$1/user license?

Good to see IndieCC progressing along.

I am wondering about a license platform which requires commercial users to pay $1/user/month via github sponsors, with a npm install script that checks the machine’s git config’s github username property (fallback to the machine’s git config’s email property) against the organisation’s github sponsors, with those who donate more than $1 month able to specify via a custom interface usernames/emails to shout.

Machines with no github username config property, and no git email config property would be permitted to run freely, as it is most likely CI, and if it is a user trying to do that to circumvent licensing, then that is an inconvenience on their part that they can incur.

Enforcement would just be the installation doing a warning of it being unlicensed.

This would get a lot of backlash no doubt, however it seems effective at having freeloaders pay or incur the cost of maintenance themselves.

I don’t consider lost usage from freeloaders here an issue, as they would then have to compete with the monetary consolidation from the non-freeloaders. Nor does a maintainer gain any benefit from freeloading, as dealing with them detracts maintainers from working on other ROI tasks. And if a company does do a hostile fork, then so be it, the indie dev can cut his losses and focus on something else, letting another entity foot the bill for the maintenance.

Finally, having had software I’ve written used by pretty much every corp size on the planet, without any ROI from them, it is about time that companies paid for the time donated to them through the commons by indie devs, rather than fleecing the indie devs. A few heavyweights behind it, and companies will be forced to at least acknowledge this current fleecing.

For what is commercial usage here, I’m going with — be it closed source or open source, doesn’t matter, if the dev is deriving an income working on whatever it is they are installing of yours, then that counts — which is similar to the IndieCC definition.

An exception would be provided if the licensing costs would cause them financial hardship, such as those in debt or below their local poverty line, or hit by currency ratios.

An exception could also be made when the verifier detects the email/username has had a commit merged in the org.

To deal with the scalability of such a model, instead of every single dev now charging $1/month. I think what would likely happen is devs would consolidate themselves into cohorts, such as what Sindre has done under his name to financial success, or what Bevry has attempted. Then they would pool their resources according to different distribution schemes. As the dog eat dog world of open source is still the case, and the anti-competitive monopolistic forces won’t go away, so best for cohorts to find commune with a loyal fanbase to fend off or cooperate with other cohorts, than each tiny indie dev doing it themselves. I see the same package implemented several times, once in each large cohort, with consumption choice based on which ecosystem the consumer is down with.

Such distribution schemes could be:

  • benevolent dictator takes all, manually distributes according to his will among contributors
  • automated splits, eg.
    • split proportionally amongst commit authors in the past x months
    • 90% split evenly to maintainers, 10% split evenly to contributors, split by their proportional package installation count within the org.
    • Commercial maintainers/contributors could opt out of the split, to make sure the funds go only towards those participating in the commons.

Posting here to solicit feedback and criticism. If it is an experiment that we want to run:

  1. I can use bevry’s ecosystem as the testbed, starting with bevry’s antiquated orgs (docpad, browserstate, then eventually the bevry main org) however we should get a few other cohorts onboard too to force the hand to a compensated world, rather than just prompt a mass exodus to hostile forks

  2. I would need help with the licensing terms, as I have no idea the considerations to phrase such a thing.

  3. I can do the GitHub sponsors fetching and validation, no worries there

This is going to require sales & marketing. It’s not a licensing issue.

I think the GitHub scanning is super interesting. Reminds me of Open Collective’s Back Your Stack https://backyourstack.com/

I think there’s a sweet spot in making an offering to small to medium companies in here somewhere.

Like, my company is 8-10 people. Sure, I could give you $10/month — but I’m also happy to give you $50 / month or $500 / year.

$50 / month is roughly the low bar for “company cares enough to pay”. Depending on what it is, it could be double or triple that — but at that point I’m looking at benefits beyond goodwill.

Where goodwill is being on a contributor list and getting a thank you tweet.

Tangents in quotes.

One of the bits I think I should elaborate on here, is that this model does not target or charge for deployments… it is specifically charging for developer usage.

The distinction here, is that say unlike GPL, it does not put a project in jeopardy if a company/employer refuses to pay, because as long as the developer or consultant is paying the $1/month for their usage while they are developing it, then it’s fine.

Its treating software just as any other market - value received should be value payed back - and in the case of a developer, the subscription is the ability to be more effective, and to the company who shouts its developers, it is their ability to be more effective.

It’s akin to stationary, be it a sharpie marker, or a chef’s knife - people have a monetary subscription to the materials that make them more effective, and they bring them with them - and it is not like the marker, or the knife, is laying claim to the output. In software, it is akin to a SetApp subscription, or any other paid software we may use personally to facilitate our work.

There’s probably an amount of marketing/propaganda that is needed to be done to counteract the entitlement complex that company propaganda has created to fleece indie devs of their time so that salaried employees never have to think about their responsibility to what they consume, as “everyone is a salaried employee right?” - marketed as a “duty to the commons” and that commercial licenses are “artificial scarcity” that are unfairly constricting something of “infinite scale” - yet not making the connection time is scarce resource, hence why they get paid salaries to manage it - that the commons is an output, but one’s time is not the commons, hence why public services that maintain the commons still have a dollar attached to them. If the commons is only maintained by those on indirect salaries, then it is the same catastrophe as what happened to science and government and attention, where lobbying is the only force and democracy has died, as it all becomes a smokes and mirrors play by those earning money through misdirection - an end to organic processes.

However, I think the ideals of it are all secondary to the fact of: hey, that software by bevry that gets 75 million installs a month over their various packages, yeah, pay $1/month or you are now being a bad boy. I think it is much easier for most people to pay $1/month than do the whole fork stuff, especially when incompatibilities start arriving years later with new node versions and they need updates.

Even if 99% of users leave, well that’s great, as now I’m getting a 1% ROI that I didn’t have before, and 1% is better than 0%. It’s wrong to consider usage anything but a liability, usage = maintenance burden = need for ROI — the notion of usage = winning, is just more salaried evangelist yardsticks to monopolise the commons while they earn money by market manipulated cannibalisation.

Even if 100% of users leave, good, I can write software for myself without freeloaders squandering my time with their requests and entitlements under the pretence that “the maintainer owes the user something, because the usage is valuable”, and that “I’m getting paid anyway right?”. Such entitlements is a complete eradication of property rights and normal market function - the entire point consumers pay producers, is so that the producer can afford to produce - if a producer is paying the users to produce, more than the produce receives back, then the market collapses… unless one figures out how to create a faux-market where the consumption is the product, such as companies using open-source as recruiting and elimination of competition, establishing a fixed market over an organic market.

That said, yeah, the more successful and streamlined the marketing, payment, and other process, then the higher the conversion rate would be.

Or rather, the higher the red pill ejection from a fixed market back into an organic market, of consumers paying for their consumption, and funding and fostering what they actually consume — instead of producers paying for consumption to expand closed control of the commons so they can funnel the market into their proprietary adjacent products where secrets win.

The overall theme of the propaganda angle here seems just having developers recognise and realise that the adage “if you aren’t paying, then you are the product (of an anti-competitive monopolistic funnel into a fixed market)” also applies to them and their relationship to “open”-source software.

I think it is about time that indie devs reclaimed their property rights — that is, stop begging for the consumer to pay for what you already gave them (they won’t), and instead force the consumer to actually pay for the value offered for consumption (just like every other market). Your software is your property after all - it’s not the property of the consumer.