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Open Source -> Commercial


I am currently starting up an Open Source server administration/setup software. I am planning on making it commercial in the future after enough development a testing has been done.

I am not sure how I should go about doing this though... My delama here is that, many developers will be helping to develop the software for the next year or so... and then I plan to take it commercial and possibly close-source the software.

Does this happen very often, I am more worried about the legal implications of doing this... Especially from the developers community of the project, all of a sudden I take their work and start making profit from it?!? That wouldn't fit well with a majority of people, at the same time I could give developers of hte project a certain % of the profit... but then that starts to sound like a corporation with shares and stuff...

I am assuming the best way to go from Open Source non-profit to commercial would be to create a corporation, and give "Registered" developers a shares... and the percentage of shares would have to be based on things like amount of contribution and length of time they have been with the project.

Anyways please advise me as to how to go about planning out the future of my project...
It all depends on what open source license you are using. If you are using GPL you can change the license only if you are the copyright holder. That means you will have to ask every other copyright holder to change license I think. But even if you do so the code that is already released will still be available as open source and can still be developed.

But you! Don't trick developers into something only to make some money out of it. It's not fair. talk open about your plans so no one feels fooled.

If I should give you my opinion I say: Stay away from it! Speak to the hand
If you use licenses more liberal than GPL (eg. MIT or BSD, I'm not really familiar with them), you can do it. Basically if a license allows you to "use the code in commercial applications", then you can just use the existing codebase in your new shiny proprietary application.

I believe that to workaround this issue, anyone contributing to GNU projects must assign the copyright of their contribution to FSF / Free Software Foundation (host of GNU). This way, FSF practically owns the whole code so they can change licenses anytime they want without consent of any contributors (or sell the code, close the source, whatever). You may want to use this approach, but seems like too much bureaucracy for small projects Wink

There are a few open source projects that are incorporated, you may want to see how they do this. eg. MySQL AB ( ). sells commercial version of the software while still providing open source version.
Ahh... Looks like i'm really gonna have to research each of the common open-source licenses, for the perfect one.

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