Boris Mann’s Personal Blog

Jan 2021

“The code you depend on depends on you” @kemitchell’s commercial license sales for public software

“the code you depend on depends on you”

Kyle Mitchell is working on the next iteration of a standardized non-commercial license for public software. You may have heard of License Zero which was his previous work in this space. I am a big fan of the clarity around the Parity and Prosperity open licenses that came out of that.

The new project is currently called StrictEq for “strict equality” but it’s likely going to get renamed.

It’s both a catalog of software, and an approach to selling licenses for commercial usage under a standard deal:

To use software listed on to make money or for work, you need to buy a license. If you’re part of a team, everyone on your team who uses the software needs to buy a license.

This is mostly optimized for libraries and components that get combined to build larger apps and services.

The intent is to start baking in the expectation that software builders contribute to pay for the software components they use — if they, in turn, are making money with the software or using it in a commercial company context.

My interest is more around entire applications that get used by “end users”, but I’m a fan of Kyle’s work and supportive of the movement to pay open software maintainers: to have open source as a job, without necessarily having to wrap an entire company around the software.

Join Kyle’s Artless Devices forum to give feedback on naming — and more generally, topics related to building thriving open source software.

Disclaimer: I help run the forum with some light moderation and admin tasks