GPL violations, second (and hopefully final) update

Tue, Aug 28, 2012

The DMS market is a very big revenue market, there are just few but big players, now do the math. Mayan EDMS was never very well received into this market, from it’s Wikipedia article being erased to its entries being removed from open source DMS software directories and press releases being sometimes ignored, I’m used to this kind of situation, such is life, this is not a tantrum.

I have a full time day job and Mayan EDMS provides some side income by means of my own startup (http://Documen.to), I’m have been well aware that from the beginning people would make money from it, a lot more than me too. Even the stand alone consultants are probably doing more money than me and the corporations are most certainly doing a lot more, so, as I said that doesn’t bother me in fact it is something that has been promoted from day one. Some people are doing consulting (Quinta Group), others are doing service level agreements, others are doing cloud deployments (Appsembler), others selling turn-key solutions integrating Mayan EDMS with scanning and printing equipment, others want to sell repackaged versions of Mayan EDMS (JTP) others are selling document appliances (RTM-IT). All that doesn’t bothers me in fact I feel proud my software and the choice of license I use is creating commercial opportunities for so many.

This is also not an issue of the GPL being defective, or about me not reading or applying the GPL incorrectly, and certainly not about GPL vs. BSD vs. MIT vs. Apache, etc. While I do appreciate the suggestions about the license change, I will stick with the GPL. The GPL is not complicated, its basic premise is actually simple: you get software with certain freedoms, you can do whatever you want with it as long as those freedoms remain unchanged.

If you look at the changelog, there have been 20 releases so far in about a year and a half, please point out where in my past communications I have said I intend to change the licenses of all those previous releases or the license of the current release. The GPL actually doesn’t allows that, it protects the code itself from everybody including from myself. If I were to stop working on Mayan EDMS, anyone can continue working and releasing new versions, and that is the beauty of it. That is something that doesn’t happens with commercial software, in the commercial setting when the company decides the product is dead, it is dead and there is nothing the end users can do about it.

Some action is better than no action, restricting access to the development branch has been criticized, but it is managing to weed out non compliance and sending a message of the seriousness with which the GPL, the copyright issues and the contributions of the community are being taken. The community has been supportive of this decision as they understand what is at stake and the reasons behind it.

If the development were to continue behind doors, that is not a GPL violation, the GPL doesn’t dictate development procedure, so development can be done with limited access and when ready, released and it will still be valid Free and Open Source software.

I don’t mind people charging for their services in relation to Mayan EDMS or for Mayan EDMS itself, within the terms of the GPL it can be resold for a reasonable fee, in the same way I can download Ubuntu, burn a CD and charge a percent over the costs of the CD and the cost of the download, that same situation is allowed for Mayan EDMS. Reasonable is open to interpretation but $999.00 per seat license is not a reasonable fee if your are also changing copyrights, not releasing the source code and marketing it as an original product. That is callous, it is a copyright infringement and a GPL infringement.

Given the amount of flame I’ve gotten in my inbox for this I’m reassured that not releasing the information of the non compliant products was the best course of action and a decision that eventually led to the resolution of this issue. I cannot however, guarantee that will be the case in the future.

Finally, I am very happy to inform that 2 of the original non compliant products as well as many other individuals have come forward with the intent to comply with the GPL or reach some kind of licensing agreement.