Posted Sep 27, 2004 5:15 UTC (Mon) by JoeBuck
In reply to: An Interview with Tom Lord of Arch (O'ReillyNet)
Parent article: An Interview with Tom Lord of Arch (O'ReillyNet)
What you did was OK, as long as you realize it won't be forever. You made some money, and are making some money, but since you don't have patent protection it's temporary; at some point, the free software replacements will be good enough. If you spout off at the mouth at those ungrateful wretches cloning your code, you'll only alienate people; if you attempt to slow down cloning efforts by trying to withhold licensing from whole organizations because they have one person who's helping out with arch, or monotone, or whatever, you'll just dry up sales faster.
You can still compete, for a while, based on better services and support, while keeping your app proprietary. But you need to recognize that at some point your existing revenue stream is going to go away. If, by then, you have other products and services in the pipeline, or new capabilities in BK others can't match, you'll make it, otherwise you won't.
But your righteousness just makes you look bad. Making BK available to Linus wasn't charity, it was marketing, and brilliant marketing at that. The publicity you've received is more valuable than if you spent 100% of your revenue on advertising; it is the main reason why your paying customers know who you are. Because of this, the Linux kernel developers and users are not in your moral debt. Also, because of this, getting into bitter arguments with free software developers counteracts the logic of helping out Linus in the first place: you're trying to get good publicity for your product. The last thing I'd want to recommend to my boss is a supplier who appears to always be on the verge of suing his customers.
If I were in your position, I'd be quieter and less defensive. If people beat you up for not being DFSG-free, you can simply say that you respect their choice not to use your software; it's not worth arguing. Same if they beat up Linus for using your stuff; you don't need to fight that one. Write a FAQ and point people to it when they make the same point again and again.
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