The axis of closed and then commercial are different contributors to competitive threat from their economic incentives.
Companies will often put a dev they have on an open-source project rather than funding an existing maintainer. This makes several companies now have their own independent people working on maintenance, which often results in several commercially backed forks.
Closed companies are playing the economic competitive game with rules that open-source can’t, which is the use of secrets. Secrets are leverage. Secrets inhibit competition by driving the cost of reimplementation up, as the momentum continues internally. To the open-source game, secrets have the same competitive factor as anti-competitive monopolies.
The goal of any sustainable (aka business) model, be it collaborative or competitive, is to gain enough traction and momentum that collaboration and adoption costs less than competition and reimplementation, which is a cost analysis managed by compounding incentives and disincentives.
License Zero provides a way to fairly return momentum from competitive momentum and anti-competitive practices by newly managing the financial incentives and disincentives for the collaborative-competitive threat axis.
For instance, with this proposal, open-source and commercial users fund increased momentum of original maintenance, which in turn, increases the cost of competition (the highest risk comes from initially closed systems within commercial use) as there is more catchup to do and less to gain, feeding back on more license sales from would be closed-source competitors, furthering more original momentum.
Different magnitudes of pricing tiers would make sense depending on the cost of development of the project. A utility library would be a dollar or a few, for all use cases. However an open-source product or large-scale project, which the collaborative incentives are not currently in favour of, rendering most of these projects closed-source in the end, would have much higher costs to wrangle the incentives into a fairness feedback cycle.
Let’s say for a large-scale project that would see a value contribution to adopters of several thousand dollars or more (think a mac app, like photoshop, or a web app, like basecamp), can charge:
- free for open and non-commercial
- $500 for private-closed and non-commericial use, as is likely an internal project with limited budget, such as an early-stage evaluation by an individual, or an implementation by a non-profit; this incentivises open experimentation, or where closed maintains competitive value then a financial return to original momentum
- $1000 for open and commercial, providing a notable return for the received value
- $1500 for closed and commercial, which provides a $500 incentive for open-sourcing, or a $1500 return to original momentum where closed maintains competitive value
Ultimately the enablement of this feature would reclaim a competitive strategy, that of cost, to original authors, which at their discretion, can be charge differently for their various projects, based on their insights of project usage, project value, and competitive threat, to favour collaborative momentum.