More Open Source Commitment: extjs changing their licence

Apr 25 2008

This is a mail to the extjs folks, that have apparently moved from an LGPL licence to a dual licenced GPL:

I'm Ludovic Dubost, the CEO of XWiki, an open source non dual-licenced LGPL software. I've just found on the Internet that you have decided to move extjs from an LGPL to a dual licenced GPL.

I wanted to let you know my personal opinion both as a potential user (we where going to work with extjs in XWiki) and as the head of an Open-Source company,

While I respect your need and wishes to make money out of extjs, I think your move is a betrayal to your community. When you launch with a certain licence, this will have the effect of people using your software, deciding to bundle and promote it based on this specific licence. Changing this licence is a betrayal. Just by having thought about using and studied extjs and ext-gwt I feel betrayed by the licence change. I let you imagine what the other people that have done it will feel.

Secondly, while dual licensing models may seem like the right way to mix business and open source, I believe that it could instead have the effect of killing the business and Open-Source relationship. It will very probably not be so good for your business or at least for the company that will be acquiring your business.

It makes the dual licensed software potentially proprietary. For the simple reason that your company can make it proprietary at any time it means that the community might lose the development effort brought by the company leading the project. From your pespective, dual Licensing models will necessarly at some point lead to a GPL fork of your work, thus creating competition to your very own business.

Of course, you might have sold out your company by then having had the support of the GPL lovers that want a world of GPL software as well as having used the community of people that don't understand what all this is about. But the software jobs you have created will go back to a pool of "nearly" proprietary software.

Let me finish by saying that I'm no Open-Source nor moneymaking fanatic. I'm only a individual who believes that when you create a relationship with users and clients based on certain terms, basic ethics and respect are about commiting yourself to these terms. It is not about using favorable terms to get known and then start closing them progressively.

This is why I believe the LGPL licence is the one that protects both users, customers and creators. 

Ludovic Dubost