I can respect the argument for putting
works in the public domain.

But *technically* the BSD licence does restrict the distributor, because
they must give attribution. But there is a difference between the
existence of a "restriction" and the licence being "restrictive". If you
can see that difference, you will understand why I do not agree to
describe the GPL as "restrictive" -- and if you can't see that difference,
then you must also describe the BSD licence as restrictive.

[snip]
So that's the basis of the disagreement. I'm using "restriction" with
the intent of communicating it's normal english meaning,


Your meaning is about as far from the plain English sense of "restrictive"
as it is possible to get without actually contradicting the dictionary
meaning. And that's the reason for my vehement disagreement with the
suggestion that the GPL is "restrictive".

We've already had one suggestion that if you ask 100 ordinary people what
free software means, 99 will say "free of cost" rather than free like
speech. (Thanks to Ed for that thought-experiment.)

I suggest that you if told 100 ordinary people that there is software that
allowed you to make as many copies as you liked, to give them away for
free or sell them for as much money as you wanted, to install it on as
many computers you liked, and that they didn't have to pay a single cent
for that software if they didn't want to, and that to be allowed to do
that all you had to do was to pass those rights on to those you give
the software to, then asked them if those conditions were "restrictive", I
think all 100 of them would look at you like you came from another planet.

If you want to use "restrictive" in the hair-splitting, pedantic,
non-plain English sense of "containing any restriction no matter how
infinitesimal", then please have the honesty to describe the BSD licence
as restrictive too. Then we can all agree that all software licences are
restrictive and that moral rights are restrictive ("but what if I *want*
to plagiarise the author of this public domain work?").

I think that your usage of the word is about as useful as plutonium
underwear, but if you are going to use it in that way, at least be
consistent.
--
Steven.

Nov 27 '05 #75
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> writes:
On Sat, 26 Nov 2005 18:18:44 -0500, Mike Meyer wrote:
So that's the basis of the disagreement. I'm using "restriction" with
the intent of communicating it's normal english meaning,

Your meaning is about as far from the plain English sense of "restrictive"


restiction != restrictive.

<mike
--
Mike Meyer <mw*@mired.org> http://www.mired.org/home/mwm/
Independent WWW/Perforce/FreeBSD/Unix consultant, email for more information.
Nov 27 '05 #76
On Sat, 26 Nov 2005 09:54:24 -0800, Alex Martelli wrote:
My understanding is that both Oracle and SAP make most of their money
through consulting and customization rather than licencing or sales. I


Have you checked their quarterly statements recently?


Obviously not.

Thanks for going beyond the call of duty to research the facts in such
detail. I'm surprised that Adobe is selling so many licences -- I don't
know anyone who has paid for Adobe software in many years -- and you can
take that any way you like. (Kids! Pirating software is stealing!!!)

I can't argue with anything you've written, except to say that we've
obviously got different ideas of what consists of software sales.

I know that there is a general sense of "sales" that effectively means
"any source of income from services or goods". There is also a more
restrictive (there's that word again...) sense of a sale being a transfer
of ownership. In that stricter sense, nobody sells software -- they
merely licence it.

The sense of "software sales" I mean is intermediate between the two. The
way I mean "sales", when Joe Public goes to acmesoft.com, pays $99 on his
credit card number to download Acmesoft FooMaker, that's a sale. When he
discovers that he also needs 37 Client Access Licences at $19 each, that's
_not_ a software sale, and neither is the $150 per year for support and
upgrades: that's revenue from licencing, not sales.

You're usage of sales may differ, and I'm not going to argue that one is
better than the other. By my meaning, Red Hat doesn't sell RH Enterprise
Linux, but charges for support. By your meaning, Red Hat does sell RHEL.
I'm good with that definition too, so long as we can agree on one or the
other.
--
Steven.

Nov 27 '05 #77
Steven D'Aprano wrote:
(Kids! Pirating software is stealing!!!)


Or evaluating, depending of how you look at it.
--
Sincerely, | http://bos.hack.org/cv/
Rikard Bosnjakovic | Code chef - will cook for food
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nov 27 '05 #78
On Sat, 26 Nov 2005 21:39:13 +0100, Martin P. Hellwig wrote:
The software was sold in 3 separates modules requiring a yearly renewal,


The software is hardly sold if you have to renew that "sale" every year.
That's more like a lease. I'd call it revenue from licencing, not revenue
from sales.

Of course you're welcome to describe it as sales. It is an arbitrary
choice one way or another -- the main thing is to not talk at
cross-purposes, as we obviously have been doing.

