An old friend asked me this about the new platform:
I do wonder about how paid licenses map to people in this new version. For l0 that was unclear to me. Is it a “seats” model, does everyone who touches a codebase need one or just the people working on that “part”?
He asks the best questions. Here was my e-mail reply:
Your question on the licensing model is a good one. Unfortunately, the strictly correct answer is “if you’d otherwise infringe copyright, you need a license”. But we just don’t know all of the boundaries of that law, much less in all software contexts. I can’t plainly state the boundary with total completeness, because it’s not sharp or compete to begin with.
The history there is basically that site licenses were invented to avoid the fuzzy question of who needs a license. Literally everyone “on site” wherever the machine with the software sat—and therefore stood liable to be used—would be covered. People tended to work on one site daily and indefinitely. From there, seat licensing used to be an extension from there where clarity was practical—on how many machines will you install it?—but now routinely structures SaaS deals, where it may not make any sense. I believe it cropped up after the shift from mainframes to PCs.
My immediate plan was to support fully automated “single seat” or “individual” licensing on the platform. This is essentially what L0 did. Individual users and devs can buy this way. As for groups, the summary description, outside the license itself, would be that if your dev team is using something in its project past a trial, everybody better go ahead and get a license. Which will cover them for other projects, as well.
Since the software’s publicly available to begin with, buying licenses is essentially on the honor system. Inevitable uncertainty would point toward buying a license, especially in situations where it matters, like work for large companies.
I could also support company-wide licenses. My thought there was to publish a form and allow developers to manually list companies on their project pages, as the site automatically lists individual customers. That way they could choose whether to publicize the license or not, and also try subscriptions rather than perpetual licenses where they can.