--
Steven.

Nov 27 '05 #79
Steven D'Aprano wrote:
On Sat, 26 Nov 2005 21:39:13 +0100, Martin P. Hellwig wrote:
The software was sold in 3 separates modules requiring a yearly renewal,


The software is hardly sold if you have to renew that "sale" every year.
That's more like a lease. I'd call it revenue from licencing, not revenue
from sales.

Of course you're welcome to describe it as sales. It is an arbitrary
choice one way or another -- the main thing is to not talk at
cross-purposes, as we obviously have been doing.

I agree

--
mph
Nov 27 '05 #80
Fredrik Lundh wrote:
Steven D'Aprano wrote:
Fine. If you want to take rights away from the people you redistribute
somebody else's software to, then the GPL is not for you.
the people you distribute somebody else's open source software to
still have the same rights to that software as you have. GPL or not
GPL doesn't change that a bit.


It's true that the original software would still be available under the
original licence and that commercial, closed source usage of that
software doesn't actually affect its availability. Moreover, many (if
not most) copyright regimes demand that you acknowledge the different
copyrights on the entire work, regardless of how permissive the
licences on the different portions of that work are. It's certainly
true that an end-user of a closed source repackaging of the original
software could discover where the software originated and be aware of
their rights to that software under less restrictive terms, but I
suppose that part of the idea behind licences like the LGPL (which is
more relevant to this particular point) and the GPL is to eliminate the
detective work needed to discover what is in the binary black box and
to make clear the end-user's rights to portions of that work "up
front": both requiring the distribution of, or the offer to distribute,
the source code.
I find it a lot more annoying when people grab my stuff, make trivial
additions or bugfixes to it, and GPL the result instead of contributing
it back.


This presumably goes to the heart of the recent Zope vs. Plone
licensing discussion as well, although with less emphasis on the
trivial nature of the work. As I noted there, one could make one's
licences GPL-incompatible if such behaviour appears offensive, but that
would probably be counterproductive in several respects.

Paul

Nov 27 '05 #81
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> wrote:
...
Thanks for going beyond the call of duty to research the facts in such
You're welcome! Like most amateur investors, I kid myself that research
makes my stock picks better (considering the tiny amounts one actually
invests, I doubt that any dollar difference divided by the time needed
to do research actually reaches to minimum hourly wage, so, it's more in
the nature of an excuse, I guess;-).
detail. I'm surprised that Adobe is selling so many licences -- I don't
know anyone who has paid for Adobe software in many years -- and you can
take that any way you like. (Kids! Pirating software is stealing!!!)
For reasons that escape me, I appear to observe a much lower inclination
to piracy in the Mac world -- which may help explain why Adobe makes
over 1/4 of their sales there, according to one of their tables, even
though they get strong competition from Apple itself. E.g: surely
professional Acrobat must sell less when the OS itself ensures any app
can "print" to PDF, as MacOS X does; in the video field, of which I know
nothing first-hand, I'm told Apple's Final Cut, express and pro, vastly
outsells Adobe's comparable offerings; etc. I guess these effects, and
the fact that Macs are less than 10% of laptops and desktops, are
overcompensated by a combination of Mac users' higher propensity to
purchase rather than pirate, and the higher prevalence of "creative
professionals" in the Mac crowd.

"any source of income from services or goods". There is also a more
restrictive (there's that word again...) sense of a sale being a transfer
of ownership. In that stricter sense, nobody sells software -- they
merely licence it.
This "legalistic" take has generally little to do with the *accounting*
interpretation of "selling" -- and since you were asking specifically
about *profits*, accounting is really the only way to answer.

But, if "transfer of ownership" is what you mean, you're STILL totally
wrong in doubting that there is a lot of profit being made today by
selling software -- transfering ownership of software. What do you
think the IT giants of India MOSTLY make profits on? While they're
relentlessly trying to branch out to other sources, such as consulting
and all kinds of services, and starting to show interesting results in
these expansion efforts, still today MOST of their profits come from
writing software for some customer firm and transferring ownership of
the software in question -- i.e., SELLING software by this strict legal
definition.

In terms of accounting (GAAP) this might in fact be better framed as a
service -- "writing software on your behalf" rather than "transferring
to you the ownership of this software written to your specifications";
and the operating margins, now that the market for top professionals in
Bangalore &c has heated up so much, are aligned with "resellers of
services", lower than those of "sellers of software" in the normal
accounting interpretation.

But you can't have it both ways -- if you mean "selling" in the normal
accounting sense, you're wrong as I showed in the last post; if you mean
in the legalistic sense, you're wrong as I'm showing here. For each
dollar of profit anybody makes, you can no doubt deny it comes from
selling software in SOME sense of "selling", since the legalistic
meaning conflicts with the accounting one -- but fix any ONE meaning,
and you're still wrong. Including the strangely mixed one here...:
The sense of "software sales" I mean is intermediate between the two. The
way I mean "sales", when Joe Public goes to acmesoft.com, pays $99 on his
credit card number to download Acmesoft FooMaker, that's a sale. When he


OK, then among companies which make profits selling software are
BestBuy, CompUSA and so on -- you're welcome to drill down into their
detailed financial reports yourself, but just consider the amounts of
precious shelf space that they devote to shrink-wrapped boxes of games,
anti-virus thingies, and the like... do you think those retailers don't
have any sense of which side their bread is buttered on?-) As a very
rough 0th-order approximation, you can take it that those chains'
*profits* come in very roughly equal parts from sales of hardware,
software, and services (mostly extended warranties on the HW they sell,
but also out of warranties repairs, etc etc) -- the sales volumes are
WAY higher for HW, lower for SW and lowest for services, but the margins
go the other way 'round, by far.

This sense of "selling software" of course has nothing to do with
licenses: some of the software these retailers "sell" is covered by
various commercial licenses, some by GPL or other open source licenses,
and some is even in the public domain. So you could say they're in fact
selling pretty colored boxes with shrink-wrap, containing a booklet and
a CD (and the ownership of these physical components is indeed
transferred, so the legalistic meaning of "sale" is fully satisfied
too;-). Sometimes there's a license agreement being executed (if
"shrink-wrap licenses" have any legal standing -- I'm not sure that
jurisprudence in the matter is settled yet), sometimes not, but that
makes no real difference to either the retailer's business model or the
purchaser's perceptions. Purchasers today are reasonably aware that
they might probably download the same programs, in many cases, either
for free or at a substantial discount, but they're buying the
convenience of loading them from CD (and in the case of, e.g., anti
virus defences and personal firewalls, may feel they need that because
connecting to the net for the download without such protection may be
deadly -- whether the feeling is 100% accurate or not, is neither here
nor there). Or maybe they like the colorful box and booklet. But while
discussing while a sale is or isn't made through this or that channel is
important, it doesn't affect the fact that a sale IS made and brings
operating income (thus profits, if the margins are good).

Lastly, I don't think your distinction makes much sense. You say it
counts as a sale for you if JP pays $99 for the download. But what is
the difference if the download is free but the program just downloaded
is a hobbled "demo" version? If you want to really USE it, you buy a
license which comes with a code to unlock full functionality -- and it
so happens the license costs $99. Why do you think it is a crucial
distinction as to whether the $99 are forked over to enable the download
itself, or just AFTER the download to make the just-downloaded bits
useful? Looks like an irrelevant detail to me if I ever saw one...
Alex
Nov 27 '05 #82
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> writes:
If you want me to agree that the GPL puts more conditions on distribution
than the MIT/BSD licence, then I'll happily agree. If you want me to
describe that as a "restrictive licence", then I refuse.


With the GPL, you get a slight restriction from the GPL author (you're
not allowed to redistribute the binary unless you offer source). With
the MIT/BSD license you get far worse restrictions, from potentially
far more different people, from the downstream freeloaders who don't
want you to redistribute even the binary.
Nov 28 '05 #83
Paul Rubin <http://ph****@NOSPAM.invalid> writes:
With the GPL, you get a slight restriction from the GPL author (you're
not allowed to redistribute the binary unless you offer source).


Forgot to add: and under the GPL, you must not threaten to have the
goverment clobber people for redistributing the source or binary after
they have have gotten it from you. It's one of those "forbidding
forbidden" types of restrictions.
Nov 28 '05 #84
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> writes:
if I owned a company making profit on software sales (sale =!
support) you sign a death wish for using GPL


Apart from Microsoft, and possibly Quark (makers of Quark Express desktop
packaging software), and perhaps a few console game developers, is there
any company making a profit on software sales?


Yes, sheesh, quite a few (Adobe, Oracle, almost everyone shipping
gadgets that basically wrap embedded code, etc). Anyone writing free
software on their own resources and releasing it under (say) the BSD
license is basically working for those companies for nothing.
Nov 30 '05 #85

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